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Month in review

Reviews
Ann Can Fly by Fred Phleger
The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry
The Blues Go Birding Across America by Carol L. Malnor and Sandy F. Fuller
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd
The Egyptian Jukebox by Nick Bantock
Flanimals Pop-up by Ricky Gervais
The Function of Ornament by Michael Kubo
The Illusions of Tranquility by Brendan DuBois
In Mike We Trust by P.E. Ryan
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech
The Most Wonderful Egg in the World by Helme Heine
My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World by Gilles Bachelet
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
On a Scary Scary Night by Walter Wick
Owls by Gail Gibbons
Owl Lake by Keizaburo Tejima
Paula Bunyan by Phyllis Root
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf
Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi
Sky Burial by Xinran
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Tirissa and the Necklace of Nulidor by Willow
Three Leaves of Aloe by Rand B. Lee
Treehorn's Treasure by Florence Parry Heide
What Do You Love? by Jonathan London
Wheel of the Moon by Sandra Forrester
Where is that Cat? by Carol Greene

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Comments for Proust and the Squid

Proust and the Squid 04/17/11

 cover art (Link goes to Powells)Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf is a tricky book to review. It's a book I wanted to read it since it came out. I can't even remember where I first heard about it. Given its topic, the biology behind human reading, I probably heard about it on NPR or somewhere similar. Not a month after reading it off my wishlist, per my on-going reading resolution, I had to re-read it for my course on materials for children ages 5 to 8.

Maryanne Wolf is the Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University. Her other books have been aimed at the science community but Proust and the Squid is a more generalized book has sixty pages of endnotes but no inline citations nor footnotes. While these missing citations do make the text flow more like a novel, I would prefer to have them so I can more easily decide if I want to read further on subjects or points made in the book.

The central thesis is that reading is not natural. There hasn't been enough time for reading to have evolved as something hardwired into the brain. Yet, for people who find reading easy, take the complex mechanism behind the miracle for granted.

I can remember some aha moments in the early days of learning to read, like the time I asked what why there was an apostrophe in "o'clock" and learned that it really meant "of the clock." The fact that my own language could have these lazy moments built into it that we were some how just supposed to know, both fascinated and enraged me. I felt like things were rigged!

Another interesting observation about reading is the difference in brain activity between morpheme based languages (such as English) and logosyllabary (such as Chinese). They apparently activate different pieces of the brain and hybrid languages, like Japanese use both regions as needed. This part caught my attention as my children are both learning Chinese in school.

The book is best when it sticks to the science of reading. Every so often, especially early on in the book, Wolf waxes poetic about her own love of reading or what I as a reader is experiencing while reading the passages she has selected in her book. These parts while they set up the backdrop for the research can be skimmed or skipped (unless you are also reading the book for school).

Four stars.

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