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Whatcha reading right now?

I go through phases. I get pulled in opposite directions: I spend half my time feeling guilty because I’m not reading enough, and the other half of my time feeling guilty because my time would be better spent (for example) practicing guitar instead of wasting it reading. Tough old life.

When I’m in the neutral zone between these apposing guilt-feelings I normally have a few books on my bedside table of different types. Probably a science fiction novel, or something by JG Ballard; something on philosophy; maybe a popular science book on cosmology or quantum physics; a novel by someone I’ve heard about on the radio; perhaps a more academic book on some aspect of music.

One aspect about reading books has always puzzled me is how little I’ve read is actually retained by my feeble brain . This became evident to me when I’ve tried to recall detail of stuff I’ve read in non-fictional books. Granted that I’m not studying these books in a way a student would – ie., in preparation for examinations – but I’m still disappointed by the performance of my powers of retention. It’s best illustrated in my case if I try and describe to another person what I’ve read – to summarise it, if you will. I’ve found that I can’t recall enough detail to articulate anything very much all.

So what would be the point, then, in spending the time reading this stuff if it doesn’t stick? I comfort myself that at least I’m becoming aware of new things and learning new ways of thinking in “difficult” books.

Plus, it’s fun.

Right I’d better go and practice some guitar instead of wasting my time…

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