What Are You Reading?

Tell us what books and authors have caught your attention recently, what books are on your “to read” list or what pieces of literature you’re giving thanks for this week.

67 Responses

  1. Mr.JoyceI picked up Ulysses

    I picked up Ulysses yesterday on a dare from my English-lit-major sister – ain’t no thang; it’s actually quite good so far (I’m only 100 or so pages in). After this is done, I’ll likely need time to decompress, so back to issues of Juggs and wacky Korg oscillator keyboard instruction manuals I will go. Then, after that, I think I’ll re-read Farley Mowat’s “And No Birds Sang”, his account of the time he spent fighting in WW2. Good stuff.

  2. Scar TissueI’m reading Scar
    Scar Tissue

    I’m reading Scar Tissue, the autobiography of Anthony Keidis of the the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don’t guess he’s much of a role model, since he apparently needs a hell of a lot of heavy narcotics to get through the everyday horrors of being a famous and wealthy rock star. But I do like his cheerful attitude. He seems like a guy who likes people, likes life, likes music, likes to turn the world on.

  3. Postmodernism (of sorts)In
    Postmodernism (of sorts)

    In dire need of literary escape, I consider taking refuge in a second reading of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Instead (on the merit of its seemingly house-like formatting), I opt for David Mamet’s Wilson: A Consideration of the Sources – Containing the Original Notes, Errata, Commentary, and the Preface to the Second Edition. But alas, this fiendishly clever footnote-frenzied satire of academia proves a bit challenging for me in my current state. So I consider Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee, but decide to save that treasure for a more Maddin-esque mood. Jorge Luis Borges and Aristotle seem too daunting — Trainspotting too affected. So I settle on Craig Clevenger’s The Contortionist’s Handbook. Ah… Bliss.

    (Clevenger is Palahniuk turned up to eleven.)

  4. The Short ListI’ll probably
    The Short List

    I’ll probably read Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson next.

    Then it’s either City of Glass by Paul Auster (thanks to brooklyn for the heads up on this one) or Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut.

    And then, maybe some used adult educational magazines being sent to me by Jim Vinny. For educational purposes only, of course.

  5. Two questions.1) How was
    Two questions.

    1) How was House of Leaves?

    2) How do you like Clevenger?

  6. House of Leaves is my
    House of Leaves is my favorite book. Some people regard it as “contrived” or “pretentious” and/or lacking a “satisfactory” ending, but I don’t see it that way at all.

    As for Clevenger… It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a book this much.

  7. writing on the wallWhat am I
    writing on the wall

    What am I reading?

    I am reading the lines appearing on my young face. I am studying the simple poetry of thank yous, of I’m sorrys, of hellos and goodbyes. Today, I am reading the works of great (wo)men scribed on napkins, yellow sheets of paper, old love letters, journals. I am reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, again. I am reading the world — sunrises, sleeping in late, fluttering eyelashes, quickened breath. This week, I am reading the collected works of realization, of loss, of fear. I am scrutinizing graffiti, translating decades old etchings into steel bathroom walls, absorbing sign language from opened car windows.

    This week, I am scanning over the convergence of thought, learning to carefully pick through, learning to tread light, with the hope of cohering the manic ramblings of a confused and tired generation: slang, posture, inebriation. I am taking in the literature of humanity, brushing off the dusty tombs of regret and forgetfulness, scanning the seemingly bland covers of soul and turning open to page one, page twenty, and awaiting the unforeseen, unknowable epilogue.

  8. Return to
    Return to childhood


    When I read some ancient issues of Mickey Mouse (Micky Maus), stories about the ‘Uncle Duck’ (Donald), that I saved with my inheritance, I suddenly remember that my mother read Poe’s Ligeia and The Pit and the Pendulum to me when I was a boy – while I’m leafing through that volume of Complete Tales and Poems – then, again, listen to the 5 CD-audio with Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price. There’s a cold yet restless touch to that ‘Nevermore’, You can’t cover by using some inbuilt reading habit (kind of protective as it seems) when listening. Maybe, the truth is in between.

    Perhaps I’ll end up looking at the old pictures in the comprehensive edition of Alice in Wonderland that my mother showed me then, pictures that made me feel uneasy.

    Or better: I’ll read a book by Saul Williams (mentioned by firecracker), or try one of the books read by beatvibe.

    Thank You.

  9. Haven’t read BOC yet, but I
    Haven’t read BOC yet, but I dig Vonnegut the most…I might have to add this to the list.

    As for the magazines… errr… yeah… heh… ummmm… hmmmmm…. well…..

  10. That actually sounds pretty
    That actually sounds pretty interesting – I’m not the biggest RHCP fan, but they always sort of intrigued me as a quintessential Californian collective.

  11. Hey Beatvibe, I’ve never read
    Hey Beatvibe, I’ve never read House of Leaves – what’s it all about?

    And I’ve never heard of Clevenger, but you’ve piqued my interest, fo sho.

  12. Interesting… I was
    Interesting… I was considering picking up Ulysses for the long weekend, but decided I wasn’t quite up to it.

    I have a Roland Juno-106, but I haven’t read the manual.


  13. Nice link – thanks! – I found
    Nice link – thanks! – I found mine, the Korg Poly-6 – that monster is nutty, lemme tell ya.

  14. Ernesto CardenalA poetic
    Ernesto Cardenal

    A poetic anthology edited in my city. From what I read till now “Hora 0” and “Canto C

  15. Winter ListNow:Making of the
    Winter List

    Making of the film ‘The Battle Of Britain’ – snuck in between work-related certification manuals

    something by Ferlinghetti
    Lithium For Medea (reread) by Kate Braverman
    Green Darkness by Anya Seton
    In Memory Yet Green (autobio) by Isaac Asimov

    and maybe
    Ruby Fruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

  16. Books on MusicHmm; makes me
    Books on Music

    Hmm; makes me consider heading for the bookstore… One of the better music-related tomes I recall would be “The Real Frank Zappa Book”, which that musician found necessary to write in order to counteract inaccurate stories that had circulated about him for decades. Then there’s “Backstage Passes” by Al Kooper, and lest we forget, “Woodstock Nation” by wild and crazy guy Abbot H. Hoffman had a bit of a music connection.

  17. Orpheus EmergedFun read,
    Orpheus Emerged

    Fun read, although a little early for my Kerouac taste. Still have not read Maggie Cassidy, or Visions of Gerard, but after this I think they might be fun.

    O Desolation!

  18. From the PeaksI am reading
    From the Peaks

    I am reading Gary Snyder’s Danger on the Peaks, plus his Look Out journals and Earth House Hold. Thanks for haibun as poetic form. Thanks to Basho for making it even more so. And Issa too. I’m also reading Poets and the Peaks about Snyder, Whalen, and Kerouac’s times as firewatch look outs and their poetic and literary development. Fascinating. Thanks too to Han Shan (Cold Mountain) and Saigyo and other hermit hut poets, up to and including Joseph Stroud’s Below Cold Mountain and Country of Light. I’m an ocean girl but I like these mountain boys.

  19. Good Old WillieI’ve been
    Good Old Willie

    I’ve been reading The Tempest lately, which came about after I realized that I had only read four of Shakespeare’s plays. It in the fantasy-comical vein of Midsummer Night’s Dream, but with more serious undertones and more complex characters.

    Though the banter between the nobles stranded on Prospero’s island gets tiresome, it’s very fun to read.

    I would like to pick up Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar over the weekend, b/c I have been wanting to read that for so long (sometimes I become aware of a book but do not read it for over a year or so).
    I’ve been a fan of her poetry since I was fourteen or so, and I’m hoping that her prose manages to match.

  20. Bhagavad GitaI am currently
    Bhagavad Gita

    I am currently reading the Bhagavad Gita (the core Hindu holy book) as translated by Stephen Mitchell. This is some awesome poetry and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

  21. This past summer I found
    This past summer I found myself reading Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. Children’s literature can be quite profound. Besides, nostalgia is rather nice sometimes.

  22. It’s about time for me to
    It’s about time for me to read another Kerouac. Let’s see, I’ve read On the Road, Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels, Big Sur, Dr. Sax…I think that’s all. Which one should I read next?

  23. Reminds me of the generic VH1
    Reminds me of the generic VH1 Behind the music script,

    “And when we return, we’ll see how ________ was almost brought to ruin by _________ and __________.”

  24. Feral dared me to read
    Feral dared me to read Ulysses. In fact, he bet $5.00 I wouldn’t finish it. I owe him $5.00 now. I mean, I actually liked it, and I was even reading a commentary along with it, but exactly half way thru I just got tired of it and took it back to the library. Oh, the shame!

  25. The A.A. Big BookI like all
    The A.A. Big Book

    I like all the true stories about people whose lives were screwed up worse than mine. My favorite so far is about a guy who started hearing creepy organ music coming from the walls when the d.t.’s kicked in. WhooHah!

  26. Just Some BooksBooks I have
    Just Some Books

    Books I have finished in the past while:

    1) Molloy and Malone Dies by Beckett

    2) A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man by Joyce (also some of his shorter stories in Dubliners)

    3) some short stories by Kafka
    Th Metamorphosis, The Burrow,Josephine the Singer

    Some books I am reading right now:

    1) Memoirs from the House of the Dead ( I think that is the title)
    by Dostoevsky

    2)re-perusal of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

    Books I hope to read someday soon :

    1) DFW’s new book Oblivion (short stories)

    2) Ulysses

    3) maybe some Faulkner

  27. I guess I’m a similar type of
    I guess I’m a similar type of Joyce reader, because I have not read Ulysses (attempted to, but got to busy with school). But I adore the stories from Dubliners, especially Araby. It’s one of those things that re-sculpted my perception of what a story could do, kind of like Joyce Carol Oates did when i started reading her stuff a couple of years ago.

  28. Winesburg, OhioI only read
    Winesburg, Ohio

    I only read this when I am on the commode because my in basket’s full and I am way behind in my current project. I am also reading Zheng’s Intensive Spoken Chinese.

    I’d like to read that new translation of Brothers Karamazov because the translation I have is absolutely lifeless.

    I haven’t finished The Rebel. I’ve carried it with me on three trips now. I read the conclusion many times but still have a 100 pages to go. I feel I got the idea of the book so I have never felt compelled to finish it.

    I like page turners that aren’t formulaic, e.g., Debus’ House of Sand and Fog.

    I was re-reading Carter’s Elements of Metaphyics because it is so well written.

    I have been reading Leaves of Grass daily as I make the copy I downloaded ready for printing out.
    I’d like to finish Robert Stone’s oeuvre.

    What I want to read is something really new that grabs me by the throat and puts the boots to me mentally.

  29. …that path to cold mountain
    …that path to cold mountain of Han Shan is the rip rappin way, let us not forget Ikkyu and Ryocan the Zen fool who loved to play with the children, also a special thanks to Burton Watson who really turned us all on…………wired…p.s. also a web search for Gary Snyder originally led me to LitKicks and the rest is needless to say.

  30. Life After Godby Douglas
    Life After God

    by Douglas Coupland

    This man is the most amazing writer. It only adds to the excitement that I know every street, every town, every building that he describes because he also writes in great detail of my hometown. But on top of that, he captures those bizarre thought moments that usually exist only in long road trip trances in the middle of the night.

    Opening page excerpt:

    I was driving you up to Prince George to the home of your grandfather, the golf wino. I was tired – I shouldn’t have even been driving such a long way, really – 12 hours of solid driving north from Vancouver. For the previous month, I had been living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a futon in a friend’s den, consuming a diet of Kenticky Fried Chicken and angry recriminating phonecalls with You-Know-Who. The nomadic lifestyle had taken its toll. I had been feeling permanently on the cusp of a flu, feeling at that point where I just wanted to borrow somebody else’s coat – borrow somebody else’s life – their aura. I seemed to have lost the ability to create any more aura on my own.

  31. Immortality – Milan KunderaI
    Immortality – Milan Kundera

    I think I said I was reading this back in August or September, and maybe I got to page 10 or so, but that was back when having time to read was a fantasy. So now I’m reading it for real, and as usually happens when I’m reading one of his novels, my only thought about it at present is, Damn you, Milan Kundera.

    So there’s that.

  32. I’ve been thinking about
    I’ve been thinking about House of Leaves a lot lately, and I’d like to read it again to see how it holds up now that I’m past all the visual dazzle. But alas, I sent my copy to Australia.

  33. I like the way you spoke of
    I like the way you spoke of this.

    I have a very old copy of Frank Baum’s The Land of Oz, and it’s a weird book. As a child I found it eerily disturbing yet I was drawn to it. I’m speaking mainly of the pictures. It’s different from the Wizard of Oz.

  34. I hope you enjoy it girl. It
    I hope you enjoy it girl. It was the second Kundera novel I read and rubber stamped my adoration for the man. Since then I have read all of his works and Immortality is a classic. If you haven’t read it already you should get your hands on The Farewell Waltz. More lighthearted than Immortality but every bit as clever.

  35. Still reading Kafka.I am
    Still reading Kafka.

    I am still submersed in Kafka and really enjoying it. I was in Prague last week and it was great reading his works in the city he loved. In an odd sort of way I felt closer to the central characters just being in the place.

    On a side note if you haven’t been to Prague you should really check it out. It snowed the whole time I was there and that coupled with the Christmas decorations and the medieval architecture gave me the best Christmas feeling I have had since I stopped believing in Santa.

  36. I’m not sure why you said,
    I’m not sure why you said, “Damn you, Milan Kundera.” Is it envy or derision?

  37. Sounds good, Beth — how are
    Sounds good, Beth — how are you liking the new collection by Snyder? I’ve read a few articles about it and it sounds like a nice read.

  38. So if one was to read Kundera
    So if one was to read Kundera (and I’m not saying I’m that one) what’s your favorite?

    And just for fun, I conducted an extensive poll and the result was that Palahniuk would kick Kundera’s ass. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, it’s just what the people are saying. Thought you’d be interested.

  39. Hey BP! This is the third
    Hey BP! This is the third book of Kundera’s that I’ve read (the other two are The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting) and so far, even though I have a way to go with it, Immortality is my favorite. My plan is to slowly work my way through all of his books — he’s a favorite of mine.

    Bill — my comment was based on the fact that he’s very good, and several times, I’ve had the reaction of “How did you do that? Damn you!”

    Malty — Well I kind of already answered your question, but yeah, unless I start not liking it at some point, Immortality is my favorite. As for Cage Match: Palahniuk vs. Kundera, well, heh.

  40. Not a comment on Kafka, but
    Not a comment on Kafka, but on Prague — I was there in late November for a couple of days a few years ago and it really is an amazing city.

  41. What is House of Leaves
    What is House of Leaves about?

    A loaded question, to be sure.

    Well, basically… It’s about a house that changes its inner dimensions. And somewhere in the depths of this moody labyrinth is (apparently) some sort of creature. The house is inhabited by a documentary filmmaker and his family so various explorations are captured on video, “interpreted” (by a blind man) in the course of this book.

    Now, this is also an “art” novel: The book’s format changes as drastically as the house itself, with text at odd angles, pages containing only a few letters, drawings, poetry, a “meaningless” index, and footnotes within footnotes within footnotes… All of this would be only mildly interesting if it were simply weird for weird’s sake (and that would be pretentious), but it turns out to be a remarkably effective device.

    The marginal “plot” and the unusual format are both topical vehicles, because it’s the underlying metaphor that’s so intriguing to me. Oddly, I’ve never seen this addressed in the commentary. Instead, people seem to make much of how “scary” this book is, although I didn’t find it the least bit unnerving; or how “arty” this book is, although I don’t see much value in that without some deeper purpose (beyond a postmodern rehash of dada). I’ll leave the reader to their own interpretations, but I’ll just say that this book — both in its message and its rendition — connected with me in a very fundamental way.

  42. Now that’s some good reading.
    Now that’s some good reading. You may also want to read the William Buck translation/novelization of the Mahabharata to get the whole story around the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a surprisingly breezy read, at least as far as ancient Hindu texts go.

  43. which 1 was the best anyway?
    which 1 was the best anyway? I’d say desolation angels; so holy & pure. only read 3 of them so I can’t really say.

  44. Recent ReadsI have read My
    Recent Reads

    I have read My Life by Bill Clinton, and Birth of the Chaordic Age by Dee Hock(Founder and former CEO of VISA). Both books are good reads, optimistic, and have hopes for the future. These books call for action as well as being autobiographical.

  45. that is so exciting because
    that is so exciting because my name is on a waiting list to go there in spring. one of my professors owns an authentic baroque theatre there and the school has just approved a 1/2 credit workshop there, open to all theatre students and history students.

    however, i think more students have signed up for it than they are prepared to handle, so it’s possible i might be bumped to next year, which is also fine. especially since i won’t likely have the money for airfare in time anyway.

    so this time next year, i’ll remind myself to come back and read your post and this will motivate me to save my money.

  46. I can remember reading this
    I can remember reading this book for the first time when I was a teen. Some friends and I, while on a long ass drinking, shooting, smoking, bind… found the book on a table, why it was there none of us were sure, but I started reading it to everyone else and it was a trip. (You had to be there.) But that book lead me to Carl Jung and William James and so many other ideas. So much came from that one night of finding that one book… The stories are good, covering a wide range of people. I think the one I like best though is the one about the Indian.

  47. Lord Buckley….just got my
    Lord Buckley

    ….just got my copy of Hiparama of the Classics by Lord Buckley, City Lights 1960. Was $3 new back then, I had to pay $40 for the 1980 edition, what the hay, I work hard and the Lord, well he is the man. Now it’s time to immerse myself in this lil gem….wired

  48. While on the floorlooking
    While on the floor

    looking thru the rest of the Vonnegut I haven’t read yet, this one, in the next shelf, caught my eye.

    ‘The Pornographer’s Poem’

    Michael Turner

    Sounded interesting
    so I read through some,
    kinda sucks you in. So I may start it come payday.
    Of course after I buy the
    LitKicks Action Poetry book

  49. Just read Road, Bums, &
    Just read Road, Bums, & diggin into Angels again. I enjoyed Lonesome Traveler. I always seem to return to my 3 favs though…(Also spent hours at the book store browsing Some of the Dharma, just didn’t want to shell out for it 😉

  50. Best? mmmm, that’s a loaded
    Best? mmmm, that’s a loaded Q. ;O)
    Love Road! Bums really is uplifting, however after reading Desolation Angels a few times, it is hard to not see Ray Smith, a little more pessimisitic. (Like Jack himself.) Road, yeah Road.

  51. I think I’ll be reading
    I think I’ll be reading Clinton’s book eventually too. It’s pretty thick, though. What does “Chaordic Age” mean?

  52. Dharma Bums was by far my
    Dharma Bums was by far my favourite, though as I have Buddhist tendencies, I may be a little biased.

  53. VonnegutWanted to read him

    Wanted to read him and was very pleased with Cat’s Cradle and Breakfast of Champions. Just got Slaughterhouse Five, starting tomorrow. Then it’s Slapstick and Jailbird afterwards.


  54. According to the site, (see
    According to the site, (see http://www.chaordic.org/learn/res_def.html) Chaordic (kay’ ordic) 1. anything simultaneously orderly and chaotic. 2. patterned in a way dominated neither by order nor chaos. 3. existing in the phase between order and chaos. Chaord: highlighted–3. the fundamental organizing “principle of nature and evolution.

    I think of ecological systems and the nature of God (as a basic paradox) as examples of this term. The author, Dee Hock, maintains that VISA was the first corporation organized with these principles and coined this expression. VISA was a meritocracy and did not have a hierarchy when it was formed. It was a corporation which governed by consensus in the board room. Unlike Trump-like organizations.

  55. Dylan’s Chronicles vol.oneMy
    Dylan’s Chronicles vol.one

    My copy of the Chronicles arrived today and I love it.

    Quotes like:
    “Don’t give me that dance that God is with us, or that God supports us. Let’s get down to brass tacks. There isn’t any moral order. You can forget that. Morality has nothing in common with politics. It’s not there to transgress. It’s either high ground or low ground. This is the way the world is and nothing’s gonna change it. It’s a crazy, mixed up world and you have to look it right in the eye.” (from Ch.2, The Lost Land, p. 45)

    This autobiography is filled with brilliance, just like you’d expect from Dylan.

    Read it.

  56. ……..Bobby Zimmerman on my
    ……..Bobby Zimmerman on my mind, great quote ….don’t ya know it was probably those liner notes on the back of Highway 61 revisited that opened me up to the surreal aspects of poetry at an early age. Thank ya Bob, my next amazon.com book for sure, j ….thanks ….mark

  57. Plato-rific!I am reading

    I am reading various writings of Plato, Nietzsche, and other philosophers, all in the same book. I accidentally bought it in the store. I am finding it easier to read “collaborated anthologies” of various writers than to simply read lone instances of each writer in a lone book these days. I am cheating. By the way, what comes after ancient writing?

  58. KinkyThe other day I read

    The other day I read Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned by Kinky Friedman. He kind of reminded me of Vonnegut, and was some good light reading. I’ve been spending most of my time lately on another Hesse kick. Read Demian and Narcissus and Goldmund. I’m thinking about moving to a yurt in the woods so I think I’ll read Walden next.

  59. Verses that HurtThis book is
    Verses that Hurt

    This book is amazing. A sort of Modern Beat (but not as good).

    From the “Poemfone,” a group of people, which grew until it was just hundred’s of poets, calling in to the “Poemfone,” a voice-mail set up for people to free-style or read thir works.

    This is the collection of the best of it, and it is delightful.

  60. The Dharma BumsI’ve read this
    The Dharma Bums

    I’ve read this book like five times and every time I read it, it just keeps getting better. “On the Road” is always perceived as Kerouac’s best book…but, I beg to differ. The Dharma Bums is the best and most thought provoking in my opinion. Any thoughts?

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