Books I’m Currently Waiting For

In my que from the library, I have the following:

1.  An Atheism That is not Humanism Emerges from French Thought

2.  Socialist Phenomenon

3.  Amish Baking

4. Information Architecture

5.  Understanding Photography Field Guide

I’m hoping that I have time to read these even with school starting next week.  I already have the Amish Baking cookbook, and its fantastic.  I’m always excited for the beginning of school, but sad too because of the free time lost.

And yes, I have eclectic reading list.  Right now though I’m reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by Wallace.  To everything there must be a balance.


Future of books in light of history

Right now I am taking a class on the history of books and libraries.  Since my mid-term is tomorrow, I’m in the midst of re-reading notes and re-listening to record lectures.  I am behind.  Currently I am in the 15th and 16th centuries with the invention of printing.  But as I am listening to these lectures, I am struck by the thought of how this time period compares to our current literary times.  Several people hesitated to adopt printing.  Many thought it was evil and would destroy God’s holy work (the diligence of the scribes faithfully copying books).  And those who did print, at first made books that looked exactly like manuscripts.  Ever seen the Gutenberg Bible?  Hard to remember that it was printed and not copied out.  Even those who loved the new technology of printing could not see beyond what they already had — the manuscripts.

I feel that our society is in the same grips.  There are those who can’t wait for the Apple IPad to come out, and those who are frightened that it is the end of reading.  Or reading as we know.  We will scan, and leave behind deep reading.  Some are even worried about the future of literacy.  And soon books will disappear entirely (look at the current state of newspapers and magazines).

In some ways, Steve Jobs IPad is perhaps the dawning of a new age.  Kindle is good, but it still holds fast to how we have traditionally read books.  It wants to keep the essence of books so that its users will not be concerned that they are reading an electronic book and not a physical book.  But in order for this new technology to work, for magazines, books, newspapers, etc., there has to be an entirely new platform and format.  Printing really became popular and picked up when it began to change and transform into the book as we know it today.  And in the same way, I think that it is the same for our literary reading today.  Once e-literature becomes it own (and maybe its the IPad that helps this or some other future device), then society will accept it more.  Our reading will change, and the “printed word”.  It is inevitable.  But it is not something to fear.  We will still read.

I wish I could continue on what this will mean for librarians, but I do have a mid-term tomorrow and more history to review.  One other article that spurred these thoughts even further: Josh Quittner’s article, “How tablets will change magazines, books, and newspapers.”

World of Warcraft and Reading

WorldcraftNY Times posted an article today about gaming and reading. When reading articles about this subject, I always have to ask myself, what do they mean by reading? Reading images on a screen? Or in a book? One example in the article talks about a boy who avidly reads websites that have information about the World of Warcraft game and cheats too. Is this the kind of reading we want to encourage?

Reading, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “The action of perusing written or printed matter; the practice of occupying oneself in this way.” Perusing is often a synonym for reading. In perusing books, a reader should be looking for an understanding of the printed words on a page. Hence the numerous assignments teachers give revolving book reports, response papers, and term papers. Reading designates a sort of comprehension.

Video games, however, utilizes a different aspect of comprehension. It isn’t so much a comprehension of storylines, ideas, or characters, rather it is an understanding of surroundings. Like James Paul Gee’s quote in the NY Times article, “Games are teaching critical thinking skills and a sense of yourself as an agent having to make choices and live with those choices.” While these games may teach critical thinking skills, they teach it in a fantasy world and sometimes these lessons do not translate into reality. Looking at video game players, I don’t see an effort to engage the world, but to leave the world and play in their fantasy. Books however, do the opposite. They push people to engage and confront the world around them. The more they read, the more people often take action in their own world and often to change it.

I don’t think that video games are horrible. In one way they are the same as books in that they allow for the user to escape, which is not necessarily bad and is sometimes good at the end of a stressful day (no matter the age). But I do not think that they will help encourage better reading habits. Several studies are being done to see whether or not playing games like World of Warcraft encourages better reading or more reading and it will be interesting to see what the studies conclude. However I predict that it will prove that gaming events at libraries will be very popular and have large turnouts, that there are similarities in the comprehension, and that while there are large turnouts for library gaming events, there is not much of an increase in books checked out at libraries.

Second Life and Literature?

A Second Life in literatureSince having to create an account for Second Life for the graduate school program I have been interested in the relation between academia and a virtual reality like Second Life.  I’m skeptical of the ability for it to work.  Perhaps it because its a virtual reality — a life that is only a dream and at least once removed from reality.  Now Guardian has posted a news article about the idea of having virtual literary worlds on Second Life to explore.  Imagine exploring Dante’s Inferno?  I can’t see how this acheives the goal of having people read more.  Why read a virtual book if you are not going to read in reality?  Who dreams of being an academic if they’re not already pursuing that goal in real life?  It may be interesting to explore literary worlds but why do so when I can imagine that world on my own?  If anything, this new step only takes away the ability of one’s ability to imagine.  An important aspect of reading is being able to imagine.  Great writers become great usually because they grew up reading vast amounts of books which caused their imagination to run wild.  It doesn’ take much imagination to develop a second life.  Especially if the options have already been created for you (you just might not realize it, but there’s only a certain amount of choices can only be made in the system).

Link to article at Guardian: A Second Life for literature