I suppose if I said ʺno, I do not like to readʺ, then I wouldn’t be on this blog.
I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to reading. Once I start a book, finishing it becomes a high priority in my life. On the other hand, if I pick up a book I’m very excited about, I sometimes hesitate to start it because I know I will finish it quickly and then it’ll be all over. I rarely reread books.
What books would you recommend?
The best nonfiction book I’ve read recently is The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t by Nate Silver. It helps us make sense in a world where we are deluged with data. I wish everybody would read it. (It’s not as math-y as it sounds.)
The best fiction book I’ve read recently is The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. I describe it as ʺHarry Potterʺ meets ʺThe Bourne Identityʺ, but that doesn’t do it justice.
Do you remember the first book you ever read or any childhood favorites?
We had a lot of Dr. Seuss books in the house, but I couldn’t tell you which one I read first.
My two favorite books from my elementary school years are Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. (Do not watch the movie version of The Phantom Tollbooth.)
Have you always liked to read? Was there ever a person in your life who really inspired you to read?
I have always liked reading, but there was a time in my life when I didn’t do it much (see below).
Certainly my inspiration to read is my mother. Throughout my whole life, she has loved to read in her spare time. There were always paperbacks scattered throughout the house. While I didn’t read many of the same books she did, she made the concept of ʺrecreational readingʺ a norm for me. After all, when you’re a child, and you want to know ʺwhat do people do in their spare time when they’re at home?ʺ the only source of data you have is your own family.
Did you read any interesting/memorable books when you were in college?
Honestly, I did not read a lot in college (outside of class, that is). Once I start a book, it tends to keep my attention until I finish it; I worried that reading too much would distract me from my classes. I figured I could read whatever I wanted after graduation. My thinking changed when I went to graduate school: once I realized that I would be in school for the rest of my life, I knew I had to find a better balance.
During breaks in college I would read when I could. The two books I remember the most were Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick, and The Stand by Stephen King. They’re very different books.