Someone in Singapore bought The Jolly Postman
Whilst following Black Friday deals I came across The Book Depository (it ran quite an interesting sale). But what really got me interest was this..Book Depository Live.
It shows you which books are being bought by its customers on a world map
Someone in the UK bought Illywacker
Is it just me? I love seeing which books are being bought. Little stories go through my head as to who is buying and why. It’s also great to see books in active selling. Like being in a bookshop and seeing what people buy. This is a worldwide customer base, so you get some curve balls in there, not just the latest top seller.
This might be a great way to choose/not choose a BIB.
Someone in Switzerland bought On Becoming Fearless
I think I should point out that I am not a Book Depository employee.
I instinctively answer yes to this question and that got me thinking! Do I have any basis for this view?
I thought it was obvious. The biggy for me is
Empathy: if I think of how many people’s heads I’ve been in and how many eyes I’ve looked at the world through; that must mean I am more tolerant and empathic?
Knowledge: I must have learnt some things from reading as long as the authors did their research properly and haven’t just made it up. Even if they have, they must have got some of the experiential stuff right (what it feels like to gut a fish, riding a motor bike, first love etc).
Tolerance: Seeing things from a wide range of viewpoints must make you tolerant.
But what about reading books that underline your prejudices and give justification to the unjustifiable. I have read a few things that I fundamentally disagreed with but which because they are written down and well structured almost had me convinced. Print carries weight.
I was prompted by an article on the BBC which stated that people who read books are better learners. So I thought I’d have a quick look around at what evidence based findings were available. Studies I could find focussed on measuring the impact of reading on intelligence and educational outcomes. Tolerance and empathy are harder to measure. It’s not like we have a world of history where all the percieved baddies are illiterate. Far from it in fact. It would appear that very few world leaders have had little education, irrespective of whether they were good or bad!
The study What Reading Does for the Mind showed two main findings of the benefits of reading in children.
- Early acquisition of reading opened doors to further learning (positive feedback and building the ability to think)
- All children benefit from reading, whatever their level of achievement.
This article The Powers of Reading is quite interesting, if a little politically motivated!
So, there’s a library of stuff out there, which lean towards the positive benefits on the individual but I would say a there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it isn’t a guarantee that it will make you good. (Good is a hard concept to tie down too). I would like to think that I am far better for the books I’ve read and I think BIBs in particular must be even better for you, because you aren’t reinforcing your viewpoint with books you have chosen.
- Now We Have Proof Reading Literary Fiction Makes You a Better Person (theatlanticwire.com)
- Reading Literary Fiction Builds Human Awareness (myiesolutions.wordpress.com)
- Researchers: Literary Fiction Is Excellent Preparation for Real World (dianeravitch.net)
- Literary fiction and empathy (blackcountrylibrarian.wordpress.com)
- Does reading literary fiction make us empathic? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Does Reading Popular Fiction Make You A Dunce? (ticketliquidator.com)
It’s been a long time since I nearly missed my bus stop because of a book! But it happened today with I Am Pilgrim. And yesterday, on the way home, I got off a stop later because I had to know the outcome. It was very exciting.
I read on the bus, with my head down and being partially sighted I need to pay attention to what I’m reading. You would think that this causes me to nearly miss my stop a lot. However, I have learnt that I have a subconscious awareness of where I am on the journey. I expect I am monitoring the turns subconscously and, when I look up I know where we are before I’ve seen. It works very well. Except on a few notable occassions where I have been so engrossed in my book that only a fortuitous glance, moments before the stop, has prevented me from missing it entirely. I think if I did I’d just carry on reading and have a day out!
But this morning was one of those mornings. This is a special book indeed. It is very well paced, with the author dropping breadcrumbs, leaving you to gather them up at a satisfying pace. None of your Agatha Christie “I want everyone in the library where I shall reveal the murderer” here, where all the breadcrumbs are gathered in an overwhelming handful. If I had any criticism, and I think this is an anti-criticism (like “My only fault is I’m too hard working”) it would be that everything, although chaotic, is a bit too perfect. Our hero’s hunches pay off. But perhaps I’m being a bit harsh and just caught up in the story and not noticing the blind alleys he runs up.
The other great thing about this great book is that it’s long and well paced. So you can keep reading in great swathes without worrying about running out of story. Like your favourite biscuits coming in a big enough packet that you can’t eat them in one sitting.
So read it!
My wife came across this in the The Times (Oct 19, 2013) under the headline Beowuluf? It’s not as epic as Google’s rules.
Apparently researchers at the University of Nottingham have incorporated a standard literacy level test used by teachers (using only word and sentence length) into a browser plug in called Literatin and compare internet texts to established literary works.
Then using this tool to look at terms and conditions of various websites they found…
Google’s are more complex than Beowulf!
Facebook’s are worse and similar in complexity to The Prince by Machiavelli!
No wonder we just whizz through them and click accept.
It amazes me that we tolerate this given that so much of the development effort put into these web services and sites is around usability and the user experience, Google is popular because it’s got one box and knows what you are thinking, and yet they can’t put their terms and conditions into plain English. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I think I know why.
Update: I wonder if their new customer pages have the same readability as 50 Shades of Grey?
- Beowulf? It’s not as epic as Google’s rules (thetimes.co.uk)
- Google’s terms more complex than Beowulf (bcslaw.wordpress.com)
“This is an excellent book” – I couldn’t stop myself saying it out loud. You have to read it, it’s great as just a book or a Blissfully Ignorant Book (BIB). It has the feeling of being extremely well constructed and worked on, so either Terry Hayes is a genius or is a very good editor of his own work. Just read it. I am Pilgrim
I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to my Nan. She’s 95 you know? And still going strong, even if she doesn’t think she is. I’ve been working hard trying to get her to remember what she’s achieved in her life and and to help us youngsters to understand ours. I’ve also been trying to get her to be more outward looking.
My Nan was born in 1918. When she was growing up she learnt the Charleston. She worked in a munitions factory during WWII. She was one of the first to enjoy package holidays to Spain and Italy. She travelled on steam trains and had siblings die in their infancy from things that today wouldn’t even warrant hospitalisation. When young all her clothes were hand made and she spent an entire day having her hair permed. Perhaps she should write her own book!
She reads historical fiction and things like Barbara Taylor Bradford. But it did get me thinking. As we are living in an ever ageing population do we need a new genre? We have children’s books, teen books, young adult books, coming of age books… do we have old age books? Is there such a thing? I’m talking about fiction here.
If there was, what would distinguish it? What would it be about? If I ask my Nan she’d just talk in terms of existing genres. I don’t want to be patronising but from my experience what would make a good book for my Nan would be.. happy, uplifting, life affirming, about her generation but in a realistic way that presents old age as a valued thing where individuals value themselves, look for what they can do and act on it. (I’m trying really hard to be positive here as I have quite strong views about the poisonous attitude to old age that we have in the UK and other western countries).
Are there any books that fall into this category? I can only think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books which have this positive attitude, but having not read any I can only attest to what I’ve seen on television.