Monday, January 30, 2012

How to "read" a book...

Instead of meeting in person this week or next (January 30 or February 6) due to issues with transportation related to the Super Bowl, you have a virtual assignment. This is your first assignment. It is due next Monday, February 6 at noon. I will post the next assignment next week. It will be due on noon when we meet again on February 13.

Do these exercises and answer each and every question included in this assignment on your blog. Upload the URL to your blog entry (or entries) here to receive your points.

Go to a library, bookstore, or your own book collection and look through the books. Please do not read any. Just pay attention to what catches your eye.
• What is it that stands out to you?
• Why?
Choose a red book and open it to page 6. Close your eyes and put your finger on the page somewhere.
• What did you find?
• If your finger landed on a paragraph, how many times does the letter P show up in that paragraph?
• If it landed on a picture, how many straight lines are in the picture?
• If it landed on white space, what is the white space surrounding?
• Can you imagine the white space as a sea and the other parts (words, pictures, etc.) as islands floating in white water or space?
Using your other senses, explain what the paper feels like.
• Is it slick or rough?
• What does the cover feel like?
• Can you feel the ink of the words if you close your eyes?
• Do different colors feel different with your eyes closed?
• What else can you discover about the paper?
• What about the cover?
Without destroying the book, unless you own it and want to, see if you can figure out how the book was constructed.
• Is it stitched?
• Is it glued?
• Is there any cloth on this book or is it all paper?
• Is it a hardback or paperback?
• Does it have signatures? (Hint: you may need to look up what signatures are in the context of making books…)
• If it has signatures, how many pages are in each and how many signatures are there in the whole book?
• If it does not, look at the glue on the ends of the spine and discribe what you see.
Flip through the pages and look at the end papers.
• Is there any writing in the book, other than the printing?
• If so, what does it say?
• Why is it there?
• Who wrote it?
• If you do not know, then imagine who might have written it.
• If there is no writing in the book then how does it make you feel to know you are the first person (possibly) to think about it?
Examine the book more.
• Are there any stains on the book?
• Are there any fingerprints?
• What do they look like?
• How might they have happened?
Look at the pages of the book.
• What is the color of the pages? I bet they are not really white.
• How would you describe the color? Is it warm or cold? Bright or dull, etc.
• What other visual things can you explore with the book?
Think about the history of this book.
• Can you see any other evidence that someone else has handled this book?
• What are the edges of the pages like? Describe them.
• Can you imagine what someone else might have been thinking as they read this book?
• Do you think anyone else has used this book like you are right now instead of reading it?
Flip through the pages quickly.
• Can you hear the sound? If so, describe it.
• If not, what is your experience like?
• Can you feel the breeze?
• Can you move something with the wind generated from the book?
• Could you use this book to win a game you created using the book's wind power?
Drop the book on the floor.
• What did you experience?
• Did you sense the vibrations the book made?
• Did you feel it in your feet?
• Take your shoes off. Now drop the book. Was there any difference?
Hold the book between your hands with one hand on each cover and the book closed. Close your eyes.
• Is the book cold? Hold it like that for at least one minute.
• Now feel the cover. Can you feel the temperature change from where your hands were to where they were not?
• Have you ever been aware of this before when you were holding a book to read it?
• If your heat transfers in this situation and you noticed it because I asked you to, why do you think you have never noticed it before?
• If you have noticed the temperature of a book you were holding before, describe why you noticed it.
Smell the book.
• What does the smell make you think of?
• If you can't think of anything, describe the smells you can sense. (Interesting fact: Did you know that I have friends [many librarians, actually] who choose their books partly based on how they smell? Honestly.)
I do not recommend tasting the book for health and safety issues… :-)

Now, finally, read the first page. If it is just pictures, read the story of the pictures.
• What is the title of this book?
• Based on the first page, explain why you think the book was titled that.
Reflect back on this entire exericise.
• What is your experience like with the book now that you have experienced it differently?
• Do you still find books to be boring, assuming you did in the first place?
• What, if anything has changed for you in regards to books?
Now think about this class.
• How did I "fishbowl" this assignment?
• What do you think the point is of this exercise?
• What can you take from this exercise that might help you with future projects?

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