Summer Reading: Not Really the Saddest Thing

Starting tomorrow, I’ll have no cable TV or internet at home.  This is the saddest thing.

Because my summer budget is extremely tight, and because I have decided that rent, electricity, and phone (not to mention wine and cigarettes and, oh yeah, food) are more important than TV and internet, though only by the narrowest of margins, I have had to cancel my service with Unnamed Cable Company.  At least for the next three months, I won’t be paying them over $100 per month to provide me with TV, a spotty internet connection, and terrible customer service.  Hooray?

I have, in the past, been able to somewhat reliably use my neighbors’ wifi when mine wasn’t working, but the people with the strong, unsecured connection seem to have moved out of the building.  I can still connect to a couple of other signals intermittently, but not without getting dropped or disconnected every two minutes.  This means that my formerly grand plan of keeping caught up with my shows via online streaming video will probably not come to fruition.  Which in turn means…it means…oh, I just can’t face it!

It means, I suppose, that I will just not be watching much television this summer.  Normally, in my lazy and indolent summers of unemployment, I spend my time alternating between stressing about money and lounging on the couch, no pants on, watching the tube.  Whatever shall I do now?  And will it have to involve pants?

I do have this class to teach through the end of this month, so there’s something to keep me busy, you may be thinking.  I also have a few papers I am working on, which should occupy me for the following month or so.  These things, however, do not count.  They are daytime, office-type activities, not evening, relaxing-type activities.  I suppose I may have to actually devote my evening relaxation time to — gasp! — reading, of all wretched things.  Quelle horreur.

I have some business reading I need to do for various projects and papers (a little Faulkner, a little Nabokov, a little Raymond Chandler and maybe some Alain Robbe-Grillet), but, again, these are office reading and I’d also like to do some pleasure reading.  I’m perfectly able to figure out what sort of reading I need to be doing professionally, as that is my job, after all.  With my fun reading, though, I am feeling a bit lost and could go in a billion different directions.  Here’s a list of some things I am either in the middle of or am planning to read this summer:

1. Dave Eggers – What is the What (currently reading)

2. Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild (currently reading)

3. David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest

4. Cormac McCarthy – No Country for Old Men

5. Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary

What should I add to that?  What’s your favorite book you’ve read lately?  Tell me all about it, and I’ll put it on the list.

Summer reading is not really the saddest thing, I suppose.  The saddest thing, if you are sure you’re ready, is either this, this, or this.


  1. I think I mentioned I was reading “The Glass Bead Game” by Hesse, but perhaps that’s not in line with your taste in literature. Unfortunately most of the “good” books I have are mathematical in nature so I won’t recommend those to you.

    Regarding the internet/tv subscription – you should move to France! It would be suiting to your couch-lounging, pantless lifestyle and they offer a monthly package of wireless internet, TV and phone access (over 100 countries for free!) for only 29 Euros per month! It’s a steal! If you don’t mind the smell and intrusion of other people during the Paris metro rush-hour, you don’t need a car, either! The markets are cheap and fresh and the amount of things to do and see are nearly unlimited. Warning: can be expensive. As the French themselves say: France is a beautiful country, it’s a shame about the French (people).

    Since I can’t recommend literature, I’ll recommend something to accompany the literature. For Flaubert (Bovary is a good read, btw) I recommend a specific French wine: a Savagnin (look for the Arbois AOC) from the Jura region of France. If Arbois cannot be found, the Cotes du Jura AOC is also nice. The Jura “vin jaune” and “vin de paille” are also extremely nice (although the latter is a sweet wine).


  2. I suggest you The invention of solitude, by Paul Auster. I know little about your tastes, but good writing is quite objective.

    I don’t think being without TV and internet should be so discouraging. Think about Kinbote in his lonely captivity. You can always imagine a fake poet and comment its poem.

    Sorry for my poor English


  3. John – Oh, I like Hesse! Haven’t read anything of his since Der Steppenwolf, though. I might check that one out. Also, why do I have a sudden craving for wine, dammit?

    Luca – Oh, Paul Auster! Everyone I know loves him, but I have never sat down with anything of his — not yet. That’s definitely going on the list. What do you think about the NY Trilogy?

    Timothy – I’m not sure how I feel about biology reading, but if you promise it is entertaining, I shall put it on the list, too.


  4. I liked the NY trilogy very much, but I was 16 at the time.
    Anyway it’s quite original and well written. Maybe more impressive than The invention of solitude, his first book (which is not fiction).


  5. The book is a little hefty (it’s quite thick). I’m not through it yet, but I’m enjoying it – if you like Hesse, you’ll probably like the book. The German title is Das Glasperlenspiel and it also goes by Magister Ludi. It’s his last work. If I recall correctly, it was the one the Nobel committee cited him for (I could be wrong).

    Ah, the French wine. If you crave it now, just wait until you taste it. It brings visions of the French countryside, distant glimpses of the Jura mountains, the smells of pastures, vinyards and quaint European villages where one can rediscover their soul and find peace.


  6. Vague – I promise it is entertaining, the title is actually A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology. There’s actually very little crunchy biology in it and a lot of interesting historical stories.


  7. You might have read this before, but I really enjoyed Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “The Shadow of the Wind.”


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