Wednesday, December 21, 2011


My goal this coming year is to become smarter. People laugh when I say this, because it is kind of impossible to be "smarter," per se, but I am at the very least going to be more well-read, better informed and I will make an attempt to be more cultured (likelihood of this last one happening = very small).

Part of the goal is reading some more serious books. I have a tendency to skew my reading habits towards mass market paperbacks/genre fiction, etc. This generally includes romance, paranormal anything, urban fantasy, and more. Things which I generally don't want to show people the cover in public. I am not saying here that it is bad or unacceptable to read these types of books, I'm just thinking I should intersperse them with books that will make me think a bit more.

 The first one up is The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (link to NYT book review). I remember reading the article that spawned this book; if I recall correctly, I skimmed it, agreed with it, and moved on. Clearly, I didn't do anything then. But as a person who spends at least 40 hours a day on or near a computer, I want to know what's going on up there. Also, it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction, so I figure that all things considered, it's probably a pretty good book.

To find the books I want to read, I've been combing lists of best books of 2011 from everywhere. I've looked at the Economist, New York Times, Pulitzer Prize nominees, Foreign Policy's Favorite Reads, Publisher's Weekly, and the National Book Award finalists, to name a few. I am being a bit picky about which books I choose off the lists, though, because there are so many good ones, and the ones that attract my attention are the ones that end up in multiple places.

One book that came up consistently was The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (link to NYT book review). All told, it was in the New York Times' 100 Notable Books, Publisher's Weekly Best Non-Fiction, Foreign Policy's Best Reads, and, if those all weren't enough, it won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction.

It looks great, and with so many people saying good things, I'm really looking forward to reading it. Besides, it it tells of a person who collects manuscripts. Books are my first love, after all.