The Art of Reading (Updated)

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Janko Ferlic (CC0)

March 26, 2017
(was 05.08.2016)

It used to be easy to get lost in a good book, but now lots of people say reading is boring. Scientists say all that skimming and surfing on electronic screens is actually rewiring our brains. So we examine the new science of reading, and meet celebrated New Yorker book critic James Wood.

Also, Jordanian scientist Rana Dajani tells the remarkable story of how she started a reading program for kids at her local mosque, which has spread to hundreds of libraries across the Middle East. And Princeton historian Tony Grafton uncovers the history of reading by looking in the margins of books.

  1. Why it's Hard to Read in the Electronic Age

    Are we losing the ability to read difficult books? Cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf says we need to develop a "bi-literate reading brain" so that we can switch back and forth between the deep reading of print and the skimming of electronic texts.

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  2. What Makes a Good Book Critic?

    James Wood is often called the best critic of his generation. He looks back at his own career, from writing brutal take-downs at the Guardian to his current perch at The New Yorker, and tells us why genre fiction makes him "anxious." You can read the transcript of the complete interview at Electric Literature.

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  3. Teaching Kids to Love Books in the Middle East

    When she moved back to Jordan, molecular biologist Rana Dajani realized that children there didn't read for pleasure. So she started a reading program at her local mosque. Since then, her reading program has reached more than 10,000 kids in Jordan and has spread across the Middle East.

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  4. Reading History from the Margins

    Can we ever know how people used to read - say, 500 years ago? Princeton historian Tony Grafton is obsessed with that question. He says we get plenty of clues by looking at what our ancestors wrote in the margins of books, and this provides a glimpse at how people thought about themselves and the world around them.

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  5. BookMark: Sarah Bakewell Recommends "The Pillow Book"

    Sarah Bakewell recommends "The Pillow Book" by Sei Shonagon (translated by Ivan Morris).

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  6. Mixing India and America

    Rolling Stone India has called Karsh Kale one of "the high priests of electro." He's a pioneer of the Asian Underground and top DJ at clubs around the world, from Ibiza to New York. He tells Charles Monroe-Kane about his lifelong journey to blend his two cultures: Indian and American.

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