The author Nick Hornby used to have a column in Believer magazine where he listed which books he'd bought over the course of a month and which ones he'd actually read. These columns were collected into a series of books, which I own, and love, and which inspired me six years ago to start a journal of what I was reading. I don't keep elaborate track of my books, just writing down what I read in a given month and occasionally marking really good ones with a star. But it's interesting to look back at what I've read at a given time.
Do you have specific types of books for different times? (And am I the only one who derives pleasure in just gazing upon them, or in rearranging my bookshelves?) My day's reading goes like this: serious study on the way to work, books for work during the day, then lighter study or just pleasure reading on the way home (I'm particularly fond of memoir for lighter reading). Magazines or art books in the early evening if I get 5 minutes to myself, and then maybe 10 minutes of art books or devotional reading before bed. Graphic novels only when I have a day off to myself (so I can finish them in one sitting). With occasional novels or books about music for the odd evening spent reading instead of TV.* But nothing that will excite me too much since I need to stop for bed, especially since those nights are usually when The Dude is at rehearsal and it would be way too easy to stay up late.
Anyway, I've been keeping track of my reading on Goodreads lately, and while I like aspects of it, I'd rather be writing about them here. So here's what I'm currently reading, and hoping to finish by the end of the month.
Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art by Elissa Auther
Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962 by Paul Schimmel
Ah, my art books. I just finished the Thornton book, it was my "light" reading for on the way home. Fascinating stuff, each chapter was devoted to a separate section of the art world - the "world" however involving some aspect of commerce (or reaction against it) and so there was no separate section on art museums or art history except as they intersected with the other spheres (auctions, schools, fairs, prizes, magazines, biennales, and studios).
I just went for a brief visit to the exhibit "Destroy the Picture" at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and since I got some birthday money I splurged and bought the exhibition catalog. So now that's supplanted the Auther book as my current art history/criticism book as I want to read it before visiting the exhibit again.
Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in 19th Century America by Ann Braude
My "study" book for the month. I'm such a nerd, during this first part of the year when we have Black History Month, Women's History Month, and then Child Abuse Prevention Month all in a row, I read something related to each during that month (having the time frame also helps me focus on getting it finished). Last month I read an excellent book on Sojourner Truth (Sojourner Truth's America by Margaret Washington) and a comment in there got me interested in the connection between spiritualism and women's rights.
Honoring the Body: Meditations on a Christian Pratice by Stephanie Paulsell
Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating: Norman Wirzba
These two I'm reading as my Lenten study with a friend. I actually just finished the Paulsell book last week (we met to discuss it Friday). I read this years ago and thought it was fine but it didn't really speak that much to me then. Now, years later, with kids, and getting older, I found it much more meaningful. I don't know that I'll make any changes in my life as a result of reading it, but I thought it gave good language to some of my experience, and that is often useful.
Switch: How to Changes Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath
Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution by Jody Raphael
Books I'm reading for work. Well, for myself, really, but I think they might be useful for my work (or maybe that's just wishful thinking) and so I read them when I need a break from the computer or the phone.
The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis by Paul Sabatier
Selected Works from the Dayton Art Institute Permanent Collection (DAI)
These two are my current "just before bed" reading. I get into bed, read a little scripture, read a little from one of these, and turn off the light.
I've been working through the Dayton Art Institute book for months and imagine it will take months more. Mostly I read from whatever devotional book I'm working on instead. Often lives of the saints. This one is not so inspiring as they go, but I've started it, so now I'll finish it. One of the few biographies I've come across that is leaving me less interested in the person than I was when I started. Oh well.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
I gave this to The Dude last year and finally got around to reading it myself. Woah. Fabulous. So inspiring. There's so much I want to underline but it's not my book... I really wish this had been around when I wrote a college essay on Mapplethorpe because looking back I so clearly had no clue, but oh well. I feel that way about most of my college career (and have pretty much regretted it ever since).
*And before anyone points out that I could read any night instead of watching TV/DVDs, that is pretty much the only way The Dude and I get to spent time together on a regular basis. Luckily we both love movies and similar TV shows.