Noticed this meme (sic) circulating – “Name 5 books you’re embarassed to admit you’ve not actually read”. Will Wilkinson’s response is interesting and very reminiscent of my own predicament. In response to one particular book, not important here which, he says ” [introducing] this helpful category: Books I’ve read, but not by myself. I’ve read so much secondary literature about [it], that it seems like I’ve read it. I consider it among the books I’ve read, but just not by myself. But I suppose I should actually work my way through it. ”
I probably have a dozen books in that category – some I realy should read, but some I’m happy I’ve simply got the (second hand) gist. I also have a list of “Books I’ve only read part of, but still feel they are important enough to complete ….. sometime”. I may create those lists, in the spirit of the “meme”.
Actually, one of the reasons my habit is to post book “reviews” in stages – once at the start (exposing my objectives and prejudices), once after introductory chapters (exposing my prognosis), again after about 20% or so, and again on completion (if I ever get there) is so I can (a) capture the value of what I did read, and (b) diagnose afterwards why I did or didn’t complete it, without the post-rationalising filter of hindsight.
[The use of “meme” here is kind of specific to this “chain letter” idea – a suggestion circulated with the explicit suggestion that you pass it on, rather than an idea or implied assertion, that simply gets passed on in the course of other communication – the “less is more” in me says if you have to say “this is a meme” and invent a communication specifically to communicate it, it probably isn’t really one, but that’s a side issue here. I am after all, passing it on – the game theorists meme – a double double bluff.]