What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading
Do the "dog days" of summer lead to dog-eared books? Let us in on what you're reading and if you've made any headway on your summer reading list. The latest snazzy issue of Boldtype offers up some late summer reading suggestions, but what are your picks? Conversely, if you need some suggestions or are looking for something to shake up your literary routine, post a note here with your request for recommendations. Oh, won't you please, please tell us -- what are you reading?
This article is part of the series What Are You Reading?. The next post in the series is What Are You Reading?. The previous post in the series is What Are You Writing?.
55 Responses to "What Are You Reading?"

by singlemalt on

Check itWell now. I just finished the latest book by jamelah's favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk, called Haunted. It's a bunch of shorts stories sort of strung together. Some parts I really liked. Some . . . eh.So now I'm reading Cathedral, a bunch of short stories by Raymond Carver. Interesting -- check. Depressing -- check. I never read this guy before and I don't think you can't compare him to Hemingway. Because you can't.And I started Bangkok 8 by John Burdett. It's about, I think, this Thai cop who tries to solve a murder or something. But watch your back, Mr. Thai cop, because here comes the American woman who will flip your world upside down! Yeah! Hey, it's supposed to be pretty good and I need some light reading before I tackle For Whom The Bell Tolls.And that's that.

by anniefay on

Me! Me! Me!I get to go first.Well, after I dogged out Clinton in an earlier post, I have to admit that although I still haven't plowed all the way through his minute detail life story, after the first 200 pages it got a bit more interesting so I'll probably finish it off, bit by bit, bye and bye.Anyway, Clinton aside... I felt I needed some just plain ole summer fun reading stuff so I picked up a paperback from my favorite genre.You know the kind, blood, murder, mayhem, serial killers, maidens in distress screaming down by the lake in the middle of the night, axes, knives, beatings, bungling police officers, FBI agents, and some poor fool who manages to stumble through the whole mess, become a quiet hero and save the day... Yeah, that's it. that genre. My favorite. anyway (drum roll please) I am now reading Tell No One by Harlan Coben. And I must tell you I am quite enjoying it. It lives right up to the genre. Actually it's on the NY Times bestseller list, but we won't hold that against it, will we?Waiting in the wings is my last purchase, Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts. So that should be a good read too. The rest of summer is going to be filled with think-free words. I like that. I really do.

by Yabyum on

Orpheus EmergedThis is a Kerouac book written when he was only twenty two. It was published in 2000. It is about 150 pages. I started reading, and like every other Kerouac book that I have opened, I didn't stop until I was finished. I just couldn't. What amazed me is, I have no idea who Jack was in the story. I think he was just omnipresent with no physical character. He never refers to himself in the first person. I can figure out who Allen is, only because he's the only character unconcerned with women, and Kerouac decribes "Leo" as being deeply involved in a poem that he cant stop working on. (HOWL?) The story focuses on Paul and Micheal and this great arcane tension between them, and a mysterious woman named Helen. I'm going to read it again and again until I can figure out who is whom.Overall, I was completely stoked with the story. I love Kerouac and this was like hearing post humous Nirvana tunes. Just a little side note: When I boarded the NJ Transit train that travels from NJ into NY, there was an Amtrak advertisement showing two young men sitting in the lounge car with absolute exited looks on thier faces. The caption underneath read "explore your inner Kerouac".I took a picture. I also couldn't help but wonder how many people read that sign and think to themselves...."what the hell is a Kerouac?"

by Billectric on

Tales of Dissipation & MysteryJust finished re-reading several Poe short stories followed by Junky, by William S. Burroughs. I like Junky better than Naked Lunch, although my friend Khristophorous said if I read Naked Lunch again after reading Junky and I would understand it better. But I've mostly been reading a lot of reference material on the internet in preparation for a novel I'm writing.

by fumb on

donleavy and othersjust finished J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man. Tale of an American student in Dublin, drunk, rowdy and penniless. Survives according to his charm and wits. Hilarious.Now reading Gibson's Virtual Light. Classic Gibson, though no where near the status of Neuromancer (which, i admit, is on quite a pedestal in my mind).And, when I can muster the brain power, The Broken Dice (and other mathematical tales of chance) by Ivar Ekeland. yeah.

by Rubiao on

Donleavy is an hidden gem. I used to read one of his books in between every other book I read. When you get out of one of his books (because of those short descriptive sentences), you feel as if everyone else is doing something wrong. It reminded me of Bright Lights Big City in the way that after reading a book written entirely in the second person, it seems as if everyone else is doing something wrong. Check out the short story The Saddest Summer of Samuel S or the novel Fairy Tale of New York.

by kkizer on

Woolf and Pynchon and Mr. ShowJust started in on Woolf's "To The Lighthouse" upon recommendation from a friend. Really interesting the way she reveals the characters' secret thoughts about life's frustrations.I will undoubtedly be reading Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" over the next several "What are you reading?" submissions. Long book. Really, really interesting though. Not as tough a read as I had heard. I think I said it before, but I feel like Pynchon (in this novel) is working right up there with Burroughs and Joyce.Also, just breezed through "Mr. Show: What Happened?!" which is a great short book about "one of the most daring, influential and critically acclaimed comedy shows on TV." David Cross and Bob Odenkirk blow doors down. If you don't know you better aks somebody.

by Rubiao on

Lawrence DurrellThis man is a wizard. I read the Alexandria Quartet thinking it would be a dated piece of British formality, and it turned out to be a personal favorite. I am nearly finished with the first book of the Avignon Quintet and it is visually stunning. This man has been virtually forgotten and it is a travesty! I hate to plug it as such, but it is a book about the Knights Templar, much like a certain other book (though from the early 70s and actually plausible). Am I nuts or is Durrell a true master?

by Beth Vieira on

Wow! I had no idea there was such a book! I am going to put it on my list pronto. Tell me, what does Orpheus have to do with the story? Very curious choice.Also about your "inner Kerouac" most people probably think it is a seed with a somewhat licorice taste.....PS I have taken a photo of Kerouac Alley in North Beach, SF. Perfect that it is a back way alley.

by Beth Vieira on

Journey to the InteriorJourney to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun, ed. by Bruce Ross is an excellent read. The introduction (some 80 odd pages) is unbelievably clear and precise and inspiring about this most exquisite of forms.Haibun is a combination of dense prose and haiku (or short poems) and was one of the most common forms in early Japanese culture, especially for travel writing.The title of Ross's collection alludes to the most famous of these, Basho's Narrow Path to the Interior, translated by many including Cid Corman (with an updated introduction by Bob Hass).It is relevant to LitKicks too because the Beats experimented with this form and some like Snyder still do. His Earth House Hold is haibun in style. Parts of Desolation Angels is written in haibun style.The collection offers the simplist versions of a one paragraph haibun with haiku to more extended and deep reflections on the death of an infant son. This book is high on my list of things to read about American "letters" for I believe (as others have said), looking to the haikai forms for freshness may be the cutting edge of poetics today.

by Billectric on

I've been hearing a lot about writing in the second person. I'll have to check out some of those works.

by Demian Ford on

Crime & P...Hey, look at those hillsWell, I STARTED to read Crime and Punishment, but here in Northwestern Washington when the sun is out and I can see the North Cascade Range jutting up from the earth in all of its stone-and-ice magnificence, some of that blue sky and fresh air leaks into my head. It comes in through my left ear, working its way back behind my eyes. Quickly, my brain soaks it up like the sponge, dried by the SoCal heat, that it is. The next thing I know, I'm forced to immediately and without delay or inhibition caused by any sense of self responsibility or society imposed duty, hop into the dusty S10 that I still refuse to wash and head for the hills to get my kicks. Fortunately for me, the local library has a pretty good selection of books on disk, and I've already listened to Matt Dillon read On the Road three times this summer.

by n_nixon on

Out of the Silent PlanetI decided it was time to read C. S. Lewis' sci-fi trilogy. "Out of the Silent Planet" is the first book. I must say that I am struggling through it. Maybe it is my atheist sensibilities fighting back, who knows. It isn't overtly religious, though. Anyhow, I'm going to read something else (maybe a few somethings) before I read the other two books.

by brooklyn on

Inside OutAs far as serious literary reading goes, I'm between books. However, I am really enjoying Nick Mason's "Inside Out", a surprisingly well-written and humorous biography of his 35-year career as the drummer of Pink Floyd. I am really enjoying this book.

by Yabyum on

Hey Levi.....I'm not sure if I ever thanked you for turning me on to Walden. (at Cabaradio) So, thanks....it was awesome. I just started Cold Mountain. I figured why not trust the opinion of someone who's batting 1000.And also, yesterday I saw and read Action Poetry for the first time. Awesome brother. It was just totally inspiring to see my name under the title of a poem I wrote in a published piece of literature.Thanks to all 3 of you. While I'm at it.....I thought I'd let you know that I am out west now and not that far from the Hollywood sign.....O yeah, brother, I'm gonna get there. I'll be sure to let you know how I enjoy Cold Mountain.

by polexia on

3 at a time I've just finished (10 min. ago) JT LeRoy's Sarah; what an awesome book. he tells the story in such a way that if you don't think about it, it becomes very sweet and if you do take your time and think about it it is completely horrific.Then i am catching up on my classics; The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and the Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide (to the Galaxy) by Douglas Adams.

by Billectric on

Magazine, CBGB'S, TelevisionMy son picked up a bunch of magazines at the Warped Tour. One of them, Spin, has a good article about CBBG's, the punk bar in New York across the street from the Bowery Poetry Club. According to this, the band Television were the first punk band to play there. I had not realized this.

by Stokey on

The Best Books to ReadI think there should be a list. Well, I think people who know what there're talking about should present a list. Like Harvard Classics. 'cause when I was a little kid and used to read, I just read what I heard was good: like Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Dostoyevsky and such. And I didn't know any better. So I'll start a list for you to add or subtract to:1. The Naked Lunch - it's free form cool.2. On The Road - it's like stuff I write (not as well written, but honest just the same.)3. As I Lay Dying - most of Faulkner's stuff, except the Snopes stuff, is real good.4. Authors are probably better to recommend than books because you can't go so wrong with a really good writer, and I haven't read most of the books people have written. So authors:5. Graham Greene - writes important stuff about governments. like ours.6. Franz Kafka - I just like the guy, couldn't quite get through the Trial or the Castle.7. Andre Gide. Par Lagerquist. Sartre, Nietzsche, Camus. Emile Zola. What do you think?

by nerdgirl on

Mystery and ImaginationMystery stories, poems and writings always inspire. It makes the reader think. These writings are about challenge of finding out. Poe, Sheldon, Pike, Saul, Stine and other mystery novelists and writers in books, magazines or newspapers are the ones that always catch attention until you realize you fall in their trap. Imagination runs out of control then you stop. Think and breathe.

by Billectric on

There are certain writers who I think I should read because they seem important, but I have a hard time actually reading them. Kierkegaard comes to mind. One thing I like to do is look these writers up on the internet and read about them. Sometimes that helps pave the way. Maybe one day I'll pick up Kierkegaard and just get into it, then I'll know it was time.

by Stokey on

Billectric, anyone who used to hang in London, Greece, Italy, Spain, gots to be cool. 'cause I used to. Post some of your short story writing. Kierkegaard doesn't read well, like you can read a sentence a dozen times trying to grasp what he has trouble making graspable. But there's an Anglican Priest from a Chicago U. who does a marvelous explication of existential philosophers.

by Billectric on

Who is this Anglican Priest? I'd like to know more.

by BHill93 on

What I Am ReadingI am currently in the process of reading two books:The Seven Faces of Darkness; Don Webb- Contains chapters on the use of Egyptian Magic and Egyptian History as well as valuable information on Set as a Deity in th epast and in modern times. It is usefull for anyone who walks the Left Hand Path.Flashbacks; Timothy Leary P.h.D.- The Autobiography of Tim Leary. I pour through the writtings of Tim Leary like Camels drink water, so this is a real treat for me. It is the biography of his life. It is the most interesting biography I have ever read. I have finished neither one of these books but I am dedicated to the cause.

by meathook on

being meand never being able to put down one book before picking up another,I've been reading too much. Run With the Hunted (a collection of writing by Charles Bukowski) is, in my opinion, pretty well put together and so far an enjoyable read. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "I'D RATHER BE READING BUKOWSKI". It was a rare and welcome thing to see in the kind of place I live.I've also been reading Shakespeare and trying to give my friend constructive criticism on his translations of Banville and Verlaine, but not succeeding because I've pretty much just been either impressed or amused with them. And besides, who am I to offer any kind of help in such an undertaking? My love of languages doesn't mean I'm an expert (I don't have much more than what my Grandma would call a "working knowledge" of French).

by thebigC on

A little bit of everythingThis particular summer has found me all over the board in terms of reading material, but I suppose it's understandable since I have the good fortune to work in a library. I just finished The Stanger by Albert Camus and absolutely loved it. I'm also currently reading Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik, an interesting collection called the Birth of the Beat Generation, and sadly yes the new Harry Potter book, which I've found harder to get into than the rest of the series. As if these weren't enough, I'm also in various stages of completing Haunted by Chuck Palahnuik, Big Sur by our good friend Jack Kerouac, Naked Lunch by Billy Burroughs, and Look Homeward Angel by you know who. If I ever manage to finish all these please call the men in white jackets, and tell them they can pick me up directly.

by Billectric on

I bet the Timothy Leary book is good. I remember reading an article about him in a magazine, either Look or Life, back in the late sixties or early seventies, and of course many other things about him since then, but not in his own words. It is my understanding that, while Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters wanted to spread psychedelia to the world, Leary was a little more cautious, advsing controlled environments and moderation. Am I correct in this?

by Billectric on

Poe is one of my all-time favorites. Have you read anything by H.P. Lovecraft? If so, what do you think of him?

by Billectric on

You've got quite a list there of good books. I think it would be great to work in a library. Are library jobs through the government, or are they public sector jobs?

by warrenweappa on

Dutch-booked, Karamazov, Gay ScienceI just received my gratis copy of my third novel, Dutch-booked, from the Xerox contest. It's chock full of errors but still readable. Due to time constraints I had to find and hire a typist who did such a poor job that I really don't know how much time was saved or how many errors were created. Also, I believe some errors were created because I used Chinese Windows 98th and some stray squares are printed through out the book. I couldn't get through to lulu.com so my brother posted it and used a photo of me I wouldn't have used and small gothic letters in maroon on a black background that would be impossible to read from a bookstore window. It works as a novel so I can honestly say that I've written one poor novel, 161 pages long, 35 lines to the page. If I win the contest, I don't know how I could sell a 1000 copies with that cover and have never seen a paperback with a bookcover.I read the first part of Brothers Karamazov which is easier than Crime & Punishment and am re-reading Nietzsche's Gay Science whenever I take the bus or subway. I've ordered Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything from the Chinese online used bookstore and will start making trips to Hong Kong book shops when I get my multiple entry visa.Suggestions and recommendations are wanted because I still feel I'm a literary midget but I favor the contemporary and want heavyweights that read like page turners. Stephen King suggests that authentic writers read so I'm trying to read more, busy as I am with my projects. That would make a good topic, i.e., books every writer should read.

by Stokey on

Billectric, do you know the trouble I've seen trying to get that info? Turns out my father had that book (he's 88 years old) and looking through one of his bookshelves is like Fibber Magee "he's going to the closet!" Anyway, the guy is Nathan Scott, his book - The Unquiet Vision, essays about existentialism. I've read a few what with that undergrad minor in philosophy, but Scott is by far the best, or as good as any. I think of Kierkegaard as "you have to doubt to really believe" to the point where you're almost sure you're wrong and yet you still believe. That's faith. But he broaches several theretofore taboos such as doubting God, the absurdity of faith, personal reality, and such, thus he's an existential precursor. Nietzsche is so much more straightforward and upbeat, like a breath of fresh air. You know, if Kierkegaard is pre-Camus bleak and despair; then Nietzsche is pre-L.Ron Hubbard and Tony whoever the power of positive belief in yourself. Aeh, just a thought.

by djrob1972 on

I tried reading "GR" a couple of months back and couldn't get into it -- hope you have better luck.

by Stokey on

I always liked LSD (back in the 70's) because everything was so hysterically funny. I wonder why we couldn't always or at least often be that giddy and jouous and in love with the world. You get a high from writing or playing your own music, but it seems that after 20 or whenever, everything is tinged with a certain sepulchral sadness. Too bad.

by popejoebaby on

Life, letter, wordsof Abraham Lincoln. My wife bought an entire set of his world, and work. It is magnificent! I love old Abe. Joe

by Stokey on

I gots to know what you make of The Stranger 'cause it's hard to figure out. I think though, that particular little book was like the bible for the Beatnicks in the late 50's, and maybe also poetry by Rimbaud. Also want to know what you will think of Big Sur and Naked Lunch. I can't read Thomas Wolfe - it's very good, but makes me cry from nostalgia. Can't read William Saroyan and Ray Bradbury for same reason. I mean I read City and the Town and hardly got through the last 5 pages trying to see through my own tears.

by nerdgirl on

Poe is much better than Lovecraft. Poe sends the feeling in his writings while Lovecraft is obsessed with attics and worms. Lovecraft is mostly interested in just giving plain descriptions in his writings, no emotions at all. His got a painting with no life, nothing but a blur of colors (but sometimes has something much more to it - abstract perhaps) while Poe brings life to his creations

by polexia on

oke, am going to write that title down as well...about people thinking what the hell is a kerouac? i get that by almost every person i read.ps. have you got protest,the beat generation and the angry young men...it is a book filled with short-storys from Kingsley Amis,Allen Ginsberg, John Osborne etc.. and ofcourse also Jack Kerouac..

by Billectric on

I like that concept, "you have to doubt to believe" - I can relate to that. What I think that means is, things have opposites. So, for me to believe that I have two eyes requires no faith, because I see them in the mirror every day. But to believe something you can't see presupposes the concept of doubt. For example, when I am waiting to see someone get off an airplane, there is the facotr that they may not get off the plane, even though I am pretty sure they will. Interesting.I started readin Kirkegaard again over the weekend, and at first I was getting into it, but I stalled after the second chapter. I think the problem may be that I have heard all of Kirkegaard's ideas, expressed by other people in more modern terms, so it does not seem as profound as it would a hundred years ago. Maybe.

by Billectric on

Did he really have bouts of depression like they say on the history channel?

by Arcadia on

El fuego y la palabraby Gloria Mu

by beatreader17 on

flowers of algernonamazing

by beatreader17 on

if you want to read some good raymond carver material, try "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?"; a series of his best short stories. Sincere. Also depressing.

by acarolinayankee on

best of times, yet converselyI have recently started traveling a bunch for work and found myself with more downtime than my slim copy of 'The Prince and Other Stories' seemed to warrant. The unbelievable riches of the internet have filled me with responsibility. Recognizing how many quality pages are mine for shipping and handling I guess I'm determined not to waste a second of it on anything redundant or derivative or just plain weak.So it was, although the four airports I had been to in my first week of work held 6 or so bookstores, and I went through everyone, I couldn't find one book, not one!, that I might have really purchased.Now I'm the first to admit that these stores aren't the greatest places to firm up your library, but how many law thrillers and summer romances do we really need? There were other books that showed some sign of hope, but underneath their exotic titles lay only sales tips or pseudo psychology offerings.A slight nod to Oprah, whose 3 book collection of Faulkner was perhaps the only thing I considered. Why 3? Price....? Didn't Hemingway used to be popular? Or, Steinbeck? Fitzy?I became so desperate that I thought seriously for a moment when passing the Children's Greats comic series.Well just venting a bit, and reminding you that when you travel go prepared or find a used book store in the 'artsy' side of town if you have time. Otherwise it's Mary Higgins Clark Grisham Turow for all.p.s. as usual I underestimated the depth of the text and machi-ahhhh-velli got me doing the old two step: read then stare. Still have 2 chapters to go. another happy ending.p.s.s. on my last flight home a hurried salesman told me he'd always meant to read 'The Prince' and inquired earnestly if it was "any good". see there's a market for it, i'm thinking more and more that Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting have bought all media outlets...but that's another post.

by Rog on

Selected Poems by Robert LowellI'm finding it hard to wrap my brain around these poems at this point, because the style feels archaic. However, I will continue and hope to gain something from it.

by Tulate on

Kite RunnerKite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. The author's seductive little blurb lured me in: "He went back to Afghanistan, then ruled by the Taliban, to settle an old score. He went back after a 20-year absence to atone for a sin he had committed as a boy. He went back to rescue a child he had never met, and to rescue himself from damnation. The journey almost cost him his life. The thing is, I was the one who sent him. It was easy."This book is remarkable. Man's inhumanity to man never ceases to stun me.

by Stokey on

I once checked out Junkie and Queer but read neither of them. Would like to know if I really missed something, or is it okay. Also, for me we're leaving a bit out here. Now people just say titles and so forth but what I want to know is how good was the book, why was it so good, is it like essential for whatever. So I wish people would add that when they talk about a book or story or movie.

by north on

GlamoramaI know this book got pretty bad reviews (who cares about reviews though really), but i thought it was wild and funny. Ex. '"nice veins", "thanks they're mine"'. I kept thinking about Zoolander during the last half of the book, what with all the brainwashing/ models as killers routine. I sometimes wonder if Bret Easton Ellis is capable of creating a character who is not just completely empty inside, and then I realize I don't care, because his parody of consumer/celebrity culture in American Psycho and Glamorama are just hilarious...and depressing...wait there's a stain on my Prada shirt...i have to go.

by Billectric on

biography of Robert Louis Stevensonby Irving S. Saposnik. Written in 1974, this book suggests that previous biographies of Stevenson either whitewashed his life or went too far the other way.Once I got past the confusing Chronology at the beginning, I was fine. It seems Robert Louis Stevenson met a girl named Fanny Sitwell, of all things, in 1873, then later met a girl named Fanny Osbourne (sounds like one of Ozzie's cousins), then married one of these Fanny's in 1880. It took a careful re-reading of the chronology to determine which Fanny he married. It was Miss Osbourne, which did not sit well with some of Stevenson's friends. The book is really quite interesting.

by djrob1972 on

Women by Charles BukowskiO.K., I'll admit it I've read it four times- it's my favorite Bukowski novel next to Factotum. I've been in a rut. I want to break out of it. Nothing better to do it than 300 pages of womanizing, gambling, drinking, carousing and WRITING.

by takranke on

Joseph BrodskyI am reading his On Grief and Reason.It is good for one to know what the poetry is and how it can be read.

by Billectric on

Correction to above: This is not a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson. It is a critical analysis of his work which includes some biographical information.

by Rubiao on

Flicker (Roszak)I was about three quarters through this intriguing, yet slightly trashy book when I realized it is my absolute favorite book involving the Knights Templar, an investigating professor, a beautiful French intellectual, a religious albino,a European search for clues, the Crusades, clandestine religious sects such as Oculus Dei, and the church's hidden secrets in the form of documents held by the Cathars (smuggled out of the Inquisition). Flicker is, despite all that, an engrossing study of the power of film, and a reminder of how powerful/good the movies used to be. I'm pretty sure this book rematerialized because of recent Templar publicity, but it was written 15 years ago.

by orange on

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Closeby Jonathan Safran Foerbeautifully written... the most original book I've read in a while.I won't do it any justice if I attempt to summarize...check it out.

by Billectric on

Oh, I remember this one. Sad ending, really got to me.

by Billectric on

Indeed.

by Curt Worden on

Did you know that Jack Kerouac's Big Sur was written on a scroll?
To all those who love Jack Kerouac -- 2008 New Documentary
One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. http://www.kerouacfilms.com