For most academics, there are two types of reading we do: Books we have to read, and books we read to relax. For me, "have to reads" include things for both teaching and research. "Relaxation reads" are real brain-in-power-down-mode novels, more often than not in one of the speculative fiction or fantasy subgenres, with an occasional award-winner thrown in there. Point is, I'm either working, or I'm off the clock.
But then there's that other list: the things that are smart, written by scholars for a popular audience, or journalists for a smart audience. Books that make you think, but that manage to do so without feeling like work.
Often, what visually differentiates these books from the "have to reads" is a lack (or paucity) of footnotes. Which is what makes my choice for September particularly ironic: it's Anthony Grafton's The Footnote: A Curious History. It's a book about the way knowledge is presented in written and visual form. I think. I haven't read it yet. And yes -- it does have footnotes.
In any case, my friend J and I were planning on reading this during the month of September, and then talking about it. So if anyone would like to join in, grab a copy (did I mention it's a slim volume, perfect for a quick-but-smart read?), get reading, and let's meet back here around September 30th.