Today’s Photo

Mid-Winter Treats at the Birdfeeder

My birdfeeder is being visited by some medium-size birds that I don’t recall seeing around before. They are very aggressive to the smaller birdies. Can anyone identify them? I’m thinking they are hanging around here because of the warmer temperatures (today was close to 60 degrees).

I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. The birds are also very skittish, and I had to sneak up on them and snap the photo through the window.


Some Great Reasons to Read a Good Novel

Fiction lovers, rejoice! In case you ever need an excuse to delve into a fictional world of your liking and spend some time there, cognitive psychologists have, through the years, come up with several.

In a recent article in Scientific American Mind magazine (“In the Minds of Others,” November/December, 2011), Keith Oatley, Ph.D., summarized some of the research findings. Dr. Oatley is Professor Emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto. There’s only a preview of that article available online, but a briefer article by the same researcher is on the Psychology Today website: “In the Minds of Others” (December, 2010)

In short, people who read fiction exhibit a superior ability to correctly interpret the facial expressions of other. This makes them more perceptive of others’ emotional states and can lead to better social skills. Reading fiction can also make you more empathic to others. Readers’ corresponding brain areas become activated in response to what is happening to characters in the story, increasing the ability to take another’s point of view. And reading fiction can even lead you to better your personality by making you more open to new experiences and leading you to become more socially aware.

My mother used to say, “She always has her nose in a book!” I guess I can take that as a compliment of the highest order.

I was thinking about early novels I read that had a strong effect on me. One that comes to mind is the classic Little Women by Louis Mae Alcott. I loved the character of Jo. Like her, I was one of four sisters; like Marmee, the girls’ mother, my Mom did an admirable job of letting us each be her own person.**

What novel(s) might have had an early influence on your social development?



** Except my mom would often mistakenly use another sister’s name when one of us was in trouble (that wasn’t a good time to correct her, however).