Reading Pool — November

downloadThese are the twenty 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.

As fate would have it, this month’s list is gleaned from the last two month’s of suggested readings which were published daily. Note that a touch of illness late in October has left a few titles I intended to read, unfinished. Add it all together and it should be an interesting month of reading.

If you are looking for something interesting to read, I would suggest any of these titles. Then if we’re both reading the same book, feel free to comment or otherwise discuss the selection and I’ll add my responses.

Bold=Active, Red=Extended, Blue=Completed (13)

  1. The Salmon of Doubt – Douglas Adams
  2. Poetry Will Save Your Life – Jill Bialosky
  3. Jerzy: A Novel – Jerome Charyn
  4. The Seeds of Life – Edward Dolnick
  5. World Broke in Two – Bill Goldstein
  6. A Horse Walks into a Bar – David Grossman
  7. The Little Drummer Girl – John le Carre
  8. Kintu – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  9. Roman Hat Mystery – Ellery Queen
  10. Chicago Poems – Carl Sandburg
  11. Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris
  12. The Unlikely Monsieur Owen – Georges Simenon
  13. Jumpers – Tom Stoppard
  14. A Little History of Literature – John Sutherland
  15. Inventing Hell: Dante, The Bible, and Eternal Torment – Jon M. Sweeney
  16. American Dreams: Lost and Found – Studs Terkel
  17. House of Names: A Novel – Colm Toibin
  18. Self-Portrait Abroad – Jean-Philippe Toussaint
  19. My Name is Legion – A. N. Wilson
  20. Chocky – John Wyndham

Although I’m still trying to read many of the paper and ink books in my library, the emphasis has changed over to a reliance on digital editions. Since I will opt for the digital edition even if I have the “real” book on the shelf. I guess all books are real whether paper and ink, digital, or even spoken word (maybe).

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

  • The Western Lands — William S. Burroughs
  • Frog — Stephen Dixon
  • Collected Poems 1947-1997 — Allen Ginsberg
  • Taipei — Tao Lin
  • The Counterlife — Philip Roth
  • Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace

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 Pool

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!).

It’s the end of the year and it might be a good idea to read (or finish reading) those big fat books that I have been lingering over. Should I just list four or five fatties and not tempt my lazy bones with any fast and easy little books?

  1. North — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  2. The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
  3. Nostromo — Joseph Conrad
  4. Frog — Stephen Dixon
  5. The Big Money — John Dos Passos
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexander Dumas
  7. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  8. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  9. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak
  10. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  11. Cryptonomicon — Neal Stephenson
  12. Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace

The Bucket List

These are the novels 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 at school).

  1. Commedia — Dante Alighieri *
  2. The Decameron — Giovanni Boccaccio
  3. Life of Samuel Johnson — James Boswell
  4. The Sleepwalkers — Hermann Broch
  5. The Anatomy of Melancholy — Robert Burton
  6. The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
  7. Our Mutual Friend — Charles Dickens
  8. Bleak House — Charles Dickens *
  9. Nicolas Nickelby — Charles Dickens
  10. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
  11. Dombey and Sons — Charles Dickens
  12. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
  13. Frog — Stephen Dixon *
  14. The Vicomte de Bragellone— Alexander Dumas
  15. Louise de la Vallière— Alexander Dumas
  16. The Man In the Iron Mask— Alexander Dumas
  17. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexander Dumas *
  18. Daniel Deronda — George Eliot
  19. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
  20. The Good Soldier Svejk — Jaroslav Hasek
  21. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce *
  22. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing *
  23. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  24. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer
  25. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
  26. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  27. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
  28. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  29. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak
  30. Cantos — Ezra Pound
  31. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  32. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  33. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
  34. The Mysteries of Udolpho — Ann Radcliffe
  35. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  36. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  37. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth
  38. Aeneid — Virgil
  39. Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace *


4 responses

  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.


    • 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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