Studies of Life

Learning by doing.

Pre-Course Reading Progress

04 October 2012 by Jim

The Mission

As previously described, I need to really shine a lot more this year in university that I did last year, so, among other things, and since I’m a French literature student, one of the things to get out of the way as fast as possible is: the (obligatory) reading

Naturally, you can’t read everything that people advise you to read, because if you did, you’d do nothing in your life but gaze frantically at books, and, let’s face it, there is more to life than reading, even if it is pretty essential to all of us, right?

So, in order to advance a lot faster this year I decided to do my reading in fast-forward mode and to actually transcribe the main ideas of the books in my own words to strengthen my knowledge of them and build up a handy database of summaries with comments on the style that the book is written in, to advance faster later on and recognise broader structures more easily.

My Progress

The following books are among those I’ll definitely have to read, in part or completely, and there will certainly be a few additions over the months.

  • [———#] L’immoraliste, André Gide [4 hours] DONE
  • [———#] Le tambour, Günter Grass [25 hours – yes, a whole f****** day of my life] DONE
    Note: I’d probably have been able to read 4 thinner books by the end of the two weeks period, however I think it’s best to get this thick bastard out of the way. It’s hilarious in some ways, and in others it’s not… but I’ll have to do it regardless so let’s get it over with. My projected finish at current speed is after 30 hours of reading on December 30. I’ll have to get that wayyyy down. I’m using a great little app to estimate and track reading progress. Usually, reading is all about pleasure, for sure, but in some cases, like this one, it’s just not feasible for me.
    #Update October 16: I’m well on my way, got the estimated date down to November 20 already, but I’m sure I’ll finish before the end of October, even if I can forget being done by the start of the courses, which is in two days. I’ve got about 18 hours of reading left. Speeding up now.
    #Update October 28: My courses have begun about 10 days ago and I did not yet work on anything because I’ve spent my entire time working through these books. Apparently, the first assignment I’m supposed to turn in requires me to read three books of 650 pages, of which Grass’s is only the first, so I have to speed up the reading part and forget about the rest until that is done.
  • [–#——-] Homme invisible, pour qui chantes-tu?, Ralph Ellison [20 hours] 21%
  • [#———] Voyage au bout de la nuit, Louis-Ferdinand Céline [waiting to get it]

I’ll keep updating this post with my progress. I’ve got about two weeks days left until the start of the courses, and we’ll see how far I get until then. I hope I’ll finish 4 1 and a half books overall, with summaries and such, since I chose to do the 650-word beast of Günter Grass second instead of starting with the other, far smaller books.


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