where the writers are
Books as an escape from...books

I read a LOT. Not just as a form of recreation, but because it's my job. As an analyst of and writer on the drug war in Mexico, I have to know what's going on south of the border and along it on a daily basis. So every day, I spend sometimes minutes and sometimes hours poring over news reports, Twitter feeds, and blogs about murder, mayhem, and bloodshed.

I'll be the first to admit, it's pretty depressing. I am definitely fascinated with the subject (I'd better be; it's my livelihood!), so I love to read books written by authors who are very knowledgeable about the drug war: Dr George Grayson, Ioan Grillo, John Gibler, Malcolm Beith, Charles Bowden, and Ed Vulliamy just to name a few. 

But when I need an escape from the grisliness that is Mexico right now, I have to laugh at myself for my somewhat odd choices of books to read - if only because they vary so much in subject and level of seriousness.

In the past few months, I've been on a celebrity autobiography bender. Some of the better ones I've read are Andre Agassi's, Portia de Rossi's, and Rob Lowe's. I also read Tina Fey's book, which is more like compiled life lessons than a memoir, but funny nonetheless. Then I switched to religion, taking a look at books on the history of the Catholic church and contradictions in the Bible. I just finished "33 Men," the story of the men trapped in the Chilean mine last year, and next I'm moving on to Vince Flynn's latest spy/terrorism thriller. Of course, in between books I have my subscriptions to celebrity gossip magazines :).

It sounds kind of strange, but I guess to me it makes sense. When you read for a living - and on one specific topic - you tend to want to read things that have nothing to do with your expertise for that escape that books are supposed to provide. My "recreational" books have served that purpose quite well, and I'll continue to defend my love of the shallow and funny in the face of daily death and destruction :).