Q and A: Other Stuff to Read
Q: Hey Tony-
As you know, I am a big fan of your writing (or maybe more accurately, your writing style). Good writers tend to be avid readers. Assuming that, I was wondering what some of your favorite books are; can you give me a top three, five, ten list? Spare me any pretension- keep it real (and if ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ is on your list, I might kill myself!). Whatever, if you have time, I’d be interested. By the way, the recommendations can be from any genre.
A: First and foremost, thank you for the kind words. It’s always humbling for me that so many people actually care what I have to say, and, more importantly, recognize that I don’t take myself too seriously with this blog. As I’ve stated in the past, t-muscle editor TC Luoma gave me a great piece of advice when I first started writing- the more pictures of half naked hot chicks, the better.
Okay, he really didn’t say that (yes, he did). In all seriousness, what he told me was that while people want content, and they want to learn, they also want to be entertained. Lets be honest, the Kreb’s Cycle is about as interesting as cancer. Likewise, do people really want to read an entire article on synergistic dominance or reciprocal inhibition without any jokes or side banter? Oh, you do? I, uh, hahahahahaha, you caught me off guard there. Right, well, um…….synergistic dominance refers to the concept where one or more synergists take over function for a prime mover. For instance, when the glutes are weak or inhibited, the hamstrings will generally “take over,” and more often than not, the end result is a hamstring strain.
Aw, come on! Are you sure you want me writing about this? lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala, I can’t hear you, lalalalalalalalalalalala. Can’t we talk about something more exciting? Like how Heidi Montag looks more and more like a mannequin each and every day. Except you know, without a soul.
Truth be told, I don’t consider myself a good writer by any stretch of the imagination. Adequate? Yes. Good? Eh, maybe. Although even that can be debated. As I’ve stated in the past, I really wasn’t that great at English in high school, my major in college was being awesome Health Education, and up until a few years ago, any reading I did started with Sports and ended with Illustrated.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, I once had a girlfriend (true story) who, for whatever reason (being an uppity, better-than-everyone super skank, perhaps?), broke up with me. As you might surmise, I was a little devastated. As luck would have it, to help pass the time of said devestation, I happened to come across the Modern Libarary’s Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.
Not having anything else to do but watch old re-runs of 90210 and Peter Gabriel the shit out of my ex, I decided to spend that summer reading my ass off.
Remarkably, I read roughly 10-15 novels that summer. I remember walking into the library and taking out Catcher in the Rye, and never looked back. I followed that with all the other classics Grapes of Wrath, Lolita, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Everybody Poops, A Brave New World, Animal Farm, A Clockwork Orange, and just about everything Kurt Vonnegut wrote.
I still do a lot of reading today, but for obvious reasons- helping to run a business, training clients 8-10 hours per day, writing programs, flexing in the mirror, etc- my reading time is limited. That said, it goes without saying that I read a lot of material related to my profession. Note: check out the blogroll located on the home page, as well as my Recommended Resources page for an idea of what I like. Too, I also like to read stuff just for the heck of it.
As cheesy as it may sound, I find the most inane sentences/topics intoxicating. How authors like Malcolm Gladwell (one of my favorites) can take something like hair dye, for instance, and write an informative (and entertaining) piece of literature is amazing to me. As it is, it took me 37 minutes just to write this last paragraph. Not even kidding.
I don’t know, I just feel the more variety people add in what they read, the better. I love reading the classics, but I also like writers who don’t take themselves too seriously. I think there’s a lot to be said about someone who’s not scared to use self-deprecating humor, which is probably why I use a lot of it in my own writing.
That said, some of my favorite off-the-cuff books I generally recommend to people are:
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius– Dave Eggers
To Kill a Mockingbird– Harper Lee
Slaughterhouse Five, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions– Kurt Vonnegut
Freakonomics and SUPERfreakonomics– Levitt and Dubner
Anything by Robert Ludlum
The Road– Cormac McCarthy
Twilight- Stephanie Meyer. Hahahaha, just kidding. I’d rather eat live bees.
And the Band Played On– Randy Shilts
I could easily go on and on, but to be honest, making all those links is exhausting. In any case, while it’s certainly not an extensive list, I think it gives you a fair indication of what I like to read.