It’s strange how you can love something and yet completely neglect it. After spending most of my formative years playing music, I dropped it completely for some time before picking it back up. I’m not sure why I did it, although the excuses more than likely revolved around a lack of time, lack of space, and not having a reason to practice. All completely wrong, of course.
Same with reading, which is why I began setting a yearly reading goal a few years ago. It’s not so much about the number of books as it is a way to keep me motivated and aware of reading as always being an option. I could sit on my phone… or I could read. I could pop in this movie I’ve watched 100 times… or I could read.
So here’s a list of what I read in 2019. Maybe you’ll find something interesting or see an old friend.
- STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST by Austin Kleon (non-fiction – creativity)
- BEASTIE BOYS BOOK by Michael Diamond & Adam Horovitz (non-fiction – music)
- STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER by Tom Robbins (fiction) **
- ART & FEAR: OBSERVATIONS ON THE PERILS (AND REWARDS) OF ARTMAKING by David Bayles & Ted Orland (nonfiction – art)
- GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD by Michael Chabon (fiction)
- LUKA AND THE FIRE OF LIFE by Salman Rushdie (fiction)
- FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (sci-fi)
- ON WRITING by Stephen King (non-fiction – biography – writing) **
- THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner (fiction) *
- B IS FOR BEER by Tom Robbins (fiction)
- ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman (fiction)
- EE CUMMINGS: A LIFE by Susan Cheever (biography)
- THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman (fiction)
- GET SHORTY by Elmore Leonard (fiction)
- WHEN THE WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE by Elmore Leonard (short stories – fiction)
- DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON by Ernest Hemingway (non-fiction)
- THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway (fiction)
- TIETAM BROWN by Mick Foley (fiction)
- SHAME by Salman Rushie (fiction)
- THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH by Michael Chabon (fiction)
- WONDER BOYS by Michael Chabon (fiction)
- NO WALLS AND THE RECURRING DREAM by Ani DiFranco (autobiography)
- COLLECTED POEMS by ee cummings (poetry)
- ADJUSTMENT DAY by Chuck Palahniuk (fiction)
- THE PARTLY CLOUDY PATRIOT by Sarah Vowell (non-fiction / essay)
- THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK by Tim Ferriss (non-fiction / self-improvement)
- THE ALCHEMIST by Paolo Coelho (fiction)
- A SLIP OF THE KEYBOARD by Terry Pratchett (non-fiction / essay)
- GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (fiction)
- THE AUTOGRAPH MAN by Zadie Smith (fiction)
- AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman (fiction)
- ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (fiction / manga)
- MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS by Michael Chabon (non-fiction / essay)
* = partial read ** = re-read
I’ve recently started a weekly accountability email with my friend and fellow writer Charles where we share what we’ve managed to do that week. Sometimes it’s uplifting, others it’s a bit of a downer, and sometimes it’s downright comical. So I figured it was worth a shot also broadcasting these things to the entire world. Because why not?
As you may have noticed from previous posts, I’ve been reading through A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett and will probably finish that up towards the beginning of next week. This was a lender from Charles along with its companion, A Blink of the Screen, which is a collection of his shorter fiction works. I tried the fiction first but couldn’t quite get into it – almost how I love everything Tom Robbins has written but couldn’t get into his collection of shorter works, Wild Ducks Flying Backwards. However, I do believe some of Pratchett’s novels will be making their way into my To-Read pile very soon.
Last week, I got feedback on my screenplay and started the process of re-writing when I realized that there were enough changes to the first fifteen pages that it would fundamentally change the tone of a couple characters and at least one relationship. A bit daunting. So I polished those fifteen pages up and sent it off to the person who gave me the feedback to see what they thought. Heard back from them that there’s still work to be done, but they feel I’m on the right track. I’ll take it. To page sixteen and beyond!
I’ve also been at work revising poems for another project I’ve been at work on this year and which I’d like to see done by the end of December. After an initial burst of deep editing the first session, I’ve come to realize that four to five poems is my limit for one day. I’ll start off hot by digging into the text and making change after change… and then a few poems later, realize there were no marks on the page at all. Perhaps that poems was actually fine as is, but more than likely I was going far too easy on it. Poems need tough love as well.
I’ve just spent the better part of an hour trying to get the drain in our bathroom sink to drain properly. Since a lot of the more wondrous and corrosive chemicals don’t play with with septic systems and ours is roughly 30 some odd years old, I tend to lean into the more gentle and natural solutions whenever possible. So a box of baking soda, a gallon of white vinegar, and new plunger were my weapons of choice for this mission.
It’s pretty interesting the things that can be accomplished with baking soda and white vinegar. Baking soda is a nice scrubbing agent for things you don’t want to go medieval on with steel wool and vinegar helps to take the stink out of laundry. Fun stuff and they also work pretty well on drains (in my experience). Well, this time around, it took a few rounds and a bit of work with the plunger, but we’re draining again.
What struck me afterwards was that a bit of regular maintenance would’ve made this job simpler or perhaps eliminated it altogether. The next thought that came to mind was that creativity is a lot like that too.
By keeping the creative muscles somewhat in shape, it’s a lot easier to get into some heavy lifting when you need it; rather than trying to lift a car off someone when you’ve barely done more than lift cans of beer for the last five years. I’ve found myself seeking out new ways to keep creativity supple, or to borrow one of Tom Brady’s favorite words, pliable.
Finding those little routines and disciplines that are the creative equivalent of stretching has been a challenge but also a lot of fun. It’s the reason why I’ve been journaling more on a daily basis and also part of the reason for my yearly reading goals (which I’ve already surpassed for this year!). Even taking in creative helps keep the thinker ticking along rather than seizing up. Because if there’s one thing that I know, things tend to seize up at the worst, or most inconvenient, times.
One of my goals for 2018 was to read more, but I also had a numeric element as well – I wanted to read twice as many books as I did in 2017. Considering that 2017 worked out to be an even dozen, I thought 24 books wasn’t an unreasonable goal. As it turns out, I came up three shy of my goal by turning into a reading slouch for a few months towards the end of the year. My goal for 2019 is to read 25 books, but here’s a look back at what 2018 held. I’ve done a quick list and then a list with some comments after the read more if you’re interested.
- Starship Troopers by Richard A. Heinlein
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Adventures & The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson
- Mornings On Horseback by David McCullough
- Wool by Hugh Howey
- Brothas Be Yo, Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? by George Clinton
- How To Be Good by Nick Hornby
- Yeager by General Chuck Yeager & Leo Janos
- World War Z by Max Brooks
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson
- Two Years Eight Months And Twenty Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
- Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie
- The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
- Kill ‘Em And Leave: Searching For James Brown And The American Soul by James McBride
- Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams
- Life, The Universe, & Everything by Douglas Adams
- So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams
- Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
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