Sick of getting corrected for tiny grammatical mistakes? Turns out you may not be a forgetful person after all. According to a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, our brains have a tendency to fall into bad grammatical habits, even when we know the rules we’re trying to follow. In The Washington Post, Andrew Heisel investigates. You could also read Fiona Maazel on the specter of commercial grammar.
Out this week: M Train by Patti Smith; Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell; 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore; The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks; The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra; Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe; and Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Got any big social engagements coming up on your calendar? Want to make a splash? Well here’s just the thing: memorize a whole heap of the words assembled in Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s The Meaning of Liff, which has been entirely digitized thanks to some kind souls. Then try to work them into as many conversations as you can. (h/t The Harlequin)
“[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place.” Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.
We’ve all had that annoying moment of finding the perfect word to win Scrabble with, except that word doesn’t count. Now, Scrabble is letting players nominate a new word to enter its dictionary. You can submit on Facebook. Just do us a favor, and nominate something better than “hashtag” or “selfie.”
Some very cool Hunter S. Thompson photography showing now at an LA gallery. The show coincides with a pricey new “collector’s edition” book that “presents a rare look into the life of Thompson.” (via)Another most literate cities list has arrived. In 2006, Seattle wins, with Minneapolis second. My hometown Washington, DC, is tied for third and LA, where I lived when I started this blog, is eighth. The last two cities I’ve lived in, Chicago (39th) and, now, Philadelphia (tied for 33rd), fail to crack the top ten. Not sure what conclusions I can draw about that, but USA Today draws its own conclusions in an article about the list.Somebody gets into Gwenda’s garbage, her papers fly everywhere, and before you know it, she’s cought in a “indie movie scene wrought with ironic symbolism.” Brilliant.Lesser-Known Editing and Proofreading Marks. Also Brilliant. (via Languagehat)On a more serious note, Tim O’Reilly explains why the book search efforts of Google, et al, are broken. The problem is that we must search in Google’s (or Yahoo’s) walled garden. There is no way to search across all of the books that have been digitized, which is very much at odds with our experience on the Web, where we can search everything at once.