Some of the things I've read

01b March 15, 2014 -- (reading)

Inspired partly by dAImon's laziness (in Romanian).

Contrary to popular belief, reading is, I believe, more than simple consumption. In fact I would go as far as to say that reading is complex consumption, as it involves not merely going through a text, but understanding its main ideas, its meaning as a whole, and acknowledging that they have changed us in some way or another. Of course, very frequently there are texts which do not change us in any way, but then again we might as well say we haven't really read anything in that case.

Reading is also a prerequisite for writing, in such a way that the writer must continuously train to keep his mind focused on the stream of words that come and go, while making sure the proper ideas linger. That is why I will always feel like I am unable to put my words on the paper if I haven't read in a while, and that is while (from my experience at least) the lack of reading is bound to turn people into dumb creatures with an extremely limited grammar and vocabulary. Not to speak of style, which is more than mortals such as myself can handle. Surely, language has an impact on the human mind, and reading has a deep impact on the mental mechanism of language.

Thus I strive to read. I read many blogs' daily writings, but I will leave these for another time, since I feel that they deserve a separate post. I also read books, short stories, poems or lyrics and also scribblings which are more mathematical or scientific in nature, but nonetheless art. For the sake of brevity and simplicity, I will focus on the small number of works of fiction which I have attempted to read in the past ten months or so, some of which I have finished and some of which I haven't.

God Emperor of Dune: This one's the sequel to the so-called "Dune trilogy" (also written by Frank Herbert), namely Dune, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. I've either had too much of the Dune universe or I was tired with Frank Herbert's rather difficult style, but the fact is that I haven't managed to get past the third chapter or so. Maybe it's because, in contrast to other stories which stretched out over more than two volumes, the Dune universe doesn't seem to be heading anywhere in particular. I had no problem reading Asimov's full Robots and Foundation series for example, and these went way longer than six books. Well, maybe I'll re-start sometime later.

The Hobbit: It's not a coincidence, I wanted to read it before viewing the movie. I later realized that reading The Hobbit wasn't enough to do a canon-check on the movie so I had to consult other Tolkien fans to see whether the movie is true to the books. The Hobbit is definitely a children's book, and a lovely one if I may say so; I'm now waiting for the right time to get to LOTR and Silmarillion, which I heard are even more interesting and full of stuff which is bound to turn one into a fanatic. Hopefully I'll even assimilate some self-changing ideas from them.

David Copperfield: If there's one thing Charles Dickens is known for, that's long and extremely boring stories of unhappy children living in the early industrial England. To be honest, I really enjoyed Dickens' depiction of those times, but what I enjoyed at least as much was the superb quality of writing and the beautiful English language, which I rarely manage to find in nowadays' writings unfortunately.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Now, I might find myself in the position of the stupid guy here. I watched the movie some years ago and I found it extremely boring. I know it's innovative and stuff, but I can't say that I liked it, and let me tell you, I watched Russian movies which looked more static and I enjoyed those. Anyway, I only managed to get past the first chapter with the book, hell if I know why. Could it be because I read it in Romanian? No idea, but I don't see myself attempting to read it again anytime soon.

Crime and Punishment: This is yet another example of a book I haven't managed to read and I have no idea why. I'm quite a fan of Dostoyevsky: I read The Brothers Karamazov and it blew me away. I read The Possessed and The Idiot and very much enjoyed them and found some of the ideas there inspiring while I disagreed with others. Well, I couldn't follow Raskolnikov's tale. I must be growing impatient or something.

The Trial: This one I finished, albeit with great difficulty. The plot kept me hooked, but the lack of continuity ruined it for me. Plus, I didn't manage to get where the whole thing was heading, so I finished the book more frustrated than I had begun it. I'll give Kafka one more try sometime, but I'm somehow afraid that might be the last one.

Finally, there are a couple of authors whom I haven't managed to read yet. I feel sorry about this, because they're particularly good writers and/or speakers and I know I have a lot to learn from them.

Cory Doctorow: While I'm reading his blog, his Guardian columns and so on, I haven't managed to read any of his novels and I don't recall perusing any of his short stories. That's too bad, because he's one of the most no-nonsense public figures living on the American continent, or in the UK for that matter. He is also one of the few artists who manage to see how much crap industrialized music, movies and books have brought to the market, including the whole slew of anti-sharing lobbies pushed by the industries. In other words, a ray of hope in an ocean of idiocy.

Richard Feynman: I feel ashamed that I haven't read any of his books by now. Although he's not a fiction writer, he's quite possibly one of the most inspirational people of our times, and by inspirational I don't mean "inspirational". Besides, I love mathematics and I still have a thing for physics, so he's on the top of my list.

There are others, but I feel that this list is more than enough for now.