Posts tagged with ‘books’

Summer Reading from The New Yorker

The New Yorker is opening up its Web site for the next few months, letting visitors read everything currently being published — along with archives back to 2007 — for free.

The move comes alongside a site redesign.

Via The New Yorker:

Beginning this week, absolutely everything new that we publish—the work in the print magazine and the work published online only—will be unlocked. All of it, for everyone. Call it a summer-long free-for-all. Non-subscribers will get a chance to explore The New Yorker fully and freely, just as subscribers always have. Then, in the fall, we move to a second phase, implementing an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall.

Images: Twitter posts from The New Yorker… and an ellipsis for good measure.

The Grammar of Weird Al

Word nerds haven’t been so excited by a grammar song since way back in the days of School House Rocks’ Conjunction Junction

That said, what to make of Yankovic’s grammar rules? A better grammarian than I would have to answer. Thankfully, there’s one over at Slate.

"[A]pparently Mr. Yankovic is quite a prescriptivist," writes Forrest Wickman. “Let’s examine a few of Yankovic’s Rules of Usage.”

Slight aside: you still won’t convince me to use the Oxford Comma. Let’s agree to disagree. — Michael

Images: Stills from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Word Crimes video. Select to embiggen.

My Handwriting’s Crap, How ‘Bout Yours
Ever since personal computers made their way into the classroom, handwriting’s been on the way out. Many schools teach kindergartners and first graders how to print but don’t move on to cursive. Consider handwriting an increasingly obsolete art.
But research shows that writing by hand actually improves brain development. For example, Nancy Darling, psychology professor at Oberlin:

Using our hands requires the development of particular areas of the brain. That’s true when we are learning to use a tool, like our ancestors wielding an axe. It’s true when we learn to play the piano. It’s true when we learn to write. It’s true when we learn to sew or play with blocks. One of the advantages of moving away from the keyboard and doing something that requires greater flexibility in how we use our hands is that it also requires greater flexibility in how we use our brains. This, in turn, requires our brains to develop in new ways.

In Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman explains, “The benefits of writing by hand, and doing so from a young age, are fundamental: improved and sustained development in social skills, hand-eye coordination, long-term memory. And when one considers “fluency” in its literal sense, it makes sense that cursive especially can energize a more fluid and coherent process of thought.”
He then goes into this doozy of an anecdote from Valerie Hotchkiss at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign:

Recently, an undergraduate asked me for help with a manuscript she was studying. I assumed it was something along the lines of a medieval Latin text or perhaps even a particularly difficult Marcel Proust letter (our library holds the largest collection of Proust letters in the world), but when I bent over the letter to help, I saw that it was in English and in the very neat, clear hand of John Ruskin. “What’s the problem?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t do cursive,” answered the undergraduate.

Takeaway: Practice your chickenscratch. — Michael
Image: Some words, written using the Dakota font.

My Handwriting’s Crap, How ‘Bout Yours

Ever since personal computers made their way into the classroom, handwriting’s been on the way out. Many schools teach kindergartners and first graders how to print but don’t move on to cursive. Consider handwriting an increasingly obsolete art.

But research shows that writing by hand actually improves brain development. For example, Nancy Darling, psychology professor at Oberlin:

Using our hands requires the development of particular areas of the brain. That’s true when we are learning to use a tool, like our ancestors wielding an axe. It’s true when we learn to play the piano. It’s true when we learn to write. It’s true when we learn to sew or play with blocks. One of the advantages of moving away from the keyboard and doing something that requires greater flexibility in how we use our hands is that it also requires greater flexibility in how we use our brains. This, in turn, requires our brains to develop in new ways.

In Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman explains, “The benefits of writing by hand, and doing so from a young age, are fundamental: improved and sustained development in social skills, hand-eye coordination, long-term memory. And when one considers “fluency” in its literal sense, it makes sense that cursive especially can energize a more fluid and coherent process of thought.”

He then goes into this doozy of an anecdote from Valerie Hotchkiss at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign:

Recently, an undergraduate asked me for help with a manuscript she was studying. I assumed it was something along the lines of a medieval Latin text or perhaps even a particularly difficult Marcel Proust letter (our library holds the largest collection of Proust letters in the world), but when I bent over the letter to help, I saw that it was in English and in the very neat, clear hand of John Ruskin. “What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t do cursive,” answered the undergraduate.

Takeaway: Practice your chickenscratch. — Michael

Image: Some words, written using the Dakota font.

Tsundoku
The closest word we’ve found to describe our bookmarking habits.

Tsundoku

The closest word we’ve found to describe our bookmarking habits.

#BookBenches

England’s National Literacy Trust commissioned artists to create 50 benches based on both specific books and the worlds authors create more generally.

Part of a literacy campaign called Books About Town, the benches are set throughout London across four different walking tours.

Visit Books About Town for more.

Images: Dr. Suess (top); Bridget Jones Diary and Dickens Liverpool (row two); Origin of Species and Paddington (row three); and Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes and Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (row four). Select to embiggen.

Happy Birthday, New York Public Library!

Staying gorgeous at 113-years-old today.

Here’s how Virginia’s Times Dispatch reported the opening back in 1911.

Bonus Video: Why Libraries Matter, via The Atlantic.

Images: Get a Library Card! via the NYPL on Pinterest. Select to embiggen.

Update, Age Clarification Edition: While the library opened in 1911, it was years in the making

Read it Four Times
Via Hoefler & Co.

Read it Four Times

Via Hoefler & Co.

She grabbed my anus and positioned my body in the direction of the east gallery and we started walking.

Automated transcription gone awry. The Guardian, Scanner for ebook cannot tell its ‘arms’ from its ‘anus’.

Evidently, high-end scanners using Optical Character Recognition technology can’t tell heads or tail – or arms and anuses – when going through old-timey type. 

Takeaway: You still need a copyeditor to tell your arms from your anus. With all the news about robots writing our print, there’s something reassuring about that.

Happy Teen Literature Day
As libraries across America celebrate Teen Lit Day, Readergirlz and some co-sponsors are hosting Operation Teen Bookdrop, which you can participate in too:

* Follow @readergirlz on Twitter and tweet #rockthedrop* Print a copy of the bookplate and insert it into a book (or 10!) On April 18th, drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?) Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP! (If you think people won’t pick up the book, slap a Post-It or note on the front cover that reads, “Take this book - IT’S FREE!” Bonus points for using recycled paper and/or making your own funky design!)* Post the banner at your blog and social networks. Proclaim that you will ROCK THE DROP! * Snap a photo of your drop and post it at the readergirlz Facebook page. Then tweet the drop at #rockthedropwith all the other lovers of YA books.

See books that people have been dropping all day via the Twitter hashtag #rockthedrop.
Bonus: Our (well, Jihii’s) favorite teen fiction? Everything by Sarah Dessen but especially this and this.

Happy Teen Literature Day

As libraries across America celebrate Teen Lit Day, Readergirlz and some co-sponsors are hosting Operation Teen Bookdrop, which you can participate in too:

* Follow @readergirlz on Twitter and tweet #rockthedrop
Print a copy of the bookplate and insert it into a book (or 10!) On April 18th, drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?) Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP! 
(If you think people won’t pick up the book, slap a Post-It or note on the front cover that reads, “Take this book - IT’S FREE!” Bonus points for using recycled paper and/or making your own funky design!)
Post the banner at your blog and social networks. Proclaim that you will ROCK THE DROP! 
Snap a photo of your drop and post it at the readergirlz Facebook page. Then tweet the drop at #rockthedropwith all the other lovers of YA books.

See books that people have been dropping all day via the Twitter hashtag #rockthedrop.

Bonus: Our (well, Jihii’s) favorite teen fiction? Everything by Sarah Dessen but especially this and this.

Harvard’s Looking for a Wikipedian
Via The Atlantic:

The Houghton Library on the Harvard campus holds the university’s collection of rare books. Inside its walls—in addition to objects culled from the old “Treasure Room” of Widener, the school’s principal library—you’ll find Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts; information about the creation of books; and collections of papers from, among many others, Louisa May Alcott, e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry James, William James, Samuel Johnson, James Joyce, John Keats, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Theodore Roosevelt, John Updike, and Gore Vidal.
The Houghton Library on the Harvard campus is awesome, is what I’m saying. And now it’s looking for a little love. From, and for … Wikipedia.
Yesterday, John Overholt, Houghton’s Curator of Early Modern Books & Manuscripts, posted a job listing. He’s hiring a Wikipedian in Residence—someone who can serve as a kind of liaison between Wikipedia and the academic, cultural, and intellectual institutions whose source material its entries rely on. In this case, Harvard.

The job’s only three months, pays $16/hour, but still: Wikipedia, rare books, internets. Tingling. Further details here.
Image: Via Cyanide and Happiness.

Harvard’s Looking for a Wikipedian

Via The Atlantic:

The Houghton Library on the Harvard campus holds the university’s collection of rare books. Inside its walls—in addition to objects culled from the old “Treasure Room” of Widener, the school’s principal library—you’ll find Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts; information about the creation of books; and collections of papers from, among many others, Louisa May Alcott, e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry James, William James, Samuel Johnson, James Joyce, John Keats, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Theodore Roosevelt, John Updike, and Gore Vidal.

The Houghton Library on the Harvard campus is awesome, is what I’m saying. And now it’s looking for a little love. From, and for … Wikipedia.

Yesterday, John Overholt, Houghton’s Curator of Early Modern Books & Manuscripts, posted a job listing. He’s hiring a Wikipedian in Residence—someone who can serve as a kind of liaison between Wikipedia and the academic, cultural, and intellectual institutions whose source material its entries rely on. In this case, Harvard.

The job’s only three months, pays $16/hour, but still: Wikipedia, rare books, internets. Tingling. Further details here.

Image: Via Cyanide and Happiness.

Lessons from Alice

[T]ied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words “DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters.
It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison or not;” for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked “poison,” it is most certain to disagree with you sooner or later.
However, This bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.

Alice ventured to taste it and found it very nice.
Image: Alice in Wonderland from Read.gov, which is putting classic books online.

Lessons from Alice

[T]ied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words “DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters.

It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison or not;” for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked “poison,” it is most certain to disagree with you sooner or later.

However, This bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.

Alice ventured to taste it and found it very nice.

Image: Alice in Wonderland from Read.gov, which is putting classic books online.

If Buzzfeed Titled Books

Waterstones asked Twitter how Buzzfeed would title books. The result: 16 #BuzzfeedBooks You Have To Read Before You Die.

Images: Screenshots of Harry Potter, The Inferno and the Bible, via Waterstones.

This past year, the very old word because exploded with new grammatical possibilities in informal online use. No longer does because have to be followed by of or a full clause. Now one often sees tersely worded rationales like ‘because science’ or ‘because reasons.’ You might not go to a party ‘because tired.’ As one supporter put it, because should be Word of the Year ‘because useful!’

Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, “Because” is the 2013 Word of the Year.

Read through for Most Useful (eg, “slash”), Most Unnecessary (eg, “sharknado”), Most Outrageous (eg, “underbutt”) and more.

See also The Atlantic, English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet.

Why We Should Read, Scientifically Speaking
Via The Independent:

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.
The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.
Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.
“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.
“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

Image: One of the dozens of standalone libraries promoting literacy in Bogota, Columbia. Via Bilingual Librarian: the Paradero Para Libros Para Parques are “often open during the weekend and while in service they offer regular library services. Patrons can check books out, and the person staffing the PPP organizes activities (mainly for children), is available to answer questions, and often help children with their homework.”

Why We Should Read, Scientifically Speaking

Via The Independent:

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

Image: One of the dozens of standalone libraries promoting literacy in Bogota, Columbia. Via Bilingual Librarian: the Paradero Para Libros Para Parques are “often open during the weekend and while in service they offer regular library services. Patrons can check books out, and the person staffing the PPP organizes activities (mainly for children), is available to answer questions, and often help children with their homework.”