Dumb Witness

I have given the book four stars on goodreads (average rating: 3.73), even though I’m still considering whether to add a fifth. I got a lot of the details right and I made a lot of correct inferences, but I still didn’t get it completely right in the end (some might argue that I got it very wrong, but I wouldn’t go quite that far) – it’s a really clever setup. The ‘key detail’ so to speak I did not figure out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Books like this one derive most of their success from being brilliant crime stories with intelligent plots, rather than from being highly quotable. So I’ll not quote from the book here. But I think I should add a comment on a related matter. I’ve justified reading fiction over the last few years in part by arguing that doing so on a regular basis would improve my reading speed and my vocabulary. I’m sure you could find worse arguments for reading fiction books. But at least as for the latter part, I’m not sure it’s actually a particularly efficient process.

In my experience most people seem to stop working systematically towards improving their vocabularies once they’ve left the educational system – arguably in some cases they stop far sooner than that. I haven’t really done much over the last years to systematically learn new words – this is not to say that I have not encountered a lot of new concepts and so on while reading a book or an article about a new topic, or while watching a lecture or something like that, the point is just that this process has been somewhat haphazard; new words and concepts have sort of come along for the ride every now and then, but I have done much less to invite them inside than I might have done. Interestingly, this is not even something I’ve given much thought. And so my vocabulary is really quite deficient. I plan to change that, and I think the site, to which I’ve linked before, might be a good tool for that purpose. I’ve created an account on the site and so far it looks like a useful tool. 10 minutes of focused language improvement activities per day would be 60 hours per year. This is more than just a few extra words.

September 28, 2013 - Posted by | books


  1. “The ‘key detail’ so to speak I did not figure out.” — Ner lbh ersreevat gb gur zveebe gevpx? V gubhtug gung bar jnf gbb boivbhf. Jung V yvxrq zbfg nobhg gur obbx jnf gur hfr bs fhccbfrqyl fhcreangheny ryrzragf gung ghearq bhg gb unir n pbzcyrgryl angheny onfvf. Vs lbh rawbl fghss yvxr gung nf jryy, gura gur Wncnarfr qrgrpgvir GI frevrf ‘Tnyvyrb’ jvyy or evtug hc lbhe nyyrl (gur snpg gung vg vf irel qvssvphyg (vs ng nyy cbffvoyr) gb svaq Ratyvfu fhogvgyrf vf n ceboyrz bs pbhefr).

    Comment by Miao | September 29, 2013 | Reply

    • Ab, V jnf abg.🙂 Gur ‘zveebe gevpx’ jnf boivbhf sebz gur fgneg – V xarj vg jnf Oryyn ba gubfr fgnvef. V fcbggrq gur yrggre ceboyrz orsber Cbvebg zragvbarq vg,naq Ynjfba qvfnccebirq bs Gurerfn ohg frrzrq gb yvxr Oryyn – rvgure fur jnagrq gb frr Gurerfn ba gur fgnvef (naq fb fur’q pbaivaprq urefrys gung vg jnf Gurerfn), be fur jnf whfg bhgevtug ylvat. Gur ‘xrl qrgnvy’ V zvffrq jnf gur snpg gung Oryyn jnf abg sbeprq gb qb jung fur qvq ol ure uhfonaq; fur jnf abg bar bs gur ivpgvzf. V sryy sbe ure cynlnpgvat gbjneqf gur raq bar ubbx, yvar naq fvaxre.

      Comment by US | September 29, 2013 | Reply

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