Sunday July 15, 2018

On note-taking

Approximately two years ago, I started taking notes on some of the books I read. I was reading Runciman’s history of The Crusades, and kept coming across events of great significance and extraordinary curiosities. I opened a blank document in Google Docs, and began recording passages of the books (there were three volumes). Why I hadn’t done this before, I don’t know. Perhaps I began the note-taking the genre of The Crusades: history. “We must remember history with greater precision than literature or philosophy” I may have thought. Evidently a weak argument.

What I noticed after my experience with The Crusades was that taking notes and setting time aside to write a commentary enabled better organization of ideas, a more precise formation of arguments and a more reflective relationship with the subject of the book.

In practical terms, this means that, when asked how was the book I just finished reading, I could utter a more intelligent answer than “it was a great book, a very, very good read.”

The re-reading project

I have written commentary à la Ta Eis Heauton for most of the books I’ve read since The Crusades.

In other words, more than two decades of education sentimentale have been diluted and very much forgotten.

But… aren’t those early years the period when one makes many of his best friends?

And wouldn’t it be cool to visit old friends and remember together the great times we had? I was thinking that today and I wrote down some titles I’d love to revisit, if time allows me.

Book list (in random order)

  • Never Let Me Go | Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Selfish Gene | Richard Dawkins
  • The God Delusion | Richard Dawkins
  • History of Western Philosophy | Bertrand Russell
  • The Glass Bead Game | Hermann Hesse
  • Steppenwolf | Hermann Hesse
  • Demian | Hermann Hesse
  • Siddhartha | Hermann Hesse
  • Rayuela (‘Hopscotch’ in English) | Julio Cortázar
  • Selected short stories of Julio Cortázar
  • Complete works of Raymond Carver
  • The Savage Detectives | Roberto Bolaño
  • The Trial | Franz Kafka
  • Complete short stories of Jorge Luis Borges
  • Crime and Punishment | Fyodor Dostoyevski
  • Brothers Karamazov | Fyodor Dostoyevski
  • Notes from Underground | Fyodor Dostoyevski
  • Complete poetry of C.P. Cavafy
  • The Iliad | Homer
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich | William Shirer
  • Fooled by Randomness | Nassim N. Taleb
  • Complete short stories of Julio Ramón Ribeyro
  • The Alexandria Quartet | Lawrence Durrell