Oh, hi there. Me again. Yes, I know it’s been three months since I last blogged. And yes, I know I used up all my ‘witty’ (I use that word lightly) remarks about deserting you the LAST time I left you for three months, at the end of last year. Essentially, I’m a bit flaky, and not very good at covering it up.
You may have noticed, what with my somewhat hair-tearingly frustrated and admittedly whiny references in nearly all of my recent blog posts, that I’ve been completing an English Degree for the past three years. On Tuesday, I handed in my final pieces – all 23,000 words of them – and have been wandering around euphorically for the past six days trying to work out how to function without a reading list clutched in my fist.
So what did I do? I created a reading list.
You see, for the past three years my bookshelf has been gradually infiltrated with a few hundred new books – some of them presents from my wonderful friends and family, but most of them degree-related acquisitions. Basically, at the start of the semester you feel all optimistic about how much work you’ll get done in each module: you mentally decide the whole ’24 hours in a day’ thing is simply not working for you and you’re just going to have to get an extension of a few hours and make it at least a 30-hour day. This will be no problem because you cleared it with God during all those caffeine-induced prayer-sessions at four in the morning the night before your last essay deadline.
So, the added 42 hours or so a week in mind, you go ahead and buy all the books on your reading list for each and every module. That’s at least twelve primary books per module, at least two critical texts per primary book, and four modules per semester. I would say ‘You do the math’, but a. That’s a silly phrase. I’m not American: it’s MATHS. and b. You would only weep tears for all the rainforests I’ve single-handedly massacred.
And maybe God decided he couldn’t very well alter the very fabric of time to fit around my reading list, or maybe, on that hellish night before my essay deadline, all that weak pleading to myself whilst face-down in the Cambridge Companion to Something-Or-Other, with dribble slowly forming a crust on my chin and my twenty-seventh cup of coffee slowly getting cold, wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped. Either way, I never did get the reading done.
I’ve worked out that I read roughly a fifth of all the books I was supposed to get through. I know Amazon Marketplace was invented for a reason, but the thing is I also did an English degree for a reason, the reason being I LIKE ENGLISH LITERATURE (plus the aforementioned dribble means many titles are not in a fit condition for sale.) And so instead of a bookshelf full of unnecessary books, I have a bookshelf full of books I wish I’d read.
The good thing is, I now have a lot of excess time on my hands precisely BECAUSE I did an English degree (thanks, Avenue Q).
So I made a reading list – not just of the Uni books I never got to read and analyse, but of the books-for-pleasure my family and friends have blessed me with over the past three years as well – and I plan to defeat it over the next year. It takes me back to my childhood – I was such a bookworm (okay, GEEK) that I used to write a list of all the books I’d read in a year so I could look back on all the amazing titles I’d consumed. My sister and I used to be in constant fierce competition to see who could read the most, but we’d end up getting through hundreds of books in an attempt to outdo each other, so it did us good (albeit in a sort of passive aggressive, psychologically-damaging way…)
I look at this reading list as a way of continuing the feeling of enlightenment I experienced through my degree. I may not have been able to extend the hours in a day, but I think I might be able to stretch my degree out a fair bit longer than I was expecting. Only without the £3,000 fees each year. I’ll be spending that on shoes and gin.
Oh, and I’ll try and blog a bit more, too.
Image taken from CarbonNYC‘s photostream.