New book and New Year’s resolutions

OK, OK, I know: it’s a little late to be writing a blog post about my new year’s resolutions.  I mean, it’s January 4, for goodness sake!  I do, however, have my excuses.  One, I have just returned from a lovely trip to New Orleans, where I celebrated the New Year and watched the Cincinnati Bearcats lose horribly to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.  We returned Saturday evening, and the closest I came to my computer was while I was staggering off to bed after the 14-hour drive.  Yesterday, it was back to work for me, with bed coming early at 10 p.m.  Today is, therefore, my first real “day off” in nearly two weeks (Christmas Eve and Christmas doesn’t count, considering the stress of forced interaction with one’s family).

And second, my new year’s resolution didn’t officially begin until today anyway.  That is because in the last days of 2009, I purchased The Intellectual Devotional by David Kidder and Noah Oppenheim.  It’s subtitle reads: “Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class”–definitely one new year’s resolution I can get behind.  You see, I’m awfully bad at making and keeping new year’s resolutions.  Lacking serious willpower, I’ve skipped making resolutions over the years, knowing there’s no way I’d be able to keep them.  Does this make me a cynic?  Yes.  Does this make a realist?  Also, yes.

However, for about 8 years or so, I have made it my goal to educate myself as much as humanly possible.  It began in high school, when I started reading literary classics outside of English class just so I could say I’d read them.   The first book in this quest was The Red Badge of Courage, and while I haven’t yet had to bring up Stephan Crane’s classic in conversation, you never know when the chance might arise.  Now, my reading habits are also linked to my insane love of literature, as well as a general dissatisfation with reading lists in the English curriculum.  Educating myself outside of literature, therefore, was going to be a problem.  I took a wide variety of classes in college, but alas, classes for my majors consumed my life junior and senior year.  I visit museums whenever possible, but one can only do so many extracurricular activities, depending on geographical limitations.  Plus, if one knows nothing about the opera, where do I even start learning the basics?

That’s where I hope The Intellectual Devotional will come in.  Every day culls lessons from various branches of  knowledge, from the visual arts, to science, to literature.  Everyday’s reading is only a page long, and so should fit in perfectly with my morning routine (it’s sitting next to Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems and a book of crosswords I received for Christmas…all excellent means of stimulating your mind first thing in the morning).

Now, I’ve been a little lax on my poetry reading lately (again, I blame Christmas and New Orleans), but I really hope to keep up with The Intellectual Devotional.  I stumbled across it while running the reference section at HPB (despite its stodgy name, you can find some great stuff in there), and couldn’t put it down.  Even if it’s not the Columbia classics course, I think it could be really beneficial and maybe teach me something I’ll remember.  If anything, I’ll feel better about myself, and isn’t that the only thing that’s important?

NOTE:  As alluded to earlier, the reason I began The Intellectual Devotional today instead of last Friday was because its “Day 1” is a Monday.  I wanted to keep up with the day-appropriate themes, and so started reading today.


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