What are you reading? Winter 2021-22 Edition

I think it’s been a year-ish since the last “what are you reading” thread – at least that’s what Search tells me. Since many of us might be indoors more these weeks – cold in the north, hot in the south – it’s time for a good book.

I hadn’t read Emily Mandel’s Station Eleven yet, so just added it to my Kindle. It might be a little too timely, but it has a reputation as a good read.

I’m finishing up Joan Didion’s The White Album, essays from 1968-72. Excellent prose, and underlines the discourse has not changed much in 50+ years.

I also added to Kindle Leviathan Falls, the 9th entry in the Expanse series. I’ve devoured all the predecessors and enjoy them so much more than the video series.

BTW, in my opinion the best update Amazon made to Kindle and their website in the past year automatically grouping book series. Saves a few clicks.


Dune. Great book so far. Have been told that I would like it by about 5 or 6 people and even gifted a copy but this article was what finally prompted me to pick it up.


Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere-related work. I just finished Rhythm of War. I also really enjoyed his Mistborn and Wax and Wayne series.

Since I’m out of Stormlight Archive material for now, I’m into the fourth book in Jeff Wheeler’s The First Argentines series. Wheeler tells enjoyable stories.

When I finish Wheeler, I’ll go see what else is in the Cosmere while I wait for the fifth book of the Stormlight Archive. Dune is also on my list.


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

V2 by Robert Harris

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

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I’m reading the audio version of “World War Z,” by Max Brooks. I am about 60% through and loving it! Let me state that I am not a Zombie fan at all but someone on Reddit recommended the book and convinced me to try it.
I’m told this is nothing like the movie so if you didn’t like the movie doesn’t mean you won’t like the book.

The audio is fantastic with many different “actors” not just one reader. It’s an apocalyptic novel that’s addictive and so hard to put down. It’s a social commentary written in 2006 but eerily could be applied to our present time and the pandemic we are experiencing which could have been so much worse.

I’m not doing it justice but in my opinion it’s an amazing and creative book.

Check it out! I borrowed it from my library.


Doubling back through the stuff I haven’t read in Discworld. I’m going to be bummed when I finish the rest of them - it’s hard to find good writing like that. :slight_smile:


Listening on Audible to The Midnight Library. Reading on Kindle the Zone War series.

Very different styles of sci-fi , both very engaging.


I’ve committed to listening to at least one fiction book a month. I always pick something to learn from, and I recognize I need to not always be looking for something to highlight. I decided to go with “classics” for as my “at least one a month goal. Some I may have never read, others it’s been a long time. Therefore I’m starting with “Say Cheese and Die” by R.L. Stine :rofl:

But for real, I’m starting with “The Great Gatsby”


I’ve started the ten-year reading program called The Great Conversation which uses The Great Books of the Western World. I have the 1990 edition, but all are available online, perhaps with different translations.
I’ll check back in in 2032 and let you know how it went :slightly_smiling_face:


I went to graduate school at a university that required all undergraduates to take a “Western Civilization” discussion section based on the Great Books. I taught 5 or those sections every semester for two years. Most painful experience I can recall – the students could not have hated the readings more. They had nothing in their educational backgrounds that made Locke, or Plato, or Mill, or Machiavelli, or Virgil or any of the others remotely accessible to them. It’s admirable that you’ve decided to take the dive – no better way to understand why the west is the west.


We’ve got my parents set of GBOTWW that they bought when it came out in the early 1950s. I’ve read some of it and enjoyed using the Syntopicon, sort of an early days Goggle Search. It’s hard to imagine how they were able to write that without unlimited resources and computers to organize it. And, frankly, some of the translations are tedious to read.

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Mortimer Adler (editor of GBWW) is the god of syntopic reading, and one of my intellectual heroes.
I’m re-reading his How to Read a Book now too.

In GBWW, some of the translations were replaced in the second edition, and The Great Conversation became a separate book.

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There are some great picks on here!

I’m currently reading The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul and Lives of the Stoics by Ryan Holiday. I have the Walter Isaacson biography of Benjamin Franklin on Audible too.

I hadn’t heard of the GBOTWW until now - intruiged and will check it out!

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World War Z. How the world deals with a pandemic (Zombie variant)

@anon41602260 @JohnAtl I really appreciate your comments about the Great Books. @anon41602260 your comment that “they had nothing in their educational backgrounds that made Locke, or Plato, or Mill, or Machiavelli, or Virgil or any of the others remotely accessible to them” is profoundly true and sad. As the head of a private school I can tell you that one of the biggest problems in education is the loss of respect and appreciation for the liberal arts and great literature----by parents. The focus on careerism by which I mean seeing education exclusively as the means to a better career (read money) with little regard for the importance of developing a better mind and better character has resulted in an educational system that is capable of “producing” (I dislike that word when speaking of developing human beings) highly skilled but poorly educated graduates and in some cases highly skilled barbarians. There is a lot of bad fruit as a result, not the least of which is an electorate and elected officials with no understanding of the underlying principles and presuppositions of a republic, the American Republic, the Constitution …

It seems appropriate to end this response with a quote from Plato:

That the universal voice of mankind is always declaring that justice and virtue are honorable but grievous and toilsome; and that the pleasure of vice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are only censured by law and opinion…I am much more certain…that true education…will have the greatest tendency to civilize and humanize the student in their relations to one another.–The Republic

PS Regarding the topic of this thread I’m rereading Les Miserables.


Recent reads include the following:

Bonk by Mary Roach
The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef
Robert A. Heinlein by William Patterson
Subtract by Leidy Klotz
Falling by T J Newman


Like, OMG, that sentence is super-long and super-hard and I couldn’t share it on Twitter to ask what my friends think it means because it’s too long for a tweet. The only “Plato” I know has a store where I get trendy clothes. Is that who you’re talking about?



Does the single book The Great Conversation give the complete reading list?

Education is complicated. Even if during high school students are taught many of these books (or liberal arts and great literature in general) there is no guarantee that this will result in better educated young adults.

I think that high school should mainly teach how to think (by oneself, of course), but that’s me.

On topic: I recently finished re-reading “I promessi sposi” by Alessandro Manzoni, and currently reading “Lezioni di fotografia” (Photography lessons) by Luigi Ghirri and Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus.

Yes, it does.
Here’s a list I got from an online reading group, and formatted to print to keep with my books.

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