Thursday, January 11, 2007

when it rains, it pours

I'm speaking of books, not the frozen precipitation we're supposed to be getting here in P-Town. That hasn't been forthcoming. But books. Books are raining on me like crazy. And because reading books for pleasure is *ALL* I want to be doing right now (probably because barstudy is preventing me from doing that or anything else besides working and walking around like a zombie) I'll take this brief break to *write* about all the books I wish I could be reading.

I'll start with the one book I actually am reading (the benefit of my cushy job: I can read when it's slow). The book is called The Master and Margarita, by Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov. I read about Bulgakov a couple of weeks ago when someone destroyed most of a museum that was dedicated to him in Russia. And by "museum" I mean, a flat in an apartment building that was dedicated to his memory and artifacts. He was a controversial writer whose good stuff couldn't be published until after his death because of the Stalinist era in which he lived. The Master and Margarita is a really fun book to read -- a satire that is considered his masterpiece, very 'magical realism' -- Satan comes to earth and wreaks havoc in Moscow while the bureaucracy tries to sort it all out. There's a talking cat who walks on his hind legs and pours himself glasses of brandy. Women become witches and fly naked through the air. Etc, etc. I am almost through with it and it's great.

Meanwhile, just as I was lamenting that this great book was almost over, I got a notice from the library that no less than THREE books I've had on hold are now waiting for me, all at the same time! Two are books I've had on hold so long, I've forgotten about them, but they all look pretty interesting.

One is called Radical Humanism, collected essays by Jean Amery. Amery was an Austrian Jew who was raised Roman Catholic by his mother and who eventually fled (after liberation from Aushwitz) to France where he lived and wrote dark, philosophical stuff in the school of Sartre. He's so legit, not only did he write a philosophical book contemplating the value of suicide, but he actually, eventually KILLED HIMSELF. So, you know, he walks his talk. Or, I mean, he *did* walk his talk. Now he's just dead and he, presumeably, neither walks nor talks anymore. But who knows.

The other book waiting for me is Social Intelligence, the New Science of Human Relationships, by Daniel Goleman. This one looks pretty interesting. It uses new information about how our bodies and brains work to show that we are wired to be social and that our social interactions with people are much more complex and impactful than we might realize. I can't explain what seems so cool about it, it just seems cool. Trust me.

Finally, the last book for me to pick up from the ol' library is called War of the World, Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, by Niall Ferguson. By focusing mostly on WWII and the Holocaust, Ferguson looks at war in the twentieth century and tries to explain why it was globally the bloodiest century yet. According to reviews, it's never entirely clear what he considers to be "the West" and how he thinks it is "declining" -- but it seems like an interesting history lesson nonetheless and I wish I had time to read it. Not to mention, it got a great review in the New York Times and that's why I put it on hold in the first place.

Unfortunately, I will probably not have time to read this 800 page tome. But hopefully I can cram in some of the other, easier books while lounging around at work or right before bed. Otherwise, it's all study study study and that, my friends, is making me feel crazy. And it's only been two weeks. I've got, like, six more weeks to go! Augh.


Anonymous Shelley said...

My personal philosophy about bar study, for whatever it's worth (I did pass on my first try), is that you shouldn't do it for more than 8-10 hours a day, and that you should take frequent breaks. Go out for lunch and take a book. I did so much gardening while I was studying for the bar that I didn't have anything left to do this past year. And still I studied 8-10 hours a day.

Read the books, just in moderation. Don't hate the process, just pace yourself, and you'll be fine.

8:34 PM  
Blogger stumptown dreamer said...

8-10 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!
christ g/f, should we put our plans for this evening on hiatus??!

8-10 hours, i am in shock.

but then different brains do different things... and then again maybe Shelley's comment was tongue in cheek, with a wink??


7:55 AM  
Anonymous Shelley said...

Sorry, not tongue in cheek; but figure that that amount of study leaves you vastly overprepared, which is the way I like to enter an exam.

Barbri: 4 hours a day, homestudy: 4 hours a day. And I took weekends off.

And I treated bar study like my job for two months, because I didn't ever want to have to do it again. I knew people who studied more than I who failed, and I also knew people who didn't study much who take it with a grain of salt.

10:29 PM  

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