What Are You Reading?

Since we covered what you’re probably not reading this summer, how about letting us in on what you are reading? Are you plowing through a summer reading list and discovering some new favorites? Or, are you like me and can’t seem to get into anything lately, leaving a stack of books languishing on the nightstand? Share your picks and pans here — or pick up a recommendation or two.

52 Responses

  1. Dave EggersI am happily
    Dave Eggers

    I am happily ensconced in the middle of You Shall Know Our Velocity! and a few days ago I finished A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. What a pleasure Dave Eggers is to read. It’s special when I find a book or author that delights me like the first time I read On The Road and stirs my emotions like when Lenny had to die in Of Mice and Men.
    Highly recommended.

  2. Frank O’Hara and Gravity’s
    Frank O’Hara and Gravity’s Rainbow

    I was looking for some authors I haven’t read so I jumped into O’Hara and Pynchon.

    O’Hara is an amazing surprise. He was recommend to me by Kevin Stein (IL State poet laureate who I intend on promoting every chance I get) and I’m glad I listened to him.I think of Ginsberg and Bukowski and F. Scott as i read his work. He’s one of those poets who seems to be able to write about anything in life and do it in an interesting way. My favorite line thus far (60 pages into this massive 500+page book) is from “A Proud Poem”:

    “be sure that
    no god turns me
    inside out like a supple glove or
    nibbles my identity.”

    I actually started on Pynchon’s “Vineland” a few years back and really didn’t get into it. I’m just a few pages into “Gravity’s Rainbow” and my opinion on this work much different. My initial impression is that Pynchon is working in the same territory as Joyce and Burroughs. It’s a real intriguing read.

    Just finished my annual re-read of “Visions of Cody”. The last 100-or-so pages to me are wonderful.

  3. Cold Mountain by Charles
    Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

    Having recently returned from a gorgeous getaway in the mid-Southern Appalachian mountains, I just picked up “Cold Mountain” from Charles Frazier for a re-read. This takes place in the Blue Ridge mountains, which is one reason I’m reading it again — the other is that I’m starting a new writing project, and it can’t hurt to immerse myself in Charles Frazier’s gift for making mundane situations and lifelike characters incredibly vivid and interesting. I admire his writing talent a lot.

    I haven’t seen the movie version of this book, maybe because I know it’ll be missing what I like best — the author’s skill. I guess I’ll have to give it a chance eventually, but for now I’m just happy to re-read the book.

  4. I’m STILL reading Pale FireI
    I’m STILL reading Pale Fire

    I really wish I had something else to report, because the book isn’t even that long, and I’ve been reading it for a month or so, but I keep getting distracted. Furthermore, I keep wanting to tell the narrator to shut the hell up, because he’s like that one annoying guy in every English class I ever took (which was a lot of English classes) who blathers on and on and on about what the author really means, even though it’s perfectly clear, and becomes increasingly more so with every word coming out of his mouth, that he has no idea whatsoever what the author really means, and you just have to sit there listening to him, fantasizing all the while about taking off one of your shoes and throwing it right at his big talking head.

    Nabokov did this on purpose, the bastard.

  5. Hahaha…that book by
    Hahaha…that book by Nabokov!

    Don’t stand, don’t stand, don’t stand close to Jamelah;
    She’ll throw – a shoe – (I think it is a Fila).

    Pale Fire is Nabokov’s metafictional novel, they tell me.

  6. I Just Read…I just read THE
    I Just Read…

    WHAT WE KNOW AND HOW WE KNOW IT, by Richard Morris, published by Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, London: October 1999. I don’t think it’s a best seller, but it is a companion book to the NOVA special on Physics which was on PBS-TV recently.

    Richard Morris has a PHd in Physics and is a author of more than twenty books, etc., it says on the back cover. His book is a great overview of modern views on Physics, Quantum Mechanics, and all other weird, mind boggling, and interesting cosmology you would ever want to know, or “thought experiment” on. Yes, it is a book that is not for everybody, but, hey, this site has interesting and thoughtful folks who blog here everyday and might want to peruse the ineffable. It takes a while to get into the book, but the book is definitely a must read for anyone into this type thing. I would recommend checking it out at the library, or a paperback purchase at your local bookstore. I had to check the book out twice to savor it. Yesm, one certainly will take 234 pages of worthwhile heavy reading.

  7. Generation of Swineby Hunter
    Generation of Swine

    by Hunter S. Thompson. This book has kinda stayed put in my “carry everywhere I go” backpack. I havent really found anything else to read so I keep pulling this out. The way Hunter writes and talks about the politics of the eighties never bores me. I could read the same page ten times and still laugh out loud. I should also mention that alongside Generation of Swine is an equal classic that I keep re-reading, Civil Disobedience. I think I’m going to go and look into Noam Chomsky. It seems I am the only person left who hasn’t read anything by this guy.

  8. Brothers K & FanteI’m
    Brothers K & Fante

    I’m reading “The Brother Karamazov”. I’m definitely not plowing through it.

    On the side, I’m reading John Fante’s “The Road to Los Angeles”.

  9. I read this book twice and
    I read this book twice and will probably read it again one day! I thought it was superb, and yes the movie sucked, but just because I feel Renee Zellweger doesn’t make a very good plucky, poor black slave girl, doesn’t mean you should listen to me!
    (The filmmakers flagrantly stripped the color right out of the book. I wouldn’t be surprise if Charles Frazier never speaks w/ Hollywood again.)

  10. Levi, you were up near where
    Levi, you were up near where I was born. Nice country up there isn’t it?

  11. My Life (Part I) by Bill
    My Life (Part I) by Bill Clinton

    And can I just say that this is really boring reading and I probably won’t make it to the end… and dubious that I will eve… not even on a dare …pick up Part II. It is a ramble through his life with just lots of uninteresting bits of information like the name of the girl he took to the prom… and titles for papers he wrote in school… whatever!

    BUT… prior to picking this up I read Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Now this book is worth picking up. It is a bit of memoir interwoven with events in Iran threaded with her comments on English writers and how they were perceived in Iran and why differently than elsewhere.

    It was by far the best book I have read in a while… I highly recommend it. But, for cryin’ out loud, don’t start on My Life first… believe me, you’ll may never get around to reading anything else.

  12. UmbertoI just got done

    I just got done reading Umberto Eco’s new book, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. It’s about a 59-year-old Milanese rare book dealer who has a stroke and loses his memory of everything, except for everything he’s ever read, and he tries to reconstruct his life from these memories; comic books, dime novels, 1940s pop songs. If you’re interested in 1930, 1940s Italian pop cultural history, this is the book for you.

  13. Wow! I heard he sold a copy
    Wow! I heard he sold a copy of his life story. Heh Heh.

    I think Azar Nafisi sounds worth it. I’ve been needing something that strays from my usaul path of chosen literature. I think I’ll go and google her for a bit.

  14. Ha ha, did they really put
    Ha ha, did they really put Renee Z. in that role? That is classic.

    Bill, you got mountains down there in Jaxville? I didn’t know that.

  15. Yeah, she won an Oscar for
    Yeah, she won an Oscar for it, too. I haven’t read the book, but it was a really bad movie.

  16. I saw Bill Clinton on TV a
    I saw Bill Clinton on TV a couple of months ago. He was very interesting and I suddenly realized, I miss him as President.

  17. Levi, I was born and raised
    Levi, I was born and raised in Virginia, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, in a small town about 20 miles from Blacksburg. I only ended up in this humid, mosquito-infested, sandcrab graveyard of a peninsula when I got stationed here in 1975.

  18. Summer readingAh the summer.
    Summer reading

    Ah the summer. I’ve recently re-read all of the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books + read the last (Mostly Harmless) for the first time. Moved on to Guards! Guards! from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett and now I’m starting If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. After that I will be moving onto Men at Arms (more Discworld shinanigans!) and then Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. After that, who knows? Haven’t thought that far ahead ;).

  19. re!Visions of codyI’ve always
    re!Visions of cody

    I’ve always preferred the first third (not a pun off neal’s) with those great scene sketches!The tape transcriptions that A.G. raves about in the “heart” of it leave me cold, and the end always seemed like a ruff draft of O T R .

  20. A friend of mine gave me
    A friend of mine gave me Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and is insisted that I read it after I finish You Shall Know Our Velocity. There goes my plan to alternate books from different centuries.

  21. what AREN’T I reading?Because
    what AREN’T I reading?

    Because I’m working on my master’s degree I’ve read the following texts (which I recommend for all of you interested in the education of youth and the varying degrees of academic success based on different racial and socio-economic statuses):

    Inequality at the Starting Gate by Lee and Burkam

    Misreading Masculinity–boys, literacy, and popular culture by Newkirk

    Unequal Childhoods by Lareau

    Reading for Understanding by Schoenbach

    When Kids Can’t Read by Beers

    Improving Comprehension with Think-Aloud Strategies by Wilhelm

    An Island Like You by Cofer

    –and dozens of articles regarding sociology of education and reading/literacy

    For fun I’m reading:
    The Ha Ha by Dave King

    For fun I just finished reading:

    The Haunted by Palahniuk

    For my upcoming school year of teaching I’m rereading:

    The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger

    Great Books for High School Kids by Ayers

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee

    so…the question is…when do I find any time to do anything BUT read?

  22. Wow — that’s quite a list!
    Wow — that’s quite a list! But you know I have to comment on this:

    When Kids Can’t Read by Beers


  23. Perhaps you should read my
    Perhaps you should read my groundbreaking study, When Kids Can’t Read, Buy Beer.

  24. John Brown
    John Brown Abolitionist

    Reading John Brown, Abolitionist by David S. Reynolds.

  25. Baroque lista nasty habit
    Baroque list

    a nasty habit left over from university – i can’t read one book at a time. so:

    John Milton, Paradise Lost. great poetry, love the baroque style and momumental sentences. and i’m thinking of taking a stab at rewriting it, beginning with a plane crash, ending with an exile.

    Neal Stephenson, The Confusion (Book 2 of the Baroque Cycle). more baroque, more cool language play. massive, immersive, and so far the series has been a cool new take on science fiction.

    Richard Dawkins, The Self Gene. i’ve read a lot of pop-physics and pop-math books, this is my first one on pop-evolutionary biology. can’t resist someone who says the universe is “too queer” to understand (as if it’s possible to be “too queer”).

    just finished George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel, a cycle of 6 plays set in the same motel room. pretty good, but i think Walker’s been writing too many cop/lawyer shows.

  26. This is a shame. Kairo,
    This is a shame. Kairo, trying to be serious, and the 3 of us jump directly to the beer word, probably all posting in unison while we chortle.

  27. I heard someone speaking on
    I heard someone speaking on National Public Radio about John Brown (it may have been David S. Reynolds, I didn’t catch the beginning or the end). Quite interesting.

  28. I listened to audiobook where
    I listened to audiobook where Bill reads an abridged version of the written work. Being an avid Democrat I was disappointed that he didn’t get into a more scathing rebuttal of the Richard Mellon Scaifes and Ken Starrs who have always had it in for him. Guess he’s still playing the politician.

  29. On the TableBig Sur – started
    On the Table

    Big Sur – started it last year in Big Sur but being in Big Sur and visiting the Henry Miller library (go – you simply must – you can feel him there, the “sculptures” that you hit along the way as you enter the grounds arent quite Miller-esque and seem some how out of place but in general this place FEELS like Miller ((though it wasnt his actual home, that was down the road a piece)) could walk out from the side door with a pitcher of manhattans and say “cmon in for a drink why dontcha”)

    digression is creation, in a manner of sorts

    So, Miller beat out “Big Sur” in Big Sur (“Oranges of Hieronomys Bosch” btw) so this spring found Big Sur coming off the shelf and into the hands – this quickly fillowed by “Visions of Cody”, yet another previous false start that was beaten (no pun intended) by…oh cant remember, but it made sense to pick up “Cody” and maybe even making the summer all about finishing the “Duloz” legend.

    related note – just found “The First Third” the one and only book by Cowboy Neil – anyone read it yet? Got Comments?

    brain synapsis fired after all – what beat out the first reading of Visions was last years Xmas present of “The Grateful Dead” coffee table book – actually a pretty cool read but a little awkward to read sitting on the john


  30. I confess, I am also reading
    I confess, I am also reading two books at the same time. Besides You Shall Know Our Velocity, I’m reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  31. I have always wanted to read
    I have always wanted to read one of his books, but could never make it past those conspicuous covers. They’re just so…intense.

  32. jibberishI am reading Gilbert

    I am reading Gilbert Sorrentino’s Blue Pastoral and it is slow going. I feel myself fading into my other more pleasant read: Lawrence Durrell’s Monsieur. I think I purposefully left Blue Pastoral at a restaurant the other day so I wouldn’t have to continue. Eh?

  33. haiku and more haikuI am
    haiku and more haiku

    I am planning to design a workshop for the writing of haiku and haibun influenced poetry so I got on ABEbooks (what a mistake to my wallet) and ordered a pile of books, not that I don’t already have heaps.

    anyway the best so far is an old classic, though harder to find than he other work, by R. H. Blyth, The Genius of Haiku. Of interest to those who like the beats, many if not all beats had their own copies of Blyth and were very attached. Kerouac was heartbroken when he lost his copies. Just a little tidbit. I recommend reading haiku or how to haiku books because they refresh the imagist patterns in writing and reading and get the blood flowing.

  34. The Rosy Crucifixion –
    The Rosy Crucifixion – Miller

    This trilogy is really worth the time. Miller at his best.

  35. Reading Danse Macabre by S.
    Reading Danse Macabre by S. King

    Been watching a couple horror movies lately so I decided to take the book down from the shelves. Really interesting commentary. This book came out a long time ago and some of the writing dates it, if you know of a book similar in content and style of writing please leave me a comment. I recommend it, especially if you’re a horror movie freak.

  36. c.b. & d.b.c. pierreI’m
    c.b. & d.b.c. pierre

    I’m currently in the middle of Candace Bushnell’s Trading Up (yeah, really). I’m also reading Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre. I don’t know why I’m reading Bushnell except that I know she sells mad books. It’s not a joy to read. It’s opposite of joy, in fact. At its strongest, it’s vaguely interesting in a gossipy type way. At its worst, it’s a devastatingly bad imitation of Edith Wharton complete with period-inappropriate dialogue both exterior and interior. I’ll see it to the riveting conclusion despite my revulsion.

    D.B.C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little on the other hand, is great. So far it reminds me of Ham on Rye. It’s dead serious but funny at the same time. It’s smart writing, but not the tired old dead-end cleverness type of writing that’s been so popular in that past few years. I think Pierre is a pseudonym for someone, but I’m not sure who yet.

  37. short attention span, i
    short attention span, i guess

    Just read “Last Night”, a collection of short stories by James Salter, and “Selected Short Stories of John O’Hara.”

  38. I really don’t know why short
    I really don’t know why short stories are not more popular.

  39. Book of Disquiet, Fernando
    Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa

    Heretofore obscure portuguese writer dead since 1935 at 47 and upon whose demise a truckload of writings was discovered (some 27,000 distinct pieces) in a wide variety of styles under carefully crafted pseudonyms which had been publishing for quite some time. I am told of all this on Friday, and apparently the above-mentioned book is a source of unending rapture, a string of peak experiences. Am going hunting for it today, Monday!

  40. Dot and Block…I just
    Dot and Block…

    I just started reading “The Portable Dorothy Parker” which as I suspected, is quite brilliant and will always have a beloved place on my bookshelf.

    I also discovered that one of my favourite authors, Francesca Lia Block, is releasing a new novel this summer called “Necklace of Kisses.”

    Also, I’ve been told that I need to read Gaiman’s “American Gods” soon too as he’s releasing “Anansi Boys” shortly.

    Aside from that, my list includes various alternative graphic novels and the new Harry Potter.

    I am obsessed with poetic language, and have a love of literary fiction, especially when mixed with fantasy. Any suggestions?

  41. Ariel Dorfman – Rumbo al
    Ariel Dorfman – Rumbo al Sur…

    Last week I borrowed a friend’s copy of Ariel Dorfman’s Rumbo al Sur, Deseando el Norte. Like Dorfman my friend is an Argentine jew, whose family escaped from the USSR and ended up in Argentina. My friend, Ana, also struggles with her multiple identities. Dorfman’s book confronts his seemingly endless exiles. Perhaps a legacy from his Jewish roots. Born in Argentina, he found himself working for Allende’s populist government when Pinochet, backed by the US, took over Chile.
    He escapes, tragically leaving his family behind, never to see his son again. I’ve learned all this about Dorfman yet I’ve only read ten pages. My Spanish skills are fairly decent, but it is nonetheless a challenging read. The emotional force behind his words are quite raw.

    It’s no light summer read. But if it were not an autobiography it would be a thriller.

  42. The Seven Storey MountainThe
    The Seven Storey Mountain

    The autobiography of Thomas Merton, beginning in childhood. His parents were both free-thinking, artistic types. In later childhood he lived with various relatives and at boarding schools in the US, Britain, and France. He was at Columbia around the same time as Kerouac and Ginsberg, maybe a few years earlier. A spiritual-philosophical journey culminates in a conversion to Catholicism. And all of it points to his vocation to the contemplative life, which is the point of the story. Really fascinating, and, for me, encouraging.

    Has anybody else read it? What did you think?

  43. WellHmmm during my last psych

    Hmmm during my last psych ward stay, I read Eric Fromm, Ken Kesey, and something called “The People’s Law Review” — name change by usuage was a good one. Before that it was Lao-Xi and Wallace Stevens, a few days ago I paged through Roethke’s “The Awakening” and recently I stared at Walden, just for good measure.

    During the spring it was Shelley and Wordsworth, a bit later John Fowles, and John Barth “Giles Goat Boy” which I didn’t like much. Lately I’ve just been trying to read the rain, but looking back at what I read I must be pretty smart.

    Okay, I’m full of myself. Oh yeah, throw in Updike, Dos Passos, and Stephen King by accident.

    What do we get out of that? I figure it’s like listening to the Velvet Underground in the 60’s, a lot of practice and little ambition — not Lou Reed or my lawyer, lover or shrink am I talking about — but myself.

    I wrote a maniscript while I sat in jail for 82 days, this wasn’t a good year, two convictions already, blame it on the rain.

    Ha, ice ice baby too cold what is cooler than cool? Ice cold.

    I swear I’ll get back into the art. I’m just recovering from the Haladol right now, blame it on the rain, yeah…How about you???


    Divine Comedy, Dante.
    The Professors, ed. Anderson & Murray.

  45. You should re-read your
    You should re-read your manuscript, maybe polish it up a bit, share it with the world.

  46. I, FattyI really liked I,
    I, Fatty

    I really liked I, Fatty. For anyone that hasn’t read it, it’s about Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s life. The quintessential Hollywood rags-to-riches-to-rags story. It’s told thru the eyes of a silent-film actor from his youth in a one-room Kansas shack to wealth and international fame. He’s got addictions to alcohol and heroin. And his public disgrace in a rape-murder case. It’s a crazy story! I highly recommend it.


    Jerry Stahl also wrote Permanent Midnight, which is a memoir. The 10th anniversary has just passed. I found it very compelling. Anyone else read these?

  47. ‘A literary everest’Just
    ‘A literary everest’

    Just began Ulysses by James Joyce.

    Wish me luck.

    Anyone read it? Or tried? I’d be interested to hear.

  48. The FountainheadLove it or
    The Fountainhead

    Love it or hate it and with dubious philosophical and literary value this is still an influential book. I first read it in high school and it rocked my mind at the age of 17. Now at 33 I see it as much more simplistic, but it is still a fairly enjoyable read, nonetheless.

  49. This was an amazing book. The
    This was an amazing book. The Fountainhead plus Atlas Shrugged got me way into Rand for a while. I even read some books by Nathaniel Hawthorne who was her friend and he claims lover for a while. Mike Wallace of 60 minutes also hung around with her according to Hawthorne. she was a trip and The Fountainhead was a great tale — and as you say full of philosophical points to debate.

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