Sunday, June 21, 2009

I may never have time

William Shakespeare's Othello and Merchant of Venice; and Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Hamlet for the first time since high school.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer.
The Power Broker (Robert Moses) and Master of the Senate (LBJ) by Robert A. Caro.
White House Years, Years of Upheaval, Years of Renewal and Diplomacy by Henry A. Kissinger.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli.
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (for the first time since high school), by Mark Twain. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray (who is apparently not a Ph.D.). The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The Books of: Jewish Values, Wisdom and Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.
Anything by Michael Medved, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach or Alan Dershowitz. The Babylonian Talmud by Chazal (our Sages).

The Bicycle Thief.
Godfather; Godfather II.
The Last Picture Show.
Last Tango In Paris.
Out of Africa. Dangerous Liaisons. Million Dollar Baby. The Aviator. Sideways. Good Night, and Good Luck. Juno. Definitely Maybe. The Departed. The Ten Commandments. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Dog Day Afternoon. All that Jazz. Raging Bull. The Verdict. Prizzi's Honor. Sweeney Todd. Walk the Line. The Last King of Scotland. Dr. Zhivago. Wall-E. Bolt.

Those two categories are "Books I'll Probably Never Read" and "Movies I'll Probably Never See." When you get to be my age....and I don't even have a family. There just isn't so much time. I do feel bad because some of the books are gifts from my siblings, and if I don't read the gifts, I feel like I've let them down. So those are my priority books. I've heard wonderful things about most of the films listed and would honestly like to see them all. But I'll be lucky if I see one-tenth of the list.

I haven't done so badly. As noted, I've read three of the Shakespeare plays listed, plus Romeo and Juliet. I have read Tale of Two Cities, often considered one of the finest works of English literature, and Moby Dick, the Great American Novel (panned upon release, by the way). I have read works of political and cultural non-fiction from differing points of view. My dad obm was a political bookworm and made his way through the Kissinger quartet (although maybe not the lightly regarded Renewal), which is impressive because the former diplomat is in dire need of an editor. His books extend beyond 1000 pages apiece. As a youth, I made it through much of Beverly Cleary's and Judy Blume's books, the entire Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis), and about halfway through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series. I also read a number of books about horror films that were popular at my school, which of course kept me up nights. Mad Scientists: a classic! Back to adulthood: I think I can say with a high level of confidence I have read every word of the Torah, given my annoying habit of showing up for shacharis every Sabbath of the year. So that's a worthwhile accomplishment. Daf Yomi (Page-a-Day Talmud; takes 7½ years) is not so easily achieved.

Until the last several years, I had been a voracious moviegoer, often seeing 50+ movies per year. I have slowed down a bit, cutting that in half or so. Using Netflix requires dedication and a time commitment. With job search and a current period of upheaval, to borrow a phrase, it's not easy to watch a DVD all the way through.

"There just aren't enough hours in the day." --my cousin Betsy

As I noted in a recent Chicago Tribune article, one must prioritize one's time: career, learning, family, and leisure actitivies: social networking, real socializing, exercise, playing outside, meditation, books, music, tv and movies. There's a limit to what we can squeeze in. Will it be worth two hours of my time to see Transformers 2? I certainly hope so. Because that time could be spent doing something else--like reading a book, seeing a far superior film, or catching up on my learning.

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