Monthly Archives: December 2013

Read Literary Fiction. It is Good for You.

Recent research has shown that reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or nonfiction, can affect a person’s Theory of Mind (ToM).  What is Theory of Mind exactly?  It’s a theory that posits that people aware of one’s own mental attributes, and those of others – and recognized that people have different thoughts and beliefs.

Two researchers at The New School found through a series of experiments that literary fiction enhanced participants’ Theory of Mind (ToM) or the complex social skill of “mind-reading” to understand others’ mental states. Their paper was published in the Oct. 3 issue of Science.

What does this mean for Placing Literature?  Everything! First and foremost, we are all about any research that shows that reading builds connections and understanding of others and the world around us.   Secondly, we feel in our guts that there are profound reasons that art and science are both explanations of the world that are important and complement each other.  This research is a step on the road to confirming that hypothesis.

 The researchers, Ph.D. candidate David Comer Kidd and his advisor, professor of psychology Emanuele Castano, felt that literary fiction had s different effect on ToM because of the way it involves the reader – complex stories and characters engage the reader to follow characters’ the journeys, sit in the cafes, trek down the rivers and meet other characters in the places they are. Readers become engaged, emotionally involved, in the stories.

We here at Placing Literature are trying to find ways that engaging in literature may be a vehicle for engaging in real places – real places where people have attachments.

Do you have an idea of how we can do this?  How would you do it?  Please join the discussion and post a comment below.  We will be following-up in the next weeks with case studies of how Placing Literature will contribute to creating communities.

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Literary Road Trip with Placing Literature

When we launched Placing Literature, the co-founders got together and brainstormed all the ways readers, researchers, academics, authors and publishers could use the data that we were collecting. We quickly realized it was a fruitless exercise. No matter how long or hard we thought, or how many thinking caps we put on, we realized that we’d never be able to conceive of all the ways people would be using our data. The possibilities were endless.

Instead of controlling how our product would be used, we decided to simply create a platform for location-based literary information and let the crowd develop their own applications. So far, so good. Libraries around the world have started to map scenes that take place locally and have been sharing that information with their members. Cultural organizations have done likewise, plotting literary places on the map in an effort to reach our global audience. Academics are using the site to collect their research data in a central database for further analysis.

Last week, however, I was completely blown away with how one user is using Placing Literature to help build momentum for an upcoming book launch. Terri Guiliano Long is our IndieReader Author Spotlight for December. Terri–whose debut novel In Leah’s Wake reached the New York Times Bestsellers list–is launching her second novel, Until I Come Home, in January.

As an indie author, Terri doesn’t have the luxury of large advance orders from retail booksellers or the marketing muscle of the Madison Avenue publishing cabal. Her success relies on both the quality of her work and all the promotional sweat and tears she can muster. In Terri’s case, this includes paying a publicity agency out of her own pocket and doing a lot of the work herself–in addition to a busy writing and teaching schedule.

Strapped for time and resources, Terri and her agency are using Placing Literature to build a literary road trip across the U.S. for her fans in anticipation of her upcoming launch. Several times a day, Terri is showcasing a literary place on our map that means something to her as a reader and as an author. She’s also plotting some places from her upcoming novel–as a way to tease her fans and build momentum leading up to the launch. In addition to talking about the places on her blog, Terri is Tweeting each post to her followers and inviting them to submit their favorite literary places–effectively engaging each potential new fan in 140-character increments.

Terri and her team are doing a brilliant job. By using place, Terri is approaching readers who live near a particular location and may be inspired to explore literature that takes place in their neighborhood. She’s also reaching fans of other established authors who may already have a connection to a particular book or place. And everything is being communicated over social media–connecting with readers on a local level.

Katie, Steve and I continue to be blown away by the interesting way people are using our data–which only fuels our desire to create an open platform for this type of location-specific literary information. So, authors, book club members, researchers, teachers and business owners, let us know how you are using Placing Literature, and we’d love to promote it on the homepage.

In the meantime, join Terri’s literary road trip and visit Placing Literature to map some of your favorite literary places.

Introducing IndieReader Author Spotlight Terri Giuliano Long

We introduced D.E. Johnson in our last post, and now I’d like to introduce our IndieReader Author Spotlight for December, Terri Giuliano Long.

Terri Giuliano Long is the author of In Leah’s Wake, an indie novel that received critical acclaim and spent some time on the New York Times bestsellers list. The book won several awards—including the IndieReader Discovery Award for Literary Fiction in 2012 (coincidence alert: my novel Learning to Haight was a finalist in the same category).

Terri is mapping the places from In Leah’s Wake as well as The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout throughout December. Both books take place in New England.

We’re really excited about another book that Terri will be mapping. Over the next several weeks she will map select places from her upcoming novel Until I Come Home, teasing her fans while building momentum for her mid-month launch. We’re excited that Terri has chosen Placing Literature to interact with her fans and release her latest work.

Follow Terri on Placingliterature.com and her blog to track her progress.

Introducing Author Spotlight D.E. Johnson

We’re happy to announce our December Author Spotlight: D.E. Johnson.

D.E. Johnson is the author of a mystery series set in early 20th century Detroit. His first book, The Detroit Electric Scheme, was published in 2010, and he’s followed up with three more novels that take place in Michigan: Motor City Shakedown, Detroit Breakdown and Detroit Shuffle.

D.E. uses place in his writing in an interesting way. His father was a vice president of Checker Motors—beginning work with Checker in 1924 and continuing until 1980—and D.E.’s experiences growing up around the automobile industry in bustling Detroit has informed his writing and has shaped the way he writes. However, Detroit has changed quite a bit since its heyday, and it’s interesting to see how D.E. is able to bring that scene back to life when the city itself is hurting. Many of the places D.E. has mapped from his novels are just a shell of what they once were—but giving us that connection allows us to appreciate how majestic Detroit once was and could be again, giving momentum to the campaign to revitalize the city.

D.E. is going to continue to map the scenes from his novels over the course of December as well as Whiskey River by Loren Estleman, another mystery writer from Michigan. Estleman is mostly known for his mystery series featuring private investigator Amos Walker, a former Detroit policeman who was kicked out of the force for punching someone in the shower. Whiskey River isn’t part of the Amos Walker series but is set in and around Detroit. Check back over the course of December to track D.E.’s progress and follow him on Facebook.