Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What/How I Read 4.0

The first thing I did after taking the GRE is figure out what I was going to read next. I take reading very seriously. I believe that "Life is too short for reading inferior books" (James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce). Another part of my reading philosophy is that I want to make sure I read a little bit of everything, which, really, has more to do with my overall interest in trivia - knowing a little bit about everything. So I read according to categories, which are below. I read at least (though often more than) one chapter from each category per week. These are the new categories I recently created, allowing me to read a bit of everything but without giving me too many books to read at one time.

Genre Fiction (After reading a novel, I read a short story within the category; I'm partial to science fiction.)

  • Long:
  • Short: "The Clockwork Soldier" by Ken Liu (the underline here means I'm currently reading this short story and will read a genre novel next; I listened to this story on the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast but will read it carefully to try to understand this really phenomenal story.)

Instapaper (I'm a huge fan of this service and paid for the full app for iOS.)

  • Poem or song lyrics or speech (one poem/song/speech per week, at least)
  • Read Later (I compile articles throughout the week and read them during the weekend)
Literary Fiction (includes: novels, plays, verse novels, epics; I alternate from pre-1923 to post-1923)

  • Pre-1923 (ancient classics, too; this category is for free books - not protected by copyright)
    • Long: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (meaning after this I'm reading a short piece and then a long piece published on or after 1923)
    • Short (includes: stories, long poems):
  • Post-1923 (non-free books)
    • Long:
    • Short:
Other (this is where I put everything else I want to read. There are a lot of subcategories here, which means there's a long time before I read the same subcategory twice. I might revise to have fewer. But all these things are important to me.)
  • Anthologies/Collections
    • Long:
    • Short (chapbooks, long poems/stories):
  • Criticism/Theory
    • Long:
    • Short (essays, articles):
  • Graphic Novels/Manga
    • Long:
    • Short (snippets, etc):
  • Language (Language learning books but includes English, such as a textbook on the history of the English language)
    • Long:
    • Short (articles):
  • Myth/Religion
    • Long: The Bible (I'm not religious, btw. Reading it as lit.)
    • Short (articles, fables, parables):
  • Non-Fiction (general non-fiction, e.g., bios, journalism, etc)
    • Long:
    • Short:
  • Textbooks/Trivia (nerdy-type stuff: puzzles, quizzes, etc.)
    • Long:
    • Short:
Science/Philosophy (A passion of mine.)

  • Contemporary
    • Long: God, Godel, and Grace by Clifford Goldstein (given to me by a colleague, with whom I've had many enlightening philosophical and religious discussions/debates.)
    • Short:
  • Old (basically, anything before 1923)
    • Long:
    • Short:
Self-Help (I'm a total believer in self-improvement, which everyone probably is, more or less; I guess I just think that reading books can help.)

  • Finance
    • Long:
    • Short (articles):
  • Health (body/mind)
    • Long: Imagine by Jonah Lehrer (I've read several of his books and think he's really good at making neuroscience highly accessible.)
    • Short (articles):
  • Martial arts
    • Long:
    • Short (articles):
Writing (Have to read about writing if you're a writer, I think.)

  • Long: The Craft & Business of Writing by Editors of Writers' Digest Books
  • Short:

That's six books, plus some other stuff. That's not too many books, I think, per week. In addition I alternate from reading my magazine subscriptions (some free, some not) one week and a read later pile of stuff (documents, readers, pamphlets, etc) the other.

This works really well for me and forces me to think critically about what book I want to read next because it might be awhile before I get back to the same subcategory. After I've read a little of each, I devote the extra time in the week that I have for reading fiction, which is what I write mostly. (I try to aim for two half-hour reading sessions per day.) If you have interesting reading habits and want to share write them in the comments section below.