Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yesterday I finished The Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, a book on the science of the reading brain.

The idea of the book is a little better than the actual book is. It's still pretty interesting but a little disappointing.

It goes over the history of reading/writing, starting with the earliest representational scripts and leading up to the modern systems, like the Chinese, Japanese scripts and the Greek alphabet. One odd omission is the Arabic alphabet, which isn't mentioned at all.

The middle section of the book deals with what parts of the brain are involved with reading, and how that evolves over time as reader progresses from just learning to decipher text to being an experience reader able to consider subtleties. And the third section uses analysis of dyslexic readers to further illuminate how the brain processes text.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This afternoon I finished The List of Seven by Mark Frost.

The List of Seven takes the historical figure of Arthur Conan Doyle, and then gives him an occult adventure before he became famous for writing the Sherlock Holmes stories. In this adventure, he encounters a few people and events that are obviously meant to be inspirations for things or characters that occur in the Holmes stories, including Holmes himself, his arch-nemesis Moriarty and their encounter at the Reichenbach Falls, and some other famous Victorians, including Bram Stoker and Madame Blavatsky. It starts when Doyle writes a novel based on the works of Blavatsky and featuring a conspiracy of occultists to conquer the world. It turns out that there is an actual conspiracy that finds out about Doyle's novel and decides to hunt him down for writing about it.

A not bad little pulpy pot-boiler.