I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.
-- George Washington
Paper or screen? There's a battle in your brain. The more you read on screens, the more your brain adapts to the "non-linear" kind of reading we do on computers and phones. Your eyes dart around, you stop half way through a paragraph to check a link or a read a text message. Then, when you go back to good old fashioned paper, it can be
harder to concentrate. "The human brain is almost adapting too well to the particular attributes or characteristics of internet reading," says Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University. She says we have to develop a 'bi-literate' brain if we want to be able to switch from the scattered skimming typical of screen reading to the deeper, slow reading that we associate with books on paper. It is possible. It just takes work. One person who has done it well is Maria Popova, founder of Brainpickings.org. In this episode, Manoush visits her home, marvels at the piles of books everywhere, and learns how Maria manages to read about a dozen books a week and still retain the information, organize ideas around a myriad of themes, and churn out multiple smart, insightful, original posts every day. She does it using a mix of digital and analog tools and techniques to help her read better. Story from NPR's New Tech City and their delightfully peppy host, Manoush Zomorodi.
From ABC News:
Debates over academic curriculum and textbooks have for years thrust Texas' Board of Education into the national spotlight, sparking battles over issues such as how to teach climate change and natural selection. In 2010, while approving the history curriculum standards that this year's round of new books are supposed to follow, conservatives on the board required that students evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty and study the Congressional GOP's 1994 Contract with America.
This long-running ideological dispute over what gets taught in Texas classrooms flared anew over proposed history textbooks Tuesday, with academics decrying lessons they said exaggerate the importance of Christian values on the nation's Founding Fathers while conservatives complained of anti-American, pro-Islam biases.
The Board of Education will approve new history textbooks for the state's 5-plus million public school students in November. But it heard hours of complaints about 104 proposed books during a sometimes heated public hearing.
Jacqueline Jones, chairwoman of the University of Texas' History Department, said one U.S. history high school book cheerleads for President Ronald Reagan and the significance of America's free enterprise system while glossing over Gov. George Wallace's attempt to block school integration in Alabama. She also pointed to a phrase stating that "the minimum wage remains one of the New Deal's most controversial legacies."
"We do our students a disservice when we scrub history clean of unpleasant truths," Jones said "and when we present an inaccurate view of the past that promotes a simple-minded, ideologically driven point of view."
When book critic Maureen Corrigan first read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in high school, she was unimpressed.
"Not a lot happens in Gatsby," Corrigan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's not a plot-driven novel and I also thought, 'Eh, it's another novel about rich people.' And I grew up in a blue-collar community."
She also couldn't relate, she says, because it doesn't feature any likeable female characters.
"In fact, that's one of the reasons why Fitzgerald thought it didn't sell well in 1925," Corrigan says, "because there are no likeable female characters and women drive the fiction market."
But today Corrigan considers The Great Gatsby to be the greatest American novel — and it's the novel she loves more than any other. She's written a new book about it called So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures.
In this lively & provocative collection of essays, veteran media critic Ron Powers, recipient of both a Pulitzer Prize & an Emmy Award, takes a searing look at a pivotal decade in TV history. He playfully presents some serious thoughts on TV, arguing that TV is a subject of utmost importance, perhaps the unifying & inevitable subject of our time. The essays by Powers contain significant insights into what TV did for us &, most especially, to us in the 1980s. He shows how America has reached a stage where the distinction between entertainment, news, & education -- between TV & the real world -- has nearly vanished.
This book was written in 1990. I think it is especially interesting to look at books again because now time has passed and you can see where things have actually headed and that can be contrasted to the discussion in the book.
If you judge a book by its cover, you might want to know what goes into its design. Jeffrey Brown speaks with Peter Mendelsund, author of “What We See When We Read” and “Cover,” about the process of communicating an author’s work to readers, as well as the importance of cover design in the age of e-readers.
"In an interesting post, writer Claude Nougat estimated the total number of books on Amazon – about 3.4 million at last count (a number that could include apps as well) and then figured out how many books were added in a day. Nougat noticed that the number rose by 12 books in an hour, which suggests that one new book is added every five minutes. And, most likely, it’s probably an indie book.
Let’s let that sink in.
What does that mean for the indie publisher? If you’re perpetually optimistic, very little. If you’re even a little bit pessimistic, however, you might want to rethink your career."
Author interview in Variety