Posted by: cousinbrandon | August 17, 2009

Book It: A Compilation of Reading Material to Get to Before We’re All Illiterate

Brace yourself:  I’m a teacher.  Me.  That is, people pay money to have me teach them about English composition and formulating arguments through letters, essay, images, and a slew of other mediums.  Again, I’m the same guy who just competed in a two-on-two, drunken decathlon with my brother and cousins.

In all fairness, teaching at the college level is not my full-time gig, and yet I love it all the same.  Sure, I could blow smoke and tell you that it’s all about creating a new breed of competent writers in this country, which is absolutely true.  And, sure, I could say it’s to “complete” myself in some type of soulful manner, which is also kind of true.  But the most important aspect of teaching for me is this:  I get to impose my will on others.  Okay, that’s rather overstated.  What I mean is that it gives me the opportunity to share my likes and dislikes with an upcoming generation of students who may or may not have ever been exposed to both the literary and musical champions who preceded them. 

Do I get some sort of perverse joy of exposing these students to books, movies and music they later come back to thank me for?  Of course I do.  After all, it’s nice to be able to influence someone in what I would consider a positive manner.  And, sure, plenty of those students end up despising some of the things I recommend, but let’s face it:  there’s no accounting for taste.  Not theirs, at least. 

So, seeing as how I’ve been bombarding you with record after record, playlist after playlist, I thought I’d drop some literary recommendations on you.  Keep in mind, I realize there are a ton of omissions from this list, as my brain is ridiculously fried and incapable of determining everything you need to be reading right off the cuff.  Still, this should be a nice starter plate of sorts. 

Now, then, I expect a 5-page report on each by the end of the week.   


Baker, Nicholson – The Mezzanine
Baker, Nicholson – Vox
Baker, Nicholson – A Box of Matches
Camus, Albert – The Fall
Camus, Albert – The Stranger
Chabon, Michael – Wonder Boys
DeLillo, Don – Underworld
DeLillo, Don – White Noise
DeLillo, Don – Mao II
DeLillo, Don – Libra
Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby
Franzen, Jonathan – The Corrections
Heinemann, Larry – Paco’s Story
Heller, Joseph – Catch-22
Hornby, Nick – High Fidelity
Hulme, Keri – The Bone People
Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World
Irving, John – A Prayer for Owen Meany
Kennedy, William – Very Old Bones
Kennedy, William – Ironweed
Kundera, Milan – The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia – Love in the Time of Cholera
McGuane, Tom – Panama
O’Connor, Flannery – Everything That Rises Must Converge
Orwell, George – 1984
Pirsig, Robert – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Salinger, J.D. – The Catcher in the Rye
Tartt, Donna – The Secret History
Toole, John Kennedy – A Confederacy of Dunces
Vonnegut, Kurt – Cat’s Cradle
Vonnegut, Kurt – Hocus Pocus
Vonnegut, Kurt – Slaughterhouse-Five
Vonnegut, Kurt – Welcome to the Monkey House


Aplon, Roger – It’s Mother’s Day
Davis, Jon – Scrimmage of Appetites
Dobyns, Stephen – Black Dog, Red Dog
Dobyns, Stephen – Velocities:  New and Selected Poems
Duhamel, Denise – Queen for a Day
Fairchild, B.H. – The Art of the Lathe
Fairchild, B.H. – Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
Glazner, Greg – Singularities
Gluck, Louise – Ararat
Hahn, Kamiko – The Unbearable Heart
Hass, Robert – Praise
Hass, Robert – Human Wishes
Hicok, Bob – The Legend of Light
Hoagland, Tony – Donkey Gospels
Hudgins, Andrew – The Glass Hammer
Hudgins, Andrew – Babylon in a Jar
Kinnell, Galway – The Book of Nightmares
Knott, Bill – The Quicken Tree
Levine, Phillip – Collected Poems
Lowell, Robert – Life Studies
Noguchi, Rick – The Ocean Inside Kenji Takezo
Seaton, Maureen – Furious Cooking
Seaton, Maureen – Little Ice Age
Tate, James – Selected Poems
Weigl, Bruce – Song of Napalm
Weigl, Bruce – What Saves Us
Weigl, Bruce – The Unraveling Strangeness
Williams, C.K. – Selected Poems

Graphic Novels/Philosophy/Plays/Non-Fiction

Bachelard, Gaston – The Flame of a Candle
Beckett, Samuel – Waiting for Godot
Bourdain, Tony – Kitchen Confidential
Bourdain, Tony – The Nasty Bits
Brodsky, Joseph – Watermark
Burns, Charles – Black Hole
Buzzi, Aldo – Journey to the Land of the Flies and Other Travels
Buzzi, Aldo – A Weakness for Almost Everything
Campbell, Joseph – Hero with a Thousand Faces
Dobyns, Stephen – Best Words, Best Order
Hugo, Richard – The Triggering Town
Ionesco, Eugene – Rhinoceros
Ionesco, Eugene – Four Plays
Lopate, Phillip (ed.) – The Art of the Personal Essay
Milosz, Czeslaw – The Witness of Poetry
Moore, Alan – Watchmen
Schaeffer, Peter – Equus
Zagajewski, Adam – Two Cities


Poets & Writers

Again, this list is anything but complete, yet all selections come recommended by me for you.  If given the time and willingness to actually spend a few days on this, well, it would simply be overwhelming.  In the meantime, though, this should get you started.

Until next time, have at it, you vultures!



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