Reading Garden of Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke, co-written with Gentry Lee. There was actually another copy of it on the shelf of the cafe he was reading in! --he hadn't read anything else on it, though.
He is writing a paper on the Rama series, of which this is the second of three books. After reading over a thousand pages, he is hoping that the third and final is worth the effort.
Science Fiction, he explained, used to project the future as an idealistic world where machines make everything easier but, Science Fiction has changed, as it has become apparent that, while progress can sometimes be a good thing, the facts of modern technology and warfare have made the world a darker, uglier place.
His favorite book of all time is The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury--the stories are well told and evoke a feeling that you are actually there, due to its lyrical, poetic style and heartfelt emotions that pull you in. It's profound.
Other influential writers--Tolkien, who taught him patience; Steinbeck, who gave him a better appreciation of the struggles of the American life, though, as his writing takes place on farmland, he feels somewhat removed; Jack London, for showing how characters can develop, progress throughout a book; and Hemingway.
Recently he read a book about Jack London's life called Sailor on Snowshoes: Tracking Jack London's Northern Trail, by Dick North.