Archive for Amusing and Entertaining

Hardcopied: A July Print-Reading Challenge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt starts tomorrow! The Hardcopied challenge (see the Hardcopied Facebook page or the Hardcopied Book Club on Goodreads), in which a person decides to read only print books for the month of July, 2015. I’m doing it — are you?

A friend was ruminating recently about reading print books verses reading ebooks. There really doesn’t need to be the word “versus” in there, because both are of value. But we do read differently in each medium, and believe it or not, there are always likely to be print books in the foreseeable future. (That’s what head Harvard librarian, Robert Darnton, certainly believes, as I discuss in a review of his book.) So it’s probably a good idea to keep up our print reading skills as well as our ereading skills.

My primary reader, the Sony Reader (and then Sony sold us out to Kobo, for which I will never forgive Sony, but that's another story...)

My primary reader, the Sony Reader (and then Sony sold us out to Kobo, for which I will never forgive Sony, but that’s another story…)

One of the things that researchers have noticed–in general, so individual people may vary on this–is that when one’s primary reading is done onscreen, we tend much more to read in quick “jumps.” We flit from one thing to another, and our attention span does not seem to be as long. I’ve noticed this myself; I get a bit restless and start feeling an itch to go look at something else. With our screens, tablets, and smartphones, we can do this all too easily, and we never sit on one thing for all that long.

With print reading, we have to spend time. We are concentrating on one thing only, and we have to concentrate to stick with it. This makes us go deeper. It also gives us time to really think about what we’re reading. (And interestingly, some studies show that we retain things we’ve read in print form much more readily than things we’ve read onscreen. Hm.)

So I’m in! I’m going to read only print books in July. Want to join me?

What’s your favorite piece of punctuation in a book?

Have you ever thought about it? We all have our favorite lines from books (One of mine: Sam Gamgee, at the end of The Lord of the Rings: “Well, I’m back.”), but is it possible to have a favorite bit of punctuation? Kathryn Schulz thinks so, and in fact, she’s listed five: The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature. She’s got instances of parentheses in Lolita, an em-dash in Middlemarch, ellipses in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a colon in A Christmas Carol, and, of all things, a period in Levi’s The Periodic Table. Have you ever noticed and been somehow impressed by specific punctuation in a book or poem? Schulz ruled out the em-dashes in Emily Dickinson, because they are rather…excessive. So what else? I will probably not be able to read the next book I read without noticing the punctuation now. What I’d really like to do is go back to Swann’s Way to see how Proust handled it, with those long, long, long sentences. Or maybe Gormenghast? Think about it. PLUS. We may just have a challenge on our hands too, people. Early in her piece, Schulz says this:

Some forms of punctuation seem less marked out for fame than others; if anyone knows of a noteworthy comma, I’d love to hear about it.

Time to go comma hunting. Who’s with me? apostrophe2

Reading Bingo: Nice Way to set Reading Goals

I like this idea for setting reading goals for 2014. Instead of just saying, “I’m going to read 50 books by the end of the year,” make sure you’re reading a variety. Random House Canada has posted a printable Bingo card (Reading Bingo Challenge 2014), where different types of books are positioned on each square. Here are some samples:

  1. A book set on a different continent.
  2. A book with a one-word title.
  3. A book that scares you.
  4. A book of short stories. (This would be the hard one for me; I don’t really enjoy short stories.)

Actually, let’s just show you the Bingo card. 🙂 But go to the site, because there’s a YA version too.

Random House



Test Your Vocabulary – a Humbling Experience

You would think, as an editor and writer, not to mention a voracious reader of both fiction and nonfiction, that I would have a huge vocabulary. And I probably do. But I also travel in circles with many highly literate and well-read friends. So when they go through this Test Your Vocab research site and get 39K or 40K as a result, I am somewhat disgruntled that I only got 37,800 as the estimate of how many dictionary words I know at least one definition for.

Want to test your own vocabulary? Have a go! Remember to answer honestly, because this is a real research site trying to gather data.

And while you’re at it, try out the researchers’ latest tool, called Hardest Words, where you can test any general text you’re reading to get feedback on which are the eastiest and hardest words.

Now. I have a dictionary to go read.

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