What I’m Reading: A reading list for fall

October 23, 2012 in Inspiration, Travelogue

What are you reading at the moment?

I am always reading. I learned to read quite young and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book in hand. I still have the handwritten booklets my grandmother wrote for me to teach me to read: stories about me, my brother, and our dog, living in our log cabin in the woods.

I write a lot, but I read far more.

I’m not one of those people with a neatly compartmentalized mind that reads one book from beginning to end, digests it and then opens the next book. Nope. I’ve almost always got five or six books going at once, which I read a the winds of thoughts and time blow me.

Here’s what I’m happily chewing my way through at the moment:

On the Geneaology of Morals and Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche 

I thought I’d start with something light! 😉 A good friend gave this to me recently, with an inscription and something of a treasure hunt in the front, with notes on his favourite aphorisms.

“I believe #232 is your summation…” 

What is #232, you ask?

“Dreams-We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake in the same way–not at all or in an interesting manner.”

Lots of people quote, or criticize Nietzsche. It would be nice if more people actually read his stuff. There’s much to think about.


The Heart Of the Buddha’s Path by the Dalai Lama

I picked up this book in an English language bookshop in Chiang Mai in July. We have so many questions about Buddhism and this is our first time living in an officially Buddhist country. As always, we’re seeking to learn, to understand, and to get past our confusion at people painting their toenails red to ward off evil spirits and building what looked like bird houses, to us, for their dead relatives spirits to live in.

So many aspects of Thai Buddhism don’t seem to gel with the Dalai Lama’s version. It’s much more superstitious and animist here, because of the Chinese influence, we’ve been told.

Still, this book is an excellent overview in 220 pages of the basic outline of what the buddha taught and how it applies today.

The Dalai Lama is always a delightful and engaging read. He’s on my list of people I’d like to have a cup of tea with.

Conflict by Nelson Rand

If you’re going to spend any time at all in Southeast Asia, or if you have any interest in understanding the people and political situations now, this book should be on your reading list.

Nelson Rand is a fantastic journalist, that’s not a shock. This book tells his personal stories delving into the conflicts that have shaped Indo-China and the history of some very specific people groups.

I got this book in Chiang Mai also, and have read it on all of the bumpy bus rides we’ve taken across Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, looking out of my window into the eyes of the people who leap off of Rand’s page.

Every teenager should read this book as part of a well rounded modern history.


Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein

I couldn’t find the graphic for the copy I have. It’s the 1957 edition, that my dad no doubt bought for ten cents at the Kingston Public Library book sale, or so the red stamp in the front would indicate.

I found the book laying in the front of my friend’s van when I was in NH. He took me for a ride and what do I find in the front of his van? My Dad’s book. Hmm. Me thinks he appropriated it over Christmas holiday about six years ago. So, I lifted again! 🙂

I love a good sci-fi novel from time to time. Pure, unadulterated escapism. Heinlein is a master of weaving the magic.




Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

I walk a lot. I have to walk, where we live now, to do my grocery shopping, to get to the beach and back, to live life without a car. But I walk to think, to sort out my head, to disconnect from this box, to think carefully and deeply.

I’m considering taking a walk with my friend. We’ve been buddies since we were 16. Our lives lead different directions. We both turn forty soon and she’s suggested a long walk that is seeming more and more like a good idea. She shared this book with me. I shared it with my other walking companion, and then, it occurred to me that maybe you would like it too.

I’m reading a lot about walking right now, and the history of it seems to be a good place to start. The quotes on the first five pages are worth the purchase price alone.


A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin

I don’t know whether to wring Andreas’ neck or give him a big hug for introducing me to this book series in Guatemala two winters ago. I’m on the fifth book and in a love hate relationship with them.

They’re great books, obviously. But, MAN, are they a time suck. And I know I’m going to get to the end of this book and be annoyed by the cliff hanger because book six isn’t out yet.

If you’re looking for escapism and are immune to violence and graphic descriptions, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you that two years later you may still be cursing the day you got sucked in.




There are a few more, but I’ll stop there.

For those who wonder what spins around in my head, those are a few of the surface floaters.

What about you? What are you reading? What should I read next?