Anyone else love reading textbooks?

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lightheir
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Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:29 pm

Maybe was in school too longer in my earlier life, but I've finally come to the conclusion that textbooks are my favorite genre of reading. Ok, not super heavy tomes on dense theoretical physics, but the kind of textbook that would be used in an entry-level college class - I actually enjoy reading them for fun, particularly the history ones (I've read enough science ones in my earlier life!).

I actually hated textbooks in my precollege years, but once I learned to really read/use them correctly, it seems that they're the most satisfying and fastest way for me to gain comprehensive knowledge on a subject. And yes, I re-read chapters over and over again - I think this is the secret that they don't tell you in school, that if you think you're going to read it once and learn it, fuggetabuot it, whereas if you re-read and review stuff, it becomes more enriching, satisfying, and deeper each time you go through it.

Anyone else with this preference?

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Cottons
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Cottons » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:32 pm

You should post an ad on craigslist to take exams / write papers for college kids. :moneybag

/sarcasm

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by tludwig23 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:35 pm

lightheir wrote:Maybe was in school too longer in my earlier life...
Maybe a grammar text next? :D
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GoldenFinch
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by GoldenFinch » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:38 pm

I don't read them anymore, but in college/ grad school, I loved reading text books. I liked the organization and just found them fun to read.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:44 pm

tludwig23 wrote:
lightheir wrote:Maybe was in school too longer in my earlier life...
Maybe a grammar text next? :D
Maybe he learned his grammar from his hillbilly grampa and grammar??? :D
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VictoriaF
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:45 pm

The advantage of textbooks over other non-fiction books is that the authors provide authoritative information that has been peer-reviewed by many academic peers. Also, textbooks are more comprehensive in trying to cover all aspects of a given topic.

For example, I can read a journalist's account of neuroscience or I can go directly to a textbook on neuroscience. In the latter case, I will be more confident citing from the source.

Having said that, there are good textbooks and bad textbooks; and there are strong books by journalists and weak books by journalists. Also, while a textbook provides a broad review of an area, published papers provide much more depth. Papers also can be well written, and poorly written.

And so the verdict is: It all depends.

Victoria
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a
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by a » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:51 pm

I don't know about the validity of this topic,
but I do too enjoy reading textbooks. I think
if one has a goal that requires the knowledge,
that can be the powerful stimulus..

I like a certain type of textbook, where the
author is not afraid to hand-hold you through.
This would be for a basic course, as you are
saying. For example, I enjoyed Electronic
Devices by Floyd, because he would explain how
to calculate a particular problem such as the
voltage at a certain point in a circuit, then
proceed to give you a sample problem which was
the same procedure with different numbers! But
this is how adults learn, I feel, not just kids,
for certain types of subjects such as circuits.
I mean, you have to go step by step if you don't
have a person there to ask questions of.

bigred77
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by bigred77 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:54 pm

Reading from a textbook is the worst thing in the world to me, even if i'm naturally interested in the material.

Maybe its a millenial thing but I just don't have the attention span.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:55 pm

bigred77 wrote:Reading from a textbook is the worst thing in the world to me, even if i'm naturally interested in the material.

Maybe its a millenial thing but I just don't have the attention span.
I would think that a millennium is a fairly long span.

Victoria
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lightheir
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:56 pm

Agree with the above!

For me, textbooks are the FASTEST way to gain comprehensive knowledge. When I read nontextbook nonfiction, there is a lot of filler story or fluff in there. Don't get me wrong - it definitely makes it more entertaining on the first read, but if you are intent on reading multiple times to get a truly deep understanding, that stuff just gets in the way.

The organization of textbooks are also unparalleled. I just visualize the chapter in my head when I need to draw upon the knowledge and the logical structure is all there. Much harder to do with a nontextbook, and very, very hard to do with trade nonfiction.

Again, if you are a one-pass reader, meaning you never, ever read things twice in short succession (most people I know only read this way unless they're forced to take a test), you'll hate textbooks for their density, but if you're like me and enjoy the depth and long-term knowledge, it's awesome. If you haven't tried it, but are interested in learning things deeply, it's very enjoyable. (I'll pass on the tests though, even though I've always been very good at them!)

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VictoriaF
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:00 pm

lightheir wrote:... but if you're like me and enjoy the depth and long-term knowledge, it's awesome. If you haven't tried it, but are interested in learning things deeply, it's very enjoyable. (I'll pass on the tests though, even though I've always been very good at them!)
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lightheir
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:13 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
lightheir wrote:... but if you're like me and enjoy the depth and long-term knowledge, it's awesome. If you haven't tried it, but are interested in learning things deeply, it's very enjoyable. (I'll pass on the tests though, even though I've always been very good at them!)
The most formidable test is to post in the Bogleheads and to withstand the ensuing responses from some of the best minds on the Internet.

Victoria
Meh. Not to be down on this excellent forum, which truly does have some of the highest quality posts in general, but I definitely don't think it's comprised remotely close of the best minds on the internet. Or if it did, those people aren't forced to use their formidable intellect at capacity in this type of informal open forum.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Fallible » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:49 pm

a wrote:I don't know about the validity of this topic,
but I do too enjoy reading textbooks. I think
if one has a goal that requires the knowledge,
that can be the powerful stimulus..

...
Agree and re topic validity, if you mean whether it's actionable, etc., the OP could change the topic title to ask what textbooks are recommended. The thread is worth it.

I have several fairly recent literature textbooks and will read other textbooks if that's where an article or book leads me, usually for more information to further verify. I still have some favorite college textbooks from the '60s, mostly literature and history. I didn't mean to keep them this long, but every time I was ready to throw them out, I ended up reading them again. I like their inclusiveness and the reminders of the times they were written in. But with one from an English Lit class, I still wince when I see the reader questions asked at the end of each writing, e.g., Thoreau's Where I Lived And What I Lived For, and the first question is, "Do you agree or disagree with the central thesis?" Well heck, who cares if I agree or disagree when the piece has so much to teach a young mind? Why not just ask what it meant to each of us, how it might change us and let the students take it from there?

Agree with VictoriaF re the good and bad and especially sources, which are everything in any publication and, IMO, usually the first thing a reader should look for.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Tycoon » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:13 pm

I do enjoy reading certain textbooks.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:26 pm

I love to read textbooks just to find all of the grammatical and spelling errors that get by the proofreaders.

Also, I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Ktemene » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:31 pm

A good way to find fairly reliable textbooks is to google the textbooks at the best undergraduate colleges, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, Oxford etc. There is also MIT, with its free courseware, lectures and other material, including syllabi and reading lists, and lots of other schools do the same. Also, most U.K. schools will give you a list of recommended books in your subject area prior to the beginning of the term, as well as their syllabus/ textbook used in their courses. If you can't find the syllabus, email the professor or department. They will tell you. If you google 'A TECHNICAL WORD IN THE FIELD'.ac.uk you will probably get a lot of useful courses, syllabi and course material. Another possibility for those who are just beginning a subject is to use textbooks from the best secondary private schools. If you can't find the syllabus/textbook they use on-linet, then phone them and ask. Teachers are generally willing to pass on their recommendations. Textbooks tend to be expensive. But you can find lots of excellent textbooks online for free. Also, if you have Kindle, you can rent a textbook for a month for free if you are a prime member. Since you like history, I recommend Pomeroy, Burstein, Donlan and Roberts. Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press: New York, 1999. I found this text on a course by Donald Kagan, Intro. to Ancient Greek History, which I highly recommend. The lectures and syllabus etc. can be found here http://oyc.yale.edu/classics/clcv-205
Don't forget iTunes University. You can search for 'history' and get a bunch of history classes, with syllabi and textbooks.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:33 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:I love to read textbooks just to find all of the grammatical and spelling errors that get by the proofreaders.

Also, I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.

Are these the only reasons for reading textbooks?

Victoria
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by AddingUp » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:34 pm

I've saved most of my college textbooks, too, and I enjoy seeing what I highlighted back then (if the highlights aren't too faded!). If I were to read them again at length, I'd be curious to see if I would highlight the same passages.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:36 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:I love to read textbooks just to find all of the grammatical and spelling errors that get by the proofreaders.

Also, I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.

Are these the only reasons for reading textbooks?

Victoria
Yes, usually. That is what I get paid to do...

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Van » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:38 pm

NO

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VictoriaF
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:38 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:I love to read textbooks just to find all of the grammatical and spelling errors that get by the proofreaders.

Also, I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.

Are these the only reasons for reading textbooks?

Victoria
Yes, usually. That is what I get paid to do...
"Paid to do" changes everything. Initially, you wrote "love" and "like."

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:39 pm

Van wrote:NO
You used all available editing features (bold/italic/underline) to make your point. The next level would be to color it red, to get to NO.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Van » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:40 pm

NO

Ktemene
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Ktemene » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:41 pm

lightheir,

As a professor, I could not agree more that students need to read the major/primary texts assigned at least 3 times, or they need to read *very* slowly, whichever works best for them.

My specialty is Ancient Greek Philosophy, and I am so tired of students who skim, e.g. Plato's Gorgias, notice that they don't agree with some of the things said in the dialogue, and slam the book shut forever. I actually had one student who bet his classmates that he could pass the part of my course on Plato's Apology, without reading anything but the blurbs on the back of the text. He lost.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Ktemene » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:51 pm

I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.
How do you know that many history textbooks contain factual errors? I don't doubt that many do. But how do you recognize the errors? Do you do primary historical research yourself? That must be hard to do with a full-time job as a proofreader as well.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by texasdiver » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:59 pm

Well, as a HS science teacher I can tell you that I have about 50 different science textbooks on my classroom shelf and not more than a handful of them are truly good. Some of offerings by the biggest publishers like Pearson are so bad as to be virtually unusable in the classroom. And their electronic versions are worse still....mostly just .pdf scans of the paper books that take no advantage of the electronic format.

That said, the best textbook I have seen in 10 years of teaching is the new biology textbook titled "Life on Earth" by Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson. It is an iBook prepared for use on iPads and provided free of charge worldwide. And it is frankly a superior textbook to all the offerings by the major publishers for which they charge schools $100+ per copy. It is a 7-volume textbook and available free on iTunes if you have an iPad or Mac. Check it out and see what a modern electronic textbook looks like. This page will link you to the textbook.

http://eowilsonfoundation.org/e-o-wilso ... -on-earth/

There are a lot of other free textbooks coming out as iBooks for the iPad and on Amazon as well. More than one can possibly ever read or even scan. But Life on Earth is the best one I've seen yet.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:03 pm

Ktemene wrote:lightheir,

As a professor, I could not agree more that students need to read the major/primary texts assigned at least 3 times, or they need to read *very* slowly, whichever works best for them.

My specialty is Ancient Greek Philosophy, and I am so tired of students who skim, e.g. Plato's Gorgias, notice that they don't agree with some of the things said in the dialogue, and slam the book shut forever. I actually had one student who bet his classmates that he could pass the part of my course on Plato's Apology, without reading anything but the blurbs on the back of the text. He lost.
I was a very good student at all phases of school, including medical school.

While genetics definitely has to be considered to some degree in my performance, I really, really believe that the 'secret' to my success was as simple as being willing to re-read stuff multiple times. In my public high school graduating class of 250, only 2 or 3 kids actually did this, and I was one of them. The rest (even kids in advanced AP classes) would bemoan their terrible memory and lack of talent, even after I told them that I had started reading not only the assigned stuff, but the unassigned parts of the textbook 5 weeks before the exam.

Compare that to their approach - literally 98% of these "good" students (many of which went to ivy league colleges) thought it was the smartest thing to do to put off reading things until 1-3 days before test time, so they wouldn't forget it. They only knew how to train their short-term memory, and had no idea how to use their long term memory. I see this constant failure everywhere today, at every level of education, in every environment - even medical school.

The worst part is that you miss all the joy of learning when you do it this superficial way. The joy is when you've got easy facility with the ideas, concepts, and don't need to struggle to remember the details. I don't need tests or other external factors to motivate me - studying stuff deeply is intrinsically its own reward that money can't buy. And no, you don't have to be all hoighty toighty to appreciate this stuff - I'm nerdy, but considered a "dude" with my friends and just because I like this type of learning doesn't mean I can't roll with it when it's fun.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:07 pm

texasdiver wrote:Well, as a HS science teacher I can tell you that I have about 50 different science textbooks on my classroom shelf and not more than a handful of them are truly good. Some of offerings by the biggest publishers like Pearson are so bad as to be virtually unusable in the classroom. And their electronic versions are worse still....mostly just .pdf scans of the paper books that take no advantage of the electronic format.

That said, the best textbook I have seen in 10 years of teaching is the new biology textbook titled "Life on Earth" by Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson. It is an iBook prepared for use on iPads and provided free of charge worldwide. And it is frankly a superior textbook to all the offerings by the major publishers for which they charge schools $100+ per copy. It is a 7-volume textbook and available free on iTunes if you have an iPad or Mac. Check it out and see what a modern electronic textbook looks like. This page will link you to the textbook.

http://eowilsonfoundation.org/e-o-wilso ... -on-earth/

There are a lot of other free textbooks coming out as iBooks for the iPad and on Amazon as well. More than one can possibly ever read or even scan. But Life on Earth is the best one I've seen yet.

That looks awesome - I will have to check it out!

At the same time, am I know I'm going to sound ridiculously oldschool by saying this, but I strongly believe that kids/students should NOT learn to rely on multimedia for deep learning.

I strongly believe they need to learn how to sit down, and digest quality textbooks. Ok, I'll let them read it on a Kindle or computer, but basically they need to develop the personal insight and patience to recognize the value of the information in text form for the most part.

I say this because it's too hard to get many excellent multimedia resources for what you will need/want to study in the future. Whereas textbooks are ubiquitous, and will always be so. And if you can visualize the phenomena by reconstructing it in your mind through words, you will have no problem accessing this universe of human knowledge, whereas multimedia constantly changes format, and requires too much specific media skills for professors in general to create at a high-quality level.

And equally importantly (this is crucial for test-takers) - reviewing a textbook is far, far faster than reviewing multimedia. Once you've got the textbook in long-term stores, you can review 50, 100 pages in less than an hour (it takes MUCH longer than that to learn it de novo), whereas it might take you an entire week of video watching to quickly go over the same volume of contents. Yep, that was another one of my 'not-so-secret' secrets of success, that everyone thought was a 'talent', but is absolutely not so. Just re-reading and re-reading while making more connections of the facts, faster.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:14 pm

lightheir wrote:I really, really believe that the 'secret' to my success was as simple as being willing to re-read stuff multiple times.
Reading textbooks and other materials multiple times is definitely an effective approach. I did not do it in all phases of my education, but what put me on the "A student" path was pre-reading textbooks in the summer before a school year. I did it out of curiosity, and during the preliminary reading did not understand or appreciate most of the information. But when it was later introduced in the class, I was getting it right away. It was like pieces of the puzzle falling into their right places.

Victoria
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by texasdiver » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:22 pm

lightheir wrote:
texasdiver wrote:Well, as a HS science teacher I can tell you that I have about 50 different science textbooks on my classroom shelf and not more than a handful of them are truly good. Some of offerings by the biggest publishers like Pearson are so bad as to be virtually unusable in the classroom. And their electronic versions are worse still....mostly just .pdf scans of the paper books that take no advantage of the electronic format.

That said, the best textbook I have seen in 10 years of teaching is the new biology textbook titled "Life on Earth" by Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson. It is an iBook prepared for use on iPads and provided free of charge worldwide. And it is frankly a superior textbook to all the offerings by the major publishers for which they charge schools $100+ per copy. It is a 7-volume textbook and available free on iTunes if you have an iPad or Mac. Check it out and see what a modern electronic textbook looks like. This page will link you to the textbook.

http://eowilsonfoundation.org/e-o-wilso ... -on-earth/

There are a lot of other free textbooks coming out as iBooks for the iPad and on Amazon as well. More than one can possibly ever read or even scan. But Life on Earth is the best one I've seen yet.

That looks awesome - I will have to check it out!

At the same time, am I know I'm going to sound ridiculously oldschool by saying this, but I strongly believe that kids/students should NOT learn to rely on multimedia for deep learning.

I strongly believe they need to learn how to sit down, and digest quality textbooks. Ok, I'll let them read it on a Kindle or computer, but basically they need to develop the personal insight and patience to recognize the value of the information in text form for the most part.

I say this because it's too hard to get many excellent multimedia resources for what you will need/want to study in the future. Whereas textbooks are ubiquitous, and will always be so. And if you can visualize the phenomena by reconstructing it in your mind through words, you will have no problem accessing this universe of human knowledge, whereas multimedia constantly changes format, and requires too much specific media skills for professors in general to create at a high-quality level.

And equally importantly (this is crucial for test-takers) - reviewing a textbook is far, far faster than reviewing multimedia. Once you've got the textbook in long-term stores, you can review 50, 100 pages in less than an hour (it takes MUCH longer than that to learn it de novo), whereas it might take you an entire week of video watching to quickly go over the same volume of contents. Yep, that was another one of my 'not-so-secret' secrets of success, that everyone thought was a 'talent', but is absolutely not so. Just re-reading and re-reading while making more connections of the facts, faster.
Well, iBooks are still mostly text and pictures and not multi-media. You can bookmark, highlight, annotate and do all kinds of things like that on your electronic copy within Apple's iBook software which you can't do with a school issued textbook. You can use the internal dictionary to define words you don't understand. And you can word-search iBooks as well so students wanting to look up something like say "mitochondria" can word search and go right there as opposed to randomly searching or using an index. You can even have the iPad read the text to you which is great for kids with reading disabilities.

Remember that iBooks aren't replacing some platonic idea of the perfect paper textbook. What they are actually replacing are stacks of old battered expensive textbooks. My school district just implemented a 1:1 iPad initiative where every student from K-12 is issued an iPad. Before iPads my daughter had a 1 ft high stack of battered 5-10 year old paper textbooks that she had to lug back and forth to school each day in her backpack. Some were OK, some were bad but they were really the only resource the teachers had to use because they couldn't afford to go out and buy alternative books. And given that textbooks cost $80-100 each my daughter probably had $700 worth of textbooks on her desk at home or in her backpack. Now she has a $400 iPad with iBooks on it for most classes and her teachers have the ability to push all manner of new and interesting material out to the students electronically. There is an enormous and growing collection of applications and sites that teachers can now use for teaching and to keep kids engaged that go far beyond the traditional paper textbook.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:23 pm

lightheir wrote:I strongly believe they need to learn how to sit down, and digest quality textbooks.
...
And equally importantly (this is crucial for test-takers) - reviewing a textbook is far, far faster than reviewing multimedia.
I agree about the value of hard books for reading hard material. I would not be able to use an electronic textbook, or any other difficult reading electronically. However, multimedia has its uses. For example, when I watch YouTube videos of lectures, I gain some insights that the speakers would not put into their books. I always take notes when I am watching podcasts, webcasts, and other multimedia sources. A pause button is invaluable for these. Not only I can catch up with my notes related to the presented material, but I can also write pages of my own ideas of what it means for my projects.

It takes much longer to watch a lecture, but in the end I understand and remember it much better, and I have my notes to refresh the information in an expedited way. This works for me really well with Coursera and other MOOC courses.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wilson08
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by wilson08 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:28 pm

Love to pick up literature books used in high schools over the past
4 or 5 decades. Great mix of short stories, poetry, novels, and plays.
As an engineer I can get overloaded with technical textbooks used more
for reference than pleasure so some classic literature is nice.

Wilson

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Texas Radio » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:35 pm

I have read numerous financial textbooks. It is a strange hobby of mine that I'm sure some of the people on this forum can relate to. :wink:

I've logged nearly 30 years of extensive research and investing practice. I'm glad I enjoyed it because ultimately I've concluded, as many of you have, that passive index investing is as good a strategy as any and better than most. At least my research and practice has led to a working understanding and appreciation of diversification, asset allocation, efficient frontier, etc.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:38 pm

I agree with you texasdiver.

As I mentioned in my prior post, it's the TEXT I want kids to be able to handle. If they get it on a laptop. kindle, or other e-reader, I'm good with that. Although my own personal bias is that they'll be much, much less distracted reading a paper textbook, and it definitely is far more satisfying to SEE the volume of knowledge you've digested in paper, as opposed to the Kindle, where it's invisible. This is coming from someone who loves my Kindle and read lots of pdfs predominantly on my computer.

But yes, I think the ability to tote around 50 pounds of books with no weight in a e-reader is fantastic. I'm just realistic about kids' attention spans (even college kids) having seen the range of them up through elite ivy league schools, and there's like a 99% of distraction with a ereader compared to a textbook.

I'd love if for my kid (too young to read textbooks right now!) she could learn to master very short textbooks early on, and then after she shows she knows how to reread stuff effectively, only then allow her to read stuff on a kindle or PC.

Kids today don't realize how huge an advantage this deep reading is for them. In a world where the bulk of young kids think superficial web google searches are all you need for life, someone with this deep reading skillset is immediately noticed as a standout, even if they're talking about something nonprofessional. (I also don't think millenials are doomed - even in my generation, the same % of kids avoided deep reading - they just didn't have google to fallback on.)

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:02 pm

Ktemene wrote:
I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.
How do you know that many history textbooks contain factual errors? I don't doubt that many do. But how do you recognize the errors? Do you do primary historical research yourself? That must be hard to do with a full-time job as a proofreader as well.

A good number of elementary-middle school- high school textbooks are written off-shore where costs are much lower.

Some of the errors in history texts have been so blatant that I have gone back to trusted sources to verify my suspicions.

I do not proofread full-time. That would be far too boring.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Fallible » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:06 pm

AddingUp wrote:I've saved most of my college textbooks, too, and I enjoy seeing what I highlighted back then (if the highlights aren't too faded!). If I were to read them again at length, I'd be curious to see if I would highlight the same passages.
I also was a heavy highlighter of my college textbooks (plus scribbles, stars, question marks, and exclamation points in the margins) and seeing these markings now is like looking back on my youthful mind and realizing how little it really knew about the world. I'm very glad I kept them.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Bungo » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:08 pm

I read math textbooks as a hobby as I enjoy the subject and have a partial graduate degree in the subject but no longer work in the field. For other subjects (e.g. history) I generally prefer more "popular" treatments as opposed to "academic".

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by technovelist » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:15 pm

I can say that most textbooks on computer programming that I have read are terrible, being riddled with errors of almost every conceivable kind.

As for other textbooks, I can't recall any offhand that I enjoyed reading.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by a » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:23 pm

Code: Select all

I view the advantages of paper over electronic media as:

(1)  Electronic media is connected to the internet.
     You cannot isolate yourself from the mental
     energy drain of distraction, with the possibility
     of surfing at the back of your mind.

(2)  Books are reliable and compact.  They dont fail
     in power outages or crash.

(3)  As lightheir noted, you can flip through a book
     as fast as humanly possible, whereas electronic
     media is slower for various reasons.

(4)  Something about staring at electronic media
     (PERHAPS not kindle, though I still think there
     is something special about physical paper and ink)
     is fatiguing.  I think I only operate at 80%
     efficiency when reading things on a screen or
     kindle.

(5)  Physical paper books are naturally accompanied
     by physical pen and paper, and somehow there is
     magic to working things out with handwriting and
     pen, on real paper, to me.  Stuff sticks better:
     might be because the brain knows that whatever
     you write is in a sense, permanent, and visible
     to others.

lightheir also brings up the point about how books tend
to force you to convert words into mental images more
often than videos.  One could argue this keeps the
brain sharp.  More active, less passive.  But video  (or
even virtual reality)  may turn out to have other
educational abilities that words fail to, in the long
run.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by bhsince87 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:26 pm

I do! I patrol book sales at the local colleges and universities, and craigslist too. I've been doing that since I was a teenager.

I'm big on non-fiction in general. I've got about 4,000 books in my library, and it's probably 98% non-fiction.

I read 2-3 books a month now, which is much less than I did before the internet came along....

I average 1 fiction book about every 5 years or so, and rarely finish those. :confused
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Fallible » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:32 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:
Ktemene wrote:
I like to read history textbooks as many contain factual errors.
How do you know that many history textbooks contain factual errors? I don't doubt that many do. But how do you recognize the errors? Do you do primary historical research yourself? That must be hard to do with a full-time job as a proofreader as well.
A good number of elementary-middle school- high school textbooks are written off-shore where costs are much lower.
Some of the errors in history texts have been so blatant that I have gone back to trusted sources to verify my suspicions.
...
Re history texts: are you referring to errors of fact or just differing interpretation of events?
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:32 pm

a wrote:

Code: Select all

I view the advantages of paper over electronic media as:

(1)  Electronic media is connected to the internet.
     You cannot isolate yourself from the mental
     energy drain of distraction, with the possibility
     of surfing at the back of your mind.

(2)  Books are reliable and compact.  They dont fail
     in power outages or crash.

(3)  As lightheir noted, you can flip through a book
     as fast as humanly possible, whereas electronic
     media is slower for various reasons.

(4)  Something about staring at electronic media
     (PERHAPS not kindle, though I still think there
     is something special about physical paper and ink)
     is fatiguing.  I think I only operate at 80%
     efficiency when reading things on a screen or
     kindle.

(5)  Physical paper books are naturally accompanied
     by physical pen and paper, and somehow there is
     magic to working things out with handwriting and
     pen, on real paper, to me.  Stuff sticks better:
     might be because the brain knows that whatever
     you write is in a sense, permanent, and visible
     to others.

lightheir also brings up the point about how books tend
to force you to convert words into mental images more
often than videos.  One could argue this keeps the
brain sharp.  More active, less passive.  But video  (or
even virtual reality)  may turn out to have other
educational abilities that words fail to, in the long
run.

This is an excellent summary of my thinking on this matter. I like developing my own lists of arguments, but in this case, I will be using yours. It's comprehensive and logical. Thank you!

I'd also like to point out that not all textbooks are similarly challenging. It's easier to read on a Kindle a textbook on literature or history than on advanced mathematics, physics or engineering.

Victoria
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by HurdyGurdy » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:42 pm

Well, as a HS science teacher I can tell you that I have about 50 different science textbooks on my classroom shelf and not more than a handful of them are truly good.
This seems to be true for HS textbooks, but not so much for college textbooks.

I love to browse Math and Stats textbooks, new and old ones, and compare them. There was this handbook used by students to prepare for the Math Tripos in England in the late XIXth century. I forgot the precise name and author, but it was fascinating, because you can understand better where did Galton, Pearson, Gosset & Fisher came from.

Specialized encyclopedias are also very interesting.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by a » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:19 pm

VictoriaF,

You're welcome. :) As you'll notice, a lot of it is
repeated from what lightheir wrote - I didn't read all
the posts before writing this one. I've also read
several articles on the subject (online :)) and
remember Jeff Bezos extolling some of the virtues
mentioned.

I agree on your other point and one thing I really
like about Kindle reading is that I can order the
book online and begin reading instantly. I really
wish there were an option to read a random 5 pages
before buying though.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by frugalguy » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:40 pm

lightheir wrote:Agree with the above!

For me, textbooks are the FASTEST way to gain comprehensive knowledge. When I read nontextbook nonfiction, there is a lot of filler story or fluff in there. Don't get me wrong - it definitely makes it more entertaining on the first read, but if you are intent on reading multiple times to get a truly deep understanding, that stuff just gets in the way.

The organization of textbooks are also unparalleled. I just visualize the chapter in my head when I need to draw upon the knowledge and the logical structure is all there. Much harder to do with a nontextbook, and very, very hard to do with trade nonfiction.
I think the outline of knowledge is important. But I've found over time that I cannot internalize an outline (as of a textbook) unless I go through the tedious process of physically copying it down on paper. I do that only for topics I really want to learn. Once I've internalized the outline, i.e., the structure of a specific discipline or branch of knowldege, individual ideas hang on it like on the branches of a tree.

If I"m more casual about learning a subject, I prefer reading a well-written book or article that gives me a detailed and/or entertaining slice of knowledge. That slice of knowledge may motivate me to learn how it fits into the broader context.
Last edited by frugalguy on Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by frugalguy » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:58 pm

lightheir wrote:
I strongly believe they need to learn how to sit down, and digest quality textbooks.
Quality textbooks is an oxymoron (in far too many cases).
Ok, I'll let them read it on a Kindle or computer, but basically they need to develop the personal insight and patience to recognize the value of the information in text form for the most part.
Thoreau would probably advise that students put as much time and effort into reading a textbook as the author did in writing it. I think in many cases, that would be very little time. :D

I think a combination of textbooks, non-textbooks and multimedia is the best way to learn. In fact, there are some ideas and concepts that without multimedia, it's almost impossible for the average person to absorb. I've read sterile wrords in a textbook over and over again and they've never sunk in. Whereas, after seeing a multimedia presentaiton, I've absobed the same information in a split second.

So, while textbooks have their place, I think multimedia is a great add-on.

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by frugalguy » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:06 pm

Fallible wrote:[
Re history texts: are you referring to errors of fact or just differing interpretation of events?
n 1942, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. :D ;)

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:16 pm

frugalguy wrote:
Fallible wrote:[Re history texts: are you referring to errors of fact or just differing interpretation of events?
n 1942, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. :D ;)
One reputable source refers to "when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor."

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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Tycoon » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:18 pm

texasdiver wrote:Well, as a HS science teacher I can tell you that I have about 50 different science textbooks on my classroom shelf and not more than a handful of them are truly good. Some of offerings by the biggest publishers like Pearson are so bad as to be virtually unusable in the classroom. And their electronic versions are worse still....mostly just .pdf scans of the paper books that take no advantage of the electronic format.
I agree with this observation 100%. The science, math, and history books my kids used through high school were terrible. I could not believe how terrible the math and history books were. They were nothing like the books we used when I went to high school.

When I first heard my kids complaining about them I thought they were pulling my leg, but then I actually opened them and discovered that they were right. Those books were not fit for teaching.
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Re: Anyone else love reading textbooks?

Post by Fallible » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:29 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
frugalguy wrote:
Fallible wrote:[Re history texts: are you referring to errors of fact or just differing interpretation of events?
n 1942, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. :D ;)
One reputable source refers to "when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor."

Victoria
I checked my quality textbook: Columbus bombed America in 1492.
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