September 27, 2011

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There are good reasons why libraries carry magazines as well as books. Many showcase some of the nation’s best writers and thinking; they provide a montage of issues important to the culture. They also present cutting-edge ideas before anyone has decided to write a book on the topic.

The September 2 edition of “This Week” offers some esoteric tidbits for writers.  One of them concerns a discovery made by researchers at the University of Oregon. They found that readers of the print edition remember more stories and facts than do those who read the same information online. There are several speculations on why this should be the case but no definitive answer. (pg. 14) Writers of electronic books should be aware.

Another finding: readers who learn a book’s ending before they’ve finished it don’t find their pleasure diminished. Enjoying a book, apparently, has more to do with good writing than being kept in suspense. 

“Harper’s Magazine” is another periodical that offers a variety of fiction and fact to entertain as well as inform.  For example, the August edition reveals the Tarantula leaves footprints of silk behind as it moves (August 29 / pg. 88). This fact has nothing to do with writing, but it makes you think about Nature’s intent. As the song tells us in “The King and I” — “Life is puzzlement.” 

Like a great novel, magazines are all about life — a carnival no less amazing than the tattooed lady.