Reading Pool — September

Cool-Book-fantasy-and-scifi-books-15663508-800-600These 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.

Active=Bold, Extended=Red, Read=Blue (18)

  1. Odditorium — Hob Broun
  2. The Los Angeles Diaries: A Memoir — James Brown
  3. The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly
  4. Tidings of the Trees — Wolfgang Hilbig
  5. The Dead Girls — Jorge Ibargüengoitia
  6. Train Dreams — Denis Johnson
  7. The World of Henry Orient — Nora Johnson
  8. Lady In the Lake — Laura Lippman
  9. Hark — Sam Lipsyte
  10. Cop Hater — Ed McBain
  11. The Confidence Man — Herman Melville
  12. Gasoline — Quim Monzó
  13. The Lonesome Bodybuilder — Yukiko Motoya
  14. Cockroaches — Scholastique Mukasonga
  15. Cockroaches — Jo Nesbo
  16. Wonderland — Joyce Carol Oates
  17. The Occasional Virgin: A Novel — Hanan al-Shaykh
  18. The Amboy Dukes — Irving Shulman
  19. The Naked Eye — Yoko Tawada
  20. The Nickel Boys — Colson Whitehead

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.

  • Frog — Stephen Dixon
  • The Big Money — John Dos Passos
  • The Tunnel — William H. Gass
  • Devil In a Blue Dress — Walter Mosely

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!).

Since it is stultifying to read just one author day after day, I suspect I will interleave books by several authors, addressing the obvious holes in my reading purposely but also gradually. Note that reading big fat books can often be as numbing as reading the same author, book after book, so I’ll probably intermix one or two long reads with several for-fun quickies: Think Clarissa surrounded by a dozen hard-boiled detectives.

Monthly Pool Workspace:

  1. Beasts Head for Home: A Novel — Kōbō Abe
  2. Motherland Hotel — Yusuf Atilgan
  3. Oroonoko — Aphra Behn
  4. The Swimming-Pool Library — Alan Hollinghurst
  5. Until Proven Guilty — J. A. Jance
  6. Cold Dish — Craig Johnson
  7. Number One Chinese Restaurant — Lillian Li
  8. The Mugger — Ed McBain
  9. Machines Like Me — Ian McEwan
  10. Forbidden Colors — Yukio Mishima
  11. The Natashas — Yelena Moskovich
  12. The Water Sprite — I. J. Parker
  13. Passport To Peril — Robert B. Parker
  14. Laguna Heat — T. Jefferson Parker
  15. The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia — Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
  16. Angeles On Toast — Dawn Powell
  17. Wolf Solent — John Cowper Powys
  18. The Wanderers — Richard Price
  19. The Part of Me That Isn’t Broken Inside — Kazufumi Shiraishi
  20. The Mine — Antti Tuomainen
  21. Strega — Andrew Vachss

Or a short stack of really fat ones … too fat?:

  1. Seven Pillars of Wisdom — T. E. Lawrence
  2. The Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  3. Weymouth Sands — John Cowper Powys
  4. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  5. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth

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. The Decameron — Giovanni Boccaccio
    3. Life of Samuel Johnson — James Boswell
    4. The Sleepwalkers — Hermann Broch
    5. The Anatomy of Melancholy — Robert Burton
    6. Our Mutual Friend — Charles Dickens
    7. Bleak House — Charles Dickens *
    8. Nicolas Nickelby — Charles Dickens
    9. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
    10. Dombey and Sons — Charles Dickens
    11. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
    12. The Vicomte de Bragellone— Alexander Dumas
    13. Louise de la Vallière— Alexander Dumas
    14. The Man In the Iron Mask— Alexander Dumas
    15. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexander Dumas *
    16. Daniel Deronda — George Eliot
    17. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
    18. Romola — George Eliot
    19. The Good Soldier Svejk — Jaroslav Hasek
    20. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce *
    21. Seven Pillars of Wisdom — T. E. Lawrence
    22. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
    23. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer
    24. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
    25. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
    26. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
    27. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
    28. Gormenghast Trilogy — Mervyn Peake
    29. Cantos — Ezra Pound *
    30. Weymouth Sands — John Cowper Powys
    31. Wolf Solent — 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. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
    37. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
    38. The Mysteries of Udolpho — Ann Radcliffe
    39. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
    40. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
    41. Pamela — Samuel Richardson
    42. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth

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: (



What are your thoughts on this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s