The Great Chinafornian Reading Laboratory

So, a guy walks into City Lights Books…

What in G-d’s name motivates me to make my reading a matter of public record?

I ask this question because I have friends who, bless them, engage in unabashed literary exhibitionism that is both crass and off-putting. That is an outcome I am trying to avoid. I would like to think that I have reached a stage in my life and career at which pretending at an erudition offers little satisfaction.

That said, I will approach this with humility and self-deprecation. And if I ever start down the path of literary pretentiousness, I beg of you, call me on it. Harshly.

What I would like to accomplish with the Thousand Books posts is to share a process that I am working out as I go in an effort to help others achiece what I am attempting:

  1. To understand why and how to be selective in my reading
  2. To discover what works are or should be the most meaningful to me.
  3. To choose my books well, based more on what those books will mean to me, and less on what THEY think I should read (whether THEY are my peers, the editorial staff at the New York Review of Books, the English Department at Yale University, or even the Recommended for You bots at
  4. To share what these books mean to me, because in sharing I meaning I begin meaningful conversations about books (as opposed to conversations based in the hyper-Pilpul world of literary theory and criticism which, while no doubt fascinating to their rarefied practitioners, tend in my experience to suck meaning out of reading rather inject meaning into them.)

In short, the goal of my effort will be to develop a process by which people can select, read, absorb, and share books that are most meaningful to them.

I am the guinea pig. Please join me in the lab. You have aught to loose but your boredom.