A new year, a new goal.
It may surprise the reader to know that I was a Hardcore Gamer Fiend. Longs hours spent ignoring study, abandoning society, and living For The Win. That was my life. I still play videogames on occasion, but a lot less often. During this period I racked up many hours of time online, but the titles I played we usually the same ones over and over again. I still bought a variety of games, but only paid attention to a few. Currently my collection has stretched to over 1000. For your information, that’s too many. Sure, most of them were ridiculously cheap, hence the purchase (‘why not’ mentality). But it’s all wasted, all for nought. If I could pass them off legitimately, give them to a more eager owner, I would. It’s a lost opportunity for me, unless I make millions from my first novel and can live off the royalties for life.
The same has almost happened with my book collection—my Kindle collection to be precise. Again, the digital products are cheap and super easy to buy. Physical books are, of course, another hoarding opportunity. But I’ve decided that I need to stop myself. 2013 will be my year of reading, learning, and vocabulary-building. You can see the full list here. And yes, this includes my currently-on-schedule classics list.
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
This is the second book of de Botton’s that I have read, and it’s an all-encompassing one. It provides a lot of ideas for better living, including the Socratic method and a how to deal with difficulty. The style is very natural and easy to understand, and there is a great fluidity between each chapter. That said, it can come across as, perhaps, a little simplified, and relies heavily on quotations from other philosophers. Speaking of which:
“It consoles me in my retreat; it relieves me of the weight of distressing idleness and, at any time, can rid me of boring company. It blunts the stabs of pain whenever pain is not too overpowering and extreme. To distract me from morose thoughts, I simply need to have recourse to books.” — Michel Montaigne
This was my next book from The List. Firstly, from a reading perspective it’s a bit of a struggle. Not in wording or difficulty, but the stop-and-start nature of the collection. That said this is a venerable collection of stories, and not all are exactly suitable for children. There’s quite a bit of death and destruction, which are of course the best ways to learn, even if it means that it’s too late. Some of the morals crop up several times in different guises, but overall there are a good variety of lessons to learn. It really strikes you at how poignant it all is, and how simply an important life style choice can be framed. And while they may be called ‘Aesop’s’ fables, I was surprised to learn that many were created before and after his lifetime. I’ll leave you with a favourite:
A Shepherd, watching his Ass feeding in a meadow, was alarmed all of a sudden by the cries of the enemy. He appealed to the Ass to fly with him, lest they should both be captured, but the animal lazily replied, “Why should I, pray? Do you think it likely the conqueror will place on me two sets of panniers?”
“No,” rejoined the Shepherd.
“Then,” said the Ass, “as long as I carry the panniers, what matters it to me whom I serve?”
Choke Collar & Erase Me (Positron Books two and three) by Margaret Atwood
A serial published on Byliner, the Positron books are yet another dystopian world from the mind of Margaret Atwood, this time set inside a giant prison, where ‘prisoners’ swap between confinement and citizenship. Think of it like a weird commune with a massive potential for exploitation—which is of course what happens, though only truly in the latest episode, Erase Me. Outside the very cool scenario and social implications, we are witness to a love story/break-up, one with enough twists to keep you hooked and begging for more. Atwood has managed to make the serialised format work extremely well for her purposes, and she has built a story from the form, as opposed to shoe horning a plot into a structure. The characters do feel a little too ugly at times, a little too mean, but in Erase Me a gentler, more empathetic view is shown and it pays dividends. I can’t wait to see what is next.
So, readers, do you have a reading goal for 2013?