Reading Update

In 2023 so far, I’ve finished 23 books so far, 9 of which are non-fiction, the rest fiction. I just updated the Reading 2023 page to get it up to date. I’ve never kept such close track before, but the number seems about on par with my usual pace.

I finished Nefesh HaChaim last week, a project that began in November 2022. I read Hebrew plus English every morning for about 15 minutes, taking full notes on the book line by line. Lately, I added a short summary at the bottom of each page to facilitate review. I also filled my second notebook dedicated to the Jewish study of what we call Mussar, which is a path to self-improvement. Nefesh HaChaim is recognized as a somewhat mystical, philosophical book a man’s purpose and how to direct one’s life accordingly. Lots of what I think of as “celestial mechanics”, detailing the relationship between God, the spiritual worlds and our world of illusion.

My next book is a famous practical Mussar book, Cheshbon HaNefesh. Cheshbon means “accounting” and is a short methologicical book of how to improve and clarify the process of thought and create good habits of mind. These are both themes that have emerged as central to the idea of “Deciding Better”, so a very appropriate read at this point.

My attempted adjustment to read more nonfiction was a failure. Since reading Jaynes on Probability is real focused work, I thought I could add more non-fiction. I read through the very nice When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut which really straddles fiction/non-fiction, but then got stuck trying to read George Polya’s book Mathematics and Plausible Reaoning. I got the idea to read Polya from Jaynes and it’s a great read. It’s just too dense a read to be a leisure activity. So I need to tee up some more easy non-fiction reading in creativity or biography which was where I was going in the beginning of the year.

So it’s back to some nice fiction reading, having just finished Trust and starting Babel by R.F. Kuang.

There’s been a good bit more reading and looking in the realm of photography and image making, including a reread of Vincent Versace’s Oz books and the very nice How I Make Photographs based on Joel Meyerowitz’ online course. I found my notes on some photobooks I’d read a few years ago- also revisiting the notes and the books. I’ve learned a bit about my body of work, looking at images with a broader perspective, trying to get out of the Flickr photo stream state of mind.

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