Tag Archives: reading

The joy of reading difficult things

I typically read about a book a week. The majority of those are nonfiction with an occasional fiction one thrown in as well. Some of my recent favorites are The Power of Habit, Salt, and Moonwalking With Einstein. Those are all great but they’re also all pretty easy reads. They give my brain just enough to feel productive but not enough to really chew on.

Two weeks ago I picked up The Order of Things, a book I’ve had on my shelf for years. While I’ve only made it 90 pages in, I love it.

As a political theory major in college I read a lot of books like this. Books you struggled with to fully grasp. One of my favorite courses was an upper level Sociology course where the only assignment was reading. No papers, exams, or anything else. That reading made for the most challenging class I took in college.

Somewhere along the way I forgot the joy of sitting down to slowly and deliberately work my way through a book. I’m glad I found it again.

Mid-week reading list

With the craziness of running a WordCamp last week I didn’t have much time to read through my Instapaper queue. Thankfully, I had some extra time to catch up on things tonight. Interestingly I had a lot of articles that hit on similar themes. Last week seemed to be the week to publish pieces about publishing.

Scott Hanselman’s Your words are wasted was first up. It speaks to my belief in the importance of open source software and owning what you publish. As he says, “I control this domain, this software and this content.”

It’s been a while since I’ve read something from the Nieman Lab but I think I need to start following them more closely again. 13 ways of looking at Medium was well done. They save the critical questions for the end and there could have been more of those, but it’s an interesting look at Ev Williams’ new publishing tool.

The Dangers of Being a Product Instead of a Customer was another good post. As Diego writes there, “I’d much rather be a customer of web services than a product.”

Anil Dash’s musing on streams was interesting as a somewhat higher level piece. People do read on the internet, they just require content to be presented in the right way.

Interesting stuff going on.

I’m really excited to see Reeder 3 go live tonight in the App Store. Shawn Blanc and Ben Brooks wrote great reviews of it. I just set it up on my iPhone to sync with my Fever install. No more Google Reader. Pretty slick update to an already great app.

Tap Left Margin -> Next Page; my favorite feature of the iPad. This means I can comfortably read while drinking tea and not worry about which hand holds my iPad.

The majority of the time I’m reading a book I just want to go forward. It always felt clumsy to swipe with my left thumb. Advancing with just a tap means the device never breaks my flow.

Do our reading environments encourage active reading? Or do they utterly oppose it? A typical reading tool, such as a book or website, displays the author’s argument, and nothing else. The reader’s line of thought remains internal and invisible, vague and speculative. We form questions, but can’t answer them. We consider alternatives, but can’t explore them. We question assumptions, but can’t verify them. And so, in the end, we blindly trust, or blindly don’t, and we miss the deep understanding that comes from dialogue and exploration.

Explorable Explanations is my umbrella project for ideas that enable and encourage truly active reading. The goal is to change people’s relationship with text. People currently think of text as information to be consumed. I want text to be used as an environment to think in.

Bret Victor – Explorable Explanations.