What Are You Reading?

It’s barely June, but various newspapers, magazines and websites have been trotting out their “summer reading lists” for several weeks now. I’m not really sure I get the need for a “reading list” specifically for summer. Ok, sure, maybe it made sense when I was in school and there was an obvious break in my daily routine; but now I’m even less likely to have the time (or desire) to read during the summer than any other season. Besides, what about those readers in the Southern Hemisphere? I imagine that most LitKicks visitors have a year-round reading list that doesn’t depend too much on the calendar. With that in mind, what exactly are you reading? Anything new, anything good? Tell us a bit about what you’ve been reading lately or what you’re planning to tackle next. And if you happen to have a summer reading list, we’d love to hear what’s on it — but don’t be surprised if we don’t get around to checking out those books until autumn.

64 Responses

  1. HST & PagliaI have a
    HST & Paglia

    I have a really good feeling about Camille Paglia’s new book, Break, Blow, Burn. And not because the ad is right in front of me, nor because she reminds me of Sigorney Weaver. No, I read up on the woman, and anyone who writes a study of Alfred Hitchcock and a review of sexual personae, art, & decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, sounds like my kind of writer.

    And Hunter Thompson’s Rum Diary – I’ve been planning to read it, so I’ll do that while I’m waiting for the other one to arrive.

    Ahh, summer. That’s when I hunker down in my living room, a dark green hue from the drawn curtains, air conditioner rumbling like Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose trying to get some lift…of course there is insect repellent for when I have to run outside to get the mail…and the ever-present menace of the garden gnomes scuttling about, peering in windows and even getting into the house through loose baseboards…

  2. The Book Of Secretsby Depak
    The Book Of Secrets

    by Depak Chopra

    Wonderful non-denominational exploration of the nature of the spiritual/material universe, how it applies to us, and how we are not only part of it, but are IT in totality, whole and complete: a small model of “God”.

    Good exercises for living a constructive life. There’s no Dogma in this book, no “good” or “evil”, “hell” or “damnation”. It’s about freedom. Chopra has little interest in conventional religious practice, and the hints and suggestions are designed to lead you to a truer personal self without all the hangups of ego and control.

    (Funny thing is…I find the more I surrender control, the more myself I become!)

    I like this book a lot!


  3. I’ve been hearing of Depak
    I’ve been hearing of Depak Chopra for a long time. Maybe I should read this.

  4. Martha GellhornTV journalists
    Martha Gellhorn

    TV journalists can americanise and bombast their increasingly uncaring wordplay, but lit-wise they’re all still shamed world-wide by what she got down on paper and when.

    Wife of hemingway for a bit, but realised he was a wank. Lots of you’ll know her better than I do. I’m still feelin the butterflies for having found her.

    Memoirs are immortal, and even out of date, statistics are timeless if insightful enough.

  5. Working Hard”The Murder of
    Working Hard

    “The Murder of Vince Foster” Michael Kellett

    and to think I was a Hillary supporter…

    “Moby Dick” Herman Melville

    Kerouac is an impromptu trumpet blower and Melville a classically trained pianist.

    “The Art Of War” Sun Tzu

    written 2000 yrs ago but oh so relevant.

  6. Isaac Bashevis SingerI picked
    Isaac Bashevis Singer

    I picked up a book of short stories called “The Death of Methuselah” by I. B. Singer. It’s very good. A long while ago I heard him read the story “The Missing Line” in person, and now that I reread the story, I like it better than ever. I really recommend this story, if you ever run into this book.

  7. Finally into Searching for
    Finally into Searching for the Sound

    Phil Lesh

    Yes, I know I said I was reading this last month, but now I’m actually into it and enjoying the narratives.

    The style is absolutely not-Dylan, not-every sentence a work of art overflowing with oxymoron and ingenius juxtaposition of noun and description, but the stories are great to read.

    I’m just into the Acid test series and have never read about them in this way before – the building of group mind through consciously dissident light rhythm/music. The use of sound and voice and clusters of activities to keep the energy ever-evolving.


  8. The Next AdventureI am about
    The Next Adventure

    I am about to read a chinese author called Lu Sin. He wrote some essays and short stories. I don’t know much about him and I think I wouldn’t know. I only know that some time ago, I read something of him and I felt amazed of what I read because it arose some obscure points that, from our occidental point of view are hard to work them out. Anyway I discovered I enjoy reading him although some parts of the text remains incomprehensible. It’s a childish expierence that Cortazar rescues, for example, reading Paradiso by Jose Lezama Lima.

  9. Desolation AngelsThis is my
    Desolation Angels

    This is my second attempt at one of Kerouac’s thicker tomes. I just finished THE ROOMINGHOUSE MADRIGALS, a compilation of Bukowski’s earlier work. I have a copy of GRAVITY’S RAINBOW that I may tackle next-if I have the guts!

  10. New York Trilogyi’m finally
    New York Trilogy

    i’m finally about to start Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy after having it on my reading list for over two years. I’ve read so many great comments about this book it seems wrong to not read it.

    and probably something by Hemingway on the side after i finish Miller’s Nights of Love and Laughter.

  11. down and out in paris and
    down and out in paris and london.

    I strongly suggest everyone in the modern world read this true account of homelessness and poverty. It will open your eyes and make you think exactly what the word ‘Beat’ means.

  12. summer readingHey, a lot of
    summer reading

    Hey, a lot of the above posts re: authors to read are interesting, but a little obvious — isn’t that the tiresome aspect of so many of the media “summer reading lists”? There’s some really interesting stuff out there that’s off the radar, and that’s what I’m reading this summer. Right now it’s Our Napoleon in Rags by Kirby Gann, which is currently blowing me away. After that I plan to start Torture the Artist by Joey Goebel. Does anybody have thoughts on these two writers?

  13. Hunteryes, i’m laughing and

    yes, i’m laughing and cringing my way through this completely crazy book. This ‘biography of fiction’ was the perfect book to start while drinking around a campfire. Not sure how I’ll finish it…

  14. 1776Nerdy me is planning to

    Nerdy me is planning to start David McCullough’s new book tonight. Love his writing.

  15. Hi Piph — good to see you
    Hi Piph — good to see you here, but what is this book? Hunter S. Thompson, or some other Hunter? Sorry if I’m missing something obvious, but … I’m obviously missing something obvious.

  16. Yes! I read this about a year
    Yes! I read this about a year ago and believe I recommended it to Levi and a few others. You really get an idea of what true squalor is like. After I read this, I moved on to “Homage to Catalonia” which is a truly unique account of the Spanish Civil War. It gets a bit slow at times, but is a good overall read. Both novels are much more personal than “1984” or “Animal Farm”.

  17. The Road of Excessleads to
    The Road of Excess

    leads to the Palace of Wisdom, or so Blake wrote. There is a book out that is called The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs by Marcus Boon, put out by Harvard. It is a well-researched and well-written book. A difficult topic to do without the standard pitfalls. He takes an unusual approach, covers much ground, including all the way back to Homer. It may have been subtitiled writers ABOUT drugs since many are not ON drugs. I am not one who partakes (any more anyway), but I find the topic fascinating, given that it is both prevalent and yet stigmatized and moralized. This book handles it well. A good read for those interested in alternative and subcultural literatures of many sorts.

  18. All The President’s MenI’m
    All The President’s Men

    I’m rereading this (for about the 4th time) because, now that we know it was an FBI guy, the whole plot plays out a bit more clearly. Good book.

  19. I am now about 2/3 through
    I am now about 2/3 through DESOLATION- I’ll have to say it’s not my favorite by Kerouac- I favor BIG SUR, the DHARMA BUMS nad of course “OTR”. Still seviceable, though.

  20. The Rum Diary by HSTGreat
    The Rum Diary by HST

    Great book so far. Very much in the Hemingway mold, but with Hunter Thompson already bringing up “The Fear” even in 1959. Thompson is still a champion.

  21. Barbara KingsolverI’m reading
    Barbara Kingsolver

    I’m reading a solidly good short story collection by Barbara Kingsolver called HOMELAND. I recently read her novel THE POISONWOOD BIBLE and found it pretty compelling.

  22. Gary SnyderHere’s my review
    Gary Snyder

    Here’s my review of Gary Snyder’s Danger On Peaks which appears on the Minnesota Public Radio website. It’s part way down the page – the first entry under “Replies.”

  23. READ IT!There have been no
    READ IT!

    There have been no good Best Sellers for many many years, and to the best of my knowledge, never a great one. Neither is every book NOT on the Best Sellers list a good or great book. SO just do the whole world a favor and read something good.

    In response to the question “what are you reading”: I am reading the whole of “The Cantos” (E.P.), “Re-forming the Narrative” (David Hayman), “Understanding Media” (M. McLuhan), and “The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium” (Harry Matthews).

  24. Poetry and ProseIn the last
    Poetry and Prose

    In the last two days I’ve read “Jersey Rain” by Robert Pinsky, “Selected poems 1986-1992” by Allen Ginsburg and A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce. Pinsky is not my cup of tea, but Ginsburg is. I’ve now read Joyce’s PORTRAIT as well as DUBLINERS. Now I have to decide whether to take the ULYSSES challenge. An old English Teacher (and Princeton Grad) of mine simply known as “Doc” described ULYSSES ‘as the most difficult book he has ever read’- and he had read a lot. In the meantime, I have moved on to another notoriously challenging novel-GRAVITY’s RAINBOW- I am about 30 pages in-wish me luck-I’ll need it.

  25. I recently re-read ON THE
    I recently re-read ON THE ROAD, so I’m in another Kerouac phase, tackling ANGELS. Looked at VISIONS OF CODY, and though not crazy about that stream-of-consciousness, will probably read it someday. I read the short bio – about 190 pages, and will start the longer one by that woman who is recognized as an expert. I’m a sucker for all that bohemian stuff.
    Regarding Pynchon, I read V, which was quite good – and odd – but not RAINBOW…yet. LOT 49 was disappointing. I am going to look for ROOMINGHOUSE MADRIGALS, based on the previous note.

  26. The Rosy CrucifixionI was
    The Rosy Crucifixion

    I was about to pick up Tropic of Cancer, when a well read friend of mine grabbed me by the collar and shoved a copy of Sexus, the first book of Miller’s Crucifixion in my hands. It is great. Highly recommended.

  27. Excellent review, Bill! I’ve
    Excellent review, Bill! I’ve just posted my thoughts as well.

  28. Pinsky is a freaking bore. I
    Pinsky is a freaking bore. I find it hard to take a poet with a PHD seriously for some reason. Pinsky. Bah.

    Ginsberg is more of an authentic voice, even in his elder years he had an original wit and reason to his poems. Pinsky, though, Pinsky:

    “Languid flowers shooting dark
    Blisters on the vine…”

    He’s always trying to be T.S. Eliot or something…He maketh me yawn wide…

    As for Ulysses check this out:
    Search for: Ulysses, Novel. You’ll find an awesome outline of the book. That’ll help ya figure out whats going on in the books more esoteric regions…

    Joyce wrote of Ulysses:
    “I’ve put so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant…”

    That’s what makes the book difficult. That, and the way it is written. But it is worth reading. It actually took me three attemps to read it all the way through. I had to have the right frame of mind, and it helps to know a bit of Shakespeare too.

    I love Portrait, and read it very year or so.

  29. MoravagineBy Blaise Cendrars.

    By Blaise Cendrars. So far a beauty of insanity. Afterwards, The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw. Anyone read this? It’s a random pick based upon the fact that I don’t read many author’s first books in a timely fashion.

  30. Mostly Existentialism I’ve
    Mostly Existentialism

    I’ve not been reading any piece of literature too closely. Summer is reserved for communication. Therefore I’ve been reading through the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I have five hour discussion with punks , skins , and rude boys. We talk about Heidegger , Kierkegard , and Camus . The fatal flaws of Sartre and the perception of time. I’ve lost motivation to pick up a book after this spring semester.

  31. Gravity’s RainbowThis is
    Gravity’s Rainbow

    This is quite possibly the most difficult book I’ve read to date. I am currently taking a one day hiatus due to exhaustion. Has some interestingly shocking passages, though. I’m not sure if I’ll make it all of the way through.

  32. I have never made it past
    I have never made it past page 10. I don’t know how anyone does it.

  33. Brief History of Nearly
    Brief History of Nearly Everything

    Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is a page turner. Trouble is after every page you stop and say “Woah. That’s far out.” And so it takes a long time to read.

    For example there’s a part where he says if you had a tool that could remove protons at the rate of 1 per second from the period at the end of this sentence, it would take about 500,000 years to get them all out. That’s far out.

  34. What Are You ReadingThe
    What Are You Reading

    The Outlaw Bible of American Literature

  35. That is mind-boggling. I
    That is mind-boggling. I realize my statement is cliche, but I really mean it.

  36. DublinersFor anyone into

    For anyone into short stories, while it may seem archaic, James Joyce’s “The Dead” is absolutely incredible. I don’t want to tell you all about it and ruin it for you, but it essentially taught me a new way of life. The message I came away with is that, if one does not live with passion, you are dead already. I recommend this short story wholeheartedly, as well as any of the shorts in Joyce’s “Dubliners”.

  37. Pale FireBecause, you know,
    Pale Fire

    Because, you know, Nabokov makes for light summertime reading.

    So far, so good (go figure) even though I hate poems that rhyme.

  38. Caved to the CodeI’ll admit
    Caved to the Code

    I’ll admit that I joined The Da Vinci Code bandwagon after watching a Dateline exclusive. Dan Brown’s novel, although intriguing doesn’t resonate as much as I expected it to. Mr. Brown does have a readable sytle but I found some of his characterizations a bit too predictable (aka Teabing) or too theoretical. I think the initial hook–that this novel could be true is what made the story more interesting. Unfortunately, many of the ‘facts’ cannot be corroborated or are too far-fetched to disarm the duller parts of the book. All in all, it is a good read but not the best. The subject matter is too heavy for a quick summer read. The complex caper should be reserved for hot choco evenings curled up in a warm blanket instead.

  39. That pretty much sums up what
    That pretty much sums up what I thought about the book. Thanks for the review.

  40. Justine and Trout Fishing in
    Justine and Trout Fishing in America

    Justine (Lawrence Durrell) and Trout Fishing in America (Richard Brautigan)… rereading old favorites.

  41. The Working PoorFull title is
    The Working Poor

    Full title is The Working Poor (Invisible in America) by David K. Shipler

    It’s a true-to-life account of people’s experiences.

  42. Given all recent press
    Given all recent press surrounding Einstein (and his theories which modern theorists are still trying to understand) and Hawking’s attempt at a theory to explain Everything, this seems like a good book to pick up.

    When I wax nostalgic about the universe and its marvels, I’ll probably put it down. It scares me too much.

  43. The Night Torn Mad With
    The Night Torn Mad With Footsteps

    I am reading this posthumous collection of Bukowski’s later stuff. It is spare and strong.

  44. Kingdom of Fear.Halfway
    Kingdom of Fear.

    Halfway through it and man, he goes and dies on me. I just picked it up again and the 9.11 section is really touching. I will let you have a full comment the day after I finish it. What a loss.

  45. Please tell us the Hunter you
    Please tell us the Hunter you are referring to as I am in desperate need of a good ‘cringe’.

  46. Poets on the PeaksI just
    Poets on the Peaks

    I just finished Poets on the Peaks by John Suiter (Counterpoint 2002).Don’t know if anyone has mentioned this before but it’s the story of Snyder, Kerouac and Whalen and their seasons as Fire Lookouts in the North Cascades.Comes with great black-&-white photographs and intelligent extracts from journals, letters & poems by the poets.

  47. Justine is a masterpiece.
    Justine is a masterpiece. Will you then be rereading the entire Quartet, and if so, bravo. I am still waiting for someone to bring my set back, and then it will be hard to look at the old bookshelf without delving…

  48. The longest I’ve ever been in
    The longest I’ve ever been in a wait line at the library was for this book wen it came out. I got the feeling people were checking it out, realizing what a gem it was, and then clutching the book with everything they had. After all, what is a small library fine when faced with Hunter S Thompson.

  49. CelineI am reading Death on

    I am reading Death on the Installment Plan by Celine. I read Journey to the end of the Night a while back. Celine… is definitely… very interesting in a… stylistic sense! (check him out if you don’t know what I mean). Celine was a major influence on Bukowski and Kerouac.

  50. Tropic of Cancer by Henry
    Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

    I wanted to see who came right before Mr. Kerouac et al. Who laid that path open before them. The first few pages made me cry they were so familiar in style. Then the piece drew back and hit me across the face. A wonderful reminder that the world is a crass beautiful place and it is important to BE ALIVE.

  51. Taking a BreakThis is a dirty
    Taking a Break

    This is a dirty little secret, but I’ll have to own up to it. After recently reading some heavy hitters lately like Pynchon (who I couldn’t finish) and Celine, I’m reading a big fat mass market novel- The Rainmaker by John Grisham. I have to do this every once in a while to cleanse the palate for more serious reading. Anyway, it’s kind of fun.

  52. I read Tropic of Cancer a few
    I read Tropic of Cancer a few months back and really enjoyed its honest and straight forward style. I hope to check out Tropic of Capricorn or Black Spring as soon as I get around to it.

  53. I read it last year and
    I read it last year and really enjoyed it. I read A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man last month= equally good. I am trying to get my guts up for Ulysses (much less Finnegan’s Wake).

  54. Interesting. I recently read
    Interesting. I recently read Lonesome Traveler and Desolation Angels — both of which document Kerouac’s time on the mountain. another great Kerouac book that features mountains is The Dharma Bums.

  55. I have a copy of Ada, or
    I have a copy of Ada, or Ardor that I’ve been meaning to get around to…

  56. I do it too. Sometimes it
    I do it too. Sometimes it sometimes turns out to be the best reading of the week, too, which is pretty sad.

  57. Haven’t read that one. I
    Haven’t read that one. I have to take Nabokov in small doses, because he’s so good that every time I read him, I have to quit writing for a long time afterwards.

  58. I think doing that on
    I think doing that on occasion is necessary for preventing cranial explosion.

  59. Hey, that’s a coincidence
    Hey, that’s a coincidence because the only Grisham novel I ever read was the Rainmaker, and I actually liked it. The “paralawyer”…what a phrase…

  60. LiteraryI’ve been reading

    I’ve been reading several of the “little” literary magazines between books lately. Like Litkicks, it is nice to read writers and poets who aren’t necessarily famous, but are passionate about their work nonetheless. It is good, too, to remember that it is in these types of publications that many (or most all) of our greatest contemporary writers got their start. Rare is the person who gets a 500 page manuscript published from the get-go. Check these out if you get a chance — you can find lists and descriptions of these types of magazines (hard copy) and e-zines in Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market (New versions come out each year).

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!