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Old 09-20-2009, 01:11 PM   #31
Over
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There are too many variables to consider that there can't be an absolute answer.

- If you sepnd time reading a good book, but it's a time when you should be doing something else, is it good for you?
- Escapism can be good, but until what point?
- Literature can open your mind to other ideas, reasons, points of view... But also for trash and waste of time.
- Books are a way to transmit a message. But what are its advantages over other mediums?
- Reading a book is more time consuming than other mediums (a 50 minute tv documentary can transmit you the same info that would take you a day rading, for example)
- Unlike internet, and like TV and radio, books are a non-interactive medium. You can just swallow information.

And many more. It's a complex question.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:37 PM   #32
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- Reading a book is more time consuming than other mediums (a 50 minute tv documentary can transmit you the same info that would take you a day rading, for example)
- Unlike internet, and like TV and radio, books are a non-interactive medium. You can just swallow information.
I have to disagree very strongly with these two statements.

1- I think that books are a much more efficient way to transmit information. The number of hard facts you get even in a high quality 50 minute documentary (and those are few and far between) doesn't come close to how much you can learn in 50 minutes of reading.

2- The fact that the Internet is a potentially interactive medium does not make it any less full of B/S. There is also a lot of very useful and rich information there, but it's not necessarily interactive except for the fact that you have to look for it, and spend time assessing its reliability. As I said earlier, it's all up to the reader. If you just sit here swallowing everything you hear or read, then you will get the wrong thing out of either books, the Net or TV.

Unlike TV or radio, books allow me to absorb information in my own time, to take the time to go back and re-read a sentence, to go even further back and check it against that other sentence two chapters earlier that seems to contradict it. And now of course, to stop and access the web to put what the author states in perspective. This is the reason why I will always prefer reading to watching a documentary or listening to radio or a podcast. Although both of these can be interesting, for me reading is the only comfortable and reliable way to absorb information. And I mean information, not just impressions or emotional judgments.

I like to put some distance between the opinions of others and mine, and for me the written words is the best way to achieve this. I don't see any difference between the Net and books, except that books go through the hands of editors and publishers, and are slightly less likely to contain utter lies than the Net is.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:40 PM   #33
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Here is an interesting article from the Washington Times I ran across while searching for the full text where the Twain quote originated:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp...nguage=printer

{fyi, there MIGHT be reading involved in the article above...}

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Old 09-20-2009, 01:41 PM   #34
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Diversity

I read a wide array of books, although there are certain genres I shy away from. Reading is a great way to learn and even escape. There are some books that promote ideas better not promoted in our ever increasingly violent world though.

I was a member of various book discussion groups for several years. The great advantage of that is those groups challenge you to read books you never would have chosen for yourself. And for me, that is the great adventure of reading.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:49 PM   #35
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I read a wide array of books, although there are certain genres I shy away from. Reading is a great way to learn and even escape. There are some books that promote ideas better not promoted in our ever increasingly violent world though.

I was a member of various book discussion groups for several years. The great advantage of that is those groups challenge you to read books you never would have chosen for yourself. And for me, that is the great adventure of reading.
that way of thinking is, well, scary on the best of days. But I know what you are trying to say. You aren't trying to say that some thoughts or ideas should not be published, right?
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:56 PM   #36
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I have to agree with FlorenceArt's disagreement. Wait. . .what?!?

I didn't want to quote her whole post, though. The problem with relying on documentaries is that you don't know what the editor left on the cutting room floor. At least with a book, if you are reading the facts, you can come to your own conclusion rather than the conclusion the documentor (?) wanted you to conclude. The Al Gore documentary comes to my mind first as an example. Although a book can be slanted towards the author's viewpoint, there tends to be a greater amount of statistics and facts presented which you can then verify.

About whether reading or escapism reading can be a bad thing, if something, anything really, is done to excess, of course it's bad. There needs to be a balance. One of my mother's favorite sayings (and she had quite a few) is, "All things in moderation."
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:59 PM   #37
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The problem with relying on documentaries is that you don't know what the editor left on the cutting room floor. At least with a book, if you are reading the facts, you can come to your own conclusion rather than the conclusion the documentor (?) wanted you to conclude.
So the author of a book can't omit details or paint them in a certain light? I don't follow your line of thinking here.
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:01 PM   #38
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I didn't want to quote her whole post, though. The problem with relying on documentaries is that you don't know what the editor left on the cutting room floor. At least with a book, if you are reading the facts, you can come to your own conclusion rather than the conclusion the documentor (?) wanted you to conclude.
Surely a book can present just as biased a viewpoint as a documentary, don't you think? An author can be equally "selective" about the facts he chooses to present as can a TV producer.

Last edited by HarryT; 09-20-2009 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:10 PM   #39
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I thought about posing this same question to the board myself. Especially with all the hubbub about Dan Brown's new book. I think people are getting sick of all the Dan Brown hating, though. (To be fair, though, I'm sick of all the Dan Brown praising. )
Personally... I'm not convinced that Dan Brown--in terms of being "good reading"--is vastly worse than 90% of the books discussed on this board (or elsewhere).

The fiction genre of books has grown far too bloated, with far too little of it having much genuine worth... other than entertainment of the Hollywood pop-corn flick variety.

If a book has little grounding in reality, let it be strong in terms of literary quality and ideally leave the reader a bit richer/smarter (not just more amused).

If a book is non-fiction, then let it bring to the reader aspects of the world thereuntil unknown to or misunderstood by them.

It would also be nice if, in addition to meeting the above criteria, 80%+ people didn't pick the same book under their aegis. Excessive homogeneity in culture/a people can, at its worst, become a sort of generalized selective ignorance.

- Ahi
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:13 PM   #40
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So the author of a book can't omit details or paint them in a certain light? I don't follow your line of thinking here.
I think the answer to your question is already in kazbates's message:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazbates View Post
Although a book can be slanted towards the author's viewpoint, there tends to be a greater amount of statistics and facts presented which you can then verify.
As I said, for me the main thing is that when reading a book, you have time to think about what you are reading, wonder about discrepancies, check facts. You can also do that with a documentary, and I often do, afterwards. But while I watch it, I don't have time to think for myself. Or at least it feels that way. I think this may be the main problem: I feel I'm being force-fed conclusions, not led through a reasoning that I can question.

But the truth is, there are good documentaries that show you not just a conclusion or opinion, but how experts have come to that conclusion, and sometimes how they disagree on it. And there are not-so-good books that just shove opinions in your face without taking any pain to explain them. I like the first and dislike the second, but I gain something from both: questions. After all, questions are what makes life worth living
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:22 PM   #41
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I think the answer to your question is already in kazbates's message:



As I said, for me the main thing is that when reading a book, you have time to think about what you are reading, wonder about discrepancies, check facts. You can also do that with a documentary, and I often do, afterwards. But while I watch it, I don't have time to think for myself. Or at least it feels that way. I think this may be the main problem: I feel I'm being force-fed conclusions, not led through a reasoning that I can question.

But the truth is, there are good documentaries that show you not just a conclusion or opinion, but how experts have come to that conclusion, and sometimes how they disagree on it. And there are not-so-good books that just shove opinions in your face without taking any pain to explain them. I like the first and dislike the second, but I gain something from both: questions. After all, questions are what makes life worth living
BINGO...and in an aliterate (love that word...got it from the Washington Times article I linked to.. ) world people never question anything, reaching conclusions based solely because others told them that is how to believe. I am so happy to have grown up before this became the norm here in the US. As a kid I read everything I could get my hands on, no matter the subject...just reading in that fashion exposed me to so many ideas, places and just "things".
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:36 PM   #42
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I think we all know reading 'snobs.' Just as we know eating snobs. (The sort who say 'I'd NEVER set foot in a fast food restaurant,' or 'I never eat left overs!') Those readers who say 'I never read anything that isn't included in the Compendium of the World's Greatest Literature.' 'May God strike me down if I read a common novel!' 'I don't even own a TV. I only read!'

While Beef Wellington or Veal Cordon Blu are delicious, so is a slice of pizza from the corner pizza parlor or a donner kabab from the local kabab shop. Pizza may well be more healthy than Beef Wellington!

I love reading Homer. I love to dive into Dickens and Shakespear. I can spend a nice weekend with Tolstoy. But I can spend just as nice a weekend with Robert Parker, John Sanford, or Lee Child. Come Monday morning I'm no better nor worse for having read any of them. Perhaps if I read those Paladin Press books I might even have gained some handy skills. Of course, reading Aristotle gives me some skills too.

All the reading I do gives me pleasure. (I don't read newspapers...) It's relaxation, education, meditation, and sublimation. And it's all good for me. Just as long as I don't read the newspapers.

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*TRUE* reading snobs - those who won't read anything outside of the 'compendium' you mentioned - have a secret they hide from the rest of us. Either they hate/fear reading or they literally cannot read. Thus, by insisting upon "reading" only the "most exclusive works", they can hide this deep, dark secret.

Those RSes who cannot read can be brought to true reading enjoyment. The others... Well, let's just say that these are also the kind of people who would deny *any* sort of pleasurable activity to others - even sniffing flowers.

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Old 09-20-2009, 02:41 PM   #43
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*TRUE* reading snobs - those who won't read anything outside of the 'compendium' you mentioned - have a secret they hide from the rest of us. Either they hate/fear reading or they literally cannot read. Thus, by insisting upon "reading" only the "most exclusive works", they can hide this deep, dark secret.

Those RSes who cannot read can be brought to true reading enjoyment. The others... Well, let's just say that these are also the kind of people who would deny *any* sort of pleasurable activity to others - even sniffing flowers.

Derek
yup...nuttin' wrong with a good ol' "dime novel" when the mood strikes! Or "guilty pleasure TV" either...
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Old 09-20-2009, 02:49 PM   #44
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So that's the question of the day - Why do you choose the books you read, and are they "good for you"?
I choose books that will entertain me. I realize that my taste runs to high-tech thrillers, military thrillers, paranormal romance, paranormal thrillers, suspense, mysteries, high- and low-fantasies, mil-SF, chick-lit (what else would you call 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'?) and most generic forms of SF - as well as libertarian fiction. That means my tastes are wierder than those of other people - and I accept that.

But what I want is a story that will spark my imagination. Too much detail and I'm bored, too little and I find myself constantly warping too far off what the author clearly meant and that jarring dissonance between what I'm imagining and what the author wrote breaks up my concentration and enjoyment. (For example, if the character being described wears a "plum paisley" blouse, my imagination will create what I envision to be the perfect color and pattern. However, if the author details a minor character wearing a pale, plum paisley with hints of sullen redness in a pattern varying in size from 1/2 inch to two inches, filled in-between with dark fucshia chrysanthemum blossoms, the author has added too much detail. On the other hand, if the author mentions the character is wearing a print blouse which I envision as paisley and later he reveals it was printed with eye-searing Hyacinth Macaws, the disconnect shatters my world view.)

Some people, I think, have a hard time getting into the mode where they can create the mental images the author is trying to evoke. I'm not one of them.


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Old 09-20-2009, 02:49 PM   #45
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BINGO...and in an aliterate (love that word...got it from the Washington Times article I linked to.. ) world people never question anything, reaching conclusions based solely because others told them that is how to believe. I am so happy to have grown up before this became the norm here in the US. As a kid I read everything I could get my hands on, no matter the subject...just reading in that fashion exposed me to so many ideas, places and just "things".
Well, there are very very large parts of the world where Socratic thinking doesn't play a big role in education or in development whatsoever. The USA still places a significantly greater emphasis on logical reasoning and questioning than do many other countries, even if it, as you say (and I may agree, though I've no hard numbers available), has atrophied.
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