What Are We Reading These Days?

I spend a lot of time talking about online presence, social media, the interwebz etc. But sometimes you should stop texting and read a book or something.

I am an avid reader – the Toronto Public Library is one of my favourite places to be – any branch, any time. It’s the largest library system in North America. Some days it makes me smile to think about what a gift it is. Here’s the conversation:

ME: May I have this $50 hardcover book to take home and read for free?
TPL: Sure. We just need your ID (library card), and for you to bring in back in a couple of weeks.

(three weeks later)

ME: May I have another $50 hardcover book to take home and read for free?
TPL: Sure. Oh – you haven’t brought that other book back yet.
ME: Oh. Sorry. Can I bring that one back next time? And can I have this new one anyway?
TPL: Sure. And you’ll owe us sixty-five cents when you come back.

Incredible. As I am a book slut, a veritable written word junkie, the library is a good bet for me, with usually 20+ items on hold at any given time, plus the impulse reads when I go to pick up my holds.  Some would say my tastes are eclectic, those who know me well would say, “of course you’re reading that!” They also know I have two or three things on the read at any given time – the floor next to the couch is currently covered with The Midwife of Venice, The Sentimentalists, this month’s Vanity Fair and a copy of Walden I was using to make a self-righteous point.  I have managed to work my way out of my literary disaster porn phase, so what’s being read in my house these days? A combination of work-related books and books for fun.

Marjorie Garber’s The Use and Abuse of Literature  Drawing on such literary notables as Wilde, Woolf, and Eliot, Garber assesses trends in literary theory and criticism versus popular reading tastes, noting that one era’s trash becomes another’s classics. Declaring that interpretation is part of the life of the work of art, Garber encourages readers to be bold in responding to the rich allusiveness, deep ambivalence, and powerful slipperiness that is language in action.
(That sounds quite wordy, but it’s a book about literature.)<

Tina Fey’s Bossypants –  no need for more explanation. It’s Tina Fey and she is awesome.

Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability  All of the tips, techniques, and examples presented revolve around users being able to surf merrily through a well-designed site with minimal cognitive strain. Readers will quickly come to agree with many of the book’s assumptions, such as “We don’t read pages–we scan them” and “We don’t figure out how things work–we muddle through.” Coming to grips with such hard facts sets the stage for Web design that then produces topnotch sites.

Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City survey of how cities around the world thrive and wither. Using a range of expository forms history, biography, economic research, and personal story he defines what makes a city successful. I like my city, so I will read this with a keen eye.

Kitty Flore’s Script and Scribble – The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. – I’ve seen a couple of articles lately about the loss of handwriting skills  so I picked this up.

So there you have it. That’s what I’m reading. What are you reading? Feel free to recommend something, and I will read it.  And my recommendation to you is to go get a library card.

Happy Friday! Have a good weekend!

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