What Does Anna Karenina Look Like? – Peter Mendelsund is responsible for some of the most memorable book covers, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and now he has written a book on how the reader does or doesn’t imagine the physicality of the characters: What We See When We Read. This excerpt, focused on Anna Karenina, is pretty interesting, especially in the way Mendelsund constructs the relationship between physical description and the mind’s eye view of a character.
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
Computational Linguistics of Twitter Reveals the Existence of Global Superdialects – So remember that quiz a while back that tested where in the US you hailed from based on specific words you used? Well, two linguists, one in France and on in Spain, have been using Twitter to study the way Spanish dialects can be mapped based on tweets. With approximately 50 million tweets over a two-year period, they discerned some really fascinating trends, including the existence of two “superdialects,” which reflect not only where people live, but how language is mixed (or not) with other dialects and languages.
It turns out that Spanish dialects falls into two major groups which Gonçalves and Sánchez call superdialects. The first of these is used more or less exclusively in major Spanish and American cities. This is an international variety of Spanish that is similar across continents. Gonçalves and Sánchez speculate that this is the result of an increasing homogenization of language caused by global communication systems like Twitter.
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
The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself – I really like this little essay by Rebecca Mead, in large part because she takes on the false opposition of commercial fiction = fun and literary fiction = not fun. But also because she entertains the vast diversity of reasons people read, and the different pleasures that can come from reading. And, as the title suggests, these pleasures are so very personal, that pitting books against each other and good or bad in some way creates boundaries around an activity that in so many ways seems aimed at expanding the imagination.
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
Creepy TV Works Only if You Smile – David Hedberg, a student at the Royal College of Art, created this television in such a way that if you aren’t smiling, the image will not be clear. The bigger your smile, the clearer the picture:
“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 didnÊ¼t know, didnÊ¼t think about, or didnÊ¼t feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!