Summer Reading List

by on May.29, 2011, under Books

I’d like to read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, because I loved The Corrections and because everyone’s talking about it. But it’s clearly more important to read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, which is probably better too. Yet I own neither of those books, and I have a really nice pile of books at home. My friends have been hocking me to read A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and one of them lent it to me; I’m guessing that if I get a good afternoon alone with that one it might become a problem. Someone online recommended The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley so I got that out of the library, and if no one else puts a hold on it I can have it for three two-week periods. (I also have four books of plays out of the library but those don’t count because they are for research.) I’ve been halfway through Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer for three years, which I feel OK about because it’s about frustration or distraction or diversion. (I’m six years into being three quarters of the way through Getting Things Done by David Allen.) I should probably finish it before I start Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varansi, which I bought at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books mostly because I wanted to have a conversation with the author about our mutual friend Ty. I picked up Elif Batuman’s The Possessed along with Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby (they’re in the n+1 family — got a couple of those to crack too) and read a few stories in each but could read a few more. I bought Nina Revoyr’s Wingshooters that same weekend because I had just finished Southland and loved it, and she was doing a reading at Stories in Echo Park. I started Witz by Joshua Cohen but that’s going to have to be a project. I actually finished a book — Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy, but I want to reread it for the purpose of writing an album in response to it, like Liz Phair and Exile on Main Street. Recently I pulled down A History of God by Karen Armstrong and No God But God by Reza Aslan off the shelf and read a few pages, because reading Kathryn Shultz’s Wrongology and an interesting thread on Unfogged put me in mind of The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, which I’ve never read. I’ve also cracked George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Lawrence Sterne’s Tristam Shandy in the past few years and I should really get back into one of those. I pulled the Sterne off the bookshelf to show HJ the drawing that my friend A White Bear based her tattoo on, so that one’s in reach. And one of these days I’d like to get into the Vollmanns — Europe Central, uncracked, and The Atlas, unfinished. Did I mention the fairy tales? I downloaded the Blue Fairy Book to read aloud off my phone in waiting rooms, and I picked up Italo Calvino’s Italian Folk Tales to read aloud in bed. There are a lot more tales than tales I’ve read.

This is all by way of saying yes, I’d love a copy of the new David Foster Wallace. Everyone lives like this? It’s a thing?

UPDATE: Oops. I forgot that I am actively reading The Ask by Sam Lipsyte. It’s so good.


6 Comments for this entry

  • Joshua Malbin

    I just read the new Wallace with the reading group…I’d give it a pass. I think it’s kind of a desecration of his wishes that it was even published.

  • Josh K-sky

    Since I also just remembered that I bought China Mieville’s The City and The City, I will at least wait for paperback.

  • Josh K-sky

    And not only did I buy The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross, I even put together a playlist off of emusic.com to accompany it.

  • Misha Hoekstra

    The Ask is a gorgeous & hilarious piece of self-loathing.

  • Josh K-sky

    Heh. Funny you should stop by this old thing. I recently tried to start a Facebook meme about the Top 10 Books I Am “In The Middle Of”. Here’s my update for this list:

    Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – enjoyed, but not as much as…
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
    A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin – read the whole thing. Skip book 4.
    The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley – never opened, paid a library fine
    Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer – 5 years in, still in the middle
    Getting Things Done by David Allen – nine years in, still in the middle
    Jeff in Venice, Death in Varansi – not cracked
    Elif Batuman’s The Possessed – started, wasn’t terribly into
    Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby – read a couple of stories, liked, might come back
    Nina Revoyr’s Wingshooters – never cracked
    Witz by Joshua Cohen – never quite happened. Borrowed Adam Levin’s Instructions, meaning to start
    Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy – never reread
    A History of God by Karen Armstrong/No God But God by Reza Aslan – still in the middle
    The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James – never cracked
    George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Lawrence Sterne’s Tristam Shandy – nope, nope, nope
    Vollmanns — Europe Central, The Atlas – just as uncracked/unfinished
    Blue Fairy Book – continued to read aloud off my phone in waiting rooms
    Italo Calvino’s Italian Folk Tales – stopped reading aloud in bed
    the new David Foster Wallace – never purchased
    The Ask by Sam Lipsyte – finished! No Home Land, but terrific

  • Misha Hoekstra

    The older you get, the more books linger unread. Esp. once the kids arrive.

    Do read Tristram Shandy someday. It’s laugh-out-loud experimental fiction that sounds remarkably like Ulysses.

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