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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Summer Reading Project

I love summer. I love summer in part because it's a great time to read. Is there anything better than stretching out on the grass in the park with a good book and just reading for hours? Okay, well, setting aside things you do when naked.

Now, I tend to be a big re-reader. I like to go back and read books again and again. It's like visiting an old friend. If that friend were really short and had writing all over them. This drives my wife crazy. A person can only read so many books in a lifetime, I believe the thinking goes, and the more you re-read, the fewer new reading experiences you can have.

So I'm going to do my best to include a lot of new stuff this summer. I've got a full list of requests in to the New York Public Library.

I want to read Steve Martin's Born Standing Up and I want to read The Chris Farley Show. Y'know, because I enjoy show biz memoirs/bios.

But mostly I want to continue my summer tradition of catching up on books that I really should have read by now. So I've put in requests for Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow and John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. I'm going to attempt to plow through David McCullough's John Adams.

I am, though, always in need of more ideas. So I'm reaching out. I want to know what I should read. Give me some ideas. I'm not saying I'll get to all of them. Especially if they're stupid. But I will pick three suggestions and let you know how I liked them. If I liked them.

I thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

I suggest Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth, or my all-time favorite, Lolita. Or is that a potentially controversial paperback for male teachers to cart around with them?
The Road by Cormack McCarthy. I also heart Orwell's 1984 if you haven't read it already.
"The Wantng Seed" - Anthony Burgess

He also wrote "Clockwork Orange".

"East of Eden" - Steinbeck
I second "The Road." Also, "White Noise" by Don DeLillo is a yearly read of mine; can't get enough.

If you want, we can bookclub the Steve Martin book over at Plath's Oven. It'll be fun! Book blogging!
TB--I read Sabbath's Theater a long time ago. I could never get into Roth, for some reason. Lolita, however, my wife has on the bookshelf, so that one will go into consideration.

Wendi--I haven't read The Road, so I will put that on my Maybe list. I've read 1984 a few times. In fact, one of my favorite summer reading streaks was a few years back when I read 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and The Handmaid's Tale all in a row.

Mr. M--I'm not a big Burgess fan, but I love Steinbeck and I've never picked up East of Eden, so I'll throw that one in the hopper.

Thanks, for the help, folks!
JB--I was all excited to read Underworld when it first came out and, God help me, it just did nothing for me, so I'm a little iffy on DeLillo. I'll add your Road recommendation to Wendi's.
If you've never read "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho it is a must, but I'll bet you've already read it.

I never understood why people re-read books, but then I listen to songs repeatedly so maybe I should try it. All the books I would suggest are non-fiction.
I disagree about The Road - for me it brought about feelings of guilt for bringing children into this world, even if we are not currently in a post-apocalyptic world.

I would suggest Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion. It's depressing too, but monumental, and it's a good summer read because most of the time the characters are cold and damp. I'll also put a second in for Lolita, which I read because it was controversial but ended up loving because of the insanely high quality of its prose.
Although it's not really as much fun as getting recommendations from individuals - this is a pretty great list that can give you some ideas:

Also, if you haven't read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
Oops - that didn't appear to work - the last of the link is: /content_id.22845/Books or google "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die".
When I was last in New Year I started reading The Wanderers by Richard Price. I am now a big Richard Price fan. His latest is Lush Life which I think you would like. I am going to email you a longer list of some of my favorites. The Road is one of those.
I forgot to mention that rather than read "John Adams" by David Mccullogh I would first read "Truman". It is a great biography.
I liked Born Standing Up. It took a little while to pick up speed, but I'm glad I stuck with it.

I really REALLY liked The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It's funny and completely original. You will like it, promise.

My last suggestion is Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron. Same as above.

Now I have to go find The Road...
Your blog is hilarious, by the way.
Shoot the Buffalo by Matt Briggs. ASet in the northwest, wonderful and creepy and sodden.

And if your only experience with Burgess has been Clockwork Orange, I'd highly recommend giving his realist stuff a chance. Any of the Enderby novels would do. And Tremor of Intent is damn fine spy novel.

Have you checked out
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