May Reading – The Month Ahead

I used to post fairly regularly near the start of a month about what was on deck for my reading but have kind of fallen out of the habit in recent months (years?). BUT, I was sitting here this morning thinking about my May plans (reading and otherwise) and thought I’d jot down what’s on my reading docket…

“The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science” by Will Storr
I actually just passed the halfway point in this book. It’s been fascinating reading thus far, especially the more “sciencey” sections discussing how the brain often conspires to delude us in our thinking. Storr, a journalist, seems to earnestly attempt to understand the thinking of a wide range of belief systems that fly in the face of facts and traditional evidence. Storr asks himself the question, “Why don’t facts work?” and the answers are unsettling thus far.


2. “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen and “Northanger Abbey” by Val McDermid

northanger abbey2
A friend just completed reading my copy of Jane Austen’s classic about the same time I heard of this new treatment of the story. I thought it might make for good blogging to read both and write about them in comparison. Oh, and it would be a good excuse to read some Austen for the first time in many years too. 🙂 This feels a little ambitious to read both, and I’m not sure I’ll find the time, but my instincts tell me it might be fun. We’ll see.


3. “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? – Advice for the Young” by Kurt Vonnegut
This book is a collection of graduation speeches by the late author, and it is the May selection for the book clubl at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library here in town. It includes an introduction by author (and friend of Vonnegut) Dan Wakefield, who is scheduled to join us at our meeting. Can’t wait to read this one.


4. “Scapegoat of Shiloh: the Distortion of Lew Wallace’s record by U.S. Grant” by Kevin Getchell
I went to a lecture by the author a couple weeks ago. As a fan of Lew Wallace, I am interested in reading this.


(above: two new purchases in April – see? I don’t only buy e-books, so get off my case!)

Reviewing books I’ve previously read:
A couple book clubs I (irregularly) participate in are discussing books that I’ve already read. Twice. The Carmel Clay Public Library is discussing Booth Tarkington’s “The Magnificent Ambersons” (set in Indianapolis) next week, and the relatively new book group at Indy Reads Books book store is discussing Carson McCullers’ “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” toward the end of the month. I won’t read these a third time, but I will certainly review them and revisit my “incisive underlinings” (ha ha) in my copies.

There’s also a new edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House” short story collection that I picked up at a book signing by author Gregory Summner, whose non-fiction work, “Unstuck in Time” has become a reliable reference work for me when dealing with Vonnegut’s novels. This new edition has some background info on how many of the stories came about, which I look forward to reading.

Other items:
Of course I’ll continue reading a short story a week for Deal Me In 2014, but fate determines which stories those will be. I have a strong roster, though, so I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

I want to get refocused on increasing my vocabulary. For several months starting back in October, I was creating monthly “bundles” or sets of flashcards on my iPad and reviewing them fairly frequently. Yeah, that only lasted through January, though. Seems my laziness knows few bounds. It was a good system, and I need to return to it(, dammit).

I also have a big backlog of blog posts to write or finish about books (-not short stories)  I’ve read. I’ve let my blog’s focus drift too heavily toward short stories and would prefer it to be more balanced. I need to post about some of these books(!)

Well, those are my reading/literary plans for May. What are YOURS? I’d love to hear about them…







  1. May 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Great post, Jay! Looking forward to more of your reviews (you always point out something new and intriguing). In regards to May, I recently found out that it is Asian-Pacific American Heritage month. So, I hope to have some reading selections inspired by that.


    • Jay said,

      May 2, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Thanks, AFP. I enjoy reading – and learning – from your posts too. 🙂

      I hadn’t heard about the Asian Pacific Amer. Heritage month before; not sure if I have anything currently on the TBR that would qualify but I’ll keep my eyes open. I think May is also “National Short Story Month” but that’s pretty much every month for me. 🙂


      • May 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

        I heard about Short Story Month, too. You can add the Twitter hashtag now! Maybe, have a short story written by an Asian/Asian-Pacific American?


        • Jay said,

          May 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

          Thanks for the tip on the hashtag. 🙂 Maybe it will help me cast a wider net for Deal Me In 2015… 🙂


  2. May 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I think you will like “If this isn’t Nice What Is.” It is a much more worthy publication than “Sucker’s Portfolio”. I raised some hackles by reporting that it was a cheap edition with smelly ink. I wrote an essay on advice to the young (Indianapolis Literary Club, “Listen to Me Laertes” April, 2012) and wrapped up with some quotes from Kurt after clearing up the Mary Schmich controversy (“Don’t Forget the Sunscreen”). Wakefield’s introduction is touching and Kurt always finds a way to rise above cliches.


    • Jay said,

      May 2, 2014 at 7:37 am

      I’m sure I will. I noticed at the library that it’s a really slim volume too – nice to have a lesser reading burden this month. I know there were at least a couple ‘graduation speeches’ in Man Without a Country too, hope they aren’t repeats in this volume.

      I’ll check out your essay on the Indianapolis LiteraryCub’s website (assuming they are still posted there). Love the title, though!


  3. Stephanie said,

    May 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    The Unpersuadables looks really interesting. I work as a scientist and we are constantly talking about how to better communicate with non-scientists and why there seems to be this trend of people not trusting science. I think it has to do with people yearning for absolutes “it is 100% this way always” and science by its very nature can’t procide this. There are always caveats, outliers and confidence intervals. Anyway, I’m adding that book to my TBR for sure! My plans for May? To go wherever my reading mood takes me because if I try to set a plan it will fail miserably:)


    • Jay said,

      May 2, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for the comment. I’m sure that (working to better communicate) is a constant struggle in your field. You’d probably enjoy, and perhaps experience exasperation, reading this one. Often I feel the author is not being hard enough on the believers in all the crazy stuff. It’s pretty quick reading too, which for non-fiction (for me anyway) is pretty rare.


    • Jay said,

      May 2, 2014 at 7:41 am

      Oh,and I like to follow where my reading mood takes me as well. I feel a little “trapped” when I have too many “required reads.” 🙂


  4. Dale said,

    May 1, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Jay, I’m currently reading The Natural by Bernard Malamud. It’s about baseball and it would come as no surprise to many that it’s slow paced, but I’m enjoying it. After that I found two books on the blogosphere that intrigued me: Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason, a mystery set in Iceland that sounds similar to Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but shorter, and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent set in early 19th century Iceland. After that, I want to read London’s Before Adam and then some Vonnegut novels.

    Your list looks great! I’ve often thought of reading another Jane Austen novel but then I end up deciding not to. Maybe I’ll have to check out Northanger Abbey.


    • Jay said,

      May 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Northanger Abbey is worth re-reading for me, I think. My friend really liked it too. I hope you enjoy your reading sojourn in Iceland. I assume “The Natural” is the same story as the old baseball movie with Robert Redford?

      Before Adam was really good (and unique). Is short and a pretty easy read. As a fellow London fan, Im sure you’ll like it.


  5. Paula Cappa said,

    May 2, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I’m looking forward to your post on Northanger Abbey, Jay. You are so brave!


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