What To Read This Month?


This was the month I intended to only select a half-dozen large and demanding books and blow off the lesser novels which so often interfere with the big fat ones I have been putting off for years. I started with five fat ones but then added a few very tempting texts with more manageable page counts. Then I added a few more and soon I was caught in the cycle of posting works I really wanted to read as opposed to works I really should read.

Is reading A Man Without Qualities and crossing off yet another book from my bucket list more satisfying than ready three of four novels from other authors around the world?

It was a struggle but I opted for continued variety and a promise that I will try to work at least one bucket list tome into each month’s reading pool. This month there are actually three titles that may earn me the dubious satisfaction of having read something great and challenging: The Golden Notebook, They Were Counted, and Frog.

Interestingly I have lugged my copy of Stephen Dixon’s Frog around from state to state for almost twenty-five years and for this reading pool I dumped the paper and ink copy in the Goodwill box and purchased the digital version. Not only are my eyes growing weaker, my wrists are refusing to hold up those big fat books.

So this is the reading pool for October.

  1. Inter Ice Age 4 — Kobo Abe
  2. The Proof — César Aira
  3. They Were Counted — Miklós Bánffy
  4. The Little Girls — Elizabeth Bowen
  5. Frog — Stephen Dixon
  6. Bright Magic: Stories — Alfred Döblin
  7. Schultz — J. P. Donleavy
  8. Strangers On a Train — Patricia Highsmith
  9. images-1.jpgAngels — Denis Johnson
  10. The Exile — William Kotzwinkle
  11. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  12. Taipei — Tao Lin
  13. Peru — Gordon Lish
  14. African Psycho — Alain Mabanckou
  15. Asura Girl — Otaro Maijo
  16. Faceless Killers — Henning Mankell
  17. Mother and Child — Carol Maso
  18. The White Dominican — Gustave Meyrink
  19. Notes of a Crocodile — Qiu Miaojin
  20. Lives of the Saints — Nino Ricci

7 thoughts on “What To Read This Month?

  1. I think you will love A Man Without Qualities when you get to it. I have read ‘Les Miserables’ this summer. It was over 1400 pages and had longeurs, but I did enjoy it.


    1. I just got the new single-volume edition of Musil’s novel and expect to dedicate the better part of a month to it very soon.

      Despite having several big fat books on my bucket list, There actually are quite a few very challenging reads that I have already completed (some more than once). I guess we all have our own bucket list whether we write it down or just let it bobble around in our little gray cells.

      After all, I read A Dance To the Music of Time twice. How hard could A Man Without Qualities be?


      1. My go-‘to fat books are “Moby Dick ” (3 x) and “War and Peace” (4 x), so as you say the one volume Musil’s novel will be a doddle. I like the sense of achievement with a long novel, and sometimes it’s a sad wrench when you finish, like saying goodbye to loved friends. I hope you enjoy the Musil. My bucket list is yards long, my only worry being maybe I won’t live long enough. I am 71 next weekend and aware of tempus fugit.


    2. What with years of education I too have read books such as Moby Dick numerous times (the Norton edition is best with all the secondary information, especially about whaling, included). I only read W&P twice but the Russians were a favorite beach read for years. Of course my go-to novel is Ulysses .. which reminds me that I have to re-read Finnegans Wake (maybe I’ll understand it better?).


      1. I have read ‘Ulysses’ , a great book, but “Finnegan’s Wake” defeated me. It seems that you have to devote much time to it. I’d rather spend the time studying Shakespeare, who I seem you also read.


  2. ” … but then added a few very tempting texts with more manageable page counts. Then I added a few more and soon …”

    Ha, ha, Mike. As with most true readers, there’s not much hope for you.


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