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.