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On Freedom of Choice

I am lucky.  I have always lived in democracies.  I grew up with middle class, liberal parents, with enough time and enough money.  This means I am not accustomed to having my choice constrained.  I have been brought up to believe that choice (in its broadest meaning – having the freedom, time and money) to do most of what you want, most of the time, is almost natural, a necessity at the least.

Most of the time, the only thing constraining my choices has been me. My fears, my rules, my plans, aspirations or timelines.  In general, my choices have been most constrained by me when I am focussing on things I find hard: exercising more, going out less, dieting, studying for exams etc.

So my current situation is very strange, because I am electively reducing my opportunities for free will on a subject I enjoy, am relatively good at and am not working toward getting better at.

Because people know I love to read, they often suggest books to me.  I love working to recommendations, so this suits me down to the ground.  But in the last few weeks this has got frustrating.  There are so many books out there for me to read, yet until this project is complete, I have utterly reduced my ability to choose to read them. In addition, in response to this project people have started suggesting lists of books I should read, as the next project.  My brain is overflowing with novel (get it?) ideas.

Luckily, I have a coping mechanism for this.  When I want to do something that I know – for whatever reason – I won’t get around to right now, I make a list.  Type A, moi?  So:

The next project:

  1.  Books people think I have read.  People often assume I have read most of the classics I haven’t.  Maybe I should.
  2. All the Man Booker winners, ever.  I reckon I have done about half of these, so would have a head start.  But reading the remaining half may make the project feel a little incomplete.
  3. The most difficult books to read.  To be honest, this just sounds ridiculously hard and no fun.  But as it was suggested, I felt I should add it for completeness.

Books people have told me I would enjoy:

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain) – see point 1, above.
  • NW (Zadie Smith)
  • Sweet Tooth (Ian McEwan)… look, I am aware that they all have the same ‘sliding doors’ plot line, but I am always hooked, nevertheless
  • Toby’s Room (Pat Barker) – a new PB always makes my day
  • The Gift of Rain (Tan Twan Eng) – so excited to hear The Garden of Evening Mists wasn’t a first novel

Further suggestions in both categories welcome.




About bloggingthelonglist

An avid reader, but I tend to stick to what I know I am comfortable with. Trying to break out of the comfort zone...

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