Another article on the antilibrary

(Why you need an antilibrary)

Above is a link to another article to go with my previous post, There are benefits to an Antilibrary

Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You’ll Ever Have Time to Read

An overstuffed bookcase (or e-reader) says good things about your mind.

CREDIT: Getty Images

Lifelong learning will help you be happier, earn more, and even stay healthier, experts say. Plus, plenty of the smartest names in business, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk, insist that the best way to get smarter is to read. So what do you do? You go out and buy books, lots of them.

But life is busy, and intentions are one thing, actions another. Soon you find your shelves (or e-reader) overflowing with titles you intend to read one day, or books you flipped through once but then abandoned. Is this a disaster for your project to become a smarter, wiser person?

If you never actually get around to reading any books, then yes. You might want to read up on tricks to squeeze more reading into your hectic life and why it pays to commit a few hours every week to learning. But if it’s simply that your book reading in no way keeps pace with your book buying, I have good news for you (and for me; I definitely fall into this category): Your overstuffed library isn’t a sign of failure or ignorance, it’s a badge of honor.

Why you need an “antilibrary”

That’s the argument author and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes in his bestseller The Black Swan. Perpetually fascinating blog Brain Pickings dug up and highlighted the section in a particularly lovely post. Taleb kicks off his musings with an anecdote about the legendary library of Italian writer Umberto Eco, which contained a jaw-dropping 30,000 volumes.

Did Eco actually read all those books? Of course not, but that wasn’t the point of surrounding himself with so much potential but as-yet-unrealized knowledge. By providing a constant reminder of all the things he didn’t know, Eco’s library kept him intellectually hungry and perpetually curious. An ever-growing collection of books you haven’t yet read can do the same for you, Taleb writes:

A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations — the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half-know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself toward the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.

“People don’t walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did,” Taleb claims.

Why? Perhaps because it is a well-known psychological fact that it’s the most incompetent who are the most confident of their abilities and the most intelligent who are full of doubt. (Really. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.) It’s equally well established that the more readily you admit you don’t know things, the faster you learn.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people.

Would you rather…?

Both of these have the same response. The indoor activity is better for me. I sunburn easily. At the beach, I’d get sand and water in the book because I would be in the water and in the sand.

I would be more likely to set the book on fire, since I’d rather not be out reading on a lake. But, I think the risk of the book being permanently damaged is higher when it’s set on fire. At least if it’s dropped in a lake, I can dry it out and read it later.

Match making at the nail salon

I got a mani pedi with my daughter on Friday afternoon.  It should have been a sanity check because I forgot that it is prom season.  Thankfully, we got in and started before school got out.

We finished our pedicures and were moved into the overflow room for the manicures.  The woman at the table across from us was having a very loud discussion with her technician.  They have obviously known each other a long time.

  • Woman:  So, how is your brother doing?  How’s his wife?  Does he have kids?
  • Technician:  Oh, my brother never married.  He’s single.
  • W: oh?  Is he waiting for me?
  • T:  Maybe?  You always got along so well.  He could be waiting for you.
  • W:  Oh, we haven’t been single at the same time.  It just wasn’t meant to be.
  • T:  Well, you’re single now.  So is he.
  • W:  We couldn’t even cook together.  I cook soul food.  He cooks Vietnamese.
  • T:  So?  You can alternate cooking.  Everyone’s happy.
  • Me:  Oh, come on.  Ask for his number already!
  • My daughter:  Oh my God, Mom.  (as she tries to melt into the floor with embarrassment)

 

Productive weekend

I spent a lot of time running around and not reading this weekend. Friday night, we went shopping at Old Navy. They were having a 50% off sale, plus their $2 tank sale and an additional $20 if you spent over $60. We ended up with a few shirts and a whole I bunch of socks.

The other two days, we visited family and saw Captain Marvel, since my daughter hadn’t seen it yet. The Easter egg hunt turned into a tackle game after Easter dinner. The boys went running after an egg, slid across the lawn, and the eggs in their baskets all flew across the lawn. They had to reload their baskets while sitting there on the lawn. It was pretty funny to those of us watching.

It was a good weekend. I just didn’t get my usual to-do list done, but it was productive.

Art class tonight

Art class tonight was very productive. I managed to paint my hand, arm and pants… all different colors. I was aiming for the canvas.

I also got through several hours of my audiobook. I managed to do it without laughing out loud or arguing with the author tonight. My classmates know what a big accomplishment that is.

I didn’t finish a painting, but I’m more than halfway through the current one. I have plans for finishing the one I’m nearly finished with. That must count for something, right?

Reading is good for your brain

(The original article)

We all know that reading is good for us, but this is an interesting article.  It also includes an article on reading every day (here)

Reading isn’t just filling your head—it’s nourishing it. This is the latest science on the magic of books.

Reading is good for your brainMatthew Cohen/rd.com, Apple by Aguiardesign

You can take fish oil supplements or eat lots of turmeric. You can invest in a language class, puzzle books, or a few hours of exercise every week. There are countless methods to (allegedly) improve your memory and cognitive functioning—the brain-training and -assessment industry is expected to reach $8 billion by 2022, according to a major market research report. But the cheapest, easiest, and most time-tested way to sharpen your brain is right in front of your face. It’s called reading.

The fact that reading is good for your brain isn’t surprising—there’s a reason moms are always on their kids’ cases to turn off the TV and pick up a good book. But there’s something astounding about how such an ordinary activity can improve your brain in so many ways.

The most basic impact occurs in the area associated with language reception, the left temporal cortex. Processing written material—from the letters to the words to the sentences to the stories themselves—snaps the neurons to attention as they start the work of transmitting all that information. That happens when we process spoken language, too, but the very nature of reading encourages the brain to work harder and better. “Typically, when you read, you have more time to think,” says Maryanne Wolf, EdD, director of the UCLA Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice. “Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral ­language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don’t press pause.”

And the benefits of reading continue long after you’ve put down that great book. A small study at Emory University found that some of those benefits persisted for five days. “We call that a shadow activity, almost like a muscle memory,” says Gregory Berns, PhD, director of the Center for Neuro­policy at Emory. In fact, this is how reading in a certain font can improve your memory.

The benefits continue long after you've put down that book.

OK, you say, it’s hardly surprising that the language part of the brain would get a workout from reading. But reading also energizes the region responsible for motor activity, the central sulcus. That’s because the brain is a very exuberant play actor. When it is reading about a physical activity, the neurons that control that activity get busy as well. You may not actually be riding a horse when you’re reading Seabiscuit, but your brain acts as if it is. And the more parts of your brain that get a workout, the better it is for your overall cognitive performance.

That said, not all reading is created equal. Preliminary results from a study conducted at Stanford University indicate that close literary reading in particular gives your brain a major workout. MRI scans of people who are deep into a Jane Austen novel showed an increase in blood flowing to areas of the brain that control both cognitive and executive function, as opposed to the more limited effects that come from more leisurely reading.

What if you are (or someone you know is) a poor, or even a dyslexic, reader who feels as if you’ll never be able to read enough to reap these benefits? A book can fix that problem too! Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University studied children ages eight to ten who were below-average readers. One hundred hours of remedial reading classes significantly improved the quality of their brains’ white matter—the tissue that carries signals between areas of gray matter, where information is 
processed. The researchers’ conclusion: The brains of these children had begun to rewire themselves in ways that could benefit the entire brain, not only the reading-centric temporal cortex. Learn more about why your brain needs to read every single day.

Reading is good for your brainMatthew Cohen/rd.com, Apple by Aguiardesign

The ability to read closely is something that needs to be nurtured. In her new book, Reader, Come Home, Wolf notes that even she, as someone who reads for a living, has found her ability to concentrate on the written word fading as more of what we read is on a screen. “Unfortunately, this form of reading is rarely continuous, sustained, or concentrated,” she writes. That sets up a vicious cycle: Without the sustained exercise of our reading “muscles,” the brain loses its ability to control the intricate processes that allow us to read deeply.

Of course, there’s an easy solution: Turn off your phone and your computer, set aside a good hour or two—and just read. Not sure where to start? Pick up one of these 100 books everyone should read before they die.