Fall Reading Lineup

I have not been reading as much as I would like this year, but I am reading nonetheless and it is always nice to consider the next handful of books I want to read. I have been on a Vonnegut reading spell so it won’t be a surprise that half of this list include him or his work. Here we go:

GalapagosPlayer PianoI am currently reading Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut and intend to read Player Piano, his first published novel, afterwards as it currently is the last Vonnegut novel I own that remains unread. I will likely buy a few more of his books to read in the near future though. Most of his books are really quick or easy reads. I remember thinking I could have finished Cat’s Cradle in an evening if I had the time available.

A Vonnegut-related book I hope to read this fall, or by the end of the year, is And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles J. Shields. And So It GoesThis is an authorized biography that Kurt initially declined but later accepted (I believe the year before he passed). I look forward to learning more about Vonnegut the person which likely will enrich my reading of his fiction. I’m taking a vacation soon and may take this one with me at my travel book as it is a decent size.

GormenghastI am also currently reading Titus Groan which is the first book of the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake. I stopped about halfway through this first book and read Cat’s Cradle and now I’m into Galapagos. I will return to Titus Groan and finish the trilogy, but it may be slow going, interrupted by other books, as the reading is a little dense despite the intrigue threaded throughout. This may be a trilogy that extends into next year depending on how often I return to it and how much reading I can fit in.

The Sound of WavesI also want to read The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima. This one I really don’t know much about but I think it will be a great book that is one of those reminders about the essential aspects of life which get lost in the maelstrom of things wanting or demanding our attention today. I think part of the reason I am looking forward to this book is because I know very little about it. It will be a completely fresh read which will be great as most of my reading includes books that have been on my list for some time and which I already have some prior knowledge about.

So, that is the lineup that I hope to read in the next few months. My time is filled with work and being a father to a toddler. Regardless, I enjoy reading and it relieves stress so I finding more time to fit in books is doubly beneficial.

I hope you find time to read the books you want to or love to read.

Happy Reading.

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing

I am happy to finally talk about a piece of artwork I had commissioned by the incredible artist Jillian Kaye. This piece is Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing (as seen below). If you would like a copy of this awesome print, you can purchase it at JillianKayeArt.com. Also, since you are reading this post and hopefully enjoy my stories or discussions about books and writing, you can use the code “GRANFALLOON” to get free shipping!

I posted about Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writing a few weeks ago, and I’ll admit I also wanted to have Vonnegut’s rules on my wall above my desk. There are no “real” rules to writing (I’ve posted two sets now) and you can likely find many more “rules” by Vonnegut himself online. These are more like reminders or advice to keep in mind while writing. I pulled the 8 Rules for the Vonnegut artwork from the book Pity the Reader which shares much more about Vonnegut and his views on writing and life. That book in turn had pulled the “rules” from a newspaper article Vonnegut had written about titled “How to Write with Style.”

So, this goes to show that writing is truly an individual art and there is no real way of doing it wrong. Enjoy yourself and keep going. Use these rules for guidance, or perhaps Neil’s rules work better for you, or perhaps use no rules at all. Or create your own rules. Whatever works for you is what you should use.


Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writing

A long time ago, I shared Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writing and included an art print that I purchased from NeverWear with art by David Mack. You can purchase this print as well while it is still available. I have this print hanging above my desk as a reminder that writing is really much simpler than we make it out to be, but it is also a reminder that it can be difficult and we need to persevere and finish what we start in order to have a completed story or piece of work.

Writing is also subjective, as I have another set of rules I will be sharing later, which is a reminder that the only rules you need to follow are the ones that work for you. There is no “correct” way to write (with perhaps an exception being rule #1 below).

So, for all my fellow writers, new and old, full of confidence or self-doubt, I leave you these reminders below and encourage you to persevere and finish your work, at your own pace, because you never know who may be waiting to read it.

Neil Gaiman 8 Rules

Pity The Reader

Pity The Reader CoverI finally finished Pity The Reader: On Writing With Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell after taking a short hiatus on this particular volume as life got busy. Luckily, this book is one that can be picked up after time away without any disruption because of how it is structured as well as the content itself. This book is centered on writing as a craft and attempts to provide the reader with the lessons Kurt Vonnegut left behind on the topic.

Written by Suzanne McConnell, a student of Kurt Vonnegut during his time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and later a lifelong friend, this book contains much of Kurt’s views and lessons on writing but also contains a biographical insight into Kurt Vonnegut himself. The book consists primarily of Vonnegut’s writings and uses original source materials including letters and drafts of stories.

I think this book provides many insights into craft that are beneficial, but also many insights into life and the world we live in. Granted, the world Vonnegut lived in was much different than the one we know today primarily due to technology (even though he passed away in 2007), but much is the same when it comes to human interaction. Vonnegut was considered one of the first (or most impactful) black humorist of his time. His writing is definitely unique and this book goes further to elaborate why Vonnegut, and his work, is one-of-a-kind.

This book gave me a better appreciation of Vonnegut’s work. I had read Slaughterhouse Five, The Sirens of Titan, and Breakfast of Champions many years ago and I think I would have a different view when reading them today. I remember thinking they were slightly whimsical and almost pointless, but that was because I was trying to base them on the merit of the story itself. I think Vonnegut’s works need to be read in the context of the world we live in as he was very much involved (or aware) of the craziness of the human race. Having many more years to see the this craziness is why I think I’ll have a better appreciation the second time around or with other works I have yet to read. I’m currently reading a collection of stories titled Welcome to the Monkey House, and I have to admit I’ve enjoyed every story so far.

If you are interested in Vonnegut, writing, or both, then this book is likely one you will enjoy. I know I got more out of it than I expected.

Happy Reading.

How Not To Diet

How Not To DietHow Not To Diet is Dr. Michael Greger’s follow up to his book How Not To DieWhere his first book focused on the leading diseases in the U.S. and how food can help prevent and reverse said diseases, this “sequel” is focused more on nutrition, weight loss, and how we should re-align our definition of what it means to “diet” (also known as eating food).

How Not To Die includes Dr. Greger’s daily dozen recommended foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He expands upon these and includes 21 tweaks to assist with weight loss. Most people go “on a diet” to lose weight with their definition of a diet being a temporary change to meet that goal. They then go back to their previous eating habits (or their established diet) which is what originally created the additional weight they want to lose. So, let’s first cover the definitions of diet. Oxford Languages has three primary definitions. Continue reading