The Use of Talking

There is no end of things in the heart.

Bibliomania 101: The Scattershot Reader

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There must be some people out there who read books straight through, one at a time. I’m not one of them. At the moment I’ve got these books going:

  • Allen Nevins, The Ordeal of the  Union, volume 2
  • Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 1 part 2
  • Balzac, The Ball at Sceaux 
  • Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions
  • Hegel, Phenomenology of the Spirit (This is my second attempt. I’m barely into it.)
  • Zechariah Sitchen, The Twelfth Planet (I hate to admit I’m reading this one, but I have an almost bottomless appetite for wacko stuff.)
  • Joseph Farrell, The Nazi International (Ditto.)
  • Daphne Hampson, Christian Contradictions

Now, I’m not saying this to brag about my intellectual ambitions or how much I read—at least not entirely. No, I mean it as a self rebuke. Of these seven, how many will languish at various stages of reading? How many will I persevere with, and how many will be pushed out by some new temporary enthusiasm? I have another, longer list of books that haven’t looked at for months, yet haven’t given up on. The trouble with this is that, if it’s fiction, I have to skim through to refresh my memory of what’s going on. If it’s demanding nonfiction, I sometimes have to start from the beginning to try and puzzle it out. There’s one book of German philosophy (no, not Hegel) that I’ve begun at least three times, only to bog down a chapter or two farther than when I last picked it up.

Every New Year’s Day I resolve to reform my reading habits, to stop acquiring books until I’m through with the bunch I’m reading now (plus the ones I got for Christmas). But long about the middle of January, some new title beckons. Oh, I tell myself I’ll just slip that in and then go back to my current list, but rarely happens; one or two or three or four titles slide into forgetfulness as I surrender to the seductions of publishers’ catalogs and internet reviews.

One of the consequences of my inconstancy is a sore point in my marriage. Mrs. C thinks we have at least twice as many books as we need, and frequently tells me that if we have to move, I’ll have to get rid of half the library. (The very thought gives me the vapors.) Lucky for our marriage (and for the apartment) that our budget is limited.

Written by hans castorp

August 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Bibliomania, Books

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  1. […] really galling, are the high prices for academic e-books. Take one of the books in the post above, Daphne Hampson’s Christian Contradictions, published by Cambridge University Press: the […]

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