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What I'm reading right now - efil4ajnin
April 4th, 2011
05:03 pm


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What I'm reading right now
Here's what I have on my nightstand right now:

James Joyce, Ulysses
Anton Chekhov, The Major Plays (I got it just to read The Cherry Orchard, not the whole collected works or anything)
Sydney Biddle Barrows Mayflower Manners: Etiquette for Consenting Adults (I do love a book on sex etiquette)
Lauren Weber, In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue
Stephen Bayley, Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things (the guy is a bit of a blowhard, but I devour everything I can find on the subject)
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (my first Austen. It has yet to really draw me in, but I'm still not even on page 80)
John Cheever, Bullet Park (a strange and beautiful book. Themes of modern alienation and suburban despair. Strong influence from Burroughs on the prose and structure)
G. Bruce Boyer, Eminently Suitable: The Elements of Style in Business Attire (I'm on my third or fourth trip through this little gem. I needed to look up something about tweed)
Alison Lurie, The Language of Clothes (by no means the final word on the subject, but one of the best starting places I know of)
Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry (will probably come due at the library before I get a chance to give it a thorough and attentive read)
Richard A. Muller, The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide (punchy and poppy, with lots of pictures, but not in any way dumbed down for a layman's guide. And I've read them all)
Haruki Murakami, After the Quake: Stories (I really wanted The Wind-up Bird Chronicles but it was checked out)
Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia In The Middlebrow Imagination, 1945-1961
Lynne Truss, Talk to The Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door (people who wring their hands over the coarsening of modern life usually reek of unchecked privilege, but so far this book seems fairly thoughtful)
Bruno Bettelheim and Alvin A Rosenfeld, The Art of The Obvious: Developing Insight For Psychotherapy and Everyday Life (just finished this one. Meh)
Cesar Grana and Marigay Grana, eds., On Bohemia: The Code of the Self-Exiled (forgive me the lack of diacritical marks on the editors' names)
Edward R. Shapiro and A. Wesley Carr, Lost In Familiar Places: Creating New Connections Between the Individual and Society (haven't yet made up my mind about this one)
Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (I've been putting this one off for too long. More than one writer I love swears by it)
Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism
Edward Said, Orientalism
David Warsh, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery (yeah, I know. Grant me some distance, will ya?)
Brandon Taylor, Contemporary Art: Art Since 1970 (closest thing I've found yet to an accessible survey on the subject)
Terry Smith, What Is Contemporary Art?

For about a third, I will not be able to give more than a cursory skim - say, a thirty-minute flip through, checking out the index and table of contents. Of these, some I will never see again, some I will remember for careful reading later.

Another third merit a medium-depth reading, say one to three hours with highlighting* and notetaking. After that I am done with them.

The final third I will read carefully, deeply, meditatively, pausing often to ask questions and let the good parts sink in. Of this group, I will finish maybe one-fourth. So, out of fifty books, I finish three or four.

I can only read two or three of these "finishers" at a time. The last books I finished thus were Trainspotting and Bullet Park. The fifty-title queue turns over completely (i.e., gets all new titles) every two months or so.

*When I say "highlighting", I mean removable sticky flags, not a yellow highlighter. Abuse of library materials is a f88king crime.


(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:April 5th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC)
Great looking list -- particularly the Sydney Barrows and the Alison Lurie.

You read so much more than I do. And I think I read a lot.
[User Picture]
Date:April 5th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
Finished the Barrows last night. Readable, well-written, but a little creepy in places (i.e., racist, homophobic, ignorant) and ultimately unremarkable.

Also, finished the Lynne Truss book on rudeness. Well-written prose, not entirely without merit, but ultimately a little meh. Do I really need to read one more person's take on the aggravations of telemarketers calling at dinner?

That Lurie book is a gem. I read it once before, years ago; this is a second reading.
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