Here’s a project for you. Why not devote the next five or so years to reading every title in the OUP Very Short Introduction series? There are 526 of them to date, with 50 new titles planned for every year and an apparently limitless list of subjects. No, you won’t be an expert, but you’ll come out with a basic knowledge of everything from Bacteria to Alexander the Great, Accounting to the Devil, Sleep to Fungi, the Druids to Medical Ethics, with lots of useful facts about Mountains, Metaphysics, the Mongols, Chaos, Cryptography, Hinduism, Autism, Puritanism, Fascism, Free Will, Drugs, Nutrition, Crime Fiction, Madness, Hieroglyphics, Teeth, Organised Crime and Water… the list goes on and on.
And the writers are no slouches, if names like Mary Beard, Hermione Lee and Terry Eagleton are anything to go by.
Stern discipline will be needed, though. No straying from the task into the wilder fields of Teeth or the Mongols. If you read 3 books a week year in year out, you’ll be up to date in about 5 years and then it will be easy to keep on top of 50 a year. And what a fabulous dinner-party guest you’ll be!
Who’s up for it?