How to be a smarter reader

There’s plenty of advice out there to help you read more – but what about how to get more from what you read? Here’s how

Article by  from The Guardian

How to be a smarter reader

Pursue ‘targeted serendipity’

Pick each new book at random, and you’ll end up with plenty of duds. But if you stick religiously to the same authors or genres, or rely on Amazon’s recommendation engine, which makes suggestions based on past purchases, you’ll never expand your horizons. Choose a middle path: use a recommendation site such as Whichbook, which filters books based on numerous sliding scales – “funny/serious”, “optimistic/bleak”, “no sex/lots of sex” – without knowing which specific titles you’ve previously read.

Stick to print

Quite apart from the romanticism in the smell and feel of “real” books, there’s some persuasive psychological research to suggest that we grasp their content of paper books better and faster than ebooks’. This could be because we subconsciously use physical cues to store information: whether something’s on the left or right page; how many pages are under your right thumb, still to be read, etc.

In one British study, children who read only on screens were three times less likely to say they greatly enjoyed reading. It’s also been argued that the blue light emitted by tablets may seriously interfere with sleep and health.

Read first, talk later

The web offers countless opportunities to join a worldwide, 24-hour book group, such as Readmill, an e-reader platform that lets readers have conversations in the margins. But there’s much to be said for more limited devices – paper books, say, or basic Amazon Kindles – that make it harder for your attention to wander.

As the new media thinker Clay Shirky, no Luddite, puts it: “Tell me later who else liked it. Show them to me, introduce them to me, whatever – not right now. Right now I’m reading.” Make reading and discussing two distinct activities.

Keep it literary

Last year, a controversial but well-designed study at the New School for Social Research in New York, found that reading literary fiction (Don DeLilloAlice Munro) enhanced the capacity for empathy, and that the same didn’t apply to popular fiction or non-fiction. One hunch is that literary fiction leaves more to the reader’s imagination, forcing you to work harder to enter the emotional worlds of others. “What great writers do is to turn you into the writer,” explained one researcher. “In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.”

Split your time: have a few books on the go

While you’re best advised not to try to read 20 books at once, there are definitely advantages to choosing three or four at once. Have a mix of fiction and non-fiction on the go, each suited to different moods and contexts. Even bad books can help – by sending you back to the good ones. “When you’re not feeling the book in front of you, pick up something else,” writes one blogger, Leigh Kramer, an advocate of the multi-book approach. “This will either make you want to go back to your original choice or press forward with one of your other options.”


Lessons from Less

I really, really, really like this article. I wish i could do the same one day. Enjoy reading.

From: Courtney at her blog, Be More with Less

When I was 16, I wanted more. When I was 24, I wanted even more than that. So, I worked harder, earned more, spent more, to have more, only to owe more. I was exhausted at the end of the day and tired when I woke up most mornings. I ate on the fly, fell behind, ran late and could never catch up. Sound familiar?

I thought everything I was doing was for a better life. I thought what I was doing was normal and right. I had become so used to bills in the mailbox, and feeling rundown, that I didn’t know anything was wrong. So, how did I go from wanting more, more, more to craving less? I would love to tell you that I woke up one morning a changed person, but that’s not the way it went down. Even though I had begun to make small changes, I needed a wake up call … and it had to be really loud.

On July, 7th 2006 I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis. That was my wake up call, and to say it was loud is an understatement. The diagnosis was nothing short of traumatic. I didn’t have enough information to take action. I only knew enough to be really scared. I had so many questions. Could I still ski with my family? Would I be able to help my daughter with homework? Would I even be walking in a year?

No one had the answers to those overwhelming questions, so I had to focus on what was most important: my health and my family. Nothing else mattered. If I had moved forward with these big questions and fearful thinking, my daughter and husband would have been so worried. I realized that if I started thinking differently, so would they. My questions went from, “What is this disease going to do to my body and mind?” to “How am I going to reverse MS?”

The answer to my question was change. Small shifts and big change were necessary to become the best possible version of myself. When I started making changes in my life, I didn’t know that they would lead to minimalism, but they did. In fact, while the changes I made were fighting MS, they were also redefining my whole life. The changes I made are not all essential in the life of a minimalist, but they are all essential to my minimalist lifestyle.

What I did to change my life:

I became a vegetarian. Research shows that MS patients, and people dealing with other autoimmune conditions that eat fewer saturated fats and “inflammatory foods” maintain better health. (I would challenge that this goes for most everyone.) Giving up meat was one of the best ways I could really “do something” about my new diagnosis. I stopped eating meat to achieve better health.

When I started my vegetarian journey, I started reading. I read about raising animals for meat. I read about factory farming. I learned about the impact of our actions on our bodies, animals and the earth. By really opening my eyes and heart to how meat was put on my plate, I lost my appetite for it. I was motivated by health and changed with compassion.

I fell in love with yoga. Practicing Yoga gives me strength, flexibility, focus, peace of mind and freedom from fear. I want to keep my body strong, and my mind calm and focused so I can effectively fight this disease and take care of my family. While I am in search of less, I want to be more sensitive and loving, more adaptive and more resilient. Yoga gives me that, too.

I got rid of my stuff. While I always felt compelled to put something on an empty surface, I have come to love an empty space. It takes living without it to realize how clutter affects your life and takes away from your freedom and creativity. I am reminded of that every time I walk into my kitchen and instead of seeing a cluttered counter, I see sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window. I am still letting go of my stuff and feel lighter everyday.

I decided to live without debt. You may not think that your bank account can affect your health, but considering money can cause great stress, and stress can make you sick, it only makes sense that poor money management equals poor health. My husband and I made the decision to be debt free, and paid off our last debt this summer except for our house. What will we do with our money now that we don’t have any monthly payments? Whatever we want.

I hung up the phone. I do not use my phone when I’m driving anymore. I don’t text at red lights or make calls on the back roads. I can remember too many times where I would arrive at a destination and not remember how I got there because I was so involved in a phone call. Admitting that I had essentially been risking my life and the lives of other drivers wasn’t easy, but it was necessary to make the change and the commitment to be phone free in the car.

Another benefit is that now, when I pick my daughter up from school, she has my full attention. She doesn’t have to compete with business or other phone fueled distractions. I am there for her.

I redefined better. As I mentioned before, all of my bad habits came from wanting something better, something more. In the changes I’ve made, I have redefined what better means to me and my family. The health and happiness of my marriage and family comes before everything else. My husband and I have decided that “more” isn’t the answer for us.

Now at 41, forever changed, and virtually symptom free, I am becoming me. I know I haven’t figured it all out but am content. I don’t make as much as I used to. I didn’t take a big vacation this year or make any big purchases, but there is no doubt that I am happier. Less speaks to me. Less lets me love more deeply and less lets me really be me.

My wake up calls have become more subtle, but because I have the time and space to pay attention, I hear them loud and clear. When I first started to practice doing less and being more, I discovered Zen Habits. It was another wake up call, but it sounded like a whisper, “You can do this. You can change.” It is not a coincidence that Leo Babauta’s story of change changed me. I was ready to listen, ready to change.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that less is enough. Of course, I am still learning, still changing and still a work in progress, but now it is my turn to inspire change with my story.


Be HaPpY … YoU MuSt WaTcH!


From time to time, you need to pumper your self.  I dedicate this video to all of YOU!  There are many wisdoms in this video.  If you do them, your life is going to be different, and of course, you will be happy.  Don’t you want to be happy!?  I miss you all 🙂

“the illustrations and the captions are from the book “be happy – A little book to help you live a happy life.” by Monica Sheehan”  I have added this book into my list. Amazon link

Me, Slaleh, & The Book Fair

I went to the recent book fair twice this time. None of them were on my own well. The first visit was with Dear friend Saleh who insisted on visiting the book fair although I insisted on not going. To tell you the truth I have been going each past year and I keep buying very interesting books that I don’t read. I have a long list of overdue readings that I came to the conclusion that I won’t be able to keep up with. So I managed to make a first quick visit without buying anything. (I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed!)

The second visit with my wife was also against my well as she keep visiting each year, buying novels, and reading every night, good for her. This time my second son was with us so I managed to make an excuse and run with him trying to locate something good for him and spend the time. I managed to escape this time with minimum lose as i only bought a small book for .500 fils for me. And all the rest of the buying went to my kinds and wife.

One more thing I must mention, in my second visit I came across our old friend Yasser. You can’t find an occasion related to Libraries, books, or literature without catching Yasser there 🙂

President Barack Obama has written a children’s book

President Barack Obama has written a children’s book entitled “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” according to a news release from Random House.

A 500,000-copy first edition is scheduled to be released on November 16.

The illustrated book, according to Random House, is “a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation — from the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington.”

It “celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans — the potential to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths,” said Chip Gibson, head of Random House Children’s Books.

The manuscript was completed before Obama took office in 2009, the news release stated.

Proceeds from the book, which has a suggested retail price of $17.99, will be donated to a scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled soldiers.

Obama also wrote the international bestsellers “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”

Source: CNN

Are You Happy?

I really like this article and I think we should all read it. I know so many people who see the class half full. I know so many people at work and other places who ware dark glasses all the time. Life is short and has many gifts for you. Live life and smile while you can. Dont just see the negative side.

أسعد رجل على وجه الأرض – بقلم عبدالله المغلوث.

لم ألتقي في حياتي بشخص أكثر سعادة من السيرلانكي روشان داسن (37 عاما). فهو يبتسم على الدوام. يبتسم وهو يستقبلك. ويبتسم وهو يودعك. ويبتسم بينهما. لا يملك سوى ثلاثة قمصان يكررها على مدار العام. لكنه يشعرك أنه يملك الدنيا وما عليها. درست معه مادة قبل 9 شهور في مانشستر ببريطانيا ومازلت أقصده كلما حزنت. فهو يملك قدرة فائقة على إطفاء أي حزن بابتسامة واسعة وتفاؤل غفير.

روشان لا يغادر جامعة سالفورد ببريطانيا التي يدرس فيها الدكتوراه في الهندسة. فإما تجده في غرفة طلاب الدكتوراه يكتب ويقرأ. أو تجده داخل دورات مياهها ينظف ويكنس. مستعد أن يقوم بأي عمل شريف يساعده على تسديد رسومه الدراسية وإيجار شقته. لم أره متذمرا قط. ولم أره يأكل طوال معرفتي به. عفوا رأيته مرة واحدة. وكان يأكل مثل العصافير، قليلا جدا. وعندما شاهدني أعاد علبة طعامه الصغيرة إلى حقيبته بسرعة فائقة وابتسم.

يقرأ التايمز والجارديان يوميا في مكتبة الجامعة. ولا يتابع التلفزيون إلا لماماً. لكنه يتابع برنامجا شهيا على إذاعة (ريل راديو نورث ويست). هذا البرنامج يمتد إلى ساعة واحدة. يذيع فقط أنباء سعيدة طريفة يستقبلها من مستمعيه. مثلا: مارك جون من ليفربول استطاع أخيرا أن يعرف كيف يربط ربطة عنق. وجينفر وجدت قبل لحظات نظارتها الشمسية على وجهها بعد عناء استغرق ساعات في البحث عنها. ومرة سمعت اسم روشان في البرنامج محتفلا بكوب شاي ارتشفه في منزل صديقه. لدى روشان ميزة استثنائية تكمن بالاحتفال بالأشياء الصغيرة. سعادة تفيض من وجهه عندما يعثر على كتاب أو جملة جذابة في رواية. تجاوز روشان الفقر المدقع الذي كان يرزح تحت وطأته في مسقط رأسه، وظروف صعبة عاشها في بريطانيا بفضل ابتسامته التي ورثها من والدته. يتذكر أمامي دائما كلمات أمه عندما كان صغيرا: “لا تحزن لأنك لا تملك حذاء، بل افرح لأن لديك جوربا”.

على النقيض تماما من روشان لدي صديق عابس وقانط على الدوام. لم أشاهده مبتسما قط. كل الأفراح يحولها إلى أتراح. عندما باركت له التخرج صعقني قائلا: “اخفض صوتك. من يسمعك سيعتقد أنني حصلت على وظيفة أو ورثت مالا؟”. وحينما هنأته بطفله الأول، سحب يدي بصرامة حتى كاد أن ينزعها ثم قال: “احذر. لا تنجب مبكرا. منذ أن أبصر طفلي النور وأنا لا أعرف النوم”. إذا ابتسمت أمامه عاقبني قائلا: “سيجيء لك يوم وتبكي”. وإذا وجدني مهموما زاد همي هما بقوله: “قطعا، تفكر في دراهمك؟”. صديقي لا يمثل حالة شخصية، بل واقع الكثير من إخواننا وأخواتنا في وطننا العربي الكبير الذين ينظرون للحياة بتشاؤم. ينظرون للنصف الفارغ من الكأس. وينقلون عدوى الإحباط لأترابهم ليسود جو عارم من الانهزامية والخيبة والحزن.

يقول الفيلسوف الفرنسي، أوغست كونت: “لكي تحتفظ بالسعادة عليك أن تتقاسمها مع الآخرين”. فالابتسامة التي تسكبها من وجهك ستعود لك. ستذهب بعيدا. لكنها حتما ستعود.

قضيت سنوات عديدة في الغربة أدرس ولا أختلط إلا بأبناء جلدتي. فأمسيت على الدوام أنتقد حجم المكافأة وارتفاع غلاء المعيشة وتجاهل الملحقية الثقافية الرد على اتصالاتي. أهدرت سنوات طويلة مكفهرا ومتجهما. ضيعت شهورا جمة غاضبا وحانقا.

لكن عندما تعرفت على روشان أدركت أن الحياة تستحق أن نتعلق بها أكثر. ونتشبث بها بأقدامنا وأيدينا. جعلني أستمتع بكوب الشاي، وأبتهج بقميصي الجديد. جعلني أحتفل برسالة نصية هاتفية، وأطرب لمحاضرة تقليدية. جعلني أفرح أكثر وأحزن أقل. جعلني أبتسم كثيرا.

تفشى الإحباط في مجتمعاتنا لأننا تخلينا عن الفرح. انصرفنا عن البهجة. ونسينا أن الأفراح الصغيرة وقود للأفراح الكبيرة. وأن البحر يبدأ بقطرة. والشجر ينهض من بذرة