The Dark Hotel Room

Jun 13 2012

I’m sitting up in a hotel bed at two o’clock in the morning. The room is dark. The hotel’s silent. This would be a good start to a Stephen King novel.

And books are on my mind. I recently posted this photo of my (physical) to-readpile on Google+:

My to-read pile

In contemplating that mountain of wood pulp and ideas, I came to a realization: I should be smarter about my reading.

What would be wisest to read? That question bounced around my head for a few days. I quickly discarded misgivings about the subjectivity of wisdom and absolute knowledge.

I’ve decided to read the classics. I want to read the “foundational texts” of literature, philosophy, biography, history, etc.

There’s no end to such lists, naturally, so I found one list from The Telegraph that includes a reasonable cross-section of established classics, and loaded up my Kindle. I read the Nibelungenlied, and am now a few hours away from finishing T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

The most interesting part of this project so far has been its effect on my judgment of other people. I’m already far too judgmental, and this project hasturbo-charged that tendency when I see how other people use their time.

I see blogs filled–yes, literally filled–with excited posts about comic book movies and pop music. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with comic book movies–I watched and loved Bunraku last weekend, which is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a live-action comic book–but I see a lot of people who fill their spare time withgeek-outs about Batman movies or grunge music.

However, it’s not my job to fix people. They’re not even doing anything wrong. This is my judgmentalism grumbling that other people don’t spending their time as well as I do.

It always comes back to the self.

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