30 June 2020

Egad! I'm Reading!

I will now make a public confession of something I have only mentioned to a couple of people my entire life because of the shame it brings me.  I don't read.  By that I mean I very seldom read for pleasure.  Though rare, this is not an unheard-of affliction amongst academics, after all, we read for a living.  Reading therefore becomes "work" and work is, well, work.  This may result from my favorite type of reading being history; it's too close to what I do for a living.  You'd think that historical fiction would be the answer, but I find that historical fiction leaves me with a "love it or leave it" reaction: either I adore the book* or loathe it and put it down without finishing it.  The latter happens especially when I find an glaring factual error or a preposterous oversimplification.  In the past couple of weeks, however, I've finished two books.  So what happened?  First, I put Kindle on my mid-sized iPad.  Now, I tried kindle before on the Amazon device, it worked at first, but then my interest waned.  For some reason, I find the pad more attractive, and a device is easier for me to use than fumbling with a book, and lighting, and with my presbyopia. Second, I retired.  This, of course, means I need to find something to do with my time (even I can only nap for so long in the course of one day) but more importantly it means I no longer read for a living.  Third, I think I may have found a solution to my history problem, viz., read in an area about which I know little or nothing (difficult for a universal savant of my caliber) so that way I can't be critical all the time.  So the first book I read was a deliciously dry and excruciating precise and detailed history of the Maya.  I devoured it; all the joy of technical academic reading with none of the personal investment.  I moved on to something closer to home: a popularly written history of the personal conflicts and vendettas among the artists and popes responsible for the building of St. Peter's.  A couple of tangential factual errors and one piece of nonsensical Latin, but I got past that.  Egad!  I'm reading for pleasure!  Where to next?  Likely either the history of the semi-colon or Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, I have really enjoyed popularizing astrophysics books in the past.


* The novel I most adored was Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, which is simply brilliant.  Read it and you'll know why she was the first woman elected to the Académie Française.

6 comments:

  1. my real book reading tends toward bio/autobio, baseball, travel, philly history. sometimes fun stuff too; next up is director john waters "carsick", about him hitchhiking across america.

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  2. I read to escape and, although I sometimes enjoy reading history books, historic fiction holds my interest longer -- as long as the fiction is only to create a story around the history and not to rewrite it.

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  3. With my commute being my reading time, and my commute being down to 10 seconds each way, my reading is way off pace this year. My current read is an english guy who buys a bar in Spain, misadventures in expat world.

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  4. Well, you have fully explained my struggle with reading. Everything lately has been related to work.

    I have had some success with Audible, because I can listen to a novel or book for pleasure while working around the house. I found that I have to really check out the voice actor for fiction, but prefer for nonfiction that it's narrated by the author.

    The Kindle works well, until I find myself thinking I need to take notes about what I'm reading.

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    1. It is hard to scribble margin notes on the Kindle. When I am doing book reviews for books I have read on Kindle, I need to take notes as a I read, it I can never find what I am looking for.

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