August Reading – The Month Ahead

It’s August already, and time to think about what reading I might be able to accomplish in the new month. Strangely, for the first time in a long time, I don’t really have much of an idea which direction I’m going in an upcoming month. The one exception is Kurt Vonnegut’s “Armageddon in Retrospect,” a posthumously published collection of essays on war and peace that is being read by the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s book club for August. Worth noting is that this book, I think, is the ONLY Vonnegut book I haven’t read yet, so this will be the last ’first read’ I’ll be able to do of one of his books. I’m both proud of and sad about this.


What else, hmm… Well, I’ll have four or five short stories as part of my annual project, but I won’t know what they are until I draw a card from those remaining in the deck each Saturday morning. By the way, I was thinking about making my annual short story “Deal Me In” project a public Reading Challenge next year. Do you think many (any) people would be interested? I’ve never hosted a challenge at Bibliophilopolis, so I’m apprehensive.

What other books might I read? I have started Claire Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens, which would count toward my “author biography” project that I’ve been neglecting. I’m also very interested in the new bio of the Bronte sisters that I think has just come out, or is about to. It weighs in at a staggering 1,000+ pages, though.

Maybe I’ll finally get around to Panther in the Sky by James Alexander Thom too, as I’ve been promising for some time.

Another possibility is Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead,” which got my attention a while ago, and of which Dale at Mirror with Clouds has reminded me of recently.


Geez, I have 20 books on my “to read” shelf on Seems like I ought to be able to come up with something, right? Or… perhaps you could help guide me. What do YOU suggest I read in August?


  1. derekemerson said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I’m a huge Marilynne Robinson fan and love Gilead (although “Housekeeping” remains my favorite novel). But you cannot go wrong with Vonnegut either. All decisions in life should be so enjoyable.


  2. Jay said,

    August 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Update: I “impulse bought” an e-copy of Gilead on my lunch hour today. Moving it up in the batting order… 🙂


  3. anatheimp said,

    August 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Jay, I’m not sure I should be advising anyone. My reading list is always impossible! I have Tomalin in line but I’m told it’s not a patch on Peter Ackroyd’s earlier treatment of Dickens. I’ve not long finished Conquered City, a novel by Victor Serge set in the Russian Civil War. I should be able to add a review after the weekend.

    My present obsession is with Catherine the Great (I visited a new exhibition in Edinburgh this week dedicated to the Empress), so I’m now eagerly waiting for Robert K Massie’s biography, on order from Amazon. In the meantime I’m in the midst of The Forsaken: an American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia, a sadly neglected story brought to light by Tim Tzouliadis.


    • Jay said,

      August 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Ana,
      Thanks for the suggestions and sharing what’s in your reading queue. I really enjoyed Ackroyd’s short biography of Edgar Allen Poe earlier this year, so maybe I’ll try his book on Dickens as well. I already own the Tomalin book, though, so it will likely be first.

      I almost bought the Catherine the Great book when it first came out but somehow didn’t. I’ve read Massie’s books on Peter the Great and “Nicholas and Alexandra” and really enjoyed them.

      Hadn’t heard of the last book you mentioned. I’ll have to check it out.

      Happy reading!



  4. Dale said,

    August 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Jay, thanks for the link to my blog. I agree with derekemerson, I don’t think you’re going to go wrong with Robinson or Vonnegut. I’ve already been thinking about re-reading Slaughterhouse-Five for Banned Book Week coming up in the fall. I’m finishing up For Whom the Bell Tolls. Then I’m on to City of Bones, Hard Times and Bleak House. Dont’ know if I’ll get all of them read in August.


    • Jay said,

      August 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Hi Dale,
      Sounds like you’ve got a full plate of reading to do too. The KVMLBC is supposed to decide soon on what we will read in September for Banned Book Month (or week, or whatever it is). Last year we read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

      I started Gilead last night. About 30 pages in. Beautiful writing. I had no idea what the subject matter was and had just decided to read it because of all its praise.

      Have a good month of reading!


  5. Dale said,

    August 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    And I might be up for doing the luck of the draw weekly short stories next year.


    • Jay said,

      August 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      I think it could be fun. I’d have to map out the guidelines a little better first. I would also bring back my “deuces wild” for next year, making the wild card choice’s only requirement be that it was in someone else’s 52-card deck. Hmm…


  6. Megan said,

    August 5, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I agree with the Robinson fans. I read Gilead a few years ago and it’s just beautiful.


    • Jay said,

      August 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Hi Megan,
      I had to set it aside for a few days due to other obligations, but I’m back to it now. About two thirds of the way through, I’m truly enjoying the writing. As a Midwesterner myself, I really like her descriptions of the natural world. Being a bit of a heathen, I’m sure some of the religious meaning is lost on me, but that hasn’t dampened my enjoyment.


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