Friday, January 5, 2018

Reading what I read

I read all five books and enjoyed them.  I felt as though each one was expanding my mind.  Every time, I found a striking phrase or a memorable or surprising statement, I highlighted it in my Kindle.  That device collects the highlights in a file and will send it to my email upon command. But, later, when I open that file and look at the highlights, I am sometimes puzzled about the meaning of what I highlighted.  

If I like a book, I figure it helps the author and the publisher and everyone like me to advertise it a bit.  So, I often send the highlight to Twitter electronically.  The form for sending includes a space for a short comment by the sender.  That comment seems to puzzle me, too.  About half the time, I don't know what the highlight and my comment are about.  I did read all of the books.  

The question (s?) of what remains, what I learned and what I remember, from reading a book interests me.  About four or five months after reading these books, I feel that I know them and can talk meaningfully about them but it is surprising to see comments I selected and notes about the selection and feel as though I had never heard of them.  Okay, this is where you point out that I am over 70 years old and that maybe, well, maybe my memory is not so keen anymore.  I stoutly maintain that my memory is just as dull now as it was 50 years ago.  When I read a history book as a college sophomore, I kept just as little of it in my head as I do today.  

When people try to get serious about books and learning in school, usually about someone else's learning not their own, especially if they are American, they may suggest a test.  Let's give the victim a series of incomplete lines from the book he is supposed to have read and see how many of the lines he can complete.  Of course, we will take the literal approach and only award points if the completion is a copy of the original words.  No fair making a better completion, a completion with wider and more valuable perspective.  No completion points for a better completion than the original and none for a sharp and insightful criticism of the wording or the idea.

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