Readings From the Vast Unread

Readings from the Vast Unread may not be such a bright idea, but it is historically unprecedented. Never before has a body of recommended readings been cobbled together out of what the contributors themselves have yet to lay eyes on. Never before have minds so joined in struggle to commend to others exclusively what they themselves have yet to do. But here we have it: some 240 books that friends and colleagues of the Rail swear they haven’t read and—crucially—fear and dread they may never get to. This is all that needs to be said to explain the intention behind Readings from the Vast Unread: Instead of pummeling readers—as does every reading list known to the total human past—with hundreds of books that the Illuminati have already read and that they, the bereft, agog, and sallow-faced pedestrians have not, this time around the aim is to enthuse readers with all the Illuminati haven’t read. It is their chance to get ahead; to beat us to it; their chance to leave us in the dust, mired in longing and avoidance. This appears as an unprecedented kindness, no doubt, as if the ages themselves have spontaneously willed to emancipate every next new day as genuinely new, at least for those who want to turn pages. But, caveat emptor, the clever reader might well wonder: Isn’t this one of those deals where one gets nothing for something? A self-consciously downward headed Ponzi scheme? Would you choose a dentist because you have it on reliable information that this dentist remains untried by a person of some repute? Choose a restaurant on that same basis? Vacation exactly where your neighbor swears he couldn’t possibly bring himself to go, perhaps for a lifetime? If so, you have been specially selected to plan your summer life of the mind in consultation with Readings from the Vast Unread. As said: Careful, reader; some of these suggestions are tricky.

Robert Hullot-Kentor

Phong Bui

Louis Althusser (philosopher)

Capital (3 volumes) by Karl Marx



Laurie Anderson (artist)

How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson



Charles Traub (photographer)

The Tanakh

The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher

Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S. Grant

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

Preface to Plato by Eric Havelock

The Golden Bough by James Frazer



Robert Hullot-Kentor (philosopher)

Joseph and his Brothers by Thomas Mann

The Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch

Golden Mary and the Sacred Fleece by Vladimir Nabokov

Wings of the Dove by Henry James

Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert

The Origins of European Thought about the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate by R. B. Onians



Ellen Phelan (artist)

To be reread:

The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki, translated Arthur Waley

Middlemarch by George Eliot

The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O’Conner

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart by Joyce Carol Oates



Jean-Baptiste Para (editor)

The Enneads by Plotinus

The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton

Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki

Pierre, or, the Ambiguities by Herman Melville



Ellen Levy (writer)

The Four Zoas by William Blake

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein

The Cantos by Ezra Pound

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser



Lewis Warsh (writer)

The Bible

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

The Telling by Laura Riding

The Movement of the Free Spirit by Raoul Vaneigem

A Scarcity of Love by Anna Kavan

The H.D. Book by Robert Duncan



Michael Wood (literary critic)

Anything but The Prelude by Wordsworth

Anything but Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

Anything but Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Anything but something by Anthony Trollope

Anything but The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Anything but Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace



Ben DeMott (editor)

Tribute to Freud by H.D.

Poems of Madness & Angel by Ray Bremser

L.A. Is the Capital of Kansas by Richard Meltzer

The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermout

The Metamorphosis of the Gods by Andre Malraux

The White Goddess by Robert Graves



Douglas Armato (editor)

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and/or Don Juan by Lord Byron

The Golden Bough by James Frazer

The Man Without Qualities, Vol. 2 by Robert Musil

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami



Si Newhouse (publisher)

Middlemarch by George Eliot

The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Ulysses by James Joyce

Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes



Rolf Tiedemann (philosopher)

Conversations of German Refugees by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov

Ethics by Baruch de Spinoza

The Savage Mind by Claude Lévi-Strauss

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman



Jacques Lacan (psychoanalyst)

The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud



Matvey Levenstein (painter)

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddartha Mukherjee

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

The Possessed by Elif Batuman

The Enigma of Arrival by V. S. Naipaul

Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

Victory: An Island Tale by Joseph Conrad



Lisa Yuskavage (painter)

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

Magic Seeds, V.S. Naipaul

Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño

The Keep by Jennifer Egan



Agnes Gund (lover of art)

Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, Penny M. Von Eschen

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

Solo by Rana Dasgupta

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson



Harmony Korine (filmmaker/artist)

Gangsta Rap Coloring Book by Aye Jay

Memoirs of an Amnesiac by Oscar Levant

The Paterson Pimp by Randy Jackson a k a “Jashon”

Picking on Retards by Scott Carpenter

Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras by Jeff Henderson

The Good Enema by J.G. Knox



Olof Arnalds (musician/performer)

How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Guo Xiaolu

Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens

The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman

An English translation of Yosoy by Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir



Michael Davis (artist)

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Ulysses by James Joyce

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The Odyssey by Homer



Alfredo Jaar (artist)

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve, Poems 2007-2010 by Adrienne Rich

Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolaño

Les écarts du cinéma by Jacques Rancière

Lives on the Left: Interviews with New Left Review, edited by Francis Mulhern

Blindness by José Saramago



Ken Jacobs (filmmaker)

Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner

Tropic of Chaos by Christian Parenti

Slave Nation by Alfred Blumrosen

Rough Crossings by Simon Schama

Wealth and Democracy by Kevin Phillips

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan



Dan Simon (publisher)

Capital by Karl Marx

Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust

The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer

Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem



Phong Bui (publisher)

Some of My Lives by Rosamond Bernier

The Shape of Ancient Thought by Thomas McEvilley

Hamann’s Socratic Memorabilia: A Translation and Commentary by Johann Georg Hamann, translated James C. O’Flaherty

Humanist without Porfolio: An Anthology of the Writings of Wilhelm von Humboldt, translated by Marianne Cowan

The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama

Must We Burn de Sade? by Simon de Beauvoir, translated by Annette Michelson



Jay Sanders (curator)

Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy by David Robbins

Truth and Greatness by Steffani Jemison

C’est la Guerre: Early Writings 1978-1983 by Byron Coley

La Bohème: The Staging of Artists in Photography of the 19th and 20th Century (Exh. Catalogue) Ludwig Museum

When Movies Mattered by Dave Kehr

The Howling Hex: Victory Chimp, A Book by Neil Hagerty



Christoph Türcke (philosopher)

Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

Ulysses by James Joyce

Ethics by Baruch de Spinoza

Essays by Michel de Montaigne

Hieronymus Bosch by Wilhelm Fraenger



Gregg Horowitz (philosopher)

Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann

Deer Park by Norman Mailer

Opus Postumum by Immanuel Kant

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood by Jane Leavy

New Héloïse by Jean-Jacques Rousseau



Kenneth Frampton (architect, writer)

Embers, Sandor Marai

The Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch

Liquid Modernity by Zygmunt Bauman

The Universitas Project directed by Emilio Ambasz

Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity by Michael E. Zimmerman



Dirk Braunstein (social critic)

Ulysses by James Joyce

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

Zettel’s Traum by Arno Schmidt

Nazi Germany and the Jews by Saul Friedländer

The Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F. Hegel

Walter Benjamin by Jean-Michel Palmier



Silvia Kolbowski (artist, editor, writer)

Perfume by Patrick Süskind

Capitalism by Geoffrey Ingham

Denial by Jessica Stern

Deathwatch by Robb White

Extinction by Thomas Bernhard



Richard Tuttle (artist)

Principia by Sir Isaac Newton Newton

To be read in original language:

The Nature of Things by Lucretius

Eclogues by Virgil

On Old Age by Cicero

The Illiad by Homer

Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F. Hegel



Terry Winters (painter)

Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud translated by John Ashbery

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick

The Microscripts by Robert Walser, translated by Susan Bernofsky

Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors and Media by Marina Warner

Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life by Lev Loseff and Jane Ann Miller

Listen to This by Alex Ross



Hendel Teicher (art historian, curator)

Inner Revolution by Robert Thurman

Angels by Peter Lamborn Wilson

The Reality Overload: The Modern World’s Assault on the Imaginal Real by Annie Le Brun

The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, translated by George Szirtes

Roberto Bolaño: The Last Interview and Other Conversations with introduction by Marcela Valdes

Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich



Peter Eleey (curator)

The Civil Contract of Photography by Ariella Azoulay

Where’s the Moon, There’s the Moon by Dan Chiasson,

Serendipities by Eco Umberto

Gordon Matta-Clark: Conical Intersect by Bruce Jenkins

Stories of Youth by James Lord

La Cuisine Acidulée by Michel Troisgros



Patrick Murray (philosopher)

Ulysses by James Joyce

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Metaphysics by Aristotle

The Life of the Mind by Hannah Arendt

The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms by Ernst Cassirer

Collected Short Stories of Wallace Stegner by Wallace Stegner



Robert Kelly (writer, poet)

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

The Saying of Anaximander by Martin Heidegger

The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en

The Iliad by Homer, as translated by Charles Stein

Jean Santeuil by Marcel Proust

Epic of King Gesar



Leonard Lopate (radio show host)

Men and Bulls by Yusuf Idris

Philosopher or Dog by Machado de Assis

The Paths that Rise by Mouloud Feraoun

The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Saleh

The Time of the Doves by Merce Rodoreda

A man is not a flea by Mikhail Zoschchenko



Irving Sandler (art historian)

Endgame by Samuel Beckett

The Rebel by Albert Camus

Vol 1. Selected Papers, Modern Art 19th and 20th Centuries and Vol. 4. Theory and Philosophy of Art by Meyer Schapiro

Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara



Joel Shapiro (artist)

The Iliad by Homer

Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens

Complete Works of Isaac Babel

Poems of Paul Celan translated by Michael Hamburger



Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge (poet)

Becoming Animal by David Abram

Selected Poems by Friedrich Hölderlin

The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko

Well Then There Now by Juliana Spahr

Death of a Discipline by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

2000 Years of Mayan Literature by Dennis Tedlock

The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangval Rinpoche



Arturas Zuokas (politician)

Illegal Living: 80 Wooster Street and the Evolution of SoHo by Roz Bernstein and Shael Shapiro

The Cult of Incompetence by Émile Faguet

The Next 100 Years:  A Forecast for the 20th Century by George Friedman

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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