Proust and the Squid

Proust and the Squid

The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
A developmental psychologist evaluates the ways in which reading and writing have transformed the human brain and the outside world, in an anecdotal study that reveals the significant changes in evolutionary brain physiology throughout history while making cautionary predictions about the possible consequences of technology. 35,000 first printing.

HARPERCOLL

The act of reading is a miracle. Every new reader's brain possesses the extraordinary capacity to rearrange itself beyond its original abilities in order to understand written symbols. But how does the brain learn to read? As world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist and scholar of reading Maryanne Wolf explains in this impassioned book, we taught our brain to read only a few thousand years ago, and in the process changed the intellectual evolution of our species.

Wolf tells us that the brain that examined tiny clay tablets in the cuneiform script of the Sumerians is configured differently from the brain that reads alphabets or of one literate in today's technology.

There are critical implications to such an evolving brain. Just as writing reduced the need for memory, the proliferation of information and the particular requirements of digital culture may short-circuit some of written language's unique contributions—with potentially profound consequences for our future.

Turning her attention to the development of the individual reading brain, Wolf draws on her expertise in dyslexia to investigate what happens when the brain finds it difficult to read. Interweaving her vast knowledge of neuroscience, psychology, literature, and linguistics, Wolf takes the reader from the brains of a pre-literate Homer to a literacy-ambivalent Plato, from an infant listening to Goodnight Moon to an expert reader of Proust, and finally to an often misunderstood child with dyslexia whose gifts may be as real as the challenges he or she faces.

As we come to appreciate how the evolution and development of reading have changed the very arrangement of our brain and our intellectual life, we begin to realize with ever greater comprehension that we truly are what we read. Ambitious, provocative, and rich with examples, Proust and the Squid celebrates reading, one of the single most remarkable inventions in history. Once embarked on this magnificent story of the reading brain, you will never again take for granted your ability to absorb the written word.



Book News
Many scholars believe that humans are hard-wired for language, but no one, points out Wolf (child development, Tufts U.), believes that about reading and writing. The act of reading is not natural, she argues, either for a child or in the evolution of the brain's capacity to learn. She loves it anyway, and here shares her knowledge and joy at learning to read in both evolutionary and development contexts; she also explores reasons that some people cannot learn to read. By the way, Proust says they were just friends; the squid is not commenting. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell North Amer
As world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist and scholar of reading Maryanne Wolf explains in this book, we taught our brain to read only a few thousand years ago, and in the process changed the intellectual evolution of our species.
Wolf tells us that the brain that examined tiny clay tablets in the cuneiform script of the Sumerians is configured differently from the brain that reads alphabets or of one literate in today's technology. Turning her attention to the development of the individual reading brain, Wolf draws on her expertise in dyslexia to investigate what happens when the brain finds it difficult to read. Wolf takes the reader from the brains of a pre-literate Homer to a literacy-ambivalent Plato, from an infant listening to Goodnight Moon to an expert reader of Proust, and finally to an often misunderstood child with dyslexia whose gifts may be as real as the challenges he or she faces.

Baker
& Taylor

A developmental psychologist evaluates the ways in which reading and writing have transformed the human brain, in an anecdotal study that reveals the significant changes in evolutionary brain physiology throughout history.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Harper, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
Description: xi, 308 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780060186395
0060186399
Branch Call Number: 612.82 Wol
Additional Contributors: Stoodley, Catherine J.,

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c
callig
Nov 15, 2016

It gets my vote for the most badly titled, or at least subtitled book of the year.

This isn't a book on reading in general, neuro and/or evolutionary insights-- it's instead at least 70% on learning language in childhood. Fair enough- that's her background, but she/her publisher mislead readers with this title.
This is a fantastic read for teachers, of dyslexic readers in particular. For all others, rather a slog.... *Not* the general-science intro one would expect from the title.

g
GabiND
Jul 21, 2015

A book that reveals the complexities of learning to read and the brilliance and adaptability of the human mind.

c
chrisabo
Apr 18, 2015

page 136

This is an excellent book for anyone interested in both the historical development of reading ability in the Human species, as well as how children read and some excellent theories about dyslexia and other reading challenges in children ( from deafness to socio-economic status). Every elementary school teacher should read this book. The author gave me some insight int why my 35 year old son, who has a masters degree in Math, is the slowest reader in the family when it comes to novels and leisure reading. The author also warns us not to push our children to be early readers before the right stage in brain development or we could be developing neuro-pathways which eventually hinder reading in adulthood. This is a fantastic book.

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mpfickes
Aug 05, 2013

A cognitive neuroscientist explains the amazing path by which humans, 6000 years ago in Sumer, began to make marks on clay to keep accounts & share information, leading eventually to the acquisition of reading as a human trait. While language is embedded in human genetics, reading is not, and thus each new human must undergo the roughly 2000 days of training that it typically takes to turn out a beginning reader at around age 5. Wolf explains the complex and varied activities that occur in multiple neighborhoods of the brain (letter recognition, phonemic awareness, sensitivity to syntax, short term memory, automaticity) that unite to result in the act of reading. Her research into dyslexia has led to new approaches to reading instruction and awareness of different aptitudes that so called "learning disabled" individuals (including da Vinci, Einstein, Edison, Gaudi, Charles Schwab) have possessed. A heady, erudite and inspiring book that's not an easy read but which richly repays the effort.

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