“This was supposed to be… the Summer of George!”


(No, no, no! George Eliot a.k.a. Maryann Evans)


Yes, I’m a fan of the TV show Seinfeld and can rarely channel surf past one of my favorite episodes. One was when George Costanza has the “good fortune” of seeing his fiancée succumb to the “toxic glue” on their wedding invitation envelopes (see, George cut some corners and ordered the cheap stuff) thus absolving him(!) of the obligation of having to get married. Afterward, feeling like a free man again, he proclaims that this will be “The Summer of George” – where he does nothing but loaf around half-dressed in his unclean apartment, watch TV, and eat cheese straight from a huge block. Hmm… come to think of it (except for the cheese part) some of the summers of my mis-spent youth are pretty close to that mark!

Anyway, I learned that two of my preferred book clubs/discussion groups were reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss with “due dates” barely a week apart(!) in early September. No problem, I thought, that just means this will have to be my own “Summer of George!” And yes, certainly, one could read both of those classics easily over the course of a summer. Of course, as usual, I’m overly ambitious and failed to factor in all my other reading “obligations” that are currently outstanding. In short, I have six “serious books” that I’m supposed to read by mid-September and a few others I’ve made less official commitments to read. Here’s my list:

1. “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall for a meeting on August 7th. That’s only twelve days from now and I just bought the book today. I just realized that 8/7 is also the night of the first NFL preseason game for “my” Indianapolis Colts. Hmmm… I may have to skip that meeting. (Update: I’ve actually finished this one since I started writing this post a week ago)

2. “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen
This is for the August meeting of the Indy Reads Books book club. We meet on the fourth Sunday of the month (8/24); haven’t started or even bought that one.

3. “Vonnegut and Hemingway: Writers at War” by Lawrence Broer.
This is for the August meeting (8/28) of the book club of the Vonnegut Memorial Library here in town. Just bought this one on Thursday.

4. “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki” by Haruki Murakami
A favorite author’s new book that comes out on August 12th, and for which blogger Bellezza is hosting a read-along from 8/12-9/12. Reading this will not be a chore at all, though. 🙂

5 & 6 “Middlemarch” and “The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot
I’ve yet to start either of them, I’m ashamed to say. I don’t know how I’m going to get them finished.

Others: I entered into a “verbal agreement” to read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway with a friend. Fortunately, she hasn’t started it yet either so I’m probably going to keep quiet about it until she brings it up! I’m also mostly done with a short story anthology of “weird western” tales (“Dead Man’s Hand“). Then there’s the final two volumes of Ben H. Winters’ “The Last Policeman” trilogy. I attended the “launch party” for the third volume, which just came out, and feel like I want to read the other two and write a Big Blog Post about it…


So, all-in-all, that’s a superhuman (well, it is if I’M the human) amount of reading for the next eight weeks or so. What are the chances I actually do it all? As my dad would have said, “You’ve got two chances: ‘slim’ and ‘none’” 🙂 Who knows, though, maybe I’ll surprise myself… What about you? Do you often find yourself “biting off more than you can chew,” reading-wise?



  1. BookerTalk said,

    August 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Oh yes I know that feeling though I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation with quite as many books to read as you listed. I’m biased since Middlemarch is one of my top 3 favourites novel so I would say cut out the rest and just read that one..


    • Jay said,

      August 4, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      🙂 You’re probably right. I started it at lunchtime at the office today and didn’t want to go back to work after only getting 25 pages in…


  2. Paula Cappa said,

    August 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Very ambitious, Jay. I have Middlemarch on my shelf and just haven’t gotten to it in about five years. You’ve inspired me!


    • Jay said,

      August 5, 2014 at 9:35 am

      I’ve started middlemarch now and am loving it so far! So refreshing to read Eliot’s clean and logical prose…


  3. Bellezza said,

    August 5, 2014 at 9:30 am

    My goodness, your slate is full! Personally, I’d abandon the Franzen, but that’s just me. So glad you may find time for Murakami, but really, no obligation of course! We’re not going to turn our joy into a job.


    • Jay said,

      August 5, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I’m already 250 pages into Franzen; not my favorite but it’s fairly easy reading and I don’t want to miss that book club meeting. Any idea on how long the new Murakami is? 🙂


      • Bellezza said,

        August 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

        Well, if you’re halfway in don’t abandon ship now! I believe that Murakami’s latest is 400 pages, that’s what Knopf publishing said. When I receive my copy, I’ll have a better idea of how to lay it out for the month ahead…suggestions welcome! Probably, I’ll read it through once rather quickly, and then reread it with the questions in mind. I couldn’t do that so easily with 1Q84 as it seemed equivalent to War and Peace. Of course, a person could read it August 10 and still participate with us. There’s no reason to get compulsive about a schedule (note to self).


        • Jay said,

          August 8, 2014 at 7:35 am

          Ah, 400 pages feels very manageable after 1Q84’s 1,000+ count. Plus HM is relatively easy for me to read. Thanks for the info; this is very do-able. 🙂


  4. Ti said,

    August 5, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I have to comment on the Summer of George reference. Love Seinfeld. Love George!

    I am usually overambitious as well but this year I went easy on myself and so far I am doing well.


    • Jay said,

      August 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Me too! Those reruns have been killing my productivity when I get home from work for years! “Serenity Now!”lol

      I’ve put myself on a reading regimen I’ve named my 50-100 policy. I’m trying to average fifty pages a day on weekdays and 100 on the weekends. Only two weeks in, but I’m holding to it so far. (of course football season hasn’t started yet…)


  5. Dale said,

    August 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    You’ve got a lot of reading, there! I will be reading The Mill on the Floss at some point this year. I’m glad you are liking Middlemarch. I’ve heard great things about it. I’m planning on taking a non-fiction journey and read Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August. With the minor excitement of WWI this year, I realized I know very little about it – at least compared to WWII. For Banned Book Week, I’m planning on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. I want to finish Fitzgerald’s Tales of the Jazz Age and I think I’m going to break down and finish reading Vonnegut’s Bagombo Snuff Box. All of this will probably take me through the rest of the year. But as you know, plans always change.


    • Jay said,

      August 8, 2014 at 7:38 am

      I’m afraid I’m right there with you when it comes to relative WW I ignorance

      I think the Vonnegut library is reading Invisible Man for banned books week next month too. You should take a day off and drive up to Indy. 🙂

      Middlemarch continues to be quite enjoyable, although I’m only on chapter six (of 86!)


      • Dale said,

        August 8, 2014 at 11:49 am

        I’ve already decided that I’m making it a 2015 goal to attend one (at least) of the Vonnegut library bookclub meetings. Are they the last Thursday of the month? Around noon?


        • Jay said,

          August 8, 2014 at 11:56 am

          They’re actually the fourth Thursday (which usually is the last but not always, obviously) except for Nov & Dec when I think its the third Thursday. They’ve also increased the time to 90 minutes now, from 11am to 1230pm, and many of us usually go to Bluebeard restaurant for an informal, leisurely lunch afterward. It would be a good outing to combine with other business in Indy if you have to make an occasional trip up here anyway.


  6. Melissa said,

    August 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

    If it helps I’ll say Middlemarch is really good and I’m dying to read The Mill on the Floss! Also I was planning to have a couple specific chunksters done my now and have yet to start them!


    • Jay said,

      August 8, 2014 at 7:39 am

      The group I hope to read The Mill on the Floss for is the Carmel Clay PL’s discussion group. I’m an irregular attendee, and when I saw their list for this year, this was one of the meetings I circled to try to attend. Now if I can just read it in time… 🙂


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