Writing on Reading


Several years ago I began writing reviews of the books I read.  You may find this odd, but the principle reason I did so was to remember what I read after I put the book down.  Along the way I discovered that at least a few others appreciated the reviews and GoodReads provided a great vehicle for sharing reviews with other friends who were on GoodReads.

My son has helped me appreciate the greater flexibility and wider audience a blog makes possible.  (You can read him over at BTW: Ben Trube, Writer.)  In coming blogs, I hope to post reviews of what I’m reading (some of those waiting to be read are pictured here) as well as thoughts on reading and life.

Probably the question I get asked the most is “how do you read so many books?”  A big part of the answer is that it is a habit.  I try as much as possible to set aside a couple hours in the early morning to read.  I begin with scripture reading and prayer and then usually read about 60 pages each morning, depending on the density of the book.  I usually have several books going at a time, including a night-time book.  And I usually have a book in my bag for reading between on campus meetings while I’m traveling.

What am I reading right now?  I’ve just begun Transformative Conversations by Peter Felten et al, on the formation of mentoring communities among colleagues in higher education–very relevant for the grad students and faculty I work with.  I’m most of the way through Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, probably one of the darkest of Dickens books.  I’m also reading Margot Starbuck’s Small Things with Great Love and a zany science fiction work by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, Tales of Pirx the Pilotmy bed-time reading.

I look forward to more chances to talk about books, reading and life together.  For now, I’d love to hear what you are reading.

14 thoughts on “Writing on Reading

  1. Yay! Very cool, Bob. Right now, I’m reading Dan Brown’s newest, Inferno. Guilty pleasure that will take me a day or two to finish, haha. Up next I’m finally diving in to Anna Karenina.


    • Great to hear from you! Anna Karenina brings back high school memories when, as a very different reader, I slogged through it. I wonder whether we make kids read some books too early?


  2. Right now I’m reading Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. What I read depends a lot on my mood, but I always enjoy reading about history, especially if it can be brought to life by a talented writer. Once you get used to the easy pace of this book, it is really quite good. Below is Amazons description. I would also like to mention my own book. If you enjoy the dystopian genre (NOT zombies) I hope you’ll check out Truths Blood by Tyler Roberts.

    Jayber Crow – Jayber Crow, born in Goforth, Kentucky, orphaned at age ten, began his search as a “pre-ministerial student” at Pigeonville College. There, freedom met with new burdens and a young man needed more than a mirror to find himself. But the beginning of that finding was a short conversation with “Old Grit,” his profound professor of New Testament Greek. “You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out—perhaps a little at a time.”
    “And how long is that going to take?”
    “I don’t know. As long as you live, perhaps.”
    “That could be a long time.”
    “I will tell you a further mystery,” he said. “It may take longer.”

    Eventually, after the flood of 1937, Jayber becomes the barber of the small community of Port William, Kentucky. From behind that barber chair he lives out the questions that drove him from seminary and begins to accept the gifts of community that enclose his answers. The chair gives him a perfect perch from which to listen, to talk, and to see, as life spends itself all around. In this novel full of remarkable characters, he tells his story that becomes the story of his town and its transcendent membership.


  3. Bob, I think it’s a great idea to review books in order to remember them. I have been doing that at my blog, too, but only as an additional page. I love your idea to review as part of your blog. Right now I am reading The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. II, and just before this one, I finished Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, which was fascinating. Before that was Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman, and I highly recommend it! It is funny, introspective, and downright entertaining.


    • Crystal, thanks for the comment! Great to hear about the books you are reading–enjoyed the one Feynman book I read–Six Easy Pieces, I think, and have been tempted to pick up Gladwell. Was kind of a surprise that others found the reviews helpful, which has led to some interesting dialogue and turned reading from a mostly solitary to communal experience. Have loved Sherlock Holmes from way back!


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