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November 22nd, 2009


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09:31 pm - a word is worth a thousand words
why do people support reading so much? for example, the big hubbub about harry potter getting kids to read and how incredibly wonderful that was. i mean, i'm a reader, books are rad, but i don't think it's inherently a more valuable pasttime than anything else. if someone wants to read or watch movies or look at paintings or whatever the hell passive entertainment you enjoy, good on ya. why is one better? i don't buy the standard argument that books exercise your imagination because you have to picture what's going on. a) this assumes you are picturing what's going on. for me, this depends on how it's written - some books are more cinematic than others. and really, if your book is THAT cinematic, just make a damn movie. also, just imagining what shit looks like is a relatively shallow bit of imagination, as imagining stories goes. b) by the same argument, wouldn't it be better to only read the plot summary on the back instead of the whole book, or to not read the book at all, so you can imagine THE WHOLE THING instead of just the visuals?
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Comments:


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From:xprettypistol7x
Date:November 23rd, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
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i don't like your argument(s).
there is simply too much out there in terms of content (in terms of reading material) to make such broad statements.
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From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
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which broad statements don't you like? there is tons of content out there for most things
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From:leyse
Date:November 23rd, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
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reading does a lot more than work imagination:

it increases vocabulary
it increases fluency
it increases critical thinking and analysis skills
it increases understanding of connotation and nuance, essential for adult communitcation
reading is a way of preparing for concepts even if the reader hasn't experienced it, like death for instance
it can increase empathy for other people's experiences: racism, poverty, etc.
it's a way to be exposed to other cultures.

sure movies or theatre or paintings or whatever can fulfill some of those, and those media are important as well, but it's not just about imagination.
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From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
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i wasn't saying (or wasn't intending to say, rather) that imagination was the only benefit of reading. that's just the only argued benefit of readng *over other activites* that came to mind. i now add to this increased vocab.
fluency (do you mean writing fluency?) seems reasonable, but i know people who read plenty and can't write for beans, so i'm not sure about it.
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From:feste
Date:November 24th, 2009 10:28 am (UTC)
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Aren't they teaching you rhetoric and such? Argue the other side. Play devil's avocado. Tell us why reading should be encouraged over other time-wasters.
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From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
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why would i play avocado when everyone is arguing with me? i avocado when the other side is un(der)represented
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From:feste
Date:November 24th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
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Fair enough. What is the argument for any other time-waster, then? Video games, for example. Why are they superior to reading? Go!
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From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
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well video games are more interactive and i assume have some hand-eye coordination benefit. but really, my point is all the mediums are basically level, value-wise[1]. they all have a lot of mindnumbing crap[2] and some really interesting thoughtful content and lots in between. i think it's largely a matter of taste.

[1] they each have small ups and downs - like lauri mentioned, books are good for vocab - but overall i think it's fairly even.
[2] not that i am maligning mindnumbing crap. there's plenty of mindnumbing crap in all different mediums that i enjoy.
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From:feste
Date:November 24th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
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I think you are missing a lot of the emotional justifications for reading, which are generally negatives for other media. Such as tradition (books are not newfangled like video games or TV or movies), intellectual elitism (books are smarter, and you can debate the merits and what the author meant by whatever, which they try to do with film criticism, but people can just say "Well I don't know nuthin' about art, but I know what I like"), books aren't diabolic (like infernal contraptions that steal your soul, like TV and video games), and you can burn them if they turn out to be corrupting (unlike electronics that don't burn as well). Also, social inertia is on books' side.
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From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
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good points, all!
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From:leyse
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
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well, this is anecdotal, so grain of salt and all that, but I found when I was learning Spanish, things didn't start just "sounding" wrong until I was able to read lots of Spanish texts. Reading reinforced my instinctual grasp of grammar far better than oral conversations did, because orally, we all have ticks and quirks that aren't grammatical.
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From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
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are the ticks and quirks not grammatical, or not grammatical in writing? or from the other side - did reading lots of spanish help you to speak in a way a native spanish speaker would find more grammatical? i feel like verbal and written fluency are related but seperate things with their own rule sets.
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From:melley
Date:November 26th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)

*agree*

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I finally figured out that this is how I learned English, so therefore this is probably how I should attempt to learn German.

The internet is making my English grammar worse, though.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 23rd, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)

Reading

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Amen to the responses (especially now that I'm about to be a published writer--hint, hint). Still, I couldn't agree more. What a boring, unimaginative place it would be without books. Mom
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From:leyse
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Reading

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I don't think Dan was arguing for no books and no reading, I think he was more saying he didn't understand why reading was valued over other media. It's a tough argument to make, but I do think that there are a number of benefits of reading that are difficult to find elsewhere.

Grats on your publication, where can we find it?
[User Picture]
From:kingnixon
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Reading

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she's getting published in january, in an internet magazine i can't find the link to right now, but i'll post it when it happens

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