Study Confirms Growing Up in a Home Filled With Books Is Good for You

People who buy more books than they can possibly read can now use science to justify their spending sprees. As Pacific Standard reports, new research confirms that people who grow up with books at home tend to have higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills.

But how many books is enough to make a difference? The magic number seems to be above 80, according to a team of researchers led by senior sociology lecturer Joanna Sikora of Australian National University. Those who had around 80 books at home tended to have average scores for literacy—defined as "the ability to read effectively to participate in society and achieve personal goals”—while owning fewer than 80 books was associated with below-average literacy. Literacy continued to improve as the number of books increased to about 350, at which point the literacy rates remained steady.

Their findings are based on comprehensive surveys taken between 2011 and 2015 by the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies. Respondents were between the ages of 25 and 65, and they came from 31 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. First, they were asked to estimate how many books they had at home when they were 16 years old. After racking their brains for a mental image of their childhood libraries, they were tested for reading comprehension, their understanding of common mathematical concepts, and their ability to use digital technology as a communication tool. The results showed a positive correlation between these skill sets and having books at home.

"Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education, or [one's] own educational or occupational attainment," the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Social Science Research.

The greatest impact, not surprisingly, was seen in the area of reading comprehension. Likewise, a 20-year study from 2010 suggested that access to a home library impacts a child’s educational attainment just as much as their parents’ occupations and education levels. Researchers aren’t sure if digital books will have the same positive effects if they eventually outnumber printed materials, but the team behind this latest study did point out that “home library size is positively related to higher levels of digital literacy.”

[h/t Pacific Standard]

Bring Some Magic Into Your Home With These Harry Potter Fine Art Photographs

Classic Stills
Classic Stills

Even if you've seen the Harry Potter movies a thousand times, they invariably come to an end after 160 or so minutes, forcing you to leave Hogwarts and return to the real world. But do you really have to choose one or the other? As Forbes reports, you can now bring a bit of magic into your home with fine art photographs of classic scenes from the Harry Potter franchise.

These limited edition, framed photos are the result of a partnership between Los Angeles-based Classic Stills and Warner Bros. Consumer Products. The first collection features 25 photos from the franchise's first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and future collections will follow the movies in chronological order.

The photos are unique in that they capture the essence of the characters. In one print, titled "Hermione Has the Answer," Emma Watson's character can be seen practically overextending her arm in an attempt to get the professor's attention in class. Ron's bravery shines through as he rides atop a chess piece in another image, and a young Harry Potter in oversized hand-me-downs looks around at his new surroundings during his first trip to Diagon Alley in yet another piece in the collection.

Harry in Diagon Alley
Classic Stills

Priced between $149 and $495, the prints aren't exactly cheap. However, they are less expensive than a comparable print would cost at an art gallery, according to Classic Stills founder/CEO Rene Freling. The price point can be attributed to both the quality of the photographs and their exclusivity; only 100 copies of each photo are made, and the prints are framed by hand and individually numbered.

"We can't expect fans of any movie to pay for a premium-quality product unless the product itself is exceptional—and that includes the photography," Freling told Forbes. He says the photos are printed onto light-sensitive paper through a chromogenic process, which combines "old-school photography development and modern processes."

Classic Stills also offers collections of photos from other movie and TV franchises, including Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, The Big Lebowski, and Jurassic Park. Check out some photos below from the Harry Potter collection, and visit the Classic Stills website to see more options.

Classic Stills

Hermione raises her hand
Classic Stills

Ron on a chess piece
Classic Stills

[h/t Forbes]

J.D. Salinger's Unpublished Work Will Be Coming to a Bookstore Near You

Gayle Nicholson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Gayle Nicholson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

It's a perfect day for bananafish, and an even better one to get excited about more J.D. Salinger.

As The Guardian reports, never-before-seen work from one of the most famous authors of the 20th century is on its way. Salinger was (in)famously guarded with his writing, publishing nothing after the combined set of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, in 1963.

It's well-known that Salinger continued to write diligently right up until his death in 2010, but little from that last nearly half-century of his life has ever been seen. Matt Salinger, the late author's son, confirmed that though his father was not published prolifically, he continued to write every day.

"He'd be driving the car and he'd pull over to write something and laugh to himself," Matt Salinger told The Guardian. "Next to every chair he had a notebook." Matt also said that reports from 2013 regarding the subject matter of Salinger's leftover manuscripts—namely that he wrote about his brief marriage to Sylvia Welter, a rumored Nazi collaborator—were generally false, and "have little to no bearing on reality."

While there is likely no follow-up on Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye's protagonist, it appears that some of the completed manuscripts do continue to follow the Glass family, who Salinger wrote about in much of his short fiction.

Matt Salinger said that some of the material on its way might "disappoint people that [J.D.] wouldn't care about," but that true fans of his father's work would appreciate the writing he left behind.

So how soon can we expect to see this work? The only firm promise given was that it will begin happening "over the next decade." Fifty years of new pages can only be sorted through so quickly, but Matt says that he and his father's widow are "going as fast as we freaking can."

No rush! We've waited this long.

[h/t The Guardian]