The Reading (Half)Year
I read. Really, I do. In fact, I read alot. But most of the reading I do, I’ve figured out, is for one of two particular purposes. First, I read to review. The International Feminist Journal of Politics gets about 100 manuscripts a year, and I read about 30 books between the Oxford Series on Gender and IR and the New York University Press series on Gender and Political Violence. I do about 50 reviews per year for other journals and book publishers. I read stuff that my Ph.D. students are working on to make sure they are appropriately situated in the literature. Reading for reviews is largely great – you get to see the cool stuff in the field early, and help think about its development. But its not methodical, or long-sighted. The other reading I do is to write. When there’s something I’d like to write about, I read the relevant literature, looking to learn what I can learn about what others have thought about it from similar and/or relevant perspectives. This serves as a foundation for what I’d like to write. I don’t think, in those terms, I’m that dissimilar from the pattern many of us fall into.
But there was a time, not that long ago, that I really read. I read a good book, then the good stuff in its bibliography, and then the good stuff in those bibliographies. I once read everything in the almost 2000 footnotes in my most recent book, much of it several times. I find myself shortcutting that lately to manage all of the other work – yet find every time I sit down to read something for some reason other than those two purposes inspiring, and completely worthwhile. So, I have a plan(/resolution): to read rather than write for a prolonged period of time.
The plan is below the fold.
Starting July 1, 2013 until January 1, 2014, I won’t write. July 1 is to clear the current writing backlog and keep all promises that I have to people/publishers currently. Every minute I would have used to write, I will read – stuff neither for review or for the purposes of writing, but relevant to the things I think about, research-wise. I will make a list like the list of things to write, set quotas, and make a plan to get the reading done. Other than blog posts, I won’t write about it until the end, or write with it. Suggestions for building the list welcome!