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  • Run whilst you read!?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    Uh oh! Potentially bad news for bibliophiles via 3quarksdaily:
    Active people could be up to 10 years "younger" than couch potatoes, at least according to one measure of biological age. Tim Spector, director of the Twin Research Unit at St Thomas' Hospital in London, looked at the levels of physical activity of 2,401 twins and assessed the length of their telomeres - the "caps" on the ends of their chromosomes that help to protect the DNA from wearing down during the replication process that replenishes cells. Telomeres shorten over an individual's lifetime and are thought to function as a marker for ageing. Smokers and obese people were already known to have shorter telomeres than their healthier counterparts. The team found that, on average, telomeres in the most active group (who took more than 3 hours 20 minutes of exercise a week) were 200 nucleotides longer than that of the least active group (who took less than 16 minutes exercise a week). "This difference suggests that inactive subjects may be biologically older by 10 years compared with more active subjects," say Spector and colleagues in their paper in Archives of Internal Medicine.
    Reading -- and I do lots and lots
  • Is the future bright!?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    In an excellent post over on Brave New World, Martyn Daniels asks: "Why do we believe that the future is bad? Why do we look backwards believing that the world we knew before served us better and that books as we knew them then were the best they could ever be?" There is much woe and despair in the publishing industry, but Martyn puts a welcome and positive spin on our publishing future:
    The paper book will not disappear but the current economic publishing model and value chain will change. The only certainty is that there will still be authors and there still will be readers but everything in between is up for grabs. Will we still be producing the volume of new titles at the current rate -- no? Will we be reviving and becoming aware of past treasures and the long tail -- yes? Will some books go fully digital -- yes? Will some books remain in paper -- yes and for many years these will be the majority of the market. The challenge is finding the balance and being able to respond to changing demand.
    Martyn's punctuation is a bit odd here. Rather than having open questions, I think he means to answer them. I think he meant to write: "Will we still be producing the volume of new titles at the current rate? No. Will we be reviving and becoming aware of past treasures and the long tail? Yes. Will some books go fully digital? Yes." And I agree with him! And, obviously, here at The Book Depository we think that the longtail is key to all this. So many books, so many readers, but new books rushing past us all of the time at breakneck speed with the good ones getting lost along the way ... How can we cope? By ignoring the flood of new books, finding our own filtering mechanisms (the literary blogosphere for me!), and buying books regardless of when they where published.
  • Thin books, please!

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    Anecdotal Evidence draws out a choice quote from Theodore Dalrymple's review in the New York Sun of the 614-page Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis by George Makari:
    Here, as an aside, I make a plea for thin rather than for fat books, at least for the general reader. (I accept the value of fat books as repositories.) There is more intellect in the distillation than in the accumulation of facts; for facts, unlike men, are not created equal. We busy human beings need guidance as to their importance and significance; and there are, after all, very few subjects of such intrinsic importance that we need to know every last detail about them.
    Loath as I am to agree with Dalrymple, I think he is absolutely right here. Not only are there far too many books in the world, there are far too few decent editors keeping the rivers of words from becoming vast, unnavigable oceans of content. As Pierre Bayard has charmingly
  • Books of the Year

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    I'm a big fan of Books of the Year round-ups. They are a great chance to find out about books that you've somehow
  • 1853264849.jpg For me, one of the best blogs around is 3 Quarks Daily which bills itself as "An Eclectic Digest of Science, Art and Literature." Every day the folk at 3QD bring you a host of links to the best of the web -- and their best links are normally science-related. Yesterday, they linked to a fascinating piece about dreams by Richard Highfield in The Telegraph:
    More than a century ago, Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, a milestone work that would inspire generations of scientists to examine the connection between the nebulous, hard-to-define mind and the grey, wrinkled organ that sits between our temples. Freud called our dreams the "royal road to the unconscious". His seductive idea was that their content is shaped by experiences early in life, creating the hope that psychoanalysis could use our dreams to reveal our childhood miseries, and thereby cure our inner torment. Today, however, a study of dreams conducted for The Daily Telegraph by Harvard University has come to the inescapable conclusion that Freud put too much emphasis on our formative years. Although dreams are bizarre and otherworldly, they are as likely to be moulded by mundane, humdrum and everyday activities as by life-changing events.
    Despite this and other studies, countless books on dream interpretation (like Theresa Cheung's The Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams, Nerys Dee's Understanding Dreams: What They Are and How to Interpret Them and Tony Crisp's Dream Dictionary) are published every year and their sell in their thousands. But can we really interpret our surreal night movies? Do they really mean anything? Or have we all just been eating too much cheese!?
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