This week’s book recommendation is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. This is probably the most popular of Vonnegut’s novels. First published in 1969, the story follows Billy Pilgrim as he jumps around through time and space involuntarily. Vonnegut became an influential American author because of his dark comedy and satire of society. Like many other books often found on the “Banned Books” list, Slaughterhouse Five is a provocative novel that opens your mind to viewing things from an otherwise unknown perspective (and in an excellent way).
Vonnegut has written 14 novels, a plethora of short stories, a handful of plays, and several non-fiction pieces. I first discovered Vonnegut when I came across a video online of him giving a lecture about stories and story progression. He hilariously simplified it so any story ever written fell into only a few categories. I had no idea who he was when I was watching it, but I remember enjoying the lesson. Of course, I’d heard of Slaughterhouse Five since it is considered an essential read, but I hadn’t considered reading it just yet. I eventually did read it, and enjoyed it greatly. I quickly followed it with two of his other novels: The Sirens of Titan and Breakfast of Champions. The latter may sound familiar.
By the end of the third consecutive book, I’m ashamed to admit I was tired. I greatly enjoy Vonnegut’s work, but I can only take so much at a time it seems. This reflects more upon me I think and in no way diminishes his work. Books have power and can greatly impact people. Reading too much of one genre, style, etc. is like training one muscle when working out. Yes, working out is good, but you need to train the entire body to be healthy and fit. This is one reason I try to recommend a variety of different books.
I will eventually read more of Vonnegut and have several more of his novels in the “To Be Read” pile. If you’ve never read his work, give it a shot. Slaughterhouse Five is one of his best and is definitely a good one to start with.