There's an interesting meme doing the rounds: what webloggers are reading this summer. This, of course, is right up my street. So here's what I'm reading currently... although it's actually the middle of winter here in New Zealand.
I'm an eclectic reader, so I usually have a number of different books on the go at the same time. I'm also a fussy reader and if a book doesn't 'grab' me, I don't hesitate to ditch it and move onto something more exciting. A recent example of this was the Hemingway biography I was reading. It's a huge book and I got about 1/4 of the way through it, before I lost interest due to the leaden prose and snails pace narrative. I did manage to get past Hemingway's Paris period in the 1920's and into the early 1930's - of which the most interesting bits were the anecdotes of Hemingway's relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. But this is one of those biographies that spends too much time on the minutiae of its subject's life, at the expense of moving the narrative along. It's like riding a horse that stops every two metres to chew some grass and masticate on it, instead of galloping along at a brisk pace so you can check out the scenery.
I also just finished Cory Doctorow's second published novel, Eastern Standard Tribe. I read this book entirely on my Palm Pilot, as a Plucker file (Plucker being a form of e-book). Reading ebooks via my PDA is something I'm rapidly getting used to and enjoying. I also read Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture this way, via PDF in that case. I have more to say on the subject of ebooks in later posts. Incidentally, Janet Tokerud wrote a good overview today on why ebooks rock. Back to Cory's book, I enjoyed it although I felt his first novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was better. Given the title of his latest novel, I wanted Cory to explore the "tribe" theme some more. It's something I'm very interested in right now in relation to Generation Y's tribal tendencies. Even so, it's well worth downloading EST onto your PDA.
I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. It's about Australian Aboriginal people and their tradition of charting their ancestry, communities, and boundaries of the land via songs. From the back cover: "to sing the songs was an honoured duty and in each telling the stories would change and sing the world afresh." It's a fascinating book which I've heard a lot about from bloggers and new-age Knowledge Management types. I'm up to the part where Chatwin lists extracts from his old journals, which has sort of stopped the narrative in its tracks. So I've put it to one side for a while, but I'll definitely pick it up again later. And then I intend to go back and read all the blogs that have discussed the book, as it looks like there's a lot of fertile ground there (pun intended).
What else am I reading right now? A few books and various papers relating to a technology project I'm exploring. More on that later. I also bought and started Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, which he wrote for children but is charmingly imaginative for adults too (or at least this one!). Kipling drew some pictures to accompany the stories, which are included in this edition of the book. It's escapist fiction, but the first two stories (How the Whale got his Throat, and How the Camel got his Hump) made me glow with a calm happiness. I look forward to reading them to my young child soon.
I've also got Howard Rheingold's The Virtual Community lined up, that should be next cab off the rank. There are also a bunch of books I got from the library or bought on special, that I will pick up when the time is right. Like Douglas Coupland's Polaroids from the Dead. I'm a Coupland fan - Microserfs and Girlfriend in a Coma were especially memorable. I got William Mitchell's book Me++ last christmas and I started it earlier in the year. However Mitchell is a bit frustrating to read. His ideas are wonderful - the book is subtitled 'The Cyborg Self and the Networked City', which is a good indicator of its themes - but his writing is often stilted and lacking oomph. But I must finish it. I've also got Joseph Heller's Catch as Catch Can waiting in the wings. It's a collection of stories by the writer of probably my favourite book of all time, Catch-22. I've read that at least half a dozen times over the years. This latest book has some "lost chapters" from Catch-22 and "further tales" of its main character Yossarian. Sure that was just a marketing ploy to get me to buy the book - but it worked.
So that's a summary of what this weblogger has been reading or is waiting to read. I do feel a bit uncool for not including a Neal Stephenson book. What kind of a tech blogger am I! ;-) But I did warn you I had eclectic tastes. Which is another way of saying that I've come to terms with being a Generalist. It is kind of fun being one after all.