How Much Do You Need to Read?

Staying up to speed.

August 25, 2013

The summer holidays are often a great opportunity to recap all the successes and failures of the last months, and eventually gather the new energy and impetus to change dramatically what does not work properly career-wise.

As an academic without a proper academic home, juggling various interesting intellectual hats, I find it very difficult to stay up to speed with the latest academic articles and books published. The biggest pressure comes from the number of books on my shelves or on my Kindle, because I still keep an eye on the latest titles and I try to acquire them for the time when I will be free enough to enjoy at least one full week of non-stop reading. But the more this happy time turns into an illusory objective, the more books are deposited on my real or virtual furniture. I prefer to spend the summer on the road, discovering new interesting corners of the world, and as for serious academic reading, I need a notebook and some peace. I don’t have the minimal conditions for a proper lecture. “I will have more time later” is the mantra I have been telling myself for a couple of weeks already. But somehow, the avid reader in me is always finding new titles and delusional temptations for doing and reading something completely different.

A big difference between a creative writer and an academic writer is that in the first case, the lectures play the role of offering the proper information for some descriptions and historical insertions. Therefore, one can happily read book after book only with the help of a well maintained imagination. However, for the poor academic – regardless of the domain of activity, the challenges are the same, but I dare to assume that the humanistic experts cope with a bigger volume of words – cannot exist within the rich variations and latest theoretical discoveries of his or her domain of study. Hence, I feel that my scientific knowledge is rotting and that maybe I should turn into a novel writer instead of a political scientist or history author.

Complaining does not save the situation too much, and I need to get on a better academic track soon. The good part of the last few sleepy academic months was that I did acquire a more relaxed writing style and I feel more secure when it comes to expressing my own voice. The content of my articles can change, but it is the same mind that will be put into motion to order the words. A strong voice will resonate far enough in any kind of discourse, as long there is a powerful message to be told. I wish my relaxing time could last for at least 2 more years, but the responsible academic hurries up to say that enough is enough and the time has come that I go to a different level. It is time to pick up a new book and prepare the notebook.

Berlin, Germany

Ana Dinescu is a regular contributor to University of Venus and a journalist for ten years for Romanian daily newspapers and is currently a communications consultant, living in Berlin.



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