Vali Nasr is a professor of international politics at Tufts University.
Q: What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
A: After checking my three e-mail accounts (which includes a synopsis of Reuters and Associated Press stories), I turn to The New York Times (which I also check last thing before going to sleep), then The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Guardian, and, finally, Twitter (which directs me to various blogs and news items).
I also look at the headlines of a select number of dailies and media Web sites in the Middle East and South Asia. I read first the headline news and opinion pieces and then feature stories. Driving to work I listen to Morning Edition on NPR. I focus on world news and stories that deal with my areas of expertise to make sure that I’m up to date, and then I read more broadly about what is happening in the world at large.
Q: What newspapers and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print vs. online vs. mobile?
A: I regularly read Foreign Affairs and the Economist in print (although I just downloaded the magazine’s iPad application), The New Yorker, on Kindle, and The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and the Guardian on iPhone and iPad. I read Foreign Policy magazine and a host of Middle Eastern and South Asian dailies and journals on my desktop (although I find myself reading those sources more frequently on the iPad). I also read a number of professional journals in print. Google alerts also provide headlines from an assortment of news Web sites. Last but not least, I am a huge soccer fan, and for new updates and articles I rely on Twitter and a few favorite online news Web sites.
Q: What books have you recently read?
A: The last book I read is Robert Kaplan’s excellent expose on the importance of the Indian Ocean to geostrategy, Monsoon. Before that I enjoyed Granta‘s special edition on Pakistan; and Ian Bremmer’s The End of the Free Market. Recently I ploughed through a batch of good novels: Ian McEwan’s Solar; Alan Furst’s Spies of the Balkans; Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies; Barbara Kingslover’s The Lacuna; Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists; David Benioff’s City of Thieves; Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan; Stieg Larsson’s trilogy; and Maaza Mengiste’s Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing you have recently read?
A: I was genuinely surprised by Golnaz Esfandiari’s article in Foreign Policy entitled “Misreading Tehran: The Twitter Devolution” which questions the importance of social media to the Green Movement of 2009 in Iran. I also found Joseph Nye’s article “The Future of American Power” in Foreign Affairs surprising. Nye questions the idea that America is losing its global status, a pleasantly counter-intuitive observation.
Q: Do you read blogs? If so, what blogs do you like best?
A: I do not read any one blog regularly; rather, I use Twitter to check blog headings and contents, and then decide what to read. I also read individual blogs recommended by friends and colleagues. There are a few columnists I read routinely, like Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius in The Washington Post, and Steve Coll in The New Yorker.
Q: Do you use Twitter? If so, whom do you follow?
A: I use Twitter frequently. I share what I read with my followers, and I follow colleagues and information outlets. For instance, I follow the AfPak Channel, Tehran Bureau, Al Jazeera, BBC World, The Atlantic, Abu Aardvark, Watandost, among others.
Q: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?
A: For guilty pleasure I turn to Barry Eisler, James Patterson, or a good whodunit that my local book store recommends. I also look through The Daily Beast, YouTube and Facebook for commentary, highlights and offbeat items I might have missed in my regular media diet. —Evan R. Goldstein
Sketch by Ted Benson