I have one big and uncomplicated pleasure in life, and that is reading. Sometimes it can get a little out of control. When I was young I would have a book in every room, one on the stairs, a few in my bag, and one stashed at work. Eventually I decided to rein it in a little and created a few guidelines for my reading life. I would try to have only one fiction and one non-fiction title on the go at once. I would also try to decide early on – say, the first quarter to third of the book – whether or not a book was worth sticking with. If a book doesn’t grab me fairly early I ditch it. There are so many awesome books out there and so little time to read, that I don’t want to waste my time on books that don’t either give me great pleasure or teach me something new and valuable.
But lately I’ve been on a little bit of a free-for-all. I’ve been digging in to all kinds of magazines. I ran into a favourite prof a few weeks ago and at my request he e-mailed me an academic paper that he is working on on two philosophers that I’m interested in, so I’ve been reading that. And I’ve suddenly got four books on the go all at once. I guess left my reading rules behind me this spring. Life has generally been feeling abundant and free to me lately. I guess those emotions have spilled over into my reading life too.
1. Draw the Circle; the 40 day prayer challenge
We are doing a 40 day prayer challenge at church for Lent. We’ve been reading this book together – it has a four to five page section to read each day for 40 days. I like it because it doesn’t actually have the prayers written in it. Each day is a short lesson or story – about prayer, about God, and testimonies of answered prayers. Each day you are expected to then pray your own prayers.
Maybe I’ll blog more about this experience in the future, but for today, I’l just say that it had been good.
2. There is a Season by Patrick Lane
When I went to a writer’s festival on the Sunshine Coast last summer, Patrick Lane was there and he did a poetry reading. They were beautiful and haunting and that is no surprise, as he is one of Canada’s most well known poets. At the end of the festival I purchased a signed copy of his memoir. It stood in line in my ‘to read’ pile all fall and I finally opened its cover in January. It is slow going with this one, I think because the writing is so rich. But also, it is very sad. I can only take so much at once.
3. A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
The fiction I’ve read so far in 2013 has been somewhat unsatisfying. I wanted something to really engage the imagination. At my birthday party at the end of February someone pointed out the Game of Thrones series sitting on my bookshelf. I almost forgot I had it. I had purchased the set of 4 novels at Costco for some summer reading in 2012 and never got around to cracking them. So I finally did, about a week ago. Great stuff so far. Lots of characters. Very exciting. It’s one of those books where you keep referring back to the maps printed in the front cover. At 200 pages in I’m only 1/4 through the novel, and there are three more after this one. Love it.
4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
As I wrapped up my philosophy degree I thought that if I could go back and take more courses, I might delve into psychology. Not instead of what I already learned in school, but in addition to. In January I thought I might intentionally do a little psychology reading in 2013, and when I found myself at Chapters with some spending money burning in my pocket a few weeks ago, this is what jumped out at me. I started reading it as soon as I got home. It is so interesting! The author looks at the two ways the mind thinks. It thinks quickly, automatically – that part that helps you to immediately recognize emotion in the face of another human being, or know the answer to 2 x 2. If english is your first language and you see a word written in english or hear a phrase spoken in english you can’t choose to not understand it. The mind also thinks slowly, the kind of process that is required in order to multiply 24 x 47, or count the number of times ‘the’ is written in this blog post. This book examines the relationship between the two ways of thinking, and the author seems to be arguing that while the slow, reasoning part of the brain thinks it is in charge, it is more like a back-seat driver. I’m enjoying it so far.
So that’s what I’m reading these days. How about you?