NYTimes.com Book Review – Kluge by Gary Marcus

Just read this week’s NYTimes.com Book Update and found one more book that I’d like to read:
Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind by Gary Marcus (NYTimes Book Review “Patch Job” by Annie Murphy Paul).

I’m admittedly interested in reading this book largely because Marcus is a fellow MIT alumnus. Marcus, professor of psychology at New York University and director of NYU’s Infant Language Learning Center, borrows the engineer’s term kluge, used to refer to a clumsily designed solution to a problem, to describe the human mind.

And the other interesting article from the April 25, 2008 NYTimes.com Book Update was an essay by Rachel Donadio titled “You’re an Author? Me Too!.” This essay discusses how despite the “well established [fact] that Americans are reading fewer books than they used to” (check out the June 2004 article “Fewer Noses Stuck in Books In America, Survey Finds” by Bruce Weber), more and more people are becoming authors by writing blogs and self-publishing. I think I am unlikely to purchase a self-published book by an author whose books I haven’t read.

I don’t have aspirations to become a published author, though I am fascinated by this self-publishing phenomenon. I’ve only purchased one self-published books, and that is Strategy and the Fat Smoker: doing what’s obvious but not easy by David H Maister. And that was only because I had read two of his other books (The Trusted Advisor and Managing The Professional Service Firm) and found them both educational and straightforward.

Still, I am skeptical about the survey data that says that Americans don’t read anymore (I tend to agree with this WSJ.com blog that questions the methods used in the famous 2004 National Endowment for the Arts survey). Statistics and studies can be manipulated so easily to confirm anticipated results.

I think the 2007 Associated Press-Ipsos poll that showed that only 25% of Americans had not read a book in the past year may be more accurate, though who knows?


2 responses to “NYTimes.com Book Review – Kluge by Gary Marcus

  1. I just heard about this book myself and plan on picking it up. If you’re interested, Dr. Drew Pinsky interviewed Gary Marcus on his radio show. There is a link to download the podcast on my blog here


    It was a great interview.

  2. Thanks! I’ll be sure to check it out :)

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