Thursday, March 29, 2007


Today, my sister took me out for a bit of heavy-item shopping with her car. I bought the supplies and kit necessary to begin production of home-made wine, but I'll write specifically about that when I get some work done on it, and take some (crappy) pictures. I know I also promised (in a subtle way) to rant about something this week; I will, it's about some 'features' of the essays I'm knee-deep in, marking, but I'm just not angry enough about them right now (I've had a string of pretty good ones over the last few days). So there will be (mildly) interesting things coming up here soon, I promise, but here's a little tidbit to mull over in the meantime:

Reading. How much of this activity do you do, let's say on a weekly basis? I read quite a lot, but a large fraction of my total reading consumption is for work / school; I've set a goal for myself of adding about 42 more entries to my annotated bibliography for the first chapter of my PhD thesis, by April 18. So I've been reading lots of scientific papers, lately. I also read a fair bit for fun (Oh! I should also promise here a new book club entry - coming as soon as I sort through all the notes I took). Most of the people I know (a population heavily biased towards people with many letters after their names) also read lots.

During our drive around town and break for lunch, my sister and I discussed reading habits in children - she recently qualified to be an elementary school teacher in Ontario, and is currently looking for a job as such in the Guelph area. Her experience, during 'hands-on' teacher training at various schools in Australia was that, to a first approximation, boys don't read (thereby also leading to the corrollary: Martin is even more odd than previously suspected). It seems that while eight-, nine-, and ten-year-old girls do frequently read books, newspapers, magazines, et cetera for pleasure, their male classmates do not. I was frequently told to turn out the light, put the book away, and go to sleep at bedtime while growing up; I never noticed, but apparently this is a very unusual occurance for boys. One consequence of this, briefly discussed during lunch, may be poor reading skills in adult men as a result of not spending a large fraction of childhood with a book - one example was described of a man, now in his early thirties, who has difficulty watching movies with subtitles, as the subtitles are often presented too fast for him to read - he doesn't have a problem with reading comprehension, his problem is with reading speed.

I've seen some newspaper and similar stories about this phenomenon, but I had no direct experience of it. I still don't, but now I know I'm related to someone who has seen this on multiple occassions. To me, this is just weird - what the hell are you doing during (some fraction of) your spare time, if not reading? If you're like me, and read (and read [past tense]) constantly, can you tell me if you've met grown men without stories of childhood reading? If you're, uh, rather more alien to my experience, and yourself did not / do not read very much, can you tell me what the hell you were up to?


langmann said...

Yeah, maybe we'll have to have special government programs for boys now. :)

About the previous post on boots, you know I did other things before I went to medical school... worked for a township for example. We used to put HCl and hypochlorite into water and swimming pools.

I love rubber boots, so easy to get on and so comfortable.

Hey I haven't seen you on my new blog

TheBrummell said...

Hi Langmann, I've checked out your blog, just haven't commented, yet. It looks good, though.

As for special programs for boys, I think that's been tried, without much success. I don't know much about that, though - partly because the need for programs to improve reading among boys has long baffled me.

Your boots-and-swimming-pools job sounds much less exciting than my imagined med school events. Still, I understand that pathologists may have need of such footwear from time to time, unless Kathy Reichs has been lying to me more than I suspect.

Chris Harrison said...

I've been reading quite a lot lately (especially if you include online material) as well.
I read more than my friends when I was younger (early-midteens), but it was always fiction stories (I think I read the entire Redwall series by Brian Jacque at least twice).
Now I've completely flipped genres, as my spare times is either spent doing school work, or reading nonfiction.

Laelaps said...

I actually owe my nearsightedness to my fondness of reading, and I was almost banned from taking any more dinosaur books out of the school library when I was in elementary school (my parents were called in and everything, hah).

For some reason I stopped reading late in high school and through most of my college career; I was assigned so much I didn't really want to read anything (even the assigned work!). Last May, however, I started devouring anything I could get my hands on in terms of evolution, and I'm on a steady diet of about 150-200 pages a day at this point. Overall, my brain is glad that I've been feeding it again.

Carlo said...

Umm... I don't think I need to comment on my tremendous amount of reading.

However, I must admit that I have no frickin' clue what the hell many people do with their time. I literally sometimes find it difficult to get a solid hour of PlayStation in an evening (even while my gf is working) due to the amount of work I've gotta do.

Some people that I know work 9-5, 5 days a week but don't read a novel in a year. It's not like they've got something to show for all that time, so I assume that they just sit in front of the TV.

And if people are looking for something to read, get America: The Book. It's awesome!!!

TheBrummell said...

And if people are looking for something to read, get America: The Book. It's awesome!!!

Well, it was nice knowing you, dude. Now that you're a target of the Gay Mafia, I guess it's time to say goodbye.

Can I have some of your stuff, maybe your TV, when you get executed "San Francisco style"?