I fell off the NET again—and enjoyed every minute.


Reading with the Newf

After last semester I pretty much dropped off the Net for a couple of months (due to an unreliable home networking situation) and spent time reading printed books, hard copies of magazine subscriptions and paper newspapers. I highly recommend it. I am convinced that online reading is a different experience. I look forward to reading Naomi Baron’s latest thoughts on this.

Here are books I found well worth my having read:

  1. Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Thingspraised by several of my favorite contemporary authors David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, and Yann Martel.
  2. John Scalzi’s Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future.
  3. David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.
  4. Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.
  5. Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
  6. Andy Weir’s The Martian

I presently am finishing Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and am looking forward to reading Ann Morgan‘s The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe when it becomes available in the US in May 2015. Before then I plan to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

Tomorrow, after my classes, I’ll invite my students into my office to take any books I have read. It always pleases me to see them walk off excitedly with some pleasure reading.

What books do you recommend that I read? That I encourage my students to read?

Preparing for Bloomsday: Reasons for Reading James Joyce


Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

I recently purchased a five-year journal and I’m using it, as a planning tool for things I want to accomplish in the next five years. Inspired by my sister-in-law who a year ago told me that she might attempt to read my late father-in-law’s copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve begun identifying “great books” which I’d like to have read in the next few years. Ulysses is on my short-list at the moment, though I vacillate on whether I should invest the time in READING it. If so, I want to finish reading it by next Bloomsday.

I just finished reading Kevin Birmingham’s excellent The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses and gained a fuller understanding of the importance of the book. I learned a lot from listening to James A. W. Heffernan’s  Great Courses lectures on Ulysses.  I have explored the James Joyce resources on Openculture.com including a recording of his reading from the book. I’ve read The Odyssey (but almost 50 years ago—perhaps I should read the critically acclaimed Fagles translation). My interest has been piqued by the virtual reality project to create an educational video game of Ulysses, and I have discovered Frank Delaney’s audio podcasts reading of the work.  I passed by the twitter edition! Perhaps I’ll attend Milwaukee’s Irishfest. I’ll definitely add in my five-year journal Ireland as one of the countries I wish to visit.

The question, now, is should I commit myself to reading Ulysses—or instead curl up with Robin the Newf and study my dog-eared copy of  Berke Breathed‘s Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989.


Booked for the Summer!


Home Study Book Shelf # 1


Christine Smallwood has a thoughtful review in the June 9 & 16 2014 New Yorker “Ghosts in the Stacks” of Phyllis Rose’s The Shelf: From LEQ to LES.

Smallwood raises some issues about reading of considerable interest to me:

  • how we choose books today has been dramatically changed by technology (our preferences and reading habits are monitored and curated
  • what scholars read and how they read has changed (a distinction is made between close reading and surface reading)

I was appropriately admonished by her last paragraph:

And what about the books right in front of you that were published, even purchased, but, for all you know, might as well not have existed? My own bookshelves are filled with books I haven’t read, and books I read so long ago that they look at me like strangers. Can you have FOMO about your own life?…The alphabet is great, but there is nothing quite as arbitrary as one’s own past choices. Reading more books begins at home.”

Timeout on buying new books to read until I review what is filling my home office bookshelves. This is also a wonderful opportunity to use my LibrarianPro app.

Hmm—32 books in shelf # 1 beginning with father-in-law’s 1927 copy of the Best Known Works of Edgar Allan Poe and ending with Philip Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment. How delightful!





I don’t read books…


    "I don't read books," a young Carroll colleague recently told me as a second colleague nodded his head in agreement. "I just don't have the time for pleasure reading or for reading outside my discipline if I am also to keep up with my research agenda and stay abreast of the psychological literature. When I read I do it online."

    Perhaps this is yet another signal that I am becoming a stranger in a strange land. Walk into my office and you'll see books lining the walls, stacked on the floor, on my desk, and  piled on the chairs around my desk. Novels, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction—paperback and hardback, pages stained with coffee, annotated, or dog-eared and occasionally, dog-drooled upon. Follow me home to my study and you'll find more of the same! Books and the many authors who write so much better than I and who think in such
different ways than I have clearly shaped who I am and who I aspire to be. I am book-marked!

    I love to read! Thank you first-grade teachers past, present, and future for engendering a love of reading in children. I especially enjoy reading books or articles outside the narrow confines of my academic specialization and by authors from different cultures. Though I own a Kindle, it lies in a drawer umplugged and gathering dust.Though I have on my computers applications that allow for reading ebooks, I find the act of reading on a computer an entirely different (and
less pleasurable) experience than reading print on paper. Though I have attempted to listen to audio books, I fail to be transformed by them in the same way as when I read the presentation.

Two recent psychology-related books which I read this summer are Richard J. Davidson (with Sharon Begley)'s The Emotional Life of Your Brain and Cathy Davidson's Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. Both are autobiographical in explaining the foundation of their research efforts.

    R. Davidson (who was named by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of the 100 most inflential people in the world) makes a compelling case for the neurological stucture of six dimensions of emotional style:

  • resilience (how quickly one recovers from emotions)
  • outlook (how long one can sustain positive emotion)
  • social intuition
  • self-awareness
  • sensitivity to context
  • and attention (focus)

He suggests ways to measure and to change one's emotional style.

C. Davidson (of whom I first became aware because of her "This Is Your Brain on the Internet" course fame) provides a rambling, provocative, anecdotal and inspirational book which asserts that there is a mismatch between work and the ever-changing workplace and which shares her evolving thoughts about 21rst century literacy. She is scheduled to give a presentation and lead a faculty workshop at Carroll on October 8, 2012.

    Most of my summer reading was fiction, however. What suggestions do you have for me to read next?