One quote bothered me, however: "Hindi, one of the official languages of India, is based on Devanagari, a scripture with complex characters describing whole syllables or words rather than single letters."
This isn't entirely correct.
- isn't complex. there are only 46 characters, whose strokes aren't meaningfully harder than Latin ones to write, unlike, say, Chinese where strokes can be intricate. They're typically one or two-stroke characters.
- 1:1 unambiguously maps writings to sounds, unlike English. yes, it does map to syllables. it's immediately obvious how to pronounce a word when reading it. I can't imagine them having to learn a language like English, where you have to rote memorize exceptions all the time.
- doesn't have characters that describe whole words...not sure where they got this idea. There are really short words that can be said with one syllable, but that's coincidence, like in English "a" is both a character and a word, though I wouldn't claim that letters map to words because of it.
Best read out loud - try too appreciate how much context and rule-of-rhyme you have to apply to read it correctly.
If only I had discovered this earlier in my life who knows where I'd be now, but better late than never I suppose.
At-least the libraries in Washington are pretty cool.
It's like wading through a swamp!
Not going to happen, bookstores will keep dying.
High concept sci-fi:. Three body problem by Liu cixin, or A deepness in the sky by Vernor vinge
Character drama: 11/22/63 Stephen king, or really almost anything by him
Don't underestimate lit-trash -- it's worlds better than Twitter -- Lee child jack reacher novels are fun, so were the original Tom Clancy run. Altered carbon on the cuberpunk front.
And of course the classics if you're willing to invest -- most of them are worth it, otherwise they wouldn't be classics
That said, I'd recommend reading Les Misérables to everyone. Definitely an amazing book.
I'd add that reading the whole Three Body Problem trilogy is highly recommended since it gets higher concept every book. And personally I enjoyed A Fire Upon The Deep just as much as A Deepness In The Sky.
I think if you watch an interview with DFW you will realize just how much he has thought of just about every facet of modern, entertainment-centric western society - all coming together in Infinite Jest which is the most depressing book I've ever read (he later committed suicide, so it might have been the most depressing contemporary book ever written either). Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness models an entire planetary civilization with no fixed sex (written in 1969, mind you), which I found very eye-opening. Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (as well as Crime and Punishment) are extraordinarily psychological and philosophical - ethics, free will, and God are centric. Both Steinbeck and Vonnegut have multiple books I'd recommend, but East of Eden by Steinbeck is an all-time favorite tackling good and evil (honestly Nietzsche in novel); Slaughterhouse 5 by Vonnegut (just a notch above Heller's Catch-22) is the embodiment of darkness and absurdity. Take an anti-war sentiment and an author willing to tiptoe to the border of sanity and insanity and the result is SH5. It is truly brilliant, and as someone who is fortunate enough to not have ever been impacted greatly by wartime, it is equally eye-opening.
Honorable mention (a book I have read more recently) goes to Tom Wolfe with The Bonfire of the Vanities. This book combines the legal system (police and prosecutors), personal greed and ambition (Wall Street bond salesman), racism (Media biases), and class structures and privilege in a hard hitting social critique on 80s New York City. Everything between its covers is key to understanding how the world actually works.
This turned out to be a lot longer than I anticipated. Hopefully it is helpful!
1. Increased vocabulary
2. Practice and improvement of skills I'm specifically reading about (as many of the books I'm reading are for acquiring skills related to my job)
3. Simply reading about new topics encourages me to read books further exploring on that peripheral knowledge
1. The momentum for reading begets more reading, which makes me feel good about spending my time reading over watching TV/movies/surfing the net.
2. I feel more knowledgeable and empathetic. In this past year I read stories about impoverished refugees from North Korea, American politics, and stories of overcoming seemingly impossible odds. These are topics I never get to explore in my day job, and it helps me feel more well-rounded.
Here's Reddit's top 200: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/reddit-top-200. Pick one that sounds interesting.
- If you're looking for easy-entry, entertaining contemporary scifi, start with Red Rising, Hyperion, Old Man's War, Children of Time, or We Are Legion - We Are Bob.
- Classic Scifi is harder since some of it has not aged well. Easy-entry here would be I Robot, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I am Legend, Dune, or Flowers for Algernon.
- Fantasy genre also suffers from repeated/common tropes, but some of the more inventive or engaging ones are Blood Song, Prince of Thorns (dark), The Blade Itself, or Sabriel (Audiobook by Tim Curry).
Seriously though, I jumped back into reading by picking a genre I loved, but was very behind on. In my case it was science fiction and started with the rather famous Dune. There have been some books I started and did not like so I stopped. When I find a stack of books for free I try to seek out if anything looks interesting (and check for quality) and grab 1 or 2. Worst case scenario you can just returneth the book from whence it came.
There's always Gnod.
Finally getting into reading will be like picking up any other activity. You need to fully commit for a while before it becomes something that you really need to do (rather something you only want to do).
I'm reading Greer's "Less" today, the most recent winner, and it is really pretty great.
If you haven't read Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea" is a pretty good starting point.
If you are into post-apocalyptic fiction at all, you need to read McCarthy's "The Road"
(Note, if you want Steinbeck - personally, I liked 'Of Mice and Men' a lot more than "The Grapes of Wrath" but both are good. Just saying I don't always side with the committee)
I mean, we can argue all day about what the best book is, but everything on that list is going to be both very good and usually quite accessible; you will note that Joyce is conspicuously absent, and a few of these are assigned reading in high school.
If you want to read stuff before that (and get free books from gutenberg!) I recommend you check out Mark Twain and Joseph Conrad. Both are excellent. "The end of his tether" is my favorite Conrad. "Roughing it" is my favorite Twain.
For starting, you could still use Goodreads to possibly find something interesting, or take a recommendation from someone who has similar taste in other things as you.
Then I started reading books on skills I wanted to acquire (i.e. Traction for marketing and SPIN Selling for sales).
All of those books lead to recommendations into other books.
Listening to podcasts that recommend books increase the breadth of books I'm reading.
My wife brings home books from the library and I read whatever she reads (i.e. Hillbilly Elegy and The People vs Democracy), and those lead to other nonfiction books I become interested in. And then there are the "classic" novels I interleave from time to time (i.e. Siddhartha and Meditations).
It just starts with maybe a handful of books you are dying to read, try to read for 15 min before bed, and before you know it, you're 50 books into the year!
Find small/independent presses that do cool things; even independent presses as large as New Directions will have a certain culture you can base opinions off of and figure out if its worth your time. Note that if its an imprint of one of the Big 5 theres no way to know if the book is gonna be worth it based on that.
And read books in translation. By virtue of being translated you already know its worth somebody's time, bad books arent often translated. And often they are hella good.
- The Lord of The Rings
- The Hobbit
- The Little Prince
- Animal Farm
- Asterix and Obelix comicbooks
For the next time, I'm going to try "Necronmicon" (H. P. Lovecraft!)
(EDIT: Formatting and added "Siddhartha")
1. If I'm not into a book, I wont force it, I can just jump to a new one.
2. 1-click downloads, if something sounds good I can just send a sample to the kindle. If it really sounds good I'll just buy it.
3. Portability, it's always in my bag and the charge lasts weeks.
I get book recommendations from Hacker News reading lists, podcasts, and friends. Then just download the sample.
Don't judge a book by a cover, but do have some curiosity.
Do you not get tired from this?
Books I read 3 years ago are typically purged from memory by now. What remains are understandings and intuitions on a topic, which have value, but sometimes I wonder if the time is always well spent.
The log might mention how I came to the book, what the big themes were, and for non-fiction, I write down the page number of important points that I might care to reference later.
This might be really weird but when I have a tough question, I like to think about what my favorite authors in my library might say, and I'll take the book out and flip through the pages, looking for their thoughts on the subject. When I spend hours reading a book, I internalize that author's voice, beliefs, and thought process. I don't need to remember all the tiny details but I remember their thought process which I consider priceless. I was going through a book called Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger and they have pages of questions to ask in the back and I realized I was automatically asking all of them on a daily basis. I had internalized that thinking.
Just because the density is better doesn't mean every book is dense.
In terms of memory, I keep notes and titles in Goodreads. Over time I may use a more durable store but I enjoy Goodreads.
I don't know if I agree. It just seemed relevant.
My hardest challenge is getting the same attention span for reading that I had before the current internet.
As for fiction, I like mostly fantasy, so will browse the shelves and look at hyped books on /r/fantasy, as well as other, lesser-known ones that sound/look interesting (I'm a proponent of looking at covers and titles to see if it seems interesting to look into deeper). I also used to follow some reviewers. For more "literary" fiction, I look mostly at what mainstream reviewers say. I found All the Light we Cannot See that way, and loved it (except for one scene I felt was just completely unnecessary to the novel). Then, perhaps, look for major authors. Umberto Eco is one that comes to mind that I'm fixing to start.
Usually I pick books by the following:
- If I haven't read a single book for fun, I would pick a popular fiction or nonfiction book. Its a good starting point. Things like "Top 10 books in X category" from goodreads are good examples, or "r/askreddit favorite books"
- After reading 5-10 different books, I'll get a feel for what I like and don't like. I'll search "site:reddit.com similar books to X" and grab recommendations. Compare these to amazon's bestsellers and goodreads.
- For nonfiction books, I generally am more picky. I usually have a list of people I follow, some write reviews on books they read. I have had a few people I respect read "Ego is the Enemy" so I picked that up recently, and its something I struggle with sometimes so it's ideal for me. Nonfiction books are most powerful when you read it at the right time
- For nonfiction more textbook-like books, or something more informational, I usually let reddit / goodreads /hackernews decide what's good and what's not.
I started to read less fiction now, I've seen the same plot rehashed too many times. Nonfiction books are interesting to me at the moment.
I guess it really depends what you want to get out of your book. Do you want escapism, inspiration, or change?
It sounds like you're stuck in the mindset that every moment not spent actively achieving something is time wasted. That can be a stressful way to live. Maybe if you're really looking to "get past the existential crisis" as you say, and you want to read books but feel like you shouldn't, it might be worth thinking about what you really want out of life as a whole. But I understand that it can be hard to rationalize, because our time on Earth is so limited.
Maybe you could compromise and only read books that teach something. Even good fiction teaches you about people and different ways of thinking.
No, it would not. This is a good way to look extremely creepy and make everyone around you uncomfortable.
Smile replaced with head bobble :)
Throughout history adults have always looked down on children, yet the upcoming generation always ends up surpassing their parents achievements.
This reminds me of something Socrates said, over 2 millenia ago:
“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
What do you consider "surpassing their parents achievements"? Sure we may be continuing the technical progress of their generation (i.e., picking up where they left off to go retire), but who's to say that given a greater lifespan, they wouldn't go on to achieve what we have?
If I spent 30 years of my life developing principles of some new science, and the next generation uses these principles to make life better, are they surpassing my achievements?
So far. There is some evidence that IQ has actually peaked.
Some studies suggest a highly distracted, unfocused mind is actually measurably worse at important tasks:
It may be that once the big shift has occurred when you learned to read your native language, it will never happen again, as you now have the "firmware" to read anything.
As you suggested in your comment, it's a whole different way of thinking.
Would the type of "new" language matter? Say, Someone who knows English, learning to read French, v/s the same person learning to read Mandarin, which has a very different structure?
I found, for example, Matthew Reilly's Ice Station a relatively easy story when I read it as a teen because the pace was high and the action was contained to a relatively simple scene. On the other hand, I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver right now and I'm really struggling to follow the story arcs because it jumps all over the place with its characters, scenes and timeframes. The fact I'm already familiar with most of the characters' names helps some of it stick, but I'm resigned to most of the secondary Royal Society characters being a generic conglomeration of traits and just treat them as a supporting cast without defined personalities in a lot of ways.
I find that I also very quickly forget the contents of novels I read. I read Snow Crash about 5-8 years ago and then again earlier this year, and I barely remembered any of it. Certainly I think more stuck the second time, but it was still mostly new to me (e.g. the character concepts and biggest plot points kind of stuck, but nothing more).
I sort of hope that reading can help me improve with my memory, but it hasn't in about 25 years of reading (I'm in my early 30s) so I don't hold particularly high hopes. I do wonder whether the aphantasia would've been even worse had I not read so much when growing up, but maybe if it hasn't noticeably improved in my life then equivalently it would never have been any worse had I not read. I wonder if my brain in some ways reflects an illiterate person in the visual cortex areas?
On the other hand, reading is undoubtedly the reason my vocabulary and spelling is as good as it is. Certainly, it's is a very valuable skill and I am glad that I continued to engage it since I learned to read as a child.
I think my visualization ability is about average, although I do very well with visual thinking. Not sure what the correlation is there.
I've been a prolific reader since about 11 years old. I would say that in general, I don't try to visualize what the author writes. Whenever the author spends a lot of time going into setting up the environment with lots of visual details, I only lightly skim that. I don't bother trying to visualize exactly what the author is trying to convey.
So sometimes it does lead to a little bit of confusion later on in the story if something I read doesn't match up with my made up visualization, but generally I might only get a blip of confusion a few times during a book, it doesn't really amount to much or affect my enjoyment.
I'm not sure how much time Neal Stephenson spends on visual details in Snow Crash, but I remember the first 200 pages of Anathem being a chore to get through because of the incredible amount of time he spent on setting up the environment. Because I largely skipped the visual details in Anathem, there were parts later on in the story that were confusing due to the fact I didn't have a grasp on the layout of the monastery and such. Assuming he didn't make mistakes at any point.
It also depends how engaged a book has me. Sometimes books are about the story and those details don’t matter. Other times they are more like paintings and time spent engrossed in smaller details does reveal a deeper level of enjoyment to the reader.
It's frustrating, because I've been wanting to learn how to draw, and now it seems like there should be something in my mind that I could try to put on paper? Would certainly make things easier
If I close my eyes, all I experience is blackness. Is that not true for most people?
I don't think I'm completely incapable of using this superpower; I can recall two instances where I've experienced an actual vivid in-colour visual hallucination while sleeping. Both times completely blew my mind but I woke up so they didn't last, I can't figure out how to trigger them again. :/
Meanwhile, if I'm not literally line-tracing, I'm woeful at it (like, stick-figure level bad). I can't even directly look at something and translate it, though that may be due to my general lack of practice.
Regarding dreaming, I know I've dreamt maybe 3 times a year? When I'm in very light sleep and drifting in and out of it. Within seconds of waking up, I've lost it however, so I never remember my dreams, just knowing that I did in fact have dreams happening. For the other 360 days, I'm essentailly closing my eyes to a void and then teleporting to the next morning.
It's really hard to describe how I feel about it. I can't know how other people perceive the world, so I might be misunderstanding the whole thing, but for the longest time I though "imagination" was metaphorical, but lately I've been wondering that it might not be.
As I said in my earlier comment, I do get these feelings that might be "seeing" something inside my head sometimes, but the feeling is so indistinct that I can't call it constructing images in my mind; I've been trying to figure out how to make my brain do it better, but it's difficult.
When I read a book, I'm often totally transported into that world. I wonder if areas of my brain invoved with vivid dreaming are being activated when I am in this state.
the light bulb one is easy enough. you just have to flick a switch every time you walk past one (this is during the day while you're awake) and then eventually you will remember to do it in your dream. when the light doesn't switch off in your dream, thats when your conscious mind will hopefully notice and you can start to take control over the dream
its a bit harder to do the same with words. when you find some in your dream, you have to focus on a few of them and try to memorise them, (which isn't easy when your mind is in that state) then look away for a few seconds and then look back and see if they are still the same.
ive only ever managed to test that out once myself but after a while the words started to change and others disappeared which made me snap out of it and realise i was in a dream.
tl;dr wordz is new init?
(I did that once, and iirc I had 2 fingers on one hand and 7 on the other? Or something like that)
I read the headline and instantly wondered if the same result occurs as we age and continue to fine tune our reading skills. The above passage seems to confirm the age old saying of reading keeping the mind active. One thing I am wondering though is if there is a certain types of literature that the brains reacts in a more positive or less than observation way. For example, does our brain engage more when we’re reading a technical literature review moreso than if it was a novel? Or vice versa. Is this why professionals—lawyers are the main ones i can think of—who comb through hundreds of dense reading weekly get viewed as achieving such a masters ability in reading?
Even my skills in programming have doubled or tripled during that time. To the point where the then-CTO of the company picked it and brought it up. I went out and doubled my salary and job responsibilities a year later.
I'm not sure if it's related to the reading, or if the reading was a side-effect of it, but I thought I'd share.
 I attended a weekly class for several months when I was 8 but we didn't get through half of a first grade book.
 Although I can make out the letters and can write pretty good too, it takes me longer than usual and I usually can't make sense of 60% of what I'm reading because written Arabic is in the very formal MSA and I'm only familiar with a regional dialect. A comparison to this would be someone who's only familiar with NY-borough slang trying to make sense of Shakespeare.
The process I used was to learn a new letter everyday (with its three combinations) then found a local Lebanese church that had Arabic classes and joined up.
I was a lot better than everyone else, because I went in with prior knowledge, so I was always at least several lessons ahead which allowed me to utilise my time with the teacher to ask questions on specific things rather than just trying to keep up with the core coursework.
I'm sure it does, but moreso I think that it might be more a function of the actual style of language used than it is of the subject matter. For example, if you read any literature from a century ago, you'll likely notice that what we now call run-on sentences are used all over the place. These sentences have a parsing tree that is far deeper and more self-referential than modern authors use, and so in turn likely engages the brain more than a simpler sentence structure would. Of course, this has negative connotations as far as clear communication goes, but it's a good exercise to spend a few weeks reading this kind of material - it definitely becomes noticeably more readable after more exposure.
You'll also likely be familiar with the way that newspaper articles (particularly in tabloids and local rags) have dropped their reading grade-level standards and are using simpler linguistic constructions to help ensure their audience understands. There's probably a bit of a negative feedback loop in there somewhere.
I'd be skeptical about that. A few years ago there was this craze about increasing working memory and thus IQ using the dual-n-back game (advertised as the only game that has transference to unrelated tasks). Turned out to be a placebo. People have been dreaming about increasing their IQs and from time to time fall to various fads. Until there is strong scientific evidence, these 'IQ boosters' should not be taken seriously.
I also wonder what the limits to learning are. At some point, if I learn something new, does pushing that knowledge into my long-term store replace or weaken an existing memory?
2) "Point of view is worth 80 IQ points" is actually one of Alan Kay's famous quips.
This statement as written is almost total nonsense. A cursory internet search yields abundant studies on adult neurogenesis. Even small amounts of cardiovascular exercise increase brain volume, stimulate neural growth, and create synaptic connections in adults well into old age.
At best, one could claim that neuron growth slows as we age, but it absolutely doesn't halt.
The studies which came before may be based on nonprimate animal models in which adult neurogenesis does occur. But the best evidence we have to date suggests that adult humans do not grow new neurons.
I've often wondered this also. It would be interesting to quantitatively determine the effects of reading fiction versus non-fiction material on the mind.
Wasn't it said that Einstein kind of came up with the whole idea about relativity based on the imagined idea of "riding" a beam of light or something like that?
"In the case of science, I think that one of the things that make it difficult is that it takes a lot of imagination. It's very hard to imagine all the crazy things that things really are like."
For horizontal languages like say english, the most relevant words are to the left and right of the current word, so left context and right context are initially in different halves of the brain.
For vertical languages relevant symbols are above and below the currently observed symbol, so if there is overlap of right and left FOV then both halves have the full context, if no overlap then both halves get the full context but only partially each symbol...
So if we are reading horizontally, the not-yet seen text is in a portion of the field of vision of both eyes that is routed to one brain hemisphere; the text already scanned is in the opposite field of vision going to the other hemisphere.
(The entire book is fascinating.)
Empirically, when running tests where you wanted a clear hemisphere separation, we always used between one and two degrees off the centerline axis. This was undergrad cog sci in the 90's, so take it for what you will.
"Poppy seeds: differences in morphine and codeine content and variation ..."
"Spectrum of human tails: A report of six cases ..."
"Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string ..."
On the original question, neglect dyslexia can be caused by disturbance in one cortical hemisphere.
"The Myths and Truths of Dyslexia in Different Writing Systems"
i haven't read this in its entirety, but it discusses things a bit and has a sizable bibliography: https://dyslexiaida.org/the-myths-and-truths-of-dyslexia/
As I understand it, only about 2% of our species' history.
But I would give anything to know if there are undiscovered enormous innovations on that level and if so, what they are.
I do wonder, though. Do humans with no written language still understand that writing contains information, or does it just look like noise to them?
To me, the experience is a bit less involved than reading. A good narrator can paint quite the picture with intonation, emphasis, ...
I find it is still a way more involved and active experience then, eg, watching a movie or TV show.
I still imagine the scenery in my mind, think about the characters motivations, ...
With a busy schedule, it is a great compromise, I think.
Sometimes the writing system of your own language can be formidably difficult, on par with learning a foreign language, if not harder.
I read at night mostly though, and it's a nice way to wind down before bed. During the summer, while I'm off, I'll also walk and read as well. I generally don't tend to pass of social events to read, though (boardgame night was an exception because I had, like, 20 pages left), so that cuts me down some.
Let's keep spam off HN.
Btw, reusing Amazon referral IDs across the internet links all of your accounts.