Want to improve your writing? Read a lot. And slowly.

Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing.

The first step is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature.

Writers perforce read differently from everyone else. Most people ask three questions of what they read: (1) What is being said? (2) Does it interest me? (3) Is it well constructed?

Writers also ask these questions, but two others along with them: (4) How did the author achieve the effects he has? And (5) What can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing? This can slow things down a good bit.

More here.

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Ernest Hemingway’s suggested readings

These are readings Hemingway recommended to a young person aspiring to be a writer. The whole story here.

Links for the book will take you to Project Gutenberg.

the IKEA catalog at the cutting edge of technology: the bookbook

Information and parody. Well done!

Un libro no sirve sólo para leer

Mucho se equivocan (…) quienes afirman que una tableta electrónica borrará el libro de papel de las necesidades humanas. Porque un libro no sirve sólo para leer.

Sirve también para que su peso tranquilice las manos lectoras, para subrayar y ajar sus páginas con el uso, para regalar el ejemplar leído a personas a las que quieres. Para ver amarillear sus páginas con los años sobre los viejos subrayados que hiciste cuando eras distinto a quien ahora eres. Para decorar -no hay cuadro ni objeto comparable en belleza- una habitación o una casa. Para amueblar una vida.

Bien dicho, Arturo.

Tablets are responsible for the rebirth of reading

A presentation by Andrew Rashbass, CEO of The Economist Group, calls the old publishing models of web and print “irredeemably broken,” with publishers requiring “urgent re-examination of everything that constitutes a media business.”

The concept of Lean Back 2.0 is relatively simple — the use of tablets and e-readers is growing at the expense of print and web use, with The Economist‘s iPad readers spending on average around 90 minutes with the app each week.

Unlike the desktop and laptop web experience, these devices are allowing users to read at their leisure.

Some key facts from the presentation:

  • 42 percent of tablet users regularly read in-depth articles, with another 40 percent reading them occasionally
  • Tablet users are three times more likely to read an article than watch a news video
  • A user’s eye activity is far more focused on an iPad app than on a website
  • Some users believe the content received in an app is even worth more than content received elsewhere, with a large majority saying they find it easier to learn new things and enjoy the news more when using apps
  • The Economist projects a fall of over 50 percent in the preference for paper over other formats in the next 2 years, with tablet preference growing to over 20 percent.

Asimov: a library is a spaceship, a time machine and a gateway

Dear Boys and Girls,

Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library.

It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you—and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.

Signed, Isaac Asimov

via Letters of Note.

007 and Blindness

Daniel Craig has not stopped that franchise from letting him secure a slew of other roles to take on in between his adventures as 007. The actor currently has two pretty big films (The Invasion, The Golden Compass) coming out later this year, and is now in talks to star in Blindness — adapted from Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago‘s novel — and to be directed by Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardner). Also in talks to co-star alongside Craig is the very beautiful (and very talented) Julianne Moore. (Cinematical)

The latest 007 movie, Casino Royale, was quite sober on the technology/gadget front. Not a bad way to introduce the “new” Bond.

I enjoyed Saramago’s novel (writing “I enjoyed Blindness” would have made an awkward sentence) in spite its long sentences and the author’s disdain for punctuation. The book is an allegory. It will leave you wondering. Saramago received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998.

If you liked the photography in The Constant Gardener then you also want to see Meirelles’ City of God (Cidade de Deus). It was nominated for four Oscars.