Finished And Unfinished In December


“The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction” By Michel Foucault. The first two chapters are exhilarating, but for the rest I just can’t understand. Maybe philosophy is just not my thing. I have to re-read it one day when I have the energy. I miss my days as a teenager and twenty something when I could complete books that I dislike with enthusiasm. Now long passing my days of enjoyment of self torture, I can’t go through a book that’s beyond my comprehension. In some part of the book, I almost feel that the author is deliberately making it incomprehensible. Or he is speaking to an academic crowds who do philosophy just for each other, not for the common men.

“Modern Classic Verse: Volume 3, The Young Lions” By various poets. I love this book, not only because of the long passages of T. S. Eliot, but also for Edna St. Vincent Millay, who I have never heard of before. How ignorant of me. She is wonderful. How come she is not generally known? I mean she writes better than several other poets I read before whom I don’t want to name here–probably because of her life style being too unconventional and her view being too uncommon. Not really uncommon, but rather people prefer not to say it. Also people feel virtuous to self censure and feel righteous to censure others. Poor Edna. I feel that W. H. Auden and Edna St. Vincent Millay are the most underrated writers.

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I don’t think I would like his stories several years ago, but now I do. Why is that? I don’t know. I still have one story unfinished, which is titled something like “The Third Time that Finished My Father Off” or something similar. It must be the emotional undertone, which is as strong as those stories from Hemingway, but without any death involved.

“All about Eve: A Screenplay” by Joseph L Mankiewicz. Why I want to read this script? I don’t know. Probably I wanted to look for a quote. I can’t remember anymore. Although this is such a famous screenplay at the time and won many awards, I would say it hasn’t surpassed the screenplay of those good TV dramas, like “Shrill”, “The Affair”, “Billions”, “Californication”–all with sharp tongues that rival “All About Eve”.

“Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life” by C.S. Lewis. This is my favorite book from C.S. Lewis, better than the “The Screwtape Letters”. I tried to finish his books of essays on language and religion, also his fantasy novels, but I couldn’t. I guess if I push myself, I can, but what’s the point of pushing myself? I am not trying to please anybody or prove my ability at self torture.

“Kierkegaard in 90 Minutes” by Paul Strathern. I try to help somebody to brainstorm an essay on philosophy. The problem is I don’t know much about philosophy and this 90-minute book doesn’t help much. It barely scratched the surface.

“And Yet …” by Christopher Hitchens. I read this book long time ago, but failed to record it. I guess I have to record it somewhere, even if in a wrong time slot. I can’t remember anything about this book, except that I really like it, just like his other books, “Why Orwell Matters” and “Arguably”. I don’t like the author but I like his books. The author seems to be a person who’s always out there, seeking to fight with somebody. The strange thing is when I watch the video with him debating other people, I feel that he’s too aggressive, but when he puts down his thoughts in words, I don’t feel that he’s aggressive. Why this incongruity? I love him in his books, but can’t stand him in real life.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” By Maya Angelou. I thought this is a book of her poems, but it is not. I didn’t open it for a while. Thus I didn’t know my mistake until I eventually opened it. I read her book “Even The Stars Look Lonesome” and really love it. It’s written in a much later date than this book about caged bird, which I had wished to be more poetic than other autobiographies. Still, it is an interesting read and in many places prompt my own reflection. Such an intelligent girl like Maya Angelou has to work as a servant and being named “Mary” by a seemingly idiotic member of her employer’s family. The book got better in latter chapters from the middle school graduation ceremony, the toothache, and her brother coming home upset seeing a dead man abused. It is so terrible that the teachers think so low of their students. I feel so sorry for Maya, such an intelligent girl, being looked down upon by these imbecile teachers. No wonder she’s not interested in speaking. What’s the point?

“How To Write Great Blog Posts That Engage Readers” by Steve Scott. Finished this book, but still don’t know how to write great blogs, let alone engage readers.

Un-started and unfinished books as following:

It’s ridiculous to make an ambitious book plan since I’ll never be able to do it. Just admit that I read slowly and write slowly. The word “prolific” is just unlikely to be applied to me as the word “lazy”. The word “aimless” is probably suitable for me.

“An Introduction To Existentialism” by Robert G. Olson. If I say this is the best philosophical book I’ve ever read, I may do injustice to all the previous philosophy I read but not understand fully. Yes, this is the first philosophy book that I fully comprehend, almost every word of it, except when there are references to certain part of Bible, which I am not familiar with, like “Job before God”. I don’t know what that means. Yes, all the previous philosophy books were either abandoned half way or listened through without much comprehension. Yet the effort must have paid off right now.

“In The South Sea” by Robert Louis Stevenson. I can’t remember how I came across this obscure book about Southeast Asia; I can’t understand why I am attracted to it. However before I finished the first fifty pages, I thought I should read about Stevenson’s life in Southeast Asia first from Wikipedia just to get a general idea.

“The Forgotten Wars” by Christopher Bayly & Tim Harper. This book is too thick and too riddled with names that it is discouraging even to think that I want to finish it. I put it here just to be reminded of its existence. It’s almost a historical thesis fit for academic discussion rather than public consumption. I am not complaining since I have to finish it if I want to know more about Southeast Asia. What’s the point of complaining anyway? Each page there are five new names coming up which will inevitably disappear in the next page. It makes the book very hard to follow. Still, I think if I finish 10 pages every day, I will go through it in two months. This is not the first time that a supposed enjoyable journey turns out to be gritty and grinding.

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