Not so much reading as grazing
Another week, another goal missed. At some point this backlog thing has to work itself out.
In the meantime, there are more than a few items, published but lacking harder covers, to call to your attention. Given the number of academic papers I’m reading, that could be painful, but I’m sparing you. Instead, I present a collection of pieces I’ve read recently. They captured my interest and gave me a respite from my labors so sharing seems the right thing to do.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy them too.
The joy of reading is lost when we treat books as self-improvement (Quartzy)
Do people really treat reading as a competitive sport? A more worrisome question: do I? Evidently, to answer the first question, some people do, racking up lists of completed books on Goodreads as though it were the NBA All-Star game. I understand the urge to quantify, I’m prone to it myself. For me, though, reading is about anything but numbers, and I read constantly, trying to fill in the gaps before time runs out. That might be a variation on this headline, but I think not. Putting up numbers is easy. Continuing to learn is hard, but rewarding, life’s work.
Shelved: Brian Wilson’s Adult/Child (Longreads)
Just recently I engaged in a long Facebook discussion started by a friend who averred that ‘God Only Knows’ is the greatest pop song ever written. I demurred, arguing (and believing) that the Gershwins, Rodgers, Hart and Arlen offer stronger contenders. I did, though, offer up the idea that it’s impossible to separate GOK the song from GOK the recording. This article has made me rethink my pigeon-holed ideas about Brian Wilson and may even send me to the local library for their copy of Smile. What better compliment can a writer be given than making a reader think (or rethink)?
Life and Death on El Capitan (Outside Online)
Possessed of more stamina than strength, alloyed with a touch of vertigo, I am drawn to the outdoors even as I admit my own limits. I am, after all, the guy who thinks he invented executive camping. Maybe that’s why fine writing about things I’d never consider is so appealing. I couldn’t scale a stairway without a banister, so the attraction of ascending granite cliffs must make me an armchair mountaineer. This tale of two friends, climbing at the height of their abilities and yet encountering their doom is enough to keep you riveted (safely) in your seat for the entire ride.
The Tuition Limit and the Coming Crisis of Higher Education (The New Inquiry)
An eternal student, education matters to me. Honesty, though, requires me to accept certain observable truths. One is that college isn’t for everyone and a close second is that a liberal arts education isn’t either. So how do you reconcile sky high tuition and student loan debt with that reality? Well, if you toil in academe you could become an educational entrepreneur (contemplative studies anyone?) , a real estate magnate (visit our lovely new retirement community) or break out the green eyeshades. This article may not help you make that choice, but it does a nice job of telling the story of how we got in this mess from a new angle with different villains.
It’s a big web. Chances are, there’s something worth reading amid all the dross. Have fun.