Keeping up with books

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Just a variation on this thread
Keeping Up With Music

I've sort of almost made peace with what I can do with music but books still stress me out. As well as my colossal written wishlists, my amazon wishlists of priority books are difficult enough to keep on top of.

As well as that there is the sheer amount of fiction moving online and ebooks and I'm relucant with both but would like to integrate them eventually into my regular diet because it seems like I'm missing out and I would like to have that discipline for its own sake.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 20 November 2020 22:58 (four days ago) link

Good books are always a value-added use of time, but stressing over them is not.

iirc, there are about 10,000 new titles published in English each year. There are probably ten million titles out there floating around as used and rare books available for purchase. This does not fully account for antiquarian books in university libraries and other specialty collections. As long as you always have a book in progress that seems worth your time, be happy! There is a point of diminishing return even for time spent reading. Your brain cannot hold it all anyway.

The Solace of Fortitude (Aimless), Saturday, 21 November 2020 02:30 (three days ago) link

you should be totally stressed about books and it sucks we’re going to die before we read all the stuff we want to. there is a notional me who is reading all the stuff i’m buying or is going on my list and they are an intellectual titan and plugged into an omniscient knowledge matrix of wisdom. rather than being someone who can’t even recount the contents of the book they read before the last one.

Fizzles, Saturday, 21 November 2020 04:49 (three days ago) link

I hear you on that. Missed you earlier. Your roommate was on Zoom call with some of us.

Indieland Phil and Indieland Don (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 November 2020 04:51 (three days ago) link

My stress defeats me and that's why I'm such a poor reader.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 21 November 2020 05:38 (three days ago) link

someone who can’t even recount the contents of the book they read before the last one.

that's not just me then. i sometimes wonder what the point is of pouring all this information through my brain sieve.

the 120 days of sod 'em (ledge), Saturday, 21 November 2020 07:48 (three days ago) link

does it come back to you later though?
Like if somebody talkks about the book elsewhere.

Stevolende, Saturday, 21 November 2020 09:28 (three days ago) link

way too many books on the go at any one moment and winding up with things getting buried in other things I'm doing.
& still in the habit of buying new things.
Books out of the library with extended loans haven't really been looked at. but library has been closed for long periods thanks to lockdown etc.

Stevolende, Saturday, 21 November 2020 09:36 (three days ago) link

that's not just me then. i sometimes wonder what the point is of pouring all this information through my brain sieve.

tell me about it.

Fizzles, Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:03 (three days ago) link

All the things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams. 

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:09 (three days ago) link

That's Elias Canetti and it haunts me. But I also think we have to trust forgetfulness as much as we trust memory. Because what else can we do?

I'm in the anxious camp when it comes to reading. I'm currently managing between 40-50 books a year; say I've got 30 good years of reading in me, that's around 1500 books? We have to choose carefully!

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:11 (three days ago) link

so you're saying i shouldn't read the John Lanchester short stories this Christmas right?

Fizzles, Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:17 (three days ago) link

You must. It's a valuable service for the rest of us.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:30 (three days ago) link

does it come back to you later though?
Like if somebody talkks about the book elsewhere.


usually, though often not in detail - whether about the content, or what i thought about it, even though i might recall having had some kind of worthwhile thoughts beyond "ee that were good". and more than once I've read a plot summary of a book i read a small number of years ago without a single flicker of recollection.

the 120 days of sod 'em (ledge), Saturday, 21 November 2020 11:57 (three days ago) link

A few years of one book at a time, then some months of switching between a few books and now I try to rotate 15 to 20 and I'm enjoying things more this way. Some would warn it's less immersive but I think maybe it fits how my brain works better and takes off some of the pressure of worrying about so many books.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 23 November 2020 21:18 (yesterday) link

From Stoner: "Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know."

I've become more brutal with abandoning books that I'm not immediately enjoying in recent years. I used to power through almost every book I started regardless of how much I was enjoying it, but now I just trust my reaction to something and put it down if it isn't touching something in me. I've abandoned 19 this year so far according to my reading journal. There's a bit of sunk-cost guilt when I do this though, especially when it's a book that I've actually paid money for, or have maybe invested a couple of hours in reading already.

triggercut, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 04:08 (eight hours ago) link

to learn what he had to know

this is what strikes a false note with me. books can teach a vast sea of things, but very little of that qualifies as necessary to one's life and potential happiness. imagining there is arcane knowledge which would lead you to some fundamental epiphany, and it can only be found by reading the right book, is a delusion. life is what is right in front of you. books can offer hints, advice, a differing perspective, and a certain amount of insight, but only living can teach you how to live. nothing vital is hidden from plain sight.

The Solace of Fortitude (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 04:21 (seven hours ago) link

La chair est triste, hélas, etc.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 04:28 (seven hours ago) link

this is what strikes a false note with me. books can teach a vast sea of things, but very little of that qualifies as necessary to one's life and potential happiness. imagining there is arcane knowledge which would lead you to some fundamental epiphany, and it can only be found by reading the right book, is a delusion. life is what is right in front of you. books can offer hints, advice, a differing perspective, and a certain amount of insight, but only living can teach you how to live. nothing vital is hidden from plain sight.

I suppose I can only speak for myself, but I believe reading does play a vital role in my own life and happiness, and has certainly lead me to some fundamental epiphanies that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I wish I was the kind of person who could learn everything needed about how to live just by living, and having sharp enough perceptions to just work it out from what's directly in front of me, but I'm not that smart or perceptive. I appreciate the wisdom and perspective that reading (philosophy and fiction in particular) has given me throughout my life, and continues to give me.

triggercut, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 04:50 (seven hours ago) link

I will not say that books can't accelerate discovery or teach useful lessons that would otherwise be difficult to access, but to say that only by reading vast numbers of books, more than could easily be read in a lifetime, could Stoner "learn what he had to know" tells me that Stoner had no idea what it was that "he had to know", but presumed he'd find in all those books. Wisdom is not so inaccessible as all that and knowledge is just a commodity.

The Solace of Fortitude (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 05:13 (seven hours ago) link

i probably have the healthiest reading regimen of my life rn. ive never been a true bookworm but often wished i was and felt anxiety about not reading more. now im into living a life of varied tangible and intellectual activities and couldn’t care less about dying without having read another great novel

anyway here’s my sched

i read one poem per day, one non fiction book per month (i underline and take notes in my journal as i read then go back over them to write a goodreads review within a week of finishing so that i don’t lose everything), skim dozens of academic papers per week and log summaries on my ipad through an app that integrates to bibliography organizer software zotero, and burn a weekend plowing through a novel once in a blue moon. i watch tv or movies with my gf at night. i block Twitter between 8am and 10pm on weekdays and usually spend an hour in bed catching up on tweets. recently started audiobooks while jogging and walking (i usually go on one or two 2-3 hour walks per week). currently listening to The Anarchy by William Dalrymple, a history of the British East Indies company. it’s really good but i find it hard to remember all the names phonetically and i get kinda stressed out whenever i lost the thread

flopson, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 08:02 (four hours ago) link

I think that quote speaks to Stoner's fault as it were - his inability to connect, to find a way to live. His bookishness is a retreat from the world, isn't it? The sentiment does have a ring of truth though.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 09:07 (three hours ago) link

this is what strikes a false note with me. books can teach a vast sea of things, but very little of that qualifies as necessary to one's life and potential happiness. imagining there is arcane knowledge which would lead you to some fundamental epiphany, and it can only be found by reading the right book, is a delusion. life is what is right in front of you. books can offer hints, advice, a differing perspective, and a certain amount of insight, but only living can teach you how to live. nothing vital is hidden from plain sight.

Great statement!

the pinefox, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 09:59 (two hours ago) link

Funnily enough I skimmed thru this piece on Stoner a couple of days ago, a lot of ppl to eager to sell this one as literature puts me off.

"Some of you might think, 'briefly noted in The New Yorker, some sales, and he has a pension—not all bad?' In the annals of writers, there are certainly far more tragic stories, especially for a book with such a quiet plot and a non-celebrity author." https://t.co/LXNdQmki7J

— The Millions (@The_Millions) November 22, 2020

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 10:11 (two hours ago) link

"life is what is right in front of you." Vs "to learn what he had to know" as poll options.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 10:21 (one hour ago) link


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