Last semester I only took two classes. Granted, one of them was a seminar for which I devoted an enormous amount of time to primary research, but I still only took two. This semester I decided to take three courses. None of them are research-based courses, but each of them have assigned one or two books per week. I did the math. Total books for this semester: 46.
I feel a little silly. Not only did I choose to come to graduate school, but I chose to take these three courses. I knew that if I wanted to finish my degree on time, I would have to take three courses during at least one semester. But I didn’t anticipate this. I’m no speed reader, so each week’s reading takes me between twenty and thirty-five hours to accomplish. I remember writing on this blog last semester that I felt slightly anxious when I wasn’t reading. This feeling is now so pervasive that I have taken to just carrying around a book with me at all times in case I have a few minutes to read. My weekends are essentially one-book-per-day marathons. Practically all I do is read.
And then I remember that I did choose this. As I was preparing to complain about all of my reading the other day, I realized that I get to read some of the best scholarly literature covering some of the most interesting events in our nation’s history. My job is something that other people can only afford to do in bits and pieces, in their spare time. And I get to interact with like-minded people and talk about these books. Even though it is true that grad school in history (especially this semester) is like drinking out of a fire hose, I’m still glad to be doing it.