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A Glorious Defeat!

Posted by Dirck on 6 January, 2016

A little less than a year ago, I made a public admission here as a way of holding something over my own head– “Lookit me,” I said, “I’m taking up a year-long reading challenge!”

Let’s see how that went, shall we?



Hmm.  It seems that there are some unchecked boxes there.  How could I have let this happen?

Pretty easily, actually.  I didn’t so much let it happen as decide that it would happen.  I realized in August that even with the outrageous cheat of allowing one book to fill several requirements, I would have to work pretty hard to manage “Almost Finished”.  This realization led to a contemplation of the place of reading in my life, and the thinking ran something like this:

  1. Reading is enjoyable;
  2. Working hard under external compulsion is rarely enjoyable;
  3. A≠B;
  4. I’d be an idiot to bash A with hammers until it becomes B-shaped.

At that point, I didn’t give up on the list, but I stopped chasing it.  If something I wanted to read happened to fill a box, then that’s just fine, but I’m not going to squander my precious reading time on things chosen to please an arbitrary list rather than myself.  I’m also not going to put myself off reading by clinging stubbornly to that list, because a writer who’s sick of reading is a writer for not much longer, and I’ve hardly even begun.

An excellent example would be the truncation of my read of The Longer I’m Prime Minister.  A close look at some of the self-serving back-stabbery of our last PM (more than usually egregious, even in a politician), it had sat on my READ THIS shelf for a long time.  I could not summon the heart to open it while he held the nation in his grubby fist, and after the liberation election I discovered I couldn’t stomach having everything I’d thought of the man confirmed and even expanded upon by those in his inner circle.  It’s on the list, but I didn’t finish.  Similarly, I’ve been in the midst of reading Labyrinths for ages; it goes on the list not because I read it but because I am reading it– I have to take it in small doses, lest it overwhelm me with its power.

This year, then, I won’t be doing the same thing, and I’ll be a happier reader for it.  Last year’s effort, for all that the campaign’s objective was not taken, saw no one hurt and a good deal of ground was gained (I did, after all, read books).  If that’s not a triumphal failure, I don’t know what is!

For those who want more detail, I’m sticking a reading list at the bottom of this entry, with links to the Goodreads pages– I think it’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t get more than a non-contiguous half-hour of reading available to him on most days, and it leaves out the manifold repeats of Tintin and Thomas at bed time (although a couple of entries there were used to quell a wakeful lad).  Also, there’s that one criterium above which just has * beside it; a bunch of those books are set in England, a country I have been in only once, briefly and without depth of understanding, and I would very much like to visit it properly.  Before all the interesting bits get washed away by the rain that apparently has forgotten how to stop.


Today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

♦    ♦    ♦

Barron, Laird. The Imago Sequence and Other Stories

Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

Bryson, Bill. At Home: A Short History of Private Life

de Lint, Charles. The Mystery of Grace

Frye, Northrop. The Educated Imagination (which you should all read NOW)

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows

Howell, Tom. The Rude Story of English

King, Stephen. Revival

Martin, Andrew. The Lost Luggage Porter
Death on a Branch Line

Ottaviani, Jim. Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology

Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time

Rankine, John. Moon Odyssey

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Tamaki, Jillian. This One Summer

Tardi, Jacques. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec: Pterror Over Paris / The Eiffel Tower Demon

Washington, Peter (ed.). Ghost Stories

Wells, Barry. The Day the Earth Caught Fire

Wells, Paul. The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- (that’s not truncated; he was still in office at time of publication)

Willett, Edward. Marseguro


One Response to “A Glorious Defeat!”

  1. […] A Glorious Defeat! […]

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