It’s official. I own more books now than I can realistically finish in the next two years. Books are the only purchases I make impulsively. Amazon one-click has been a total curse. Hopefully I can speed up or devote more time to turning pages.
What causes this hoarding are footnotes and citations. When a book or a podcast mentions something worth reading, I’m usually keen to follow up on it. I’ve been really enjoying a pair of podcasts by this guy named Darry Cooper. Martyr Made is sort of a long-form religious history production, in the style of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. The first series is a deep dive into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It’s totally worth listening to.
Cooper’s second podcast, The Decline of the West, is more of a current event show. I’ve been really enjoying it because it leans pretty heavily on Nietzsche and a few historians from the early part of the 20th century, like Oswald Spengler, who had a cynical view of the future. This is only in its third episode, but has already given me about 15 books to add to my list. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to them.
I’d love to do a show like this one day, maybe about weird occult history or the crusades, but there are at least 200 more books I should read before I even get started. It’s crazy to feel this way. My education is just starting to become developed. There are still huge holes to fill, though. I haven’t read all of Nietzsche or any of Hegel, and there are dozens more like that. I haven’t touched Lacan or any of Freud. As much as I love Simone Weil, I’ve only read Gravity & Grace.
And literature. I’ve been completely neglecting the classics. I haven’t read Lolita. Can you believe that? It’s eternally frustrating. I never go back and reread things. This is truly necessary to claim a deep knowledge of a text, but who has the time? And what about the fun stuff? I wonder if I’ll ever have time for Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I’ve heard it’s great. I would give almost anything to be able to sit and read from morning to night like I did as a kid.
The person who’s career I most envy is Maria Papova. Her site Brain Pickings is a chronicle of her own reading. Her writing distills ideas and wisdom from important authors and puts them into a modern context. I can’t think of a better job than reading all day and writing blog posts about the books devoured.