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Open Thread: What Are You Reading?

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Seeing as how we now have a few more readers than, well, zero, I wanted to try my first ?open thread.? This one is topic-specific and might also become another recurring feature, asking a simple question: What are you reading? (Aside from this blog, of course.)

It?s a natural question for this blog. After all, just take a look where leads you.

At the risk of offending the disclaimer gods, I?ll caveat this whole exercise by saying that any book that I or anyone else may or may not be reading in no ways constitutes an endorsement of particular books. (There are tens of millions of great tomes here; come read a few, if you can.) If there are any other lawyers about, feel free to add a few more disclaimers of your own.

Now that that?s out of the way ?

Between all of my online and offline reading of periodicals and such, I don?t get as much time to read for pleasure as I?d like. (Is that heresy, or what?) But a few days ago, I came by a copy of Michael Beschloss?s new book, ?Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989.?

What are others reading, and what do you think about it? And please be patient if your comments aren?t posted immediately.

Comments (63)

  1. I do a lot of my ‘reading’ sitting in my car via audio books. I am currently deeply enjoying Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’ – read by Neil Gaiman. A great and fabulous fairytale and read very well – I highly recommend it.

    I just finished reading Scott Rosenberg’s ‘Dreaming in code : two dozen programmers, three years, 4,732 bugs, and one quest for transcendent software’. I found it quite fun – but perhaps mostly because I have spent a lot of time struggling with precisely the issues he discusses. I think those who are not programmers might enjoy the glimpse behind the curtain into the chaotic world of writing software.

  2. “Religious literacy: what every American needs to know — and doesn’t” by Stephen Prothero. He maintains that by historically emphasizing “heart” religion over “head” religion, evangelicalism itself is responsible for Americans’ lack of religious knowledge today. I found that assertion amazingly ironic but believable, along the lines of Richard Hofstadter’s “Anti-intellectualism in American life.”

  3. I have recently enjoyed reading Glenn Reynolds’ “An Army of Davids” and Matthew Burden’s “The Blog of War”. Both discuss the power of blogs – from different perspectives. The military blogs – or milblogs – spotlighted in Matt’s book are just the beginning. They continue to report in a very personal way and are some of the best sources of information on the war.

  4. Just finished: Ambient Findability

    In progress: Web Dragons (Witten et al.), Extreme Search (Hock), Dancing in the Streets (Ehrenriech), Short Stories by Latin American Women (Correas de Zapata, ed)

    On deck: The Long Tail (Anderson), Everything is Miscellaneous (Weinberger), whatever junky sci-fi/fantasy comes to hand later this evening

  5. I just finished up Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail.” It has totally reshaped the way that I look at commerce and economics in today’s information age.

  6. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu–if you live in the DC metro area, the insights on gentrification and immigration ring quite true.

  7. Started A Farewell to Arms this weekend, just finished Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. I’m trying to cover some classics that I missed coming through school.

  8. Have just begun a re-reading of Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” (for school) and that has pulled me back to bits of Kevin Lynch’s “Good City Form” … otherwise it’s Diane Jacobs’ “Christmas in July: The Life and Art of Preston Sturges” and David Shapiro’s “New and Selected Poems 1965-2006” … and a mountain of student papers!

  9. Treasurer’s Report – Robert Benchley. Sometimes you gotta go with the classics.

  10. Paul Auster’s Brooklyn Follies, and Australian poet Richard Adamson’s latest book, The Goldfinches of Baghdad (it’s beautiful).

  11. I’m re-reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita” translated by Michael Glenny

  12. Just finished Steve Aylett’s “Lint”, which was very funny. Have started Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”, which promises to be epic at the very least.

  13. Having recently finished A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” and Hugh Brogan’s “Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life,” I’m now reading Stephan Talty’s “Empire of Blue Water” about the Caribbean pirates. Next up for biography Robert Allison’s “Stephen Decatur.”

  14. Am currently reading Caragounis, “The Development of Greek and the New Testament” a 700+ page tome (tomb?) on his take on the development of Classical Greek through to modern Greek. Problematic thesis, complicated arguments. He’s wrong 🙂

    “The Long Tail” is a good book; more people should read it.


  15. i’m reading “a prayer for owen meany” by john irving. i was just reading it on the metro, and right as i got to a crucial part (he just found the baseball, for those who have read it), i had to get off at my stop!

    i love how a good book makes you wish your commute was longer.

  16. I’ve just recently finished “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I don’t normally read biographies but this was an amazing book.

    Now I’m reading “Invitation to a Beheading” by Nabokov. Not exactly new, but great nonetheless.

  17. Hmm–well, I’m reading a number of things, as always. Yesterday I was working my way through a collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories (I have several of them, so I’m not going to remember the collective title of this one). I’ve also started “Drift” by Jim Miller, though I’m not far enough into it to comment on it. I mostly read short stories, so there are a few other compilations that I picked up at Borders, just waiting to be read.

  18. I recently finished reading “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy. While I enjoyed the story, it was Roy’s writing style that took my breath away. I tend to be more impressed by the way a story is written than by what it is about. I really recommend this book.

  19. As a counterbalance to all you intellectuals: I’m reading CJ Cherryh’s high fantasy Fortress series. One of the extraordinary benefits of working at the Library of Congress is that employees can check out books — including out of print books long ago remaindered by our local libraries even though the authors keep writing related books.

  20. Right now I have a few books open and reading. you can see them here and I’ll list them.

    King Rat by China Mieville, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, Robert Sawyer’s Calculating God, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer.

    I have coming up The Dragon Pool By Christopher Golden and American Morons by Glen Hirshberg

  21. I’m currently reading:

    1. David J. Blacker’s ‘Democratic Education Stretched Thin’;
    2. J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Silmarillion’ (for about the 10th time);
    3. George Weigel’s ‘Witness to Hope’; and
    4. Various articles in ‘The American Historical Review’ (v.112, no. 2).

    Soon I hope to begin William Chace’s ‘100 Semesters’ and the next installment (11 or 12, I believe) in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series.

  22. I always read Time, National Review, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, and Foreign Affairs.

    Also, I just finished “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky, and hope to begin “The Sound and the Fury” by Faulkner sometime this week.

  23. Since I work with kids, I read a lot of children’s literature – just finished the “Charlie Bone” series; but am also working on David McCullough’s “1776.” Next up is probably Tolkien’s “Children of Hurin”!

  24. The Professor and the Madman. I have read this in the past and am enjoying it a second time. most of my reading is professional or non-fiction and biography. earlier I finished Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater.

  25. I’m reading James Carroll’s A Requiem For My Father, which is 100% fantastic. A bittersweet memoir of growing up with an FBI agent turned Air Force general for a father, with themes of Catholicism, nuclear aggression and the Pentagon culture in general. Really, really good.

  26. I’m reading A GREY MOON OVER CHINA by Thomas A. Day. It’s really good, but really long (well, about 450 pages, but I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately so it FEELS long). While nominally a science fiction book–it’s about a group of scientists and military people who decide to build super spaceships and leave the Earth–it’s more about the social interaction (both personal and global) of people. Very cool.

    And since I never read one book at a time, I’m also reading Jay Lake’s clock-punk novel MAINSPRING. I’m going to pick up the first DRESDEN FILES book from Jim Butcher and a Karen Joy Fowler short-story collection the next time I’m at my local public.

  27. I’m currently re-reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ “Match Me if You Can” before I start on Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” or “Left to tell : discovering God amidst the Rwandan holocaust” by Immaculée Ilibagiza. I figured I deserved a light read before I made my way through those works.

  28. Just finishing up Sakyong Mipham’s “Ruling Your World” and plan on rereading it very regularly. He offers terrific examples and insights into sharpening your awareness to best live in these crazy modern times.

  29. Having just finished my American Studies graduate class, I’m going for something a little lighter:

    The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong and wonderfully illustrated by Roger Roth.

    I actually picked it up for my son, but at age 2, he’s not quite ready for it (although he does like to look for animals in the pictures).

  30. Just finished Chuck Palahniuk’s new novel, “Rant.” Starting Elmore Leonard’s “Up in Honey’s Room.” Also reading “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.”

  31. I’m reading Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata (winner of the Newbery for Kira Kira). I reluctantly started the book, because I’m convinced that either the dog or the 17 year old kid is going to get it. But I have a fascination with war dogs, and Kadohata is a fantastic writer. It’s an awesome look at a little known aspect of the Vietnam War.

  32. I’m currently reading The Last Alchemist, which is a biography of Count Caligiostro.

  33. I am currently reading “Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.” by Scott Berg and “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk.

  34. Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky (Algonquin Books, 2004) — a rollicking good read on rescuing Yiddish literature when it was on the verge of extinction.

  35. I’m reading “Guests of Space,” the most recent volume of poetry by the far-too-underrated Anselm Hollo, and China Mieville’s new novel (his first for children), “Un Lun Dun.”

  36. What a well-read bunch you all are!

  37. I just finished rereading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri which I loved — the details really bring the story to life and the search for identity is such a universal issue and beautifully handled here. I am currently in the middle of Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk.

  38. Four books I have read in the last week –
    Old Books Rare Friends
    A Pound of Paper,
    The Know It All
    The Bookwoman’s Last Fling

    Currently reading – Casanova was a Book Lover.

  39. I started The book of air and shadows by Michael Gruber but its due back to the library tomorrow so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it by then.

  40. I tend to read a lot in my recommending area of expertise – the Baha’i religion. I just finished The Baha’i World, 2005-2006, which has an interesting essay on whether contemporary “western liberal democracy” is really the “end of history” in political evolution, or whether there isn’t a further advance that will rise above the the current assumptions of competing interests and adversarial partisanship. In effect, the logical outcome of current party- and adversary-based democratic practice is increasing focus on winning elections and decreasing focus on solving problems, with attendant problems of corruption and public disillusionment (e.g. declining election participation). I’m also reading a book by Rhett Diessner about spiritual psychology entitled “Psyche and Eros” (Oxford: George Ronald, 2007), with fascinating comparisons of Baha’i-based psychology and traditional psychological approaches.

  41. I am in the middle of several books. Everything from “Guests of the Sheik” to Mercedes Lackey’s By the Sword to “Shelf Life, a year in the life of a bookstore” I am in charge of reading/discussion series in my library picking a theme, getting university scholars and getting grants to help fund them. Mercedes Lackey is for fun the others are for our current book discussion series and the mid-east book is for a series I plan on doing in 2008-2009.


  42. “Ishi’s Brain.” It deals with, among other things, that other federal cultural agency, the one on the Mall.

  43. ’You Can Win’ by Shiv Khera is a wonderful experience. It can change one’s perspective towards life. This book can be helpful for the person who wants to grow as a leader. Action plan at the end of each chapter keeps the track of progress

  44. I am currently reading Clowngirl by Monica Drake. Which is an awesome book. I am also thumbing through A best Practice Guide to CSS/XHTML by Patrick Griffith.

    However, I have Chuck Palahniuk’s new book Rant sitting on my desk begging me to start reading it before I finish Clowngirl.

  45. I always love talking about books. I’m right in the middle of reading “The Kitchen God’s Wife” by Amy Tan. For some reason, even though I am not of Chinese descent, I love reading books written by her. I have just recently finished “Dream Country” by Luanne Rice too, and it’s a really nice novel about family, love, and magic. I basically read just about any book that catches my fancy, and my Terry Goodkind “Sword of Truth” series is just sitting at home on my bookshelf waiting for me to get back there and start flipping through their pages…

  46. I am reading The Swarm from Frank Schätzling which is an about an apocalyptic catastrophy caused by an intelligent strange sea live.

  47. Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger and “The Terror” by Dan Simmons both are nice book..

  48. I have read “Peace Like a River” and i really think everyone should read it. It’s a great book..

  49. Seems redundant, but I have been reading a few books about cars: ‘The World’s Worst Cars’ and ‘Mighty Muscle Cars’.

    Been largely reading non-fiction but have had a desire to pick up some literature again. Lately I have had a desire to read some of Hermann Hesse’s works.

  50. Usually only have time for short things these days (essays, match book covers, etc), but was given WALDEN by Michael Dolan, and it is was a wonderful and quick read. Dark and hilarious at the same time.

  51. I am reading ‘you shall know our velocity’ by Dave Eggers… what a great book!

  52. I read a couple on the go. I recommend ‘Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts – it’s a true story that’s a thriller.

    And “A Short History Of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. Which is a ‘rough’ guide to science.

    Both are Australian Authors.

    I’ve also got the “4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss – harder to get into, as I work a lot more than 4 hours a week.

  53. I usually have several books on the go at once, but list here only those I’ve recently read by my choice as opposed to those I read as part of my degree requirements. I just finished rereading Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here nor There” (btw Mark, he was born in Des Moines and currently lives in the UK) – always a lot of fun to read. I recommend “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” to anyone who grew up in the 1950s.

    I’m presently working my way through Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” and when I tire of that effort, Raymond Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye.” It seems I go through a binge of rereading Chandler every three years or so – never seem to tire of his imagery.

  54. I’m currently reading “The Grape brotherhood”, the best novel of one of the greatest american writer, John Fante. I’m reading the italian translation of the book, of course!

  55. I’m working my way through some of the great American authors right now. Hemingway and Faulkner both paint pictures of an American bygone era that fascinates me.

  56. I just finished a really outstanding novel. It was intelligent, witty, highly unusual, beautifully written, and a page-turner. It’s called The Master Planets, authored by Donald Gallinger.

  57. In the closing weeks of 2008 I read both “From a College Window” by Arthur Christopher Benson, and “Iron Toothpick – A Thru-Hiker Reveals Life, Legends and Oddities Along the Appalachian Trail” by Andy Harrah.

    And here in the opening of 2009 I’m reading “John Adams” by David McCullough.

  58. Very nice Dallas Cowboys information. I hope to be in Dallas for a game this fall.

  59. still open?

  60. Then again, the opposite could be true. – Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. – Mark Twain 1835 – 1910

  61. I just finished “The Magician’s Elephant” by Kate DiCamillo, a delightful, tender, deep read. Meant for kids but adults will find magic and deep spirit embedded in this quirky imaginative story.

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