Recent enjoyable reads include Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan and The Song Machine by John Seabrook. David Byrne’s book How Music Works was exceptional. Lately I’ve been building some musical contraptions, so I am currently working through Junkyard Jam Band: DIY Musical Instruments and Noisemakers by David Erik Nelson for some inspiration.
I’ve been gradually working through some multi-book series like John Zorn’s Arcana, with the most recent being Arcana VI. It’s been a while since I dove into Joseph Campbell, but I am due to pick up the Masks of God series from book III, having finished I and II some time ago.
Brad Warner, a Buddhist writer who has a background in punk rock and monster movies, has a series of really good books about his experiences as teacher, writer, traveler. I’m looking forward to 2016’s Don’t Be A Jerk and 2017’s It Came from Beyond Zen!: More Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye).
In 2017 I made it a point to read Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Catcher in the Rye (didn’t care for it) and Slaughterhouse-Five, having already read 1984 some time ago.
When it comes to poetry, I am usually reading something from Rumi or Hafez, though the modern Rumi translations are hit and miss. My copy of Masnavi (Nicholson Translation) is full of typos and OCR errors. The recently released iambic translation by Jawid Mojaddedi is too sing-songy for me and takes the life out of the words. Taking a different turn, I recently read Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran, which was extremely enjoyable.
I only subscribe to two magazines – Songlines World Music (from the UK) and Tape Op (music recording). Songlines offers a CD sampler that is worth the price of the magazine alone. Much of the great music I’ve been exposed to over the last decade came from reading Songlines.