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Monday, July 18, 2005


I think there are some gaps in my education. As engineering majors, we were required to have 6 liberal studies (ie. anything-but-engineering) courses, plus two freshman writing seminars. That's it. The rest of the 4-year schedule was packed with equation-balancing, code-jockeying, wire-soldering engineering courses. Oh, and those 6 liberal studies courses? My AP credits from high school covered 3 of them! I even took an economics course, and the college happily threw it in the "liberal studies" category, which almost gave my dad, mom, and sister (Philosophy, English, and Sociology/Anthropology majors, respectively) a collective heart attack.

I have to admit that I chose computer engineering partly to avoid being forced to read books and write papers in college. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that I was missing a lot of literary references in conversations, so I set out to make up for the lack of literature in my education by reading, of my own volition, some of the books I'd missed in school. It was slow going; historically, I haven't been much of a bookworm. As a kid, my parents always told me I should read more, but all I wanted to do was watch TV and play with Legos (Not just when I was a little kid; I had to hide my Legos so my prom date wouldn't see them. Yeah, I've always been a dork; it's not a recent thing).

I finally got on a little reading frenzy while I was backpacking in Europe last year (well, for me, one-book-per-week constitutes a reading frenzy). I found a copy of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in a bookstore in Rome, loved it, and kept steadily devouring books the rest of the trip. After I came home and started working again, though, I stopped reading - right in the middle of Crime and Punishment. I finally brought that one with me to Maui in January and finished it off. My sister made fun of me for bringing Dostoevsky as "beach reading," but it was the only way to get through the last half of the book; without the Hawaiian sun, I think Russian literature could destroy my will to live.

I started another reading frenzy this year, but this time, it stalled out with Don Quixote (as I mentioned in my last post). About 50 pages into the book, I hit the scene in which Don Quixote tilts at the windmill, and now I think I know why that's the scene everyone talks about from that book: no one bothers to read past page 50! After a couple weeks of trying to slog through the old English of the classic translation, reading about a page at a time before putting the book down and getting distracted by something else, I gave up on the man from La Mancha.

I needed to get my "reading momentum" restarted, and I think Bradbury's come through again; I just finished Dandelion Wine this weekend (thanks to Dan for that recommendation), and now I'm blazing through another Christopher Moore (the Gospel According to Biff author) novel, Fluke, before I hit my next classic.

I enjoy reading, and I love the way it gets the creative wheels in my head moving, but it seems to be way too easy for me to go months on end without doing it. At least when I'm not reading, I'm filling my extra time with friends, guitar, and every sport from tennis to waterskiing now - instead of TV and Legos. Still, I'm hoping I can keep my book habit going a bit longer this time; edumacation is important.