I’m a little bit noise sensitive. I prefer silence when I work. The ambient sound in a space is more important to me than the ambient light.
In my new apartment my work space is regularly invaded by three kinds of sounds:
- Birds – there is a pet bird down the hall. And now that it is spring there are the birdies outside. I guess I shouldn’t complain about those birds. But the birdie down the hall sounds like a smoke detector that needs a new battery.
- Babies – there is a new baby across the hall, less than six months old. The baby doesn’t wake me, but I can certainly hear if baby cries when reading in my living room or working at my desk.
- Bass – the heavy beat of my downstairs neighbour’s stereo. He has days where this is particularly bad, then weeks of no noise at all.
I’m looking for a way of coping with this that doesn’t involve ear plugs. I use them, but don’t like the feel and sound – I get a ringing in my ears when I wear them, and this seems to defeat the purpose. I’m thinking sound cancelling headphones. We’ll see.
I found a couple of interesting articles about women, writing, and publishing today. I’m still digesting the ideas and information in them, and expect I’ll have more to say in a few days. Meanwhile you can check them out too. Here they are:
- Interesting thoughts about marketing to men and women. Love the alternative On the Road covers.
- Thoughts about recognition of women and men in the publishing industry.
Look for more on this in this space.
This guy on a YouTube video claims that being involved in a good story means you are in an “altered state of consciousness.” Actually he’s a professor, not just some guy off the street. It doesn’t mean he’s right, but it means he probably did some research to back up his statement. I’ve acquired his dissertation to find out whether the research works or not.
If true, it explains a lot: reading being addictive, my difficulty in settling to reading in many public places, the unawareness of surroundings that a reader can have (see Mom it is legit that I don’t hear when I read!). If not true, that means I’m still looking for some explanations.
Yesterday I was
procrastinating browsing the photos people have been uploading to the Beacon Bible Camp facebook page. Beacon is the camp I’ve volunteered at for as long as I’ve been old enough to do so, is the place I went to camp as a camper, and where I was a camp staff kid before that. The old photos are out in force as Beacon is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Many of the old photos bring back memories of situations not shown in the pictures, but which may have happened with the people in the pictures. I thought briefly about the old record player at camp, and the Very Limited Selection of records available to put on the turntable.
This morning I woke up with a song in my head from those very vinyl albums we played over and over again on that record player. B.J. Thomas, I haven’t heard from you in a while! Memory is a funny thing isn’t it? How on earth did a fleeting memory of the silly record player produce B.J. Thomas singing “Home Where I Belong” in my head? Why do I remember the lyrics after (mumblemumble) years? Who knows.
What weird sound tracks has your brain come up with lately?
Apparently it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Really. Go look at the article. I’ve heard 10 years to become an expert, no hours per week attached, but my understanding was ten years of full-time hours. That is more than 10,000 hours, so something is funny somewhere. Whatever, it takes a long time. It also means that many of us aren’t really experts at anything because we don’t do hours and hours of intentional practice at much of anything. Things I’m probably an expert at:
2. Watching TV, even though I grew up without one.
3. Reading fiction, especially mysteries.
5. Reading other texts, but I’m not sure that I’ve read enough non-fiction. Though I may have.
6. Writing/editing academic work. Maybe I’ve got close to 10,000 hours on that. Not sure, but I’ve been doing it for more than 10 years so it is likely up there.
How about you? Where is your expertise in the 10,000 hour definition?
Once upon a time, the Playwright, the Norwegian, and I tried a book group. It didn’t work. Why? you may legitimately ask. We are all people who love to read and talk about what we read. It was the Required part of the reading that made it all fall down. As soon as we decided on a book we all wanted to read it became undesirable because required. Oh the oddity.
I was put in mind of this failed experiment in reading by two incidents recently. First, I read a blog post in which the blogger decided to read the top selling book for every year from 1913 to 2013. Because some books made the top spot for more than one year, the reading list is 94 books long. I looked at the list and thought that is interesting. It sort of goes with my reading old books resolution. But not quite. You see I resolved to make sure I read books first published before 1970 1/3 of the time in 2013. I did not specify which old books I’d read. There are many possibilities. I own many possibilities. I just have to look around and select one of the possibilities. There is no requirement that I read any one particular book.
The second incident occurred in the bookshop where I work. A gentleman came in toting his recently published book to find out if we’d carry the book. He asked me if he could leave the book with me. I said NO very firmly. He made his pitch to my manager. My manager came back and put the book on my desk and informed me that it was my turn to assess a book as two of my colleagues already had reading assignments. Ugh. Required reading. How irksome. Oh well, I’d better give it a try.
Do you find that making a book “required” in some way deters you from reading the book? Or does it give you incentive to read? I wonder if it is a personality thing. Probably.
I’ve just come in from a workshop on reading scripture. We spent more than two hours on practical tips, then rehearsing and performing a particular reading. I was working with a team on a reading of Isaiah 6, the bit where Isaiah sees the Lord. It was a good workshop, lots of interesting points. It made me think about how I preach as well as how I read scripture. When I preach, I preach from a manuscript, so it is essentially a reading. I also got to thinking about some discussions and experiences of reading aloud that I’ve had in the past few weeks.
1. Reading aloud — “It slows me down.” My friend, the priestling, who is in her first year of Seminary, told me that she sometimes reads her textbooks aloud because it slows her reading down. She cannot skip over bits of the text, let her eyes slide over words without really comprehending what the words say. I have never actually read aloud to an audience of just myself. I feel a bit self-conscious doing that. I should probably just get over it. If I’m reading aloud at home there’s no one but me to hear it. It isn’t as if I’d try this on the bus or in a library. At times I need to slow some of my reading down, and experience it with more than one sense. I think I’d like to try this.
2. Listening to someone read — details get picked up. I’ve said before in this blog that I find the experience of listening to an audio book substantially different from reading a book. Last week I listened to Pride and Prejudice and found that listening to a book I’ve read a few times to be an enriching experience. I’ve read P&P many times, and thought I knew the story backwards and forwards. Listening to someone else read it highlighted some details that I have never noticed before. This may be part of that whole slowing the book down process. It was pretty interesting. I think I’ll try some other re-reads as a listen next time through.
I’ve got more to say about reading aloud as performance, and thus preaching as performance, not to mention the hideous habit some people have of speeding up when they read scripture verses as if the Bible were something to be rushed through so we can get to what the person themselves has to say. But I’ll stop for now with these two reflections and ask what you’ve read aloud/been read lately?
I’ve found a couple of other places where people are talking about reading older books/classics in 2013. Over at the Englewood Review of Books there is an ongoing feature of authors listing their favourite classics (the link is to the most recent one). In the introduction to each of these lists, the ERB points to an article by one of the editors at ERB who gives his definition of a “classic.” As you know, my challenge is to read one older book for every two newer ones, but the ERB challenge suggests a 1:1 ratio and, as I have done, suggests you make your own definition of a classic or older book. I’ve gone with “older than 1970″ for my older book selection, and I’m still working on the 1 older for every 2 newer, and I’m exactly on target so far this year.
Over at Book Riot, here is a post on Reading Hard Things. I think it is clear from the post that the author is not talking about Reading Badly Written Things, but Hard Things, things that are difficult and worth fighting through. The problem is, one doesn’t know if it is worth it until one tries. So C.S. Lewis in An Experiment in Criticism. But trying is important. And ploughing through something that is difficult may produce a new understanding. You may find, as I did after wading through Pride and Prejudice, that you LIKE the book that was difficult, and that re-reading it becomes a pleasure, not a chore.
Speaking of Pride and Prejudice I am enjoying it in audio form at this time. It is a different experience hearing the book. Details stand out differently. Try it out with one of your favourites. I’m sure the library will have a copy in audio form.
It is always interesting when I’m reading fiction and non-fiction that turn out to be about similar things. This doesn’t always happen. Of course, whenever I’m reading two books at once the two speak to each other. Even books I’m not reading right now also speak into what I’m currently reading. That is part of the fun of reading lots. Your brain works intertextually more and more. But I’ve just finished two fiction books that almost perfectly illustrate the first chapter of my current theological reading. That is pretty exciting.
My current theological read is The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic by James K.A. Smith. Smith’s book is about hermeneutics and reading texts. He discusses whether one can ever do this without interpretation. He claims that the need for hermeneutics is part of our status as creatures, created beings, not God, and thus it is not a result of the Fall (Garden of Eden, Eve, Adam, fruit, all that = Fall). I’ve just finished the first chapter in which he discusses and disputes a view of hermeneutics that I was raised with (and, it appears, so was he, #plymouthbrethren ftw). I enjoyed it very much. I’m interested to see how he builds the “Creational Hermeneutic” promised in the title of the book.
I just finished reading The Chosen and The Promise by Chaim Potok. These books are about growing up Jewish in New York in the 40s. The first book is set during World War II, and in it the protagonist learns about the holocaust. The second book is set in the years after the war with survivors of concentration camps living in New York. Both books discuss the reading and interpretation of sacred texts extensively. The key conflict in the second book is about the reading and study of the Talmud. It is very interesting. I’m glad I re-read these two just in time to start reading Smith’s book. It makes all of them more interesting.
An enormous flap was made when J.K. Rowling, kid’s author, made the jump to Adult Fiction. Why is the same not true for people like John Grisham, Adult Novelist, who also wrote Kids Books? Or for Jasper Fforde, of Thursday Next fame, who has written some dragon books that look a lot like YA fiction? Or for Many Other Adult Novelists who have also published for children?
Let the flap commence.