Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Further reading tips: Introduction

with one comment

A while back, I wrote a text titled Reading tips for the prospective voter ([1]) (with self-explanatory contents). I will complement [1] with a text series of further tips, usually dealing with one work or author at a time.

For this text series, I will (at least to begin with!) be guided by some principles discussed in [1]:*

*[1] also contains more information of my intents with that text. Note that those intents do not necessarily extend to later reading tips.

[…]it is my intention to give books sufficiently short and sufficiently easy to read that they can be considered conscionable in terms of effort even for weaker readers and thinkers, but simultaneously sufficiently interesting and informative as to bring value even to the stronger.

In addition, I re-iterate that:

I do not ask that the reader/voter agree with these books. (Indeed, while I am, myself, mostly in agreement with my own recommendations,* I do not necessarily agree with them on any given individual point.) The important part is to think and to think hard, to understand the books, and to gain new or more nuanced insights, even should these insights not match what the author and/or I might have intended.

*This held for the recommendations given at the time. While it will likely hold for most future recommendations too, exceptions may well occur. It might even be that I, at some point, recommend some work that I strongly disagree with, if there is enough food for thought, a sufficient know-your-enemy aspect, or similar.

Generally, it does not matter how many books we read, but how much thinking we put in. Reading more is ultimately just a way to get more food-for-thought into the mental digestive system, and those who just spew back out, undigested, what they have read, may well remain as mentally undernourished as the bulimic, who does the same with food, is physically undernourished. Similarly, reading more “intellectual” material brings no improvement unless accompanied by actual thought in the reader. (It is amazing how many get this wrong, even among those nominally highly educated and those having intellectual aspirations.)

Note on background:
Between the publishing of [1] and of the current text, I sought out or accidentally encountered a number of other books that were worthy candidates, which I intended to include in a single second text with reading tips.

However: (a) my large backlog has delayed the writing of this second text; (b) I always seem to have some new book that I would like to include (implying that I might already need a third or even a fourth text to cover them all); and (c) I have by now forgotten so much of the details* of the early books that I might need to at least skim them again in order to write something sensible.

*Note again the importance of thinking: read to understand the ideas and the argumentation around them, to form your own opinion of them, to remember them, to have inspiration for own thought, and to improve your overall understanding of the topic of hand—not to memorize what idea or argument originated where. Once you understand something, it rarely matters when and where you read it. (Unfortunately, giving reading tips is one of the exceptions.)

Correspondingly, I decided to take a different approach by writing an individual text for each individual “worthy” entry (not necessarily book) that I encounter from here on out, as well as trying to, over time, work through the backlog of already encountered books. (And maybe to include some further books from past knowledge, if time and motivation allows it.)


Written by michaeleriksson

October 2, 2022 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] beginning my series of further reading tips a few months ago, I have not managed to add one single entry. (Also see excursion.) Time for a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: