Ten wonderfully well-thought out reasons why the printed book should never die...
Noted in the ALA Direct e-newsletter of February 6th: Timothy Young writes in the Design Observer: “I recently gave a talk to a library group about why the printed book still matters. I had been asked to address the subject of ‘Books in a Digital World,’ but I chose to focus much more closely on the characteristics of printed objects that are not effectively represented in facsimile. That is, what cannot be captured in a scan. I’ve been carrying this list in my head for years, adding to it one reason at a time. In my profession, as a librarian and a curator, this list (of which what follows is only a portion) functions as an apologia pro vita mia--rational defenses for the continued existence of the printed codex—and my involvement with them.”...
Quick -- think of your ten favorite writers! Write down their names -- and do it quickly... no stopping to hem and haw and weigh their relative merits. Just write down ten names of writers you truly enjoy reading: classic, contemporary, fiction, nonfiction, poetry... just get those names down.
(Musical interlude while I wait -- I am currently listening to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition...)
Alright, now look at that list of names. How many are men? How many are women?
Here's mine (in the order they came to mind):
Now, on any given Sunday (or any other day of the week, for that matter), this list would, in all probability, be different. I read eclectically: fiction, nonfiction, children's literature. I am always discovering a new favorite author. But these were the ones that came to mind today.
So, my list consists of six men and four women. But I am curious as to what the gender proportions would be on the lists of other readers, both female and male. My guess is that the lists of men would contain far more male writers, while the lists of women would, in general, more balanced, like mine, primarily because females, young, old and "of a certain age," are far more likely to read fiction in which the main character is male than boys and men are willing to read books in which the main character is female.
And just what is the point, you are probably asking?
Well, Grammarly, an automated proofreading platform that checks for grammar and spelling errors, as well as detecting plagiarism, recently released a survey it conducted to determine an answer to the age-old question: Who writes better, men or women?
The poll, which received over 3,000 responses, concluded that overall, based on a variety of factors, women are better writers than men.
For example, according to the poll, women are more likely to create well-developed characters, while men are more likely to get to and through the plot points.
Women are, according to the poll, far more likely to write long, descriptive sentences than men. (Although I am thinking this is a recent development... either that, or Charles Dickens, William Faulkner and Nathaniel Hawthorne were pseudonyms for Cecily Dunning, Wilma Flossbender and Nannette Hairston-Smith.
Now, depending on your mood and inclination, you might be looking for one type of writing or the other. So I am not sure we can ever really come to a definitive conclusion. And 3,000 responses is a minuscule sample of readers; however, it sure makes a fun debate.
I would be interested in seeing if a reader could tell --- just by reading a paragraph or two --- if the author was a man or a woman.
So here goes:
"The baron, followed by the count, traversed a long suite of apartments, in which the prevailing characteristics were heavy magnificence and the gaudiness of ostentatious wealth, until he reached the boudoir of Madame ________, a small octagonal-shaped room, hung with pink satin covered with white Indian muslin; the chairs were of ancient workmanship and materials; over the doors were painted sketches of shepherds and shepherdesses after the style and manner of Boucher; and at each side pretty medallions in crayons, harmonizing well with the fittings-up of this charming apartment, the only one though out the vast hotel in which any distinctive taste prevailed."
"Still she stared into his face with that slow, full gaze which was so curious and so exciting to him. He was acutely and delightfully conscious of himself, of his own attractiveness. He felt full of strength, able to give off a sort of electric power. And he was aware of her blue, exposed-looking eyes upon him. She had beautiful eyes, flower-like, fully opened, naked in their looking at him. And on them there seemed to float a curious iridescence, a sort of film of disintegration, and sullenness, like oil on water."
And one more:
"It was a citified, stylish man with his hat set at an angle that didn't belong in these parts. His coat was over his arm, but he didn't need it to represent his clothes. The shirt with the silk sleeve holders was dazzling enough for the world. He whistled, mopped his face and walked like he knew where he was going."
Care to hazard at a guess at the gender of each writer?
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