Climbing Mt. Booklist: The 10-Book Challenge

Let me make this clear from the outset. I like learning things. I like digging into books and doing research. I mark up my books when I read them. I love my job as a university professor.
I admit, though, as a brand new full-time prof, that my reading list (made up of books I *need* to read, books I *want* to read, and books I *really should* read) seems to be growing by the day.
I’m staring at three books that are sitting on my desk right now. All are about how to be a good teacher. I want to read all of them. And I will. I’m starting on one today. After my workout. But not during the Alabama-Ole Miss game.
I need to read four books to prep for my Spring 2011 Feature Writing class. We’ll be reading some top examples from the “new journalism” era, and I need to get these works — and some of their critical reviews — digested. I’m gonna start that, too. Maybe tomorrow.
I need to reread the media history textbook I’ll use for my spring Media History class (all 500+ insanely-big pages of it) and get caught up on the new edition of my favorite historical methods book. Perhaps I’ll start that on Monday.
I just purchased two more books from Barnes & Noble that should be arriving on my doorstep any day now. One is a widely regarded and influential book about the four theories of the press. The other revises those ideas and creates new ones for the contemporary media scene. Perhaps I’ll start digging into those the following week.
Dang it! I forgot about the library books I checked out. And the book one of my faculty colleagues passed along for me to read. And I really should stop downloading free books onto my smart phone.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
It struck me this morning as I was hanging my laundry (No, I DON’T have a dryer. I’m green. And cheap.) that while this vast amount of information that comes my way every day — through my computer, my smart phone, TV, books, radio — has increased exponentially in speed and size, my ability to consume it has not kept pace.
Sure, I have more experience now than I had when I graduated from high school. Right, I can add context to things. Yep, I know how to look for more insight when I need it. Uh huh, I’m much more critical of what I consume (thanks journalism and academia).
But I’m certain that I can’t actually read any faster than I could when I was in high school. It still may take me several days to get through a book, and that’s probably just for pleasure reading. It takes much longer to go through one if I’m trying to analyze it and make notes in the margins.
Perhaps that’s what’s most daunting about climbing Mt. Booklist. Concerning the things I need to be reading right now, I need to absorb them, critique them, consider them, and follow up on key points with more research.
This is going to take a ton of time and effort, and I like that challenge a lot. But I’m stalked by the feeling that, while I’m digging into one of these, four others will take their places at the end of the waiting list.
So, here’s my plan. I’m going to attempt to read 10 of these books by the end of November. I think later bedtimes and earlier wake times will be in order. Perhaps less football viewing (this does not apply to the Crimson Tide). Maybe I need to resurrect a little of my doctoral student strategy of “read what looks important and skim through the other stuff but not too fast because you don’t want to miss something important.”
For anyone who actually wants to keep up with this little endeavor of mine, I’ll provide the name of each book as I finish it and give a little feedback, too.
Wish me luck….

4 thoughts on “Climbing Mt. Booklist: The 10-Book Challenge

  1. Good luck! When I was teaching college students I could never muster up the energy to read much outside of my workload. I usually ended up reading books about vampires and zombie animators in my spare time – doesn't require much brainpower to concentrate.

  2. I am with you on this one, Butler. Well, sort of. I try and try, but I'm like the person a couple of comments ahead of me. The work load just keeps coming and coming. Research? What's that? Do you have a spare grad assistant? Best of luck to you my friend. I KNOW you will do just what you set out to do! That, in turn, encourages me. Pat S.

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