On Reading

I read a lot. Most of it is good, some of it is outstanding and some, of course, doesn’t work for me.

I often worry about whether I should read the whole of a book. I’ve decided that the answer is ‘no’. If you are reading for interest then read the interesting bits. If you are reading for research, use the contents page and index to guide you in the right direction. At one stage I was faithfully reading prologues and postscripts expecting that they would give me an decent overview. In the case of many dense books, these parts offer mystification and not clarification- so I suggest you read these parts without a prior commitment to finish them.

What about ‘difficult’ books? I’ve struggled with these for years. My conclusion is that its an author’s job to get his point across and that if a passage (or book) is difficult to understand that is because the author isn’t writing clearly enough. Granted there are some topics which require careful thought but, unless you have to, I wouldn’t waste time on an obscurantist writer.

If you are a practitioner and you find that a text-book doesn’t deal with the point that interests you then try somewhere else. I often find that I have to look in three or four books to get a full picture.

Lastly, if the law has just changed, authors will simply digest the law because who knows how it will be interpreted? Better to say nothing than say something and be wrong. For that reason it may take a year of so for a considered text to appear.

I am only going to publish thoughts on books that I like and that I think others might find helpful or enjoy. I am afraid that I have a rather eclectic set of interests and the list of books will reflect that.

I hope that at least one of the reviews sparks you into exploring something different or though provoking.

Happy reading.