Looking back, I had my lean book-buying revelation more than a year ago. As I said at the time, “right now, I have … lots of books to read before I can start buying again”, and while I have hardly sworn off from buying books since then, I have made an effort to read down my stack of unread books.
And now I’m done: there are no books left in the stack of unread books that I’d bought before that time. Well, the main stack: there are still some French-language books from my last trip to Paris, not to mention the complete Pali canon (in a 45-volume edition with elephants on the spines) and maybe a hundred or so other unread books firmly entrenched on my bookshelves. Those latter stacks had already been filed away as “sunk costs” for some time, but the main stack contained books that I really did intend to read.
If I’d been asked to predict at the time what the last book in the stack was that I’d get around to, I probably would have guessed correctly. (I hope that the shock of my finally getting around to reading the book wasn’t the last straw for its author.) Which raises a question: am I ever going to get around to reading the third volume of Rorty’s philosophical papers? If not, is that a good thing or a bad thing? In the old days, I would have tossed it onto my next Amazon order along with 20 or 30 or 40 other books, and gotten around to it eventually. Now, though, I won’t get it until I feel like I really want to read some more Rorty right now. (At which point I’ll probably check it out of the library rather than buy it, actually.)
My guess is that I will read the third volume eventually: I’ve read enough philosophy over my life that I think I’d be a bit sad if I stopped completely, and Rorty’s quite interesting and readable as philosophers go. And I’m enjoying the second volume; it’s not life-changing or anything, but pragmatism is interesting enough to me that I really would like to dig into it somewhat more, because I get the impression that Rorty is saying lots of things that I really do agree with. Also, it’s complicated enough that I’d need to revisit his writings eventually, to test my vague memories with what he actually says, and to see where I should think more.
So that’s half of the question. What about the other half? I think that there, my answer is: if I don’t ever read it, that’s okay. I’m happy and confident enough with how I spend my time these days that I don’t think I need to worry about feeling insecure about not getting enough highbrow culture.
We’ll see how it plays out. While typing this, I’ve been browsing his works at Amazon, and there are a few interesting looking ones there that I didn’t know existed. (And I didn’t know a fourth volume of his philosophical papers was published earlier this year.) So maybe the answer is: I’ll actually read more Rorty sooner rather than later. Still not sure when I’ll get around to the next volume of his papers: it looks like it will take me about three weeks to finish this volume, and I don’t lightly spend that much time on a single book these days. But some of his other books are less dense.
We’ll see how it all plays out: in the meantime, I’m just happy that I have one fewer big queue in my life, and I’m also happy that I’ve stuck with this queue-removal plan for more than a year and it’s turned out well. Though at least one decent-sized queue remains, but that’s the topic for another post…
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