I Read In Bursts

Author: siggy

I read in bursts, a paragraph here and there. Sometimes I amaze myself and actually read a whole page. To read a book is a miracle, but to read a novel I have to be mesmerized and turn page after page in wonder.

Knowledge is a circle I had to realize. All knowledge is connected. I do not learn by reading a book sequentially. I usually learn in bursts. That caused me some problems in school. The teacher expected you to make it through a book, then another, etc. Anyway, I surround myself with books. A burst here, a burst there. I even occasionally read a book from cover to cover. Most times I open it anywhere and start reading. I am not compelled to read a book from beginning to end. Novels are difficult. One type of book I do read from cover to cover are interesting memoirs.

I read in every position and in every room.  I read in bed–although not long and I am careful what I read:  I don’t want nightmares if I can help it.  I keep books and literary magazines in the bathroom.  In fact, my wife bought and put together a small cabinet she spent hours researching just to keep my reading material neatly in the bathroom near the toilet.  Of course, the reading I do there is in bursts.  Most of the reading I do is in bursts.  It was amazing I actually made it through Keith Richard’s autobiography–all 540 pages of it.  It is really rare for me to read a novel.  My favorite room has a spot right next the comfortable though ragged Lazy Boy chair where I keep my favorite devotional, “My Utmost For His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers.  Most of my favorite books are in that room so I know where to find them when I am looking for a particular passage.  I love to read and I have never had so many books in my house.  I married a “book” person.

There is always another book around the corner.  Sometimes I don’t know where they come from although I always remember who I “borrowed” a book from.  There is no lack of interesting books although you can become a dilettante and only sample a book here or there and only get a narrow picture of what the author wanted to convey.  There are some books, though, that are meant to be read that way.  Open up the book anywhere and start reading.  Novels obviously have to be read from cover to cover although I have no compunction to stop reading it if it does not keep my attention.  I enjoy a good story and am partial to animal’s stories:  authors who describe their special relationships to animals.  My office has my favorite books and special books that are marked up that I would never lend to anyone.  They are like “old friends” to me and I want them at my disposal if I need to refer to them.  I can not see how much an I Pad can possibly replace my library and there is nothing like leafing through a book and then another.  I like touching a book and turning pages and opening it anywhere.  There is always an interesting book around the corner.

It Is A Day To Stay In

Author: siggy

It is a day to stay in.  No doctors appointments.  Nothing I need to buy.  There is plenty of food in the house.  There is no reason to go out.  I am enjoying the flurries and the swarms of birds I can see out my large dining room window.  The first thing I did after dressing was put out more sunflower seed.

I am almost finished with my morning coffee.  The hour, though, is late morning.  I am about to start the coal stove.  Everything is set:  there is wood I collected and coal in buckets.  I just have to play with it.

Last night I was up in the wee hours (1:20AM) reading a book I could not put down (“The Soloist”).  It was made into a movie I wanted to see and could not find.  I happened to be in the library and was looking for the movie to rent but they did not have it.

It never occurred to me until then to read the book.  The prose was scintillating.  I was riveted by the writing and could not put it down last night until I finished it.  Now my wife is also reading “The Soloist”.

Some people get educated despite themselves.  Education is not an end point but a process.  The literal translation of the word education means to lead toward.  It is not a degree and is on going.

And it is true:  some people do get educated despite themselves but most of the time it is a journey.  There is really no point you have arrived which is not to say a piece of parchment is not an accomplishment.  It is.  But don’t stop there.

I could never understand people who get degrees and stop reading.  And an education is not simply books.  It is the process of learning during your life.  It never stops.

Some of the wisest people have no degrees.  It is all about learning.  And learning is not always in books.  We need carpenters and mechanics and plumbers.  In fact, there is a shortage of these people.

Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart.  In Thoreau’s words, ‘Let living be thy sport (from Walden).’

I don’t care how good an iPad is it won’t replace a book or library.  I know the new device can rapidly turn pages in a book but still it is not the same.

There is nothing like having a library and quickly glancing at your shelves, pulling out just the book you want and opening it up to any page.

I like physically handling my books, touching them.  I am not dependent on any batteries.  I am not so quick to run out and get this latest technological gadget from Apple.

The brain can not be replaced by this latest development.  The brain has the ability to review thousands of paragraphs you have read and know what book a passage came from and then find it.

There is nothing like an old book store to browse in.  None of these things can be replaced by the iPad.  By now, you get the idea I am skeptical of the value of this item.

I don’t want to pore over an instruction manual just to figure out how pick up a book and scan it.  Or even turn it on.  It is just too hard.  Call me old fashioned.

I do not know why it is so hard to let go of things.  I am no different.  There is always another book or CD.  I can never have enough.  Let us talk about books only.

We have too many in this house.  The bookcases are bursting from the seams.  There are also boxes of books all over the house.  And it is difficult for us to give away any one.

I want to give some away but a lot are not mine so I can’t make a decision unilaterally to part with those.  I have reasoned with my other stating when you have too many unfortunately the superb books all too easily get lost or buried.  The argument was futile.

Nothing has changed.  I am also part of the problem:  I keep bringing new ones in the house.  I must have given my wife this year an half a dozen books for Christmas gifts.  And my wife also gave me books for gifts.

I am at wits end.  Some book shelves are doubled up.  As many as I have if I can not find a particular book I go a little crazy although I am usually successful in finding the book although I might take me awhile.

A running joke is Bob Dylan’s autobiography.  I keep misplacing that book although I have looked high and low for it.  He is just plain elusive.  I might have to buy another copy.

I read in all positions–standing up lying down even walking.  The bathroom must have almost two dozen books on the shelves there.  I can’t miss any opportunity to read.

Someone is going to have a real job deciding what to do with our book collection.  We can’t take them with us when we go.

I could not understand why it was so difficult to pick a major in college forty years ago.  I went two years and eventually dropped out without picking a major.

Decades later I realized I was a “generalist”:  I wanted to know everything, about everything.  All my life I have read omnivorously.  And anything that I came across and interested me, no matter the subject.  I also read in quick bursts.

What I did not realize for a long time I was laying down the foundation to be a writer.  To be a writer you need a broad base of knowledge to draw upon.  There are few areas if any I am an expert of but I do know a bit here and a bit there.

The world is really divided into generalists and specialists.  And both need each other.  A liberal education still has value.  The world still needs someone to see the big picture.  Otherwise we get lost in the details.

For a long time there were two forms of education I was undergoing:  one, my formal education and the other, the education I was receiving on my own.

All during my schooling I continued to read what I wanted to, whatever came across my path, whatever interested me.  As far back as I can remember I had a library card to the local library and made many trips there.  At home we always had plenty of reading material–magazines and books everywhere.

I did do my school work and received good grades but I had no illusion:  my independent reading was far more important and really my true education.

Yes, it is true some people get educated despite themselves but I always found the time to read whatever came across me and whatever interested me.  I felt most of the time I just went through the motions in most subjects in school.

There were some subjects that interested me particularly in school like Latin and mathematics and biology.  And maybe, I put forth extra effort there.

If the truth be known I was far more interested in participating in gym and in high school playing for the tennis team.  In fact, I was excited that in high school we had gym every day.

I felt these sports instilled an attitude to never give up until the game is over, which was no small lesson to learn which stood me well later in life.

I no longer go to school but I still read widely and for pleasure.  The literal translation of the word “education” comes from the Latin “educare” which means to lead.  Education means “to lead toward”.  It is a process, not an end point, not a degree.  It is an unending journey.  And I am still on it.

I don’t feel compelled to read a book in any particular order.  Of course, that is easier to do with non-fiction.  You certainly can’t do that with a novel and know what is going on.

It is very rarely I read a book sequentially.  For that to happen I have to be riveted by the subject content and writing.  I can count on my one hand how many books I have read that way recently.

Usually I skip around a book and read it in quick bursts.  For someone to feel they have to read a book every time page by page in order is a trap:  after awhile you don’t want to read any more.  It is too much like work.

I do not feel that compunction.  There are really no rules to the way you read.  You make your own.  And you can break them any time.

WELCOME! I hope you will enjoy reading my blurbs.

In addition to the Blogs, I hope to encourage and inform poets and writers at Siggy’s Cafe For Writers & Poets, www.siggyscafe.com.  Here you will find many pages of articles, poems, suggested reading, and more, plus a special section devoted to my love of music.  Siggy

booksoldI have more than enough unread books and that does not include the steady stream of daily newspapers and magazines that come to my household.  Do I feel guilty I can not keep up with my reading, that I never read the complete newspaper from cover to cover?  Certainly not.  I am reminded of King Solomon’s words in the Bible and I am not sure I can quote that verbatim:  he says we can become weary of too much study.  I read what I most want to read.  I scan newspapers and magazines reading what most interests me.  I do not feel compelled to read every word.  That would be a trap and make reading onerous instead of the joy it is.  The words of Solomon written over 2,000 years ago have not changed.  In an era of instant communication one thing has not changed through the ages–the saturation point.  Each person can absorb so much information and then becomes sated.

Life is always a balancing act.  Reading is only one part of my life.  I need time to absorb and reflect on the significance of what I read and for that matter I need time to simply reflect periodically where I am going or have been.  That takes time and often quiet.  Reading is only one thing I do and is punctuated by empty spaces.  I never feel guilty I have not read enough or thoroughly enough.  It is all relative.  One has to live his life.  Ideas are only one thing.  Then one has to put into practice what he/she learns.  That is only possible if reflection takes place.  And that, of course, takes time.