Summer reading, or what will I be reading at the lake

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer

–the Beatles/Paperback Writer



I have what some might consider an unreasonable number of unread books.

I have what some might consider an unreasonable number of books period.

Yes, I have heard of the public library. I’m a frequent customer.

Yes, I know I can’t read all the books.

No, I don’t know that through experience.

Yes, I read a lot.

Yes, I have a life.

Yes, I have a job.

Yes, I leave the house. C’mon. You’ve seen me at football games and in bars.


Where do I find the time? It’s important to me, and I love it. I make time. I steal time. I don’t cook or clean as often as I might. I don’t watch as much TV as some people. Sometimes I don’t get to sleep as much as I’d like because I’m soooo close to the end of a book.



What’s so great about reading? Whole new worlds that people invent to entertain me? Ideas I’d never have thought of on my own? Things that make me laugh. Things that make me cry? Things that make me angry. Places I might never know about? What’s NOT great about it? I don’t understand why people don’t all read.




These are some of the books on my Kindle that are not read yet. You don’t need to know about all of them, or about the ones on my physical bookshelves. One might argue that you don’t need to know about these either, but one should just shut up about that right now.


Don’t bother counting–there are 26.


Before you get all excited, no I won’t read all of these during my weeklong vacation. I’ll probably read one or two before I leave. I probably won’t feel like reading some of them while I’m on my vacation. I will end up reading about half of them, probably picking up a few others and then re-reading others for the zillionth time. I may never read some of them.

What are you reading that needs to be on my list?

Suggestions, anyone?

Happy Summer reading, y’all!



The Cloud Atlas Liam Callanan
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth Helen Castor
The Blood of Flowers: A Novel Anita Amirrezvani
The Irish Americans: A History Jay P. Dolan
The King of Kahel Tierno Tierno Monenembo
Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel S. J. Watson
Ladies Coupe Anita Nair
The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga Edward Rutherfurd
Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) Hugh Howey
The Child in Time (Ian McEwan Series) Ian McEwan
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: A Novel Ben Fountain
The Wanderer in Unknown Realms John Connolly
Odd Thomas Dean Koontz
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer Jonathan L Howard
The Taliban Cricket Club Timeri Murari
Ava Gardner: the Secret Conversations Peter Evans
The Wasp Factory Iain Banks
Smoking Ears and Screaming Teeth: A Celebration of Scientific Eccentricity and Self-Experimentation Trevor Norton
The Silver Linings Playbook Matthew Quick
Bossypans Tina Fey
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements Sean Kean
Bag Of Bones Stephen King
Walking on Glass Iain Banks
The Orchardist Amanda Coplin
Cry, the Beloved Country Alan Paton

Who are you, anyway?

“What’s your name,’ Coraline asked the cat. ‘Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?’
‘Cats don’t have names,’ it said.
‘No?’ said Coraline.
‘No,’ said the cat. ‘Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”
–Neil Gaiman/Coraline


Who are you?
Who, who, who, who
–the Who


We’re Nature’s librarians, we humans. We love to catalog ourselves and each other. Politics, religion, height, weight, skin color, gender…you name it and we stick a label on it. How many of the labels are important for how we really identify ourselves? I’m fond of some of mine–I’d hate to give up “smart” or “funny” for instance–but don’t really care about most of them. If any of you would like my “short” or “fat” you are welcome to them!


While we’re very good at labeling, many of us are not so good at figuring out who we really are outside of the labels. OK, me. I’m not good at it. I’m sure everyone else has it all down. Not me.


Which brings me to the thing so many Americans find  crucial to their identities: their job. Every year in elementary school they would make us answer that dreaded question. You know the one: what do you want to be when you grow up?


An artist? A writer? A judge? A brain surgeon? An astronaut? An acrobat? If you could be anything in the world, what is your dream?


I’ve never really had thing…the dream. It’s something I envy in people who do have it.


All of the personality/aptitude tests I’ve ever taken have declared that I should be a writer or judge.

I do like to write, but not enough that I’d want to do it on a regular basis. Yes, I do realize that I’m writing right now. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes I forget.


Being a judge is something I feel more inclined towards. I love to judge people. Oh. Right. That’s being judgmental and I’m not supposed to do that at all. Why not? I’m really, really good at it!


I am such a dilettante, though. I am immediately “pretty good” at almost everything i try to do. Not prodigy material (except in being judgmental), but I’m talented at a lot of different things, especially if they’re creative. I can draw pretty well. I can sing pretty well. I can write pretty well. I tend to pick up musical instruments quickly and get pretty good at them. I’d be very good at a lot of things if I chose to work hard at them, but what I’m best at is lounging. World fucking class. You have never met a better lounger than me. Ever.


Which has nothing to do with who I am, does it?

Who I am not is the sum of my labels.


I have figured out that although having a job is important for many reasons, it isn’t who I am. You may not agree. A lot of people do identify with their work.

Which doesn’t really tell you who I am.



I also figured out that I could avoid growing up at all.

I know, and like a cat I’m not telling.









I’m lost, but I’m not stranded yet

Egaré en chemin
Tu verras le pire

Pour trouver le sud
Sans perdre le Nord
Après les certitudes
Au-delà des bords

I’m lost but I’m not stranded yet

-Noir Désir


Being lost is scary for a lot of people.
I’ve always sort of enjoyed it.
When  I lived in Paris, I used to go out and try to get  a little lost wandering around the city. On purpose. Get on a bus at random. Get off somewhere that looks interesting. Roam around. Get on another bus. Repeat as necessary. It was a way to learn the city and entertain myself on a very limited budget, and since Paris has such great public transportation there was really no way to get too lost.
It’s how I ended up having mint tea with a group of North Africans while they helped me figure out the best way for me to get home.
Which is also  how I found out how much I assume about others by how they dress.
It’s how I ended up finding a shoe store with prices even I could afford on the weird looking stuff I loved.
It’s how I found the only place in Paris to buy tortillas and refried beans, and a great deli.
It’s how I found out that being uncomfortable can sometimes be not only good for you but also a lot of fun.
This doesn’t apply to getting lost when you need to be somewhere at a specific time.
Like, say, a job interview.
Even then, I got lucky.
One time, a cute Italian guy took pity on me and gave me a ride to my appointment  in his Ferrari.
In retrospect, he may have thought he was the one who was going to get lucky…