Read Old Books

C.S. Lewis:

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones… People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.

This quote amused me because it certainly feels like we are making the same mistakes. I suspect our lack of reading about the past (new or old books) leads to Dunning-Kreuger style hubris where we commit the same mistakes.

Movie Before Book? Or Book Before Movie?

She asked what I was reading. So I told her Dust of Dreams and showed her the book. She said I am smart. This launches into a weird conversation culminating in the question. She asked, “Is it weird I watch the movie before reading the book?” A little over a year ago a friend asked me the same question.

My response was I have done the same thing. I pointed out I watched the first three Harry Potter movies without reading the books. But, then I really was confused about the story of the third one enough, I ended up getting the books and reading them before catching up on the movies. But that is not really a good example.

So what do you do? Movie first? Book first? Both ways depending on mood?

My thoughts…

    • Some movies made no sense to me, so I went back to read the book, and watched the movie again. The 2nd time around, the movie made much more sense. So often I try to read the book first, so I can enjoy the movie without feeling lost.
    • Some stories seem not that interesting. Why invest 10-20 hours reading a book when I can just watch a 2-3 hour movie?
    • Books allow me to give my own visual identity to characters, places, and things.
    • Watching the movie gives a director’s visual identity to characters, places, and things.
    • For me, movie first or middle relies on the director’s visual identity instead of my own. I guess it depends on whether I like the director’s take over my own?

Anyway, I also showed her Goodreads as she was interested in what I thought about a book. (I have not read it. But maybe it can hook her up with friends who have?)

Oh, and it is rather intelligent to call others smart. It feels nice.

Resolution Progress 2012: Second Quarter

Today is the 183rd day or midpoint of the year, so where am I with those goals?

  1. Reading goals should be at 50%:
    1. Complete unfinished novel series. 13 of 27 done. That is 48%. So I am a little behind.
    2. American History and Decision Making. 4 of 10 done. That is 40%. So I am a little behind.
    3. Science. 6 of 12 done. So I am right on track. (I also added 4 more books.)
    4. Read 50 books. I have read 25 of 50. That is 25%. So I am right on track. The discrepancy from above are some off list books.
  2. Publish an average of four blog posts a week. This post makes 94 of 208. That is 45%. So I am a little behind.

How to Fit Reading Into Your Schedule

My reading list Some people identify me as a reader. Fifty books a year sounds way beyond them. Even ten books a year can seem unattainable.

Lifehacker’s How to Fit Reading Into Your Schedule and Actually Finish the Books You Want to Read is an okay start. Its suggestions:

    1. Schedule a Daily Reading Time
    2. Organize or Join a Book Club with Deadline
    3. Set Up a Special Reading Area with No Distractions
    4. Know When to GIve Up On Books You Hate and Find Books You Love

My daily reading times are at meals and before going to bed. A friend organized a monthly book club. My home is my castle. I have a post, Cull and Surrender, on giving up on bad books.

My additional suggestions:

    1. Always have a book. I have a book everywhere I am likely to have free time such as on my bed, in my living room, and in my car. Probably most helpful is having the Kindle app on my phone. My phone is a device I am likely to have everywhere I go, so I no longer have an excuse about not having a book with me.
    2. Find your space. I can read easier in a moderately busy restaurant or with the TV in the background than I can in a totally quiet room. Identify whatever the environment that works for you and find ways to spend time there.
    3. Set specific goals. More is pretty nebulous and not inspiring. One book this month is specific, in a short time period, and probably doable.
    4. Small chunks are better than a whole book in a sitting. People who study reading retention say smaller sessions work better than sitting through a long session. Best practices for teaching is to break lessons up into small chunks. I usually set an expectation for myself in any particular setting for how much I want to accomplish. So, if I am eating lunch alone, then I will take a book and decide I want to finish 20 pages in that half hour. I might decide I want to stay for an hour and finish a chapter or two.
    5. Make reading a priority. Athletes, musicians, and any expert gets good by spending thousands of hours training. Even when they have small amounts of time, they use it doing something to progress. Reading more works the same way. Any free time, even a few minutes, can help make progress.
    6. Track goals. Knowing that I am behind in fulfilling a goal helps me find more time anywhere I can. For a yearly goal, I check my progress quarterly. Because I start the blog post about it a month ahead, I see how far behind I am and double the amount I read to get ahead. I use Goodreads for tracking, but I also post to this site under Reading.
    7. Talk about the books. Books are a valuable ice breaker. As people associated me with reading lots of books, they develop expectations that I finish them about once a week. I have found myself devoting a few extra hours to finish a book just so I can have a new one started before I see them.
    8. The habit is what is important. Every kind of book has benefits. Fiction improves empathy. Non-fiction improves understanding of the world.
    9. Leverage curated lists to reduce decision fatigue. My best lead on books is seeing a friend rate it highly on Goodreads. I also find them through crowdsourced best lists or various web sites who recommend them. Goodreads has a list tool where users vote on books.

Resolution Progress 2012: First Quarter

Today is the end of the third month, so where am I with those goals?

  1. Reading goals:
    1. Complete unfinished novel series. 7 of 24 done. That is 29%. I should be at 25%. So I am a little ahead.
    2. American History and Decision Making. 2 of 9 done. That is 22%. So a behind 25%. (A quarter of a book would put me back on target.)
    3. Science. 2 of 8 done. That is 25%. So I am right on track.
    4. Read 50 books. I have read 13 of 50. That is 26%. So I am a little ahead.
  2. Publish an average of four blog posts a week. This post makes 57 of 208. That is 28%. So I am a little ahead.

Both 1b books and one of the 1c books were read in the past couple weeks so I could not appear too behind.

I was asked about a month ago how I am able to spend so much time reading. Well, it helps to be single, have no children, and hold one job.

Reading

Some good resources to follow my reading:

Previous Years Resolution Notes
2005 List None
Partial 2006 List None
2008 Resolution List 25 books
2009 Resolution and Bonus Read 10,000 pages of science, economics, health, history, or policy books.
2010 Reading List Read 12,000 pages.
2011 Reading List Complete unfinished novel series. Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 50. Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books.
2012 Reading List (G) Complete unfinished novel series. American History and Decision Making. Science. 2012 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books.
2013 Reading List (G) Read 52 books. 2013 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books.
2014 Reading List Read 52 books. 30 of which physical books I already own. 2014 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books.
2015 Reading List Read 52 books. 50% books by female authors. 2015 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books.

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2011 Resolution List

For 2011 I had three reading goals:

Complete unfinished novel series.

    1. DONE – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) – Rowling, J.K.
    2. DONE – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) – Rowling, J.K.
    3. DONE – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) – Rowling, J.K.
    4. DONE – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) – Rowling, J.K.
    5. DONE – Chainfire (Sword of Truth, #9) – Terry Goodkind
    6. DONE – Phantom (Sword of Truth, #10) – Terry Goodkind
    7. DONE – Confessor (Sword of Truth, #11) – Terry Goodkind
    8. DONE – Children of the Mind (Ender’s Saga, #4) – Orson Scott Card
    9. DONE – A War of Gifts (Ender’s Saga, #5) – Orson Scott Card
    10. DONE – Ender in Exile (Ender’s Saga, #6) – Orson Scott Card
    11. DONE – Shadow of the Hegemon (Shadow Series, #2) – Orson Scott Card
    12. DONE – Shadow Puppets (Shadow Series, #3) – Orson Scott Card
    13. DONE – Shadow of the Giant (Shadow Series, #4) – Orson Scott Card
    14. DONE – The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori, #4) – Hearn, Lian
    15. DONE – Heaven’s Net is Wide (Tales of the Otori, #5 Prequel) – Hearn, Lian
    16. DONE – Prelude to Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #1) – Asimov, Isaac
    17. DONE – Forward the Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #2) – Asimov, Isaac
    18. DONE – Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2) – Asimov, Isaac
    19. DONE – Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)  – Asimov, Isaac
    20. DONE – Foundation’s Edge (Foundation, #4) – Asimov, Isaac
    21. DONE – Foundation and Earth (Foundation, #5) – Asimov, Isaac
    22. DONE – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #2) – Douglas Adams
    23. DONE – Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #3) – Douglas Adams
    24. DONE – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #4) – Douglas Adams
    25. DONE – Mostly Harmless (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #5) – Douglas Adams

Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100.

    1. DONE – Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
    2. DONE – Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
    3. DONE – Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
    4. DONE – Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
    5. DONE – Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
    6. DONE – Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
    7. DONE – The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
    8. DONE – The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
    9. DONE – Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
    10. DONE – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
    11. DONE – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
    12. GAVE UP – War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
    13. DONE – Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge: Read 52 books (Raised from 50 to 52 on Oct 21) Read 56.


Not Your Oprah’s Book Club (FacebookGoodreads) selections:
(Facebook page for Athens book club)

    1. DONE January- True Grit – Charles Portis
    2. DONE February – As She Climbed Across the Table – Jonathan Lethem
    3. DONE March – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume
    4. DONE March – Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – Judy Blume
    5. DONE April – No One Belongs Here More Than You – Miranda July
    6. DONE May – Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story – Isabel Gillies
    7. July also in BBC list above Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
    8. DONE August – And Then There Were None – Christie, Agatha
    9. DONE September – The Floatplane Notebooks – Clyde Edgerton
    10. DONE November – The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly

Offlist:

    1. A Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
    2. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
    3. Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
    4. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education – Anya Kamenetz
    5. Being Geek – Michael Lopp
    6. The Next Fifty Years – Brockman, John
    7. The Road – McCarthy, Cormac
    8. Native Son – Richard Wright
    9. Gardens of the Moon – Steven Erikson
    10. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

2011 Resolutions

My resolutions for 2010 involved a lot of reading, improving my cooking repertoire, improving my photography repertoire, and having fun in the present. In goal accounting for 2010, 2 were successful and 2 not. Except for the reading goal, the other three were well outside my comfort zone.  I forgot my statement for the resolutions in 2009.

Useful resolutions to me are things I realistically can and will accomplish applying moderate effort. Making too hard of a challenge will result in giving up too quickly. Making too easy of a challenge will result in doing something I would do anyway.

The successful resolutions only required moderate effort. The failures required me to move outside my comfort zone. So for 2011, I ought to come up with some resolutions more encouraging my strengths than discouraging for likely failures.

  1. Complete unfinished novel series. In 2007 I started several novel series, but the 2008 and 2009 resolutions conspired to make these books less than ideal. I made it to book 4 of Harry Potter, book 4 of the Wheel of Time, book 7 of the Sword of Truth. It is time I finished off these series. Especially to move on to start others.
    • Harry Potter books 4-7 (4)
    • Wheel of Time books 4-13 (#14 due early 2012) Number four was unbearable. Giving up this series.
    • Sword of Truth books 9-11 (3)
    • Ender books 4, 6-11 (7)
    • Total: 24 14
  2. Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100 (from 2003). This the real list, not the Internet Meme one which has been passed around for years and multiply modified in the process. The list is:
    1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
    3. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
    4. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
    5. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
    6. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
    7. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
    8. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
    9. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
    10. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
    11. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
    12. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
    13. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
    14. Total: 13
  3. No more complaining about Blackboard, Inc. Too many of my blog posts, Twitter, and Facebook updates are about Blackboard. Most of that is negative. Going forward it needs to be positive or constructive. There are lots I dislike about the company and products but to little productive effect.
  4. Attend more social events when invited. All too often I listen to the butterflies in my stomach and stay home. In 2010 I did better than normal at attending parties, potlucks, etc. Seems like I went to about 50% of them when I did not have a conflict.
  5. Go away more. Almost of all of my out-of-town trips in 2010 were all back to visit family. I need to get out more and do something fun. So much stuff to do when I am sitting at home on my recliner.

There are some other intentions like praying and learning the Baha’i Writings, being available for helping Mom, getting healthier, try dating, etc. Instead of making a resolution, I’ll just try to keep them in mind.

Followup

Goal accounting

Here is the progress made on my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions.

  • Read 12,000 pages. At last count, I was on track to succeed with this one.
  • Learn to cook 20 new dishes. FAILED. Made only 10.
  • Participate in Project 365. FAILED. I made it to February before I gave up on it.
  • Have fun now not later. SUCCESS. Went to more events people invited me to attend than the previous four or five years combined.

What is interesting is the more others talked about my goals, the stronger I pushed on them. So a good goal is one others hold interest in me completing?

Cooking and reading were somewhat incompatible. Cooking is a home activity. I do not read very well at home as computers, television, and any number of things distract me. Failing it was a calculated decision so that I would meet a more important goal.

2010 Resolution Reading List

I recently completed my first resolution for the year 2009: Read 12,000 pages. pp

Check the Reading page for the master list.

Titles in bold are the ones I recommend. (They also are probably the ones I quote the most.)

  1. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in SpaceCarl Sagan – 368 pp (368 total)
  2. Deal with Your Debt: The Right Way to Manage Your Bills and Pay Off What You Owe Liz Pulliam Weston – 210 est pp (57324+8 total)
  3. Some Answered Questions – Abdu’l-Bahá – 314 pp (892 total)
  4. Promised Day is Come – Shoghí Effendí Rabbání – 208 pp (1,100 total)
  5. The Last Days of Socrates – PlatoHugh Tredennick (Translator), Harold Tarrant (Contributor) – 289 pp (1,389 total)
  6. The Trial of Socrates – Isidor F. Stone – 273 pp (1,662 total)
  7. The HistoriesHerodotus – 720 pp (2,382 total)
  8. Libraries in the Ancient World – Lionel Casson – 173 pp (2,555 total)
  9. Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common OriginsSteve Olson – 278 pp (2,833 total)
  10. Why Smart People Do Dumb Things – Mortimer FeinbergJohn Tarrant – 265 pp (3,098 total)
  11. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Howard PyleScott McKowen (Illustrator) – 328 pp (3,426 total)
  12. The Seven Mysteries of Life Guy Murchie – est 661 pp (4,087 total)
  13. Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above AverageJoseph Hallinan – 304 pp (4,391 total)
  14. NextCrichton, Michael – 431 pp (4,822 total)
  15. The Ball is Round: A Global History of SoccerGoldblatt, David – 992 pp (5,814 total)
  16. A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1)L’Engle, Madeleine – 224 pp (6,038 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  17. Ender’s GameCard, Orson Scott – 324 pp (6,362 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  18. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the WorldAhamed, Liaquat – 576 pp (est 6,938 total)
  19. Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our LivesSpecter, Michael – 304 pp (est 7,242 total)
  20. Tribes: We Need You to Lead UsGodin, Seth – 160 pp (est 7,402 total)
  21. Foundation (Foundation, #1)Asimov, Isaac – 256 pp (est 7,658 total)
  22. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do DifferentlyBuckingham, Marcus – 255 pp (est 7,913 total)
  23. Snow CrashStephenson, Neal – 470 pp (est 8,383 total)
  24. Ender’s Shadow (Shadow Series, #1)Card, Orson Scott – 469 pp (est 8,852 total)
  25. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our BrainsCarr, Nicholas G. – 256 pp (9,108 total)
  26. The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the NationWesten, Drew – 384 pp (9,492 total)
  27. Happiness: Lessons from a New ScienceLayard, Richard – 320 pp (9,812 total)
  28. Speaker for the Dead (Ender’s Saga, #2)Card, Orson Scott – 382 pp (10,194 total)
  29. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other StoriesStevenson, Robert Louis – 304 pp (10,498 total)for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  30. Hyperion (Hyperion, #1)Simmons, Dan – 482 pp (10,980 0total)
  31. Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’sPage, Tim – 208 pp (11,188 total)
  32. Xenocide (Ender’s Saga, #3)Card, Orson Scott – 520 read of 592 pp (11,780 total)
  33. Something BorrowedEmily Giffin – 322 pp (12,102 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  34. Treasure IslandStevenson, Robert Louis – 352 pp (12,454 total)
  35. The Sunday Philosophy Club (Sunday Philosophy Club, #1)Alexander McCall Smith – 250 pp (12,704 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  36. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values – Pirsig, Robert M. – 560 pp (est 13,264 total)