Reading Pool — February

images-3.jpgThese are the twenty-five 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 that was 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 (4)

  1. How German Is It? — Walter Abish
  2. Mefisto — John Banville
  3. Under Fire — Henri Barbusse
  4. The Sense of an Ending — Julian Barnes
  5. Concrete — Thomas Bernhard
  6. I Hate Martin Amis et al. — Peter Barry
  7. The Way of Muri — Ilya Boyashov
  8. When the Killing’s Done — T. C. Boyle
  9. Jimmy Jazz — Roddy Doyle
  10. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius — Dave Eggers
  11. The Magic Kingdom — Stanley Elkin
  12. Promise At Dawn — Roman Gary
  13. Second Person Singular — Sayed Kashua
  14. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  15. Empire V: The Prince of Hamlet — Victor Pelevin
  16. Clouds of Witness — Dorothy L. Sayers
  17. The Russian Debutante’s Handbook — Gary Shteyngart
  18. The Illogic of Kassel — Enrique Vila-Matas
  19. A Memoir of Misfortune — Su Xiaokang

William Gibson

  • Pattern Recognition — William Gibson
  • Spook Country — William Gibson
  • Zero History — William Gibson

Philip Roth

  • The Counterlife — Philip Roth
  • When She Was Good — Philip Roth
  • Deception: A Novel — Philip Roth

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 am dropping the asterisk designation. 

All books are real whether paper and ink, digital, or even spoken word (maybe).

To keep the original reading pool intact, I will keep a separate list of unscheduled reading that might slip into my reading along the way. I will also use this auxiliary list to stash books from the previous month that I am hopefully going to finish.

  • Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace
  • Violence: Six Sideways Reflections — Slavoj Zizek
  • La Curée — Émile Zola

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 is becoming unnecessary. Now I have hundreds of books to chose from as long as I make sure I travel with my iPhone in my pocket.

Possible Reading for the Near Future

I start with the current titles I want to read but probably will not complete this month; then I add titles, generally from the Annual Reading Pool or from newly obtained books. I’m always open to suggestions. Since I usually only get through six to eight books each month, a pool of twenty or twenty-five possible selections gives me plenty of options, but it also means some books I really want to read hang around on the list for a few months before I get to read them or just give up trying.

Bold=Really want to read

  1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings— Maya Angelou
  2. The Automobile Club of Egypt — Alaa Al Aswany
  3. The Spider’s House — Paul Bowles
  4. Anonymous Celebrity — Ignácio de Loyola Brandão [XFX]
  5. The Sleepwalkers — Hermann Broch [BFB]
  6. North — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  7. Three Trapped Tigers — G. Cabrera Infante
  8. The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
  9. The Enormous Room — E. E. Cummings [XFX]
  10. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexander Dumas
  11. Daniel Deronda — George Eliot
  12. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
  13. Sophie’s World — Jostein Gaardner [XFX]
  14. Growth of the Soil — Knut Hamsun
  15. Ninety-Three — Victor Hugo
  16. Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book — Maxine Hong Kingston
  17. Joseph and His Brothers — Thomas Mann
  18. Adam Buenosayres: A Novel — Leopoldo Marechal
  19. Piercing — Ryu Murakami
  20. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak
  21. Dictionary of the Khazars — Milorad Pavic
  22. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values — Robert M. Pirsig
  23. This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It — David Wong

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. My new pattern is one or two authors, maybe a dozen new titles, and a few leftovers from earlier lists.

  1. The Historian: A Novel — Elizabeth Kostova

Joyce Carol Oates

  • Wonderland
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
  • Bellefleur
  • A Widow’s Story: A Memoir

Arturo Pérez-Reverte

  • The Nautical Chart
  • Captain Alatriste
  • The Painter of Battles

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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