Dec. 21-27: 60 in 60 Week in Review

Visit Omnivoracious every Saturday for a summary of the week’s 60 in 60. This was a tough week in terms of ranking the books, in part because a ranking is ludicrous on the face of it and in part because I enjoyed each of these books, but for vastly different reasons.

There is also the relative weight of each book to consider. The Hazlitt was more enjoyable than The Communist Manifesto, but obviously has been less influential. Despite relying on my own personal context and not seeking out more information than provided in each Penguin edition, certain texts already come with built-in preconceptions for the reader. So Hazlitt entertained me and was clever, but I had little to say about it because of its relative lightness. Not so The Communist Manifesto–something more radical, which by its very nature provokes a longer response.

In the coming week, Schopenhauer (which I’ve started this afternoon and am enjoying), Ruskin, Darwin, Nietzche, Woolf, Freud, and Orwell are on deck. Ruskin is an old friend, as are Woolf and Orwell. Nietzche and Freud I’ve previously encountered in excerpts only. It should be an interesting week.

Thanks for reading, and, more importantly, for posting comments to both the texts and my thoughts about them.


  1. says


    I’ve been reading comments from around the web, mostly positive, about this little experiment. One, somewhat neutral comment I’ve seen that I don’t agree with is this: it’s impossible to read these 60 books back-to-back and get anything out of them. I think this is ludicrous. It’s mostly under 100 pages a night. I read 70 pages an hour for an average book. Some of these are denser than others, but I can certainly get through and understand each one in under 2.5 hours a day. An actual short review or analysis only takes about 1-1.5 hours the next day–I type over 180 words a minute. I think it’s the idea in abstract that is taking some people aback. If you actually start doing it, it’s neither onerous nor impossible. Nor, of course, am I claiming anything other than that you’ll get the views of a serious writer and reader. Anyway, the experiment continues…

  2. says

    You type over 180 wpm? :O Wow! I thought my 90 or so was fast, but that’s stenographer level there!

    I agree with you in regards to the your response to those who wonder if the reads can be done with any retention/learning taking place. If there isn’t, then I’d be left wondering how the hell I made it through grad school, because I remember having to read 300-1000 pages a night, usually with a discussion the following day. Perhaps it’s akin to weightlifting – until you’re doing it regularly and you know yourself, others can’t believe someone who can gain 20 lbs. of muscle mass and manage to go from benching 150 lbs. to 250-300 lbs. over the course of a year. Yet like most things, with a routine, it becomes much easier to do.

    What I’m curious to know is if there are others here reading your posts who might be motivated to challenge themselves to read more engaging work and to learn from what they’re reading. That would be a nice unintended side effect of your project, no?

  3. says

    Yeah–I hope some people pick up these books. That’s certainly part of the point. Some of them seemed much more imposing to me before I started reading them. Of course, as we’ve said, some of them are abridged, but still.

    What I think will be most personally useful to me is going back to the ones I found the most intriguing and re-reading them in a more leisurely way, allowing individual passages to percolate a bit more.

    Because I type fast, I rarely do rough drafts in longhand, for fiction, because it is *too* fast for what you need to have for a rough draft…

  4. says

    I’ve already read in some form or fashion about half of the authors on your list, but your project has helped given me the impetus to put down in more concrete writing a reading project of my own that’s been building up for the better part of two decades now. I might shoot myself by the summertime once I begin it, but I do have a years-long goal of reading and reviewing at the pace of one book a month the various histories, chansons, and epic Italian and Spanish poems on the legendary Paladin of Charlemagne, Roland/Orlando. If I do go fully insane, I may have to blame you for your indomitable spirit in the face of this 60-in-60 challenge for inspiring me to true madness.

    As for your last sentence…maybe it’s because it’s 1:30 AM here, but did that sentence mean what you meant it to say?

  5. Transfiguring Roar says

    Hah! That ‘neutral’ response is a joke. Precisely why I wrote earlier that this shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

    You most certainly will get plenty from doing this 60-in-60! But it most certainly is not like devoting a year or two to reading the works of and studying a single philosopher… Hell, before I set out to read the actual texts of several philosophers, I picked up some beginner books, books that can be read in half an hour, and that was all that was needed to get the gist of what whichever philosopher it was wanted to say…

    Nevermind the naysayers, Jeff. This is an excellent exercise! Besides, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

  6. says

    I just started reading your site – thanks for writing. I wanted to inform you that it’s not displaying correctly on the BlackBerry Browser (I have a Tour). Anyway, I am now subscribed to the RSS feed on my PC, so thanks again!