Did you know that humans do not have the natural biological capacity to read? Every child who learns to read basically re-lives a condensed version of the process that our human ancestors did when they developed writing systems in the first place. Adapting the brain’s hardware, children learn to make connections to the written word and the sounds of spoken language. The brain is flexible and takes to reading in different ways, some more effective than others. Maryanne Wolf takes the reader through the history and science of reading development and reflects on what reading signifies and will signify in Proust and the Squid: The History and Science of the Reading Brain.
I enjoyed this book. Wolf is a scientist by profession, and, as a result, the book is very geared toward presenting the neurological and scientific aspect of the reading brain. The material was interesting, but occasionally I felt overwhelmed mentally. I definitely recommend that this book be one you read slowly. Despite the density of the material, I feel like I really learned a lot. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated what goes into learning to read, and that book gave me that insight.
I think what I appreciated most were the insights into dyslexia and the reflections on what reading means. Wolf really provided a lot of useful information on dyslexia. Now I don’t have dyslexia, but reading this book showed me the extent and variety of dyslexia. I think that’s very important. More importantly, I like the reflections. According to Wolf, reading has given us the opportunity to think and develop our own ideas, a sentiment I agree with. However, technology is changing our reading style again. Wolf makes some good points about what instantaneous access provided by technology means to the way people think and reflect. I think that Wolf raises some legitimate points, and maintaining the benefits reading has had is something that should be done. Overall, I would recommend reading this book because it will give you plenty of material to mull over.