In the last couple of years, the volume of book reading I do has declined somewhat. There are 2 primary reasons for this: (1) I have been spending more time on other things like the baby and family, as well as trying to focus more of my free time on writing; (2) I have been doing a lot more non-book reading. Since my non-book reading now makes up a measurable percentage of my overall reading, I thought I’d provide a list of by regularly recurring non-book reading.
Daily non-book reading
While I don’t read newspapers, I do read most of the editorials and op ed pieces of four major newspapers: (1) The Washington Post; (2) The New York Times; (3) The Los Angeles Times; (4) The (London) Times. Why these papers? Well, the Washington Post is my local newspaper. The New York Times is my home-town paper. I spent my formative years in Los Angeles and still have friends and family there, so that explains the Los Angeles Times. As far as the London Times goes, it’s an international newspaper in English that gives opinion from the perspective of Europe–that is, outside the United States. It might be deduced from this list that all I read op ed and opinions in liberal newspapers. Well, that is certainly my leaning. For a while I read op eds from the Wall Street Journal, but they started charging for access and it simply wasn’t worth it to me. I read these as RSS feeds within Google Reader. I probably spend about 30 minutes a day reading these opinion pieces–which probably amount to 15 or so articles each day.
Weekly non-book reading
NEW SCIENTIST is my regular weekly read. It has warmed its way into my heart and has for some time now been my favorite non-fiction magazine, overtaking SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. I look forward to the magazine each and every week and I read it cover to cover without ever skipping, and with immense delight. In addition to keeping me abreast of news and developments in science and technology, I clip out articles from each issue that form either the basis of ideas for science fiction stories, or provide something that I can use within a story idea that I already have.
Monthly non-book reading
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN tops the list of the monthly reads. Just like NEW SCIENTIST, I read each issue cover-to-cover without skipping. SCIAM provides more of an in depth source of science education. Of all of the non-book reading on this list, I have been a subscriber to SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN the longest–over 15 years now.
ANALOG science fiction magazine is next on my monthly reading list. I typically don’t read this magazine cover-to-cover. I do read it on my Kindle, and on the day it arrives, I always read Stan Schmidt‘s editorial. I’m more selective about the stories I read and it really depends on time. I’ll read any story by someone I know, and will occasionally read others, but usually only come back to it if a particular story has been recommended. I also read the book reviews.
ASIMOV’S science fiction is also on the list of monthly reading, also on my Kindle. Like ANALOG, I don’t read this one cover-to-cover. I always read Sheila William‘s editorial, and Robert Silverberg’s "Reflections" column. I also always read stories from people I know, as well as the book reviews and James Patrick Kelly’s column. But like ANALOG, I only read further when a particular story is recommended. There just isn’t enough time in the day, even if I wanted to read everything in the magazine.
Apex Magazine is on the monthly list. I usually sample what’s there, but I typically don’t read the whole thing cover-to-cover.
The SFWA Bulletin tops the list for bimontly reading. This is the magazine produced by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (of which I am a member) and I read it to keep up with what’s going on in the organization, sure, but really, I read it primarily for Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg’s wonderful "Dialogues" column. I crack it open on the day it shows up and the first thing I do is turn to the Dialogues to see what these two luminaries of science fiction have to say. I also skim the "New and Updated Markets" section to find out what has changed, and what opportunities are out there.
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) is on the bimonthly list. I don’t often read this magazine but I skim its table of contents and if I see an interesting name (Harlan Ellison, Kate Wilhelm, etc.) I will read it.
Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show is on the bimonthly list as well. I always read Edmund Schubert’s "Letter From the Editor" and I usually pick a story or two from each issue to read, particularly if it is someone I know (David B. Coe, Mary Robinette Kowal, etc.)
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND is new to the bi-monthly reading list and I am eagerly awaiting my first issue so that I can determine whether or not it will stay on the list.
That about covers it–and explains why my book reading is down slightly these last few years. It gets harder and harder to find the time to read, whether it is some interesting new book or interesting new magazine. But my core list here works pretty wellfor me.