Saturday, June 16, 2007

On Reading, Part One

I like to read.

I really do like to read. Taking the time to lie back and read is one of the many pleasures in life that I often overlook. I suppose that could be due to my reading material. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to learning
new things from reading textbooks and science books for fun that I find it almost meaningless - detrimental, even.

The problem with this philosophy is that I tend to read books that stretch my mind or that force me to understand new and sometimes very complex things. At the moment, I have a copy of Wider Than The Sky on my nightstand, a book by Gerald M. Edelman, a Nobel Prize-winning neurosurgeon and the head of various neuroscience intitutions. It's incredibly complex and being only about 150 pages long it moves very rapidly. Chapter 3 is entitled "The Elements of the Brain" and is a 16 page crash course in the biology of the human brain that I imagine if I memorized would get me through at least a year of med school. Other books on my nightstand include On Being and Time, by Heidegger, The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoevsky, and The Essential Nietzsche, by Nietzshe. All of these books are perhaps out of my league, which could very well explain why I find reading to be not so much a leisurely past time as a complete workout for my consciousness often resulting in the need for some Excedrin and a quick nap.

I should not blame my lack of reading on it being difficult nor intensive. The reading itself is difficult, but should I desire I could just as easily pick up an Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novel and go to town on it. Anita Blake is, for all intents and purposes, a series that is simply for enjoyment and pleasure with no new concepts of reality or headache inducing theories. Its just a world where vampires exist and her job is to hunt down the ones who break the law; a world fairly easy to imagine nowadays. It's simple and fun and takes me about two or three hours to clean through a novel. My lack of reading is simply because I just don't make time for it in my schedule.

Ok, that was a lie.

Not the "make time for it" thing, the "schedule" thing. I don't have a schedule. I like to think that someday I might have a schedule - a calendar on the wall covered in writing, my days packed full of meetings and nights out with friends. As it stands, my calendar is empty save for school two days a week for 9 hours, and the remainder of the blank space I often choose to fill with any combination of sleeping, eating, showering, and watching old episodes of Newsradio and Futurama. In all honesty, I have too much time to read. I could easily read a couple books a day if I chose. This is where my post comes full circle: it's hard for me to read what is essentially a condensed textbook in one sitting and fully comprehend it. I have to read parts at a time and let them sink in so that later, when the Dr. Edelman talks about the hippocampus, I know what he's talking about. It's a similar scenario with Nietzsche and Heidegger, only in both those cases their verbosity in and of itself demands I read it with a dictionary nearby. The Brothers
Karamazov is quite frankly the least intense book I have on my shelf, however the bookmark stuck on page 327 for over a year makes it difficult to pick it up and start reading as I have no idea what's happened or who anyone is anymore.

Writing this, I feel like I'm making an excuse. I know what I need to do. I need to start over on The Brothers Karamazov or perhaps just find a new fictional novel to begin reading to vary my material. Come to think of it, I believe I have just the book:

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams.

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