The importance of reading

When I was 8 years old, my primary school substitute teacher hinted that I might have faked my reading diary. For two weeks I marked two books read per week. I assure you I wasn’t. There was absolutely no incentive for faking anything since it was a pro reading campaign detached from grades. Simply, I just loved reading and felt that finally I got to share all the fun things I had found.

This unfortunate story has a happy ending: others’ opinions didn’t make me lose my interest in reading. In fact, I’ve kept my hobby and made it into a profession as a researcher. Now, imagine if I had kept a reading diary since I learned how to read. Not meaning to brag – or seem like a fraud – but that list would be massive.

But in research one can never read enough so I’m definitely in the right business. I plough through smaller or bigger piles of books and (digitalised) articles every week. Be assured that my pile includes more than two pieces per week. I’m loving it! My sincerest thanks to great library services.

I’ve also learned to stop reading something if it has not attracted my attention for long enough. In diplomatic terms, that’s called skimming.

My favourite reading meme
My favourite reading meme

Partying is reading. Reading is learning. And there’s no research without learning. There’s no living without learning. Someone would say there’s no living without partying, which is practically the same thing as proven in the quote above. So let’s keep on reading and learning.

What to do after finishing a PhD? Where to hop next?

Finishing a PhD is something I dreamed about for (too) many years. And now that time is here for me. In 18 days I will be up there giving a public lectio based on my doctoral dissertation and then defend it (publicly) for up to 5 hours. Usually all of this takes approximantely two hours. It is great to be here, less than three weeks from the defence (and the party that follows it).

Yet, I experience this sense of a lost direction. Of course I have plans for my future. I have planned to a new ethnographic fieldwork related to degrowth organising and self-employment, for which I have already started to do some preliminary work (more updates at ResearchGate).

Being in a PhD program is (or rather was) not always fun, as anyone who has survived it can tell. But it is familiar. Life after PhD is unfamiliar and that’s scary.

While experiencing this sense of a lost direction, I should be delivering many things, e.g. revising a manuscript, applying for postdoc funds, preparing my public speeches (two for this Wednesday and of course the Big One on 28 October, i.e. The Defence). But it is hard to start, because there’s no certainty where I am going.

In the meantime, I’m happy to learn how you manage uncertainty. How do you handle the fact that after finishing a big project you don’t know where you are heading next? Bad TV is not a good enough answer. I tried that and it doesn’t seem to work.

Where to hop next?

Revisiting Barcelona

Although I feel I have nothing wise to say today, I decided to use the possibility to do some blogging. Unfortunately for blogging, I’ve been too busy finalizing conference papers for summer research conferences, writing texts for blogs, like the EMES Junior Expert’s Blog, and planting our allotment (garden).

Currently, I’m in Barcelona for a workshop concerning social entrepreneurship teaching and research. Consequently, I have a great chance to revisit a nice place, this time Barcelona. I seem to enjoy revisiting since it tells me what has changed in the place I like (if anything).

What has changed in Barcelona after my last visit? I’m told that the Sagrada Familia has progressed. Judging from my bedroom window, this is the case; I can see some new white statues. Indeed, I’m staying over at close friends who live next to the Sagrada Familia and have windows facing the Barcelona monument. This is the view from the guest room:

Sagrada_Familia2 Sagrada_Familia1It is very impressive to see and hear the church while spending time at the apartment. I’m also impressed by the fact that they are building the monumental cathedral only with income generated from the admission tickets.

Otherwise I feel the Barcelona spirit has not changed. People are as relaxed as before, at least on a sunny Sunday like today, parks are still lovely, and I can always get a drink and something good to eat. By the way, I guess I just listed the three things I value the most in any city.

Perhaps the temptation to revisit (nice) places is the feeling of arriving to a potential home. I could easily imagine myself living in Barcelona although I have no idea what I could do here for a living. Maybe one day I will move here for some time. To me there’s only one thing that beats revisiting: Living the everyday life away from home.