Monthly Reading Pool

These are the books I have pulled for possible reading this month. Of course, during the month I may get a couple of books from the library, have a delivery from one of the online bookstores, download something interesting from the internet, or just change my mind when I discover a very juicy novel lost under the bureau with the dead frogs and the antediluvian dust bunnies: in other words, the list may be amended without notice.

December Reading List

Active = Bold, Read = Blue (2)

  1. The Man With the Golden Arm — Nelson Algren
  2. Brazzaville Beach: A Novel — William Boyd
  3. Days of Distraction: A Novel — Alexandra Chang
  4. The Pioneers; or, The Sources of the Susquehanna — James Fenimore Cooper
  5. The Silence — Don DeLillo
  6. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
  7. The Odd Women — George Gissing
  8. Margery Kempe — Robert Glück
  9. Buddwing — Evan Hunter
  10. Andersonville — MacKinlay Kantor
  11. A Girl Is a Body of Water — Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  12. The Twenty Days of Turin: A Novel — Giorgio De Maria
  13. The Egoist — George Meredith
  14. The Hole — Hiroko Oyamada
  15. The Octopus: A Story of California – Frank Norris
  16. Waverley — Sir Walter Scott
  17. Shosha — Isaac Bashevis Singer
  18. Some Prefer Nettles — Junichiro Tanizaki
  19. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead — Olga Tokarczuk
  20. The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language — Mark Turner

To keep the original reading pool intact, I maintain a separate list of unscheduled reading that might slip in along the way. I also use this auxiliary list to stash books held over from the previous month or big fat books I hopefully will finish soon.

  • The Ruin of Kasch — Roberto Calasso
  • World in Thirty-Eight Chapters or Dr Johnson’s Guide to Life, The — Henry Hitchings
  • People’s History of the United States — Howard Zinn

You might notice I tend to have several books or eBooks in progress at the same time. Although this might suggest I can hold two books and read one with each eye, it actually is an artifact from my earlier days of reading when I would have a book to read in every room—office, bedroom, bathroom, car, kitchen, living room, etc.—for fear that I would ever sit down and have nothing with me to read. I can look back at my second year in college standing for hours in the registration line without a book or even a gum wrapper to read. I still have nightmares about that afternoon. With eBooks and an iPhone this has become unnecessary. Now I have hundreds of books to chose from as long as I make sure I travel with my iPhone in my pocket.

Putting Together Next Month’s Reading List

A work in progress that may change without notice. Still, it’s almost like a peek into the future. I have reduced the monthly pool to 20 titles: this allows plenty of choices for my typical 8 reads a month and still allows for more (and to think I used to pool 40 books each month!).

Unfortunately (or fortunately) the current CoVid outbreak has me locked-down in my rooms and reading is definitely a primary activity. Thus 20 titles is hardly enough to fill out the month. So far I have added unscheduled books when time allows or jumped ahead to start reading the next month’s big book. At least for now will not be expanding the pool beyond twenty titles.

Planning Scratch Pads: Future and Supplemental Reading

  1. Snow — John Banville
  2. San Miguel — T. C. Boyle
  3. The Secret Garden — Frances Hodgson Burnett
  4. The Spy — James Fenimore Cooper
  5. John’s Wife — Robert Coover
  6. The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution — Richard Dawkins
  7. Homeland Security Ate My Speech: Messages from the End of the World — Ariel Dorfman
  8. Six Walks in the Fictional Woods — Umberto Eco
  9. A Daughter of the Middle Border — Hamlin Garland
  10. Mary Barton — Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  11. The Histories — Heroditus
  12. Solar — Ian McEwan
  13. Nuns And Soldiers — Iris Murdoch
  14. The Black Book — Orhan Pamuk
  15. Towns Without Rivers – Michael Parker
  16. Operation Shylock : A Confession — Philip Roth
  17. Reveries of the Solitary Walker — Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  18. The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation — Aexandr Soltzheritsyn
  19. Against Interpretation — Susan Sontag
  20. The League of Frightened Men — Rex Stout

The Bucket List

These are the books that I really want to read before I die but might represent a challenge, usually due to the size of the book. I often have to wait for the right time which in the past had involved a week or two on vacation when I could concentrate on my reading, usually at the Jersey Shore but also on a lazy Caribbean cruise.

Note that I have read some of these but with some impediment, like an abridged edition or a bewildered understanding, and more than one title is on this list because I abandoned finishing it, either because of literary exhaustion or scheduling urgency (especially when I was at university).

  1. Commedia — Dante Alighieri *
  2. Life of Samuel Johnson — James Boswell
  3. The Sleepwalkers — Hermann Broch
  4. Cecilia — Fanny Burney
  5. The Wanderer — Fanny Burney
  6. The Anatomy of Melancholy — Robert Burton
  7. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
  8. Romola — George Eliot
  9. Stalingrad — Vasily Grossman
  10. Life and Fate — Vasily Grossman
  11. Forever Flowing — Vasily Grossman
  12. The Good Soldier Svejk — Jaroslav Hasek
  13. Histories — Heroditus
  14. Roderick Hudson— Henry James
  15. The Princess Cassamassima— Henry James
  16. The Bostonians— Henry James
  17. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce *
  18. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  19. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer
  20. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
  21. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  22. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
  23. Omoo — Herman Melville
  24. Pierre, or The Ambiguities — Herman Melville
  25. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  26. From the Terrace — John O’Hara
  27. A Rage To Live — John O’Hara
  28. Metamorphoses — Ovid
  29. Gormenghast Trilogy — Mervyn Peake
  30. Cantos — Ezra Pound *
  31. Weymouth Sands — John Cowper Powys
  32. A Glastonbury Romance — John Cowper Powys
  33. Owen Glendower — John Cowper Powys
  34. Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages — John Cowper Powys
  35. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  36. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
  37. Clarissa Harlowe; or The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  38. History of the Peloponnesian War — Thucydides

4 thoughts on “Monthly Reading Pool

  1. Stumbled across your blog as I am looking for blogs that review books as my blog does. You read much more than I, but we seem to share an interest in well written literature. I read mostly fiction other than science fiction, mystery and romance. I also read non-fiction that ranges from science, to history, to politics and finance.


    1. I traditionally have aimed at 12 books a month but nowadays, what with eyesight problems and excessive napping, I target about 100 books a year.


  2. I’ve just found your site while searching for resources on experimental fiction. You’ve got broad and enticing reading lists for each month. I wish I could get through even half those books (and I mean the eight to twelve you actually read each month). I recently read The Flame Alphabet and Cloud Atlas and found both masterfully written – lovely use of language and brilliant ideas. So much more I want to read (and just seeing your list makes me want to pick some of them up today), but lately I’ve using most of my time to write and edit my own experimental novel – The Black Dionysia. It’s a collage of mythology, sci-fi, classic fairy tale, and contemporary fiction. Thought you might be interested in having a look: (



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