Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rachel Toor

Rachel Toor teaches writing at Eastern Washington University, is a columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and a senior writer for Running Times. She is the author of The Pig and I: How I Learned to Love Men (Almost) as Much as I Love My Pets and Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Process.

Her new book is Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running.

A few days ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Thinking about the answer to this question made me realize that my reading habits are, well, both odd and entrenched. I always have one audio book of nonfiction going in my car. I just finished listening to John McPhee read Uncommon Carriers. (He has a kind of twang, for a Princeton boy, and sounds older than I think he should, given that he is, you know, a god.) Next up is Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary?

I always have a book, and about a zillion episodes of This American Life, on my iPod, which I listen to when I run (if I'm not running with other people or doing a speed workout). Right now I'm about a third of the way through my friend Jess Walter's novel, The Zero, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

By my bed I have towering stacks. During daylight hours, I'm only allowed to read nonfiction that is work-related. So I'm going through Nicholas Lemann's history of the SAT, The Big Test, and also Jerome Karabel's The Chosen, about the history of admissions at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. This is because I was asked to write a chapter for a three-volume history of the business of higher education.

Then, before I go to sleep, I always read from a mystery (or other genre-ish) novel. At this moment it's an older Lee Child, from his Jack Reacher series.

And, of course, I've just re-read Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains and am about to start in on (again) Michael Lewis's exquisite Moneyball, for a graduate class I'm teaching.
Visit Rachel Toor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue