The Read Good Hits of the Summer

As I was tooling around WordPress today, I caught BookPeople and Book of Words posting their list of Summer reading. Since I’m no longer in school, and haven’t been for some time now, below is my current reading list. It just so happens to be Summertime. There is a very high possibility that some of these titles will end up on my Fall and Winter reading lists. The chances very greatly on what home repairs I decide to do, changes in workload, and other adulthood matters that get in the way of everything.

I’ve just finished Black Water Transit by Carsten Stroud per the request of a good friend of mine, and now have the decision of choosing my next read. There are priorities not mentioned on this list, such as finishing Don Quixote by Cervantes AND Ulysses by James Joyce. I can’t leave an incomplete book lying around forever. It drives me nuts. How people can drop a novel indefinitely is beyond me.

These titles are in no particular order, as I usually make up my mind on the spot:

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
  3. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
  4. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  5. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  6. Diptych Rome-London by Ezra Pound
  7. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters edited by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten
  8. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  9. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  10. The Federalist by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
  11. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  12. Aesop’s Fables
  13. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

I noticed more unread books in my bookcase tonight, which are from shopping sprees long ago. It would be to my amazement, if I could plow through half of the above mentioned during the season. In light of that, I left the rest off the list. They’ll have to wait. For outside observers, I’d imagine the Twain would come as a surprise. Wouldn’t have I already read that by now?

There’s a simple explanation for it, really. In American compulsory education, there’s a limited amount of time dedicated to reading books. Since my earliest recollections in the early 80s, that curriculum has changed to compete with not only a multitude of authors but digital fluff. Iconic works get cut from the courses just as easily as anything else, and who wants to read books anyway? That’s for, like, old people or something.

Anyone else care to share the Summer list?

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14 thoughts on “The Read Good Hits of the Summer

  1. Check out “Walden” by Thoreau. I’m really enjoying it.

  2. Nicole says:

    I’ve been trying to read Dickens’s entire oeuvre, which sounds difficult, but then again I committed to Mark Twain’s several years ago and actually did it. I’ve read most of the books you’ve listed, although it’s been a while for some, and they’re all really good. Read “Huckleberry Finn” first if you’ve never read it before. “The Jungle” is one of my favorites as well. Just as a warning, it will make vegetarianism look very appealing.

    • I’ve heard highlights from the the Jungle. It’s enough to know what I’m going to experience, but there will probably be a few gross out moments I wasn’t expecting. Good luck on the Dicken’s material! He has received a few eye rolls from me.

  3. Whenever I want to improve my vocabulary (along with reading a kick ass story), I always fall back on Alexandre Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book of all time. The Musketeers books are awesome, too.

    As for my summer reading list, I’m getting ready to go into a spree or writing, and my reading suffers. I just finished a book on fireside folklore of West Virginia. I think I have The Dog Stars, A Good American and I Am the Messenger downloaded on my iPad.

    • I don’t believe I’ve read any of Dumas’s work in full. When I was in high school, I picked up a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo at a bookstore. I found out it was an abridge version, of sorts, and had it returned shortly thereafter. As life has a way of being distracting, I’ve forgotten to purchase the real deal. I’ll have to make an effort to remember next time around.

      Best of luck with your writing and happy reading!

  4. kerbey says:

    I hope you have a literate partner who can talk shop w/ you, because you have high reading standards. I go to Half Price Books, check the clearance shelves, buy whatever looks good for $3-$7, usually a half dozen books, and then take them home to pore over in the bath. And no, I never buy romance novels! And then if I get 50 pp into it and I hate it, I drop it off at Goodwill. That’s how you play it when you don’t let B & Noble rape you retail. My senior year, I asked for Ulysses at Christmas and tried desperately to get through it, to no avail. Same with my huge books of Shakespeare and Jane Austen. I only like happy and light, so The Jungle would scare the piss out of me. Good luck on your reading.

    • Thank you for the kind wishes! Fortunately, I have a coffeehouse near a large college that sells used books. Proust was mine for $5. Most of these books are used, as I too don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for literature. I’m a fairly money-conscious person, and used books just make sense.

      Being more of a dark and brooding character, I find my appetite fixed on the dramatic and serious. I pull the grittiness of subjects over my tongue to extract what humans can be. Topics covered by The Jungle are part of the gruesomeness of life that I cannot tear my eyes away. I understand it may be too pungent for some people’s liking.

      I have been single for years, kerbey. Three years last April, to be more precise, and that was a bit of a mess. It’s always a mess. There is little in the way of a partner to discuss these books around Hooterville. If I do, they’re either too young for me, or attached in some fashion. Other times, discussions leave me feeling cold. Often it cultivates an atmosphere of elitism and arrogance. It dismays me to be unable to have an intellectual conversation about such books with someone who is down to Earth. That is another large reason why I write my thoughts here.

      • kerbey says:

        Hmm. Well, maybe three years is a good breather. If I believed I astrology, I would say you were a Scorpio! You’ll be hardpressed to find someone who can write as well as you, but I know that when I got married, my husband hadn’t read an entire book since college (we were in our mid-30s), and now he reads each night! We don’t discuss our separate books, bc I read a series about a priest in a small town, and he reads about aliens and space. Well, in a world of tea (I say this lame metaphor bc it’s 100 degrees right now), it doesn’t sound like you should settle for a run of the mill Lipton iced tea bag girl. You probably need more of a chai or an Earl Grey, something more substantial, something my small mind can’t even grasp. I bet in a few months, there will be a lull in your blog, and later I will found out you had neglected WordPress bc you’d been going out to dinner (and tipping well) and courting a lady who knows what “corvidae” means. 🙂

      • This reminds me of a dinner party I had in Charlotte with a few of my contemporaries. At the time I was reading Siddhartha, and found little to no recognition of the book from anyone. After explaining the basic plot, a blonde across the table looked down at her plate and said, “well, I’m reading Twilight.” We all have different tastes, and with that operating philosophy, I could do little harm. She only found the warmest of encouragement from me, as reading books should be well received by others.

        As lean as my romantic life has been, that has become a detriment to me. It takes maturity to admit shortcomings and situations, even with a weighty heart. Admittedly, one of my favorite teas is Lady Grey from Twinings. The hearty orange flavor makes it an enjoyable cup. Much to my life’s experience, though, this blog will probably not suffer any neglect soon. That’s at least good news to readers, right?

        I’ve always been self-conscious of my writing, and usually don’t rank it very high among other writers. It’s borne of many factors, but I often stare at the ceiling wondering its true value. In my early days, I’d often say talk is cheap. My writing has at least afforded me some constructive outlet for my maladies. These posts have pushed me to make an impression on the Earth, no matter how small.

        According to The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, my moon sign is Scorpio. The sun sign is actually Aquarius. I’ve watched people who were very much into astrology, and they are quite entertaining. Maybe they are brighter for finding purpose in their beliefs? Maybe they’re naturally colorful people? I am not one to say.

  5. A lot of classics are already mentioned here…I would like to just suggest a few authors from the Harlem Renaissance period…and some modern authors.
    James Baldwin
    Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.”
    And for modern…
    Jeffrey Eugenides and Franzen…
    I’m also reading Junot Diaz.

  6. Correction–Baldwin and Ellison are post-Harlem ren I believe.
    Either way, I like them both.

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