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.

September Reading List

Active = Bold, Read = Blue (26)

  1. The Little Girls — Elizabeth Bowen
  2. Dirty Work — Larry Brown
  3. The Circle — Dave Eggers
  4. Lunar Park – Brett Easton Ellis
  5. L. A. Confidential — James Ellroy
  6. The Rise of Silas Lapham — William Dean Howells
  7. Princess Bari — Sok-yong Hwang
  8. The Unconsoled — Kazuo Ishiguro
  9. The Golden Bowl — Henry James
  10. The Doll — Ismail Kadare
  11. A Handful of Sand — Marinko Koščec
  12. Kornel Esti — Deszö KosztolIanyi
  13. The Lost Language of Cranes: A Novel — David Leavitt
  14. Melmoth the Wanderer — Charles Maturin
  15. The Speed Queen — Stewart O’Nan
  16. The Factory — Hiroko Oyamada
  17. Too Late the Phalarope — Alan Paton
  18. Lizard Radio — Pat Schmatz
  19. Tokyo Ueno Station — Yu Mari
  20. Valley of Terror — Zhou Haohui

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 Decameron — Giovanni Boccaccio
  • The Ruin of Kasch — Roberto Calasso
  • The Big Nowhere — James Ellroy
  • A Son of the Middle Border — Hamlin Garland
  • The Quiet American — Graham Greene
  • The Hyborian Age — Robert E. Howard
  • A Hazard of New Fortunes — William Dean Howells
  • Lovecraft Country — Matt Ruff
  • Donald Trump V. the United States — Michael S. Schmidt
  • 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. Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance Into the World — Fanny Burney
  2. The Pale Horse — Agatha Christie
  3. Saving Agnes — Rachel Cusk
  4. Flee — Evan Dara
  5. The House of the Dead — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6. The Man In the Iron Mask — Alexander Dumas
  7. White Jazz — James Ellroy
  8. Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots — Margarita Engle
  9. The Lying Life of Adults — Elena Ferrante
  10. Main-Travelled Roads — Hamlin Garland
  11. Cranford — Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. The Hungry Tide — Amitav Ghosh
  13. The Secret Squad — David Goodis
  14. The Outsiders — S. E. Hinton
  15. Swamp Thing — David Houston
  16. Nietzsche and the Burbs — Lars Iyers
  17. Mardi — Herman Melville
  18. The Plumed Serpent — D. H. Lawrence
  19. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker — Tobias Smollett
  20. The Once and Future King — T. H. White
  1. Indian Killer — Sherman Alexie
  2. The Man With the Golden Gun — Nelson Algren
  3. Shirley — Charlotte Brontë
  4. 52 Stories — Anton Chekov
  5. The Poet — Michael Connelly
  6. The Prairie — James Fenimore Cooper
  7. John’s Wife – Robert Coover
  8. Guns, Germs, Steel — Jared Diamond
  9. Nicolas Nickelby — Charles Dickens
  10. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
  11. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
  12. The Crack-up — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  13. Son of the Middle Border — Hamlin Garland
  14. The Glass Palace – Amitav Ghosh
  15. Fifties — David Halberstam
  16. The World in Thirty-Eight Chapters or Dr Johnson’s Guide to Life — Henry Hitchings
  17. Andersonville — MacKinlay Kantor
  18. Sometimes a Great Notion — Ken Kesey
  19. The Fox — D. H. Lawrence
  20. The Rainbow — D. H. Lawrence
  21. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  22. Nuns and Soldiers — Iris Murdoch
  23. Ada, or Ardor — Vladimir Nabokov
  24. Mysteries of Winterthurn — Joyce Carol Oates
  25. My Heart Laid Bare — Joyce Carol Oates
  26. The Black Book – Orhan Pamuk
  27. Towns Without Rivers — Michael Parker
  28. Waverley — Sir Walter Scott
  29. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth
  30. Life On the Mississippi — Mark Twain
  31. Skagboys — Irvine Welsh
  32. You Can’t Go Home Again — Thomas Wolfe
  33. Of Time and the River — Thomas Wolfe
  34. The Web and the Rock — Thomas Wolfe
  35. A Little Life — Hanya Yanagihara
  36. Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist – Sunil Yapa

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. Cecilia — Fanny Burney
  6. Evelina — Fanny Burney
  7. The Wanderer — Fanny Burney
  8. The Anatomy of Melancholy — Robert Burton
  9. The Book of the Courtier — Baldassare Castiglione
  10. Bleak House — Charles Dickens *
  11. Nicolas Nickelby — Charles Dickens
  12. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
  13. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
  14. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
  15. Romola — George Eliot
  16. Stalingrad — Vasily Grossman
  17. Life and Fate — Vasily Grossman
  18. Forever Flowing — Vasily Grossman
  19. The Good Soldier Svejk — Jaroslav Hasek
  20. Roderick Hudson— Henry James
  21. The Princess Cassamassima— Henry James
  22. The Bostonians— Henry James
  23. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce *
  24. Andersonville — MacKinlay Kantor
  25. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  26. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer
  27. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
  28. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  29. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
  30. Mardi — Herman Melvilleaz
  31. Pierre, or The Ambiguities — Herman Melville
  32. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  33. From the Terrace — John O’Hara
  34. A Rage To Live — John O’Hara
  35. Metamorphoses — Ovid
  36. Gormenghast Trilogy — Mervyn Peake
  37. Cantos — Ezra Pound *
  38. Weymouth Sands — John Cowper Powys
  39. A Glastonbury Romance — John Cowper Powys
  40. Owen Glendower — John Cowper Powys
  41. Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages — John Cowper Powys
  42. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  43. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
  44. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  45. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  46. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth

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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