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Friday News: Reading and the mind’s eye, Twitter and the discovery...

Most authors wittingly or unwittingly provide their fictional characters with more behavior than physical description. Even if an author excels at physical description, we are left with shambling concoctions of stray body parts and random detail. We fill in gaps. We shade them in. We gloss over them. We elide. Our mental sketches of characters are worse than police composites. –Slate

The second superdialect is used almost exclusively in rural areas. Gonçalves and Sánchez used a machine learning algorithm to find subclusters within this group and discovered three different variations. These correspond to a dialect used in Spain, a Caribbean and Latin American dialect and another variation used exclusively in South America. –MIT Technology Review

It’s a common and easy enough distinction, this separation of books into those we read because we want to and those we read because we have to, and it serves as a useful marketing trope for publishers, especially when they are trying to get readers to take this book rather than that one to the beach. But it’s a flawed and pernicious division. This linking of pleasure and guilt is intended as an enticement, not as an admonition: reading for guilty pleasure is like letting one’s diet slide for a day—naughty but relatively harmless. The distinction partakes of a debased cultural Puritanism, which insists that the only fun to be had with a book is the frivolous kind, or that it’s necessarily a pleasure to read something accessible and easy. Associating pleasure and guilt in this way presumes an anterior, scolding authority—one which insists that reading must be work. –The New Yorker

“This is a reminder of how we are the ones in control of the content that we consume—we are the ones transmitting it by liking and favoriting,” Hedberg said in an email interview with Newsweek. The Smile TV broadcasts intentionally shortened clips of kung fu films, daytime television programs and more when prompted with a grin. Hedberg aimed to emulate the deluge of cat gifs, rapid-fire news and listicles, shared by millions on the Internet, on the Smile TV. –Newsweek

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. Annie V
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 09:11:51

    That Rebecca Mead essay is great. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. Sunita
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 09:50:47

    I loved that Rebecca Mead post as well. I think it captures the way a lot of us read when we were young (and maybe still read now).

    The Awl had a terrific interview with Mendelsund yesterday. It was a pleasure to read about cover design as an aesthetic rather than a marketing issue. The word thumbnail is nowhere to be found. ;)

  3. SAO
    Aug 16, 2014 @ 11:04:20

    I’ve long been aware that we don’t describe faces well. I suspect most people could not immediately recognize descriptions of familiar actors, such as George Clooney. I think it’s because facial recognition is something our brains do well and automatically, so we never have to think about it. When we see George Clooney or someone we’ve met once or twice, we’re not cataloguing features and comparing it to a database of people with those features.

  4. Susan
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 12:27:06

    Hey, Janet. Did you see that there’s an “adult” version of Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie coming out this fall. The article makes it sound salacious, but it’s probably just a more realistic view of LIW’s life on the frontier.

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