Update for July 2017

There are no books to list this month. For the first time since I started tracking, way back in 2013, I didn’t finish any books for a whole month.

Mostly, this was planned. I made a big push last month to catch up, knowing that I wanted to spend more time writing this month. Unfortunately, what I did read was scattered, so I finished nothing at all.

I also spent a lot of my free time on YouTube this month, paring down my “watch later” playlist. Funny how big that thing gets when you just save everything for later. Huh.

So, instead of the usual I thought I would give an overview of what I’m up to.

I published 2 new books last month. That’s not as impressive as it seems. They’re bundled versions of previous work, with a bit of editing and new covers. They’ve sold pretty well, so I’m not complaining. Certainly an uptick versus the non-bundled versions.

In addition to that, I did almost meet my word count monthly quota for the first time in 4 months. I wanted to write 1 MILLION words this year, so my spreadsheet tells me to get something like 84 thousand every month (it depends on number of days). I’m bad at meeting a daily word count, but I am ahead of where I need to be for the year so far. I’ve always been a sprinter, so I have huge months and sparse months. I kind of envy those people who just write every day to hit their goals and stop, but that’s just not who I am.

I have many books that are almost done. That sounds ridiculous – I know, but it’s true. I have so much first draft material that needs to be edited and shaped into real books. I have not been great at that lately, but it is what it is.

Here are some tips for anyone looking to publish successfully:
1 – Figure out what success means to you before you publish anything.
2 – If you want to make money, realize that you need to drive sales yourself.
3 – If you want to make consistent money, know that you need way more than one book.

Honestly, just knowing those three will put you miles ahead of everyone. I’ve read so many unhappy Tweets and Facebook posts by writers who are way more talented than me, lamenting how their book isn’t selling and the world isn’t fawning over their genius. Maybe that’s true for some of them, but mostly they expected to push a button and become rich. It’s not realistic. There are exceptions, sure, but there are also lottery winners – you can’t plan on that type of thing.

I wish you good luck, should you choose to publish something.

Reading List for June 2017

June was a very mixed month for my productivity. On the one hand, it was my lowest word count month in a long, long time. 15.6k words is not a very good month for me. I’ve had better days this calendar year, in fact. But writing wasn’t my primary focus this month, so I’m not worried.

On the other hand, I was dedicated to catching up to my reading goal pace this month. Insert Dubya “Mission Accomplished” photo here. Most titles read in a month, ever. They weren’t even cheesy short stories – well, some were, but that wasn’t the majority.

The next few months are dedicated to writing and publishing (It’s gonna be YEWG!). I’ll update that as it goes, but enjoy this reading list, because there might be slim pickings for the next few.

Here’s this month’s list. There are 23 titles if I counted correctly, but I ran out of fingers and toes, so…:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (audio): Read this a long time ago, and it didn’t do much for me. By the way people praise it, at least, I certainly expected more. But, I saw this audio version was read by Jeremy Irons, so I decided I would try again. It still didn’t do much for me, but at least this time it sounded lovely.

How to Be a No-Limit Person by Wayne Dyer (audio): Short, kind of a rant. Some good points. It ends with a lovely quote: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” Don’t expect enlightenment.

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow (audio): A fun read without much use value. It’s kind of like a Malcolm Gladwell book about business. Solid as entertainment.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (audio): Honestly, I think it would be easier just to burn the whole place down.

Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison (audio): Terrible. The title would suggest this is a methodology for better thinking, or at least a treatise for it. Instead, it’s just another self-important asshat trumpeting why you should buy his particular brand of skepticism. Harrison repeatedly tells you exactly what you *should* think, then comically follows it up with “but I’m not telling you what to think”. Every. Single. Time. Constant droning on of what it means to be “a good skeptic” in the same tone as someone trying to convince you to adopt their religion or socio-economic beliefs. And, towards the end of the book he suggests that you should become a skeptic (aka parrot these same beliefs), even if that means being ostracized by your social circle that still believes in UFOs and Bigfoot. I wish that was a joke.

Initiation by Algernon Blackwood (audio): Supernatural story. I thought it was cute.

The Shuttered Room by H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth (audio): Horror short story. Pretty good.

Out of the Aeons by H.P. Lovecraft, Hazel Heald (audio): Meh. Didn’t enjoy this one.

The Cruel Painter by George MacDonald (audio): Silly and sweet vampire tale, and way too complicated for a short story. Not a bad read, though.

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday (audio): Perhaps not as profound as I hoped it would be, yet this series of anecdotes serves as a great reminder to not take myself (and my work) too seriously.

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (audio): Deliciously creepy. Great story.

The Open Door and the Portrait – Stories of the Seen and the Unseen by Mrs. Oliphant (audio): Too slow for my liking.

The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft (audio): I liked all of this except for the ending. Oh well.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (audio): Really struggled to get through this one. It just didn’t hold my interest. Probably because there’s no dialogue.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (audio): This is up there with the best of them. I haven’t seen the movie, but I would recommend the book to everyone.

The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth (audio): A few useful tools for focus and getting things done, but mostly this book is a series of anecdotes that are more entertaining than helpful. Not a bad way to spend a few hours, though.

Fifty Grand by Adrian McKinty (audio): Too slow for a thriller, not enough passion for a deeper story.

Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely (audio): I loved Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, but this short book lacks a… payoff. Basically, motivation is more complicated than simple carrots and sticks.

The Crocodile by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (audio): “A scathing satire of…” Look, I personally have no clue what the joke was, who it was on, or if it was lost in translation – but I do know that this was not for me.

The Great Poets: W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats (audio): My first encounter with a Naxos audio book. Apparently, there is a whole series of 1 hour audio books, each featuring a different poet’s most popular poems. Perfect for a dabbler like me. I’ll definitely check out more of these.

Twenty-Six Men and a Girl by Maxim Gorky (audio): Another story that makes me think human behavior never changes. In modern times, the title suggests something akin to a gang bang – which is not at all what this story is about. In certain circles, a more apt title would be 26 Incels and a NAWALT. I laughed so hard, but I’m not sure it was meant to be funny. I’m just jaded as fuck.

Laundry Man (Jack Shepherd #1) by Jake Needham (audio): Pretty good – at the very least it was entertaining enough that I stayed up to finish it instead of picking it up the next day.

Killing Plato (Jack Shepherd #2) by Jake Needham (audio): This was highly recommended to me, but of course I assumed I needed to read the above book first. I didn’t – this stood by itself pretty well. A decent step up from the first, with tighter plot and deeper characterization.

Reading List for May 2017

Last month I said that I found some hidden goal areas, and had spent some time working on those. That was a huge misstatement by me – what I did in April was just the tip of the iceberg. In May, I’ve spent so much time researching and figuring out what I want to achieve that I didn’t get much done.

It’s very personal stuff, and I’m not going to post specifics. I will say that I am focusing on some weak areas of mine, and that I will be a better, more well-adjusted person when I’m done.

This month’s list is only 3 books:

The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung: A book that tells you how to not eat. There are also recipes in the back for when you do eat, and those lead you to a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet. I’ve read too much bro-science about the benefits of fasting, and this was a book by an actual MD, so I had to see what it said. The biggest takeaway I got from it: fasting will not touch your muscle tissue. Gotta keep those gains.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (audio): At times adorably charming, and the premise is wonderful. This starts off very strong, loses momentum, and then ruins the whole thing with the admonition at the end. I went in without expectation, but the arc of this let me down.

Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less by S.J. Scott (audio): Kind of a bullet list of morning routines and chapters from other productivity and lifestyle books. I wasn’t impressed.

Reading List for April 2017

I took most of April off from writing and publishing. After my stellar March, I needed a little bit of downtime. I also was suffering through a slight crisis of meaning. I have all these massive goals that I’m working towards, and I just lost track of the big picture – the reason why I’m working so hard. In other words, it was not my best month ever.

I’m not 100% back on track. Many things came up during this process that I had no goals for. Things that I wasn’t thinking about at all before this. There is always a silver lining to these things. In this case, it’s more like silver plating. While I’m still on unsteady ground, the view from here keeps looking better and better.

But, that’s enough fluff. I managed to get some books finished this month, too. Here’s what I actually finished this month:

Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone (audio + text): This is my favorite kind of book. It’s a rah-rah pep talk, full of bravado and a bit over the top. Here’s a quote from chapter 2: “Yes, victory comes at a price — so does settling.” Between that line and the title, you should know if this is for you or not.

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John (audio): “When your back is up against the wall, use it to push off of.” I liked this book well enough. It was a bit long for what it was, but interesting enough to keep me listening.

Unstoppable Confidence! by Kent Sayre: The best part of this was when the author suggested that you have to do stuff to expand your comfort zone, and then keep doing stuff that expands you a bit further out each time. Everything else was fluff.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin (audio): I didn’t personally get much out of this one. It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t do anything for me.

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner: It took me awhile to find this book. I knew the basic story, because I had to read it in school years and years ago, but I wanted to ask my nephews about it. So I read it again, and it’s still a pretty good read. It’s for young readers (10ish?), but it is also very sad. Now to see if my nephews have read it, and if not I get to buy it for them.

The Power of Concentration by Theron Q. Dumont (audio): A book way ahead of its time. It treats concentration as a mixture of focus, mindfulness, determination, and willpower, and contains exercises to help you improve your abilities. I’m going to have to experiment with some of these exercises at some point.

Reading List for March 2017

In the intro to last month’s post, I said that I was crushing things at the end of February. I actually managed to do way more in the first 19 days of March, and I’m so far ahead of my writing goals now, that I can literally take off until June and still be ahead of my yearly metric. That’s kind of baller.

Unfortunately, I’m behind on other things. The main one is publishing. I went so hard on first draft word counts, that I never went back to polish anything up. Whoops.

I’m also behind on reading, but I’m going to try to catch up in short order. I’ve had to do a “reading sprint” once already this year to keep up, and I’m probably going to have to do it again. The biggest factor in this is that I normally listen to most of my books as audio books, and I have channeled most of my time into writing lately – it’s impossible (at least for me) to write and listen to audio books.

I’ve been using a quarterly calendar this year, as a platform for setting and tracking my goals progress. The first quarter is officially over after April 1st, so I can really see how far behind I am on most of my goals. The problem I’m having so far is that 13 weeks is way too long to be meaningful to me. 13 weeks in internet time might as well be a decade.

On the bright side, I’m probably going to see the second quarter of this year really show me some massive results. It’s hard to imagine how I couldn’t. But, I can’t control outcomes; I can only control my effort and output.

Without further ado, here’s what I managed to read in March 2017:

Eat Fat, Get Thin by Mark Hyman (audio): Stop eating processed food, and eat more healthy fats. The info is this book is fine, but there’s a ton of sales pitch for other things the author is selling.

How Ideas Spread by Jonah Berger (audio): Enjoyable series of lectures on how ideas and trends can spread across social networks. Note that the title is not “How to Get Your Ideas to Spread” – this will only give you ideas about spreading ideas, not answers.

Attaining Your Desires: By Letting Your Subconscious Mind Work for You by Geneviève Behrend (audio): Another Law of Attraction type book. I had some trouble getting through this one, and I’m not sure if I came away with anything.

The Millionaire Booklet by Grant Cardone (audio): There is a lot of good advice packed into this tiny book. Well worth the 40 minutes spent to read it.

Why Do Fools Fall in Love? by Janice R. Levine (audio): Actually, I was surprised by this. A nice collection of essays with a great mix of personal stories and science.

Manifest Your Millions: A Lottery Winner Shares his Law of Attraction Secrets by Eddie Coronado (audio): Nothing new here, but short and to the point.

Reading List for February 2017

This is turning out to be such an amazing year already that I don’t even know what is happening right now. I thought that January was good, but I was way behind on all of my goals because I set my goals super high. I didn’t really intend to hit them, I just wanted something big and shiny to aim at. But what actually has happened here is amazing.

I published another book right at the start of February. Pen name thing, not going to refer to it here. I’m not going to talk about sales or anything, that’s not the point. It’s just part of my process of meeting my goals: I have a “words published” metric that I’m tracking. That’s the only book published so far this year. I also have a goal to write 1 million words this year. I’m behind on both.

But these last two weeks I have been in some crazy groove. My daily grind has come together in a way that I couldn’t foresee at the beginning of the month, and I’m not only going to surpass my word count goal for February (the yearly goal is measured by days and months), I’m also going to make up ground on what I fell behind on in January. So yeah, that’s something.

I’ve also been able to catch up on my reading goals in these past 2 weeks. I’ve also scheduled in more playtime. I’ve also had more social interaction. I’m hoping that I will be able to publish several books next month because of all this.

In short, I am absolutely crushing things right now, and it doesn’t even feel like work. It wasn’t some major change that got me here, either. It was just the same process, and tweaking it to make it better even on bad days, until things just clicked into place.

I am thinking about writing a short productivity book about it later in the year, though, because I’ve tried several systems to get to mine, and I’m sure there are others who could benefit from this one. I’m not saying that it’s superior, but it is definitely working for me.

Anyway, enough with the update, here’s this month’s reading list:

White Fang by Jack London (audio): This took me forever to finish, and honestly? Not my favorite. It was good, and worth a read, but the pace was too slow for my liking.

The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood (audio): A fun weird short story. Popped up as a YouTube recommendation, so I listened to it.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (audio): Moved this to the top of my TBR because President Trump didn’t know who Douglass was. Of course the book is interesting, if only for the circumstances that went into it. I did happen to find two other points that really struck me as intriguing. First, although Douglass benefited as a slave from religion – whose classes increased his ability to read and write – he was an opponent of the same religion for the vindication it instilled in his masters. And second, he was anti-Underground Railroad not because it didn’t help people, but because it potentially meant worse treatment for those who were still slaves. Both of those points necessitate a level of thinking that most educated peoples today can’t reach. That’s a jab at policy makers of the present, in case you were wondering.

How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jay Abraham (audio): This is from the 90s, but is full of great marketing advice. A little bit dated overall, but the fundamentals haven’t changed.

The Listener by Algernon Blackwood (audio): Horror I guess? Short story. I wasn’t thrilled with this one. Same deal – YouTube algorithm probably figured I could be roped into another story by Blackwood.

Anthem by Ayn Rand (audio): Given the context of Rand’s escape from a Socialist country, this novella makes perfect sense. A society where everything is decided for you, where the word “I” doesn’t exist in the language, where everything you do is for others – and you try to cope within the system, only to have it punish you, and then you heroically escape from it. I mean, even if you haven’t been under a collectivist system, you’ve probably had a shit job that fits those points perfectly (I know I have). But the writing here? And the story? Amateur and heavy handed. I get what she’s laying down, and I don’t disagree with it, but this was not brilliant execution.

Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime by James Pyle (audio): This is really thorough. Well worth reading, just to figure out how to ask better questions.

Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don’t by Michael J. Losier: Someone gave me this years ago, and I never read it until now. It was short, and straightforward. Just okay.

Reading List for January 2017

I’m not going to bullshit you – January was a really weird month for me. I’ve done very well at completing my daily to-do lists, and I’ve written a good amount of words, and I’ve read 5 books. And I’m behind on everything.

Overcoming inertia is really hard, I know. But I thought last year’s momentum would cover me. The problem, I think, is that my goals are so much bigger than last year’s. And there is a huge gap between how much I’ve stepped up my game this month, and where I need to be to actually achieve this year’s goals.

So, I’ll figure it out with practice, and make it happen.

Here’s this month’s reading list. I would definitely recommend the first book on the list. It’s weird, but good weird.

The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn (audio): Long before The Secret, there was The Game of Life and How to Play It. While this was very similar in theme, I felt like it was much more action-oriented in delivery. I preferred this. It’s a bit out there, but it’s also reasonably short, and in the public domain. You can find the text and audio free on the web.

The 90-Minute Book by Dean Jackson: Short, and even so – this is mostly rambly. The idea is solid, though. Don’t think of yourself as a writer – instead, think of yourself as an author. Figure out what book you need to write to start a conversation with your chosen market. Spend 30 minutes outlining the book you want to write. Then record yourself talking through it for 60 minutes, or have a friend interview you based on your outline and record that. Transcribe the audio, format it, and viola! you have a book.

The 8 Minute Organizer: Easy Solutions to Simplify Your Life in Your Spare Time by Regina Leeds (audio): The author is a straight killer, and organizing is the game she chose to dominate. The process here is simple, and if you can understand the why, you probably understand that the how is the same method you already use for most everything else. I saw the building blocks of her process, and was like, “Yep, got it,” and the details I didn’t really care about. That’s praise, not criticism. Everyone should learn to think like this.

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter (audio): I thought this was too much information, and not enough explanation. The info is great, though. My problem is that I’m not going to retain any of the stats. All I know is that I should eat less bread.

8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil (audio): Short, loaded with lots of ideas and things to try.

Reading List for December 2016

Another year is finished, and it seemed like 2016 was a real clunker for most people. I can’t say that I thought it was bad for me – my 2015 sucked so it was mostly up from there.

As far as reading goes, it was my first year on Goodreads, and I set a goal to read 78 books for the year. That’s 1.5 books per week, in case you’re not mathematically inclined. It just so happened that it was my best recorded year ever, though – I doubled my goal and logged 156 titles for the year. Some were short, which helped, but there were also some door stops in there: this month’s Atlas Shrugged is 1100+ pages, King’s IT was massive, that Hobb trilogy earlier from the year was huge.

It was also a great year for my writing productivity. I surpassed 300,000 words written, which was short of my goal of 500k, but I only started 3 months in. I’ll take it. It’s too bad that most of those 300k haven’t (and won’t) be published, because they were mostly practice words, but I’m okay with that, too.

For 2017, I’ve increased both goals. I want to read 2 books per week – 104 in total. I’m being a little bit cheeky with that goal, assuming that I’ll go over again. If I can double that one, good for me.

And my writing goal is set at 1 million words for the year. That’s kind of crazy, but I’m trying to push myself to create something meaningful, and that’s a number that gets me excited. I have other writing related goals, and some publishing goals, but those are private.

Anyhoo, cheers to another year, and here’s December’s list:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (audio): When I first read this in my early 20s it made so much sense to me. Rereading it now, at 33, I thought it was even better. It’s far from perfect – as either pure fiction or pure philosophy, it leaves a lot to be desired. As a combination of the two, though, it is superb.

Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich: I really wanted to like this one, so I felt kind of disappointed after I read it. It isn’t bad, but my expectations were more than it could deliver. This is probably a great place to start if you want a primer on personal development. It covers the spectrum from NLP and visualization, to health and finance. If anything, it could use to go into more depth in many areas.

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle (audio): This is a tough book to review. On the one hand, the dude is way too zealous for my liking, but on the other hand he’s exactly the kind of crazy fucker you’d want to go to war with, or have fighting for your side. This is not the best written book, this is not the best told story, but I think you should probably give it a shot anyway. I’ve already recommended it to a friend before I could post this.

Non-Fiction Writing Machine – How to Write a Book in 5 1/2 Days in 3 SIMPLE Steps by Anbu Rayappan: This book is clearly not written by a native English speaker, and is full of horrible grammar mistakes. But, it’s short, to the point, and the information is actually useful. If missing words drive you crazy, avoid this at all costs, or you will smash something. If you can get past the writing, this might be worth your time. At least if you believe in his model of short, self-published non-fiction to solve specific problems.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant: Mostly, this short book just tells you to repeat to yourself, over and over and over again, “I love myself.” There’s a bit more to it than that, with a daily practice, and a question to turn to in case of trouble. I really dug the message, but I was also looking for some sort of meditation to add into my routine, and this book just coincidentally found me. So, I’m kind of biased, but I’m a big believer in the law of spooky shit happening not-so-randomly, so I’m going to give this a shot.

Reading List for November 2016

This month’s reading started off kind of slow, but somehow I hit 20 titles for the list anyway. I’m not sure how, except to say that I’ve been grinding hard on everything. More books, more workouts, lower body weights, more writing. I still need to improve a bunch on those last two before I’ll be satisfied, but for now I’ll take what I can.

Anyway, here’s the list:

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover: Never in my life have I felt more understood. If you think the tone of this book is smug, then this book just isn’t for you. Grover is actually very measured in his portrayal of the mindset of his Cleaners, even admitting that it sets you along a very lonely road. If I read this book at age 20 (it didn’t exist then), I think I would have felt a lot better about myself during the past decade.

It by Stephen King (audio): This is the book most worthy of doorstop status since I read King’s The Stand last year. At times It is really fucking good, and at other times – many other times – I wish he’d just get to the fucking point already. Fucking clown is creepy as fuck though. This might be the first book that ever legitimately gave me nightmares. I think this is King’s funniest work, he slips in a lot of great one-liners and jokes with perfect timing.

Sleekify by Michael Olajide, Jr.: A boxing-based body weight fat loss program. I was interested in the workouts, but there is also diet advice – which I wasn’t crazy about. I’m pretty sure if I stuck to 1500 calories for a week, I’d probably kill and eat the next person I met, which is not the best way to make friends or lose weight.

Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again by Donald J. Trump (audio): No shit, this is really good.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei (audio): Kind of a collection of productivity tips and “life hacks”. There’s some good info here, worth checking out for sure. It seems that all of us independent creatives are drowning in free time and obsessively checking social media instead of doing the work.

The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World by Dan Ackerman (audio): Not as interesting as I had hoped. Once upon a time I was a Tetris Grandmaster, though, so when I saw this I had to read it.

The Smoky God, Or, a Voyage to the Inner World by Willis George Emerson (audio): Old hollow-earth story, kind of pulpy.

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (audio): The writing is great, but the story didn’t do much for me.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (audio): This book will cause you to take a step back and consider how you see the world.
A couple of choice quotes:
“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
“To truly appreciate something, you must confine yourself to it.”

The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How to Avoid Them by Peter Mallouk (audio): For 90% of people, this short book is everything you need to know about investing (and more).

The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing by Gavin Edwards (audio): Two-thirds stories of encounters with Bill Murray and a partial biography, one-third list of movies Murray has done, with brief reviews and anecdotes of what working with Murray was like for each. This was a fun read, just don’t expect anything life changing.

Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths by Ryan Britt (audio): This isn’t bad, but I didn’t enjoy it.

How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen L. Petranek (audio): Short and direct, which is its saving grace. The audio isn’t great, though, so skip that.

Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It: Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live by Daniel Klein (audio): More amusing than profound. Full of great quotes, though! And what a title – itself a quote from a philosopher.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation by Simon Armitage (audio): Good poem, good translation, very good narration. Recommended.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence by Harvard Business Review (audio): This was interesting, but I think it’s too general to be useful – at least for me. It is short enough that you can figure out for yourself if it’s useful for you, without wasting much time.

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revised by Arnold Schwarzenegger: This is the bible, as it says. I was awestruck by the thoroughness of this tome. It covers everything. Although I have no intention of getting into serious bodybuilding, and certainly not competitive events, I thought this guide would help me plan my fitness goals and decide on a course of action to achieve them. I’m happy to say it did. Now I can set about getting to work, and dipping back into this guide as necessary to improve my results.

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brené Brown (audio): This was interesting, but I’m not sure what I’ll take away from it.

The City of the Singing Flame by Clark Ashton Smith: Great imagination, but lackluster writing.

The Ring of Thoth by Arthur Conan Doyle (audio): This was mentioned somewhere as a spark for LotR. I’m not saying it wasn’t, but the connection is not obvious – at least to me. The story that comes to mind for me is The DaVinci Code, because both take place in the Louvre after hours. Audio is on Librivox, so spend 45 minutes and see what you get out of it.

Reading List for October 2016

Last October, I decided that it would be fun to read a bunch of Stephen King books, because it is basically his month. That was fun, and so I tried it again this year. Unfortunately, I kind of hit the wall on It, and that really stopped me in my tracks. After that, the little reading I did was mostly non-fiction.

It didn’t make this list, but hopefully will get finished next month.

Thinner by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) (audio): This gets a bit wobbly in the last third, but the rest of this was pretty great by my standards. A few good characters, lots of bit players, and a plot that never tries to do too much. It’s also extremely fast paced. You wouldn’t lose much by watching the so-bad-it’s-awesome movie instead, but the book is better.

The Dead Zone by Stephen King (audio): This felt like a maze, where you can’t see what’s coming until you turn the corner. But the characters are so good that I didn’t much care that the book is a bit too long, and maybe the ending isn’t as amazing as it could be. One of my favorite King books so far (although I have a long way to go).

Christine by Stephen King (audio): This takes way too long to get going. It’s good, but the payoff really doesn’t justify all the build up. 2.5/5 stars.

The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman) (audio): I enjoyed this one, but I wished for more. I wanted it to be darker, gorier, etc. As is, it’s a fun dystopian trek with just the right amount of philosophical musings to make it a winner.

Fire Starter by Stephen King (audio): This starts off a bit janky, but after that it’s a lot of fun. This is paranormal, rather than horror, if that sort of thing matters to you.

Road Work by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) (audio): A man slowly goes crazy. Unfortunately, slowly is the key word: this book is too fucking long for this story.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King (audio): Reasonably spooky, but not nearly as creeptastic as some of King’s other novels. Good story, though. I love the first time he describes the secret place, sort of off hand with the history, lore, and paranormal, but I hate later when he ruins that moment for me by belaboring the fuck out of the very same information.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (audio): Great audio by Bronson Pinchot. Average fantasy, but will appeal to Dark Tower fans who want to kinda sorta play in that same world.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (audio): I needed a break from fiction, and this has been in my TBR for awhile. Pretty solid advice overall, although of course I disagree with some of it, too. I especially like that he factors in human behavior over math at times. That makes so much sense.

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