(Currently reading ‘Future you’ by Francis Valentine).
I have a ‘research interests’ section on my CV and am an admin for the DisruptEd book club, attend another book bag book club and like to sneak peeks into what other people are reading. I have lots of titles waiting to be read on Borrow box, a stack on my work desk and a couple on Audible. The japanese word for it is tsundoku. Mostly its professional reading but there is some fiction there too. I might not be ‘currently’ reading them all, but I hope to be soon. I wonder what texts we might have in common in the stack? But what about just with the one on top? What value might a ‘currently reading’ personal subheading add to connecting with your tribe?
The new pronoun subtitles we can add to our email signature or profile – she/her, they/them etc – are a way to help define us in the world – but what about a way to connect us with the world? Could ‘currently reading’ be another layer that people could connect to?
Two days ago I attended an online summit with Michael Brungay Stanier, Ozan Varol and Laura Gassner Otting – all writers who shared free chapters after the session. ‘How to (really truly deeply) trust yourself’ was the webinar and the free chapters provided afterwards (combined with the webinar content) have given me something new to talk about, new books to add to my reading list and interesting thoughts to follow up on. I’m excited about writing again. I’m committed to more reading. I’m looking forward to reading the new books and connecting with the people I’ve recommended them to after they have read them too. I find my relationships with colleagues, customers and friends are better/deeper when we have more reading in common. My pedagogy posse, my bookish buddies, my critical crew… the connections are deeper because the conversations are richer.
My favourite part about going to a face to face book club is that the initial anxiety of not having anything to talk about with a stranger is erased. If you have read the same book, you automatically have people (albeit characters) in common. You can discuss plot, themes, reactions, decisions, relationships, style and setting… raunchy bits, confusing bits, enraging bits… I might be an English teacher and be unashamedly-geeky-about-words but a book in common can be a fun way to get to know new people. The same goes for finding your fun tv buddies – you can have in-jokes from common shows to play with and it can be so much fun. One ex-colleague, for example, communicates with me almost purely in the form of Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm memes. Other friendships thrive from Schitts Creek references and Mighty Boosh-isms. Common characters to connect with can be a way to be more playful together. The same could go for reading – maybe we are not yet harnessing the connection power of common texts. Could ‘currently reading’ be the first step? Could we be exploring similar ideas that are worth a yarn?
I do have the Goodreads app but I don’t open it frequently enough for it to be useful. It is handy to see a ‘read’ library of connections akin to visiting someone’s house and browsing their bookshelf but I am not interested in receiving page updates nor do I want to add them for my own progress tracking. But I do want to know what’s on top of your reading pile. I do want to know what your current research interests are. I do want to know what you are currently thinking about. ‘Currently reading’ could be a great start.
I missed an opportunity once on a London tube train commute. I was reading ‘A hard-boiled wonderland and other stories’ by Haruki Murakami. I looked up and a woman across the tube was reading the same book. We locked eyes and smiled showing each other our books like a distant snap game. We didn’t speak though. That moment is really vivid in my memory – of all the trains,of all the authors, of all the books, of all the people – we had a snap. Maybe we were even reading the same story? Maybe the snap-smile was all that the moment needed to be. Maybe we should have connected with a conversation. That’s my wondering about the missed opportunity.
The lean form above was designed for the DisruptEd book club thinking about connections. We might not all be reading the same thing, but what if what we are reading needs to be part of a more connected chain? The lean form means you can read and quickly jot and it need not even take up too much precious time. Time poverty is another shared experience among educators.
Currently reading could be powerful.
Currently reading could be a prompt for future reading if you see it on someone’s profile. Currently reading could be a way to reach out and ask a question. But most importantly, currently reading could be an opportunity for connection.
So, what are you currently reading?
Me? I’m currently reading ‘Future You’ by Francis Valentine (she is my ex boss from The Mind Lab). I figure, if she has taken the time to write a book, I should try to take the time to read it. A big take away for me so far is how she likened people to being like apps ir software. Software needs to be refreshed and debugged with a systems update in order to continue st optimal performance. I like that. People do need to be refreshed and ‘debugged’ to stay current. Don’t be afraid to debug and run a new update. Learning is lifelong. Keep tinkering at the edges. Keep currently reading.