Books: a chronicle of the feeling of what happens

I wish I had a chronicle documenting every book I have read during my life–nothing fancy, just a sentence or paragraph or two with my reactions to the book–a sort of “the feeling of what happens” kind of thing.  I expect one should jot down that feeling shortly after one has read a book so the feeling sticks before fading from memory.

I finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63 very early this morning.  I admit I would not have read it if it had not been listed as one of the NY Times best books of the year.  It’s a book I could have lived without which does not mean I did not like it in many parts.  King does raise interesting questions about the nature of time and necessity.  Let that be the feeling.

Now, the next book awaits: William Boyd’s Restless or George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Iceseries.  It seems a coin flip.

A chronicle has begun.

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Proust: I can’t believe I read the whole thing

At 9:20 AM Tue, 15 Nov 2011 I finished reading the whole of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.  What began as a project born of vanity ended with gratitude that I had lived long enough to finish it, and of course, enjoyment and admiration.

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 10:38 am  Comments (2)  

Flipping back and forth

I finished the latest Mirakami novel this afternoon. (Two thumbs up.). Now, I’m reading In Search of Lost Time and For Whom the Bell Tolls, flipping back and forth between them. And I want to tell you it is a strange experience–like reading and writing on this iPhone right now.

Maybe I’m doing it because I’m bored, and a little melancholy too. It don’t matter.

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  


Close to 1:30 in the AM.  All the lights are off in the buildings around me.  I’m ready to start reading again.  Who knows what hour in the AM I will cease reading?


Published in: on November 2, 2011 at 1:32 am  Leave a Comment  

One more volume to go

OK, I’ve decided.  After finishing the latest Murakami novel, I’ll finish In Search of Lost Time.  After all, I only have one more volume to go.

Published in: on November 1, 2011 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Oddly quiet

The city is oddly quiet this morning.  So oddly quiet it is ominous.  Maybe, reading Murakami makes it seem so.

Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  


Worked on this week’s fantasy football lineup after I woke this morning.  Then ordered the latest Murakami novel, 1Q84, and downloaded it to the Kindle.  After reading the first couple of pages, it seems like precisely the right thing to have done just before sunrise.

Published in: on October 25, 2011 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The new Murakami novel

The new Murakami goes on sale tomorrow.  Shall I walk to the bookstore and buy the hardback or read the eBook?

Today, the thin crescent moon in the eastern sky has faded away at dawn; I’ll read some Hemingway this afternoon.

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Fast lane

You are reading a one good book per day on your new iPhone. You are in the fast lane.

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Book sale

I went to the Border’s going out of business sale this
afternoon. I bought a history of the Beat writers, a tract on the
moralism of Camus, Skepticism by Grayling, and lucky me, the highly
praised biography of Ray Carver. It was located across the steet
from Water Tower. When it came into the neighborhood it ran the
beautiful Waterstone’s bookstore out of business, plus all the
Indie bookstores within a mile radius. I spent many happy hours
there and a good share of my wallet too. I won’t cry. Books are
everywhere these days.

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Booklist 1

In the spirit of my last post, here is a partial list of the books I’ve read this past year.  I reconstructed it from the eBooks I’ve read.  It does not include the books of mathematics, philosophy, or poetry I’ve dipped into.  It does not include the hardcopy books I read before I bought the iPad.

I’ll keep the list up to date with the latest book read appearing first on the list.

Dec, 2010 – Paris 1919, Margaret MacMillan
Dec, 2010 – The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk
Dec, 2010 – The Aeneid, Virgil, Stanley Lombardo translator
Nov, 2010 – Life, Keith Richards
Unk, 2010 – Sin Killer, Larry McMurtry
Unk, 2010 – The Wandering Hill, Larry McMurty
Unk, 2010 – By Sorrow’s River, Larry McMurtry
Unk, 2010 – Folly and Glory, Larry McMurtry
Unk, 2010 – The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene
Unk, 2010 – Hitch 22, Christopher Hitchens
Unk, 2010 – Memory Wall, Anthony Doerr
Unk, 2010 – The Big Short, Michael Lewis
Unk, 2010 – The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved, Mario Livio
Unk, 2010 – Shakespeare’s Philosophy, Colin McGinn
Unk, 2010 – War and Peace, Tolstoy, Constance Garnett tranlator
Unk, 2010 – Einstein, Walter Isaacson
Unk, 2010 – The Portable Atheist, Christopher Hitchens editor
Unk, 2010 – Decarte’s Bones, Russell Shorto
Unk, 2010 – Isaac Newton, James Gleick
Unk, 2010 – Three Stations, Martin Cruz Smith
Unk, 2010 – The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, Stieg Larsson
Unk, 2010 – The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson
Unk, 2010 – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
Unk, 2010 – C, Tom McCarthy
Unk, 2010 – Yearning For the Impossible, John Sitwell
Unk, 2010 – Symmetry, Marcus Du Sautoy
Unk, 2010 – The Archimedes Codex, Reviel Netz, William Noel
Unk, 2010 – Symmetry and the Monster, Mark Ronan
Unk, 2010 – Godel’s Proof, Ernest Nagel, James R. Newman
Unk, 2010 – From Zero to Infinity, Constance Reid
Unk, 2010 – The Whole Five Feet, Christopher R. Beha
Unk, 2010 – Chess Fundamentals, Jose R. Capablanca

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The list that didn’t happen

I would like a simple list of all the books I have read during my life.  I’ll start one now.

Dec, 2010 – The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk

Dec, 2010 – Paris 1919, Margaret MacMillan

I shudder at the thousands missing from the list.  Maybe, in the next life, I’ll get it right.  Or maybe not.

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Annals of dawdling, part whatever

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m dawdling over the collected poems of Wallace Stevens.  When I’m in a dawdling mood, no better dawdling is.

Published in: on December 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sorry, Flaubert

Flaubert would hate me. When I spy a shelf of books, I have to read them all instead of any one in depth.

Maybe, someday, Flaubert, when I am not so hedonistic.

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  


Before daybreak Sunday Morning: I’m rotating between Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence, Richards’ Life, and Dijksterhuis’s translation and commentary of the works of Archimedes.  Pamuk takes me where he wants me to go.  Richards takes me where he wants me to go.  Archimedes takes me to another world.  Coping with the ancient Greek way of doing mathematics is hard work, especially since it’s Archimedes and Dijksterhuis both with whom I’m coping.

The sun is up although you’d hardly know it for the overcast low in the sky.  I must focus my reading for the rest of the day.  I’ll work on Archimedes until my brain rebels.  Then I’ll read Pamuk and Richards as if I were eating desert after dinner.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 10:27 am  Comments (2)  


Lunch is beer and whiskey. I wonder what to read next. I download Tom McCarthy’s latest novel, C, which has gotten some interesting reviews. Two pages into it, I’m thinking this will be my kind of book–you know, adult.

I stop reading it because I’ve not completed my Latin exercises.

Discipline: that’s what’s made me a star.

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  


I’m reading more than one book per day.  I don’t consider that a major accomplishment: for one, who cares, and two, I would bet it is taking me less time to do it than the average American spends watching TV everyday.

Yesterday’s book was Memory Wall, Anthony Doerr’s fine new collection of short stories.  Today’s book is Hitch-22, C. Hitchens’s new memoir.

Tomorrow, I don’t know.  I’ll figure it out after Hitch has entertained me.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 11:21 am  Comments (3)  

Every decade

I read a copy of War and Peace I’ve downloaded to the iPad.  She has fallen asleep on the couch.  I mute the TV without bothering to notice what she has been watching.  I turn off the light next to the chair where I sit reading.  Reading something on the iPad in the dark intensifies the nighttime reading experience.

Her hair has fallen across her face as she sleeps.  She’s recently cut it and colored it a soft auburn, an auburn that flatters her face.

I finish War and Peace before midnight.  I run the numbers.  I’ve read it five times in 45 years, once every decade since I was 17.  A small sadness comes upon me, for I feel I will never read it again.  The memory of it will fade even when I look at it sitting on a bookshelf.

I download The Big Short and begin reading it.  I am quickly absorbed.  I can read again for the sheer pleasure of reading.

She wakes at around 1:30.  We go to bed.  Even after sex, I am not tired.  I go back to the chair and read until I fall asleep shortly before dawn.  When I wake it is light outside.  I go back to bed, but do not sleep long.  I get up and start reading again.  She sleeps on.

I finish reading The Big Short just before she rises late in the morning.  I make another pot of coffee.  Over coffee she apologizes for falling asleep early.  I tell her it’s OK since I had good books to read.

“That’s one of the reasons I like inviting you over.  You know how to entertain yourself,” she says.

The thought passes quickly through my mind: it will be strange when she’s gone.

Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Shakespeare’s Philosophy

I’m reading Colin McGinn’s Shakespeare’s Philosophy along with the major plays he discusses in the book.  I’m about halfway through it.  McGinn tackles the philosophical aspects of Shakespeare’s work and shuns literary study of his work.  I’ve already gained a whole new appreciation of the philosophical content.

McGinn views Shakespeare as a skeptical philosopher who had read Montaigne and was very much in sympathy with his philosophy.  He sees Shakespeare concerned with many core philosophical problems and issues: appearance vs. reality and the limits of knowledge, the nature of personal identity and the self, other minds, the imagination as one of the four faculties, the nature of love, good, and evil and how they are influenced by our imaginations and created selves and abilities to interpret and know other minds, and the issue of creation, being, and nothingness as it relates to who we are and how we live out our life.

I’ve found his discussion of Shakespeare’s thoughts on personal identity and the self fascinating.  Like Montaigne and Hume, Shakespeare did not believe there was a stable core self that one could identify.  We create different characters for specific social needs.  We are like actors who are continually changing roles depending on circumstances.  We use our imaginations to create narratives that fit how we would have others see us.  In this process we easily dupe ourselves and others.  (You are who you think you ain’t.)  Character does not create actions, but actions create character.

I’ve always enjoyed McGinn as a prose stylist who makes difficult thought easier.  I can see Shakespeare’s Philosophy and the plays standing in as a good text for an introduction to philosophy course.

(This post written on the laptop. 🙂 )

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 7:28 am  Comments (1)  

The second time around: part whatever

I started reading The Name of the Rose again.  It’s been so long since I first read it that it is all fresh and much better than the first time.

A medieval Sherlock Holmes philosopher clashes with the true forces of evil in the world–religious zealots.

Too bad postmodernism has gone by the wayside.  It had its works of genius.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

King James Bible: yeh-ah!

OK, I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for the King James Bible even though I am a pagan.  (I haven’t been happy since the Christians and such like destroyed the ancient Greek temples.)  Here’s an oldie but a goody.

How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow  down my spittle?

Job 7:19

And there’s more where that came from.  (Note for file: quote the King James Bible each and every day.)

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 8:28 am  Leave a Comment  

More insomnia

I now view insomnia as my body’s way of telling me I need to wake up and have a good read.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 6:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Reading in the summer of 1968

It was the summer of 1968 in Vietnam.  Finding something good to read was hard to do.  A friend was going home.  He gave me two books: John Fowles’ The Magus and Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy.  Those were the two good books I read in Vietnam.

I think I’ll reread them again in deep gratitude for a summer not entirely wasted.

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  

A thunderstorm and Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy

The sun is up on this Sunday morning, yet it is dark, for a thunderstorm is passing through.  Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy sits beside the table.  That’s the book I’ll turn to when I finish my writing this morning.

I think I first read it when I finished college.  I didn’t learn as much as I had hoped.  I enjoyed it all the same.

Let us say the book is flawed by historical inaccuracies and personal prejudices.  Yet it has its charms: stylistically polished, witty, a brash narrative, and erudite.

I read books depending upon my mood.  Charm fits my mood these days.  Reading books for their charm makes reading a self indulgence.  However, reading is partly self indulgence, no matter what, when not done for work or some well defined goal.

But for now, a thunderstorm hovers about and I must write a little more, yet another self indulgence these days just before winter sets in.

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 7:49 pm  Comments (2)  


Barnes & Noble’s new Nook e-reader is getting lots of favorable reviews vs. Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.  And the Nook won’t be on sale until the end of the month. I won’t go into the details.  You can Google the reviews written by the experts.

I use the free “e-Reader” app on my iPhone.  I have found free book sites and have been reading books from those sites.  I did not think I would enjoy the reading experience on my iPhone (I have a large paper library).  However, I find I can read faster and be just as absorbed in a book on my iPhone.  A simple flick of my thumb across the screen turns the pages.

My prediction is that e-books are the wave of the future for many readers.  The portability, ease of use, and instantaneous selection of books to download makes them perfect for people who like to read on the go.  I am half way through reading War and Peace on my iPhone.  I love having War and Peace in the front pocket of my blue jeans and a library of other free books.

Published in: on November 7, 2009 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment