Wednesday, June 28, 2006

mysteries of time management

At one point in graduate school I realized that I had not read a novel in two years. So then I read five in the following week and afterward concluded about the two year hiatus, "I will never let sociology do that to me again." I'm worried nowadays that All The Time Online is a bigger impediment to my fiction reading than the labors of social science, but I have been buying up novels lately again. A problem for me is always that I want to read them straight through, which I could do when I was younger but a harder trick to pull off nowadays (although a fellowship, let's be honest, helps).

Over the past two days I read The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. I think after my spasm of watching 80's videos the other night, I wanted to read an 80's novel. Which this is, taking the form of the mystery novel and using it to perform various inversions that make the stories really about language and writing. But, he does it in a way that stays true to the form by having really clever plot developments throughout. I mean, if you are the kind of person who likes finishing a novel with the sensation that it twiddled with your brain, to the point where you are still feeling a little swimmy as you remember parts of it hours (and, I suspect it will be for me, days) after the fact, it's a book I would highly recommend.

I suppose I can be upset with myself for taking the time to devour this novel when I could be finish this revision to a Stata program that conducts a model specification test that I don't think works on real data anyway. I will not, however. I will reserve such regret for procrastination that leads me to disappointing novels, unstimulating Wikipedia searches, or watching a distressing number of American Idol videos one after the other (even when it is Taylor Hicks doing "Levon").

Perhaps it is time for me to read Getting Things Done again. Alan had a post about some software for implementing GTD principles; too bad it looked well beyond me to actually be able to get the software working, much less use it to actually reorganize and reanimate my work patterns.


A+ said...

Don't feel too bad. "Levon" was a really good number.

Jim said...

Wow, I've been realizing the same thing about not reading novels lately...unfortunately I haven't gotten to the point of reading one yet. In other words, sociology is still doing it to me.

I broke down last night and got OmniOutliner Pro to try out the Kinkless GTD system. I was holding back because I bought LifeBalance a while back and really wanted it to work for me, even though it didn't--score one for the sunk cost fallacy. Anyway, with the student discount and a coupon from 43Folders, OOP (not OPP) wasn't so expensive. I'm not endorsing it...just feeling the same hankering to get back on the GTD wagon.

Anonymous said...

you could do a sociological study of blogs to combine your scholarly research and 'blog' missions.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a good idea for you to read a novel now and then and post us on it. Nothing wrong with whole brain stimulation.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Another sociologist who visited my apartment my first semester of grad school asked me if my advisor knew about the piles of frivolous library books I had sitting around. I found the question perplexing. I never let sociology do that to me, I guess.