I had the privilege to allude to what I am reading and it became a text that looks very closely at the question and ultimately does not really answer the ‘what’ inasmuch as it answers a ‘how’. If that makes you curious, here is the start of the text, that you can find fully over at the interactions magazine (together with a picture of my active bookshelf):
To me, What are you reading? is an incredibly intimate question. There is vulnerability to sharing my bookshelf, to allowing others to trace my epistemological lineage so closely.
I hear What are you reading? as What is shaping your thoughts? and that cuts a little close. What are you reading? additionally implies How are you reading? because I read and reread books in parallel, in nonlinear strands of connectedness, in relations and bits, rarely in one-time sittings. My thinking is chunked, as is my reading.
Writing this text then is also asynchronous. I cannot ask back, “What are you reading?” because… well, right now, you are reading this.
When I studied English as a foreign language, I was taught that -ing is a postfix indicating an activity that is happening in the present, that is actively done in a splinter of now. And then what is that now? Right now? Right in this instance, I’m reading… well, this. Reading what I’m writing and the two merge, as they often do in a melange of academic knowledge production. Making a choice becomes difficult, because I have to expand the now, not take it so literally, think of it as What is the zeitgeist of my reading?