Mid-July links

* More Wood here, by way of a few blogs. See my last post here. Find How Fiction Works here.

* I’d love to think that reading helps one become less socially awkward, as argued here. Repeat after me: correlation is not causation. But the article gives an example of how readers of a New Yorker story did better on social reasoning tests than those given a random essay, and this research complements that done on fiction and empathy.

As for the original claim, I will say that, speaking from experience, if reading helps one become less socially awkward, it certainly took a long time for the effect to kick in around these parts.

* I’d forgotten about The Literary Book of Economics: Including Readings from Literature and Drama on Economic Concepts, Issues, and Themes, but it complements the econ-for-dummies books I like and gives numerous examples of the intersection of economics and literature, since the two express one another more often than many of their respective practitioners think.

* Maybe I was too quick to dismiss the possible value of film as an agent of social change. This link courtesy of Freakonomics. Besides, in my post on The Devil’s Candy, I went into an extended rhapsody about Friday Night Lights, so perhaps I should be wary of too much bashing, despite Twilight of the Books.

(Before I concede too much, however, I’ll ask for the the paper detailing people’s tendency to protest the government thanks to T.V., or how T.V. is a medium easily monopolized by the powerful, as in Russia.)

* Speaking of film, this time combined with politics, Frank Rich in The New York Times has a great column that further explains why it’s hard for me to get ideologically attached to political parties in the U.S. or excited about politics:

You have to wonder what these same kids make of the political show their parents watch on TV at home. The fierce urgency of now that drives “Wall-E” and its yearning for change is absent in both the Barack Obama and McCain campaigns these days.

* You might notice that links having little if anything to do with books go at the bottom of link posts, today isn’t an exception. Clive Crook writes about education and immigration idiocy. Fortunately, this is an issue both parties can be wrong about, further explaining why I find it impossible to affiliate with either.

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