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Monday Tally: Science Proves What We Knew About Books Already

by Kim on April 25, 2011 · 10 comments

monday-tag-150px Monday Tally is a weekly link round-up of some of my favorite posts discovered over the week. If you have suggestions for Monday Tally, please e-mail sophisticated [dot] dorkiness [at] gmail [dot] com. Enjoy!

Although the title of this post might seem a bit teasing, I’m actually pretty excited about finding this story. A recent study from the University at Buffalo shows that reading does expand our idea of ourselves and can make us feel like we’re not alone. As the article explains:

“Obviously, you can’t hold a book’s hand, and a book isn’t going to dry your tears when you’re sad,” says University at Buffalo, SUNY psychologist Shira Gabriel. Yet we feel human connection, without real relationships, through reading. “Something else important must be happening.”

In an upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Gabriel and graduate student Ariana Young show what that something is: When we read, we psychologically become part of the community described in the narrative—be they wizards or vampires. That mechanism satisfies the deeply human, evolutionarily crucial, need for belonging.

Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns did an interview with Nieman Storyboard, one of my favorite blogs about journalism and narrative nonfiction, about some of the process of writing her book.

Natalie (Book, Line, and Sinker) wrote a great post – Book Reviews or Book Reports: Which are you writing? – about how she taught her students about reports and reviews. What I liked most about it was how well her advice can be applied to reviewers of all ages!

It’s hard not to click on an article titled “Are Run-On Subtitles Literature’s New Flop Sweat?” isn’t it? In the piece for The Millions, Bill Morris writes about the tendency in nonfiction to write staggeringly long – and often ungrammatical – subtitles. I confess that I love a great, long subtitle, but his point is well-taken.

One of my favorite humor blogs is Catalog Living. If you appreciate the site, check out this list of top 10 food trends with the author, Molly Erdman.

And just one more. Friday Night Lights is one of my favorite television shows, so I will always link to articles that give it enormous praise. I especially enjoyed this one from The Millions for making this point:

If you’re like me, if you approach TV-watching like monogamous love affairs – with books as priority, I want my TV to be good, I want it to be meaningful, and I want to commit – then give FNL a shot. Because what you also want is for your TV shows to offer something literary books sometimes don’t: a (passive) emotional ride driving an (active) soul-level engagement. FNL strikes this combination brilliantly. It’s TV for sure, and network TV; it might take you a few episodes to adjust, to get used to all the busty women and their half-naked outfits (I almost quit out of cleavage overload), to remember that this is high school in a dead-end town and that boys and girls verbalize how much they love each other pretty much hourly and make bad decisions even more frequently. But the creators of FNL have successfully shown me that this is a place and a group of people worth getting to know. If small-town West Texas is a place you might otherwise consider nowhere of consequence … FNL will change your mind, and I dare say your eyes and heart as well. In the immortal words of Coach Taylor (say it with a twang), “I promise you that.”

Books for My TBR

The New Yorker’s books blog, The Book Bench, asked Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana what she was reading. I’ve subsequently added both books to my TBR:

  • Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang, about young women in modern china.
  • The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo, a women who took over her husband’s failing champagne business.

I can’t remember how I found this list, but I am in love with the Williamsburg Regional Library for putting together such a strong collection of narrative nonfiction writers, including their typical subjects and style. A couple books I added to my wishlists were:

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph April 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm

How long did you find it took you to get into FNL? I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but I’ve watched the first 3 or 4 eps of the first season on Netflix and it’s just not doing anything for me. Do I need to hold out a bit longer for it to hook me or if it hasn’t roped me in by now is it unlikely to do so in future episodes?

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Kim April 25, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Steph: You know, that’s really hard for me to say. I was hooked from the very first episode. I do think the characters mature as the season goes — Matt becomes a lot more interesting as the season progresses, as do all of the Taylors. Actually, most of the characters that seem to be stereotypes and one dimensional as the show starts really do flesh out. It’s hard for me to think back to not knowing all of them to think how the show progresses.

I’m sorry that answer was absolutely no help!

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Maphead April 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

VERY cool links ! You have given me one more compelling reason to read Factory Girls. The book has been on my TBR for a year or so but you have prodded me into making it a priority. Thanks !
Williamsburg Regional Library’s Top 100 Narrative Nonfiction writers list looks great ! I’ve already copied it to a Word document for storing and sharing with friends.
Thanks for posting these great links !

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Kim April 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Maphead: I hadn’t heard of Factory Girls before the article, but it’s sounds really good. I’ve got that list on my favorites and expect I’ll be going back to it often.

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nat @book, line, and sinker April 26, 2011 at 8:48 am

hey kim! thanks for the link on my review vs. report post. teaching the difference and then writing the post actually helped me see that my ‘reviews’ are more report/review hybrids. :) as for FNL, i’ve heard so much about it and am desperately casting about for a new show to watch on netflix–i finished all available seasons of arrested development and 30 rock and am not sure what to try next. i’ve seen this online, so i’m going to give it a whirl!

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Kim April 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm

nat: Your post made me think a lot about how I write my reviews too — how do you balance between reports and review content. It’s interesting to consider.

Give FNL a try. I love it to pieces, and I think the entire series is on Netflix right now.

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Jenny April 26, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I just started watching Friday Night Lights recently, and loved it immediately. But to be fair, I am far from my own football-loving home town, and I think that may have swayed me somewhat.

Catalog Living is glorious! I wish I had discovered it much, much sooner.

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Kim April 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Jenny: I love football too, which may be part of the appeal. But I do think there’s stuff for non-football lovers in FNL, it just takes a little longer to find :)

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Aths April 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I loved that study about reading! It makes sense too – I’m glad they got some form of proof for what we feel when we read.

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Kim April 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Aths: I love that study too (in part because I always think it’s funny when science tries to prove things that are so difficult to quantify!).

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