What Are You Reading Tell us a little about what you're reading lately or what you'd like to read soon. What made you decide to pick up the book you're reading now? This article is part of the What Are You Reading? series. The next post in the series is What Are You Reading?. 50 Responses to "What Are You Reading?" Vernon God LittleGreat Book. Mexican Fate Boy. Some particularly brilliant chapters; Pierre goes on runs of excellence sporadically throughout the novel. Although, I don't like the ending, which I wont spoil. Diary by Chuck PalahniukI'm not obsessed with Palahniuk. Really.I thought Fight Club was fantastic. I thought Survivor was fair.Diary is very good although I'm only 80 pages into it. It's about this woman who is writing a diary to her husband who is in a coma. She was an artist who gave up painting for an unknown reason thus far. Now for, again, an unknown reason, the people on the island she lives on wants her to begin painting again. Ooh. Spooky.If you like Palahniuk's style, this is really good. If you don't like him, there's always Jim Thompson. Geronimo's BonesA Memoir of My Brother and Me by NasdijjI have been bursting to talk about this book someplace. Thank you for the opportunity to do it here.I picked the book up at the local library. It was placed on display at the checkout. I added it to my stack. The author's name and the title screamed at me. I love writings by our Native Americans and was not going to pass up a chance to read this.I was immediately impressed when I began reading. It is not your typical writing style. It is not even a style I can compare to someone else's I have read. You'll just have to read it to see what I am talking about, I guess.The plot is not linear. The author says his life does not follow lines, that time is eternal and circular. His publishers had told him chapter one should lead to chapter two. He says that is just not the way his life was lived. So he will be relating an incident and somehow you will be hurled backwards or forwards without warning. You get used to it.It is a hard book to read. I have wept over this book. It deals honestly with extreme abuse by a father to his sons. It graphically (and probably could have been even more graphic) describes, beatings, rape, sodomy, verbal abuse. I had to stop reading. Frankly, I couldn't handle it. I went back and began reading again. Now I am over half way through the book. I'm glad I returned. His writing is challenging to follow, but it is good writing. I have celebrated in this book because Nasdijj and his brother, Tso, survived such horrific treatment.About the author: Nasdijj's mother is Navajo. His father anglo. He grew up as a migrant field worker. His brother and he taught themselves to read and write which was their survival kit. This is his 3rd book. I am planning to read his first two books.He is justified in his anger. Give him the Google treatment. You will find a couple interviews he has done and a site where he just rants about publishers and his struggle with them.I hope you check him out. I don't think you will be sorry you did. The Da Vinci CodeI know this isn't exactly highbrow reading, nor is it alternative-chic. But I can't stand having everybody else buzzing about a bestseller that boasts of secret medieval codes that explain the meaning of western religion that I didn't know, so I read the book to clue myself in.I have to admit that I enjoyed it a lot. The prose is banal and cliche-ridden, but the plotting is extremely intricate and well-crafted. I guessed about half the surprises before they happened, which isn't a bad rate.I don't think I have to buy into the conclusion of the book in order to say I enjoyed it. But I will say that I agree with one thing, one discovery in the book that surprised me (and this may make no sense to anybody who hasn't read the book). Check out the Last Supper by Leonardo... well, damn, that sure does look like a woman sitting next to Jesus. That's all I can say without giving everything away.I guess there's something appealing about the idea of a chain of secrets dating back 2000 years that changes the meaning of everything. Maybe there's a code that can help explain American electoral politics somewhere too. Dave -- I read this book and it left me intrigued but mystified. I can't quite guess what his motivation was for writing it. Anybody could discern the message of Fight Club. The message here is pretty murky. My best guess is that he's complaining about the horrible suffering creative people (like himself) are put through by the people who enjoy or benefit from their work -- an artist or writer's howl of misery and pain. I'd like to know what you think when you're done. If you like Palahniuk, I would suggest Choke.As for Diary, I thought it was good, but not his best. He a very addictive author, so I think if you are not obsessed now, you will be after this book. Three is the point of no return. I enjoyed Palahniuk's novel Choke. It had some great features, like, the "rock collector" getting stronger as the main character got weaker, the mystery of the nurse and the nature of the main character's mother, even the snail beer interlude. Great fun. I've never read Fight Club or even seen the movie but Diary is on my list to read as soon as I finish The Da Vinci Code. Yes! I'm about half-way through the Da Vinci code now. I had logged on to a Dan Brown website out of curiosity and stumbled upon a diagram of the Last Supper painting which revealed one of the mysteries in the book. I quickly logged off because I didn't want to spoil rest of the story, but, believe me, the story is not spoiled; there is still much that holds my interest. I've always loved puzzles and mysteries.To me, the subject matter more than makes up for the simple writing style. And, yes Levi, as a matter of fact, there is a clue in this book that explains American electoral politics! It's the way the book is written. Simple, not highbrow. It gets to the masses. Non FictionI'm currently flipping through a book of contemporary history. Fascinating stuff. Learned about the Hitler/Stalin Pact, and the fact that Russia invaded Poland along with Germany in '39...the Rape of Nanjing...all sorts of stuff I never knew before (hey, this is stuff they didn't teach us in school)...History Rules. That's a good point, Bill, about the message in the book. I think there's a pretty major lesson there. Symposium and PhaedrusHow can you resist a work that contains lines like "Sleeping with a woman and not a boy?" or the idea of evolutionary biologoy being based on man having two halves dealineted by Zeus and these two halves are looking for their old another half to become one whole?Also The Use and Misuse of Language -- edited by S.I. Hayakawa. There is an essay in there by Wendell Johnson that talks about not being able to 'read reading' or 'write writing' can you think thinking? On the basis of this election you would think many people thought they were thinking...I just read some cummings poetry I like it but I now want to write whole concrete and loose and abstract -- to make what is real, real. Want to sign up for a brain aneurism? read the DaVinci Code. Dang what a book!I'm not saying I enjoyed the book, mind you. I am saying I read it. It triggered a lot of fun discussions and I, as a true fundamental Christian, had to do a lot of research. That was OK. It was good for my head to do all that thinking. I did get a bit tired of it after a bit and by the time I finished the book I was just wishing the author would wind it down and finish it off.It should not ever be read as containing proven facts. It is a mystery novel. Readers get over it. Well, if you research the concept the author puts out there, you'll learn a lot. That is good for you. It's a great discussion topic even if not well written. I will probably never read another book by this guy. One of my biggest surprises was on a recent trip to the library to find it was still, this long after it's release, on the reserve list. Something about it is making people read it, even if it isn't the writing. Hi, anniefay. What I found fascinating in the book is not that the theories are necessarily true, but that Da Vinci apparently did put a lot of bizarre things in paintings that most people don't realize are there. Dave, If you head on over to Barnes & Noble University (I'm sorry I don't have the url offhand, and I'm not on my computer at the moment, so I can't look it up) off the Barnes & Noble website, you'll see that Chuck Palahniuk himself is leading a discussion on Diary for this entire month.He also seems to be answering everyone's questions about the book, so if there's something you don't know (and this would go for anyone else, as well), I'd suggest that would be a good place to start.And you're only on page 80? Wait until you get to page, 100, I think it is. Chuck's official website had this contest, where people who won got their names used as characters in the book.And I won't say anything else, but... I'm NOT bald! :) BooksHitler gan The Americans and Town and the City"The Americans" (nonfict) is about early American history. I minored in history in college so this area has always been of interest to me, even more so after reading "Walt Whitman's America", which is about Whitman and what was happening socially/economically around him, esp. the Civil War."Town and the City" I read every year during the fall. There are about 7-8 books I re-read every year and this is one of them. It gets maligned a bit because of its Wolfian likeness, but I really like the heart-felt prose and Kerouac's depiction of a family in early 20th century America. There's a certain purity to it. Other books I re-read annually include: "On The Road", "Notes from the Underground", "Fear and Loathing...", "Down and Out in Paris and London" (Orwell), "Gatsby", "Naked Lunch" and "Portrait of the Artist..." How We Are HungryA collection of short stories by Dave Eggers, (yes, the AHWOSG and YSKOV, Eggers). I don't know if I have ever heard anyone on LitKicks ever mention him or his work or McSweeneys, but by God his words move. The stories jump and lurch and pull you just like living it all for yourself. I recommend every drip drop he's ever put to paper. They are alive. he is a good writer, only checked out the mcsweeny website once, read heartbreaking work, and just got 'they shall know our velocity' and haven't read it yet, he does have a unique voice that is needed in modern lit Town and ... amuses me quite a bit, I have a copy of Wolf's "Look Homeward, Angel" sitting in my house that I read off and on I've never finished it. I hear many detractors comparing JK with TW but I'm not sure if I buy it completely, JK was influenced by him, you can see it deeply in OTR but very different authors. JK is more jarring, compelling, TW is like the literature of a dream, almost best to be glanced at slowly and shortly not remembered all that well...I finally read notes from the underground--good work, I guess I've read nearly all your rereads and I admit I'm rereading Plato but I always figure I can read something else-I guess when it comes to Ginsberg or Cohen or cummings I can quote that shit endless as I read it over and over again in high school-but like Lao-Xi says some things are best left nearly forgottenjosh JavaI feel the need for diversion: Java 2 v5.0 (Tiger) - New Features by Herbert Schildt. The JFC Swing Tutorial, 2nd Edition by Kathy Walrath, et al.(I'm using Java to develop a virtual Enigma machine as a full-featured, stand-alone application -- not just a "demo" applet.)And for those evenings when I'm tech-exhausted: Iceland: Land of the Sagas by John Krakauer and David Roberts.(Hmmm...) The Third MindThe Third Mind by Burroughs and Gysin . . .The synthesis of literature and the "physical" arts is really fascinating and here is the touchstone for the artist of the day. The lessons of cut and paste, sample and dub, rap and hip-hop are sourced from here. Maybe these modern artists do not read the book but the technique starts here. "pas yr friends' letters yr office carbonsthrough any such sieve as you may find or inventyou soon will see just what they aresaying . . .there is no longer a need to drum up a season ofgeniuses be your own agent until we deliver the machine in commercially reasonable quantities "It might be that I remember being in first grade and the way we were taught letters and words was with a box of small cardboard letters, like greeting card paper, that we slid around to make words. I was so enamored with this process I took to taking letters home and pasting the words onto the inside of a cardboard box. The box had a separate lid and I would put the lid on when done. My mother found it and said rather than taking letters from school I should use all of the Life magazine in the basements. There were lots of letters there. I did this until the end of second grade when I realized there were great pictures here too. By the time I was into junior high I had two big stacks of these boxes with lids and under the lid was a collage. At that time I realized that the words could be enough if they were high-powered words and easier to get published in the "underground press" published by like-minded students using the churches mimeograph.I am also reading "Time fAdes inTo nexT" by Bill King because it is cool and reminds me of the magazine we made and the stories are tiny little gems filled with surreal cartoon like images and underscored with simple human feelings."Then we stopped listening to the radio. We don't even want to know who's President. We don't want to know anything. We just like living here forever." from Bill King's short story Time Fades Into Next. Homegrown IS best and this is a fun read. I am reading these two books because when I came home they were out on the end table. I live alone so I don't know what goes on when I am not here ... sometimes there are notes and message to me from someone who has terrible penmanship and poor spelling.There you have it, there it is, that's all she wrote. That's it Fort Pitt!(The words "carbons" and "mimeograph" were used in this post.) Well, I think that it's fair to say that I am not a Palahniuk fan, and Diary is the one book of his that I've read. So there you go. The fun thing is that I don't have an actual copy of the book, I have a galley, so it's filled with typos and other random mistakes. I wondered, while I read, how it turned out in the final edit, but I didn't want to read it again to find out.Yeah.By the way, Will, The Quest started last year about three weeks after I finished Diary and I wondered whether your name was just bizarrely coincidental or not, but I never wanted to ask. Reading ?I'm still stuck on Naxos Audiobooks - the whole variety of Joyce read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, especially Finnegans Wake(FW). The final part of Ulysses (22 CDs) is just beautiful, erotic, sexy - also the part Anna Livia Plurabelle (FW). And a sheer wonder how such a text can become understandable by nearly acting it out, the message character.(btw: I don't know whether You can get it in the US due to copyright restrictions.)I also got the other Joyce audiobooks but gave them to an old American couple in the housewho seem to really enjoy them, original characters anyway.It's also 'scientific fun' to compare different translations (into German) of a text like FW which is so strongly based on sound, rhythm, melody, associations, and generates multiple pictures in various minds, it's like creating Your own experience from the artificial word landscapes, collages of images, word-plays, language cross-sections. And the annotations.Also to Ulysses, and Charles Olson's Maximus Poems.Pre-sleep and subway reading: Signal Hill (Stories) by Alan Rifkin, Fogtown by Peter Plate - found them at the Citylights Bookstore in San Francisco: some nice 'human scenery' from the far US.. L.A., Death Valley.. kind of dreamy for me, but no sweet romanticism.And some poems: Twenty Prose Poems by Charles Baudelaire (timeless insights and reasuring call to freedom, he) - and Open Gate/An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (two-language edition: interesting French roots modulated, what a sound/thought/feeling mix, uniquely expressing the living conditions). Now that's my kind of reading. Except I don't believe in Swing anymore -- I prefer using Flash front ends with SOAP calls to server side Java services. But this is probably a discussion for a different forum. Anyway, Go Beatvibe. Cool... If this is your copy, don't lose it. Based on what I've seen at Amazon, eBay, and Half, copies of The Third Mind appear to be collectable, generally selling in the range of $75 - $150. First They Killed My FatherFirst They Killed My Father, subtitled: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, by Loung Ung. So, this extremely cheery book is about the take over of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot in the 70's, as remembered by one of the Democratic officials daughters. Shit, in regards to the subject mattter, this book is harder to read than Helter Skelter. After I'm done with that I'm going to read Power On The Left, American Radical Movements Since 1946, by Lawrence Lader. Asylum by Patrick McGrathI just finished it. And I must say, it was the psychological impact of these next few snippets that have stayed with me since reading them...~For despite his confidence, and his apparent maturity, I suspected that there was in him a deep and childish need to elevate, and idealize, the love object. This is not uncommon in artists. The very nature of their work, the long periods of isolation followed by public self-display, and the associated risk of rejection all conspire to create unnaturally intense relationships with their sexual partners. Then, when disillusion occurs, as of course it must, the sense of betrayal is profound, and will in some individuals translate into a pathological conviction of the other's duplicity.~The artist's psyche, when it achieves equilibrium, achieves it at such a pitch that any distraction, any disturbance by brute reality will destroy it in an instant' to make art it is necessary to turn away from life. Edgar's sensitivity in this regard was intense, to the extent that I thought of him as the pure type of the artistic personality. For him the making of art and the maintenance of sanity had a precise and delicate relationship. Disturbance in one would create dysfunction and breakdown in the other.It makes me question things like: how much of a part of me is my art? and how much a part of it am I? And from the second quote; Does anyone else find that 'oh-so-needed equilibrium' essential in the creation of their art? How much of yourself do you sacrifice in the making?Incidently, The Da Vinci Code is next on my list...I've got to see what the buzz is all about just like the rest of you! School ReadingsI read Frankentstein for the first time a couple of weeks ago for a Brit Lit class. The sentence structure was very annoying to me, but it was early in the progression of the English novel, and the philosophical questions raised throughout are outstanding. And the visual power of some of the scenes are undeniable.For another project, I chose to read "The Iceman Cometh" again. I have not read it all the way through since I was 14, and a lot of the intricate character interactions went over my head the first time. I would like to see a production of it sometime, but there's not a whole lot of drama on the Tulsa stage.Joyce Carol Oates' latest novel "The Falls" is on top of my latest to-read list. WIlliam Walker Atkinsonhe's a writer prominent in the New Thought movement in America, early nineteen hundreds. I love his obscure style and subject matter. He writes non-fiction books full of mental excercises, like raja yoga, occultism and memory training. He sometimes wrote under the psudenem Yogi Ramacharaka. Proust in LoveI'm rereading "Swann's Way" and hoping to complete the entire "In Search of Lost Time". There is something about the fall, the sharpness of the early evening light and the nearness of nature in this season that has led me back to Proust. I find his observations of French fin-de-siecle society while entertaining carry less weight than the deeply sensitive, circular descriptions of...well, just about everything from the fragrance of hawthornes to the crushing obssesion of a man in hopeless love. Where "Ulysses" is a straight-up challenge to the reader (well worth the work) this is seductive and flowing, and just as substantial and awe-inspiring. We who write in the shadows of Proust (and Joyce, et al) have mighty large shoes to fill. Candy, by Luke DaviesI just started this book today. It's told from the first person, and the narrator's two loves -- heroin and his girl -- are both nicknamed Candy. The book is a journey from being completely high on life to being completly down and out in Australia. So far it's very good. Jamelah, how did you get a galley of Diary? Empire Of The Sun by J G BallardCurrently reading Empire Of The Sun, I've seen the film and it's a classic but my dad told me the book is much better, as is usually the case. I'm about 50 pages in, thus far nothing has really happened. Jim, a young Ballard, lives with his parents in a 'British' part of China during the second world war. The first 50 pages cover the build up to the inevitable invasion by Japan. Well Bill, it's because I'm the awesome.That, and someone was selling it cheap and I bought it. Dream of the Red ChamberIt's hard to describe... like a combination of the aristocratic complexity of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy and the emotional existentialism of Wolfe... I'm not finished but already I'm infatuated and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the kind of literature that truly transcends mere entertainment.oh by the way anyone who can find a really good translation or can reccomend their favorite please let me know! yea i vaguely remember diary, as a i read it about a year ago when it came out... i remember buying it for someone as a gift, then reading it because they were in the middle of invisible monsters (a very good one). i agree that it wasnt necessarily the same as most of his other books, but what i did like about it was that it felt different... im not exactly sure how to describe in what aspects it was different, but it just didnt seem like chuck. oh and for some reason, i guess the traditional new-englandishness of it... reminded me of winter of our discontent (steinbeck).but id have to say my most favorite was lullaby. hands down. choke #2 Franz Kafka -- Complete WorksHalf way through The Trial now and really enjoying it. I read The Metamorphisis a while back and decided to read them all. Brilliant man, brilliant author. Going to Prague in a few weeks to see the city he loved so much. Looking forward to that too. Gregor Samsa ... awakened,have you ever seen the R.Crumb edition of theMetamorphosis, it is a certified treat BuddhistPunk ... have a blast in CzekRepublic. I hear the beerscheap and the people arebeautiful. Life of PiYeah, I know, I'm a little late on this one. But it was a great book. Highly recommend it. A little slow in the beginning, but once you get into it, you can't put it down. And that's no small feat when you know what the ending is when you start.Basically it's an Indian man's recounting of how he was lost at sea, as a 16 year old, on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutang, a wild hyena, and a 450 pound Bengal tiger. A truly amazing story. I decided to read it after visiting a friend on Cape Cod and admiring his library, in which I picked up this book and was immediately hooked by the author's introductory comments.Next up for me is Vernon God Little (thanks to referrals here on Litkicks) and Garden of Eden (again) by Hemingway. They have a copy of the R. Crumb book on Kafka at the Boomtown Cafe here in Jacksonville. I've sat there at lunchtime, eating while reading it. Not only does it have the Metamorphosis, it's got the whole story of Kafka's life, ilustrated by Crumb. I recommend it, too. Faustusi'm reading this for my Dramaturgy class and i've never read it before. but as i go thru it, i'm considering staging a remake of this story, updated for today with Faust as a neo-punk average joe, who becomes tempted away from his philosophy studies by internet porn, and winds up selling his soul on e-bay. he may even start out as a member of a christian-rock band, and i see him eventually strumming out a solo about his unrepentant path. Speaking of history, and Canadians, I just read an article about Romeo Dallaire (a review of his book). I knew the name and some vaguaries of the story, but after reading the article, holy f***ing sh**! I want to read his book, but I'm not sure a story of the world's abject failure to prevent genocide is what I need right now. They don't teach this stuff in school, or even report it in the mainstream media, because the media is a mirror of ourselves and the only mirrors Americans (I can only speak from experience about them. Er, us) like to look into are of the funhouse variety. Dallaire is a hero. A failed one, since he wasn't able to prevent the massacres (through no fault of his own), but the noblest of failures, as he continued the fight despite the odds against him.I can't imagine living with the memories he has to live with. I can't even imagine. Harris and MarquezI just finished Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris in about three days, which says a lot about how well-written the book is (since due to school I have zero time for reading anything not nursing-related). I've had an aversion to the story ever since I tried to watch the movie a few years ago, only making it through the first 15 minutes before the recoiling of my brain began and I had to shut it off. Maybe I've toughened up since then in regards to the dark yet plausible faces of humanity, I don't know. I picked the book up for a dollar at Goodwill just before Halloween, and I really enjoyed it.I also picked up Gabriel Garcia Marquez's The General in his Labyrinth; I started reading it today. The excerpt just inside the front cover --"Stay," said the Minister, "and make one final sacrifice to save our country.""No, Herran," the General replied. "I no longer have a country to sacrifice for." -- struck a chord. The Da Vinci Code is entertaining if not challenging, and I think there is some precendence books like this earning their place in literary history. But while canonized books retain their adult audience, books like this eventually become placed in the "young adult" section of the book store. And they're still with us today as a constant option for a quick buck in Hollywood (i.e. The Three Musketeers). I guess what I'm saying is that there is some merit to this book, and i liked it, but that eventually this sort of thing will be considered children's writing. It's really not far from a Harry Potter novel. Confederacy of DuncesAnd I'm loving it. Of course, I'm a bit partial because I share the author's home and the setting of the novel, but it is truly funny. And the quote from Jonathan Swift at the beginning is something I revisited following Nov. 2nd. I feel like it describes the feeling of being a blue voter in a red state:"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." CHOKE-Palahniuk, ChuckThis was a fast read. Interesting, funny, and strange. Strange in the plot and the whole concept of the new writer "the new great american writer." This is what I want to read more of. I want to read more from some people closer to my real, my life, my experience is life. The Recognition of SakuntalaKalidasa is celebrated as the greatest poet-playwright of Sanskrit literature. He was said to have devoted his youth to the worship of the goddess Kali, who in return, blessed him with infinite knowledge and superior skills in the poetic arts. His status in India is comparable to Shakespeare in English speaking countries. No set, no scenery, no props, all the story is told in words that drip with the poetic moisture of classical Indian imagery. The following is from a scene where the King watches from behind a tree over the girl he adores. She is being tended by her friends who assume that her burning fever is brought on by the warmth, but they soon discover that in truth, she burns with pining for the King......with Usira-balm spread thick over her breasts, and a single bracelet of tender lotus stalks that hangs pale and withered on her wrist, my beloved's body though racked with pain... how exquisite it looks in it's pale loveliness. Summer's heat can strike as savage as Love, it's true, but, to burn young girls into such spendour, i cannot think that lies in Summer's power. Borges: Selected StoriesI've been picking through this for awhile, reading a story here and there. After reading D.F. Wallace's review of the recent Borges biography, I went back to read a couple of the stories he mentioned, in particular The Immortal and The Writing of the God, which Wallace described as "two of the greatest, most scalp-crinkling mystical stories ever, next to which the epiphanies of Joyce or redemptions of O'Connor seem pallid and crude."Wallace's review of the Borges bio was also pretty interesting and I would certainly recommend it. ham on rye, bukowskigotta say, the book is magnificent! america has some damn good writers, i must say. its an autobiography, though he changes the names. its like Catcher in the Rye, only much much much better ... and darker of course. A very underrated book even if it is rated very highly(I believe he won the pulitzer). His other book The Neon Bible, written at 16, was great also. After reading the book, I can't get Jones out of my mind. He is such a strange cat, I can't really figure him out. They're making a movie of it and Mos Def is playing Jones, I think a good choice. Will Ferrell is Ignatius, which could go either way. Though I think he is hilarious and I hope he can capture the non-comic points of Ignatius. Anyone that has ever been to New Orleans will appreciate descriptions of the neighborhoods and their oddballs.