Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading Lists

One of the difficulties I ran into early on in my first study endeavor was how to most effectively go about reading. I noticed that, left unchecked, I too often flocked to reading one book over another and to reading one type in neglect of others. If my habits were kept so unrefined then I would probably read novels all the time, and since I didn't have a very good check on switching various activities I actually at one point spent entire days just reading one book. I managed to solve the latter problem by making lists that needed to be completed in whole before refreshing it. That is, I had to complete all my assignments on it before I created new ones, otherwise I would just keep flocking to my favored ones, quickly advancing in one activity while the others stagnated. The former problem, however, shall be addressed now.

My reading list is the most valuable document on my computer. It takes such a long time to construct, but after it's established it's absolutely demotivating to have it deleted. On two such occasions did I mistakenly overwrite the data with an unrelated document, destroying over a year's worth of reading documentation, and now I'm slightly paranoid every time I go to save a file. I have well-defined goals in reading these books -- goals related to my central purpose in life -- so to see those book titles get erased and forgotten feels like actual harm has been done to my life. However, as valuable as my list is, I still need to reorganize it so that I have better habits in confronting it.

There are two problems with my habits as of current. My reading list segregates titles into multiple different classifications based on what type of reading it is (Objectivism, Biographies/Memoirs, etc.). Near the top I have listed what titles I plan on reading next, and at the very top in green colored text are the titles I found valuable enough to want to purchase. As of current I pick out titles far too hap hazardously, often concentrating too intensely on one section in neglect of others, and take a whim-based approach to picking out titles I want to read next. It's messy and in the long-run will lead to books forever being neglected despite my interest.

Last time I noted such a problem I tried a rather flawed solution: Rent out two books at a time, one fiction and the other nonfiction. It's far too broad and doesn't address the various classifications I have. To refine matters I'll try the "static list" approach again: Come picking out titles, I'll pick out one book from 2-3 classifications and will prohibit myself from picking from those sections again until I have partaken in each and every category in my list, with one exception to the rule. The exception would be that I would allow myself to alternate between the categories titled Nutrition/Health, Cooking/Baking/Cold Prep, and Specific Foods since my central purpose in life is culinary-based after all.

The other problem is the organization within the sections themselves. While having categories is good in itself, it still doesn't help in trying to decide on which title to pick within the section. Even if I'm concentrating hard-core on a category some books can still go neglected. I think the solution is dating when each title has been added in order to help me remember how long it's been sitting on the list. Unless I can objectively determine that one title is of immediate importance or if it should be read prior to reading another title (like math books), I'll go through the section in order of dates.

This may sound mechanical and as a way to take the fun out of reading, but I doubt it. Often I have found myself procrastinating on picking up a title -- and then suddenly being engrossed in it once I do motivate myself to pick it up. A particular title may not pique my interest at the moment as I put it in my queue, but I'll probably think otherwise upon picking it up.

Right now I'm vigorously reading Infidel and The Vegetarian Myth, though without the use of note-taking or formal study methods. I do think they are worthy of purchase, however, and do plan on doing a formal rereading and study of them. Next I think I should turn my attention to the neglected books that already live in my home: Ayn Rand's Marginalia and Good Calories, Bad Calories. In addition, a book from the library: The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics.

Also, I think it might be good for my writing, thinking, and comprehension to perhaps begin writing book reviews. I enjoyed the one I did for Walt Disney's biography and am already mentally outlining reviews for Infidel and The Vegetarian Myth. Food for thought.

I love being intellectually active again.

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