After last semester I pretty much dropped off the Net for a couple of months (due to an unreliable home networking situation) and spent time reading printed books, hard copies of magazine subscriptions and paper newspapers. I highly recommend it. I am convinced that online reading is a different experience. I look forward to reading Naomi Baron’s latest thoughts on this.
Here are books I found well worth my having read:
- Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things– praised by several of my favorite contemporary authors David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, and Yann Martel.
- John Scalzi’s Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future.
- David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.
- Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.
- Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
- Andy Weir’s The Martian
I presently am finishing Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and am looking forward to reading Ann Morgan‘s The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe when it becomes available in the US in May 2015. Before then I plan to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
Tomorrow, after my classes, I’ll invite my students into my office to take any books I have read. It always pleases me to see them walk off excitedly with some pleasure reading.
What books do you recommend that I read? That I encourage my students to read?
Abloom with Ideas of What to Read
I recently purchased a five-year journal and I’m using it, as a planning tool for things I want to accomplish in the next five years. Inspired by my sister-in-law who a year ago told me that she might attempt to read my late father-in-law’s copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve begun identifying “great books” which I’d like to have read in the next few years. Ulysses is on my short-list at the moment, though I vacillate on whether I should invest the time in READING it. If so, I want to finish reading it by next Bloomsday.
I just finished reading Kevin Birmingham’s excellent The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses and gained a fuller understanding of the importance of the book. I learned a lot from listening to James A. W. Heffernan’s Great Courses lectures on Ulysses. I have explored the James Joyce resources on Openculture.com including a recording of his reading from the book. I’ve read The Odyssey (but almost 50 years ago—perhaps I should read the critically acclaimed Fagles translation). My interest has been piqued by the virtual reality project to create an educational video game of Ulysses, and I have discovered Frank Delaney’s audio podcasts reading of the work. I passed by the twitter edition! Perhaps I’ll attend Milwaukee’s Irishfest. I’ll definitely add in my five-year journal Ireland as one of the countries I wish to visit.
The question, now, is should I commit myself to reading Ulysses—or instead curl up with Robin the Newf and study my dog-eared copy of Berke Breathed‘s Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989.
Christine Smallwood has a thoughtful review in the June 9 & 16 2014 New Yorker “Ghosts in the Stacks” of Phyllis Rose’s The Shelf: From LEQ to LES.
Smallwood raises some issues about reading of considerable interest to me:
- how we choose books today has been dramatically changed by technology (our preferences and reading habits are monitored and curated
- what scholars read and how they read has changed (a distinction is made between close reading and surface reading)
I was appropriately admonished by her last paragraph:
And what about the books right in front of you that were published, even purchased, but, for all you know, might as well not have existed? My own bookshelves are filled with books I haven’t read, and books I read so long ago that they look at me like strangers. Can you have FOMO about your own life?…The alphabet is great, but there is nothing quite as arbitrary as one’s own past choices. Reading more books begins at home.”
Timeout on buying new books to read until I review what is filling my home office bookshelves. This is also a wonderful opportunity to use my LibrarianPro app.
Hmm—32 books in shelf # 1 beginning with father-in-law’s 1927 copy of the Best Known Works of Edgar Allan Poe and ending with Philip Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment. How delightful!