Think Again; Or, Oh, Now I Get It

There is a reason why some stereotypes exist. I know librarians who use pencils to put their hair in buns (ironically, but still) and ornithologists who will drive across lanes of traffic because they’re trying to identify whatever is flying overhead. There are quite a few about English majors that are true. A lot of us really are persnickety about grammar and we will fight the linguists over prescriptivism versus descriptivism. We are also book worms. And we are also really, really good at bullshitting with words.

Ignace Spiridon

This a roundabout way of explaining that, sometimes, I need to write about what I read in order to understand what I think about it. It’s like I can’t pin down what I thought of a book until I blather about it in text, only then can I concisely tell others what I think. I’ve been thinking about this acquired skill this past week because I’ve read two books I wasn’t sure I knew what they were about until I faffed around with blog posts for a while. While I was still puzzling out the books’ themes and ideas, I worried that I was losing my knack for synthesizing my thoughts. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough to figure out what I had just read. Maybe it’s been too long since I was an English major among English majors for me to understand new fiction. Funny enough, by the end of my reviews, I liked the books more when I was done with the post than I was when I finished them. I just needed a little more time to understand the books’ punchlines.

I shouldn’t have been worried. I’ve spent enough time with students doing literary research who have too many thoughts about their chosen texts that I should have recognized the way my gears were spinning. I tell these students to do some free writing to get all those ideas down. If they can get those ideas down, it makes it easier to organize. By the time we finish talking it all out, the student can usually leave with a rough outline and a research plan and the glimmer of a thesis.

Teach me to not follow my own advice. Tcha.


  1. Especially when I’m tired, I finish a book and all I can think is an amorphous “meh” or “yeah”, blogging forces me to have a real thought and sometimes I even change my mind about a book in the process. So I totally relate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh absolutely! I always wonder if I’m missing something with meh books that other people are raving about. (Like Stoner. What on earth were people seeing in that novel.)

      Liked by 1 person

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