Reading . . . Or not

I read mostly non-fiction. I sometimes read memoir, which is the closest I get to fiction these days. I’ve read exactly two books this summer, one non-fiction and one memoir. I’d like to read some more, and I’d actually like to not watch tv. That’s a hard thing considering my current habit of falling asleep to it. But that could be replaced by reading, which I used to do many years ago.

That’s just one of the habits I’d like to develop. And I figured I should start now. So, I’m going to look for a few good books to read, but I’d love some recommendations.

11 Replies to “Reading . . . Or not”

  1. What kind of nonfiction are you looking for? I think the last great nonfiction book I read was “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.”

  2. I’m not really sure what you like fiction-wise. I’m a big fan of the romance genre, as you probably know. I also ready mysteries.

    Popular genre-y types:
    Janet Evanovich – One for the Money and so on, up to the latest, Explosive 18 – humorous mystery
    George RR Martin – A Game of Thrones and so on, up to the latest, A Dance With Dragons – fantasy series, sort of medievalish
    Steig Larsson – Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc.
    Meg Cabot – Size 12 Is Not Fat , sort of chick lit mystery, light but not stupid
    Sherry Thomas – Beguiling the Beauty, Ravishing the Heiress (any of hers, actually) – historical romance
    (I can keep going with romance recs… let me know)

    On my to read or to finish list:
    Divergent, Veronica Roth (YA dystopia)
    A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (won a National Book Critics award)
    Just Kids, Patti Smith (memoir)
    Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker (fiction with a kind of dystopian element)
    The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
    The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater (YA dystopia)

  3. Jackie,

    I usually read political non-fiction or techie non-fiction. I just read Chris Hayes’ new book. And I’m in the middle of a book on creativity. I’ve also read things about traffic (Traffic, in fact) and the building of the highway system. So, I’m kind of nerdy. 🙂

    Wendy, thanks for the recs. Some of those definitely look interesting. I generally like Meg Cabot, so I might give that one a go.

  4. A very fast read that your geeky family and geeky students might enjoy is “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. It is filled with ’80s references (computer games, D&D, music) in a mildly dystopic setting. Not something I would usually pick up, but I really loved it- gave it to my 12 yo and he read it in a day (obviously not getting any of the 80s references) and gave it two thumbs up.

  5. I recently read Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and it was fabulous. I had put it off because it was so daunting but I am glad I finally tackled it. I’ve also just read all three of A. J. Jacobs’ books and loved them: The Know-it-all (about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica), A Year of Living Biblically, and Drop Dead Healthy (about trying to live more healthfully). Those are all nonfiction, but I do read fiction as well. The Maisie Dobbs series is a mystery series set in England between the world wars. It’s a recent favorite of mine.

    Please share what you read and enjoy!

  6. Things I’ve read recently (or recently again)
    Tigana: Guy Gavriel Kay (historical fantasy with political undertones: a prince dispossessed by sorcerous invaders uses magic and machinations to unite the kingdom).
    Fionaver tapestry: Guy Gavriel Kay (Lord of the rings-style trilogy battling an evil dark lord. Spiced up by including modern characters who arrive in Fionaver and change the course of events.)
    The name of the wind: Patrick Rothfus (Slow moving story of a extraordinary (and magical) boy growing up, told retrospectively)
    Divergent & Insurgent: Veronica Roth (Young adult dystopia. Has the now cliched “game” that young people are forced to participate in for some societal purpose, like Hunger Games & the Maze, but it’s pretty good anyway).
    The Friend that got away: (Collection of essays on friendship by the usual freelance writing crowd in Gen X).
    Poser: Claire Dederer (Essays about raising a baby in turn of the 20th century Seattle w/ yoga overtones. The yoga isn’t interesting to me, but the baby raising comments are funny, but this is a library book, ’cause it might of special interest).
    Forever: Judy Blume (I’ve been re-reading all the Blume books, ’cause my 8 yo has been reading the Fudge books. So far, it’s historically interesting, describing sex in the 70’s, like in the 70’s show. I think it might be a particularly interesting read for someone with an older teen, like you, to think about comparisons of sexual coming of age now and 30+ years ago)

    On my read list:
    Crown of Thorns
    Friends Forever: Danielle Steele (Looks like light reading fun. Not sure why it would be avaialble in a limited addition hardback for $127, though. Interesting. Looks like it might be released to Kindle).

  7. Here are some non-fiction recs, trying to stick mainly political or geeky:
    * The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner (This is a slow read for me, but it’s amazing to see all that originated at Bell Labs. Radar/Sonar, Information/Communication Theory, the Transistor, Communications Satellites, etc.)
    * 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts by Kevlin Henney (Collection of short essays. Lots of good things to think about.)
    * We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley (His recent book on the current economic situation and what the political leaders need to do to resolve it.)
    * The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman (Erdos rocks.)
    * The Story of Science (books 1-3) by Joy Hakim (These were written to be textbooks, but I found them enlightening to me.)
    * Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? by Molly Ivins (I love Molly Ivins and her irreverent political humor. The world’s a worse place because she’s no longer with us.)
    * Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (I don’t completely agree with her methodology, but it’s interesting to see the difficulties of getting by when working minimum wage jobs like hotel maid, Walmart employee, waitress, etc.)
    * Coders at Work: Reflects on the Craft of Programming by Peter Seibel (A series of interviews with well-known coders. I pulled quotes out of almost every chapter. )

    For Memoirs:
    * Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (a girl’s realization that in spite of her parents and their incompetence, she and her brother can escape poverty)
    * Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh (can be very hard to read. He was emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by his family. Story of growing up Gypsy in Britain)
    * Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (she has a blog called The Blogess. Some of the chapters, especially the H/R one, are hilarious)
    * All There Is: Love Stories from the StoryCorps by Dave Isay (bunches of short stories that people recorded)
    * The Storyteller’s Daughter: One Woman’s Return to her Lost Homeland by Saira Shah (that homeland would be Afghanistan)
    * My Story, My Song by Lucimarian Roberts (quick read, it’s Robin Roberts mom)
    * Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu (to put you in the Olympic spirit)

  8. Kudos to you and good luck to you with the endeavor.

    I suppose you could go the audio book path as well. That could allow you to do it “pre-slumber” like you did with the television. They usually have a wide range of stuff out there, that is both fiction and non-fiction. I know in my state there is a virtual lending library, that you can access for free if you have a public library card. I can load it to my MP3 player or my tablet (but it can be played through the computer as well).

    I hope that helps.


    I see that there was a quick and plentiful response to your post. It must be gratifying to know that you have such a literary audience out there.

  9. “Bury the Chains” is a wonderful, inspiring history of the fight to end slavery in the British Empire. Nice to be reminded that good sometimes does triumph (eventually).
    “How Buildings Learn” is a thought-provoking look at how architecture actually works, by the guy who created the Whole Earth Catalog. Many of the insights are informed by his work with software types.
    “Jack of Shadows” (if you can find it) is the best short novel Roger Zelazny ever wrote.
    “An Instance of the Fingerpost” is Literature-with-a-capital-L, but readable despite that 🙂

  10. Great recommendations, everyone. I’m going to find and download a few tonight! I’ll let you know how the reading at night goes.

  11. You might want to check out “Computational Fairy Tales”, although the target demographic is your students (junior high through high school).

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