This entry rambles a bit.
For me there’s always a weird transition period between the externally imposed regularity of the semester and the relative freedom of the periods between semesters. It takes me a bit of time to gear up for getting things done on my own time clock, rather than according to the rhythms of teaching and meetings.
I’ve become conscious of this in part because of the “reading” section of my blog, located on the right-hand side of the main index page. During the semester I could update this section every week because I was reading right along with my students in all three classes: a new Shakespeare play, a new novel, a new collection of essays. Each week we were all just tripping right along, and I could feel oh-so-smart by displaying to the blog-reading world (or the half-dozen or so of you who stop by, anyway) just how efficient and well-read I was.
However, as of this posting, the “reading” section is populated by Bill Readings’ The University in Ruins – a book I’m supposed to have been reading for weeks now to discuss with friends but which, for some reason, keeps escaping my attention – and two comic book titles that I buy every month. Now, Powers and Love and Rockets are great reads, but when they are the only things on the list that I’m actually currently reading, it’s time to get a little concerned, don’t you think?
But, to be honest, I’m reading a lot more than this. We get the New Yorker and Wired, and I look over the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Kansas City Star online. I just started Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, but decided that a novel that begins with the description of how an assistant professor screws up his chances for tenure just wasn’t what I need right now.
And what about the immediate future? Soon enough, as I know you probably know, since I keep writing about it, I’ll be reading manuscript letters and diaries of eighteenth-century Methodists.
Later in the summer, I would like to read two books by Slavoj Zizek, whose recent work has taken a turn towards examining Christianity: The Fragile Absolute, or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? and On Belief. Full disclosure: I’m not a Christian, but I do study Christianity as part of my work. And I find Zizek to be fascinating, if frustrating.
Before fall semester begins, I would also like to read the eight or so novels I plan to assign in my eighteenth-century novel course.
Capturing all of this reading, partial reading, would-be reading and reading-to-be-done in a simple list on the side of my blog is pretty much impossible, however.
I’ve just started The Corrections too, and it is excellent.