Let's Take A Closer Look

Explaining complicated subject matter simply since 1986

Studies show that reading on paper goes lots faster than reading on a screen. Those who read on paper generally are more aware of how well they understand what they are reading than screen readers, a skill called metacognition, or thinking about your own thinking. At BrainFacts.org, Anne Mangen, a Norwegian literacy professor, says reading print is a form of mediation, where we focus our attention on something still. She adds “it’s healthy to sit down with something that doesn’t move, ping or call out for our attention.” 

Why do we call it fiction and non-fiction? Why not fact and non-fact?

Non-fiction is the home for lots of histories and biographies. Most people take history to be a matter of indisputable fact, but books and stories on the same subject often have different slants. Ukranians write different stories about current events than most Russians. 

Fiction outsells facts two to one

Romance novels account for one-third of all fiction sales. At one time they were called bodice-rippers, sexually explicit romantic novels in which the heroine is subjected to violence, eroticism and fantasy. If you want a clue about who they’re written for, take a look at the covers.

Why a book and not a movie?

We get to use more of our imaginations when we read a book. We have to visualize people and things with our mind’s eye, and these things are usually something quite different than what the director and cinematographer are showing us. 

Take Catch-22 for instance

It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Joseph Heller wrote it as a satirical war novel, describing events from the points of view of different characters. None of the dozens of characters played in the 1970 movie remotely resembled the ones I had seen again and again in my mind’s eye.

or Breakfast at Tiffany’s

If you read Truman Capote’s novella, you know that when he wrote about the Mr. Yunioshi character, it wasn’t with Mickey Rooney in mind. The grossly exaggerated, bigoted, racist performance was how Hollywood executives did things back then, kids. The book’s author said it was the most miscast film he’d ever seen and it made him want to throw up.

Black humor

No, not black humor like Moms Mabley – black humor as in comedy that juxtaposes humor with morbid elements, revealing the absurdity of the world around us. Some define black humor as treating a serious subject in an irreverent manner, where ordinary characters and situations are exaggerated beyond the limits of normal satire and irony. You’ll also hear it called gallows humor, and writers use it to provoke discomfort, serious thought and amusement all at once. These days it’s fashionable to refer to this genre as dark humor.

The 1970 film M*A*S*H was black humor/gallows humor/dark humor at its best, but the television show was little more than a sitcom with B-list actors playing key roles. Other great black humor films include Beetlejuice, Dr. Strangelove, The Hospital and Arsenic and Old Lace, based upon a Broadway play about two maiden aunt sisters who look harmless but have a basement full of poisoned tenants overseen by a cousin who thinks he’s President Teddy Roosevelt.

Who likes dark humor?

A study published by neurologists in the scientific journal Cognitive Processing found that people who appreciate dark humor have higher IQs than those who are offended by it. It seems that those with higher educations are able to make more connections with more things in more ways than people who didn’t learn as much in school, college or at university. The more you read, the more you like dark humor.

Why do we read?
  • For knowledge: This started back in our early school days. The essential information about the world is available to us in many forms, including books, magazines and newspapers, real and virtual. Reading about things allows us to make sense of them, overcome the anxiety of ignorance and live in a world of order and reason.
  • For pleasure: This is reading we enjoy for personal reasons, no matter what or where.
  • To kill time: This may be one of the only times you read back issues of dog-eared magazines in the doctor’s office or when you’re waiting on an oil change. Turn time wasted on reading junk by keeping something that interests you in your car. 
  • For all three when I have a few minutes: These weekly articles aim to hit all three spots for you and sometimes they do.
How do we read?

There are three types of readers, each with its own physical and technical limitations

  • Motor readers comprehend what they’re reading by sounding out words one at a time. It’s called subvocalization and those who use this strategy are limited to how long it takes to figure out every word and say them aloud one word at a time. It’s how little children learn to read. 
  • Auditory readers nearly double motor readers’ rates because they have learned to read words as if they are hearing them spoken aloud.
  • Visual readers nearly quadruple those rates because they don’t need to say or hear the words they’re reading.
Education and reading speed

There’s a clear connection between education, reading speeds and comprehension. The farther you advance through the university system, the more technical material you must read and the greater the vocabulary you develop as a result of doing so. 

If you went to college, your reading speed will be twice as fast as someone who didn’t, and the more years you spent there, the higher your numbers grow.

  • Adults read 300 words per minute.
  • College students read 450 words per minute.
  • The average college professor reads about 700 words a minute. 


Psychology Today says sick jokes can be healthy.

As Bob Larkin said in his article 85 Dark Jokes for Those Who Need a Twisted Laugh, “My wife told me she’ll slam my head on the keyboard if I don’t get off the computer. I’m not too worried, I think she’s jokinlkjhfakljn m,.nbziyoao78yv87dfaoyuofaytdf”. 

Maryn Liles adds this in 100 Dark Humor Jokes Right Up Your Alley, “I was digging in our garden and found a chest full of gold coins. I wanted to run home to tell my wife about it but then I remembered why I was digging the hole.”  

Want to read more like this? Click here.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.