Read before you think. Somebody said this, but I don’t remember who. I don’t think it is achievable. For many of us, we think and make decisions long before we read something about it since we have little time to read every day. Sometimes it is a delay of ten years. Finally we read something and realize that the decision we made ten years ago was a bad one and an uninformed one. We can do nothing about it. So we are forced to accept the fact that we are not as clever as we always fancy ourselves to be. After that, every once in a while the memory comes back to remind us of our past stupidity, and says “this is incurable and you are hopeless” before we grab the cleaver from the kitchen drawer–since it happens when we are heating up a sticky rice dessert–and drive the memory out of our mind.
Reading before you think is just a dream; reading bringing regret about past events is reality. The more you read, the more you feel uncertain about yourself and raise doubt about things you did before. This is me. I think another reason I read, especially when reading poems, is that English doesn’t retain very well in my mind. After all it’s my non-native tongue and it doesn’t stick. It’s like an unplugged bathtub with water draining at one end. The only way to deal with it is continuously feeding it with new incoming water to keep the bathtub from going empty.
So here I am busy with my “bathtub” project in February. I am not so diligent that I finished all of them. “The collected Stories” is half finished; same with “Chicago Poems”
“Virginia Woolf in 90 Minutes” by Paul Strathern. I wrote something here, and then I realized that I don’t really like to write book reviews. I don’t really enjoy doing that. So I have to stop what I have always been doing–to talk about the book–and switch to what I feel about the book, which is a more enjoyable way for me. The only reason I read this book is because it is free on Audible since I’m a member and also I don’t like Virginia Woolf’s writing very much. However I want to know more about her so that I understand her merit and why people like her. The author has talked different aspects of her life, and the best little line is that she has independent means, which gives her the freedom to experiment with her “stream of consciousness” style. Actually I think it gives her the freedom to disregard what her readers want to read. Even if her books don’t sell well, she won’t worry.
“Chicago Poems” by Carl Sandburg. Click here for previous description of it. I didn’t finish this book and it will be “a few pages once in a while” book for me. The poem “Ready To Kill” about pulling down statues really reflects what we experienced in 2020. History, just like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholders. Now those beholders who have long been deprived of a voice want to speak up.
“Black Rednecks and White Liberals” by Thomas Sowell. I wrote about this book when I was reading it. Click here. And afterwards, I went online and bought another book by this author “Marxism: Philosophy and Economics”. Since I know the author is on the conservative side, I can just imagine the content. Still, he’s such an interesting writer that I can’t stop wondering what he has to say on this topic. I will say the author is a Malcolm Gladwell on social economic studies, and also of a different decade.
“Collected Stories” by Saul Bellow. I completed twenty hours of it, but I can’t proceed. Bellow is much better in his novels than his short stories. I will say he almost lost his sharpness in his short stories.
“20th Century European Philosophy” by Ed Casey. I read this book because it is free with audible membership. I should stop reading these secondary books about philosophical summaries, and go straight into the real philosophical writing of philosophers, but those books are very boring. Camus are OK to read, but Sartre is unbearably dull. No wonder he won the Nobel Prize for literature since he is definitely dull enough to make the cut. However if one reads his “Existentialism is a Humanism” with dialogs with audience, it is logical and colloquial. Why can’t he write in the same way? Just take notes of what he says to himself and wow, a new book emerges, better than any other books he did before.
“Second April” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I am trying to find some quotes from her, one of my favorite poets.
“Cymbeline” by William Shakespeare. This is Shakespeare’s lessor work and I can’t even find a worthy quote. I will keep on looking.
“The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War” by David Halberstam and “Ravelstein” by Saul Bellow. I don’t know when these two books can be finished. I’ve had these two books for quite a while, but haven’t got the time to read them until now. It’s the cold winter of this year reminded me of “The Coldest Winter”, which I bought after reading “In the Ruins of Empire”. The descriptions in the “Ruins” are quite sardonic of the aftermaths of the Japanese Empire. The reluctance to fight the Korean War among the soldiers was huge to the point that many positions could not be filled without a hefty promotion; the tensions between different factions among Koreans ran high and bloody after decades of brutal Japanese occupation. My interest was piqued and I thought I had to have this book and bought it. Then I forgot about it and went to do something else. Now I am determined to finish it even if it’s more than 700 pages long and I read slowly. The book “Ravelstein” is said to be interesting too, even though Saul Bellow is out of fashion right now. It is true he is not as popular as when he was alive. Still I like his phrases and his narrative power, but his theme and content cannot be fashionable in the era of Me Too movement and the re-evaluation of historical figures.