Re: Not a Reader

1

My sister wasn't a reader and she's shaping up to be way more successful than I am! She's also a good writer, despite not reading endlessly, and always good at school.

Oh wait, you weren't asking about success. It's always been a bit of a puzzle to my mom and I why she never really liked reading (and yes, we've asked - it's just, "I don't like reading) when we were such big readers.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:01 AM
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It's also a question of non-readers vs. late reader. I've known kids who didn't enjoy reading until they were nine or ten, after which you couldn't separate them from their books with a crowbar. Maybe the subject matter of young childrens' books didn't grab them, but the more sophisticated stuff did. I don't know, I never asked them.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:17 AM
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True non-readers are rare in my family, my son probably comes closest. And that's relative, he does very well at an academically challenging liberal arts college, yet feels he could do better if he could read like his GF, roommate, sister etc. But he does 80% of the reading by his own self-critical estimate, so this is relative.

He's a studier of details though, like I was. When I was growing up, many other kids of my acquaintance seemed to read more, especially girls who would burn through much, much more fiction: all of Tolkien, all of Narnia, Nancy Drew, etc. My wife and daughter are like that, not on those books but in that style.

My son and I will often study a diagram, or a series of photographs or specifications on and off for weeks, and have since we were little. And see many, many things over time. Drives the novel-burners nuts.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:25 AM
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Oh wait, you weren't asking about success.

I'm not against them! Just didn't want to come across as though I was seeking evidence for some broader point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:27 AM
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But he does 80% of the reading by his own self-critical estimate, so this is relative.

Oh jesus. I was a reader as a kid, but when it came to assigned readings in college, I was probably batting 10%, if that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:28 AM
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Zardoz really isn't much of a reader yet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:35 AM
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6: Slackers.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:37 AM
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The more Unfogged I read, the less successful--and swanlike--I feel. The books on my nightstand mock me.


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 9:46 AM
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Did I miss a pseud-change?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:00 AM
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Does anybody remember where we put the fruit basket?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:10 AM
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I guess I was a reader, but I didn't read nearly as much growing up as most of the graduate students I've met in the humanities or information fields.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:17 AM
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I was a reader as a kid, but when it came to assigned readings in college

But my son's the opposite of this, really. I've never known him to read a book of literature of any kind on his own volition, although his response to the literature he's encountered in school has been everything I could have wanted. Sensitivity, imagination, the capacity to correctly quote entire sentences years later, showing the impact they made--he's got everything except any inclination to do it on his own. And he knows it and feels that it's holding him back.

Whereas he learns from movies and tv and games and non-fiction books and conversation and lectures and whatever.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:20 AM
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Not a pseud-change, if you are referring to me. Do I get some delurkicious fruit to go with my brunch this morning?


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:59 AM
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As soon as a FPP remembers where it is.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:03 AM
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where we put the fruit basket
I think I saw one over here.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:21 AM
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13. Oh. Well then welcome!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 12:31 PM
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I don't have a good place to put this, but I was up all night with Selah, who wasn't breathing properly yet again. Lee took her to the ER this morning rather than waiting for urgent care to open like I'd planned, and she came home with a nebulizer to use every few hours. I know it's the sleep deprivation talking, but I kept thinking of it as a neb-ulizer and wondering whether the next words she learns will follow Oulipo principles or something. Anyway, she's doing fine and is having a nap now, which is what I should also do.

And here, I can justify putting this in heebie's post, because I'm so grateful we live near my parents and that they were fine with taking the big girls for a few hours this afternoon so I could rest, and since things are going well offered to keep them and give them dinner and bring them home after so I can get them washed up and ready for school in the morning. So helpful!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 12:55 PM
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Mmmm, fruit!


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 12:59 PM
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I was a big reader as a kid, but at some point (maybe in college?) I developed an obsessive approach to reading that slows me down a lot and makes me less inclined to start reading things. I'm trying to overcome it, because there are a lot of things I want to read, but without much success so far. Oddly, blogs and other internet things don't seem to trigger this the same way books and journal articles do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 1:57 PM
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Huh. The terminal address in the fruit basket chain no longer exists.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:20 PM
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That's been the case for a while, I think.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:21 PM
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The fruit 2048 gets an "image not found" Tripod hosting error for whatever fruit is supposed to come after blueberries, so I suspect Virga•licious can handle it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:26 PM
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I could have written 19 word for word.


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:28 PM
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Two "image not found" Tripod hosting errors merged to give me blackberries.


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:36 PM
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After blackberries, a pomegranate. That's a respectable fruit basket.


Posted by: Virga•licious | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 2:43 PM
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+1 on 19.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 3:06 PM
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Was a big reader growing up -- not as serious as older brother, more of a reader than little brother or, especially, sister (who's the youngest). I'm not saying this is just about birth order, but the trend was unmistakable.

Both kids read plenty; daughter more widely and seriously than younger brother.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 3:11 PM
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Rory is something of a binge-reader. She burned through 4 or 5 novels during the first couple days of spring break. Then she burned out and has been binging on TV/Netflix since. The one big phase where she HATED reading was during elementary school when they were required to keep reading logs for school to prove they were reading at home.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 3:14 PM
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My father, sounding just like Samuel Johnson, maintained that the secret to the vast reading appetite of youth is a kind of innocence. He said that when he was young he agreed with everything he read while he was reading it, without much thought for how it contradicted what he might just have read before. He read the sci-fi and fantasy books available to him in the early 30s, things like all of Edgar Rice Burrough's worlds, beyond Tarzan. And the historical romances like Anthony Adverse--sort of the Hornblower of the day.

It was certainly true of me that my exposure to critical reading, about my junior year of college since I'd been in sciences before that, really felt like a loss of innocence. Suddenly I saw much more in books but had a much harder time devouring them, or fully, sympathetically inhabiting them.

Now my son learned critical reading, on a very high level, in his junior year of high school. It means that the literature he has read he has read very well indeed, and as I said above he had no appetite to break to start with. It had been a watershed to me though.

After my father had a stroke, and had lost a lot of mental capacity but was still a very smart man, when dementia was just starting, he reread Anthony Adverse with evident pleasure.

I have to feel he felt liberated, relieved by the evaporation of that critical intelligence which had been so empowering but also inhibiting; his literary conscience had gone and left him in peace.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 3:30 PM
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29 is really interesting. I definitely remember feeling a little unpleasantly surprised when taking high school English classes to realize that books I had enjoyed reading were actually terribly written. My parents read voraciously, but mostly bestselling mystery novels, and they judge books entirely based on whether they enjoy the story, with very little critical sense. They were genuinely confused to hear me say that Dan Brown wasn't a very good writer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 3:36 PM
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I judge books almost entirely on whether I enjoyed the story and Dan Brown still sucks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 3:40 PM
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Was not a reader growing up. No books in our house. Still not a reader. I like it when I do it, but that's far too infrequently to call myself a 'reader'.* Of course, my extended family would all call me a reader, or, hell, a scholar, because I read 2 or 3 books per year.

*Unless blogs count? What about email? I literally spend almost all day every day reading things, just not books.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:13 PM
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Here's a stupid thing: Blume and I do most of our reading on screens of various sorts. The house is full enough of books as far as that goes, but sometimes I worry that the fact that we seldom actually have books in our hands will not allow Zardoz to make the connection that they are excellent things to stare at. That's probably stupid, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:40 PM
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Plus, she will chew on your screens if she doesn't have books to chew.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:44 PM
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Oh she has plenty of books to chew. For a while I had a special pile of books for her to destroy but I think Blume didn't love the fact that they were all pregnancy books people had loaned us.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:48 PM
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She's determined to be an only child?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:51 PM
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No see the "how to get pregnant" material is also browsable via screens.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:53 PM
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You're supposed to get her board books to gnaw. Those hold up better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 4:53 PM
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I empathize with 29 a lot. I remember being in junior high (aka Middle School) and crafting an impassioned defense of the reality of UFOs because I had read a book that defended it. (Menzel and Boyd, for those of a Certain Age, which in retrospect didn't defend it much at all.)

Well, as they say, "the golden age of science fiction is twelve." There are books I read as a teenager that profoundly affected me, but that now I go "ick" when I think about them.

One of the nice things about reading is the ability to enter the worldview of the author to such an extent that you buy into any giant bullshit dump the book presents. Adulthood is about being able to do that and then afterwards say, "Bollocks." In my case, it's also about being able to say, "Still enjoyed it" afterwards.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:01 PM
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I remember losing a feeling of immersion in fiction at some point around high school. It wasn't that I was disagreeing with anything or even necessarily disbelieving it, I just no longer saw the characters' worlds as vividly. Occasionally that comes back when I read a novel, but it takes time to get into that and I get distracted easily.

Also, I probably did spend a lot of time as a kid reading but I've never been a particularly fast reader. And I slowly realized that I often read history more quickly than fiction, but that really depends on the writing style. Most of my novel reading post-college was trying to fill in "classics", many of which weren't fast reads.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:15 PM
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My mom just ran into a childhood classmate of mine, who said, "Ogged was the champion reader in sixth grade!" Despite winning that extra credit contest by reading however many hundreds--two? three?--of books that school year, I'd forgotten about it, thus establishing that I don't really have the killer instinct. I think I've read about two books since then.

That's probably stupid, right?

I'm not sure. We have the same concern, and I'd bet it makes some difference. If the kids didn't see us on screens all the time, they'd be less tempted away from paper books, I think. We try to counteract the effect by reading to them (well, the older one; the younger one only likes books to rip or eat) before every sleep.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:27 PM
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My son just got into Captain Underpants books. Wish they'd had those when I was a kid.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:31 PM
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I was a reader, but the boyfriend wasn't. He reads a lot online now, but he doesn't really enjoy fiction at all. He never read Tolkien or most other stuff I think every (smart) kid reads. I don't think I'll ever understand why nonfiction is more fun for him, but it's certainly served him well. He's full of crazy trivia and very smart, but has surprising blind spots as far as literature goes.
I've fallen off a bit from reader status - somehow a screen just isn't quite as engaging as paper to start something, but I'm fine with an extra push of "Here, this is good. You'll like it." I also don't have discriminating taste. I like nearly everything. I still can't quite tell what's terrible when I read, although when it's pointed out, I usually get it.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:43 PM
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Hey urple, what's happening lately in urpleville? My parents just told me some story about downtown being overrun by roving bands of teenagers attacking random passersby that sounded like some kind of ridiculous racist wilding myth or something, except that my parents generally aren't the sort of people who would spread that kind of meme. Googling it seems like there was some violence one night a few weeks ago and the right-wing media is going nuts with it. But my parents aren't usually consumers of that kind of media.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:43 PM
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I think I've read about two books since then.

One was Heidegger and the other was...?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:45 PM
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If you don't feel like reading books, Vox is apparently now launched.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 5:52 PM
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I still read a lot, but teo's 19 really resonated because I lost my ability to write comfortably in college and never got it back. Lee will read a book or two a year, no fiction. I don't know that she was ever much of a reader, but she has books she loves. I still love to read, but I can't fall into it with the same excitement I did as a teen, though sometimes the right phrase in a poem can still give me chills. I have a very sad and probably ridiculous end-of-Marry-Poppins feeling about that change, but I don't think there's anything I can do to make the world and its books magical and thrilling again.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:17 PM
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We're reading the old King Arthur stories as bedtime reading. I can barely manage the language because of psuedo-old-timey-fuckwittery.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:24 PM
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44: I just got back from a weekend in urpleville, and the friend I had dinner with on Friday night was telling me I'd better be careful because there's been all kinds of mob violence near my hotel and went on and on about it. It sounded so ridiculous that I was convinced she was in the grip of an urban legend (this friend is not the world's most critical thinker), but then I googled and saw there was some basis to it. But yeah, the media does appear to be going nuts with it, and at least some people are in pants-shitting mode; my other friends there were annoyed by the media hype, and tell me that apparently it was a response to the grand jury's decision not to indict a guy who stabbed a couple of kids on a TARC bus. (The friend from Friday night was also telling me that she's not taking the kids to Thunder this year because someone made threats about it on "social media" and the cops raided his house and found a bathtub full of guns. Turns out some kid allegedly posted a picture of himself with a plastic tub contining guns and making some threat about Thunder--he's now aparently in jail on $50,000 bail which sounds like a totally sensible and levelheaded response to a facebook post.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:29 PM
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I have a very sad and probably ridiculous end-of-Marry-Poppins feeling about that change, but I don't think there's anything I can do to make the world and its books magical and thrilling again

Not ridiculous, but vivid and very nicely expressed. I wouldn't want to have postponed the change, even though it represents irrevocable loss. And while DaveLMA is right about the strategies and compensations of adulthood, it isn't ever going to be the same.

I read both fiction and non as a boy, tilting toward the latter more than most girls in my life then and later. Thing is, there was as much vision and imagination, the painting of imaginary worlds, in "nonfiction" I read as in the fiction, which in turn had as much honesty and unexpectedness as the nonfiction. The formal category isn't the thing, it's what you're getting out of it.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:32 PM
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49: "Terroristic Threatening"


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 6:51 PM
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Now I'm reading Ezra on Vox on a smart phone while sitting in Metro Center being annoyed by the wait for the red line. I feel so native.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:12 PM
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When my kids were little we read them Tolkien (LotR and Hobbit), Narnia, Roald Dahl, Russell Hoban's kids' books, and many more.

They read a lot still, some fiction, some non-fiction, and seem always interested in suggestions and always willing to give them.

My parents didn't read a lot when I was a kid (though they always encouraged my reading), but my grandfather read voraciously and encouraged reading at all times. He got me a subscription to a book series that was classics slightly edited for teens, and I loved it. He tried to keep current with science and technology, and I appreciated that even when I thought he was still sort of behind the times.

I still read anything I can get my hands on, fiction and non-fiction. My wife refers to my book collection as "The Library of Congress."


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:22 PM
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33, 41: seriously nbd. I'll say "where's my book?" or something else referring to the iPad as a book or something I'm reading, and Hawaii is totally clear that I mean a book I've downloaded. Sometimes I download chapter books to read to them. Books can live on screens, and this is an easy fact to grasp.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:40 PM
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The Library of Congress

That would also be a good name for an erotic fiction store.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:44 PM
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I have to say, Vox looks pretty good so far.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:49 PM
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Well, it was basically just one Saturday night, and yes, seems to have been a response to the grand jury's decision not to indict. And also what seems to be just festering resentment about racism and segregation in this city, which is well-founded. But most of the media reports have made the events of that night sound fairly surreal. Conservatives have jumped all over this story because (1) it's all their worst paranoid fantasies, in real life, and (2) some of coverage in the liberal media failed to note that the perpetrators were african-american, which was obviously a coverup, probably ordered by Obama himself.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:51 PM
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57 to 44/49, obviously.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 7:51 PM
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I was a reader, but the boyfriend wasn't. He reads a lot online now, but he doesn't really enjoy fiction at all. He never read Tolkien or most other stuff I think every (smart) kid reads. I don't think I'll ever understand why nonfiction is more fun for him, but it's certainly served him well. He's full of crazy trivia and very smart, but has surprising blind spots as far as literature goes.

This is pretty much me, except that I did read a lot as a kid (not Tolkien, though).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 8:46 PM
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I was a reader then and am barely one now, and it bothers me. It's so hard to find things I'm book-length interested in. I want to read the new Masha Gessen thing maybe. I went to a bookstore in the Castro with a big orange cat and asked the maybe midwestern 60ish woman if they might have it, and after I said "Pussy Riot" she said without amusement "what?" and I said "uh, the book about Putin I mean."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:52 PM
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And I was never the voracious reader lots of smart people are because I read too slowly. I have said this here before. Possibly I am dumb.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:55 PM
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Slow reader solidarity!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 10:58 PM
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Yay!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:09 PM
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(That took you like fifteen minutes to get through, right?)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:10 PM
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More like three, based on the timestamps, but still.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:12 PM
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If only someone could recommend an app to help you read faster!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:27 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-14 11:46 PM
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No.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:49 AM
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No?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:58 AM
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To the OP.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:00 AM
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55: That's totally novel.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:01 AM
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Ah, okay.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:01 AM
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60: did you walk in there with a big orange cat, or does the bookstore have the big orange cat?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:34 AM
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49, 57: Thanks for the added context.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 4:38 AM
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I mean, normally it would be considered a bit outré for someone to walk into a bookstore with a big orange cat, but this bookstore was in the Castro which presumably means that it wouldn't even make the list of the hundred most outré things the bookstore owner had seen walk into her shop that day.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 5:10 AM
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My sister wasn't a big reader, either. She reads a fair bit as an adult, but her taste runs to very very different sorts of things from me [Maeve Binchy, and that sort of thing, nttawtt]. But when she was a kid, I barely ever remember her reading anything.

re: 6

Alex is a big fan of 'turn the flap over and reveal some shit' books. Both the exciting turning the flap over bit, and also the even-more-exciting ripping the flap off when you think Mummy or Daddy aren't looking.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 5:14 AM
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76.last: That's why alphabet flip-the-flap books are so popular, because there are so many things to rip!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 5:50 AM
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By "fairly surreal" in 57 I meant both (1) almost hard to believe, but apparently true and (2) pretty genuinely frightening, at least for people (like me) who are often at that park with their young kids.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:47 AM
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I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid and teen. Sometime in my mid twenties I just plain lost interest in fiction and started reading lots of dense nonfiction. Now I mostly read slightly fluffy nonfiction (Mary Roach FTW!).


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:54 AM
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Two of my three kids had the reading bug. They were also the more academically-inclined through most of school, but that did not really hold through college.

The one reader's continued interest in reading has pushed him into a potentially different career direction from his presumptive STEM trajectory. So be warned. He now has two primary part-time jobs, a math one and an "editing" (and not for technical writing) job where he reads a lot of mostly crap. I do wonder if his reading interest can survive the latter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:05 AM
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Something changed about my reading habits in the last five years or so -- I used to be an insanely voracious fiction reader, and moderately voracious with non-fiction. I may have had a variation of the experience described in 29, 30, and 40 -- it's not that I was unfamiliar with critical reading, but it used to be something I had to turn on consciously, rather than just immersing myself in whatever I was reading. Now, pretty much everything is either annoyingly badly written, or, while possibly well written, not the sort of thing I enjoy.

Non-fiction is a little better, but almost all of that is either too fluffy, so it's moderately amusing but I'm not getting anything interesting and new out of it, or dense enough that it's too much work for me.

God knows what's wrong with me, but I really miss the way I used to read. I spend about as much time staring at recreational text as I ever did, but it's a combination of this place and other blogs, and it's comparatively frustrating and dull.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:06 AM
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Speaking of slightly fluffy nonfiction, I had Sarah Vowell's books raved at to me, got Assassination Vacation, and found it to be so light it left hardly any impression on me whatsoever. (Like a quirky sitcom character.) What do others think of her writing?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:09 AM
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82. The historical parts of Wordy Shipmates were pretty good, I thought. The fun parts didn't work for me on the page.

Maybe there are lots of people who can't read straight history, and consequently enjoy her meandering setting of context and motivation.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:18 AM
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Further to 42, my kid just got sent home from school for giving wedgies. Captain Underpants is now banned from the house.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:19 AM
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I was a big reader as a kid. I remained a big reader for the first year or two of college, but by then, any free time by myself was within easy access of a computer, and wheeee computer games. Like a rat with a pellet dispenser button. And, hell, arguing with people online. I remained a not-very-big reader though college and for a couple years after it, even though I was a writer during that period. For a couple years after that I was mainly getting around by public transportation, which means plenty of free time while sitting around again, and it's harder to argue online on the phone and game apps aren't as gripping to me as MMOs. But now I'm mainly getting around by biking, and reading less again. Still some, though.

I've always read mostly fantasy and sci-fi stuff. Teresa and her father and aunt are really big readers of the same genres. My parents read a little, but not as much. Not in those genres, either. More nonfiction, but also more best-selling fiction, like Dan Brown. It makes them harder to shop for.

I'm trying to control my book-buying habits and use my e-book reader more just to save space. Our house isn't that big. Since we bought it I've kind of hoped to dig out the crawlspace under it and turn it into a basement, which would solve solve our storage problems for years at least, but last week we got an estimate back on it: $58,000. That's not going to happen any time soon. Obviously, one more book doesn't make much of a difference, but the way stuff accumulates...


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:20 AM
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I liked The Partly Cloudy Patriot a fair amount, although I admit I don't remember much of it anymore. I liked the other ones as well, although they made even less of an impression. The essay on Carlsbad Caverns in the former book I thought was quite nice and has stuck with me a bit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:35 AM
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82: I find her work very slight. The one idiosyncratic recommendation I have is that if you start the audio book of Assassination Vacation in Cincinnati and drive toward Buffalo, you can hit the highway exit for each president's historical location as you're hearing about him and then end with the McKinley assassination in just the right place.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:39 AM
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76: Median rent for a 1BR in the Castro is $2,495. Bohemian it ain't. But yes, I carry a big orange cat with me everywhere.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:40 AM
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Maybe there are lots of people who can't read straight history, and consequently enjoy her meandering setting of context and motivation.

Me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:42 AM
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87: OMG that sounds awesome. I must do this. I've been totally unappreciative of the lower Midwest being the land of 19th century presidents.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:44 AM
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I still read quite a bit of fiction. Mostly genre fiction - thrillers, crime fiction, little bits of SF - but the occasional piece of modern literary fiction, too, and the off 'classic'. I suspect I'm fussier about the quality of writing now than I was when I was younger, and it is a little harder to suspend disbelief and get immersed in a work now, but I still get a lot of pleasure out of it.

I do read non-fiction, mostly academic or quasi-academic books, or heavy-duty popular works [in history, most often] in fields not my own. I don't read much of the Gladwellian sort of oeuvre because philosophy-snob.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:47 AM
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My wife would say I don't read much fiction. That would be true, compared with her, by shear word count, but I probably read at least a dozen novels in a given year, which is not nothing. And I follow up interests at a much faster rate than that; I read all of Sebald within a few months. But she's only read one by him, which points up another difference which obscures my reading from her point of view, which is that even in fiction we have different tastes. One meaning of "you don't read much fiction" is "you don't read the books I read."


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:57 AM
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I the last 10 years or so I find that I have been much more willing to abandon a book that I've started in the last 10 years or so.

I have had spells (lasting up to the better part of a year) where I abandon them all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 9:20 AM
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||
Don't have anything to add here except that the other thread has been blocked my employer on this "public pc" I can follow, in fact read all the comments on rss but can't add to them.
|>


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 11:18 AM
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Which considering the subject matter is possibly a relief to many people, not just workbots.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 11:21 AM
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I know I've said recently that ebooks have been really transformative for me; suddenly I'm reading the way I used to, though generally better-quality books because of something like teo's 19. (Ahem, I did just read Gossip Girl, though, so take that with a huge grain of salt.)

91: I, too, am mostly a genre reader, though more on the SF/Fantasy/YA side of things than thrillers/crime, but also with the occasional literary or classic book. I've been reading somewhat randomly in non-fiction, as well, though not the same volume.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 11:47 AM
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I also have always had my mother, the reader, as an example, and we both very much enjoy sharing book recommendations and discussing them together. I love that, and if I reproduce hope to have it with my child. And our whole family (on her side) do top 5 book lists each year and send out emails with recommendations.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 11:50 AM
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Newt just came up over the weekend all excited about this thrilling new book someone at school passed on to him. It's Robin Cook's latest (for anyone with better taste than I have, medical thrillers, he's been writing them since the late seventies sometime. Kind of terrible). I cracked up and told him that at his age I was reading Coma, Cook's first thriller, because either Mom or Dad left it around.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 11:53 AM
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96: gossip girl or gone girl? Because the former would be impressively fluffy to read.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:24 PM
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I've said here before how alienating from all human society my aversion to serial drama has been: every woman's hand is against me. I've found I can stand British detective shows, sometimes. It's analogous to the pleasure of watching complex machinery.

The same seems to be true of genre writing: I lost all appetite for it at some point. I can read fiction, even a good series, and I'm aware how often a good novel will use some conventions of genre fiction, or a lot, like The Yiddish Policemen's Union

But I've no appetite for genres proper.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:29 PM
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I love reading, but it's a real challenge for me to make time to sit down and do it. And often my chunks of free time come in small fragments, such that if I've got five minutes to kill, the Internet seems like a much more appealing choice than the next two or three pages of whatever book I've been trying to read for the past six months.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:36 PM
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How is TYPU not a genre novel? Bit of a "pale pinkish hue of the latter" type situation when you talk about "a novel with a lot of the conventions of genre fiction", isn't it?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:39 PM
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Oh, he's talking about a real thing there. I read genre fiction, I like genre fiction, lots of genre fiction has real literary value, but there's an "I know it when I see it" difference between YPU and the same kind of alt-history written by someone who conceives of themselves as an SF writer. There are hard calls -- like, Margaret Atwood's SF is largely indistinguishable from SF written as such, but gets treated as literary fiction because she also writes literary fiction -- but you can usually tell genre fiction from stuff that's formally the same sort of thing but is written by a non-genre writer having a bit of an excursion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:44 PM
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I've said here before how alienating from all human society my aversion to serial drama has been

Care to elaborate on this, especially since you're locked out of other threads? I'm not sure what it would mean in practice. No tv shows with ongoing plot lines, I assume. Basically no comic books or related movies. Is it that you can't waste time on it or you're thinking ahead and call out who the guilty party is three minutes into Law & Order just because of how the scenes are being scripted or what?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:45 PM
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I don't have an objection to serial dramas, but I've been pretty frustrated recently that most YA books are now trilogies (at the least). Most times I just want a stand-alone book that finishes. Very hard to find those in Young Adult or fantasy these days.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:48 PM
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105: Yeah, I kinda go back and forth on that. On the one hand, it is nice to have a narrative arc with a finish, but then you miss the characters so much. And frequently, it seems to me, you wind up with writers who write one-offs repeating themselves quite a bit in subsequent novels.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 12:59 PM
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Is that error message thing new or an old joke? It seems hauntingly familiar.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:01 PM
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But if I don't have the entire trilogy to hand, I get very frustrated.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:07 PM
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Is it that you can't waste time on it or you're thinking ahead and call out who the guilty party is three minutes into Law & Order just because of how the scenes are being scripted or what?

Not the former: I'm a champion waster of time and having something to talk about would be an additional incentive. Actually, having been able to in the past take in these things gives me something to talk about. I can talk comic books with my daughter, whose the fan in our family and my wife's detective series habit lets me know enough about that to drop the occasional reference in company. Having played team sports when young lets me talk about it now without much fresh information, even to the impassioned.

I do the latter quite often but it actually doesn't spoil a detective show for me.

I well know that some cable series have for some time now been of high literary and dramatic quality, and I really regret not being that into them.

So it's something about the format. But that probably isn't it either, as many people will watch end-to-end, or otherwise compensate.

I know Dickens was serialized, and that mid-19thC-me would have passed him by.

The best I can come up with is that I feel more toyed-with, manipulated by serial drama than I have patience for. But that may be less a cause than a manifestation of dislike for something that has a different cause.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:09 PM
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99: Trust me, I meant Gossip Girl. It was sort of amazingly awful and wonderful all at once.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:10 PM
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I haven't read Gone Girl, though I do possess it. I don't generally read *quite* so fluffy of things (I'm finishing Hitler's Furies and had just read Oryx and Crake, speaking of Margaret Atwood), but, every once in awhile I do, in LB's words (or a close approximation thereof), read unutterable trash.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:14 PM
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110: How does it compare to the TV series? My wife went through it and I'd watch ever eighth episode or so. Being occasionally dropped into that fictional world without context was delightfully hilarious, and I treated it like a soap opera that didn't pretend to take itself seriously.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:17 PM
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Have I over-recommended my friend's series of YA historical Hollywood novels yet? Just in case the answer is "no":

http://amzn.com/0385741081


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:19 PM
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112: It was almost exactly the same, with a few changes. Chuck is more rapey. Blair isn't as funny. Serena is more fabulous. Jenny has boobs out to there. Etc. Everyone is more drunk, and also, more sad. Also, the first book is really, really short - I think it might just be the first episode or two of the series.

The writing is less than spectacular, but if you even remotely enjoyed the tv series you'll probably enjoy the book.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:33 PM
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114: I don't think I'd enjoy the TV series continuously, as the character are all pretty horrible people. But at a distance they embody the hilariousness of being someone else's problem. I thought the narrator was annoying and didn't add much, but I got the impression that she's more fundamental to the book (which might make her ok--the "this is a gossip blog" frame just seemed redundant with seeing the action). So maybe that's okay. Also I prefer my lightweight fluff to have laser guns, which GG was seriously lacking.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:50 PM
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Oh, they are awful. Totally. And yes, not for everyone; I think you, as I know 'you,' would probably not get past the first few pages.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 1:54 PM
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C's not much of a reader, although he usually has a book (probably 80% non-fiction, 20% fiction) on the go, they just take him ages to read. Kid A used to be a reader, but reading for school and also reading lots of lines for plays, and of course the internet, mean she doesn't read as much now (and it's almost entirely YA, of which she is pretty critical, not what I would call proper books). Kids B and C are not readers - B is into music, C his computer games/computing in general. Kid D was a late reader (as in has only really been reading fluently for a couple of years) but now is rarely to be seen without a book and is also writing a book.

Sometimes I care, mostly I don't.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:04 PM
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Gone Girl is actually a fun read. I will defend it. OTOH, I'd probably enjoy Gossip Girl too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:05 PM
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Reading was like pulling teeth for me when I was younger. There may have been a learning disability involved (my wife thinks there was, the school pressured my parents to tag me "learning disabled"). I became quite skilled at scanning textbooks and making good grades regardless and for a while I could name every book I've read off the top of my head.

I am still subpar as far as reading goes, though I am a lot better than I was.


Posted by: Trumwill | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:05 PM
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I probably wouldn't read books anymore except that I'm in book club, which keeps me in the habit of carving out time for reading books, so I'm more likely to start an extra book here and there when I've got time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:06 PM
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Oh, to answer the OP a bit more - kid B actually writes very well, as does C, and Kid D too, in her 11 year old fashion. (If she'd been reading longer she would probably have got into the selective school she applied for, but actually she's glad she didn't, and is looking forward to being near the top of her class - being the youngest child who doesn't know anything gets tedious after a while.) Kid C thinks he's near the bottom of his class for English, but I brought a book for him to read on holiday (we are in Belgium) and he's refusing to, even though there's hardly anything else to do.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:11 PM
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I am multiply told that Eleanor and Park is powerful heartbreaking YA, and it has no sequels.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 2:25 PM
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Child has to write 10 or so sentences per week for English class, has had this assignment for years and years. Discovered only recently that he has also for years been using the assignment to write a political / military saga of a made up land. Asked how he got new teachers up to speed (do they get a recap? "the story thus far"?) but nope, not unless they ask. And twhen i looked at some if them the commentary from the teachers responds to the storyline, it is all kind of hilarious. Has to be one of the best things about having a kid, when you get a glimpse of their life completely independent of your own.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 3:15 PM
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I find it almost impossible to fall asleep without reading a (frivolous, non work related) book. It's really just that psycho-physical habit that's kept me reading consistently all these years. Recently for the past few years I've been alternating one work of fiction and one of history/nonfiction (ie, read a fiction book, read a history, on and on and on); I usually either "devour" the fiction book or just give it up after a few chapters; the histories take me 4-5 times as long.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 3:28 PM
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I can no longer read in bed, which from about the age of seven was where I did a lot of my reading. I immediately fall asleep. If my head is resting, as on a situp pillow, I fall asleep. I can't even watch TV from bed anymore for the same reason.

I was determined to finish watching the Ronde Flandern before falling asleep last night, and I knew however exiting it was, and it was very, I'd need to sit upright and keep my head off the pillow.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 6:11 PM
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exciting; if my head had touched the pillow, exiting.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 6:13 PM
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That's sort of an insomnia humblebrag.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 6:18 PM
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123 is wonderful. I keep on catching myself worrying that it's going to be hard to get Φ "into stuff" and then realize that I'm likely to have absolutely no influence on her whatsoever, or at least that she's not going to require kickstarting to find her rabbit holes.

Bonus baby story; I recently asked Φ, "puedes silbar?" (can you whistle?) and she puckered and blew. Lesson: my kid's a crappy whistler, but her command of Spanish at 12 mo.s is impressive. L.A. daycare FTW.

I have the same reading in bed disease as idp.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 6:52 PM
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she's not going to require kickstarting to find her rabbit holes

A truly evocative mixed metaphor.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 6:58 PM
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I read mostly comic books until I was 11 and we moved from Kansas City to a small town in East Texas. I found myself in the back of a classroom where I was at least a year ahead of the other students and right next to a bookcase full of Hardy Boys and similar books. I spent the year reading them.

When summer started, I happened across Heinlein's Sixth Column in the Lufkin library. By Fall I'd read every science book in that building, -fiction and -fact both, and I was a different kid. Continuing the change, we moved to Philadelphia and Sputnik went up; I realized something had happened to me when I found myself explaining to my 7th-grade science teacher why it didn't fall down.

Later I fell into the habit of giving my younger relatives a complete set of Heinlein Juveniles and a dozen other SF novels when they turn eleven. So far we have engineers, metallurgists, science teachers, and a musician. For myself, physics didn't work out but some of my software is sitting in a little robot on Mars. I currently have 472 books queued up on my Kindle.


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:02 PM
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we moved to Philadelphia and Sputnik went up; I realized something had happened to me when I found myself explaining to my 7th-grade science teacher why it didn't fall down

That's a cool "October Sky" type memory. Here's one for you: my dad used to point out Echo I to me in the night sky, like a moving star. It was a large reflective balloon in the ionosphere. Still gives me a thrill remembering it.

My dad explained the non-falling of satellites by having me spin a weight on a string. Centrifugal force isn't quite it, he'd say, but it made the relation between staying aloft and motion intuitive.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:41 PM
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131.last: That's a cool memory. I think I had something similar explained to me, and I just could not get it. Inertia didn't really make sense to me until I had Newton's Laws in a mathematician form.

In a sign of the changing times, if I had a child who asked me to explain satellites, I'd open up Kerbal Space Program.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 7:58 PM
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@131: My "October Sky" memories come from a couple of years later; my Explorer troop was sponsored by the GE Missile and Space Vehicle Division in Valley Forge. We did pretty much the same stuff as in the movie. (For those of you from that era and area, GE had a big white environment simulator building sitting on a hill. It could be pumped down to near-vacuum, lighted with sunlight intensity, etc.) Some of the GE guys (yes, all guys) worked on Echo; these days I point out the ISS. Some of my s/w is there, too.

My dad explained the non-falling of satellites by having me spin a weight on a string.

That's how I explain the Space Elevator nowadays.


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 04- 7-14 8:34 PM
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Bonus baby story; I recently asked Φ, "puedes silbar?" (can you whistle?) and she puckered and blew. Lesson: my kid's a crappy whistler, but her command of Spanish at 12 mo.s is impressive. L.A. daycare FTW.

Heh. Cool. Ours barely has that level of understanding in English. Although he's quite good at doing that hand-over-mouth ah-wah-wah-wah thing that I associate with 'Indians' from old movies.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 2:33 AM
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I do not love snapping awake in the middle of the night.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 4:18 AM
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Oh hi, Smearcase! Which is better, the random awakening accompanied by nameless anxiety and no idea why you woke up, or cat claws jabbing repeatedly into your leg? 'cause I got the second one.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 4:24 AM
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125 - we were there! Did you see us?! Top of the Kwaremont, Welsh flag? And then we walked down to a field with a big screen to watch the end - even in a field full of Belgians, Cancellara was a very popular winner.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 6:10 AM
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In a sign of the changing times, if I had a child who asked me to explain satellites, I'd open up Kerbal Space Program.

Truly, Jeb is the Buzz Aldrin of our times.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 6:30 AM
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137:

A wonderful finish, as all the commentators have said, a complete ride by Fabian. No nonsense about motors hidden in the tubes this time, that was mastery.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 6:44 AM
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Top of the Kwaremont, Welsh flag?

Geraint fans?--the nickel just dropped, as my wife says.

Handsome man, fine rider.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 7:38 AM
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C is Welsh, and loves to yell at Geraint. Got a wave from him at the start of a TdF stage last year, made his day.

We saw Fabian yesterday - just happened to be driving past the RVV museum at the right moment - clearly some celebration had just finished in there and he was just getting back on the team bus. He just seems so ... nice.

Paris-Roubaix on Sunday!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:10 AM
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So, any of the Boston contingent available for a meetup either evening May 10, or brunch May 11? That Jeopardy audition thing is in Boston, in the afternoon of May 11.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 8:26 AM
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Which is better, the random awakening accompanied by nameless anxiety and no idea why you woke up, or cat claws jabbing repeatedly into your leg?

The latter because cat. Although I guess I do remember what it's like to be infuriated by the little fuckers.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 9:33 AM
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And also because if you're woken up by something external, you're groggy and can probably fall asleep. If you're woken up by something internal, you might be wide fucking awake with ever-mounting anxiety about how you'll function the next day.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:01 AM
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And that is just what happened!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:05 AM
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Since this is the book thread, allow me to pass on the information (hopefully of interest to more than just bob) that every book available on the Verso website is selling for 1/2 off. Am I picking up a copy of The Communist Manifesto with Hobsbawn intro for only $6.47? Why yes I am. Also recommended: Utopia or Bust! I already have mine, but sweet deal, good dude.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:18 AM
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The commie in 146 was I.

134: She still is too lazy-assed to pull up to standing on her own. Viva la range of normal development.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 8-14 10:23 AM
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122: Yes, it is excellent; my wife and I each loved it.
124: My wife is the same way, and has slowly converted me. I think it's a terrible habit that interferes with falling asleep unprompted, but don't fight it.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 2:42 PM
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