Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Confessions of an unsystematic reader


I hate to be recommended books - to be strongly recommended I read a  book often means I never get to read it.

Or, to be more accurate, I want to read what I want to read, as and when - and in the order - that I feel moved to read.


There was the famous Tarka the Otter incident when I was compelled by a school teacher to read this volume instead of my customary Biggles - I had to force myself through one page at a time, on a schedule.

When I audited courses during my MA (by thesis) in English, it was a kind of torture to follow the prescribed reading; whenever I tried to join a book club it seemed almost an intolerable imposition to have to read something that somebody else had chosen.

And it was a traumatic experience when, aged 18, I agreed to read a whole clutch of books recommended by my best friend.


Thus, I always have a stirring of sympathy about characters such as Samuel Johnson and Ralph Waldo Emerson who had similarly unsystematic habits.

I suspect that this disposition is evidence of high trait Psychoticism

and probably, therefore, indicative of the most fundamental human characteristic - and it is a marker of creativity on the one hand; and impulsiveness, wilfulness, egotism, unemployability and general recalcitrant troublesomeness on the other.