Activate your mind, read a novel

The New York Times recently published a story about some neurological research that has been done lately on the effects reading has on our brains.  It seems that the discriptive nature of fiction writing activates alot more areas of the brain than reading your average Facebook post.

For example, when you are reading words that describe a smell, like lavender, not only is the part of your brain that handles reading and language active, but the areas controlling smell are active too.  The same goes for actions.  Reading about throwing a ball activates different areas than readign about kicking one, just like performing those actions usees different parts of the brain.

It’s not jsut your senses and actions that have these effects either, social interaction within the story is also connected to the part of your brain that controls real life social interaction.  There is even research showing that people who read alot of fiction are better at understanding and empathizing with others.

For more details, read the article Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul.

Looking for a new book?

Finding a new book can be a hard thing to do, especially when you only have a general idea of what kind of book you’re looking for.  Naturally, I would first suggest going to the Books page.  However, if that doesn’t yield the kind of results you are looking for, there is another place you can look called Whichbook.

Whichbook is a site, created by Opening the Book Ltd,  that “enables you to search for a book that up to now may only have existed in your own mind.”  Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign in. It isn’t necessary to sign in to use Whichbook. In fact, you may want to play with it first, but if you plan to use it often it may be a good idea.  You can choose to sign in via Facebook or using an email address, again it depends on your preference.
  2. Select what four factors you want to base your search on (humor, violence, predictability, sex, etc.).
  3. Use the sliders to choose where on the range of each factor you like your books to fall (Expected-Unpredictable, Gentle-Violent, Funny-Serious, etc.).
  4. Select “GO” and the site generates a list of titles that match your preferences and ranks them “Best Matches,” “Good Matches” and “Fair Matches.”
  5. From there you can read a short extract, see each book’s profile (where they stand on the scale for each factor), see parallel books ( books with the same profile), share the book on Facebook or through email or find similar books.

If that doesn’t yield the kinds of books you’re looking for you can either alter the factors you chose, find new ones or search for books based on the characteristics of the characters or plot or based in a specific setting.  They even have an author list so you can find books you know you like, click “Find Similar” and see similar titles that way.

Whichbook has also created a  few ready-made lists for its users as well as giving you the options to create your own to which you can add any books you find on their site.  If you want to share that list with Whichbook users you can even ask to add your list to their Guest Lists.

Each book’s profile also includes “Borrow” and “Buy” buttons.  Unfortunately, the “Borrow” button links you to the UK’s library system so it isn’t much use here in the States.  The “Buy” however, links you to the book listing on Amazon and is much more useful.

So if you’re looking for a new book, give Whichbook a try.  If you like what you find share it with us on the Books page.

Total of English major gratuates holds steady

The number of students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree has stayed around 50,000 for the last two decades. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Digest of Education Statistics: 2010, there were 55,462 of a total 1,601,369 Bachelor’s degrees awarded by “degree-granting institutions in the 2008-2009 school year to graduates studying English language and literature.

The study’s first recorded numbers come from the 1970-71 shcool year in which 63,914 Bachelor’s degrees were conferred.  That number dropped to 41,452 degrees in 1975-76 and again to 31,922 degrees in 1980-81.  However, by the 1990-91 school year 51,064 English language and literature degrees were beign awarded (Table 282).

Out of a total 656,784 Master’s degrees awarded in the 2008-2009 school year, 9,261 were in English language and literature (Table 283). In the same year, 1,580 doctorates were awarded (Table 284).

Welcome to English Major for!

Hello fellow English majors, minors and everyone visiting this site:

English Major for is a new website designed to bring English lovers together.  Feel free to explore and interact to your heart’s content.

At English Major for you will find many things.

The About page contains exactly what it says it does, information about the site including the Mission Statement and information about me, Kelly Gerdts, the owner/operator of this site.  On the News page you will find stories about news pertaining to English majors. Next is the Jokes section.  Here you can find jokes for and about English majors that I have found.  You can also send me any that you know and want to share.  The Share section is a place where everyone can share experiences and lessons learned while pursuing love of English.  Lastly, we have the Edit/Read section where people can post contact information if they are looking for someone to look over their work.

Thank you for taking the time to check out English Major for  If you like what you see let me know by leaving a comment, subscribing, emailing me at, following @EngMajor4Life or checking out the Facebook page.

I hope you find something to entertain you,

Kelly Gerdts