Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

The List

All reading is rereading. — Vladimir Nabokov

During my first couple months of grad school, I compiled a list of books I had read from middle school through college. At the time of the list, I had been on a solid reading trend through the summer, and managed to complete ten books over the three months:

  1. Genius by James Gleick
  2. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  3. The Promise by Chaim Potok
  4. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  5. Shame by Salman Rushdie
  6. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  7. Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks
  8. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  9. The Neon Bible by John Kennedy Toole
  10. The Future of Freedom by Fareed Zakharia

My hope was that I could keep that momentum going through graduate school (laugh now), and I tried to do some reading every night before going to bed. Of course, this habit would come and go, depending on a variety of different factors. Well, after six years in grad school, how did I do? It took me a while, but here’s a near-complete list of the books I completed during grad school:

  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  2. The Straight Dope by Cecil Adams
  3. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  4. Bank by David Bledin
  5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  6. The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
  7. Theft by Peter Carey
  8. My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey
  9. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  10. Notes from Underground by Fyodr Dostoevsky
  11. The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  12. Better by Atul Gawande
  13. Complications by Atul Gawande
  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
  15. The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman
  16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  17. The Simpsons and Philosophy, edited by William Irwin, Mark T. Conard, and Aeon J. Skoble
  18. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  19. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  20. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  21. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
  22. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  23. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore
  24. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  25. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  26. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
  27. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  28. Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
  29. Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  30. In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
  31. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  32. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  33. Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont
  34. The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll
  35. The Game by Neil Strauss
  36. The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin
  37. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
  38. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Thirty-eight books in six years is roughly a book every two months, pretty paltry compared with over three books a month, but if there’s any partial credit, these were books that I started but didn’t finish before graduating, or those from which I only read selected chapters/short stories:

  1. Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman
  2. How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers
  3. Basti by Intazar Hussein
  4. Ulysses by James Joyce
  5. Ponniyan Selvan by Kalki
  6. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  7. Mahabharata
  8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  9. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  10. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
  11. The Lady Tasting Tea by David Salsburg
  12. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  13. Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

Note: items in bold are from my last year of grad school.

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