Now that the Presidential Campaign is on a brief but merciful lull, I can get back to my more usual blog fare: reading, writing, and writing about writing and reading. At any given time, I have several different volumes of several kinds going. Here’s what I’m currently up to:
Signal to Noise (Silvia Moreno-Garcia) Book clubs are good. Geeks are good. Speculative Fiction is good. For all these reasons, and including the lovely people involved, the Geek Mountain State Book Club is one of my ongoing delights. If you know Geek books, you know that some of them can get quite lengthy, so I try and read ahead. So I’ve just started this, which we have up for discussion in May. It’s actually not a long book, but I try and front-load! Too new to say much about it yet, but it involves mix tapes and urban fantasy, set in Mexico City in the 80s. On subject matter alone, there is approximately a 0% chance that I won’t love it. Speaking of zeroes…
Nonzero (Robert Wright) At any given time, I try to rotate between something from fiction, nonfiction and spiritual (that tricky category that straddles both realms). I’m currently at the non-fiction stage in the rotation, and so am reading this, Robert Wright’s exploration of the “meta-story” of social evolution. It’s been on my list for a long time, ever since I saw it on a list of books former President Clinton was reading some time in the early 2000s. After I finished weeping thinking of “reading” in connection with the then-current occupant of the White House, I made a note to check it out. It’s been well worth it. So far, I’m in the section that reviews the “arrow” of social/technological/economic development running through history. The very hopeful thesis is that, despite the vagaries of history and temporary ups and downs, there’s an underlying trend toward larger scale, increasingly complex societies based on the “nonzero” game of cooperation. I’m really interested in getting to the part where Wright speculates about, based on where we’ve been, where we’re going next.
Lucky Fish (Aimee Nezhukumatathil) I also have some poetry in the hopper at any given time. On the “new school” side, I’m currently reading the latest volume by one of my favorite contemporary poets, Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Her work is a wonderment of connections between personal and global history, the natural world, the interior world, and popular culture. Illuminated throughout by wit and compassion. And she is, incidentally, the featured poet in the forthcoming annual print edition of Mud Season Review, a literary journal where I’m the co-editor of Poetry. We’re thrilled to have her!
Poems and Songs (Robert Burns) And kicking it “old school” on the poetry side, I have this collection by Robert Burns going. If 18th hunner years romantic bards writing in scots sassenach wi’ wit ‘n’ verve ur yer thing, ye micht wantae check this oot. Quite seriously, besides the delight of looking up new words in the glossary in back, the lyrical nature of his verse is second to none. And you don’t just have to take my word for it- Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger and Bob Dylan are all pretty fond of him as well.
The UFO Enigma (Peter Sturrock) Ever since I was a wee lad, I’ve liked my unexplained phenomenon, and none more so than UFOs. It’s a subject that’s been so thoroughly ridiculed at this point that it’s difficult to discuss seriously. Speaking of signal-to-noise, around 95% of UFO reports are clearly noise- low-quality reports, misidentifications, hoaxes, etc. But there remains a residue of around 5% “signal” that is genuinely baffling and highly unknown to contemporary science. This book is a presentation of the proceedings of a scientific panel brought together by Laurance Rockefeller in 1997 to examine some of the “best evidence” that investigators had to present. I’m looking forward to reading their conclusions, because the truth is still out there…
Holy Qur’an Were we just talking about truth? About 1.6 billion people world-wide consider this to be the most perfect version of a religion that has been continually revealed to humankind throughout history, starting with the Jews, and then the Christians, and culminating here. As a syncretic panentheist I don’t really do exclusive claims to truth. But I do respect spiritual traditions from around the world and throughout history, so I’m almost always reading somebody’s scripture.
If You meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! (Sheldon Kopp) Take that, scriptures! Sheldon Kopp uses the language of psychotherapy, mythology and numerous religious traditions to highlight what he sees as a universal human journey from looking for the answer from someone else to realizing that it is only found within. This is my “car book”, I read a page or two to provide myself with a moment of zen before heading in to the office.
JLA Vol. 6 (Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, David Baron) On the topic of religion and myths, comics writer Grant Morrison thinks superheroes are our contemporary legends. I usually have a comics collection on my Nook for night-time reading before bed, and I couldn’t be happier than with this one. Though I’ll always be a Marvel boy at heart, things don’t get any bigger or more legendary than the heaviest hitters from DC Comics, the Justice League.
So that’s what I’m currently reading! How about you?