I don't post on the weekends - largely because it isn't often I get extended periods of time with Kay, and we had aggressively portioned off the three day bloc as an incredibly low-key kind of anniversary weekend off from outside obligations. We were both in the retail racket when we got married and for the next few years, one of us was working in that milieu so I don't really have to tell you that the weekends were considered somewhat off-limits. We were hoping, eventually, that we wouldn't be and this is the first time in the whole period we've been married that neither of us had to work like a dog over the Memorial weekend. All we really did is clean the house, watch movies, and take walks around the block for three days and it's the most relaxed I'd felt in years, probably.

I'm out of work at the moment. Honestly, it might be that I ought to be looking, but I'm not because if I actually succeeded in getting something in short order, that'd kind of fuck up our living situation and we'd have to scramble to figure out workarounds. I could work a few hours a day pretty easily, probably - I'm thinking 4 is about what I could manage - and still get my other tasks done, but it'd be pretty exhausting. But, what I have been able to do a lot more is catch up on some personal reading since I'm no longer doing extensive research or class reading. I've been recording what stuff I've read since the year began, and I had this kind of far-out hope of maybe reaching a total of 50 books by the time next January rolled around. It seemed pretty foolhardy - there wasn't much of an expectation on my part that I'd hit the mark - so I haven't been worrying about it at all.

Lately, though, my reading list has exploded. Numerically speaking, I've been an unexpected breakaway success. But why? My typical reading for the last two years has either been fiction for grad classes, cyberpunk reading for my thesis, or more typically, lit theory and philosophy. My biggest problems have tended to be that I wasn't sure if I ought to count slim volumes of theory as being books or simply very long essays, and I'd been considering simply making a new category for theory journals and thesis. I'm not really trying to extended my book count artificially, but I'm also not really interested in trying to somehow triangulate a new definition for what counts as a book; it has always seemed pretty obvious to me before.

It was the huge and accidental success of my expanding "Read List" that finally convinced me that there's zero sense in working towards any specific number of books, actually. On Kay's request that I finally read C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia books that were a favorite of his from childhood, I've been working my way through a boxed set, and just finished the fourth - Prince Caspian - this morning. They're clearly children's literature but they have the weight of history saying that they are clearly books - individual volumes - and each one is just one specific book. So I read one and dutifully put it on the list, and my count for books read this month has come up to eight, at a point where I'm not working especially hard to read anything at all - just whatever is nearby.

In a similar way, two good friends are starting a podcast for the Animorphs series where they re-read them all and kind of discuss their thoughts on the matter. I'm participating as an avid reader who was Animorphs-adjacent when I was a kid and just never read them to give the opinion of a fresh, critical reader with no nostalgia factor working on me, and I just know that's going to dramatically continue to inflate the volume of books read. Meanwhile, Manning Marable's Malcolm X or Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness both also only count as one book. In years where I'm only reading one type of book or I'm reading a hefty mix of books with the occasional light reading filling in gaps, it might not throw off the numbers too much, but this year is clearly a different story. I think it's pretty funny - I'm counting, but I'm not putting any weight on it any more - and I can still use the list to give me a good idea of what it is that I've watched and read over the course of the year, which is a fun exercise. It's actually really freeing, in a way. Trying to build up a list of one kind of media and hit a target number actually had a chilling element on watching movies or pursuing really complex texts even though I didn't give it a lot of personal weight. Quotas work strange effects on the mind, frankly.


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