Managing Reading Overload
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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?