What To Read This Month?

images.jpgThis was the month I intended to only select a half-dozen large and demanding books and blow off the lesser novels which so often interfere with the big fat ones I have been putting off for years. I started with five fat ones but then added a few very tempting texts with more manageable page counts. Then I added a few more and soon I was caught in the cycle of posting works I really wanted to read as opposed to works I really should read.

Is reading A Man Without Qualities and crossing off yet another book from my bucket list more satisfying than ready three of four novels from other authors around the world?

It was a struggle but I opted for continued variety and a promise that I will try to work at least one bucket list tome into each month’s reading pool. This month there are actually three titles that may earn me the dubious satisfaction of having read something great and challenging: The Golden Notebook, They Were Counted, and Frog.

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I Made My Nut, and Now the Vig

For many years now I have loosely targeted my annual reading to score about one-hundred books, some long and some short. It always intrigues me when I look back over my reading from the years I worked many hours and compare it to my reading now that I am retired. It’s about the same. How did I go to work, at times with a very long commute, and only pause to read a few minutes each day over a hasty lunch at my desk, and actually read as much if not more than I am reading today?

Is it my aging eyes? The advent of digital readers? A diminishing attention span? Not enough vegetables in my diet?

Here in my new apartment in my daughter’s house I have a very comfortable existence. My new desk is ideal; my new reading lamp is much better than my old lamp; my bookshelves are filled with inspirations; and my digital readers are bulging electronically with choice reading material, both contemporary and classic. On any day I have a novel sitting in front of me on my trusty iPad (I might be catching up on the technology next year, though) and a lively collection of digital reading on my iPhone 6+, not to mention the ink and paper books I keep at the ready outside on the porch for reading while absorbing the sunshine or on the taboret in the bathroom for reading when contemplating the essence of reality.

As September dawns I find my reading has nearly jumped over the threshold and now I can pause to perhaps contemplate a few texts that might strain my little gray cells and demand an extended concentration. The new monthly pool is perhaps more of a transition month. Who knows? Next month may only have two or three titles: big honking titles currently languishing on my Literary Bucket List or under a mouldering list of big fat forgotten books.

But for now, here is the list of titles I have contemplated reading in September:

group-of-men-reading-pile-of-books
  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 — Sara 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

Remember, don’t be surprised if I suddenly shift and insist on finishing Infinite Jest or delving into Anatomy of Melancholy or maybe even reread Finnegans Wake for the fun of it. 

Big Fat Books

Have you noticed this?

Books are steadily increasing in size, according to a survey
that has found the average number of pages has grown by 25%
over the last 15 years.

I have to agree but as the article in The Guardian conjectures, this may have something to do with the growth of electronic readers and digital editions. About ten years ago I experienced a painful strained wrist and coincidentally read The Tale of Genji: do you suspect there was a connection?

I have always treated big fat books differently from the more manageable volumes. Until fairly recently the size of the book was involved in my decision whether I bought the book or whether I requested it at the local library. Big books took longer to read, so to avoid those exorbitant library fines, I often would simply buy the book and take my time reading it.

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