Friday, 15 August 2008

Not reading books

Not reading books is a talent I need to cultivate. Especially with non-fiction, I have a tendency to pick up a book that looks as if it might be interesting, and then keep picking it up and reading a bit more, even though I've realized it's not actually that interesting and I could use my time more constructively (or enjoyably) doing something else. I am doing this with "Hating America" at the moment: I guess that, like Winnie-the-Pooh with a jar of honey, I am making quite sure that it is the same all the way to the bottom, and faintly hoping that the last section (on the most modern period) might have a bit more interest. I may find myself doing the same with "Emergence": books about things like complexity and game theory always have that patina of boringness, with the use of small line drawings to illustrate concepts which are either incomprehensible anyway or blindingly obvious. It's partly to do with the nature of the detail: if you're interested in emergence in the evolution of the biosphere, a disquisition on checkers-playing computers is simply an irritation.

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