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Sunday, May 19, 2024

I guess I'm reading it wrong


I have been reading Everything is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults and Coverups by Robert Anton Wilson ever since I noticed it was available for $3 for the Kindle (it's still on sale as I write this.)

When I posted about finding the sale, Eric Wagner wrote, "Bob seemed so excited about this book when it came out. He did not want the reader to read it from cover to cover. He wanted it to function like it had hyperlinks, jumping from entry to entry."

I did jump to other entries when I read the entry in the A's about Hiram Abiff, and I expect to  do more  jumping. I also looked ahead to the Beethoven entry.  But I have mostly been reading it from the beginning, enjoying RAW's voice as he writes about various oddities. I don't want to miss anything!

This is not the first time I have read a reference book the "wrong" way. Years ago, I read the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, a one-volume work. (It has been updated quite a few times, although apparently not recently). My then-wife made fun of me for reading it from the start to the end, saying it was weird to do that with a reference book, but it was really interesting. The only bummer was all of the entries where I had to read about a musician dying young because of drugs (or booze). 

UPDATE: I should mention that I am generally interested in the different ways people read books. I commonly read two or three books at the same time. A friend of mine once wrote that she has a low tolerance for suspense, so when she reads a novel she looks at the ending before starting at the beginning. Another friend very rarely re-reads books, something I do all the time. I just finished re-reading Tolkien's The Return of the King, and I've been re-reading Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder books, in order. 


Kickaa23 said...

I always read them the wrong way, if the subject is intriguing. Both of these examples fit the bill.

Van Scott said...

I have what I believe is a unique way of reading the Cantos. I don’t have my copy with me right now but I believe that there are 117 cantos total. I wrote a short program in python that generates a random number in the range 1-117. Whenever I sit down to read them I run the program and read the canto that corresponds to the number generated. Probably not the way that Ezra intended but it works for me.

Oz Fritz said...

I've been rereading books from an early age. I read The Complete Chronicles of Narnia 3 times by the age of 11 or 12. I read The Lord of the Rings once a year for 3 years in a row from age 15 - 17. Some books like Cosmic Trigger I and Stranger in a Strange Land I've lost count how many times I've read. With information rich books, it seems like a new book with every rereading.

A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari is one that the authors say that the chapters, which they call plateaus, doesn't need to be read in linear order but I have done so 3 times. But I've also read a plateau on its own when not going through the whole book. The Logic of Sense by Deleuze is another book that works well both reading in and out of sequence. I've done both. Finnegans Wake seems an obvious one for that too.