I have a problem. I am addicted to reading. Normally, I got things under control. I have policies: never order books - if I don’t find them in a store, they’ll have to wait. No libraries. Don’t read more than three books at once. Get enough sleep (together with work, this cuts down on reading a lot). But sometimes, I lose it. I become a binge reader. I’ll read one or more books a day. I won’t sleep much, I’ll forget about eating and I’m late in answering my email (seriously, when I was an undergraduate I sometimes didn’t eat anything but chocolate until I felt too weak to walk up the stairs, at which point I realized that was a bad idea). I discard all discretion - I won’t distinguish anymore between good books and bad, those worth reading and those only good to while away the hours on a transatlantic flight. Do you have similar problems? Then join me in Readers Anonymous. The last couple weeks, I have had an attack.
The first step is acceptance, so let me tell you what I am reading, get it all out in the open. The whole episode was set off by several of the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher - purely inspired by watching TeeVee. These books are pretty much for reading addicts with no sense for quality only, I suspect. In fact, by the third book, the self-pity and chauvinism of the hero will get on most peoples’ nerves, despite some pretty good one-liners. You can see I have no self-control, since I got through five already.
Desperate for better Science Fiction, I raced through Ken MacLeod’s outstanding Cosmonaut Keep (a must-read for all SciFi fans: space ships, god-like aliens, Area 51, an anarcho-syndicalist union of computer geeks called IWWWW and a revolution), and I’ve stacked up The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks (how could a mathematician resist that title?), and some Kim Stanley Robinson (about whom The Constructivist is going to tell us more, I believe.)
Good friends gave me Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court (strangely, I hadn’t read that before), and in other educational reading, I have After Theory by Terry Eagleton waiting around in some pile, just so next time I get into a debate with the lit-crit crowd I can at least pretend I know what I’m talking about. Or maybe I’m just looking for some funny put-downs from the guy who distinguished between Big Fish and Little Fish. I report, you decide.
I just finished Mike Davis’ Buda’s Wagon (a very well-researched and well-thought out history of the car bomb by one of the better observers of the social structure of modern cities) and am in the middle of Chris Hedges’ American Fascists (slightly scary investigation of the religious right, beautifully written as usual with Hedges) and am re-reading Tony Cliff’s State Capitalism in Russia (a classic interpretation of the class structure of Stalinist Russia for those who still think the Soviet Union was a socialist country or North Korea deserves “critical support” - and those who don’t.) Also in politics, I am looking forward to discussing Empire and the Bomb by Joseph Gershon with everybody (maybe I’ll post something about it once I’m through.) I am almost done with the Che Guevara biography by Jon Lee Anderson (currently not available from Amazon for no apparent reason - even our local Border’s had it.)
You can see I am in trouble. This bout of reading - and consequently the post - is what our MOJ would call “all over the place”. I need your help to get more organized before my brain develops into multiple readers. Or, you could feed the addict more goods. Recommend some more books, until the brain freezes.
Responses to “Readers Anonymous”