Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Reading Habits

The older I've gotten, the less time I spend reading in chunks much
larger than 5-30 minutes. Much of my reading time goes to newspapers
and magazines. I read the Salt Lake Tribune daily in print, selected
categories e-mailed to me daily from the New York Times and Deseret
News, and nearly every word of the Onion online each week. I love
reading stuff about human nature, including humor, and stuff that
affects me as a consumer, but I skim or ignore most political stuff.

As far as magazines, I'm a huge fan of the New Yorker; I recently
stopped it for about a year, but I really missed it and felt quite
relieved when I started reading it again, though I sometimes have to
skip interesting articles due to lack of time, and I only read about 1
out of 3 short stories. I love the new weekly cartoon caption contest!
I also closely read Entertainment Weekly, Time or Newsweek (right now
Time, but I switch subscriptions every year or two), Rolling Stone,
Esquire, Giant, Dialogue, Sunstone, Ensign, Irreantum, and every five
years or so I subscribe to a year of Writer's Digest, which I'm
getting right now. I was getting one called Radar, but I hear it's now
defunct. There are probably a couple more mags I subscribe to but am
forgetting right now. And to tell you the truth, this is actually
fewer magazine subscriptions than I've had at times. I'm often mocked
for always having a magazine jammed in my back pocket, including at
church. The other day my mother-in-law was mortified that I walked
slowly through the chapel counting heads (I'm a clerk) with a worldly
ad clearly visible on the magazine poking out of my back pocket.

As far as books, I always have at least one going, but it takes me 2-3
months to get through a book, because I only read a little at a time
and not every day. Right now, I'm reading "Wicked" because someone at work gave it to me
(a guy in the New York Times Book Review recently wrote a quite funny
piece on the burden of people giving him things to read, and did Jana
Riess touch on this too in her recent Sunstone article on reading?).
It's OK and has some fun moments, but I'm not even halfway through yet
and starting to feel antsy. The POV is a mess, and dialogue ain't his
strong point, but he has a lot of imaginative details, and it's fun to
compare it with the original Wizard of Oz movie and book. (It's an
adult version of the Wicked Witch of the West's back story.)

Also, I listen to audiobooks for two hours per week, while doing the
treadmill. Right now I'm closing in on the halfway point of Saul
Bellow's "Humboldt's Gift," which is quite rich and good, although my
mind wanders a little when he goes on some of the tangents. But I can
see why Bellow is one of the modern masters, with all the amazing
detail and characterization and inner life. I'm seeing a lot of
parallels with Ian McEwan's recent "Saturday" and wonder if
"Humboldt's Gift" was an influence on him.

One thing I rarely if ever read is scriptures. There's just too much
other stuff I'd rather read. I only read scriptures if I need to look
something up for a specific purpose, and it can be months between
times. But I did recently subscribe to an e-mail service that
force-feeds me one verse a day, and that's better than nothing.

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