Current Reading

First of all, have any of you read any of the following books or authors? If so, feel free to discuss.

Fiction

Novels

Samuel Beckett: Molloy (one third) Classic. Modernism.

Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim (halfway) Classic. Psychological novel, Modernism, Impressionism, Neo-Romanticism.

Daphne Du Maurier: Rebecca (one tenth) Classic. Historical Fiction, Crime, Gothic, Mystery, Romance.

John Fante: Ask the Dust (one sixth) Classic. Psychological Realism.

Franz Kafka: The Trial (two-thirds) Classic. Modernism.

Elizabeth Hamilton: Translation of the Letters of a Hindu Rajah (one fifth) Epistolary Novel. Classic. Scottish Enlightenment. Difficult to read due to archaic language and style.

Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (one eighth) Classic. Science Fiction.

Khaled Hosseini: A Thousand Splendid Suns (halfway) Historical fiction, Realism.

Jack London, The Call of the Wild (one fifth) Classic.  American Realism, Naturalism.

Alan Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country (one tenth) Classic. Hard to characterize.

Tom Robbins: Still Life with Woodpecker: A Sort of Love Story (one fifth) Postmodernism.

Neal Stephenson: Termination Shock (three eighths) Science Fiction.

Robert Stone: A Flag for Sunrise (halfway) Naturalism.

John Updike: Towards the End of Time (one fifth) Science Fiction.

Various Authors: Six Great Modern Short Novels: William Faulkner, James Joyce, Herman Melville, Nikolay Gogol, Katherine Ann Porter, Glenway Wescott (one tenth) Classics.

Short Stories

John Irving: Trying to Save Peggy Steed (three quarters) Literary Criticism, Memoir.

Many Authors: French Stories (halfway) Classics.

Many Authors: The Modern Tradition (halfway) Classics.

Alice Munro: Too Much Happiness (halfway) Realism, Southern Ontario Gothic.

Alice Munro: Runaway: Stories (halfway) Realism, Southern Ontario Gothic.

Flannery O’Connor: A Good Man Is Hard To Find and Other Stories (halfway) Classic. Southern Gothic.

Joyce Carol Oates: Night-Side (halfway) Gothic, Pulp Fiction.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Welcome to the Monkey House (one tenth) Classic. Postmodernism.

Combination Novellas and Short Stories

Flannery O’Connor: 3 By Flannery O’Connor: Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, The Violent Bear It Away (one fifth) (Classics). Southern Gothic

Essays

Loren Eiseley: The Night Country: Reflections of a Bonehunting Man (halfway) Nature Writing, Philosophy, Science, Anthropology.

Malcolm Gladwell: Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking (halfway) Psychology.

Adam Gopnik: Paris to the Moon (halfway) Memoir.

Barbara Kingsolver: High Tide in Houston: Essays from Now or Never (halfway) Hard to Classify.

Many Authors: The Norton Reader (?) Classics. Many themes.

Various Nonfiction

Edward Abbey: Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (halfway) Classic. Environmentalism.

Edward Abbey: Down the River (halfway) Environmentalism.

Derek Bickerton: Language and Species (halfway) Difficult reading. Linguistics, Cognitive Science.

Temple Grandin: Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries through the Unique Perspective of Autism (?) Psychology.

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

Ralph Nader and Wesley Smith: No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America (halfway) Law.

Doug Peacock: Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness (halfway) Environmentalism.

Combination Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

George Murphy: The Key West Reader (one sixth) Several classic authors. Hard to categorize.

Philosophy

Simon Kierkegaard: Either/Or (one tenth) Classic. Existentialism. Extremely hard to read.

Frederich Nietzsche: Twilight of the Idols (one fifth) Classic. Difficult but can be read. Existentialism, pessimism, realism.

Poetry

Catallus: The Poems of Catallus (one fifth) Classic. Lyric Poetry, Neoteric.

Edgar Allen Poe: Complete Poems (over halfway) Classic. Gothic.

Sociology

Emile Durkheim: The Division of Labor in Society (one sixth) Classic. Extremely hard to read. Structuralism.

Emile Durkeim: Suicide: A Study in Sociology (one tenth) Classic. Extremely hard to read. Structuralism.

Todd Gitlin: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (one tenth) Memoir, Politics.

Memoir

Carolina Maria de Jesus: Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus (one tenth) Classic. Sociology

Biography

Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx (one sixth) Political Science

Political Science

Cicero: Selected Political Speeches. (one sixth) Classic. Oratory.

Alexis de Toqueville: Memoir on Pauperism (halfway) Classic. Sociology, Social Programs.

Showan Khurshid: Knowledge Processing: Creativity and Politics: A Political Theory Based on Evolutionary Theory (one third) Evolutionary Political Theory.

Travel

Anthony Daniels: Coups and Cocaine: Journeys in South America (one sixth).

Dean Mahomet: The Travels of Dean Mahomet: An Eighteenth Century Journey through India (one sixth). Very difficult to read due to archaic language and style. Memoir.

History

Stephen Ambrose: Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagles Nest (one sixth) Classic. World War 2.

Richard Hofstadter and Micheal Wallace: American Violence: A Documentary History (one tenth) American political culture.

Tom Reiss: Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Christo (one third) 19th century French.

Plays

Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman (one tenth) Classic. Tragedy.

As you can see, I am into a lot of different things.

In novels, I read impressionism, neo-romanticism, realism, naturalism, modernism, postmodernism, science fiction, psychological novels, historical fiction, crime, gothic, mystery, romance, psychological realism, postmodernism, epistolary novels, and Scottish Enlightenment.

In short stories, I read Southern Ontario gothic, gothic, pulp fiction, and postmodernism.

In essays, I read nature writing, philosophy, science, anthropology, and psychology.

In nonfiction, I read environmentalism, linguistics, cognitive science, and psychology.

In philosophy, I read existentialism, pessimism, and realism.

In poetry, I read neoteric, lyric poetry, and gothic.

In sociology, I read structuralism and politics.

In political science, I read oratory, evolutionary political theory, and social welfare.

In travel, I read South America and India.

In memoirs, I read politics, sociology, and travel.

In history, I read histories of World War 2, 19th Century France; and American political culture.

In theater, I read tragedy.

I think it’s good to have a wide variety of interests. If you wish to have a more restricted variety of interests and you are happy that way, I won’t begrudge you. I don’t think either option is preferable to the other.

You don’t have to do it of course, but I’m just giving you an example of one way you can structure your reading and intellectual life to have a very wide range of interests. Personally, I like to live this way. If it sounds appealing, go ahead and try it and see if you like it.

On the other hand, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and wearing too many hats in this age of super-specialization. I’m not sure there is a place nowadays for the Renaissance Man or as his detractors refer to him, the dilettante. And yes, I’ve been called both.

Of course, I have an extremely high IQ, and I wonder how many people with very high intelligence are like this too. I suspect that the smarter you are, the more likely you are to have a wider range of interests. After all, curiosity follows intelligence as it rises and probably as it falls too, though I don’t have any experience on that end. Is it the case that the lower someone’s intelligence is, the more incurious they are? I suspect it may be so.

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