Where (and What) Are You Reading?

We’re always interested in hearing more about the habits of readers and writers. Why? It’s because we find people infinitely fascinating and well, we’re also nosey. Oh sure, it may seem like we are trying to get some good book recommendations or to find out if anyone shares our pick for favorite poem. This is just a cover for our neverending curiosity about you. We often ask “What are you reading?” or “What are you not reading?” and even, “What are you writing?” — we’re not afraid to admit it — we like to pry. And so that brings me to the question: Where are you reading? Are you the type to carry a book everywhere you go? Or do you stash it exclusively in your desk at work or on the nightstand? Do you find you must have a book to read on the bus, train or plane? Do you read each night in bed before you fall asleep or do you have a favorite reading chair? (And while I’m sure the toilet is a popular reading spot for many, I think that’s probably beyond the scope of even my curiosity. But thanks anyway.)

I recently learned that May is Get Caught Reading month. To give us a head start, tell us where we could catch you reading, what your literary routine is and of course, what you’re reading.

35 Responses

  1. Slam?Are slams still

    Are slams still happening anywhere? I just got “Spoken Word Revolution” edited by Marc Smith.

  2. Trains and planesI can and
    Trains and planes

    I can and will read anywhere … but for me the best places to read are on trains or airplanes. For one thing, you’re captive and can’t be distracted (except by the person sitting next to you, and if this person is overly chatty a book is a great defense). For another, there is something about being physically transported that seems highly compatible with the act of reading.

    As for what I’m reading, well, Bob Dylan’s “Tarantula” got republished in a stylish new paperback edition, and I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit.

  3. Where and WhatBooks — at
    Where and What

    Books — at home. Newspaper — on the train. Does reading stuff posted on the internet count?

    Currently reading Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut. It seems like I’ve been reading it forever which is not a good sign. I’m kind of disappointed by it.

    Oh yeah, the last short story I wrote was about a guy who is in the middle of a really, really bad morning. I’m talking, like. . . bad.

  4. my backyardI like to curl up
    my backyard

    I like to curl up on a blanket in a patch of sun in my backyard and read and get distracted by patterns in the clouds and then read some more. Although typically on the days I have time to do this, it’s raining. So whatever. I also like to read in bed and try to make a point of going to bed a little bit early so I have time to knock out a chapter or two before going to sleep (though sometimes I’m lulled to sleep by my reading material, and other times it keeps me awake). I lie on the floor and read, I sit at the dining room table and read. It may be obvious by this point, but I don’t have a particular spot where I read. Just wherever.

    Currently, I am reading A Spy in the House of Love. I started reading it a couple of years ago, got bored, quit, then picked it back up this past weekend because I needed something to read. I’m back at the spot where it bored me last time, and I can’t decide if I’m going to keep reading or if I’ll just find something else. There are definitely plenty of books in my house.

    Ah, decisions.

  5. Slams are still alive and
    Slams are still alive and well, especially in urban areas such as NYC and Chicago. Also, it seems that many youth groups and schools are also implementing “slam” clubs and competition as a way to interest youth in literature and performing arts. I recently read a few stories on the slam trend, and I’m sure if you’re near a large city, you could find some local listings for either open slams or contests.

  6. Of course reading stuff
    Of course reading stuff posted on the internet counts. Otherwise, I’m in big trouble. More than usual, that is.

  7. I’m probably never going to
    I’m probably never going to read the book you mentioned, so I’m curious to know what exactly is happening at the point that bores you. I find the best thing to do at that point is to skip to the last page and read backwards. Or to just throw the book away.

  8. In the TubI love a hot bath
    In the Tub

    I love a hot bath after a hard day and I like to read poets. My current favorites being Brautigan, Bob Kaufman, Gary Snyder, Saigyo, and the zen fool Ryokan.

    I also spend a good deal of time going through my mountainous stack of puter poetry while I pick and practice them for performing. Right now I’m putting together material for a CD that I’m laying down the vocals for this Saturday at Birdhouse studios in Baltimore.

    My other passionate reading material is right here, reading other action poets on the internet sites I visit. I like the raw nowness and energy that comes from these places.

  9. Where and whatI usually can
    Where and what

    I usually can read anywhere but, outside of my home, I typically go somewhere where I know I won’t be bothered, e.g. a coffee shop/bookstore where I can read in relative seclusion. I don’t always carry a book with me but, being one of those people who actually gets to drive to work, I normally have a book or two close by. Since my profession is as writer, I always have opportunities to pull out books during the day, whether for reference or inspiration.

    Right now reading “Will In The World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare” by Stephen Greenblatt. It’s about contemporary society back during Shakespeare’s life. A lot of interesting stuff on Shakespeare and Marlowe’s competitiveness–many of Shakespeare’s plays were written as attempts to (excuse the euchre reference) trump plays written by Marlowe, e.g. “The Merchant of Venice” came out after Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta”.

    Also re-reading “Bruised Paradise” by Kevin Stein. Stein is the poet-laureate of Illinois and is a prof at Bradley U. here in Peoria, IL. A really nice guy whom I’ve met and chatted with before. The back cover reads:

    “Stein’s subjects range from rock and jazz to Mozart, from factory work and race rioting to the struggles of a nineteenth-century German immigrant facing the new world of smalltown Indiana. Throughout, Stein’s poems reveal the constancy of the American quest for work, family, and dignity, even as they evoke the bruised but still redemptive fruit of human compassion.”

  10. I’ve been meaning to pick up
    I’ve been meaning to pick up that Shakespeare book because I like Shakespeare and I think stuff about early modern society is pretty interesting (as long as it doesn’t come in the form of the book English Society: 1580-1680 by Keith Wrightson, because that one made me want to tear out my eyes.) I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually.

    And hey, just so you know, there is never a need to apologize for euchre references.

  11. Well, the spot in the book
    Well, the spot in the book where I am bored is called (are you ready for this?) page 13. There were some people in a bar and one of them was a girl and she was talking a lot, or something. Sadly, I haven’t really been paying attention to the book. Which I guess means I’m not really reading it so much as I’m staring at it disinterestedly. Details. Whatever.

  12. Anytime there is 5 minutes
    Anytime there is 5 minutes free…

    I am currently reading A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving after recently finishing Voltaire’s slim volume, CANDIDE. I have a tendency to alternate between classics and contemporary fiction. I generally read anytime that I have a few moments free — ranging from five minutes to five hours. I am loathe to be caught anywhere without a book or newspaper to read. It actually causes me great anxiety to be in such a situation. I usually carry a backpack with me wherever I go with both a book a writing supplies. I am in my own special nirvana when I can lie on my couch and read a good book for a few hours. Most of my writing takes place early in the A.M. when I suffer from fitful sleep and/or insomnia — which is almost every night. I journal and write poetry without censoring myself. I usually let my poetry ferment for a few days before I go back and take an axe or scalpel to the draft. I dearly love both reading and writing and daily try to invoke the passionate muse.

  13. Don’t give up on Vonnegut.
    Don’t give up on Vonnegut. If BREAKFAST is not to your liking-try SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE.

  14. I wasn’t too impressed by
    I wasn’t too impressed by “Breakfast” either. I had heard it was one of his better ones, and after just completeing “Cat’s Cradle”, I pounced on it. Now I have this strange sickness of Vonnegut’s style where I wanna puke if I read him again (not due to “Breakfast”, or any other single book — rather an overreading of the man for a few years). For this reason I hven’t read a Vonnegut for years.

  15. Saving Piggy Sneedby Irving,
    Saving Piggy Sneed

    by Irving, at Wordstock, Ballentine, and Mailer in Portland
    listening to them read from “God Clobbers Us All”, and Saving Piggy Sneed, wow it is great!

    Can’t get enough Winterkill for a little diversity, love cowboys that ride the bulls.

  16. Clearing the Mental
    Clearing the Mental Register

    Clearing the mental register is often this poster’s reason to read rather than sheer enjoyment. If something’s not up to standards, there’s no reason to continue. If there’s nothing to read, there is the current half-finished Chinese textbook and the other two that haven’t been cracked.

    Your correspondent’s newest habit is to read from Rushdie’s Fury before going to sleep. Winesburg, Ohio must get finished next so the two can get posted to a used bookstore in Yangshuo and traded for a book. So far–reading 20 pages from the end and 10 from the front–there’s nothing attention-grabbing on the database but a free book is still a free book. Cunningham’s The Hours is there but it would seem like it would move quickly.

    In the future, The Great Gatsby, Dashiel Hammet, and Raymond Chandler are on the to-read list because of their reputation and place in the canon.

    Leaves of Grass is still on this PC but gets neglected because of writing and study and this other thing called work.

    The sofa’s the absolute best place to read. Traveling is for recording observations and adding to the notebook.

  17. Pay while you read…If i
    Pay while you read…

    If i know I’m not going to be disturbed for a while I like to read at work… if reading’s a pleasure, being paid while you read is… er, even more pleasurable! (as well as being a necessary distraction against ultimate boredom.)

    I also love reading at home… being a proud non-TV owner.

    Is there a difference between my home life and work life? Sure, at work I’m currently reading (again) Woody Guthrie’s autobiography “Bound For Glory”, and at home “Tales of Power” by Carlos Castaneda.

  18. Don’t be scared. I read this
    Don’t be scared. I read this book and as you write about what is happening on page 13 I remember reading that. Unfortunately I can remember nothing else about the book. I think this means that you can read it (afterall it is very short) but you will quickly forget all about it once you finish it off.

    Overall, I wondered why all the hype over this writer (being good and all). I guess I just didn’t get it or I would have remembered, eh!

  19. Something Like This…We sort
    Something Like This…

    We sort of have a “reading room” in our house … quite cozy, private and well lit, but that’s just one spot. I also read a lot at our dining room table. This seems to be traditional among my family. My father always sat at the table and read and my mother always complained about the great mound of books which had to be cleared away at meal times. I read my junk mail, Time Magazine (which I must have), my Bible and other stuff there.

    Aside from that, I’m a carry the book with me kind of gal, especially if I know I’ll be waiting, like in the doctor’s office. Also if getting stuck in the mall while waiting for whomever I came with. I also don’t mind reading in my car, especially when the weather is nice.

    At work, I stick to stuff on the web… like LitKicks and news updates.

    Now! I’m reading Immortality by Kundera. I started it this morning. Kundera is always a good read even if a bit mind boggeling at times. He is one of my favorite writers.

  20. The funny thing about
    The funny thing about Vonnegut is that it seems that people really like the first two books they read by him, and then the party is over.

    I love SH5 and Cat’s Cradle. But Breakfast of Champions just doesn’t work for me. As I’m reading it I think “okay, Kurt, you’re really clever but you go off on tangents and the story is kind of meandering.”

    And his website stinks. Sorry, but it’s true.

  21. (If there are any Anais Nin
    (If there are any Anais Nin fans in the house, please skip the following comment.)

    As I was reading last night, I got really frustrated with the book because the prose, to me, seemed to be trite and forced. I can understand the importance of her subject matter, at least to an extent, and see why there’s a lot of interest in what she wrote, but I think the writing itself isn’t very good. Which makes it hard for me to read or care about.

  22. reading underwaterI am
    reading underwater

    I am currently (re)reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan, a fantastic book. I started it on the airplane on my way to the Cayman Islands. I went down there to join some friends to train for freediving competitions. One of my friends was setting two World Records in freediving (one where you swim to the deepest possible depth and back without fins, and another where you ride a sled down and pull a line back up). I dove safety for him during his training and record attempts, which put me at 180-200 feet on mixed gas (with helium). The decompression stops from that depth were long and boring. One day I took my book with me and read it during my decompresion stops, and you can actually read pretty well underwater. I had to buy a new copy of the book, when I returned, because the wet pages started to rip.

  23. While Driving?I always have a
    While Driving?

    I always have a book with me wherever I go. Sometimes it’s something that I’m currently reading or if I’m having a dead spot where I can’t find anything interesting to read, I carry comfort reading. Comfort reading is my grown-up version of a binky.

    If I’m stressed or anticipate being in a stressful situation which, like most people, is an everyday thing for me, I’ll take along my tattered copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Notes on the Death of the American Dream Vol. IV or my old paperback of Kafka pieces or Vintage Didion.

    When I’m stuck in traffic, I have a bad habit of picking said book up off the front seat beside me and flipping through it. Other than that, I read in bed mostly. I also read at work on my lunch break. At lunch, I swear.

    What I’m reading now gives me goosebumps and delights me almost as much as the first time I ever heard Traveling Without Moving, which was an almost unparalleled thrill that occured all the way back in 1996. What I’m reading is Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way, New Poems by Bukowski. Buk intentionally left us 45 volumes of unpublished poems to be published posthumously. And lemme tell ya, they are tasty!

  24. Poetry MattersPLACE: Most
    Poetry Matters

    PLACE: Most often in my armchair, which is not as comfortable as it sounds. Otherwise in the library at college, in a seculded corner, or maybe in the garden.

    WHAT: Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe, which is actually quite hard going and a little dull so far, but I’ll give it a chance, naturally.

    I am also trying to read a page or so of Dante’s Inferno per night.

    Also, Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor (just looking into the idea…).

    Plus a biography of King John for college.

    Also, Being Alive, a poetry anthology from Bloodaxe books. Its the sequel to Staying Alive (bestselling poetry book in the UK for a long time, maybe still is). Both are truly excellent and I would evangelically tell all and sundry to look either up now. bloodaxebooks.com

    One response to Staying Alive from the inside cover of the sequel needs repeating

    (writing of a poet friend):

    ‘She is 90, and blind. I had just bought Staying Alive and began reading it to her. I do not exaggerate to say she was transformed. She asked to hold the book, and pressed it against her forehead. She chose life today because of your book. I have a lump in my throat as I write this. I thank you, poetry does matter.’

  25. My SpotI must read in a
    My Spot

    I must read in a coffee shop. Seriously. I can’t read anywhere else.

    I haven’t read (or written) anything for about 4 months now. But I have the following in queue, stacked from largest to smallest…

    The Atrocity Exhibition by J. G. Ballard
    Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland
    Razor Wire Public Hair by Carlton Mellick III
    Home Land: A Novel by Sam Lipsyte
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    Artists in Times of War and Other Essays by Howard Zinn

  26. Is it good? I have never
    Is it good? I have never indulged, but I did read Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen. Everything I hear about Tarantula is very mysterious.

  27. Are you serious? And if so,
    Are you serious? And if so, I can see how those wet pages would be a problem. No one likes a soggy Vonnegut.

  28. ialways have a book on me.

    always have a book on me. when i say always i am not exagerrating whatsoever. if i go out to dinner with a group of people, i bring a book. if one of them asks me why in the hell i am doing this, i say, “who knows when there might be an earthquake or some disaster that keeps me from existing? i sure as hell won’t want to be talking to your ass all night!”

    i don’t think this is really the truth. i can’t say i have ever knowingly picked up a book having “ominous-earthqauke” in the back of my head. having a book on hand at all times gives me a sense of security. i think when i was younger i used to carry books around just so YOU would know that i was smarter than you and my ambition is so much higher. i used to sit wherever i was and pretend to speed read lightning fast just in case anyone who was looking at me would think to himself, “wow, he reads fast.” i think, or let me say i hope, i have grown into the opposite of this. i actually bring books for myself now. i often now hide the title, because fuck you and your nose, put it somewhere else, this is my book! i have become one of those pretentious fools who walks and reads at the same time, i used to hate those guys, i think i still do, but now i am one of them. it is always embarrasing when i almost get hit by a car or when i run into a pole or something. when i walk and read i like to go over difficult philosophy that i have already ready, maybe some good aphorisms from THE GAY SCIENCE. i can read one aphorism, look up and contemplate its meaning while i observe you and your world as well. it is like fusing antiquity with modern day everything…how fucking exciting is that!!! blows my mind, would blow my skirt up too if i wore them.

  29. I tried to read Crime &
    I tried to read Crime & Punishment while walking to places. I didn’t walk into anything, but I did get travel sick.

  30. OthelloI also have in the

    I also have in the reading list: Antonio & Cleopatra, Plat

  31. You don’t like Breakfast, eh?
    You don’t like Breakfast, eh? I sure liked it a lot. Cat’s cradle was no where near it. I’ve heard Kurt described, somewhat ironicly, as an elitist with connections, and that he could publish any crazy idea that occured to him, provided it was at least 30 thousand words… Which he did in Timequake. But that’s sort of the point. His literary hero, and mine, too, was Celine. It was Celine that made quasi autobio’s the dominant form of novel in the 20th century, along with Proust. My contumely here is meant as a drop of good marks to old Kurt. Because I really like him.

    Oh yeah, I read in bed at night with a glass of Bordeaux on the night stand and (every now and then) some narcotics in my blood. I read on the news on the train. The paper I read is the republican swipe The Post. All media is borgeois (even the NY Times) so I by the cheapest, easiest-to-read entertainment. I fly often but never read on the plane. That’s when I watch movies. And now that it’s spring I read in the sunshine. I just bought Celine’s Fable (for 25 bloody dollars. Books are getting more expensive then DVD’s.) I read web pages in my childhood bedroom which has been converted into my neices’ and nephews’ playroom/computer room. And sometimes I go to the library to read, right there in the isle, sitting Indian style.

  32. taboo on who you arei’m
    taboo on who you are

    i’m reading a book called The Book by Alan Watts.

    doesn’t matter where I read when I read. Any place from the Laundry mat to the can.

  33. Everything all at onceI tend
    Everything all at once

    I tend to read several books at once so as to not be wasting my time and reading currently, Kerouac’s journals, Noam Chomsky, and the Peoples history of the United States by Howard Zinn, oh and reading the Idiot as well.

  34. top o list Thats a grrrr
    top o list
    Thats a grrrr eight read!!!
    A poetic dreamscape.

  35. I am reading Beautiful Losers
    I am reading Beautiful Losers right now, and I am having a much easier go of it than my attempts at Tarantula, altough those were a couple of years back.

    Also fufilling one of those buy it now read it later promises with Bellow’s Auggie March, which I got when I was half way through Herzog. Great gritty american stuff. Read that he passed recently, but being only one and a quarter books in I am overjoyed that there is still a lifetime of his stuff to pour over thoughts upon.

    Levi, I think I was at this site in ’97 or so! a long overdue thank you.

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