Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Recreational Reading Summary

As a younger man, recreational reading was a passion of mine. But once I started college I found I did less and less reading outside of the the curriculum. Things got worse once I started my professional life in earnest. Keeping up with IT requires volumes of technical material. The explosion of self published technical content in the form of blogs, white papers, and online documentation has reduced the number of books that I buy but has increased the amount of content that I read. Trying to assimilate all this technical content has led me to a very bad habit of scanning. I no longer enjoy reading because I'm not really reading. I'm scanning for information to solve a particular problem or trying to get to the root of how something is done. The last technical book that I can remember reading without scanning was, Mastering Regular Expressions, 1st Edition, by Jeffrey Friedl. That was years ago. So it was within this context that at the start of 2007 I decided I needed to return to recreational reading.

So far I've only managed to complete three non tech books; (1)Who Moved My Cheese; (2)Rich Dad Poor Dad; and (3)Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Track. The Letters Of Richard P. Feynman. The first two where not on my official reading list. My brother handed them to me after he finished reading them because he wanted to hear what I thought. They aren't the types of books I would select for myself because they fall under the category of "self help". I'm not a fan of "self help" because they always tell the reader things the reader already knows. What's the fun in that? Nevertheless, I read them. They aren't bad books and if you don't already know what they have to teach they are worth checking out. They are small enough (especially, Who Moved My Cheese) that if you don't want to buy them you can read them in one or two sittings at your local library or bookstore.

I finished reading, Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Track. The Letters Of Richard P. Feynman, moments before starting this blog entry. I've been reading it since March but couldn't finish it because of work and all the technical content related to work. I finally finished it because I'm sick. I have a vicious cold that has had me bed ridden since yesterday. During patches of clarity I read. It is the first non fiction work I've read for recreational purposes in at least a decade. It has no traditional narrative. It is a collection of letters sent and received by a man named Richard P. Feynman. Feynman is a renowned Nobel Prize winning physicist who died in 1988. When I first started reading it I was creeped out because I felt like a third party reading this guy's personal mail. But by the end of the 3rd or 4th chapter I had settled into a first person point-of-view and was on occasion, surprised by the letters I wrote and received. This book is not an all around crowd pleaser. If you are the type of person who would be interested in the life of one of the giants in physics, it won't disappoint. Otherwise, your mileage may vary.

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