Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Night OLists Happy Hour: Winter Reads

I'm not someone who reads all that much.  Lately, I've been trying to figure out why this is, and make an effort to read more.

In addition to introspecting, I have also consolidated my library into one section of my bedroom, where I have set up both a desk and a comfy reading chair, in an effort to make the whole experience as pleasurable as possible (although the comfy chair can be counter-productive, especially with the close proximity of my bed. Get me too comfy and I want to stretch out.)

I think one reason I have a hard time making the time to read, is that it doesn't really seem like productive activity.  Why sit and read when you could be doing something?!  I realize that this is a complete fallacy, and there is tremendous practical value to be gained from reading.  Part of my new reading effort involves reminding myself of this practical value, and then carefully choosing my titles accordingly.

Last night I made a new discovery about my reading habits, as I was trying, yet again, to get through Tara Smith's Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality.  I was surprised to find a few dogeared pages in the first couple chapters, and realized that I had gotten farther than I had remembered, in my first attempt with this book a few years ago.  Last night was actually the second night in a row with Viable Values and the comfy chair.  The previous night had ended with me stretching out on the bed after being overcome with The Sleepy.  When I saw things headed that same direction last night, I realized I needed to take a different approach.  I stepped metaphorically back and examined what was going on.

The first 3 chapters of this book are very technical (for me, at least) descriptions and refutations of the failure of traditional philosophical underpinnings of the subject of morality.  While I'm sure this material is extremely important from the point of view of scholarship and such, and needs to be there for the book to be taken seriously in academic circles, I'm really mainly interested in the later parts: Chapter 4: Morality's Roots in Life, Chapter 5: Morality's Reward: Flourishing, and Chapter 6: Principled Egoism: The Only Way to Live.

I realized that the only way I was going to get to those chapters was to give myself permission to skip the boring parts.  This idea is somewhat revolutionary for me, and I have a feeling it will end up being very helpful in the long run.  After all, should I discover I've missed some vital concept, I can always go back and read it later.  The words will still be there on the page, that's the beauty of books!

After making this realization, I decided I had put in enough effort and it was ok to stretch out on the bed.

I'll try again with Chapter 4 tonight, and I'll sit at my desk rather than in the comfy chair.

My quest for developing reading as a habit makes me curious of the reading habits of others.  Thus, tonight's topic.

This Week's Menu:
Appetizer:  What are your reading habits?  Meaning: how often do you pick up a book and read, and for how long at a time?  How many different titles do you have going at once?  Do you use an ebook reader or Kindle?  Where do you learn about new books that interest you?
Drink Special:  What titles are you reading now, what have you recently finished, and what is on your reading list?  What stands out that you would recommend?  What do you not recommend?

Happy Hour Mechanics:

Happy Hour takes place in the OList Chatroom, every Tuesday night, from 9-10 p.m. Eastern and 6-7 p.m. Pacific.

Point your browser to www.olist.com/chat.  You will be asked for a login and password - check your OList email for these.

You will see the chat window that looks like this:

On the right is the list of users participating; on the left is the chat itself.  At the bottom, you have the option of logging in through your facebook account, or as a guest.  If you log in through facebook, it will pull your profile picture into the list next to your name, which is a nice feature.

For general information on the OLists Socials, check out the OList Events page here.

Your hosts for the OList Socials are @DianaHsieh@laforgetm (aka William Green) and myself, @Earl3d

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