What are you reading now?

An open thread.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Just finished–“A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, A curse, and the American Dream” by Rick Kogan, a history of the legendary Billy Goat Tavern.

    Up now– “A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion” by Catherine L. Albanese and “Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West” by Hampton Sides, about the conquest of the American West as seen through the long career of Kit Carson. These two books overlap in time but examine vastly different currents shaping an emerging nation.

    Steve Allen used to do a program called Meeting of the Minds in which various historical personages meet to discuss a wide range of topics. I’m trying to envision Ralph Waldo and Kit meeting Mike Royko for a shot and a beer in the smoky, subterranean depths of the Billy Goat.

  2. Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) by Murasaki Shikibu. I’m exactly 400 pages in, just 666 to go. The only book listed so far I’ve heard of is Albanese’s, though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet (I’ve read her previous books and am familiar with what she argues in “Republic”).

  3. Gulp, I’m reading Sharyn McCrumbs’ Edgar Award winning BIMBOS OF THE DEATH SUN – a 1988 murder mystery set at a SF convention (members of the FictionMags yahoo group had been discussing it) . I do read lots of non-serious work – and just finished a reprinted novel from a 1930s G-Man magazine. On the to read fresh stack (as I have shelves of “to read”) is SORCHY SMITH AND THE ART OF NOEL SICKLES.

    “Serious” reading currently is the short pamphlet from 1850s “Warning from the West and a Response from the East” – an anonymous pro-Universalist tract. On the fresh “to read stack” is that 4 years of bound weekly “Star of the West” from the 1840s I’ve been putting off (blogging about it means it has to get more attention than just reading it would), and the nicely titled “Truth or Error” edited by E.Manford in the 1840s and published by him in Indianapolis.

    and of course, tons of magazines – been reading a few years worth of the Church of the Brethren’s MESSENGER. You have to admire a denominational publication that can run a letter from a non-member telling them that they are all going to hell; and print it without editorial comment.

  4. – “Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics,” by Brian Clifton
    – “A Deadly Yarn,” a knitting murder mystery by Maggie Sefton
    – “Life in Treetops,” by “Canopy Meg”, aka the awesome Meg Lowman, who is more or less the Jane Goodall of treetop research

  5. I’m thoroughly enjoying “All the Rest Is Noise,” Alex Ross’s history of classical music in the 20th century.

    I could pretend to still be reading “Eating Stone,” a wonderful book about bighorn sheep in the desert Southwest by Ellen Meloy that I picked up in Utah in 2007, but I haven’t opened it in more than a month. I hope to get back to it.

  6. I tend to have one piece of fiction, and one piece of non-fiction going at the same time.

    Fiction = an enjoyable piece of “juvenile popcorn”, WEASEL’S LUCK, familiar to the Dragonlance geeks out there…

    Non-Fiction = YOUR INNNER FISH by Neil Shubin

    In the near future I’m looking forward to SELLSWORD (another piece of Dragonlance popcorn), and THE STORY OF e (a history of mathematics involving the number “e”).

  7. _The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism _by Andrew Bacevich (SO good) and _First We Read, Then We Write_ on Emerson on the writing process, by Robert Richardson. I feel so glamorous having that second one because it’s not even published yet! And it is just wonnerful wonnerful (Lawrence Welk, or was that Ed Sullivan?).
    I’m starting a sabbatical pile and those sexy vampire novels (Twilight, etc) are going ON IT. On the TOP.

  8. I’m reading a season thematic trade paperback called HP Lovecraft’s Book of the Supernatural (edited by Stephen Jones; Pegasus Books, New York, 2006). The subtitle sums it up for me: “20 Classic Tales of the Macabre Chosen by the Master of Horror Himself.” I’m reading it because I enjoy short stories, spooky short stories, and spooky short stories around the chilly dark of Halloweentide. Also it was free to me because I picked it off of the book reviewer’s slush pile to read over lunch one day when I was temping at USA Weekend Magazine a couple of years ago and forgot to return it. So since the official reviewer can’t tell you what he or she thinks, I’ll tell you it’s pretty good.

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