1. Best old book? I wasn’t reading grown-up books before 1992, so it’s all old to me before that. Kafka comes to mind as an avenue to explore. Who else? Generally more interested in non-fiction than in novels, though a short story collection or novel that is breathtakingly well-written could be an exception. I’m going to give Jane Austen one last chance, since she’s perpetually hip and that must say something. Please leave W. Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens off the list. Bonus points for the marginally obscure. Balzac, for example… not unheard-of obscure, but not widely read for fun, either.
2. Cultural criticism and recent history. I love Joan Didion. Who else should I be reading? Think essays and journalism.
3. Non-fiction that makes you want to read the stuff in the endnotes (footnotes, bibliography, what-have-you). The history of NYC stuff was good this way: one book made me want to read the next. I’m looking for doors that I haven’t opened yet, and I’d like there to be interesting hallways or chambers behind them…
4. The periodicals conundrum. I’ve chosen sleep (and, on the subway, Gnarls Barkley, and cheesy R&B, and old-but-new-to-me punk in the iPod) over reading anything for the last few weeks.. The last thing I really need is the guilt that comes of dozens of sheets of glossy paper arriving weekly, bi-weekly, monthly in my mailbox. But lord, am I hungry for bite-size neuron snacks… at the moment, I get nothing. Rejected New York Magazine after four issues (they sent me more and are still trying to bill me, but really I just wanted the trial subscription). Probably replacing Glamour with Bust or suchlike. Atlantic, Harpers’, & New Yorker are usually interesting reads, but what else is out there?
5. The blog that is NOT related to education that you can’t stop reading. Bonus points for the marginally obscure (ie, avoid famous political and fashion and gossip blogs). Bonus points for blasting open a new corner of the internet.