My Weird Fixation On What People Read at Night

When it comes to people, I’m Joe Extremely Nosey; the only superpower I’ve ever craved is the ability to secretly listen in on people’s conversations. But do I care what anyone has hidden in their sock drawer, or whether they’re having an affair, or anything of that sort? No; that stuff bores me. What I’m basically insane about knowing is what people read in their bed at night before they fall asleep. When I used to babysit people’s kids, or even today if I’m in someone’s house or apartment, I couldn’t/can’t stop myself from totally checking out the reading material on their bed-stand. If I’m at someone’s house for the first time, I always have to stop myself from going, “Hi, nice to meet you. Thanks for having us over”—and then totally dashing into their bedroom to see what they’re reading at night.

I’d rather know what someone reads at night before sleeping than I would almost anything else about them. It just fascinates me.

So, what the heck; let me ask: What is on your bed-stand right now? And before you go to sleep, do you (as I do) tend to read the same book or books over and over again? In other words, do you always have the same book or books on your nightstand, or does it vary? Do you read a particular type or genre of book, or have a favorite author you read, or do you read magazines … or what?

C’mon. Share with Shore. What’s on your bed-stand right now??

I can’t believe how eager I am to read what anyone answers. I should probably seek help.

 

Follow up post: Books on My Bedside Table

Don’t let your fear that I’m an obsessive stop you from joining my Facebook group here.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Sam

    "The Ascent of Money" (A Financial History of the World) by Niall Ferguson.

  • Latoya

    one NKJV on mine and whole stack of differnt versions on my husbands :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Sam: Is that typical of what you read at night? What's the book at night you read before that one?

    Latoya: a whole stack of different Bibles on your husband's stand, you mean? And do you both read at night in bed together before you fall asleep? (My wife doesn't typically read at night in bed before she falls asleep; she just hops right into bed and is happily snoozing before I've even turned off the light. I actually go to bed BEFORE her, just so I can spend 20 minutes or so reading before I, too, pass out.

  • Latoya

    LOL. Yes…I do mean different bibles on his stand (probably about five versions plus a bible dictionary). Our reading times vary – sometimes together, sometimes not, sometimes not at night, etc.

  • Sam

    John: There is nothing typical about my night reading. I was reading "Midlife Manual for Men" – the book you and Stephen Arterburn wrote – last year at night and doing most of the work on Saturdays.

    Then it was on to a Language Arts text I found that my niece had where I was delighted to find Ray Bradbury short stories in them as well as some other great shorts I'd never read.

    Then for a while I had my computer right up against my bed where I'd watch an episode of "The Rockford Files" on Hulu before reading blogs and then read "The Writer's Almanac" before sleeping.

    Eclectic fare I fear forms fun fantasies and fancies as I rest.

  • Meg

    I'm thrilled to be reading an advanced reader copy of Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani. She's one of my favorites! A light novel is pretty typical reading for me before bed and my husband and I almost always go to bed at the same time and spend an hour or so reading side by side. ♥ :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Sam: Thanks for the fullness of your answer. AWESOME!

    Latoya: You're the first to mention the switch! Long story.

    Meg: What's your husband read?

  • http://www.tracetalks.blogspot.com Tracey

    I like to have three or four different things on the bedside table at once. I used to, but do not anymore, read one book at a time. Now that seems crazy to me! I keep the 'One-Year Bible' and my journal there at all times. I have what I call my 'book box book' (see http://tracetalks.blogspot.com/2004/11/once-upon-… for more details) plus a lighthearted book — preferably a series — and then a spiritual-type book, which I usually let my husband choose for me (right now it's 'The Shack' which I'm apparently the last person on earth to read). Oh…the book box book right now is 'Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart' by John Guy and the lighthearted book is 'Morality for Beautiful Girls' by Alexander McCall Smith. I'm going back and forth between two different series' of his books at the moment. Normally I would have an Amy Tan book at the bedside right now, but I don't think my little table would hold 'Saving Fish From Drowning' and 'Queen of Scots'…sadly.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oh, my gosh: this is an awesome answer. I'm just … completely into this. AMAZING. I have so many questions to ask you, Tracey. But here's one: How has it come to pass that you let your husband choose your spiritual book for you, and do you have to FINISH whatever one he chooses for you? What an interesting little family tradition-type thing! Fascinating. Do you do your Bible journaling at night before you go to sleep?

  • Latoya

    well…I'm kinda used to your long stories. so please go ahead and explain what the 'switch' is..I'm dying to know

  • Latoya

    Oh, BTW..this really is a very wierd fixation

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    OKAY EVERYBODY, GO READ TRACEY'S BLOG POST ABOUT HER BOOK BOX!! It is just too fanscinating for words.

    My God. I've totally woken up, and am so … EXCITED to be reading this stuff it's insane. I've GOT to get a ton of work done today. NOBODY TELL ME WHAT ELSE THEY READ AT NIGHT BEFORE THEY GO TO SLEEP! I really can't take it.

    No, wait. Scratch that. SCRATCH THAT! TELL ME TELL ME TELL ME!!

    I think I've gone insane.

  • http://imintellegentlydesigned.wordpress.com/ mcoville

    Currently I am reading "Darwin's Black Box" by Michael Behe, of course I have a NKJV MacArthur study Bible. I start with a book by man, Behe's at the moment, then read a chapter or so of the Bible before going to bed. I also have a copy of "Our Daily Bread" to start my day with. I also started reading "Pilgrim's Progress" with my kids, but that is on their night stand.

    Thank you for this post John, interesting stuff.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mc: What's "Darwin's Black Box" about? How long have you been doing this reading routine of yours? And do you read "Our Daily Bread" before actually getting out of bed in the morning??

  • isathreadsoflife

    Well, sometimes I read the same book, day and night (if it is so fascinating !). But I like to have several books on my "table de nuit" (bedside table). Right now I am reading Mary Lou Kownacki "A Monk in the Inner City" but also Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and Nathaniel Hawthorne "A Scarlet Letter" (recommended by my son who is working in this one).I must say the last two ones are a bit difficult to read after a long day, usually I prefer lighter reading before sleeping :)

  • http://rachelatfirstchurch@blogspot.com Rachel Cabal

    Hey John, I'm reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett! AMAZINGly great read so far. My favorite character is Phillip, a monk who uses his God given wit to further the priory in his charge. I, like you, must read before sleep. It's my transition act between the day and the night. Between activity and recharge. My only issue is reading way past my bedtime. Especially with this book. Must…know…what…happens…..

  • pastoralmusings

    Craig Blomberg's Jesus and The Gospels.

  • http://imintellegentlydesigned.wordpress.com/ mcoville

    "Darwin's Black Box" is about fallacies in Darwin's theory of evolution that have been found recently in biochemistry, at least as of 1996 when the book was published.

    And yes, I try to read daily bread before I get up, at least completely out of bed. It gives me something to think about while in the shower and eating breakfast, my wife and kids are usually still sleeping when I am getting ready to leave for work. I do listen to the Bible on audio on my way to work, I recommend the Word of Promise audio book (I got it for Christmas so I am still crazy about it).

    But John, you haven't shared with the class what you have on your nightstand.

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    I don't usually read in bed, although the book I read most recently in bed was "Boomtown" by Nowen N. Particular.

    Usually, I read before going to bed, but not much thereafter.

  • http://www.brianswriting.com Brian Shields

    I have just finished the essential "The Great Derangement" by the wonderful Matt Taibbi. I highly recommend it for this crowd. I also just finished "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals" by Jane Mayer. More happy bedtime reading.

  • Laura

    I have The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer currently on my nightstand, right next to my ipod, which I use to listen to the Daily Audio Bible at night before bed (does that count)? If it doesn't, I have my NLT reading Bible next to my bed for the same purpose, so I think I'm covered there either way…

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    I just finished The Spontaneous Healing Power of Belief by Gregg Braden.

    Now on the nightstand is Watchmen (graphic novel, movie coming out in two months). It consistently makes Time Magazine's "Best Fiction of All Time" list.

    Waiting on the nightstand:

    A Life of Jesus by Shusaku Endo

    13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks (physicist)

    A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein by Palle Yourgrau

    I'd better stop… the titles are getting longer and longer…

  • http://thereisnogray.wordpress.com thereisnogray

    Wild at Heart — John Eldridge

    Revolution in World Missions–K.P. Yohannan

    and…the last 3 issues of Popular Mechanics.

    As I sit here an consider the list, I figure as soon as John Eldridge teaches me how to find my heart again, K.P. is going to get me all inspired to go into the mission field in a plane or boat I learned how to build after reading Popular Mechanics all these years. Or…Not

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com Casey

    A Lick of Frost, Blood Noir – by Laurell K Hamilton

    Moon Called – by Patricia Briggs

    Various little things I have written and havent read lately. I Just found of a Whole Bunch of my stuff that I can reread and get fresh ideas on.

    And I'm waiting for my brother to finish 'A Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy'

    And yes Shore, I noticed the switch but couldnt find a way to delicately break up the debates and comment on it. So please give us the story!

  • M.Marquez

    On my nightstand:

    Guerrilla P.R. – Levine

    The Motorcycle Diaries: A Latin American Journey – Ernesto Guevara

    unChristian – Kinnamon and Lyons (AWESOME BOOK, BTW)

    Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    I read about 1-2 chapters of each nightly. Huge reader!

  • Latoya

    OK John…three of us have now brought up the switch..next comes the story behind it :)

  • Mark Lattimore

    Right now…"How To Travel With A Salmon and Other Essays" by Umberto Eco and "Dennis Miller, The Rants." Bedtime reading has to be short and sweet.

  • http://www.rbfproject.tk rbfproject

    Right now I have 4 books on mine: 13 Things that don't make sense, The Language of God, Mere Christianity, and The Message Remix: Pause.

  • Jessica

    The air I Breathe by Louie Giglio and Sex Gog by Rob Bell. They don't keep me up for long though. By far the worst (or best) books to hit the night stand were the left behind series when I was about 17 years old. Those books kept me up until 3 or 4 in the morning. My senior year suffered for it for sure. Or, maybe it was my complete disinterest in sitting still.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    "The Zombie Survival Guide" by Max Brooks

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oh my gosh. I just got off a a 1 hr. phone call, and LOOK AT THIS!

    My bed-stand runneth over, for sure. This is amazing. It's too much! I can't stand it! I ACTUALLY CANNOT STAND IT! I'M HAVING BEDTIME READING OVERLOAD!!!

    My goodness. I'm freaked. This is too awesome. You people are killing me.

    (Morse: Hilarious!)

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Have you read it? It's awesome. And the follow-up, "World War Z".

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oh, you know, I was GOING to read both of those, but then I remembered that I wasn't twelve. You geek.

  • Charlotte

    I would LOVE to read in bed!! I used to in my previous life, but as the wife of a handicapped veteran and mother of two teenagers, by the time I get in bed I am exhausted and practically passed out!! What you need to ask me, is what books are by the john. If I'm able to read it is maybe a paragraph at a time as I'm using the facilities! Takes me longer to read things now, but I do get some reading done! Currently on the bathroom floor: Captivating (John & Stasi Eldredge), Daily Light (NIV), Healing Waters.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    How DARE you!

    I don't have to take this. I'm going to go and watch "Shaun of the Dead".

  • http://www.tracetalks.blogspot.com Tracey

    John, you totally crack me up. And thank you! In answer to your first question, my husband is a campus minister, and I was in his office one day and was looking at the GAZILLION spiritual books on his wall. I guess I wanted to add a new book to the mix and asked him which one he thought I should read (his pick: Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot). He really puts though into his suggestions, and I've loved each one so far, so we have continued in this way! Oh, and…no, I don't think I HAVE to finish reading it. But I tend to anyway.

    I wouldn't say my journal is a 'Bible journal.' I have journaled since I was eight about everything. This is just the current one that I keep and want handy for those late-night ramblings about…whatever. I already have the next one lined up — traded a sunrise photograph I took on Jan. 1, 2000 for a journal bought in Florence, Italy. How's that for bartering?

    Ask me anything and everything about the book box…I love talking about the book box! Oh, and not long after we were married, my sweet husband bought a beautiful little box to replace the cardboard Gap box where I'd been keeping the slips of paper. That's when I knew he truly understood me.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: I JUST got done watching (yet again) "Hot Fuzz." Too hilarious.

    Okay, I'll build the next one. SuddenlyHeretical.com

  • http://honestfaith.blogspot.com Barry Taylor

    Current reads:

    "Freedom Fighters" by John Humphries (about Wales' forgotten 'war' against England, 1963-1993)

    "Last Light" by Andy McNab (fiction)

    "The Evangelical universalist" by Gregory MacDonald

    "Hanes Cymru" by John Davies (translation: "The History of Wales")

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Whoa! Muy braino!

  • http://mamarosi.wordpress.com mamarosi

    I usually read My Utmost for His Highest for that day and the following day. I haven't gotten in the habit of getting up early, yet, to do it in the morning (I have three children 5 and under). I also like to just flip open my Bible, either my NIV or my NASB, and just see what God has to say. That's usually it for me. I have to add in there that I'm also reading Your Money Counts from the Crown Financial Class I'm taking.

    Blessings! Rosi

  • Lauri

    Well, John, I have 2 of the three books of yours I ordered, "I'm OK, You're Not" & "Being Christian" along with Phillip Yancey's "The Jesus I Never Knew" and Paul Alexander's "Breakin' the Chains."

    I also have my journal/sketchbook & an assortment of colored markers at my bedside.

    Great question!

  • Latoya

    Oh..and why the change from ‘Suddenly Christian’ to ‘JohnShore.com’?

  • Meg

    John, you asked what my husband reads. He reads mostly non-fiction. Right now he has a couple of things on his bedside table: Bugliosi's massive Reclaiming History, a book about probabilities called Chances Are and an Ann Rule book (he likes True Crime). Until recently, the Midlife Manual was there too. :)

    Just to indulge your fascination, I will tell you two more things about my night time reading habits:

    1. If we get to bed early enough, I will often use that time to read about two of my passions: aromatherapy and veganism. I most often use my morning/daytime readings for bible and spiritual pursuits, so the evening is a good time for other non fiction.

    2. This one is a little weird and may not qualify, but it does in mind. In addition to reading, I fall asleep every night *listening* to an UNabridged audio version of a favorite book, usually from a series. The UNabridged aspect is crucial. Right now it is Harry Potter but Jean Auel's Earth's Children series is very good for this as is Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and of course, the Chronicles of Narnia. And others. But yeah, I've "read" to all of these multiple times just by listening to them at night as I fall asleep.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Generaly I have science magazines on the bedstand (Discover, Scientific American, Scientific American Mind) and a classic book that I was supposed to have read by the end of my primary schooling but didn't. I still don't get to it though.

    I can absorb the shorter magazine articles before I nod off. In the case of Moby Dick, it was hard to get through two sentences(about one page)before I fell asleep…but I did finish it!

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    BTW: Do you like my new picture. Me in 1977 in a phone booth trying to look like a bad a**!

  • Graffight

    Right now i have a few books on the stand…my one year bible and a MacArthur NKJV Study Bible, also since I’ve read a couple of your posts I’ve acquired an interest in apologetics and i got Fast Facts on False Teachings from a friend of mine. lastly i’m also Reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell that book is amazing so far…as all of his books have been. as far as reading preferences the last few years i’ve been really interested in business, psychology and self help books.

  • http://www.badservo.com Ashley Taylor

    I have a devotional that I read every night. Last year was “Voices of the Faithful.” This year it is “Women’s Friendship” one year devotional. I also will read some of whatever else I am reading at the time. I just read “The Oath” by Frank Peretti. I also like books that are a compilation of short stories to read at bed time.

  • Candace

    I read pretty much every night before going to bed, and every morning before getting up. EXCEPT when I read every morning before going to bed and every night before getting up.

    Currently on the night stand: NASB thinline that was my first bible ever, given to me by my Baptist preacher friend shortly after my rebirth. Has my name on it and everything :-) A copy of Arterburn's Life Recovery Bible. My current devotional, Oswald Chambers' "Devotions for a Deeper Life". The current bible study book, Randy Alcorn's "The Grace and Truth Paradox". The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer. Wayne Jacobsen's "He Loves Me".

    I'm rereading one of my favorite novels ever, "Underworld" by Don DeLillo. Other books I read over and over include "Shadows on the Grass" (Isak Dinesen), the Lord of the Rings books, any C.S. Lewis.

    I occasionally go through periods when I'll fixate on one author. Looking back over the years, I've had times when I burned through everything by Tom Clancy, Anne Rice, Don DeLillo, Anne LaMotte, Wally Lamb, Thomas Hardy, Hunter Thompson.

    I listen in the car too, and recently have heard Anne Rices two novels based on the life of Jesus, "Out of Egypt" and "The Road to Canna". I also have i the car cd versions of works by John Piper, A.W. Tozer, and J.I. Packer, but not recalling the titles off the top of my head.

    But now I've strayed seriously from the bedside table theme, and if I don't call a halt I could keep us here all night …

    FUN TOPIC, John :-)

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Currently:

    –Readers’ Digest

    –A baby-name book. We used the only boy name we agreed on with our now-2-yr-old. Dangit.

    –”Miracles” by CS Lewis, which I’ve been reading off & on for about 2 months and am somewhere around Ch 4. I love Lewis, but most of his stuff takes me forever.

    –A journal and thin markers for when the fancy strikes me to write or doodle or whatever.

    The contents always vary…sometimes I go back to my faves (eg Ragamuffin Gospel–love it), other times it’s my Bible, or new books, or magazines, or even informational pamphlets I find interesting. I’m always vowing to clear off my nightstand, but only so I can fit other things on.

    My husband’s nightstand has no reading stuff…he doesn’t like to read much. Feh.

  • http://mormonsoprano.wordpress.com mormonsoprano

    The Book of Mormon, The KJV, and “The Complete Emily Dickinson”. Currently we read the BoM as a family each night before prayers. I keep my Emily nearby just because I treasure her, (you never know when you may need a good poem). I am working my way through St. John on my own right now. But I only manage about 2 verses each night before I conk out and my husband has to turn off the light for me. If I continue at this rate, I guess I should have the New Testament finished in about 20 years or so.

    When I read in an upright position somewhere other than the bedroom I do always do much better. :)

    By the way, I noticed you have now switched to johnshore.com Congrats on officially owning your name.

  • Candace

    LOVE the book box thing. That is something to introduce into my own life, I think.

    AND, I second mcoville's request to hear what's on John's nightstand …

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Tracey: OK, I can’t. I have GOT to get some work done today! Apparently I’ve lost my mind; I’m not working on this book that’s due; I’m not cleaning the kitchen; I’m not doing laundry; apparently I’m not going shopping for dinner tonight, and we’re going to chew DVD covers for dinner. Now all I’m thinking about is book boxes and people who are so much busier than I am their bathroom is their library. (Charlotte: our love!)

    Okay, but I WOULD like to know (even though I imagine it’d be hassle to tell us, so just a couple of titles will do) A: What titles remain in your book box, and B: Type in here some or all of the very last thing you wrote in your journal, if it’s not the kind of thing, you know, that could get you arrested.

  • Elle

    Culture and Development, A critical Introduction and Development theory, Reconstructions/Deconstructions. Yeah, I hate myself. Had to wake up twice and get out of bed. The purpose as you might have guessed is not to go to sleep.

  • Elle

    Ps, would rather be reading about Penguins and God

  • Cheryl

    Pretty highbrow stuff, everyone! I'll bring the level of reading material down a bit: I'm between books and reading magazines at night this week, so at the moment The Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker are on my bedside table.

  • ColorCat

    I have two shelves of books by my bed.:) Right now, the books on the shelves are a NKJV and a NIV/Chinese Bible, Rick Joyner’s Combating Spiritual Stronghold, The Final Quest, and The Call (they are better than LOR). Bob Sorge’s Secrets of the Secret Place is next to Charles Earle Funk’s A Hog on Ice (This is a fun book!), Duncan Buchanan’s The counselling of Jesus, and Zeb Bradford Long’s The Wilderness. Half of the books are in Chinese, including two books of Kuso Physics and Sciences of superheros and fictional monsters, A Walk in the Contemporary Art, and Taiwanese History in 60 minutes, 2000 years of Chinese Abusive Cultural Traditions, and couple of more with titles that are harder to translate… Oh, there is also Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer, and a math book, How to Ace Calculus: The streetwise Guide, and the fun Ig Nobel Prizes: the annals of improbably research…

    How about bathroom readings? For some of us, that is another place for reading…

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    DEAR MIKE:

    Yeah, Dr. Tyson can be a bit on the bubbly side … which is probably why he's one of those rare astronomers who has become the darling of TV talk shows. But you certainly can't accuse him of being dry.

    As a longtime astronomy nut myself, I am always dismayed by the fact that Americans are so dismally lacking in astronomical knowledge, and they seem to know more about the attributes of their zodiacal signs than they do about our solar system. If more people would read "Death By Black Hole," so much the better.

    In the meantime, a sizeable number of his essays can be found here:
    http://research.amnh.org/~tyson/

  • Lynn

    What an extensive, impressive reading list. Some of the titles posted sound interesting and others sound like they would be a cure for insomnia :) I do my serious reading online. But when I want to take a break from real life, I choose Christian fiction. I currently have 3 Christian novels by Brandilyn Collins on my night-stand. I am a people person and love to delve into fictional characters’ lives and relationships. I am hooked on the writings of many new, as well as, established female Christian authors. Come on John, we’re mostly friends here :) …you can share with us…which books/reading materials are resting on your night-stand, near the night-stand, on the floor below/beside your night-stand, or under your bedspread, John? :)

  • http://christianseverin.wordpress.com Christian Severin

    Risking some righteous wrath, I must say that the book currently next to my bed is “To Reign in Hell” by Steven Brust.

    It’s… different.

    And interesting.

    And unsettling, somehow like watching a slow-motion train wreck.

  • http://tonyyork.wordpress.com Tony York

    OK.. So you asked.

    Pagan Christianity – Frank Viola

    Jim and Caspar go to church – Jim Henderson and Matt Caspar

    I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy t-shirt – (italian sounding name – like anutucci or something.. I guess I could google it but I am being lazy)

    How Now shall we live – Colson

    Tribes – Seth Godin

    Tender Warrior – Stu Weber

    A bunch of A.W. Tozer books – I love his writings.

    Total Church – Steve Timmis

    Angels – Billy Graham

    Grand Weaver – Ravi Zacharias

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    I consider the opportunity to curl up with a good book in the evening a real luxury. I am currently reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

    Last book finished was Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Despite the somewhat lurid title, this book is actually a comprehensive look at the history of humankind’s knowledge of the Universe around us and an exhilarating celebration of the scientific method. It’s good to the very final, powerful, highly RELEVANT paragraphs:

    “To deny or erase the rich, colorful history of scientists and other thinkers who have invoked divinity in their work would be intellectually dishonest. Surely there’s an appropriate place for intelligent design to live in the academic landscape. How about the history of religion? How about philosophy or psychology? The one place it doesn’t belong is the science classroom.

    “If you’re not swayed by academic arguments, consider the financial consequences. Allow intelligent design into science textbooks, lecture halls, and laboratories, and the cost to the frontier of scientific discovery-the frontier that drives the economies of the future-would be incalculable. I don’t want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don’t understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity. The day that happens, Americans will just sit in awe of what we don’t understand, while we watch the rest of the world boldly go where no mortal has gone before.”

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Tyson, I think, is a great public face for science education and his comments above demonstrate that. A little to bubbly for me personally, but his childlike glee with science and knowledge is a great way to engage non-scientists.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    I did find another great quote by Tyson:

    The argument is simple. I have yet to see a successful prediction about the physical world that was inferred or extrapolated from the content of any religious document. Indeed, I can make an even stronger statement. Whenever people have used religious documents to make accurate predictions about the physical world they have been famously wrong. By a prediction, I mean a precise statement about the untested behavior of objects or phenomena in the natural world that gets logged before the event takes place. When your model predicts something only after it has happened, then you have instead made a “postdiction.” Postdictions are the backbone of most creation myths and, of course, of the “Just So” stories of Rudyard Kipling, where explanations of everyday phenomena explain what is already known. In the business of science, however, a hundred postdictions are barely worth a single successful prediction.

  • http://http: Becky Bloom

    I just finished reading "The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008" by Paul Krugman, and I really liked it. Even if you're not a student of economics or a math whiz, it outlines several causes of the current crisis in terms that we can all understand. Now I'm on to "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and its hit and miss for me so far. I'm really into the idea of thinking about how we are all affected by randomness and sometimes deny the possibility of some crazy event happening just because we think its not "likely" but the narrative gets a little detailed for me. What I really like to read, right before bed, is essays. I have tons of books of essays and I find that they are nice, bite-sized reads that make you feel like you went through a complete story (or idea) when you read them. I've got E.B. White, John Stewart (ha!), Sarah Vowell, David Rakoff, and David Sedaris, to name a few.

  • Candace

    Love, love, LOVE David Sedaris. Possibly, in my opinion, the funniest guy who ever lived.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Candace,

    Your position on David Sedaris is quite a defensible one. Here is an essay of his that is surely in violation of some copyright laws:
    http://people.cornell.edu/pages/bs16/Christmas/6_

    I challenge any of you not to laugh aloud!

  • Candace

    I failed that challenge :-)

    Thanks, I had not read that before.

    I think my favorite of his is one I heard (more than once) on This American Life, about his thoughts and experiences working as a department store elf/Santa's helper at Christmas. I about pee my pants laughing, every time. It's in the online archives of TAL, I am sure.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Candace: The Sedaris story you're referring to is called "SantaLand Diaries," and is found in Sedaris' little collection called "Holiday on Ice." It's also in his larger collection, "Barrel Fever."

  • Candace

    Yes, that's it :-)

    I really should own some of that. An excellent excuse to visit the bookstore. (Pfffft. Like I need one!)

  • Taryn

    Right now I have the Bible on my nightstand, and the book Twighlight. After all the hype about the movie, I thought I’d read the book first to see what it was all about. And I can say, I never thought I’d like a book about Vampires, but I love it!

  • Becky

    Candace, are you a This American Life fan also?

  • Dan Harrell

    Twelve issues of National Geographic I haven't read yet. Truman by David McCullough, Being Christian, Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens, Flags of our Fathers. Six issues of Consumer's Reports. One current Sports Illustrated. Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg.

  • Candace

    Becky:

    I am INSANE about This American Life. A number of the NPR/WPR weekend offerings are out-and-out addictions for me. Prairie Home Companion; Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me; Michael Feldman's Whaddya Know?; To the Best of Our Knowledge; University of the Air; CarTalk (couldn't care less about cars; the accents remind me of home and love the humor).

    Yeah, love it. All of it. Between NPR/WPR and Moody Radio, I never watch TV at all. Haven't for almost 2 years now.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    When we do road trips, the first thing I do is download a bunch of This American Life and burn them to CDs. Remember Squirrel Cop?

    On a broader (and further off-topic) note: Public radio is an invaluable resource and I recommend that all of you start listening and contributing. Seriously. Find a station near you in this list http://www.npr.org/stations/pdf/nprstations.pdf and listen to it for a week. Nothing else comes close.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I used to work (as a magazine editor) for KPBS, one of the largest public broadcasting stations in the country. They had more money than God.

  • Candace

    I almost mentioned Squirrel Cop. Another time among many that I came close to peeing my pants.

  • Candace

    John, John, John. Aren't you forgetting that all money is God's money? He just allows us (and apparently KPBS) use it. :-)

    I spent a year and a half as the editorial assistant at my twice-a-week small town newspaper, and learned more about writing in that time than I had in my entire life to that point. I loved it.

  • Candace

    There is a "to" missing in the third line of my previous post. Giving some indication as to why I went back to science to earn my living!

  • Chris

    I am currently reading Bruno Forte's 'The Essence of Christianity'. I find reading laborious material before bed helps me sleep, and makes me personally feel a lot more entertaining than I probably really am…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    WOW! I have never enjoyed reading responses more. I've been terribly busy these last couple of days, so haven't been able to respond to each and every one of these responses in the way I've wanted to, which is in such a way that I'd end up leaving my house even less than usual, which is never. AMAZING STUFF!!!! I just … can't stand it. It almost feels PRURIENT, how much I'm interested in this stuff.

    Anyway, fantastic stuff. I'm loving every one of these.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    It’s not on my bedtable, but the book I’m reading right now is “American Lion” by John Meachem. It’s a biography about Andrew Jackson, and so far it’s really good.

    Something pretty cool about a president who gets in a duel and is shot in the chest, and still wins the duel.

  • http://hismasterpiece.wordpress.com hismasterpiece

    I don't read before bed. I figured that if I do.. I'll never really get to bed till I'm done. >.<

  • http://www.dailyjunkla.com Tiffany Srisook

    I have a bible, a journal, and a book on how Google changed mainstream culture.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X