Like my wife, I am one of those people that needs to have two books "in-progress" at all times. Books to me are complete escape, so if I can go to three different "aways" on any given evening, I'm all for it.

My reading interests are a little all over the place at the moment.

My Fiction Escape: I just finished "Copper River" by William Kent Krueger. He writes murder mysteries based in northern Minnesota, so there is a home connection too, which I love. I never thought I'd like mysteries, but I've found his style to be captivating. He not only has a wonderful descriptive style - one I aspire too, but may never achieve - but he has a way with introducing unexpected twists and tying characters together. Add to all of that, the regional appeal and well, I'm glad to have stumbled upon his books. (He has 18 or so, so I certainly have enough to get to, as well.

My Existential Handbook: I keep Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Being Peace around so I can refer
to it on an as needed basis. Thich is a Zen Master, a global spiritual leader and peace activist. His book is a reminder of how much we miss when we forget to be mindful of the present. It talks a lot about breathing and smiling as movements toward happiness.He talks of smiling during an exhale and while it seems odd, to me it's not. It is a little bit of fake it till you make it. We smile when we're happy, so smiling "out of turn" may even have an effect on our outlook or physical help. Call it hocus-pocus or what you will, but it seems to help. If nothing else, the book has taught me to be in the present and to spend less time frantic and filled with worry.

My Religious Read: I've always enjoyed reading books on faith and Christianity. My recent forays have been into some of the edgier authors like Peter Rollins, Brian Zahnd and, most recently, Richard Rohr. I am currently working through Rohr's book, The Universal Christ. A group of friends and I meet at Raised Grain, a local microbrewery, to have a couple of beers and talk about the book. It is heady stuff, and I'm not talking about the beer here. The premise of the book is that God is everywhere and the DNA of God is in everything. More importantly then, if that is true, we need to look at each person we meet as the image of God - somewhere in there, in some cases - and treat them as such. I can't say enough about what I'm learning from his books and his podcasts. He is so wise. This particular book reminds me that while life is important, I am but one small part in the greater cosmos.

My Poetry Book Of The Moment: I am currently working through, We Are Beat, a large anthology by Local Gems Press that I am featured in, among a host of others. Along with this, I am revisiting Benediction and Baseball, by Ed Werstein, a Milwaukee poet. He was featured at a reading I went to the other night and so I thought I'd open his book again. (I'd read it a couple of months ago.) Good stuff by a guy I aspire to write as good as someday.

That's my list for the moment. It changes monthly. I can't say enough about how important books have been to me and my children. They both love to read too. Sarah is heavy into a fantasy series and Ben was last seen reading the Sand County Almanac, which makes me very happy. Such a classic.

What's on your nightstand?

Blogging off...


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