Prolific Reading

Just one man reading humanity's great works, one word at a time

In the beginning

So… Have you noticed it’s harder to read longer things nowadays?

I have.

I find myself reading (edit:skimming) r/all, and never commenting. I refresh the same five or six webpages during my lunch break or downtime. I glance at the “news” in the most cursory manner. And (yes I’m using “and” to start this sentence, tough luck grammarians!) I curse the short, satisfying YouTube videos for consuming so much attention – they are the devil.

Therefore paradoxically, I am going to attempt to use the internet to improve my reading life. I will pick an “important” book and read a chapter each week. Following the reading of said chapter, I will write up some thoughts, facts, musings, and sarcastic responses on this very site.

I know I know, that’s not a new idea. In fact that’s not even an old idea. It’s an idea for which I had to look (edit: google) through a thesaurus and come up with the word “archaic” just to get close – note I knew the meaning of archaic before googling, I’m not that lacking in my vocabulary, I just couldn’t bring it to mind at the time okay! Nonetheless, I think this process will help me better know the world I’m currently occupying and broaden my perspectives – optimism.

For starters I need a criteria for choosing an “important” book. Now I know you’re a smart reader and you’ve noticed the use of the quotation marks around the word “important” in that last sentence. Those quotation marks are there to indicate a healthy degree of self-deprecation about what I think of as important. It’s subjective to a degree of course, although there are some books around which humanity broadly agrees I sense. The religious texts are the obvious examples and thanks, without sarcasm, to secular British schooling, I have only vague awareness of the Bible. Other examples are the works of Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Aristotle, Newton, Darwin, Locke, and on and on. Should I choose based on age, length, impact? Fact or fiction? What about the author’s moral standing? Do I shun the villains and celebrate heroes or subvert convention and elevate the villains? So many questions, what to do.

Well after taking an appropriate amount of time to decide – ate Chinese takeaway – I settled on the rigorous and extraordinarily scientific approach of selecting the first good-looking-thing-on-the-bookshelf. To be clear, there are several items on the bookshelf that I’ve collected over the years and *ahem* may not have fully read. Hey! Don’t judge! We all do this right?! Oh well at least I’m correcting that character flaw.

So there it is, the reason for this little corner of the internet. Read a good book a piece at a time, then write about it. I have heard it said that one does not fully understand something unless he can explain a thing. I hope to empirically test that statement to the extreme.

What, you may ask, did the finger of all powerful selection alight on in the first instance? Warhammer 40… Whoops! Little slip there.

No, the first book up is The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine.