For many years, I’ve been borrowing up to 50 books at a time, from the Toronto Public Library. With this amount of books to look at, I’ve also developed a protocol, whereby I go about accessing each of these texts.
I look at one or two sentences in each book, to get a sense of where the author is coming from, and then choose books to read at further length. If I choose to read an entire book, I typically start in the middle, read to the end, and then start at the start of the book. I like to adopt such an approach, because it makes for a more active form of learning, than would be the case if I were to read the book from start to finish, in chronological order.
The larger context is that I am engaged in a form of project-oriented learning. I have an interest in particular themes. In order to study such themes in depth, I organize my own independent study projects. What I learn is manifested, in one way or another, in content that appears at my website. What I learn also manifests itself in the structure, and pacing, of my writing.
As part of this intensive reading process, at times I take a break, lasting several months at a stretch, when I do not borrow any books at all, from the Toronto Public Library. Such a periodization approach gives my brain a rest.
In recent years, I’ve often visited the TPL website to access a list of the most recent nonfiction books that have been added to the library’s lists of new books. Previously, for may years, the part of the website that listed new nonfiction acquisitions was located within a cumbersome, old format.
Some time back, the old version of the New in Nonfiction section has been replaced by a new version. The purpose of the current post is to bring attention to the list of new nonfiction books, at the Toronto Public Library.
Web development takes time
An underlying story is that web development, of the kind evident at the TPL website in recent years, takes time. I am reminded of that, because I am aware that my own website, before it was launched in 2012, was in development for a long time. As I look back, I can see that it was wise, to take my time, and plan the website well, so that once launched, it would be able to serve a useful purpose.
Part of that purpose is to connect with site visitors, by way of sharing information, and by way of offering a forum, where information from site visitors can be shared. The other part of the purpose is to organize my own thinking; my ongoing study of books from the TPL is part of the organizing-of-thinking process, that in turn manifests in content appearing at the Preserved Stories website.
Update: Central role, when we are reading anything, of our general knowledge and vocabulary
Of relevance with regard to how we go about reading things, an April 13, 2018 Atlantic article is entitled: “Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years: Schools usually focus on teaching comprehension skills instead of general knowledge — even though education researchers know better.”
An excerpt reads:
Cognitive scientists have known for decades that simply mastering comprehension skills doesn’t ensure a young student will be able to apply them to whatever texts they’re confronted with on standardized tests and in their studies later in life.
One of those cognitive scientists spoke on the Tuesday panel: Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia who writes about the science behind reading comprehension. Willingham explained that whether or not readers understand a text depends far more on how much background knowledge and vocabulary they have relating to the topic than on how much they’ve practiced comprehension skills. That’s because writers leave out a lot of information that they assume readers will know. If they put all the information in, their writing would be tedious.