Spring Reading List

My reading schedule has been a bit all over the place of late. I had quit book one of a series since I wasn’t quite getting into the story as I’d hoped, but I picked up another series and am flying through it. Granted, it is a manga series so it reads really quickly. I’ve also picked up a few nutrition books as I’ve gotten back into focusing on improving my health.

My Hero AcademiaI’m currently reading My Hero Academia which was on my Start of the Year Reading List. I’m about half-way through the volumes that have been published in English so far. There are 33 volumes out and the Japanese volumes are up to 36-37. The story is in its final arc so the entire series should be wrapping up soon. I really enjoy this story. It’s a different take on superhuman/superhero society and focuses on how superpowers impact daily life with the protagonist working to become the number one hero.

I just finished reading The Pritikin Program for Diet & Exercise which is an older book (published in 1979), but it has been referenced in other, recent nutrition books I’ve read. Much of it holds up and is a great resource. I haven’t yet looked into any recent materials related to the Pritikin program, but I’m surprised it isn’t more relevant. It’s weird that diet and exercise weren’t a public conversation until around the 1980s, but the next book might reveal why.

Salt Sugar FatI’m listening to a nutrition-related book titled Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. This book focuses on the food industry and how the American/Western diet, and the corresponding obesity epidemic, has been influenced by major food companies who essentially focus on profit maximization over consumer health. It is a fascinating insight into various brands and companies, as well as the history of food. I’m only about half-way through, but I will be recommending it.

I’m also working through a series of essays titled Vonnegut In America which was published in 1977. This is really just me wrapping up all of the Vonnegut-related books I have in my library.

After that, I am going to venture into a much older book titled The Social Contract and Discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This book, more specifically the Discourse of Inequality, was referenced in a show I like and I went and picked up a copy from a used book store.

I’ve found I sometimes get into the habit of having a nonfiction book going alongside a fiction book. It is nice to expand my interests and learning, and it is easy to pick up one or the other without any potential overlap. I guess that fiction/nonfiction line makes it easier for me to transition between the two and alternate if I have a preference at the time. I have no idea what I’m going to read after I finish My Hero Academia but for some reason I think I’m happy to have it open. I’ll figure it out once I’m at that point. Something will certainly catch my interest.

Happy Reading.

When to Quit a Book

I used to always finish a book I started until I realized several things would happen when I tried to force myself through to the end. First, if my interest is waning or no longer in the book at hand, my overall interest in reading wanes to the point where I might fall into a dry spell where nothing seems to catch my interest. Two, like my interest, my time invested in reading dries up and I may take forever to finish the book I’m struggling to complete. These likely go hand-in-hand. To simplify, forcing myself through a book I am not enjoying reduces my interest in reading and it becomes a chore. Perhaps this is the very reason many people exit school with no desire to read, because they had to read books they did not enjoy.

So, I’ve quit the practice of forcing myself to finish. This has made reading much more enjoyable and my reading pace no longer stalls as it once did. There have been books I simply didn’t enjoy and will not attempt again, and there are books that I did enjoy, but they failed to capture or hold my interest at the time and I will read them at a later time. There is a third category that has caused me not to finish a book, but it is rare and infrequent. It happens when life events take over and I don’t read for a long period of time. I have a hard time returning to a story at the half-way point without feeling a need to start over because I’ve either forgotten much of what had happened or I feel I am missing needed details. Luckily, this third occurrence never really happens anymore.

A few examples:

I was reading Blindness by Jose Saramago and thought it was an interesting story. I was more than halfway through when I read a disturbing rape scene. I couldn’t return to the book, and I will probably never pick it up again. That may be the worst thing to happen in the novel, but I couldn’t move past it. It was the first time a scene made me quit a book.

I tried reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and was about 70 pages in when I realized I wasn’t into the story (it was slow and not fun at the time). So I quit reading it. I may give it another go at some point, but it might just not be for me. The same thing happened when reading The Stand by Stephen King. I was about 70 pages in or more and the story was still getting set up and new characters being introduced. I was just not willing to track all the characters, locations, and events I guess. This is another one I may try again.

What prompted this post is actually my indecision to quit my current read. I’m almost halfway through Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima, which is the first book of four in his Sea of Fertility series. The writing is good, the story is a bit slower paced, and I know I will like the overall story once I get through it, but I’ve stalled on my reading and I think I may just need to shelve this series for now and return to it later. I think it being a four-novel story is part of my decision to stop for now since I am still really early on in the story.

Something similar happened to my reading of The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. I was 200 pages in (halfway through the first book) when I lost interest due to the slow pace. The writing was good and interesting, it built a great atmosphere, but not much was happening after 200 pages. This is another one I may try again, but for now I’m moving on to things I can dive into and enjoy thoroughly.

I think this is actually a great follow-up to my TBR post considering there are so many books out there I want to read. I shouldn’t waste time slogging through a book I’m not enjoying (even if it is something I will end up enjoying later). I recommend you do the same. Move on to something more fun or interesting or will broaden your thinking. You can always return to the book in question if you want, or not. There is plenty to choose from. If you are in a rut and need a recommendation, check out my ever-growing list of book recommendations in the menu above.

Happy Reading.

Never-ending TBR

I hate to bring it up since some may view it negatively, but I think it is an incredible thing to have a TBR (to be read) list of books continuously grow beyond one’s ability to ever read all the books that make the list. So today I am celebrating this idea/list by providing several books on my own TBR pile that I currently don’t have in my upcoming lineup of books I plan to read in the next several months. These are all books that have caught my interest but I have not gotten around to reading and are in the “I’ll read it eventually” category.

Octavia Butler is an author I want to explore further. I’ve only read Parable of the Sower so far and will eventually read the sequel to that title which is Parable of the Talents. I also want to read her book Kindred which I believe was recently adapted into a television show on Hulu. I want to read at least a few more titles by Margaret Atwood as well. Specifically Oryx & Crake which I think is the start of either a duology or trilogy.

Some science fiction titles I want to read, by authors I’ve read and enjoyed, are: Ubik by Philip K. Dick, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune by Frank Herbert, and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

Some fantasy titles I want to read, by authors I’ve read and enjoyed, are: The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin and The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe. More fantasy books, but by authors I haven’t yet read, include: The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett (which is something like 26 books), The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, and N. K. Jemison’s The Broken Earth trilogy.

Some standalone books I want to check out, or by an author I want to try, include: Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Faded Sun Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh, Dahlgren by Samuel Delaney, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

I have not yet read any fiction by Haruki Murakami, but I actually plan to read at least one of his novels in the first half of this year. I read his book Novelist as a Vocation earlier this year, and I listened to his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running several years ago. I’m not sure which book of his to start with, but I have a few on hand already including Norwegian Wood and Kafka On The Shore which are his more popular novels.

This is just a handful of books I want to read before I kick the bucket. Not sure when I’ll get around to them, but I hope I do eventually read them all. For now, I am reading Yukio Mishima’s The Sea of Fertility tetralogy which will take a little while to get through as my reading time is limited due to the job and parenthood. But hey, I should still have many decades left to fit in all the books. I hope you are creating a never-ending TBR and take joy in the thought of all the books you have yet to experience.

Happy Reading.

Start of the Year Reading List

Slaughterhouse FiveA new year means new books to read (as if I had any trouble finding something new to read). I am still wrapping up my full readthrough of Vonnegut’s novels. Having recently finished The Sirens of Titan, I am now wrapping up a re-read of Slaughterhouse Five to conclude all 14 novels by Vonnegut in the past 6 months. I also plan to read two non-fiction books I have by Vonnegut. These being A Man Without A Country and Palm Sunday. I’ll move on from Vonnegut after those and get to the many other books I want to read.

Novelist as a VocationI also am reading Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami. I have yet to read any of his novels, but this one has popped up in social channels probably because it was newly released in English translation this year. It originally published in 2015. Murakami has been on my list of authors to read and I have a few of his novels that I may get around to this year. For now, I will at least read this selection of essays on the craft of writing.

Spring SnowThe next series I plan to read is The Sea of Fertility tetralogy by Yukio Mishima. The first book is titled Spring Snow. I wanted to read this series after I read The Sound of Waves as my first experience of Mishima’s work. This series is supposedly his masterpiece and definitely jumped up on my TBR. I’m hoping to read the entire series this spring. Since I read The Sound of Waves in a day, I hope I’ll be pulled into this story and read all four books in a short time.

My Hero Academia

The last of this list is the manga series I plan to read this year. I’ve read one series a year for the past two years and have another series I want to explore despite it not being complete at this time. This series is My Hero Academia. I’ve been enjoying the show greatly and figured I could read this series quickly. I typically wait until a series is complete before starting so I have no breaks in reading the story. I doubt it will be completed by the time read through what is available, but we will see.

I hope you have some fun reading plans for the new year.

Happy Reading.

Ryan’s Favorite Reads of 2022

Wow. I have failed this month of December in creating anything new for you to read. My apologies. It’s been a strange time. I’ve had little time to read, and what I’ve read I have not loved enough to recommend to you. Part of the reason I’ve read so little this month is due to work (my busiest time of year is at year’s end), and the other part is that after 2.5 years of avoiding it, I fell victim to Covid. Though it was terrible, I was lucky it required little-to-no medical intervention and I recovered after about a week’s time.

But now it is near the end of the year, so it felt right to make a post with a list of my favorite reads of the year. Without further ado…

The Sound of WavesThe Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima

The first book I’ve read by Yukio Mishima and I read it in a day. I really enjoyed it and the simplistic story told in an expert way was refreshing. It is, as bare bones, the tale of a young fisherman on a small island who finds love in a community too small to keep secrets.

I plan to read Mishima’s masterpiece (according to the author himself) which is the four-book saga The Sea of Fertility. I have the first book and hope to begin it in the new year after I finish the next few books I have lined up.

How Not To Die book coverHow Not to Die & How Not to Diet by Michael Greger

These two books I really enjoyed as I was reading and learning about nutrition earlier this year while focusing on becoming a healthier self, father, and husband. I lost 40 lbs and have kept it off through simple dietary changes. My exercise and healthy eating habits have wavered of late (Christmas cookies are partially to blame), but I’m still mostly healthy due to great habits I incorporated and I plan to get back to exercising and eating better after the holidays.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood coverFullmetal Alchemist

This manga series, adapted faithfully into the 2009 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime, is absolutely an incredible story overall and one of my favorites of all time. I first discovered it via the show which was my gateway into the immense world of anime, and it remains a favorite of that medium. The original manga are just as good (though the music in the show really sets some scenes) and I read it for the first time this year.

Kokoro book coverKokoro by Natume Soseki

Read at the start of 2022, this book was interesting mostly because it was written over 100 years ago. The story may be considered slow or lacking, but I think that is what makes it a good book. It takes it slow and has a human element not often found in many stories.

The story is about a young student who finds a mentor and slowly unravels what made his teacher the recluse he had become. This mystery is unraveled quickly as the book is not very long.

Pity The Reader CoverAnd So It GoesI spent the second half of the year mostly reading Vonnegut’s novels and other works. It all started when I read Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Suzanne Collins and Kurt Vonnegut. It is a book about the craft of writing, but also gives insight into Vonnegut’s life as the two were closely intertwined. In between reading all of his novels, I also read a great biography about Vonnegut written by Chris Shields and titled And So It Goes – Kurt Vonnegut: A Life. It really put his novels in a new perspective and helped me enjoy them more than I otherwise might have.

I will wrap up the last few of his novels in the new year. The few I really enjoyed this year were Bluebeard, Jailbird, Mother Night, Player Piano, and Cat’s Cradle. 

BluebeardJailbirdMother NightPlayer PianoCat's Cradle