Furtively, in between work and sleep and domestic chores, we pick up that novel we've been eager to get back to. Sometimes there's only time to scratch the surface of the latest New Yorker, or 10 minutes at lunch to catch up on Daily Kos. Then there are the books, articles and digital media we keep up with for professional purposes--for many of us, there's always some mix of work and pleasure in our reading.
So what are other people reading? We asked a handful of Triangle residents with interesting perspectives to share their nightstand selections with us.
Creative writing instructor, editorial assistant at The Sun magazine in Carrboro
I'm reading a collection of stories by Annie Proulx called Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2. She wrote The Shipping News and she wrote the short story that the movie Brokeback Mountain was based on. I guess I got into the first one because I wanted to read Brokeback Mountain after I saw the movie, and I realized I really liked her work. The one I read before this is called Close Range. Her stories seem kind of foreign to me because they all take place in Wyoming. It's in the West; it's all about ranchers and cowboys. It's kind of like entering another world when I read her stories. Her language is very sparse, which is something I'm really drawn to.
I usually go one book at a time. I'm drawn to short stories because I can finish them in one sitting, whereas sometimes I'll start a novel and life will get in the way.
I don't get a lot of chance to read a whole lot besides what I read for work. I proofread the magazine so I read it over and over and over. Sometimes I read it at the office, but once we have the whole issue together I take it home and read it there.
Executive editor of Carolina Journal, a publication of the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh
I read John Stossel's book recently, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel--Why Everything You Know is Wrong. We've had John Stossel come down as a speaker before. I got to escort him around. He just digs into common myths that the mainstream media seems to get wrong. A lot of it is stuff that I've heard him say before on his show. He's a critic of the mainstream media, but he's part of it, he works for ABC. So a lot of what we do at the Locke Foundation is along the line of what he does.
I haven't read any novels in a while. I like John Grisham's stuff.
I read lots of outdoor magazines like Outside. I do hiking, kayaking, backpacking and fly-fishing, and I've been an active skydiver for 35 years, so there are a couple skydiving magazines I read. We just jumped in Virginia over the weekend. I'm usually jumping every other weekend somewhere.
And of course public policy stuff. One of my favorite magazines is Reason but I don't read it as much anymore. I haven't read a lot of these free-market journals in a while, because I deliver the message, and often they're restating the message.
I'm an investigative journalist, so I spend a lot of my time digging through documents. In fact, I took home a stack of them tonight. We've got a brand new scandal on the Tall Ships event that has nothing to do with the booze cruise. I've been on the Department of Cultural Resources for two whole weeks to release these files. We'll have a story on our Web site about it www.carolinajournal.com.
Curator of education at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh
There are two books I'm attempting to read for pleasure. The first is A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. It's one of those books my mom gives me to read, and this is kind of a controversial book for my mom, even without the scandal and the Oprah incident. I started reading it at the beach, which was kind of a funny place to try to read a book like that because it's really graphic, gruesome detail about a junkie. It wasn't the relaxing, summer fun read I was looking for, so it's still sitting on the shelf.
I picked up David Sedaris's book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. It's good, and it's definitely more relaxing.
We get lots of magazines at my house. Bust is one of my favorites. We have Popular Science, which is always really interesting. And Art Papers, that's one of my favorite art magazines and they do cover the Triangle area from time to time.
Professionally, I'm re-reading two books because I cite them a lot: The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida and a book that a professor here at the [North Carolina State University] College of Design was involved with, Design as a Catalyst for Learning. It's an excellent reference book. I heard about it first from a middle school art teacher and then I met the professor, Meredith Davis, for the first time about a week ago, and that reminded me of the book, so now I'm re-reading it. Especially with CAM, Richard Florida's ideas are really applicable. I mention him a lot when I'm talking to people and I thought, I'd better re-read that.
Executive director of Duke Performances in Durham, retiring at the end of 2006
I have a book I'm about halfway through called The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris. It attempts to show--how can I put this?--some of the downsides of the over-reliance on religious faith.
I read every issue of Harper's Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly cover to cover. And there's a serialized novel I'm enjoying in Harper's called Happyland by J. Robert Lennon. The reason it's so interesting to me is that it was inspired by the real-life story of a doll magnate. Pleasant T. Rowland, the woman who founded the American Girl doll company, was the wife of a board member of the organization I worked with in Madison, Wis. She went to school at Wells College in upstate New York, and she's using some of her fortune to try to turn that college town, Aurora, into a tourist destination.
I started reading it, and I thought, wait a minute, this sounds familiar. And I Googled it, and I realized that the woman I know was bringing a lawsuit against the author! I think it's been resolved since then.
It also somewhat deals with college politics and political correctness. It's just a fun read. I can't wait to get to Part 4!
I have a whole bookcase full of books in my study, and I can hardly wait until I have the time and the mental space to read them. They're mostly nonfiction. I like nonfiction, despite my addiction to Happyland.