Simmer reading list

One of my friends mentioned his “simmer reading” yesterday. It was a typo—he meant to say “summer”—but a simmer reading list is interesting.

Simmer reading makes me think of a book that stays on your nightstand as other books come and go, like a pot left to simmer on the back burner of a stove. It’s a book you read a little at a time, maybe out of order, not something you’re trying to finish like a project.

What are some of your simmer reading books?

Related post: A book so good I had to put it down

31 thoughts on “Simmer reading list

  1. David McConnell

    I pick up and read a few chapter from “Voyage From Yesteryear” every few months. I enjoy books that pose a big ‘what-if’ and then try predict how people can adapt. I must be a sci-fi fan because “Starship Troopers” is also on my simmer reading list.

    And although it is not on my bookshelf, I periodically return to Project Euler and look at problems I have already solved and experiment with alternate algorithms. I seem to pick up a new jewel every time I revisit a problem.

  2. Making of a Cook by Madelaine Kamman
    The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
    A People’s History of the USA by Howard Zinn
    Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
    plus a constant (Tour of the Calculus by Berlinski, which is a better soporific than NyQuil).

  3. Bill the Lizard

    I started reading Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs a little over two years ago.

  4. Right now, it’s “Fractal Geometry: Kenneth Falconer” and “Organization Man” — William Whyte.
    Though am not sure Organization Man can be called a simmer read yet…
    But this concept reminds me of another similar type of reading. Ah.. let’s call it umm.. say ‘action plan reading’. I use a couple of books when i can’t decide what to do next? “Atlas Shrugged” has been on it for some time. The recent tentative addition to that is “Harry Potter and the methods of rationality ” :-)

  5. Dantzig’s “Linear Programming and Extensions” (I am ashamed that I’ve not read it yet)
    Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” (started last summer)

  6. Effective C++ Programming (Scott Meyers)
    The Pragmatic Programmer (Dave Thomas, et. al)

    … there are actually 4, the others have, maybe, simmered too long …

  7. The timing of your post is perfect — I have a large simmer nightstand, and just yesterday I forced myself to clean off/out most of it and banish a legion of books to a VERY low simmer on bookshelves. What’s left? Some books on parenting, “Bonhoeffer,” and I’m not sure what else…

  8. The Codebreakers, by David Kahn — the original 1967 edition. Probably took me four years — my entire high school career — to read it all.

  9. I’m with Bill the Lizard on this one, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs is mine and I think it’s going to be there a while!

  10. The Collected Short Stories of Roger Zelazny, Volume 2. I’ve got all six volumes on a very slow simmer, because there’s no point in quickly blowing through the few bits of his work I haven’t already read.

  11. Always reading 4- 8 books (non-fiction exclusively), but none of the current ones are simmers. Two recent simmers were The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick and The Beginning Of Infinity by David Deutsch. I just didn’t want them to end.

  12. These are my books in the fun and general knowledge category, and I am reading them all, concurrently:

    David Archer, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast

    Richard Muller, Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

    Mark Lynas, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

    J. H. Kunstler, The Long Emergency

    N.Roubini, S. Mihm, Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance

    L. Lessig, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It

    Thomas Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0

    L. Lessig, One Way Forward: The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic

    L. Lessig, Code version 2.0

    J. Gastwirth (ed.), Statistical Science in the Courtroom (semi-technical reading; being read a second time)

  13. My simmer reading generally falls into three types: SF, readers and chrestomathies in languages I’m working on, and physics. At the moment, the first is several volumes of the complete stories of Theodore Sturgeon (haven’t yet gotten the Zelazny, alas, which will probably have to wait a year) and the NESFA collection of Kuttner and Moore’s best, The Two-Handed Engine. (For mysteries the only ones I actually let simmer are rereads of Ross Macdonald. Others I devour in an evening.) In the second, currently Aspland’s Medieval French Reader, Treharne’s Old and Middle English (first edition, definitely, before she cut out lots of lesser-known readings to make way for Chaucer and Langland easily available elsewhere), and two editions of the Book of the Nishan Shamaness. Third is Morse and Ingard’s Theoretical Acoustics.

  14. Framework Design Guidelines by Cwalina and Abrams
    The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    Inner Work, He and She all by Robert A Johnson

    I have to say that The Feynman Lectures on Physics should be there too. Thanks Chico!

  15. Laurent Gauthier

    Bruce Schneir’s “Liars and Outliers” is most definitely on my simmer reading list as we as “The Art of Readable Code”.

  16. Moby Dick has been a very low simmer for a few years now. I might be near page 100 by now. But I do enjoy it whenever I pick it up again.

  17. Currently stewing:

    “The Valley of Vision” edited by Arthur Bennett
    “The Unbound Prometheus” by David Landes
    “What Looks Like an Elephant” by Edward Nudelman

  18. Billingsley, Probability and Measure
    Thou Shall Prosper, Daniel Lapin
    Jim Collins
    Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s Preparing Your Children for Adolescence

  19. When I was a kid, I tried plowing through books quickly because I always had others waiting. But early in adulthood I finally learned I do much better reading books in parallel.

    This gives me time to think about the concepts. I tend to remember more and often one book aids my understanding of another. Right now, for example, I’m reading three books about the S-Curve, which is a fascinating subject (Jumping the Curve, The Alchemy of Growth, and Jumping the S-Curve).

    Probably my longest-simmering book is The Complete Works of Josephus. It’s nice to have it all in one volume, but the tiny print means I definitely don’t want to read too much at once.

  20. My favorite novels are all simmer books: Lolita, Infinite Jest, and Gravity’s Rainbow. Each of these I read through cover to cover once, then spent years rereading a random chapter or two at a time, letting it sink in.

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