I have been reading so many good books lately: some are good stories but not that great and some are time-honored classics. My list of shame still has dozens of books I am embarrassed to have not read but I have chipped away a few. To this end I am dedicating a few titles each month to the big fat classics I want to read before I die: authors such as Henry James, Charles Dickens, and Alexander Dumas.
But that leaves plenty of room for more contemporary books that have caught my fancy or have been general appraised as being of high value. Considering the number of books I read, I’m very lucky to be pleasantly surprised by most, even if not succumbing to cartwheels and fireworks. Interestingly, many of my meh reads are those books that have been hyped in the press (literary or not). Is this a factor of my disappointment in almost anything found on the front table at Barnes and Noble, or is the current state of literate writing on the downslope?
My feeling is that many skills, such as reading and writing, suffer because modern inventions like television offer an unproductive means to clog up personal time which once was available for pursuits requiring a controlled application of imagination and intellect. It’s too easy to turn off our heads nowadays.
But enough of an old story, here is my new list for reading in May:
- A Walk On the Wild Side — Nelson Algren
- The Crime At Black Dudley — Margery Allingham
- A Taste of Honey — Jabari Asim
- Lady Audley’s Secret — Mary Elizabeth Braddon
- And Then There Were None — Agatha Christie
- Balcony in the Forest — Julien Gracq
- Naked Came the Manatee — Carl Haasen, etc.
- The Blackboard Jungle — Evan Hunter
- The Wings of the Dove— Henry James
- Japan Sinks — Sakyo Komatsu
- Seven Pillars of Wisdom — T. E. Lawrence
- Piercing — Ryu Murakami
- My Dark Vanessa: A Novel — Kate Elizabeth Russell
- How I Won the War — Patrick Ryan
- Lost For Words: A Novel — Edward St. Aubyn
- The Pussy — Delicious Tacos
- Hard Candy — Andrew Vachss
- Michael Strogoff; or The Courier of the Csar — Jules Verne
- The Lucky Star — William T. Vollmann
- La Terre — Émile Zola.
Note: The front table at the Barnes and Noble in your neighborhood may have disappeared along with the entire brick and mortar bookstore. That’s sad. I spent many hours scanning up and down the shelves in B&N, not to mention even more hours leisurely reading in the café with a rapidly cooling venti Americano. Eventually though, the physical store just didn’t have any more books I wanted to read, then when I bought my first Jura espresso machine and now that I have to read mostly on a large digital device, the loss of B&N is still sad but like the buggy whip, I don’t really miss it.