What are you reading?

by B. Lee Miller

I’ve been tasked with the first round of weekly departmental blogging and have settled on beginning with the meme, “What are you reading?” I’ve wondered, at times, whether students might be curious about what their professors choose to read and how they choose what they read. In fact, a student asked me those very questions just yesterday in class.

My own current list may seem lengthy. I don’t just read one or two things at a time, but typically have a running list of around a dozen books going at any one time. Some of these are for classes I’ve taught, am teaching, or will teach. Some are typical professional literature. Some are related to projects I’m working on, whether that involves research of some sort or another, or if I am reading in the kind of literature I’m trying to write.

So, for example, the books related to birth, post-partum, menopause, etc., relate to an essay I’m trying to write (emphasis on trying) that examines masculinity through my own experiences as a husband, present with my wife through pregnancy, birth, post-partum, and eventually menopause, and as a father of an eleven-year-old daughter just entering adolescence.

One other comment about the number of works on this list. I have trouble staying focused for very long. I know, an odd thing for a professor to say. It’s the rare work that will maintain my undivided interest for very long, if for no other reason than that I am usually hyper-aware of all that goes on around me, but also because I get bored easily (and because, with five children, I am usually sleep-deprived, which doesn’t help concentration). So, I constantly switch between books, reading a section of one book and then switching to another book, and so on. But I also constantly move from one book to another because it forces me to deal with the dialogue created by the constant switching of authors and their perspectives.

So, all that said, here is my current reading list (this is the order in which they appear on my iPhone list!):

  • Plato, Republic. (Books II, III, & VII)
  • For a class I am teaching called “Gender and Literature”
    • Rich, Adrienne. Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972.
    • Morrell, David. First Blood. (yes, that First Blood!)
    • Faludi, Susan. Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. (Chapter 7 on David Morrell, First Blood – the book and the movie, Sylvester Stallone, and issues of fathers, sons, and masculinity)
  • Macrorie, Ken. Telling Writing, 4th
  • Hoover, Paul, ed. Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, 2nd
  • Kinzie, Mary. A Poet’s Guide to Poetry.
  • For the essay I’m working on that I have titled, “With Woman” (“Midwife” means “with woman”)
    • Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique.
    • Rimm, Sylvia. See Jane Win for Girls: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Success.
    • Wertz, Richard W., and Dorothy C. Wertz. Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America.
    • Dick-Read, Grantly. Childbirth without Fear.
    • Armstrong, Penny, and Sheryl Feldman. A Midwife’s Story.
    • Bennett, Shoshana S. Postpartum Depression for Dummies.
    • Jones, Marcia L., Theresa Eichenwald, and Nancy W. Hall. Menopause for Dummies.
  • Two holdovers from when I was teaching a course on the literature and practice of world religions:
    • 122 Zen Koans: Find Enlightenment.
    • Moran, Elizabeth, Master Joseph Yu, and Master Val Biktashev. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feng Shui.
  • Schwartz, Jason. “End Game” (In The Best American Sports Writing 2013).
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