Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What I'm Reading: March 2012

Here's a picture of what I have currently checked out from the library, followed by a list:

1. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E Lawrence.

2. The Valleys of Assassins, by Treya Stark.

3. Notes from Underground, by F. Dostoyevsky.

4. The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter.

5. Life Inc. How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back, by Douglas Rushkoff.

Only once before did I post a photograph here of the books I have checked out from the library and am in the middle of reading or plan to be reading soon. It was actually a pretty cool post that I stumbled upon recently while exploring the archives from two years ago, and coincidentally it was in March, and was the inspiration for this post.

If you haven't read it, or don't recall it, I suggest you take a look: What I'm Reading: March/April 2010. The picture was taken on the same desk, both by a window, but in different buildings; in the old one I was still living in a house, in a room with southern exposure; now I'm in an apartment where the window faces the west, with a big building blocking the view, restricting the natural air flow and light, creating much stagnate energy.

If you check out that post, you'll see ten books that I was reading at the time, and while I did read at least a couple of chapters of each book, I actually only completed two of them. You see I've had this long-term habit of checking out several books every time I go to the library, but only seem to read about two books for every ten I check out. I'm actually glad I took a picture of this, because I can vividly recall the moment I took this picture, and the time I spent with each book. Also for sure there are at least two books on that list (can you guess which ones?) that I will be returning to and reading in their entirety, but the rest were not read because I discovered that they did not offer the things I was looking for and would not be worth the time spent reading them.

Sometimes you check out a book having high expectations, but once you get it in your hands and start reading it, it just falls flat, doesn't interest you at all, or the authors presentation of it does not at all do the subject justice. Other times you persevere and find out that while the beginning wasn't so good, it got much better a hundred pages into it, and you are happy you stuck with it. But most of the time, if it doesn't interest you after a hundred pages, it probably isn't going to get much better, and would be better to just skim over it and move on to something else. Maybe it's just the wrong time to read it, and in a few years you'll come back to it with a renewed appreciation for it, but there is no point wasting your precious hours reading something that you are just not at all into.

Okay, so that's an explanation of my scattered reading habits. If I lose interest, I see no point in continuing. Lately I've been trying to force myself to, by being more selective of what I check out, only checking out a couple books at a time, instead of a dozen, and reading them cover to cover. The idea being to have more focused reading habits, setting goals and sticking to them. Well, I've done that with "The Idiot" by Dostoyesky. And the book I just finished reading "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco. I also mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to focus on reading classic Russian literature, everything by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and yeah I'll do it, but those are some pretty huge books, not just long, but difficult, very dense, something that requires giving it a lot of time and deep thought, that it probably would take me all year to read them.

The thought of it makes me feel like a prisoner who's lost their freedom, like being shackled to books, with all the joy taken out of it. I hate that feeling. I will be reading them for sure, eventually, but in my own time. I have to skip around, expose myself to different books, different ideas, different authors, often obtained while randomly perusing the bookshelves with no clear objective in mind.

I've previously called this an undisciplined method of reading, but I realize now that doing so, checking out a lot of diverse material without feeling obligated to finish everything, and being more flexible in my reading, actually feeds my creativity, whereas being bound to a predetermined rigidly defined reading list, without room for variation or change, stifles my creativity. I cannot do that. So, I'm temporarily breaking my self-imposed pact of what I will read, and am changing course.