Q. What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
A. I read The New York Times, paper edition, with my first cup of coffee: “the morning prayer of modern man.” When I get to my computer, I read Haaretz online.
Q. What newspapers and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print versus online versus mobile?
A. The Times, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, the Jewish Review of Books, and, of course, Dissent, all come to the house; we subscribe, off and on, to The New Yorker. I read all these in print.
Q. What is the best article you’ve read recently?
A. Joanne Barkan’s “Got Dough?” in Dissent a couple of issues back.
Q. What books have you recently read? How do they stand out?
A. Paul Berman’s Flight of the Intellectuals; Michael Kazin’s American Dreamers; Daniel Schwartz’s The First Modern Jew. They “stand out” for me because they are politically sympathetic (therefore politically intelligent) and intellectually engaging. They deal with what interests me most these days: the past and future of secular left politics.
Q. Has your reading of professional journals changed in the past 10 years? How so?
A. I never read any professional journals regularly, not even journals in my field like Political Theory and Philosophy & Public Affairs; I read what I needed for things that I was writing (and what I needed was more often history and journalism than political theory or philosophy), and I read articles by my friends, and by people visiting at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Q. Do you read blogs? If so, what blogs do you like best?
A. I read the Dissent blog and sometimes write for it; I look at the TNR blogs and at the Haaretz blogs; once in a while at Crooked Timber. I can’t keep up with the blogosphere; I look for good talk and occasional provocations.
Q. Do you use Twitter? If so, whom do you
A. I don’t know how to Twitter.
Q. What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?
A. I read murder mysteries and espionage novels, but don’t feel guilty about it. I read poetry for pleasure but also because I believe that anyone who hopes to write decent English, about any subject, needs to have poetry in his head. I read novels passed on by friends and family. I start more novels than I finish.
Sketch by Ted Benson