A note about book notes

I’ve always intended to post notes about my reading on this blog. It’s a way of making my reading not just a selfish, personal endeavor, but a way to pass along the my experiences, along with my reactions, to books I find worth reading, to anyone else who might read this blog. (Though in the background, I have in mind certain fam– well, I shouldn’t say that.)

But I read a lot more books than I get around to posting about here. I almost always take detailed notes on my reading, in part because I have a poor memory (unlike eidetic readers like Isaac Asimov, and apparently Gary Westfahl), and in part because I want to capture points, and even specific quotes, for use in my own later projects (i.e. writing my own book). Those notes are far longer than a conventional review, or blog post, and so the impediment to posting about my reading here has been taking the extra time to boil down my notes into a blog post.

I think with the Carl Sagan book I reread last month, I’ve given up on needing that extra step. Instead, I’ll just clean up the notes I’ve taken while reading (more and more, I read books while sitting at the computer and writing notes as I go), create a summary at the top, and post that. So that’s what I did with today post about Harari’s SAPIENS — the most important recent book I haven’t yet blogged about — even though my notes about it are almost 10,000 words long. (And even trying this shortened process, it took 3 hours to review and clean up my notes from 2 years ago and compile a summary at the top.)

I should say that the tipping point, perhaps, was when, in mid-December, John O’Neill of Black Gate asked to repost my EARLY ASIMOV post from my blog here. (I don’t think he reads my blog; he saw my plug for that post on Facebook.) I asked if the format was OK — a somewhat sorted set of summaries, with my comments — or if he wanted a more traditional review. No, he said, he liked my posts as they were. And so it went, and my second post for him was another virtually unchanged summary with comments and conclusions, that for Stewart’s EARTH ABIDES.

And I’ll continue, over the next few weeks, to capture my readings of books I’ve read in recent years that I think important, and even create a short list of those important titles in the sticky Intro post that appears on the homepage here.

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