The Psychology of Reading Affects How – and What – We Read


Is there some scientific rationale behind our reading habits and predilections? Why, for example, do you sometimes find that you can’t even finish a book that critics and your friends alike say they couldn’t stop reading?

Reading is a deeply mental experience people engage in on an individual, more than a social, level. A person reads for pleasure, for knowledge, for entertainment, for mentally escaping. But what’s the one factor that makes  it impossible for some readers to put a book down? Is there even one single reason that is common to every reader?

In fact, there are many reasons why people get hooked by a book. Even if a book initially disappoints a reader, readers do sometimes keep reading. There are several reasons:

  • They’re curious to find out what happens in the end.

  • They dislike the thought of leaving something unfinished.

  • They have faith the author will not disappoint them in the end.

  • They’re in the middle of a series, and have to read this book before the next one.

  • They think ending is what tells if a book was worth it or not.

GoodReads.com users cite these and others as the main reasons why they often feel they have to finish a book they’ve started. However, for some people these rules simply don’t apply. In fact, book abandonment rates are soaring, as another book list on GoodReads.com reveals.

Book Abandonment

Looking at the GoodReads.com abandoned book shelf, you quickly see that a book’s best-selling status is not a trustworthy index as to the books’ acceptance by readers. So while a book might have a groundbreaking storyline and a compelling anti-hero, not everyone will like it.

This explains why readers might have enjoyed J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but not the style she adopts with her adult-oriented novel,  The Casual Vacancy. It also explains why classic novels like Moby Dick are not to everyone’s liking, much less the range of best-sellers found in airports around the world.

The most cited reason why we have the urge to put a book down without finishing it, according to GoodReads.com users, is a slow beginning or a non-engaging writing style. Not liking the main character, and books that have a weak plot, are two other popular reasons cited in comments on the site.

Other reasons given by people who’ve abandoned popular and classic books range from a hero’s immorality or character incongruence, to a “stupid” plot, and even bad editing of the book, especially in ebook format.

Ultimately, book reading is a truly personal experience. In fact, mood plays a vital role as to what reaction a reader will have to a given book at any given time. If you’re not in a particular mood or even stage in your life you may not like a book that would otherwise become your personal favorite if read a few years before, or later. A teen version of you would interpret Catch 22 differently than you would as a 45-year old, true? Your book selection can even change depending on the time of day or year.

The advantage of rereading books is that you know you won’t be disappointed. This is why many people seem to frequently return to old favorites, and even books that they read as children: for the extra layer of meaning and for the satisfaction of knowing they’ll enjoy the book to the very end.


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Founder of EngVid.com, Joshua Kostka, Shares His Motivation In Providing Resources for English Language Learning


INTRODUCTION: Idioms, common expressions, words to use in business situations (and words to avoid!), the right way to use negative phrases, and even how to answer the telephone – many of these important language lessons aren’t taught in the classroom. In fact, most of the time the best way to learn these aspects of a language is to live in the country where that language is spoken daily, and where you’ll have to speak it, too. For people learning English as a second language, traveling to an English-speaking country isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are sites like www.engVid.com, where you can find hundreds of mini-lessons on these tricky aspects of English in free videos taught by English speakers living in Canada, the United States, and Britain. We talked to the website’s founder, Joshua Kostka, about his motivation for providing this useful resource.

UV: You live in Ontario, where about 15% of the population prefers to speak French rather than English – and in neighboring Quebec, French is the official language. Did you have to learn another language when you were growing up? Did you choose to learn a second (or third) language as an adult?

Well, the bilingual aspect of Canada is I think overstated. People in most parts of the US hear and encounter Spanish more often than I do French in Toronto.

Speaking personally, though I was born in Canada, my family left when I was 10, and I lived abroad until returning to Canada in my early 20s. My experience of having to learn another language as an adolescent definitely informs my vision for the site. I know first-hand what it’s like to be a new immigrant, to not understand what people are saying or what’s going on around me. More than anything, I know the feeling of being silenced because of an inability to confidently and correctly express myself in the language. It’s not a good feeling, nor is it healthy, to have words inside you that cannot get out. That’s the reason I ask the teachers to focus quite often on practical speaking skills and soft skills. Most people who try can eventually understand another language, but having the ability to speak that language without hesitation is what puts a person on the same level as his/her native speaker peers.

I’m learning Spanish in my spare time now, but I don’t really think learning English is comparable to learning other languages. Most people learning English as adults have had some amount of English in their lives already. How much varies from place to place, but as the dominant language of the last century at least, English is around. That’s why we can teach English to people in English. Much of the audience understands enough English to get at least the gist of the lessons, even if they don’t yet know even the most basic grammatical structures.

UV: You graduated with an honors degree in English literature. Did your experience with language and literature motivate you to start the engVid site?

Probably not in the way you’re thinking, but you might say so. I had four years at university, during which I could indulge myself in the type of humanities education that I expect won’t be around too much longer. I got a broad base of liberal arts knowledge, and developed the skills to analyze and thus deepen my appreciation of those works of narrative I find moving. None of this is useful though when you’re 25 and trying to figure out a career.

So as many do, I ended up travelling for a bit, backpacking in Asia. I met so many people in India, Laos, Cambodia, and other countries in the region, for whom English was the one thing that could immeasurably improve their lives. For so many of these people, English is what can get them out of the slums, out of abject poverty. For the first time, I understood what a fundamental advantage I had been given by being born in an English-speaking country. At the same time, I saw YouTube, which was just beginning its ascent at the time, as a good tool to use to not only give people educational material to which they wouldn’t otherwise have access, but to give them material that was more useful, more direct, and more practical than what they might get in school, if they were even lucky enough to be taught English in school. My mother had taught English at the corporate level, and ran an ESL business while I was growing up, so I had quite a bit of knowledge about the industry. When I got back to Canada, I worked with her to develop a style of lesson video that would be focused, engaging, and consumable in small segments. It was also important that the format of the lessons be something we could create relatively quickly. No fancy animation or things like that, because I strongly believe that a library of 30 English lesson videos wouldn’t be that useful. 300, though – that’s useful. And when we get to 3000, that’ll be really useful.

UV: The videos on the website cover a wide range of topics related to learning English, including pronunciation guides, business English phrases, and preparation for important exams like the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Although you have a “vocabulary” lesson category as well, isn’t vocabulary the key to learning a language?

In the sense that you can’t learn the language without knowing words, clearly learning vocabulary is the core of learning any language. Our content reflects this – vocabulary is the category in which we’ve produced the most lesson videos, and lessons filed under some of the other categories on the site, like slang or business English, are often just more specialized forms of vocabulary lessons. We provide the categorization on the site for viewer convenience, but the fact is that most lessons involve learning some grammar and usage, some vocabulary, pronunciation dos and don’ts, comprehension in the form of learning how words are actually encountered in real life, and so on. Depending on the viewer’s level of English, he/she might not catch everything or even retain the main lesson taught. It doesn’t matter – they are improving just by watching and listening actively and trying to parse and process everything to the best of their abilities.

UV: Students can use the English Lesson Finder to search for video lessons by difficulty level and topic, and even search for specific teachers. If someone is a first-time visitor to the site, where do you recommend they start?

Something that’s both a strength and a weakness of EngVid is that our lessons are not presented in any given order. Though new users might find this scary, what it actually means is that you can get on the site, watch any of our almost 800 videos, and get a complete lesson. Lessons on vocabulary or expressions are good places to start, because they usually don’t require extensive knowledge of grammar. Sometimes these lessons are really specific, and sometimes they are general, but anyone who wants to improve his/her English can devote 15 minutes to watching one of the lessons, committing the information to memory, and taking the accompanying quiz. I actually recommend that viewers do the quiz the day after they watch the video, to make sure the knowledge has been retained. Over time, all these smaller chunks of knowledge add up to greater proficiency and confidence in using English.

UV: You’re constantly adding new lessons to the site, and you also provide printable documents for offline study. What are your plans for the website in 2015?

The main focus has been, and will continue to be, creating a large library of videos for people to watch. We have around 800 video lessons now, and are currently adding close to 200 new ones per year. In addition to the videos, the site will be growing in several ways. A new teacher will be joining early in the year. Her videos are very clear and are primarily aimed at beginners. We will also be updating our site; the most important addition will be giving users the ability to easily track which videos they’ve watched and to keep a record of their quiz scores.

Our biggest project for 2015, though, is a completely new section of full courses in English, covering large areas from start to finish. In addition to providing a more linear, guided learning path for students, these courses will include more supplementary and reference material than our normal English lessons. So lots to look forward to.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Vocabulary blog.


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Watch How The Man In The Queue Produces An Endless Ripple Effect of Kindness

A short film from Singapore,Ripple, shows how “A Simple Act of Caring Creates An Endless Ripple That Comes Back To You”.

Be inspired by this film and share kindness to the world!

6 Ways eReaders Are Affecting Your Reading Habits


We at 7 Speed Reading and Spreeder don’t discriminate between hard copy book reading and digital reading when we’re talking about the importance of reading in general. We believe that each method has a unique set of perks. What’s more, we know all of you are different types of readers, each with your own respected preferable reading habits. Some of you are hardcore soft copy readers, who prefer the feel of a printed book. Some of you have abandoned print books entirely and embraced digital publishing entirely. But most of you use both media, depending on your needs, the context, and your mood.

If you’re passionate about the printed book and you’ve been reluctant to read with an ereader, we’d like to present you with 6 ways ereaders actually change (read: improve) your reading habits. Who knows, by the end of this post perhaps you’ll be convinced to give ereaders a try from time to time!

It’s Easier!

An ereader is super light. If you frequently favor long reads you can testify to how difficult it is to balance a heavy 600-page book in your hand.

The heaviness of a book interferes with the pleasures of reading and your cramped fingers and wrist often keep grounding you back in reality, pulling you from the imaginary world of the book you’re enjoying. Yikes.

An ereader gives you a distraction-free reading space where physical limitations don’t interfere with your sacred reading ritual.

Privacy

You know how you feel when reading on the subway or other public place when you’re indulging in a “trashy” book you like to relax with. Those prying eyes scrutinizing your book cover – the people profiling you, the reader, by your book cover. Yes, people can be really hurtful sometimes. You don’t have to endure this RPI (Reader Profile Investigation), however, if you are reading on an ereader.

Countless Options

When you have an ereader you have instant access to virtually any book you please. You can purchase it and start reading the latest New York Times best-seller in a blink of an eye.

Besides, who doesn’t love the feeling of having a whole list of books ready and waiting? You’ll never have the frustration of getting to the end of your latest page-turner and having nothing new to read, especially when it’s late and both stores and libraries are closed.

Forgiving Formats

When you’re reading a printed book, you’re relying on the quality of the printer and publisher to give you a clear and legible text to read. Sometimes you don’t get the quality you need. For example, you might be familiar with the sensation of opening a printed book, only to realize that it’s printed in such a small font you have to strain your eyes to read. Or perhaps you accidentally picked up a book from the “large print” section in the library, and the font is so large it’s equally hard to read. With an ereader you won’t have this problem. An ereader is much more forgiving. It lets you increase and decrease font size; some even allow for font change as well. By adjusting the display you can make sure that your reading experience becomes more rewarding.

No More Props

Reading in badly-lit spaces means you need a book light clip so that you don’t disturb the person sleeping next to you. An ereader is a self-contained device that lets you read no matter the hour, the conditions and the place of your choice.

Speed Reading

With an ereader you can speed read non-fiction to your heart’s content. The possibility of running out of books to speed read is quite unlikely. An ereader gives you access to ample books to quench your thirst for new knowledge.

Reading hard copy books is a unique experience that engages more senses than ereaders are capable of. Nonetheless, the benefits of reading on ereaders are important and should not be overlooked. The increasing number of people who switch between conventional and digital reading prove that both have their uses. When it comes to reading, you can have your literary cake – and eat it too!


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Studysuccessful.com Creator Stefan Knapen Recommends Good Study Habit In Achieving Sucees In School


College and university life can provide many challenges for students, and it’s always good to have someone around who can give students the hints and effective tips that help them get the most out of their study time and their school years. In fact, the advice that Stefan Knapen provides at his website StudySuccessful.com can be applied to many situations and to people of all ages. After all, learning starts immediately and is a never-ending process! Check out Stefan’s site for answers to your questions about study habits, personal development, modern technology, and more.

7SR: You moved quickly through your university years and are now attending medical school in your early 20s. You must be incredibly busy! How do you fit everything into your schedule?

Haha, yeah things are going pretty fast. Well, what I did in my first couple of years was focussing on setting up a system. What kind of schedule should I use, how much work can I take on, and experimenting with different studying techniques. Probably one of the most interesting concepts I learned was the ‘Parkinson’s Law’, which teaches us that work expands with the amount of time you give it. So by taking up a lot of work, you won’t have a lot of time left to give to it. This results in the need to be highly effective in that work.

Take preparing a presentation for example. I could work hours on creating the perfect powerpoint, preparing all the jokes and practicing the presentation a couple of times beforehand. Now, as I simply did not have that time I needed to find the input which yields the highest results. So I focus on the story, I focus on the core principle. The powerpoint lay-out is not a priority at that point. This is also why starting the night before usually works out ‘fine’ (although it is for stress-reasons definitely not recommended!)

7SR: Here at 7 Speed Reading we encourage students to learn to speed read so that they can get through their research and study projects more quickly. Is this something that you’ve found to be helpful?

In med school I have to read a lot. In keeping up my blog I have to read probably even more. So learning the principles of speed reading helped me definitely. I don’t recommend to always speed read, but if it is a low-density text and there are only a couple of principles to get out of it, speed read your way through it and memorise the concepts later.

7SR: You wrote a free guide on how to build a personal website. Why is it important for people to have an online presence?

First of all: in this day and age it’s really simple. If you don’t own your own domain name somebody else will soon enough.

Second: Anybody who will ever have something to do with you will Google you. Being aware of your online presence and working on it as well can give you easily the ownership of the top 5 results in Google. Now, what do you want your future employer to find when he Googles you. Your own personal website, where your CV is clearly outlined and links to your portfolio? Or that picture where your roommate throws beer over you at that frat party on Facebook?

The free guide is a simple step-by-step instruction on how to create your own personal website. Check it out at StudySuccessful: http://studysuccessful.com/blog-as-student/

7SR: Good study habits are important for success in school, and can be applied even in a person’s later professional life. What are some of the study habits you encourage people to develop?

The best study habit would probably be finding out how you work as a person. Do you learn the most from lectures or from books? Do you like to read text or look at pictures? Do you study better in the morning or in the evening? In your first years these are core concepts to figure out. Find out where you are good at and use that.

7SR: What are three things you would recommend to someone who is starting their first year at university?

Again. Find out how you work. What is your way to do things. Together with that: also find out how social aspects of the University life fit into that, because they have to fit in there. This is the best time to meet new people, to make new connections. Use that. Say yes, become busy and find out how you can flourish! 

How A Single Text Message Ruined Her Life Forever (Warning: May Shock Some Readers)

National Highway Traffic Safety created this video for everyone to see what texting and/while driving can do.

This 4 Minute Video Shows It All – Clearly Gender Stereotyping!

A group of people did a street test… let’s all watch what happens!

How Reading Books Can Make You A Better Person


Next time you’re bored out of your mind, don’t reach for your smartphone, reach for a book instead. Reading books provides a range of benefits you may not be aware of. In fact, the more books you
read, the more awesome you will be.

Reading makes you (more) empathetic

Reading fiction gives you an inside peek into scenarios and realities you couldn’t otherwise live yourself. This opens up your critical thinking capabilities and activates your empathy sensors. You become more aware and sensitive to people’s plights, cultures, and customs, and feel more forgiving and nurturing where you might have once been condescending or inflexible.

Reading is an immersive experience

A good novel will have you questioning reality. A good novel will drag you so deeply into its plot that your identification with the protagonist will be mind-blowing and reality-blurring. Enough said.

Reading is knowledge

You can watch a documentary or tutorial to learn a new skill but nothing beats the original experience of reading, processing, and understanding new knowledge or how-tos all by yourself.

Reading is a bottomless chest from which you will always be able to get a few jewels — with each book and each tale.

Reading is traveling for your soul

Reading helps you leave all your workaday troubles behind, even if for a short moment. It empties your mind until you’re powerful enough to confront your daily demons.

Reading is entertainment

For the bibliophiles out there, reading is a matchless experience. Reading gives you immense joy. It engages your senses and enthralls your mind with scenery, plots, and mind-blowing images.

Reading makes you interesting

From learning smart, little-known facts, to initiating great discussions with friends, reading makes you a knowledgeable, interesting person people will love to hang out with.

Reading is inspiration

Reading stimulates your creativity. You start thinking critically and more boldly, all because you’ve already been exposed to various scenarios and have garnered the tools and knowledge to be less ordinary and more unique.

Reading is growth

Even if you don’t read a self-improvement book per se, virtually any well-written book will help you become a better person. From building your self-esteem to becoming better at decision-making, books give you the tools to cope with life’s conundrums — and the ever-important Zombie apocalypse.

Reading is power

It’s a cliché but it’s nonetheless true: reading empowers you. The knowledge and worlds you experience when reading give you confidence and wisdom on how to deal with real life situations more gracefully and wisely.

Reading is your key to becoming a better person in all aspects of your life

Reading is how you improve your marketability, your communication skills, your empathy and emotional intelligence, your appeal — and even your sexiness. Reading is one of the few habits known to man that you can never have too much of. So go on, read on!

Bonus benefit

If you speed read you get to reap all these benefits in a shorter time. Awesome, right?


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Did You Know: Our Galaxy Is Hurtling Through Space At Around 671,080 mph


Source: Random Quick Facts

It Started With One Man in 539 BC… It Continues To Be The Talk of the Town To This Day

What are Human Rights?


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