Reading Pool — August

images-1.jpgThese 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.

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.

This month’s list is taken from the reading suggestions I made the first six months of the  year. Some of those titles became reading selections but never got read; other suggestions are newly assigned for reading in August. I try to be as diverse as possible but I notice that there is a preponderance of fairly new novels. Maybe I need a month to catch up on the older classic novels I have missed along the way. Seems to me that Henry James is feeling neglected.

Bold=Active, Red=Extended, Blue=Completed (3)

  1. The Lime Tree — César Aira
  2. God: A Human History — Reza Aslan
  3. Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn — Ace Atkins
  4. A Good Day for Seppuku — Kate Braverman
  5. Elegy For My Beat Generation — Neeli Cherkovski
  6. Persuader — Lee Child
  7. Smile — Roddy Doyle
  8. The Woman In the Window — A. J. Finn
  9. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon — David Grann
  10. Paris in the Present Tense: A Novel — Mark Helprin
  11. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories — Denis Johnson
  12. Spring — Karl Ove Knausgaard
  13. The Mars Room — Rachel Kushner
  14. The Neighborhood — Mario Vargas Llosa
  15. Quincannon — Bill Pronzini
  16. The Greek Coffin Mystery — Ellery Queen
  17. Calypso — David Sedaris
  18. Spy of the First Person — Sam Shepard
  19. Parking Lot Attendant — Nafkote Tamirat
  20. Death of a Red Heroine — Qui Xiaolong

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. I seem to be collecting far too many lingering titles on this sub-list. Maybe next month I’ll concentrate on cleaning up my leftovers.

  • London Bridge — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  • Frog — Stephen Dixon
  • Collected Poems 1947-1997 — Allen Ginsberg
  • Wolf Hall — Hilary Mantel
  • The Black Prince — Iris Murdoch
  • 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!).

This month is dedicated to finally reading (completing) the numerous titles (usually big fat ones) that have been lingering either on my public lists or in my semi-secret pile of 3×5 cards I keep to remind myself of books I lost interest in or lost in the back of my impressive but unmanageable book shelves. 

  1. London Bridge — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  2. Frog — Stephen Dixon
  3. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  4. Wolf Hall — Hilary Mantel
  5. The Counterlife — Philip Roth
  6. 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. The Vicomte de Bragellone— Alexander Dumas
  14. Louise de la Vallière— Alexander Dumas
  15. The Man In the Iron Mask— Alexander Dumas
  16. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexander Dumas *
  17. Daniel Deronda — George Eliot
  18. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
  19. The Good Soldier Svejk — Jaroslav Hasek
  20. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce *
  21. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  22. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer
  23. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
  24. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  25. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
  26. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  27. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak
  28. Cantos — Ezra Pound *
  29. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  30. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  31. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
  32. The Mysteries of Udolpho — Ann Radcliffe
  33. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  34. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  35. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth
  36. Aeneid — Virgil


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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