22 September, 2015

On Borrowing

I have spent just about a year (since 11/9/2014 if you trust my Goodreads) pulling myself through John Lewis Gaddis' tome on the life of George Frost Kennan (George F. Kennan: An American Life). I can genuinely state that this biography is one of the most engaging biographies I have ever read. The question then remains: why has it taken me about a year to finish it? I could say it is both dense and lengthy (and it is), but that would be misleading. The truth is, it's a borrowed book.

Now "borrowed" book is a bit of a misnomer in my case because I always try as hard as possible to avoid the borrowing. I love books, don't get me wrong, but part of my love of books is loving the books that I most want to love at the moment when I want to love them. Borrowing is not conducive to this sentiment.

Books are often somewhat foisted upon me for numerous reasons. In the case of the book above, my lovely grandfather thought it would be an important read as I was beginning a Master's degree in Political Science. That's quite valid. It has also been a good way for us to bond, and I've enjoyed the biography a lot. On the other hand, I currently have two books foisted upon me by my manager. Although a kind thought and possibly a good way for us to connect, I've relegated said books to a pile with other books that have been lent to me and I don't know when I'll get around to them. In a similar vein, a colleague has lent me 4 different graphic novels and I am excited to read all of them, but he regularly asks me about my progress and I am starting to feel pressured by the fact that he has lent them to me.

I guess my issue is this: in what other context in life does someone give you a project, expect you to complete said project for fun (quickly) and report back to them, and then look to give you another project? It's a bit ridiculous, and I begin to wonder if it stems from a couple things.

1) People who read are considered intelligent.

2) More is expected of intelligent people.

3) People who read and people who do not read consider themselves intelligent and (obviously) are attracted to certain types of information and certain ideas.

4) If you're attracted to a certain idea you may wish to share this idea, but not everyone may be open to hearing that idea. A reader in your midst is someone who clearly has fun with other people's ideas and is, therefore, a good choice of person to hand your ideas to in book form.

What do others think? Am I overthinking this issue, or is there something major that I am missing here? Please share thoughts below!

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