Whatcha Readin'?


I am an avid reader. I have been from the time I could read. I read every single day and I always have at least one book going; sometimes, I have as many as three at a time.

I don’t really have a reading list. Actually, that’s not true. I do have a list of books on my library account that I will eventually order from the main branch of the LA Public Library since my local library has little I want to read that I haven’t read before. That’s not really an exaggeration. Their “Classics” section is smaller than my shoe collection, and it contains such garbage as Ayn “Master of the 300-page soliloquy” Rand and The Road (you can read about my contempt for this book here). How it is that The Road qualifies as a “Classic” is truly beyond my powers of computation.

Time was, I would read only books that were written in other languages or in other centuries. I’ve always been fascinated by tales from different eras, cultures and perspectives than my own. I am a book snob. I admit it. I’m not well-versed in modern fiction, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons.

I’m currently reading The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. The books I read before that are World War Z by Max Brooks, which I read in two sittings, and The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. Both of them are great. They are both very thorough, engaging and excellent examples of great modern fiction. The Gone-Away World and The Diamond Age remind me that I need to add more humor to my writing. I think, if I put my mind to it, I could write something better than both of those books, if I do say so myself.

As I wrote about the other day in the post On Being Finnish, I’ve taken a fancy to reading Finnish Literature. I don’t know much about my cultural heritage, and sadly, there aren’t that many Finnish books that have been translated into English. I’m working my way through all of them.

I love to immerse myself in strange literary cultures. I tend to fluctuate between completely random and totally obsessive in my reading habits. I’ve read nearly every non-fiction book I can find about living in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. I’ve read all the books about The Winter War. And now, I’ve moved onto Finnish literature.

Sometimes, I’ll pick up a book, decide it’s not what I’m in the mood for after reading fifty pages and put it back on the shelf. I always go back to them eventually. The great thing about library books is that I can’t do that. There’s a time limit on how long I can keep a book. It forces me to get down to business and finish them.

While I don’t have a reading list per se, there are an infinite number of books I would like to read. The sad thing is, I’ll never get to read every book I’d like to read in the course of my life. The good thing is, I will never run out of reading material. Life is too short to be spent reading mediocre books.

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