Monday, October 11, 2010

1.1 Read Well/Admire Art

Physician's Notebooks 1 - See Homepage -
Read and Appreciate the Arts (Updated 10 June 2017) 
 Headings in order as in text. To go to one, use search & find or scroll.                                              
                                                                     Why Read?
Technique - the Read Unit
Place of Reading
Online Reading
Pacing, Food and Stimulant
The Read Session - You, an Idiot Savant
Interactive Reading
General Knowledge
 Books of Wisdom
Science & Math 
Medical Self-Help 
Vocation & Hobby 
Magazine & News
Computer Technology
Appreciating the Arts
Song & Music
Garbage Reading & Wasteful Pastimes
Paper Books - To Find, To Buy

Why Read?  Reading is the key to success in life. It follows that a life-time reading program will help you live long and give you happiness.
In reading, seek new knowledge which will eventually lead to wisdom but make it fun and not a chore. So it should not be forced and the best way to succeed at that is to do much of your reading at times where you get reinforced with healthful pleasure, like with eating and drinking.
 One's first twenty years depend on parent or teacher, on the culture one grows up in, and on the physical and emotional environment. So, by age 20, one's reading whether enthusiastic or indifferent is usually a matter of chance not choice. If one has been lucky and is a big reader, OK; if not, use this chapter to up reading pleasure and input.

Technique - The Read-Unit : To make reading less a chore and to help recall, one should limit each read to a read-unit - a chapter, a section, or a paragraph. If you plan wide reading, you will rarely spend more than 30 minutes a read. Most often my read is 15 or less minutes, and I stop and go on to other reads. And in such reading, I do not just read for x minutes and stop. I read a topic or subtopic or segment of larger theme that can be completed. In a text, I may simply limit my read to understanding an illustrated figure with its explanation legend. In my reading session, I try not to mix subjects, ideas or explanations; I just stick to one thing in a single read and on completion think over what I just read. Then if it is not clear and the subject is important, I may, at separate, spaced readings, re-read it several times until I get it. This may result in a read-unit as short as 5 minutes and also sometimes in many repeated readings. The end point of one's read can be a chapter-ending, a line of asterisks, or a double space as a convenient stop point.

Place of Reading; Copying   A bulky book may be converted into sheets that can be read standing, sitting or reclining, or traveling. I collect the copied chapters and eventually have a complete book.

Online Reading:  Now there are the very useful online book that one may subscribe to or obtain. These are particularly useful to (would be) students. For example, I recently was given a gift of Access Medicine set of neuroscience, and the illustrations and diagrams are brilliant. It is a superior way to learn and read. I am not a fan of Kindle and similar electronics because when you buy one you get saddled with the unnecessary in-between electronic machine that may break down, and with an electronic library and its pricey costs most of which you will never read much less enjoy. The free online reading access has done away much with the need for Kindle. In place of it you just click on the URL, and if necessary put in your password, and get the books or shorter reads you want on your laptop, iPhone or desktop. Also most of the classic books are now free through the Gutenberg Project on the internet.

Pacing, Food and Stimulant  Food or non-alcohol drink reinforces learning & memory when reading. Coffee is useful for energy and motivation but limit it to periods when you do not want to be sleepy and for specific motive, eg, to make an incentive to start a difficult read. For usual hot fluid stimulant, tea is best. Since full stomach induces drowsiness, do not eat too much until after a read-for-study session. Small bites of fruit or nuts, or cookie with tea, will be a stimulus and also relieve hunger that can disturb reading. This is for a beginning program; once into it, you develop your own way. You may, as I do, enjoy to read while you snack and/or drink, pacing yourself to take one bite and read one page. With main meal where hands are busy with the food, I switch to a non-page-turning internet read, primarily for enjoyment rather then specific memory-associated learning. 

The Read Session - You, An Idiot Savant: The above-mentioned reads with snack can become a routine during a day as read sessions. I do 4 or 5 sessions over a 24-hour. And much of that can be concentrated on your becoming what I call idiot savant (an expert in a localized field of knowledge based on constant readings in that field). For example in my case, it is Neuroscience. Most of my small snack reading is Neuroscience. So I have become brilliant in Neuroscience while enjoying my daily food and drink. You may choose your subject and during a long life it may be more than one.

Re-read when it is important for your learning. One may not get the wisdom of a book or a written explanation in single or even in repeat readings. You can read a good book or a section of it again and again with mounting pleasure, uncovering new understanding and more wisdom. The more one does repeated reading the more protected its memory is from loss. With each re-reading one may notice previously overlooked, important facts. For learning a difficult concept, it is best to read in small segments and re-read for good understanding. Einstein’s Relativity as a single read will be hard for even a good reader, and boring. But done in short segments slowly and repeatedly it gets easy to understand.
  Also re-read to be sure you do not mistake what the writer is actually saying. Too much have I seen a quick reader make a fool of self by responding too quickly because of not reading a writer's words carefully enough.
With technical book I find that comparing successive edition for change and error and to critique writing style is fun and rewarding.
With novels and fiction, the joy in  re-reading is a sign of best quality writing or content. Fiction that merely depends on the suspense of "What will happen?" can only be read once; but fiction that has depth and beauty - like Edith Wharton's short novel Summer - can be read again and again with pleasure.

Accessories: Magnifying glass is for small print and inspection, especially in old age or other poor vision. (Now that I use a magnifier, I am discovering many typo errors I passed over previously; I advise it for all proof readers & editors) For reading with poor overhead lighting, a lamp on a clamp attached to edge of desk helps much, especially with aging; and a 15- or 20-watt bulb is best to read close-up; without glare or overheating.

Interactive Reading: A book you think essential, you read with no skipping. I skim table of contents, reference, and index; otherwise I read every written word and inspect illustrated Figures and tables of explanation. Any question of meaning, spelling, usage and style, or fact should be immediately checked on Internet whose referencing capability has revolutionized learning-through-reading. (Medical students quickly learn an abstruse syndrome by immediately referencing on the Internet screen as they come across one) I critique author style and content and in a paper book I may pencil-in comment in margin. Finding typo error is fun. And if you are reading a successive edition that will be republished, it is useful for the book's editor to receive your list of the errors with comment – you may even end up getting paid or appointed associate editor.
   An average reader lacks full meaning of many words. Reading “The cowboy rode into town on a sorrel,” most readers know “sorrel” is a horse but few know it is a light brown of a certain look. Checking things may slow the reading but it makes it more interesting, and is more educative.

General Knowledge: H.G. Wells The Outline of History I have read with pleasure several times. (It is available free on Internet) As result, I am more able to interpret the world around me and predict my future correctly and to my benefit.

Skills: Gaining personal excellence should be a goal of reading. The Lorayne and Lucas’ Memory Book made me an idiot savant, Calculator’s Cunning published by Basic Books (Now out of print but available on made me a wiz at numbers and, because of that, it helps me to make more money.

Fiction: Here one should focus on a major aim: reading as substitute for life. We have limited time and not enough of it to make us wise enough to avoid repeating old mistakes. And actual experience may be dangerous. In fiction we can live many lives at once and experience mistake without risk. Fiction should not just be read to pass time. It should be looked at with the question: Is it teaching me new, useful experience to make life better? Reading fiction should be a pleasure but your real reason to read should be to improve your life. With this aim, much famous fiction goes missing. In American fiction, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (and all her work) is better than Herman Melville’s murky Moby. And J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, and the fiction of John O’Hara, should be read before age 50. A special case is Balzac’s Comédie Humaine covering lives, vocations, and professions. Set in post-Napoleon France but relevant still, it gives good models for attaining an all-around wisdom for happy life. If you are lucky to be young and run across this advice, go at it and you will get pleasured by the gold you mine! And James Michener is a writer who can supply a huge depth of learning one can use to find success in life. And a book that will help you understand the present collapse of our society is Anatole France's Penguin Island. (English translation unless you can read French in the L'Île des Pingouins) Then to make you wise in legal questions while being fascinatingly pleasured, read Louis Auchincloss, a page-turning writer. And do not forget the two Russians, Tolstoy and Turgenev, who are realistically relevant for modern life. Oh yes, I can't leave this without also admiring Thackeray'sVanity Fair as an all-around good preparation for life for a youth even in 2017.

Biography: The lives of famous persons are useful to help you make decisions in your own life to avoid trouble.

Books of Wisdom: Here Socrate's Dialogs come to mind. And include The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, the works of Thoreau, starting with Walden, B.F. Skinner's Walden 2, W.S. Maugham's The Summing Up, Bernard Berenson's Rumor and Reflection, Theodore Dreiser's Memoir. Add the futuristic works of R(ichard) Buckminster Fuller: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (available free on internet) and Utopia or Oblivion.

Science & Math: For students or readers who do not have skills in arithmetic, a good text of algebra and geometry should be reviewed for study. Similarly,  high-school physics, chemistry, and biology texts should be reviewed, followed by organic chemistry and Gray’s Anatomy.

Medical Self-help: Healthy longevity – living past 80 with intact mind and body – should be top goal. For that

Vocation & Hobby reading: Many persons have hobby, profession, vocation. I liked science fiction as boy. Nurtured on the sci-fi of the 1940s and 50s, I recently wanted to return to my youth so I bought several hundreds old pulps. I had fun reading.

Magazines & News: National Geographic gives facts to keep one up to date and to help one predict future. Scientific American is good to keep up with progress. Both are mostly free now online. Newspapers I no longer buy because Internet news serves me better free.

Computer Technology: Reading from screen is good for the old who have problem reading standard-size print. The capability of the computer to adjust alphabet-letter size and the good contrast afforded by the bright white video-screen background helps readers with poor aging vision. And now there are computer programs for the blind to read via voice-over of written text. Thus the computer should liberate the old and all-age blind person to read more. It can prolong reading for years after paper-page reading is impossible. Also note the revolution in reference material because of Internet search. Instead of looking up fact, spelling and definition by book, you can access it viaWikipedia and other internet on computer. Finally to mention are the online reads.


Appreciating the Arts is part of the good life. I do not admire the cult of personality and group hero worship that have grown about popular performers starting with Frank Sinatra in the early 1940's and continuing through so called divas like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, et al. And I condemn the terrible descent of popular music from 1950's Rock & Roll. In 2017, when entertainment celebrity is mostly high- school dropout and not very talented, a reader or viewer or listener should refuse to subsidize such rotten persons as entertainers. Do not pay for bad movies, raw singing, or poor art. Respect yourself; you deserve a better life than these untalented so called divas are getting on your money! Of course, we adults must all recognize that our children are being conditioned to idolize this low class entertainment and as much as possible, in a reasonably cultured way, we should try to replace it in our children's lives.
Song & music, and drama either on stage or movie should stimulate good thought and should be used to rest the brain between intellectual chores. I do it for 30 minutes at a setting and play classical music or good popular. Internet now has good YouTube, streaming art forms and movies free. But avoid Cable TV and Home Box Office or Netflix or any commercial entertainment you are forced to pay for.

Pictorial art should be studied and the great works should be exhibited free and over the Internet as photos and in copies for homes. The market prices of art works are much too high.

Amateurism: I want to see a Science Civilization future where the Arts will be dominated by Amateurs, meaning no commercial value given to art work; rather it should be a product of one’s leisure. No sports heroes, No artists or geniuses, No divas, No moneyed value entertainment.

Garbage Reading & Wasteful Pastimes: Nowadays there is much to learn and your time is precious so avoid garbage entertainment (No movies you pay for or watch in cinemas; rather, watch the good movie streaming free from Internet at leisure); do not pay for newspaper or magazine (Use internet or library), do not read junk like the romance or young-adult novels, and do not expose your children to get hooked on video games or pop entertainers the so called divas or on superhero anime (excepting Casper the Friendly Ghost: a superb anime for a kid) and keep them away from musical garbage entertainment like just about everything that has come out popularly since 1950 including Hip-Hop.

Paper Books - To Find, To Buy:  Here I write of books  as physical entities you can hold in hand as opposed to the online book that requires a computer or other reading machine. The paper book remains uniquely useful for access to reading  anywhere, anytime with no need for interface machines, no cost in electricity and money in the reading itself and flexibility of use that can not be replaced by the machine. Where to find good books at reasonable price? 
   Of course is an invaluable source to buy an out-of-print book you desperately want in its proper printing or edition at reasonable price. 
   But for browsing softcover used book buys in 2017, because new issue books are overpriced and over hyped considering the quality, I limit my obtaining paper books for reading to public libraries and key bookstores that specialize in reselling used books at very low prices. For example, in New York City, The Strand, a bookstore on the northeast corner of E. 12th Street and Broadway in Manhattan (Near the Union Square-14th St IRT subway station), that features sidewalk stalls of used books from $3 to as low as 48 cents a book. Whenever I visit NYC, my first stop is The Strand and it is great fun exercising my skill at finding good reads by flipping through the street bookstalls. A good reader will control his impatience to get hold of a new issue book. By waiting a little, one can select books based on the test of time and also according to one's knowledge of authors. Many readers paid exorbitant prices for Stieg Larssen's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo new issues, but I waited a few months and found used copies at The Strand for 48 cents. Finding a Hemingway or a Faulkner collection of several hundred pages for 48 cents is a not uncommon thrill I experience in the street at the Strand.
     End of Chapter. To read next now, click 1.2 Writing

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