24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - World Philosophy Day

Door 9:  World Philosophy Day


Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?


As most of you know, I will happily DNF books at any time. I seriously have no regrets or feelings of guilt about this. If the book annoys me or, even worse, bores me, I'll gladly move on. I don't care if it is a "classic", a "must-read", or if lots of other people have loved it. There are just too many other books out there that might be better and that I should be reading instead. 


I try to give books a decent shot, but there have been occasions when I have abandoned book with the first chapter, within the first few pages, withing the introduction, and even within the translator's note. I'm just not willing to spend my time with nonsense.


Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?


I explain my rating system here, but ratings may vary. Some will be influenced by how a book compares to other books by the same author or dealing with the same topic, some will be influenced by other books I have read just before that particular book, some will be dependent on whether I'm in a reading slump. 


There are no real rules to my ratings other than I usually will not give 5 stars to anything except if the book has been absolutely amazing on a reading-life-changing level. 


Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?


Does recanting the motto "This too shall pass" count? Or the internal "In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor annoyance"? I'm also a big fan of taking a step back, just focusing on minimising what needs to be done, prioritising the short list, and making the most of focusing on what actually needs to be done. "Making the most of" here does include finding ways of making it fun...or at least somehow worthwhile for me or others.  


Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?


I have been very lucky with respect to school-related reading: Except for one year, I have had some very fabulous teachers who understood how to make literature and non-fiction accessible and interesting or even relevant. I'm combining my experiences here for all of my school-related reading: languages, literature, sciences, history, and art all alike.


However, there have been clunkers. I'll list them in no particular order:


- Richard Wright: Black Boy

- Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks, Tonio Kroeger

- Bernhard Schlink: Der Vorleser (The Reader).


All of which I hated equally. Tho, Schlink's The Reader set a new standard for my annoyance levels as this is the first book I actually flung across my room at some point...and I had not realised that the window was open, it did end up in the garden.


I did manage to finish the book, but only because of the discussion we were having in class, which provided an outlet for my annoyance with the book...especially the ending which I still maintain was a cop out. 


What was fantastic about my 11th and 12th grade German Lit class was that my teacher was, although a veteran teacher if you like, new to teaching German Lit. She was a reader herself, which helped, but she also took the decision to be creative with the curriculum reading list: So, instead of working through a list of set books, she decided that we would go through the history of German Lit by identifying themes and include books from other eras that dealt with the same theme. The additional books were included either by reading extracts or by way of presentations given by individual students. So, each of us read in fact far more and far widely than was expected by the curriculum.


I loved this. I still do this in my own reading to this date, comparing how different authors or times treat specific topics. It's part of what makes reading so much fun for me.


As for some of the best books:


- Hermann Hesse: Unterm Rad 

- Sophocles: Antigone 

- Rolf Hochhuth: Der Stellvertreter (The Deputy)

- Cicero: In Verrem

- Lessing: Nathan der Weise

- Macbeth


And many, many, more.


Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kondo, etc.).


This just might happen as I am still trying to close out my Camus reading project before the end of the year.