Reading Pool — July


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.

Active=Bold, Extended=Red, Read=Blue (11)

  1. The Old Wives’ Tale — Arnold Bennett
  2. The Hive — Camilo José Cela
  3. Dombey and Sons — Charles Dickens
  4. The Librarian — Mikhail Elizarov
  5. History of the Kings of Britain — Geoffrey of Monmouth
  6. The Yid — Paul Goldberg
  7. Cockroach — Rawi Hage
  8. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner — James Hogg
  9. Tyll: A Novel — Daniel Kehlmann
  10. Cult X — Fuminori Nakamura
  11. A Bloodsmoor Romance — Joyce Carol Oates
  12. My Name Is Asher Lev — Chaim Potok
  13. Shinju — Laura Joh Rowland
  14. Only In London — Hanan al-Shaykh
  15. The Two-Penny Bar — Georges Simenon
  16. The Magnificent Ambersons — Booth Tarkington
  17. Little Siberia — Antti Tuomainen
  18. My Life In the Bush of Ghosts — Amos Tutuola
  19. Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex — Oksana Zabuzhko
  20. Au Bonheur des Dames — Émile Zola

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 Decameron — Giovanni Boccaccio
  • The Ruin of Kasch — Roberto Calasso
  • 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 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!).

Planning Scratch Pads: Future and Supplemental Reading

  1. Kalakuta Republic — Chris Abani
  2. Carny Kill — Robert Edmond Alter
  3. The Automobile Club of Egypt — Alaa Al Aswany
  4. A Good Man In Africa — William Boyd
  5. Riven Rock – T. C. Boyle
  6. John’s Wife – Robert Coover
  7. Nicolas Nickelby — Charles Dickens
  8. Boswell – Stanley Elkin
  9. Glamorama – Brett Easton Ellis
  10. Middle C — William H. Gass
  11. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden — Jonas Jonasson
  12. Sometimes a Great Notion — Ken Kesey
  13. The Man Who Spoke Snakish — Andrew Kivirähk
  14. Elmer Gantry — Sinclair Lewis
  15. Last Night at the Lobster — Stewart O’Nan
  16. The Black Book – Orhan Pamuk
  17. Ghachar Ghochar — Vivek Shanbhag
  18. Baltasar and Blimunda – José Saramago
  19. The Ogre — Michel Tournier
  20. The Brave African Huntress — Amos Tutuola


  1. Indian Killer — Sherman Alexie
  2. The Little Girls — Elizabeth Bowen
  3. 52 Stories — Anton Chekov

  4. The Poet — Michael Connelly
  5. Guns, Germs, Steel — Jared Diamond

  6. Barnaby Rudge — Charles Dickens
  7. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
  8. Louise de la Vallière— Alexander Dumas
  9. The Man In the Iron Mask — Alexander Dumas

  10. The Circle — Dave Eggers
  11. Lunar Park – Brett Easton Ellis
  12. L. A. Confidential — James Ellroy
  13. The Crack-up — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  14. Fifties — David Halberstam
  15. The Unconsoled — Kazuo Ishiguro
  16. The Golden Bowl — Henry James
  17. Andersonville — MacKinlay Kantor
  18. The Lost Language of Cranes: A Novel — David Leavitt
  19. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  20. Melmoth the Wanderer — Charles Maturin
  21. Tales of the City — Armistead Maupin
  22. Rage — Zygmunt Miloszewski
  23. Nuns and Soldiers — Iris Murdoch
  24. Ada, or Ardor — Vladimir Nabokov
  25. Mysteries of Winterthurn — Joyce Carol Oates
  26. My Heart Laid Bare — Joyce Carol Oates
  27. The Speed Queen — Stewart O’Nan
  28. Where the Crawdads Sing — Delia Owens
  29. Towns Without Rivers – Michael Parker
  30. Too Late the Phalarope — Alan Paton
  31. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth
  32. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives — Dashka Slater
  33. Skagboys — Irvine Welsh
  34. The Once and Future King — T. H. White
  35. A Little Life — Hanya Yanagihara

  36. Braised Pork — An Yu
  37. Valley of Terror — Zhou Haohui

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. Dombey and Sons — Charles Dickens
  14. Little Dorrit — Charles Dickens
  15. Louise de la Vallière— Alexander Dumas
  16. The Man In the Iron Mask— Alexander Dumas
  17. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
  18. Romola — George Eliot
  19. The Good Soldier Svejk — Jaroslav Hasek
  20. The Golden Bowl — Henry James
  21. Roderick Hudson— Henry James
  22. The Princess Cassamassima— Henry James
  23. The Bostonians— Henry James
  24. Finnegans Wake — James Joyce *
  25. Andersonville — MacKinlay Kantor
  26. Harlot’s Ghost — Norman Mailer
  27. The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer
  28. Le Morte d’Arthur — Thomas Malory
  29. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  30. Women and Men — Joseph McElroy
  31. Mardi and A Voyage Thither — Herman Melville
  32. Omoo — Herman Melville
  33. Pierre, or The Ambiguities — Herman Melville
  34. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  35. From the Terrace — John O’Hara
  36. A Rage To Live — John O’Hara
  37. Metamorphoses — Ovid
  38. Gormenghast Trilogy — Mervyn Peake
  39. Cantos — Ezra Pound *
  40. Weymouth Sands — John Cowper Powys
  41. A Glastonbury Romance — John Cowper Powys
  42. Owen Glendower — John Cowper Powys
  43. Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages — John Cowper Powys
  44. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  45. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
  46. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  47. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  48. 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: (



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