Monday, September 28, 2009

Reading is Pretty Necessary

By CL * Other CL Posts

Over the course of the summer - as I spent day after day doing nothing but learn and review the law in preparation for the bar exam - I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would rather be doing. One of the more mundane but better ideas I had was to go back to my favorite books and reread them.

In law school, I spent very little time reading for pleasure. I had a few phases of bringing non-law books on the subway, and I would always work in some poetry, but I read an average of two books a year in that time. So I have a small stack, heavy on the Johnson and Banville, to get through.

Now, rereading all these books, I've realized the real extent to which all that law reading has affected my ability to express myself. I had gotten to the point where I could barely put together a coherent non-IRACed paragraph, in conversation or in print. Everything I read before this exercise fell into one of the following categories, and as a result I could not think or communicate outside of them:

-legal cases and articles
-news headlines
-short-form conversation: emails and gchats
-blog posts in the "quote an article and say something sarcastic" mold

Which is all well and good, but doesn't give you much in the way of interesting conversation. All these huge casebooks and throwaway jokes, with nothing in between, had caused a slow ossification in my ability to discuss things, to explain things, and to think analytically or creatively (outside the legal context). And having the bluebook rules constantly floating in the back of my head all of 2L year didn't help.

So now that I'm reading actual books, I'm regaining some ability to communicate clearly. This is all fairly obvious: reading more --> a greater ability to write and talk. But it's easy to forget, and it slips away very slowly. The point being: even if it's just on the subway on the way to work, I'm going to make it a point to read part of an "actual book" as often as possible from here on out.

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