Reading Pool — September

images-3.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.

Bold=Active, Red=Extended, Blue=Completed (6)

  1. How German Is It — Walter Abish
  2. Wonderland — Ace Atkins
  3. The Penelopiad — Margaret Atwood
  4. High Rise — J. G. Ballard
  5. The System of Dante’s Hell — Amir Baraka
  6. Yiddish For Pirates — Gary Barwin
  7. The Western Lands — William S. Burroughs
  8. Van Gogh’s Room at Arles — Stanley Elkin
  9. Lady L — Romain Gary
  10. Zero History — William Gibson
  11. The Boy Who Made the Dragonfly — Tony Hillerman
  12. Swimmer in the Secret Sea — William Kotzwinkle
  13. 21 Days of a Neurasthenic — Octave Mirbeau
  14. Untitled — Kgebetli Moele
  15. Wonderland — Joyce Carol Oates
  16. Indemnity Only — Sarah Paretsky
  17. The Anatomy of Fascism — Robert O. Paxton
  18. The Hole — Hye-young Pyun
  19. When She Was Good — Philip Roth
  20. A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy — Laurence Sterne

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 Big Money — John Dos Passos
  • Collected Poems 1947-1997 — Allen Ginsberg
  • 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!).

  1. They Were Counted — Miklós Bánffy
  2. The Little Girls — Elizabeth Bowen
  3. The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
  4. Frog — Stephen Dixon
  5. Bright Magic: Stories — Alfred Döblin
  6. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  7. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak

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 can 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. The Decameron — Giovanni Boccaccio
  2. Life of Samuel Johnson — James Boswell
  3. The Sleepwalkers — Hermann Broch
  4. The Anatomy of Melancholy — Robert Burton
  5. The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
  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. Frog — Stephen Dixon
  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. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  22. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
  23. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  24. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
  25. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  26. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak
  27. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  28. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  29. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais
  30. The Mysteries of Udolpho — Ann Radcliffe
  31. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  32. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  33. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth
  34. Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace

This is my old short-term list of books I intend to read (historical: will fade away fairly soon)

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings— Maya Angelou
  • The Automobile Club of Egypt — Alaa Al Aswany
  • The Spider’s House — Paul Bowles
  • Anonymous Celebrity — Ignácio de Loyola Brandão [XFX]
  • Libra — Don DeLillo
  • Three Trapped Tigers — G. Cabrera Infante
  • The Enormous Room — E. E. Cummings [XFX]
  • Sophie’s World — Jostein Gaardner [XFX]
  • Ninety-Three — Victor Hugo [FR]
  • Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book — Maxine Hong Kingston
  • Adam Buenosayres: A Novel — Leopoldo Marechal
  • Piercing — Ryu Murakami
  • Dictionary of the Khazars — Milorad Pavic
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values — Robert M. Pirsig
  • This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It — David Wong

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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