Brain’s Reading Centers Are Culturally Universal No Matter What Language

mandarin-flash-cards

The brain scans of French and Mandarin native speakers have shown that people use the same areas in the brain for reading, no matter what language they are reading.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

Growth in Brain’s White Matter Tracts Could Predict Literacy

myelination
Section through nerve fibers within the sciatic nerve as seen under the electron microscope: the axons (nerve cell projections, pink) are only poorly surrounded by a myelin sheath (generated by Schwann cells, coloured blue) following inactivation of the gene encoding BACE1, which controls the myelination process (right panel). The nerve fibres in a control animal (left panel, BACE1 gene is intact) are in contrast surrounded by thick myelin sheaths (dark rings). (Picture: Dr. Alistair Garratt/Copyright: MDC).

Brain connectivity can predict reading skills, thanks to brain scans and the examination of the growth of long-range connections in the brain. These allow researchers to predict how a child’s reading skills will develop.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

Information Flow & Digest

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Since I got an iPhone last March (my first smartphone), the way that I access and consume information has changed. While I’ve had an iPad for about 5 months, I hadn’t yet gotten a 3G card from my carrier. There is a big difference between having access to the Internet anywhere and just not being able to do so. The places I go to don’t have reliable free WiFi. The iPhone 4S allows me to tether my iPad for free, because my carrier is CHT in Taiwan and they are partly government-owned, my iPad 2 still hasn’t gotten an 3G card.

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2011 in Books

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Here is the complete list of books that I read in 2011. There are some months that I didn’t read much, and in late December, I got an iPad since I started reading a lot more ebooks. The iPad makes reading books so much more convenient. Once you finish one, you can immediately start another. I’ve probably read a lot more because of the iPad and the 2,881 books that I have on it. I had been reading books on my MacBook Pro for the last couple of months, and I found it tiresome, especially when you read at night before going to bed. This isn’t the case with the iPad. I’ve read a lot of books on it in the month of December, almost all of them, and it was a pleasant experience.

Compared to last year, I read 41 more books. I read a total of 85 books last year. This year, I hope to reach 100. Standout books for this year were 1Q84, The Prague Cemetery, 2666, The Savage Detectives, Reamde, and the Jasper Fforde books. At the rate I read, and because of the prevalence of ebooks, I tend to read through an author’s repertoire quickly, unless they’re prolific.

Towards the end of the year, after reading a lot of fiction, I started to read some science-fiction again. I finally finished all of the Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow novels by Orson Scott Card. A friend also suggested Richard Morgan. I devoured his books, though the last one, Woken Furies, wasn’t as good as the previous two.

This is the year that I started reading many books at the same time. Once I felt that a book was challenging, I usually started reading something else, to make it easier. At the worst, I was reading 7 books at the same time. Now, I’m back to more manageable number, with still a few books to finish. I also live by a rule: any book that I start must be finished, even if it is boring. I keep my list updated with the books I read over the months. I might have to switch to a monthly digest as I have done before to make the list easier to peruse.

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Currently Reading – Late November 2011

Adam Levin's 1000-page monster, The Instructions

There are a lot of good books that have come out since mid-October. The flood hasn’t stopped and I am currently reading 8 books at the same time, which is unusual. I usually like to read one book at a time, maybe too. This is probably down to the fact that The Instructions is such a time-consuming read. Unlike 1Q84, which is of similar length, and Reamde, the words seem to flow less in The Instructions, making it a harder read.

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Reading Ebooks without Ebook Readers

100511_rg_EbooksnoEreader_01.jpgOver the last few months, we’ve started to make a switch towards ebooks. While most of the reasons behind the switch are practical, we’re not using an ereader to read our ebooks and we read every single day. Ereaders are nice devices, but the technology evolves so quickly and we don’t want to upgrade it every single year.

NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy 2011


Check out NPR’s listing of the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy books submitted by fans. Out of these 100 books or series of books, I have read 48. There’s another 10 or so that I am planning on reading, that I already have in ebook or book format.

There are some of my favorite authors missing from this list. One of the most important, at least in my opinion, in science-fiction is Alastair Reynolds. House of Suns and Pushing Ice are great for people wanting to try him out with standalone novels, but the Revelation Space novels are incredible. Even though Iain Banks is on the list with his Culture series, one of his best novels, Transition, is missing. Peter F. Hamilton is also missing with his Void Trilogy.

The ones marked in bold after the jump are the books that I have read.

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Young Adults Are Reading More Than You

Great column in a series over at McSweeney’s on the state of publishing. There’s a reason why I’m working on a young adult novel.

2010 in Books Annotated

Transition by Iain M. Banks, photo by Paul Campbell

Here are the books that I read in 2010. During the first few months of 2010, I didn’t read much. I picked up some speed during the summer. I read a total of 44 books. Standout new novels of this year include Transition by Iain M. Banks, which surprised me a lot. That book was actually better than his Culture novel Surface Detail.

Other really good books include Zero History by William Gibson, which I truly enjoyed. It made me want to buy all of his old novels and read them again. I last read them when I was a teenager and I didn’t like them all that much.

In this list, you’ll find novels that I’ve read countless time, like House of Suns and Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds. His last book Terminal World was disappointing, as I pointed out earlier.

Compared to last year, I read a bit less (61 vs 44) but that’s understandable as I spent a few months reading nothing. This year, I want to read 100 books. That is not going to be easy, but it’s feasible.

Continue reading “2010 in Books Annotated”

The Future of Reading

Interesting article by Jonah Lehrer over at Wired. I have yet to purchase an iPad or eReader and I still buy lots of books. It will take a while before the book is replaced with technology. In the last few days, since Friday, I’ve read 10 paperback books.