Armchair books on a handmade rug

Inspired by Kathy Sierra’s wonderful post and photograph of the books on and around her table, I decided to arrange the various books currently piled up on the rug next to my favorite armchair.


All of these are recent buys except for the two in the middle. I’m currently reading both – I usually have three or four concurrently ongoing so that I have a choice of light or heavy reading depending on my mood. And unlike Kathy, I’ve not pulled out favourites or selected them, just laid out what was already out there.

Starting from the top left hand corner, is a brand new unopened paperback of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago along with Essential McLuhan and For Her Own Good. I’ve already read the latter two – you can see my sticky notes peeping out 🙂 I’m saving up de Tocqueville for my flight to NYC on Monday, yes, I get to attend the Design 2.0 panel discussion with Core77.

I bought McLuhan and de Tocqueville after I realized that I kept coming across references to them in so much of my research and reading, and not having had a liberal arts education, I’d never read any of their work. For Her Own Good by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English is a fascinating look at the ways and means science and medicine was used historically in the West to ‘help’ women find their rightful place in the world.

The Argumentative Indian I’ve already written about and it’s still out since I’ve been dipping into it frequently of late. Instant Chinese is the phrase book I’d picked up in Singapore.

Commodify your Dissent was an impulse purchase and a fun read- I was out wandering the streetfair held in Chinatown a couple of weekends ago when I found myself at City Lights Bookstore. How could I walk by without browsing? It’s from their ‘muckraking’ section – simply irresistable 🙂

Orson Scott Card’s Seventh Son is another book I’ll probably take to NYC with me since I’ve not opened it yet – I bought that a couple of days ago along with Jared Diamond’s paperback version of Collapse – not seen here because it’s in my backpack, I always carry reading material with me, you never know when you might be stuck somewhere waiting. Hmm, if I take Collapse to NYC, I could possibly read Seventh Son tonight, I have been curious about the Alvin Maker series but am rarely willing to invest in new fiction since I couldn’t afford my habit if I didn’t stick to used books.

I’m an addict. Reading this post tells me that I have a back up stock and supply of unread books to ease my withdrawal symptons. I find that I do get restless and uneasy if I don’t have a supply chain of reading material set up with books in the pipeline. I plan in advance. The dog eared Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg is an old favourite that I brought with me from India 8 years ago – it’s a member of my ‘reread’ set of books, the ones I turn to when I’ve not had the time to freshen up my inventory and have been caught short. Or when I need ‘comfort food’. Silverberg is one of my alltime favourite authors.

The blue hardcover is a gift from a friend, received last night actually. Soloing by Harriet Rubin, I’ve browsed it but I fear it’s come a little late for me since I’ve already taken the step the book is meant to inspire in you, that of breaking free of organization bonds to go ‘solo’ professionally.

Non fiction is good because it takes time – fiction doesn’t last long enough but I need to intersperse the two for variety. So I usually find bookstores that allow trade credit and treat them like lending libraries – science fiction. In San Francisco it’s Borderlands bookstore in the Mission, on Valencia between 19th and 20th. I was introduced to them by one of my Chicago bookstores – Afterwords. I’d made arrangements before I even left Chicago, (laughs at self) and I’ve yet to find a dentist 🙂 I wonder how much of this need for a world of the mind, an imaginary world, if you will, comes from growing up with a highly mobile childhood and needing to entertain oneself?

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