When I was younger I was an avid reader of books. In recent years, however, I've rarely found time to read anything longer than a magazine article. I recently realized that it's been years since I read an entire book.* From time to time someone will recommend a book to me, and I'll nod, smile, and say, "Sounds fascinating. I'll add it to my reading list," knowing full well that if I were actually keeping such a list and did in fact add a book every time I said this, the list would have hundreds of titles on it. Occasionally I will start reading a book, but events conspire to impede my progress, and before long I will have forgotten what was contained on the few pages I managed to read, such that if I wanted to pick up the book again I would have to start from the beginning. Which I never end up doing. Net effect: no books get read by me.
This state of affairs is unacceptable. It is time for things to change. What I need is a little self-discipline, a few rules, a system. So I've made an actual reading list. My inaugural list is made up of books I've already started reading. (Being the ADD sort, I typically find myself unable to read just one book at a time.) My self-imposed rule is that I don't get to start reading any new books until I've finished reading all the books on the current list cover to cover. Then and only then I get to construct a new list and begin the process anew.
Here, then, is the current list:
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
Francis Bacon, Of Empire
David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann
I'll let you know of my progress.
* Not entirely true. On the last leg of a voyage earlier this year, I picked up Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People in an airport bookstore and read it on the flight home.