Completed Summer Reading

In a mere week and a half, the fall semester begins, and I’ll return to my normal teaching schedule. This summer consisted of preparing a second MS of poems, camping, traveling, and teaching two poetry classes.  I also hit up a few different towns/cities for poetry readings, and I still have two left before summer concludes– one in South Sterling, PA this Saturday and one in Lewisburg, PA next Saturday.

Summer also provided the chance to get a lot of reading done, and I thought I’d post what I read over the summer. Also, feel free to comment and share what you read this summer.


I was on a Greek mythology kick and re-read the Oedipus trilogy by Sophocles. I still like it just as much as I did when I was in college.

I also re-read Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus. Is there a greater rebel in ancient Greek literature than Prometheus?


The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.  After hearing hype about Franzen for years and reading him in the New Yorker, I finally gave in and read The Corrections, the novel that won him the National Book Award. Yes, he is worth reading, and yes, he is probably one of the most important American writers alive today, due to the way he addresses a slew of contemporary social/political issues.

Mickelsson’s Ghosts by John Gardner. This is Gardner’s last novel, released shortly before he died in a  motorcycle accident in the early 1980s. This is a great, fat American novel, and I love the way he wove supernatural elements into this novel, and the way he poked fun at the politics of academia.

Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. So glad he’s still alive and publishing sometimes.

Rabbit is Rich by John Updike. I love the way in which Updike captured periods of American history through the “Rabbit” novels, in this case the Carter/early Reagan years.

The Centaur by John Updike. This novel won Updike the National Book Award in 1961. It’s a moving story about father and son, and it also retells the myth of Chiron.

Terrorist by John Updike. I guess I was on an Updike kick this summer. This is a powerful novel, one whose main character is an Islamic fundamentalist. This is one of the most interesting post-9/11 novels I’ve read, one that points out the hypocrisy of certain U.S. actions regarding the Middle East and the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism.


Poets in their Youth by Eileen Simpson. This is a fantastic memoir written by a woman who was married to John Berryman for a while. It offers a glimpse into the lives of some of the mid-20th Century’s most important American poets, including Berryman, Robert Lowell, Randal Jarrell, and Delmore Schwartz.

Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems by Robert Hayden. I think readers sometimes forget he wrote more than “Those Winter Sundays.”

T.S. Eliot: Selected Prose and Essays.  I tend to revisit Eliot’s essays every now and then as a refresher.

The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin. It took me a while, but I’m finally getting into Merwin’s work.

Collected Poems by Joseph Brodsky. He is one of the 20th Century’s most non-political Russian poets. Compare him to Mayakovsky and notice the difference. Brodsky wrote such beautiful love poems.

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner. This is a great collection of poems written by an Iraq war veteran. I’m amazed at the scope of voices in this collection. Turner succeeded in capturing the complexity of the second Iraq war.

World Tree by David Wojahn.  Anything Wojahn releases is worth checking out. Here, he continues writing about music, pop culture,and politics, while displaying a  wide range of forms. My review of the book will be published by PANK sometime soon.

Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins. There’s a reason Billy Collins is a bestseller. I can’t think of a contemporary American poet who’s wittier.

Reading Now:

Tar by C.K. Williams. I’ve read his collected poems, but never a collection as a whole.

The Eye of a Poet. This is a collection of essays on poetry, featuring Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, Maxine Kumin, and others.

How to be Alone: Collected Essays by Jonathan Franzen. I guess I’m on a Franzen kick now. I also plan to read his latest novel, Freedom, soon.

So what did you read over the summer?  What are you reading now?

2 thoughts on “Completed Summer Reading

  1. dramachicky says:

    If you’re up for a twist on classic Greek tales (I’m a big fan of Greek mythology too), I would recommend Sarah Ruhl’s play, EURYDICE and C.S. Lewis’s novel, TILL WE HAVE FACES. Both are excellent and intriguing.

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