Thursday, February 7, 2008

Recommended Reading

My wife gives me a hard time about how much I read. Or, more appropriately, how much I don't.

My bedstand is piled high with books -- novels, biographies, professional journals -- that I've started. And then stopped. It's rare -- and I'm certainly not proud of this -- for me to get through a book. I get tired, distracted or disinterested. I attribute this very real flaw to the fact that I spend 8-plus hours reading at work. It's certainly not the same type of reading -- it's often not enjoyable and, as an editor, one tends to approach the written word a bit differently than most readers. But, once I'm home and have my feet up, it's difficult for me to focus on more words. In fact, words are about the last thing I want to face.

However, there are a few books, publications and blogs I enjoy and I thought I'd share them:

Magazines: I subscribe to many but my favorite is Esquire. It's not the same Esquire of our fathers, but it still offers wonderful writing and, at the same time, provides accessible tips on fashion. If you take a look in my closet (please, not an invitation), you'll understand why I appreciate those monthly tips. (Some think I'm among the best dressed in my office. I think that's more a commentary about my colleagues than about me.)

Books: There are two I've read recently; very different and very good. And they are both by local writers who I know well. First is "Within a Forest Dark," a mystery set in the Capital District and Adirondacks by a long-time friend, Mike Virtanen, an editor with the Associated Press in Albany. Mike has created a unique "leading man" in Jack Kirkland with whom a lot of us middle-aged, middle-level professionals can identify. The other book is "Jailed by My Father," a series of humorous -- sometimes poignant -- essays by a new colleague, Matt Smith. Matt's an exceptional writer with a dry wit that transcends the western New York community in which most his book is set. I am admittedly fond of both of these gentlemen so take my recommendation with that in mind. But I enjoyed both reads.

Blogs: I may have stepped away from elective politics but it's still a passion of mine and there are a couple political blogs I check every day. Liz Benjamin, a former Albany Times Union reporter, is making a name for herself with the New York Daily News these days and she offers a provocative take on state politics on "The Daily Politics." Meanwhile, closer to home, the TU continues to lead the political pack with "Capitol Confidential," for state news and gossip, and "Local Politics" for, well, local politics.

And, being a middle-aged, white guy it only makes sense that my very favorite blog -- also offered on the TU blog site -- is geared toward young, African American women. It's called "Brown Skin Lady" and is posted several times a week by a terrific young writer, Simone Sneed. She's intelligent, witty and passionate. The blog encompasses everything from fashion to finance to relationships and has a way of pulling in a blogger-come-lately like myself. I've exchanged a handful of e-mails with Simone and she's been encouraging and generous in my own forway into this journalistic venue. Take a look and post a comment.

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