4 January 2014

Exit Reading List

The 'Reading List' page on this site currently lists the books in a to-read pile by my bed and a completed stack next to it. The list is always incomplete because I read materials faster than I update the record. This post explains why the 'Reading List' page in its current form is a pointless task, then outlines changes to improve my project.

1. The Problem

I rarely update my reading list because it consumes time with little benefit for my research or organisation: I already compile a fuller bibliography for referencing my other research. I do not like to share the whole thing because it says too much about works in progress that require secrecy until publication that proves they are my ideas. Moreover, and more importantly, a simple reading list does not offer anything to readers except a series of seemingly unrelated titles.

2. My Solution

Intermittent, commentated updates would be more productive for me and more useful for you. Therefore I plan to write updates about what I read with short commentaries. The idea is to avoid the demands set by fuller book reviews. Instead the challenge will be to offer a few paragraphs about my impressions. The posts written to satisfy this new challenge will be tagged 'Reading List'. I plan to write the first one this week.

I will continue to write longer, more scholarly reviews, which will be tagged 'Book Review'. If appropriate, I may begin a series of TV and film reviews because I often find the conceits in their narratives elucidate legal problems when posed as analogies or extended metaphors, which may help law students, too. I will write another maintenance post if this ever comes to fruition.

3. Where's the Old Page Now?

Below, I enclose for posterity the reading list as it stands today (4 Jan 2014), before I change its static page. I say 'change' and not 'delete' because I will reintroduce a static 'Reading List' page to show readers how my new posts on that subject relate to each other--a contents-esque page.

3.1 The Deleted Material

This page contains my reading list.

You may contend there are far too many books for me to concentrate on. You are right, but I am not restrained by a desire to finish books in one sitting. Instead, I arrange research areas and start to read. The books I begin with in a new area are usually considered seminal—according to preliminary research or recommendation. As I read I attend to footnotes (when paragraphs pique my interest) or specific references identified as good reading by authors. I gather what referenced books I can afford—my little luxuries, I suppose. Next I work my way slowly through them in no particular order. Unless near a deadline that requires me to read a whole book, I amble through.

After reading about half a book, I’ll probably just finish it. But books’ ends are not always important when researching. To reach those ends is to find authors’ conclusions, but a start-to-end-to-next-book-start-to-end-etc process will limit research findings. When theories and authors are read next to each other, once-shadowed links are illuminated: different authors of different topics and disciplines show a surprising consilience with each other. These links manifest as similarities in written metaphors or empirical patterns.

To find these links and jot them on paper is to let an essay’s content spring up. This is why my reading list is so long; I prefer ideas to whiz past and collide than to whiz always forward in an orderly line, never to meet. Have a look at my About Me page to see where some ideas from the list below might intersect.

The List

Onto the list! Clicking a title will take you to its Amazon page, where you can purchase the book through their secure website, browse other editions, and usually read selected parts.

Finished Texts

This is where references live when I finish reading the books they belong to.

Further Reading

This list is of books I consider worth reading. Books I read before starting this blog--that may not be discussed without an explicit home like this--are listed here in a perhaps-easier-to-read format than is possible in a broader selection of blog posts.

Created: 20 July 2013. Version 1.3: 5 October 2013.

4. Conclusion

The following summarises my task in bullet points.
  1. My old 'Reading List' page will be shut down for a while.
  2. Rather than a static list of books finished and ready-to-read, I aim to include the same material but with additional commentary about the content and my impressions in individual blog posts. These will be tagged 'Reading List'.
  3. I will continue to write critical book reviews to expose books in more detail, in a more traditional fashion. These will be tagged 'Book Review'.
  4. This should provide tiers to arrange shorter and longer, and more fun and more serious pieces.
  5. When I have written enough posts, I will reintroduce a 'Reading List' static page in the link bar under the website header. This will function as a navigable contents page to help direct readers to my commentary on different subjects--for example fiction, psychology, or philosophy.
  6. The aim is to produce a useful, organised list to help readers choose or avoid new books, similar to the short reviews available below products on Amazon.co.uk.

Created: 4 January 2014. Version 1.0.

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