Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Managing Reading Overload

Penny Walsh checks the damages in the local library following a powerful earthquake in Gisborne, New Zealand. The 6.8 quake flattened buildings and caused widespread damage.
Gisborne Herald - AFP/Getty Images

I used to love reading fiction- from classics like Les Miserables and The Three Musketeers; to Grimm's Brothers Folk Tales, Arthurian romances and Icelandic Sagas; to childhood guilty pleasures like The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series.

I haven't picked up a work of fiction I can recall since literature classes in college. Since 9/11, the books I have been reading for the last 6 years are political and nonfiction (history and such). I can read fast if I have to; but, since becoming a blogger and trying to be able to debate facts, I read much slower these days, trying to commit to memory dates and stats and facts to back up future arguments. It's exhausting.

Since blogging, I've found my reading time has been diverted primarily from books to internet-reading- primarily multi-newspapers from around the world and poliblogs, from straight news to op-ed articles. I've become a news junkie.

Meanwhile, book reading has suffered. I find that I've acquired quite a library of books that grows faster than I can read them. Sometimes I will peruse them for information, pertinent to my needs at the moment, without having first read from cover to cover. I must be in the middle of about a dozen different books.

The latest to add to my list of "things-to-read" is a Christmas present from a liberal friend: Valerie Plame's new book (It's the thought that counts, right?). Yes, it came with a gift receipt; but I probably won't exchange it. I've read so many anti-Plame/Wilson articles (and pertinent information from books, like Kenneth Timmerman's "Shadow Warriors"- I'm only 200 pages into it) that this book might do me some good (yes, I have my read correction marker prepared to make notes in the margin). The weirdest thing about this book, is the amount of "black out" lines it has. That comes across as a bit pretentious to me; but then, I am a cynical wingnut partisan hack, right?

Anyway, if you have a comment about this book, be nice. The friend who gave it to me might be reading, as she is very much aware of this blog, and reads it from time to time. I even send her links when I make a post I think she should check out.

I actually wouldn't mind reading some anti-Bush and liberal books, if I didn't have to pay for them. If my plate wasn't full, I'd walk down the block and check them out from the library. It'd be interesting to cross-reference Paul Bremer's account, George Tenet's memoirs, Richard Clarke's book, etc. to those books that offer a counter perspective.

I read somewhere, that until everyone's memoirs come out, we may never have a complete picture of how everything happened the way it did, with the decision to go to war in Iraq. Not all the bit-players have all the information; not even the President. I learned this a month ago, when I was researching the criticism regarding the "decision" to "disband" the Iraq army and police force. Reading differently people's accounts of what they remembered happening, was interesting; like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Sifting through faulty memory, half-truths and outright lies, partisan perspectives, and making sense of known facts and time-lines. Also, keeping in mind that I am interpreting past events with 20/20 hindsight.

So, what are the rest of you reading? Get anything exciting for Christmas? Are any of you drowning in a mound of books as well?

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8 Comments:

Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Ah, a Burroughs fan! My grandfather had all his books, and I read them all when I was in high school. I liked his Mars series and Pellucidar series better than Tarzan, but I liked Tarzan too.

Now, though, I'm with you. Too many books, too little time, because I'm in front of the computer so much. Like right now!

I bought Julie Garwood's latest paperback (Shadow Dance) last weekend and haven't opened it yet. My mom and I read those women-in-danger-with-some-romance-thrown-in books when we were on the road, so I may save this one for when we head out again.

Right now I'm reading How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, by Dr. Henry Cloud, since I'm finally (or soon to be) ready to get a life. And A Brief History of Everything, by Bill Bryson. And my Bible.

Still waiting (out of a sea of books almost as big as the one pictured) are William Manchester's 2-part biography of Winston Churchill, David McCullough's 1776, and too many more to count.

Glad you asked. I could talk about books 'til the cows come home.

Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Wordsmith: Take the Plame book back! You're already read the press releases from Moveon.org, Media Matters and Code Pink. Poster Girl Valerie won't be adding anything new to that mix.

I'll make you a deal: If you take it back and buy "Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage" which I also received at Christmas, we can do a joint review.

AND, I'll send you my copy of your fave Hugh Hewitt's book "Blog" as a sweetner to the deal.

Or perhaps you'd rather just send your friend a copy of Reagan's autobiography for her next birthday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

My stacks of books to read is ridiculous. I have too many and have forced myself to stop buying for a while. Until I read one or two from the pile. Right now I'm reading World War IV by Norman Podhortz for non-fiction and starting the Mitford series for fiction. I always have two, maybe three going at once. Otherwise I am overwhelmed by my wonky policy/political books. And I do love a good biography.

I read like a fiend so there is always something I'm trying to get to! I do think I will pass on the Plame book, though. No offense to your friend.

Thursday, December 27, 2007 3:41:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

skyepuppy,

Glad to know I'm not the only one familiar with the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

mike,

I'm not sure if I can bring myself to return the book. And if I did, I'd feel a certain obligation to exchange it for some other Bush-bashing book.

karen,

I thought about the Podhoretz book. He's often attacked by the lefties as a neocon warmonger, isn't he?

Thursday, December 27, 2007 7:03:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I got a novel featuring the detective Adrian Monk, the phobic ex policeman, and a book entitled, "Conservative comebacks to Liberal lies" by Gregg Jackson.

Also, a 5 disc set of the 1960's television series (season three)"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" I love it! I am curently watching the 3rd disc, having already viewed the first two.

You probably understand what I mean when I say, "My life is an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel without the adventure".

Thursday, December 27, 2007 7:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Does your friend know what a total fraud Valerie Plame is?

Does she know that Valerie LIED to the Senate about sending her husband on that trip?

Does she know her husband LIED about what he wrote in his op-ed about Iraq trying to buy uranium in Africa?

Your friend can go read the State Dept. Intelligence debrief that was in evidence at Scooter Libby's trial where Wilson reported:

""...In June 1999 Barka, A Nigerien/Algerian Businessman, approached him [Prime Minister Mayaki] and insisted that that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq.... Mayaki said that he interpreted the phrase "expanding commercial relations" to mean that Iraq wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales."

I don't understand why you would feel compelled to buy or read a Bush bashing book just because someone gave it to you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

mike,

The thing is, you can glean something useful out of just about anything. I told you I'd have my red marker out.

It helps to know what the other side talks about and what they are reading from. Sometimes I feel blindsided by their arguments, if all I've done is listened to the conservative echo chamber.

Knowledge is power. If I were a liberal, I'd get that Greg Jackson book mark mentioned, just so I could do my homework on trying to counter conservative talking points.

Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

I don't know how you could be blindsided by anything the lefties are saying.

With their near monopoly at CBSNBCABCPBSCNNNEWYORKTIMESWASHINGTONPOSTNEWSWEEK etc, not to mention their insistence on invading conservative blogs at every opportunity to leave their troll droppings.

I'd be happy to loan you one of my moonbats, but they told me you don't feed them as often as I do.

Saturday, December 29, 2007 1:50:00 PM  

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