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I’ve become very incoherent in the way that I read. In the last few days, I have approximately 5 books on the go flitting from one book to another as I drift from context to context in the search for their message. I don’t get to the end of one book before I start a new one.

The books range from public international law, artificial computer intelligence, the history of astronomy and psychology. At the moment, I’m reading  Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter, Treaty Interpretation by Richard Gardiner, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began by Stuart Clar and The Norton Psychology Reader by Glenn Marcus.

In two respects I find this list symptomatic of my current malaise with reading and books. I have become obsessed with non-fiction. Books are a means to acquire information and to flesh out my understanding of the world. I’m starting to feel acutely that I have little understanding of the context of myself and my world. There is so much history, so much reality that underpins the way the world works and I’m desperately cramming to try and fill in the gaps. I grab these books, distill their messages down into a simple list of propositions and try and internalise their analytic framework or message and graft those on to my world view as appropriate.

I find it saddening that there isn’t a fiction book on the list. The last fiction book I read was the The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. That book I bought on a whim, read with real delight and then I never repeated the experience. The only other fiction that I’ve been indulging in is Hercule Poirot mysteries, which is an indulgence I try and save for tough days. I used to get fiction from the library, but nowadays I find it hard to find time. That means I rack up large fines which tend to compromise part of the point and purpose of a library.  

This weird imbalance worries me. There is something about the power of books and the power of stories that I need to keep me sane.