What's Tony Thinking

What’s Tony Reading?


The other day our son Nick sent a photo of his two-year-old daughter, Lila, with a book open on her lap. Lila had told her mom she wanted to go the library. I thought, “Of course — she’s a Robinson.”

Books — we love ’em. My sister and my mom were both librarians. We quip that “a Robinson party” is bunch of folks scattered around a room in comfortable chairs, each absorbed in our own book — with occasional breaks for wine, treats and conversation.

So I thought, as perhaps an occasional post, I would highlight what I am reading.

I read several books at the same time. Well, not exactly at the same time. To be more accurate, I read several books in the same period of time.

This may be my own variety of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I skip around. I find that I want to read different kinds of things at different times of a day. Morning and evening reading are different. What I read on the elliptical machine at the Ballard Health Club, that’s another matter.

But let’s start there. While slogging along on the exercise machines I need something of the page-turner variety. Which is now The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn. Pretty darn good. A psychological thriller.

Morning reading tends to be non-fiction. Our book group is at the tail-end of a series on big data, tech and artificial intelligence. Current one there is Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart. Quite the subtitle there. Well, trust is an important topic and how it is developed and sustained in relation to all sorts of new vehicles, technologies and platforms is Botsma’s focus. Timely in light of the current Facebook dramas and traumas.

In the mornings I also read things that relate to upcoming sermons or talks. In that vein, I return time and again to the works of my friend and onetime colleague at Toronto School of Theology, Fleming Rutledge, and her several collections of sermons. Not all sermons read well, but her’s do. Check out Not Ashamed of the Gospel.

Right now I am also enjoying (more late afternoon/ evening reading) George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, his memoir from the Spanish Civil War. This ties in well with the wonderful novel Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi (bedtime reading). Of Tabucchi’s 1995 novel Philip Pullman, no slouch himself, wrote, “The most impressive novel I’ve read in years.” Though set in Portugal, the timing Tabucchi’s novel is concurrent with the Spanish Civil War against Franco’s Fascists.

Reading from that era, and particularly Orwell, with his critiques of authoritarianism and it’s various ways of bending and distorting language seems especially timely.

Which leads to the first of two books in the “next up” category.

One is Timothy Snyder’s little book On Tyranny. I see that Snyder will be at “Third Place Books” Seward Park (Seattle) location later this month. And, finally, one by a local author, Scott Freeman, Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land. Scott teaches biology at UW. His book is based on their family’s work (along with many friends) to restore Tarboo Creek and the surrounding habitat on the Olympic Peninsula. Once ditched, Tarboo Creek now meanders. And the salmon have returned. Scott’s wife, Susan, who illustrated the book, was Laura’s piano teacher. Wonderful people. Susan is Aldo Leopold’s (Sand County Almanac) granddaughter.

A friend and colleague, the Irish-Canadian Anglican minister (now retired), Herb O’Driscoll, said to us in a lecture, “I read, at least in part, for those who cannot.” He has the time to read; many do not. He reads and then shares for a broader audience. Maybe I do a bit of that as well?

What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you about books you have recently read and are enthusiastic about. Maybe I’ll do a blog about “What My Readers Are Reading.”,

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