How do we inhale the insane amount of information available to us? What I Read finds out how we navigate through the brand new world of data. Brett Douville is our lead systems programmer here at Bethesda Game Studios.
The one constant in my reading over the last fifteen years or so has been The New York Times Magazine, which presents me with a diverse range of subjects every Sunday, from politics to cooking, architecture to dance, culture to criticism. While I’ve slipped away from the more shrill and often repetitive voices of the mainstream news media, I find that the Magazine’s coverage runs after enough time has passed that the multiple sides of any given story can be considered and discussed calmly. I usually read a bit of this on Sunday morning, and finish it off a bit at a time while making breakfasts over the next week until the next one comes.
I also read a fair amount of the weekly New York Times Book Review, which is largely my source for finding out that authors I enjoy have released new works, but also for finding new authors I might enjoy (or books on topics I didn’t know I wanted to read about). I currently have a list of books I’d like to read that would probably take me years to get through, growing all the time, but on the other hand, I have a large selection of books I know I’m interested in. I keep it in a Google doc so I can get to it quickly from my phone if I’m in a bookshop somewhere.
At work, I always have something open on my desk that I’m reading through that’s related to my work as a lead programmer. Currently, it’s John Lakos’ Large Scale C++ Software Design, and generally you can expect whatever it is to be just as interesting. Our systems group here read a few books together last year and I’ve kept the habit. I’m threatening myself with reading a grad school text of mine called Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs next, or actually tackling the math in Knuth. Books like these are great because even if you’ve read them before (as I have with Lakos), rereading them with a little more experience under your belt gives you a new perspective and you can draw fresh lessons from them. I also read Game Developer more or less cover to cover when it arrives each month, and folks will send me programming-related articles of interest from time to time.
I read more blogs than I could reasonably list here. I follow via RSS a number of game designers and technical people in the industry, indie news, and a few friends. I’d estimate that about 150 items pass through my RSS feeds every weekday but I’ve never stopped to count. Basically, this and the above are things I read while I’m compiling, which is more time than I’d like in any given day.
Finally, I’m an avid reader of books. While I’m not on track to read as many books this year as last year — I read about 60 works of fiction last year and about the same the year prior, mostly mainstream literary fiction with the occasional genre book thrown in. I have a lot of authors I enjoy and so I eagerly anticipate new books being available — people like Roberto Bolano, Haruki Murakami, Orhan Pamuk, Chang-Rae Lee, Jose Saramago, Jonathan Lethem… the list goes on and on. I’m drawn to certain strains of fiction; I read a lot more books in translation now than I ever did when I was younger, and I’m reading classics I never got around to on occasion as well, such as some of Dickens. Although I had read it before many times, reading A Christmas Carol to my sons this past Christmas was a real treat… we’re reading Treasure Island together now.