As I mentioned in Reading and Stress, I've started taking some time in the morning to read, instead of only reading in the late evening when I find it harder to focus. My previous morning reading books have returned to the library so here are my current ones. I have Those Terrible Middle Ages!: Debunking the Myths by Regine Pernoud upstairs, but I haven't started it yet.
Yesterday's reading was Second Nature, by Michael Pollan. I read parts of it out loud to my family a few years ago but never finished it. It's very good - and, if you're a gardener, you'll understand chapter 11 (in the winter section) - "Made Wild by Pompous Catalogs":
Winter in the garden is the season of speculation, a time when the snow on the ground is an empty canvas that invites the idle planting and replanting of countless hypothetical gardens between now and spring thaw. A season of speculation in the Wall Street sense too, for now is when large wagers of gardening time and space are made on the basis of mere scraps of information - a hankering, a picture in a catalog, a seed. We gardeners have always had trouble heeding Henry Ward Beecher's sound nineteenth-centurey advice, that we not be "made wild by pompous catalogs from florists and seedsmen.
In a few months, summer will pass judgement on the merit, or folly, of our January schemes, but right now anything seems possible....
Which reminds me that I need to order seeds and start summer annuals indoors.
Today's book (I bounce back and forth between a few) was A Jacques Barzun Reader. His books are about all sorts of topics - music, art, history, writing, and education (Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning was my introduction to his writing). Today I read the chapter, "Is Music Unspeakable?" about how we listen to and understand music.
I'll leave you with the Barzun quote that starts the book:
The finest achievement of human society and its rarest pleasure is Conversation.