This month let’s give thanks to our reading brain!

I needed a nonfiction fix, so I perused my Kindle library and found Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryann Wolf.

β€œWE WERE NEVER BORN TO READ. Human beings invented reading only a few thousand years ago. And with this invention, we rearranged the very organization of our brain, which in turn expanded the ways we were able to think, which altered the intellectual evolution of our species.”― Maryanne Wolf

I never really thought about our reading brain before, just took it for granted. And unlike some folks, I have no recollection of even learning to read.

In fact, I only recently discovered that my mom sent me to an after school reading program when I was a child. But since my dad died during a pivotal moment in my primary school education (I was five) and that my mom learned basic English in her 20s, I’m not surprised this happened. I just love her even more for taking care of me because I know it was an incredibly stressful time for her.

And while I was never read a bedtime story, I grew up in a household that enjoyed reading. Mom often poured over her Thai newspapers and celebrity magazines. And her boyfriend, the one that raised my brother and I, liked to read fat paperbacks. As I got older, he shared them with me. Even the books left behind by my father showed what an avid reader he was.

Proust and the Squid was heavy reading, filled with lots of jargon and diagrams about the brain, yet I found myself devouring it. As an educator, it was hard not to think about my students, the school, what we were doing and not doing to meet the children’s needs. Wolf takes us through a historical tour of how our brains developed to read (and write), but she also focuses on dyslexia (both professionally and personally, her son), and the future of our reading brain.

As you can imagine, with devices and the internet, our brains are changing. So, she asks, what does the reading brain look like when it’s no longer is asked to conjure up images from stories, when those images are given to you via the internet. What will happen when we no longer have “the gift of time” to digest and ruminate over words because in our age everything flashes before us at the speed of light?

I’m still reading this one. When I have time at work, I pick at it, but this is not a very good way to read a book like this since I’m interrupted frequently during my lunch break.

Essentially though, the story unfolds through a conversation between a wise old man and a young whipper snapper who believes the world is a competitive and depressing place. The sage is an Adlerian philosopher. [Alfred Alder was considered one of the three giants of 19th century psychology alongside Freud and Jung.]

β€œYour unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn’t that you lack competence. You just lack courage. One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.”
― Ichiro Kishimi

This book is definitely not for everyone. I think folks who like self-improvement and/or are interested in psychology and relationships will find this interesting. If you’re looking for riveting dialogue or come at it with strong preconceived ideas, you’ll be annoyed or frustrated. So far, I’m looking forward to reading it during my time off in April.

I wanted to like this book. My husband read it and told me out of all the novels he’s read lately, this one has stuck with him. So, I thought this would be a nice segue back into fiction, but it didn’t hold my interest.

We discussed this, and decided The Luster of Lost Things is plot-driven rather than character-driven. The protagonist is meant to be invisible (he has a speech problem), and the story is considered magical realism, but I think I needed it to be one or the other, or feel a stronger connection to the characters.

Sophie Chen Keller writes beautifully. The story is sweet, takes place in a bakery (what’s not to love!), is whimsical and uplifting, but it wasn’t for me. Have you read something similar? Something that you should like, but don’t?

How was your March? What are you reading?

12 replies on “March 2023 Reading Roundup

    1. Yes, he did, and no worries. I think many books depend on your mood and where you’re at in life. And trust me, I’m definitely in an in-between place. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You had me at “reading brain.” I too never thought about this, but it makes so much sense given that for such a long time cultures passed down information exclusively orally, especially if they didn’t belong to the royal or priestly castes. Thinking about my brain “rearranging” thanks to the ubiquity of technology sort of creeps me out, but I guess that’s evolution.
    Finally got around to reading Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale,” but it really wasn’t for me though it obviously comes highly recommended from a ton of people. Reading it, I too was losing interest.
    Hope you’re onto reading something you really fall in love with! There’s nothing quite like that feeling. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I, too, couldn’t finish Handmaid’s Tale! I was quite young when I tried to read it, so maybe that was the problem. But yeah, I don’t think I’m literary enough πŸ˜›

      Thanks, A. You, too. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, all fine. Still above ground! Kind of switched from blogging to making youtube guitar vids/tutorial which I rather enjoy. Still reading a lot, and i often plan to write up some book lists but I somehow find other things to do! What were your books of 2022?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Damn…I was looking forward to trying The Courage to be Disliked but if its a bit of a dull dialogue format I might give it a miss thank you for these recommendations 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. Yes, not for everyone. Sometimes when folks try to make it accessible it become unappealing to those who don’t need or want that easy entry. I get it. To be honest, I haven’t picked it up lately.


Leave a Reply to Lani Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s