Reading Lists Archives

May 26, 2004

Bloom and King

I took a study break this afternoon and read the writing chapters of Stephen King's On Writing - I did not even look at the biographical chapters.

Much of what he said, I already knew but it is still good to hear again: write at the same time every day, write a lot and don't worry about quality until after you get it down, read a lot in order to write well. Other things were new to me, including the very sensible formula that 2nd draft = 1st draft -10%. I, like King, add words when revising. I need to remember to take word counts. Of course, I am also struggling with structure and evidence far more than a fiction writer has to, and this means I have gone through many more drafts than the 2 drafts plus proofreading that he recommends.

My current audiobook is Harold Bloom's How to Read Well. So far I am just into the first chapter; I disagree with almost everything he says; and I have learned a lot from it already. This is the sort of work that makes me discover things by inspiring me to shout "wrong, wrong, all WRONG" at the speaker, and then articulate what exactly is so very wrong.

What is bugging me is that Bloom assumes that one reads alone and that one reads in order to learn oneself better. It is a somewhat solipsic view of the practice, and he takes potshots along the way at the crude historicists who "assume that everything we do is predetermined by our surroundings."

What I have discovered from these few minutes of Bloom is that I do not read to discover myself, or at least not in the functionalist enlightenment way that he recommends. Instead I read so that I may talk about what it is that I have read. Knowledge, all knowledge, is social. The fun of a book is not simply in turning the pages and examining the words but in chewing on them and doing things with them - and the biggest thing we do with those words is to hash them out with other people. You can do this explicitly in a college classroom or a reading group or even a literary blog, or you can do it implicitly the next time that something you say or think or do is influenced by something that you read. But, for me, at the end of the day a book is social, not solitary. Or, more precisely, reading is a solitary pleasure with social consequences.

I will continue listening to Bloom - he crafts some fine sentences and he makes me mad enough to think. Expect to hear more rants about him over the next few weeks.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 21, 2004

Kipling - Captains Courageous

Today's morning rant is over in the reading blog - a discussion of Rudyard Kipling's Captain's Courageous.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 01, 2004

Reading Lists - 2004

This is where I will be keeping my 2004 reading lists.

Details in the extended entry.

Expect frequent edits to this list.

Most recent entries at the top of each category.

Note, list started March 17, 2004 so the first few months are done from memory.

Last Edit, March 23, 2004

Currently Reading:
Trenchard and Gordon, Cato's Letters
Jan Todd, Physical Culture and the Body Beautiful: Purposive Exercise in the Lives of American Women 1800-1870
Hanson, the warfare book
Dick Francis, 10 LB. Penalty
Movie: The Two Towers
Audiobook: Tolkein Return of the King

Recently Finished Fiction:
John Ringo, Here be Dragons 3/22/04
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front 3/21/04
Movie: Whale Rider 3/21/04
Dick Francis, Knockdown 3/20/04
Dick Francis, Second Wind 3/19/04
Dick Francis, Wild Horses
Modestit (spelling), Darkness
Modestit the one before Darkness
Modestit, the book about the soldier
Audiobook: Tolkein, The Two Towers

Recently Finished non-Fiction:
Stephen Marini, Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England 3/22/04
Andrew Greeley, The Catholic Experience excerpts 3/21/04
Nancy Schultz, Fire and Roses: The Burning of the Charlestown Convent, 1834.3/20/04
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Could Not Start:
Movie: Diner
Thriller about icebergs

Did not Finish:
Mario Puzo, The Last Don - fascinating characters, terrible prose.
Author? Prizzi's Honor

Posted by Red Ted at 12:00 PM | TrackBack