What I’m Reading This Week

One of the things that I like best about the Kindle is that I can keep a wide variety of reading material at my fingertips. I find that I read more, because I can steal ten minutes here and there (taking a break at midday, waiting in the car for my daughter to be dismissed from school, etc.), and I don’t have to choose ahead of time what I’ll be reading. If I don’t have time to dig into a chapter of something difficult or laborious, I can read a poem or magazine article. If something isn’t holding my attention for whatever reason, I can move on to something else. My friend, Joel Anderson, calls this “Kindle Assisted Attention Deficit Disorder” but I actually think that the device helps me to keep my attention focused. It’s not like reading on the Web where there are constant distractions, and it’s not like being trapped in a room with a single volume (say, War and Peace).

In any case, I thought that from time to time I’d share some of the things that I’m reading. Most of these will be available for Kindle. Many of them will be available free-of-charge, either in the Public Domain, free to Amazon Prime members, or available from a lending library. I might occasionally share my own thoughts on what I’m reading as well, but would encourage you to read for yourself.

Also, I’d love to know what you’re reading. Feel free to post comments with observations, recommendations or a simple bibliography.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this past week.


Ten Days That Shook The World – John Reed’s masterpiece gives us a firsthand account of Red October.

Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman sings for soul and body in the finest free-verse America has ever seen.

A People’s History of the United States – From Columbus to the War on Terror, Howard Zinn presents the unvarnished truth. Highly recommended…

Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism – I have been woefully ignorant concerning the Socialists and Anarchists, and am determined to correct this deficiency in my education during 2012. This book is a very tough read, but I’m finding it worthwhile. Essential study on an important topic from authors Lucien Van Der Walt and Michael Schmidt…

2600 Magazine: The Hacker Quarterly  – An old favorite…

Daily Readings, Order of Mass and Divine Office for Kindle

My wife gave me a Kindle on my birthday back in September, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the device. It’s very nearly the perfect thing for someone who spends a lot of time reading, and I find that I make more time to read as I have more content at hand on the device. I grab it as I’m walking out the door to go just about anywhere, and can usually steal a few moments away to read something of value while waiting in the van to pick up my daughter from school or such.

Of course, one of the first things that I looked for was a Kindle version of the Bible, which was relatively easy to find, but I also wanted to get the daily readings of the Catholic liturgical calendar on to the device. If I don’t make time for any other study or prayer during the day, I can almost always at least make it through those. Surprisingly, although the readings are online in several spots, it was a bit of a hunt finding them formatted for Kindle or other ebook reader.

Fortunately I eventually found Universalis, a site that offers not only the daily readings at Mass, but also the Liturgy of the Hours and the Order of Mass. All of these are available on the Web, for mobile devices or in a downloadable version. They can also be exported to any of the major ebook formats.

As we approach the end of Ordinary Time and the beginning of Advent, the revised Order of Mass for the English speaking world will take effect. For those of us who were born (or who converted to Catholicism) after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council were implemented, some of the phrases we’re leaving behind are all that we’ve ever known. Having the new Order at the ready on my Kindle is really nice, though I’ll probably still slip up and say “and also with you” for a long time yet. I also had to assure my mother-in-law that I was, indeed, reading the Scriptures after she caught me with the Kindle at Mass last Saturday night.

I’ve not yet made it through an entire day praying the Divine Office, but having all of the prayers handy for each day has made it easier to explore this beautiful devotion – and I do aspire to one day adopt the habit of praying the Hours each day.

The online resource at Universalis is entirely free of charge. If you’re interested in the software download or smartphone apps, the full featured free trial version lasts for one month, after that it reverts to a simple calendar version unless you purchase a registration code for a (one-time nominal) fee.

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