Reading Pool — August

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.

For a break between detective novels and various contemporary fluff, I’ve selected an abbreviated list of titles one might consider classical or more demanding literature. I’ll probably be lucky to read 2 or 3 but who knows, maybe I’ll bog down in the first novel I start.

Active=Bold, Extended=Red, Read=Blue (5)

  1. The Death of Virgil — Hermann Broch
  2. Nostromo — Joseph Conrad
  3. Roxana — Daniel Defoe
  4. The Tunnel — William H. Gass
  5. Women In Love — D. H. Lawrence
  6. 1Q84 — Haruki Murakami
  7. Parallel Stories — Péter Nádas
  8. Mysteries of Udolpho — Ann Radcliffe
  9. The Charterhouse of Parma — Renate Stendhal
  10. Cryptonomicon — Neal Stephenson

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
  • Tales of the City — Amistead Maupin

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!).

Thinking about future reading pool selections, there are several authors that demand attention. First, I have to address two very prolific authors or I’ll never catch up, specifically George Simenon and Joyce Carol Oates. Then there are a few authors I need to complete a multi-novel series, specifically Honoré de Balzac and Emile Zola. And finally there are a few authors or series that are just for entertainment (fun) and I’ve missed out on a few enjoyable titles, specifically Michael Bond’s Monsieur Pamplemousse and the several authors who are continuing the various novel series created by Robert B. Parker.

Of course there’s also my paltry showing with authors such as Charles Dickens, Henry James, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins, but I blame that on a scotoma in my education and may never revive a strong interest in the Victorian period.

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.

Monthly Pool Workspace:

  1. Odditorium — Hob Broun
  2. The Los Angeles Diaries: A Memoir — James Brown
  3. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge — Carlos Castaneda
  4. The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly
  5. Tidings of the Trees — Wolfgang Hilbig
  6. The Dead Girls — Jorge Ibargüengoitia
  7. Train Dreams — Denis Johnson
  8. The World of Henry Orient — Nora Johnson
  9. Lady In the Lake — Laura Lippman
  10. Hark — Sam Lipsyte
  11. Cop Hater — Ed McBain
  12. The Confidence Man — Herman Melville
  13. Gasoline — Quim Monzó
  14. The Lonesome Bodybuilder — Yukiko Motoya
  15. Cockroaches — Scholastique Mukasonga
  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

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. 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. Gormenghast Trilogy — Mervyn Peake
  28. Cantos — Ezra Pound *
  29. Weymouth Sands — John Cowper Powys
  30. Wolf Solent — John Cowper Powys
  31. A Glastonbury Romance — John Cowper Powys
  32. Owen Glendower — John Cowper Powys
  33. Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages — John Cowper Powys
  34. À la recherche du temps perdu — Marcel Proust *
  35. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  36. Gargantua and Pantagruel — Francois Rabelais *
  37. The Mysteries of Udolpho — Ann Radcliffe
  38. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  39. Clarissa Harlowe -or- The History of a Young Lady — Samuel Richardson *
  40. Pamela — Samuel Richardson
  41. 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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