What I’ve Been Reading – I’ve Read Over 5,500 Pages in Books Recently

Jason: Thanks a ton for this post! How do you crank out what seems like 20-30,000 words of original content every month so easily? I am a writer myself and I can barely get past 10k. I think I need to start reading a lot more.

I love to write. I’m a real writer; a born writer. I’m often blocked but once I start writing the block goes away pretty quickly. Once I start writing, I start to really like my prose, and it just keeps me writing. My main problem is I can’t stop and I write way too much. I have so many ideas floating around in my head all the time that there’s no way I get anywhere near to all of them on paper. I walk around all day long with ideas in my head of what I want to write about. I’m often even fashioning nice sentences in my head. If I want to make some sort of an intellectual analytical argument,

I read a lot, especially news. While reading the news, I often think”I need to write an article about this.” Then I think of exactly what I would like to say about it. Only a small percentage of posts that I want to write get written.

If you are blocked,I would say just sit down and start writing. That clears my block up pretty quickly.

I have started to read a lot more now, especially literature and literary fiction, though I read all kinds of everything, including a lot of physical books. I have been going to a site called Lithub where they have excerpts of novels and short stories, mostly current but some classic and historical. I’ve been reading a lot of that stuff, and I’ve also been reading other lit. Below, the novel excerpts are 5-20 pages or average 12 pages, the short stories are 12-15 pages, the nonfiction is 40 pages, and the essays were 1-5 pages.

It seems that if I am blocked, I sit back and relax and read good literary prose and don’t thinking of anything else and then go back later, maybe the next day or so. I should also say that the reading should be enjoyable, like relaxing on a beach or going on vacation. You’re supposed to be having a good time, not working or doing schoolwork or drudgery. You’re just kicking back and enjoying yourself leisurely.

The reading seems to “supercharge me” somehow or other, I’m not quite sure how. It’s sort of like the more you read, the more you write. I’d say that’s particularly true of good literary prose. I don’t read much poetry, so I don’t see how that works. Obviously I only write nonfiction here, but it seems that if I read some excellent literary fiction, it puts me in a good mood to write my nonfiction on here.

Anyone have any idea of how that works? The more you read, the more you write? If you want to write a lot, read a lot?

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

The weird thing is I always chide myself for not reading enough and for being way too slow of a reader. According to myself, I’m an incompetent reader because I’m too damn slow and I just don’t read enough. I’m basically a failed reader. But see below.

The section up to the introductions covers 3,060 pages (!). The introductions are 2,400 pages. The essays were 80 pages. That’s 5,535 pages! I’ve read over 5,500 pages of books just recently! I had no idea I read so much! Also this doesn’t include a lot of introductions and prologues to books that I haven’t read yet. Didn’t even bother to count those. This is some great stuff down below. If you’ve read any of these folks, heard of them, want to read them, or want to discuss anything about any of them, feel free to do so in the comments.

Henry James: Autobiography. A Small Boy and Others.

Virginia Woolf: Short Story. The Orchard.

Robert Coover: Novel Excerpt, Short Story. Getting a Beer, The Origin of the Brunists.

Hemingway (just finished a 600 page book): Short story. Book of short stories – Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.

John Colapinto. Sexology. As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. 279 pages (finished).

John Updike: Short Story. Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories.

John Barth: Short Story. Lost in the Funhouse

Donald Barthelme: Short Story. Unspeakable Practice, Unimaginable Acts; Come Back, Doctor Caligari

Anton Chekhov: Short Story. The School Mistress and Other Stories.

Maupassant: Short Story. Menuet.

George Simenon: Novel Excerpt. The Mahe Circle.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Short Story. Flappers and Philosophers.

Ambrose Bierce: Short Story. The Parenticide Club.

Mary Shelly: Novel Excerpt. Frankenstein.

Leonard Gardner: Novel Excerpt. Fat City.

John Giono: Novel Excerpt. The Hill.

Joyce Carol Oates (reading a lot of her): Short Story. Night-Side. Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway.

Saul Bellow: Short Story. Seize the Day.

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Short Story. The Maypole of Merry Mount.

James Joyce: Short Story. Dubliners.

Jorge Luis Borges: Short Story. Labyrinths, A Personal Anthology.

Mario Vargas Llosa: Novel Excerpt. Harsh Times.

Vladimir Nabokov: Short Story, Letters. Nabokov’s Dozen, Letters to Vera.

William Faulkner: Short Story. Collected Stories of William Faulkner.

Carson McCullers: Short Story. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.

Richard Wright: Short Story. The Man Who Lived Underground.

Charles Baudelaire: Novel Excerpt. Paris Spleen.

Haruki Murakami: Novel Excerpt. Pinball.

Marlon James: Novel Excerpt. A Brief History of Seven Killings.

Mohsin Hamid: Novel Excerpt. The Last White Man.

Marguerite Duras: Novel Excerpt. L’Amour.

Ali Smith: Novel Excerpt. Autumn.

T. Corraghessian Boyle: Short Story. The Relive Box & Other Stories.

Richard Russo: Short Story. Trajectory: Stories.

Cesar Aira: Short Story. The Musical Brain.

William Gass: Novel Excerpt. The Eye.

John Banville: Novel Excerpt. The Blue Guitar.

Emily St. John Mandel: Novel Excerpt. Station Eleven.

Edith Wharton: Novel Excerpt. Summer.

J. P. Donleavy: Novel Excerpt. The Ginger Man.

Barbara Comyns: Novel Excerpt. All Our Spoons Came from Woolworth’s.

Ben Lerner: Novel Excerpt. 10:04.

Tahar Ben Jalloun: Novel Excerpt. The Happy Marriage.

Hanya Yanagihara: Novel Excerpt. A Little Life.

Han Kang: Novel Excerpt. The Vegetarian.

Edmund White: Novel Excerpt. A Previous Life. Our Young Man. Latter is gay but good writing.

Andrew Hollerhan: Novel Excerpt. The Kingdom of Sand. Gay but tolerable, actually rather sad and wistful, beautiful writing.

Ursula Le Guin: Novel Excerpt. The Malafrena.

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: Novel Excerpt. The Return of Munchausen.

Carlos Fuentes: Novel Excerpt. Nietzsche on the Balcony.

Jeff Vandermeer: Novel Excerpt. The Borne.

Jennifer Egan: Novel Excerpt. Manhattan Beach.

Hans Fallada: Novel Excerpt. Nightmare in Berlin.

László Krasznahorkai: Novel Excerpt. The World Goes On.

Julia Kristeva: Novel Excerpt. The Enchanted Clock.

Dino Buzzati: Short Story. Catastrophe and Other Stories.

James Wood: Nonfiction, literary criticism. The Nearest Thing to Life.

John Ashberry: Poem.

Gerald Murnane: Novel Excerpt. The Collected Short Fictions of Gerald Murnane.

James McPherson: Short Story. Hue and Cry.

Olga Tokarczuk: Novel Excerpt. The Books of Jacob.

Alessandro Manzoni: Novel Excerpt. The Betrothed.

J. M. Coetzee: Novel Excerpt. The Death of Jesus.

Elena Ferrante: Novel Excerpt. The Lying Life of Adults.

Don DeLillo: Novel Excerpt. The Silence.

Kazuo Ishiguru: Novel Excerpt. Klara and the Sun.

Roberto Bolano: Novel Excerpt. Cowboy Graves.

Rikki Ducornet: Novel Excerpt. Trafik.

Yan Lianke: Novel Excerpt. Hard Like Water.

George Stewart: Novel Excerpt. The Storm.

Ha Jin: Novel Excerpt. A Song Everlasting.

Colin Whitehead: Novel Excerpt. Harlem Shuffle.

Claire Messud: Novel Excerpt. A Dream Life.

Clarice Lispector: Short Story. The Complete Stories.

John Waters: Novel Excerpt. Dirtmouth.

Pat Conroy: Novel Excerpt. Beach Music, The King of Tides.

Adam Gopnik: Essays. From Paris to the Moon. 170 pages.

John Irving: Essays, Short Stories. Trying to Save Peggy Sneed. 300 pages.

Joseph Conrad: Novel. Lord Jim. 90 pages.

Barbara Kingsolver: Essays. High Tide in Tuscon. 150 pages.

Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith: Law. No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America. 185 pages.

Isaiah Berlin: Political science. Karl Marx. 45 pages.

Richard Hofstadter: Political science. Violence in America. 45 pages.

Kurt Vonnegut: Short Story. Welcome to the Monkey House. 34 pages.

Introductions

Homer: Epic Poem. The Iliad. 42 pages.

Arthur Miller: Play. The Crucible. 27 pages.

Catallus: Poems. The Poems of Catallus. 51 pages.

Georges Lefebvre: History. The Coming of the French Revolution. 25 pages.

Ferdowski: Epic Poem. The Persian Book of Kings. 39 pages.

Julian Jaynes: Psychology. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. 22 pages.

Bernard Lewis: History. The Middle East. 22 pages.

Frank Norris: Novel. The Octopus. 37 pages.

Ernest Shackleton: Memoir. South: The Endurance Expedition. 24 pages.

Alexis de Tocqueville: Political Science. Memoir on Pauperism. 38 pages.

Shakespeare: Play. Othello. 47 pages.

Jean Rhys: Novel. Wide Sargasso Sea. 18 pages.

Abraham Verghese: Novel. Cutting for Stone. 14 pages.

Abraham Verghese: Novel. The Tennis Partner. 14 pages.

Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong: Journalism. The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court. 28 pages.

Gail Godwin: Novel. A Southern Family. 15 pages.

Joanne Harris: Novel. Coastliners. 18 pages.

Emile Durkheim: Sociology. Suicide: A Study in Sociology. 58 pages.

Georgio Vasari: Art History. The Lives of the Artists. 46 pages.

Edmundo de Amicis: Novel. Love and Gymnastics. 33 pages.

Eric Walberg: Political Science. Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. 32 pages.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: Journalism. The Final Days. 22 pages.

Vladimir Nabokov: Literary Criticism. Lectures on Literature. 29 pages.

Aldo Leopold: Nature. A Sand County Almanac. 30 pages.

Robert Louis Stevenson: Novel. Treasure Island. 12 pages.

Cicero: Political Science. Selected Political Speeches. 48 pages.

Anna Seghurs: Novel. Transit. 17 pages.

Denis Donoghue: Literary Criticism. William Butler Yeats. 25 pages.

John Muir: Nature. The Mountains of California. 34 pages.

Anthony Trollope: Novel. The Warden. 35 pages.

Arthur Conan Doyle: Novel. The Valley of Fear. 18 pages.

Willa Cather: Travel. Willa Cather in Europe. 14 pages.

Antony Beevor: History. The Fall of Berlin. 39 pages.

Vicki Constantine Croke: History. Elephant Company. 16 pages.

Lawrence Wright: Journalism. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. 17 pages.

George Murphy: Essays. The Key West Reader. 28 pages.

David Halberstam: Journalism. The Powers That Be. 22 pages.

Frederick Douglass: Autobiography. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. 19 pages.

George Simmel: Sociology. On Individuality and Social Forms. 67 pages.

Emile Durkheim: Sociology. The Division of Labor in Society. 92 pages.

Rabelais: Novel. Gargantua and Pantagruel. 22 pages.

Anthony Beevor: History. The Battle of Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. 36 pages.

David Lavender: History. California: Land of New Beginnings. 27 pages.

Amor Towles: Novel. Rules of Civility. 14 pages.

Andre Maurois: Biography. Prometheus: The Life of Balzac. 18 pages.

Tom Reiss. Biography. Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. 105 pages.

Raymond Chandler. Short Stories. Trouble Is My Business. 13 pages.

George Orwell. Memoir. Homage to Catalonia. 47 pages.

William Saroyan. Short Stories. The Human Comedy. 12 pages.

Jeanne Wakatsuki: Memoir. Farewell to Manzanar. 15 pages.

Oscar Wilde: Novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 26 pages.

Shillinglaw, Susan: Literary Criticism. On Reading the Grapes of Wrath. 18 pages.

David Maranis: History. They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967. 28 pages.

Siddhartha Mukherjee: Medicine. The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. 95 pages.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Politics. Crimes against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy. 66 pages.

Sir Thomas Mallory: Chronicle. Le Mort d’Arthur. 36 pages.

James Joyce: Novel. Ulysses. 17 pages.

Theodora Kroeber: Legends. The Inland Whale: Nine Stories Retold from California Indian Legends. 18 pages.

Showan Khurshid: Political Science, Dissertation. Knowledge Processing, Creativity, and Politics: A Political Theory Based on Evolutionary Theory. 124 pages.

Anthony Daniels: Travel. Coups and Cocaine: Journeys in South America. 34 pages.

Carl Jung: Psychology. Answer to Job. 17 pages.

Elizabeth Hamilton. Novel. Translation of the Letters of a Hindu Rajah. 56 pages.

Wallace Fowlie: Short Stories French Stories: Ten Short Stories by Voltaire, Balzac, Gide, Camus, and Others. 107 pages.

Edgar Allan Poe: Poems. Poe. 44 pages.

Frederick Nietzsche: Twilight of the Idols. 24 pages.

James Thurber and E. B. White: Humor. Is Sex Necessary? 35 pages.

Linda Wolfe: True Crime. The Professor and the Prostitute and Other Tales of Murder and Madness. 24 pages.

Ernest Hemingway: Quote Collection. Ernest Hemingway on Writing. 15 pages.

Sue Miller: Short Stories. The Best American Short Stories 2002. 24 pages.

Richard Russo: Novel. Empire Falls. 20 pages.

Rick Braggs: Memoir. All Over but the Shoutin’. 26 pages.

Essays

Dylan Thomas: Essay. Quite Early One Morning.

Wallace Stegner: Essay. Wolf Willow.

Studs Terkel: Essay. Working.

Joan Didion: Essay. Slouching towards Bethlehem.

Ralph Emerson: Essay. Emerson’s Journals.

Henry Thoreau: Essay. The Journal.

William James: Essay. The Letters of William James.

Ben Franklin: Essay. The Convenience of Being “Reasonable.”

Francis Bacon: Essay. On Revenge, Of Simulation and Dissimulation.

John Donne: Essay. Men Are Sleeping Prisoners, Tentation, Let Me Wither.

Laurence Sterne: Essay. Of Door Hinges and Life in General, Conjugation.

Samuel Johnson: Essay. The Pyramids, On Self-Love and Indolence.

Charles Lamb: Essay. The Two Races of Man.

Thomas De Quincey: Essay. The Literature of Knowledge and the Literature of Power.

John Newman: Essay. The Idea of the University. Knowledge in General.

James Thurber: Essay. Thurber’s Dogs.

E. B. White: Essay. The Wild Flag, One Man’s Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner.

John Steinbeck: Essay. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters.

Tom Wolfe: Essay. Kandy Colored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby.

Robert Pirsig: Essay. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Jonathan Schell: Essay. The Time of Illusion.

George Orwell: Essay. Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays.

E. M. Forster: Essay. Two Cheers for Democracy.

Robert Coles: Essay. The Middle Americans.

John Updike: Assorted Prose.

Mark Twain: Essay. Advice to Youth.

Charles Dickens: Essay. Crumpets and Principle.

Jonathon Swift: The Spider and the Bee.

W. S. Merwin: Essay. The Miner’s Pale Children.

Virginia Woolf: The Second Common Reader.

Oscar Wilde: Essay. Picture of Dorian Gray.

Martin Buber: Essay. Tales of the Hasidim.

Eldridge Cleaver: Essay. Soul on Ice.

Lewis Thomas: Essay. The Lives of a Cell.

Soren Kierkegaard: Essay. Fear and Trembling.

George Santayana: Essay. Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies.

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7 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading – I’ve Read Over 5,500 Pages in Books Recently”

    1. I’ve read some of his stuff. He’s also a raving antisemite, which is really weird right there. He’s also a very smart guy though. I will have to read those over and get back to you.

      1. Dear Robert,

        Let’s cut to the chase. You have a high IQ…and that is why you are able to write so much. It was a rhetorical question on my part.

          1. Dear Robert,

            I have got my hands full with my own site! I have been working on it for almost a year and have 137 articles but almost zero traffic – not 100% sure why that is, perhaps I am in the Google sandbox? Blogging definitely seems like a very slow method of making money.

            As a matter of fact, I read a couple of articles on your blog that made me want to keep at it despite the slow rate of progress. The articles are:

            https://beyondhighbrow.com/2020/03/19/making-a-humanities-degree-work/
            https://beyondhighbrow.com/2019/09/25/no-work-is-good-enough/

            I find myself unable to adjust to the normal humdrum of a 9-5 existence; I am trying to break free. I’d love to share my website address with you in private but I don’t have your email ID. My website is pretty pale in comparison to yours as I run ads on it, so I gotta keep it sanitized and inoffensive.

            BTW, I discovered your website by sheer accident. I see that you have been writing CONSISTENTLY for a very long time, say 15+ years. I want to do the same, so you are an inspiration to me.

            Anyhoo, thanks for taking out the time to reply. I was anxious that you may take umbrage to my last comment re: “Let’s cut to the chase. You have a high IQ…and that is why you are able to write so much. It was a rhetorical question on my part.”

            but you took it cheerfully, admitting that I might have had a point. This indicates that you are not a close-minded pig like most people.

          2. Blogging doesn’t make any money. If you are in this for money, just forget about it. I’m glad I’m an inspiration to someone! My email addy is on the Contact page. This is a labor of love more than anything.

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