What Are You Reading?

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Yikes! It’s already summer 2019. The 50-90 time of year seems to get here quicker all the time.

What have you guys been reading over the past several months? Anything special you’d recommend, or that you’re pretty sure will inspire you to write a lyric or a song?

I’ve been reading like crazy over the past couple of months, though mainly crime thrillers. Have discovered a few excellent writers: e.g. Gillian McCallister (‘Anything You Do Say’), Sandra Block (the Zoë Goldman series), Sharon Bolton (‘Little Black Lies’), along with Chris Hammer, author of a rivetting Australian-based tale, ‘Scrublands’. I’m in the process of reading ‘Emily Koch’s ‘If I Die Before I Wake’.

All of the above tell a good tale, and the writing is excellent.

I’ve also just re-read Mark Forsyth’s ‘The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language’ and ‘The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase’. I heartily recommend them (again). Smile They’re brilliant. Educational, Entertaining, and Enlightening. Aristotle would approve. Smile

Forsyth delves deeply into the roots and linguist aspects of English, but presents the material in a hilarious manner. (The second book also contains a lot that can be applied to the writing of lyrics.)

I’m about to re-read his third book, ‘The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language’.

After that, Takeshi Kovacs sci-fi ‘Altered Carbon’ is on my list, followed by ‘Naomi Klein’s ‘No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics’.

Ooops, nearly forgot to mention the excellent book on songwriting by Bill Pere. ‘Songcrafters’ Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting’. I came across it only a month or two ago, and was astonished I’d not heard of it earlier. The author really gets down to the nitty-gritty, especially as regards lyric writing.

So, tell us what you’ve been up to in the world of books!

I gotta start reading stuff that will actually help with lyrics. So, you can infer at least generally what I've been reading. Smile On the other hand, I've become proficient with Frege's notation. Biggrin That book about etymology sounds awesome.


I've been reading some short stories. One by Heinlein sticks out "All You Zombies"

Oops! Didn't think the caps would come across as yelling, @tcelliott. Wink Caps are used so often here in the subject line. Anyway, I've toned them down. Wink

Oh, I'm a fan of Heinlein, but have never read the 'Zombies' story.

@TomS You'll love Forsyth. Smile

Maybe it's just me. I don't mind all caps for something like the donate thread or an announcement, but.... I guess it doesn't matter what I like, eh?

The Zombies story is very short and very interesting and I hear this is or will be a movie made on that premise. Okay, just looked it up.
Predestination from 2014. I'm gonna have to go find it.

I got the complete works of Dickens for 50p. And it encouraged me to think that in 180 years time, some 'erbert might actually part with 50p for my entire output.
Anyway, bloody good stuff, Mister Dickens.

Have my eyes on FKA America. I need some strange fiction.

Reading? Reading?? I'm still trying to come to grips with GoT, having come in to the series eight years late...

I'm reading a lot at the moment. If you're on Goodreads, you can find me and read reviews of some of the books I've read recently here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38612248-chris-harris

At the moment I'm reading Rudy Rucker's "The Hollow Earth." Imagine a journey to the Earth's core in the 1800s written as a mash-up of Mark Twain and H P Lovecraft, where two (yes, that's right, two) of the characters are Edgar Allan Poe, and you'll have a general idea of the weirdness involved. I've got "Return to the Hollow Earth" lined up next.

Im mainly reading Poetry. Mostly from “Public Domain “ poetry.

I was planning on reading a lot of mindless fiction, but I may have to pick up a couple of your suggestions, Donna! They sound right up my alley.

The question I need to be asked is, "Why aren't you reading, Adnama17???"

Dunno if these will help my songwriting or fuel my inner critic @TomS

Just finished
(compilation of science articles) edited by Paul Hawken "Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming"
(compilation of a series of interviews) Michka Assayas "Bono In Conversation with"
(compilation of quotes and stories, a little gossipy but authorized by Warren before he passed, edited by) Crystal Zevon "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon"

In progress
(compilation) "2003: The Best American Travel Writing"
(memoir) Sting "Broken Music"

Recently started but heading to the donation pile without finishing
(unauthorized too gossipy for me biography) Geoffrey Guiliano "Blackbird: the Life and Times of Paul McCartney"

Just started: (lyric compilation/backstories/analysis) Stephen Sondheim "Finishing the Hat"

I've been reading graphic novels a lot recently, I got super into Batman and a few others. Recently I've read...

Superman For All Season : Amazing nice heartfelt story that focuses on Superman's smalltown upbringing. The art was fantastic and it was a really nice read.

All-Star Superman : Not impressed. I didn't like the writing nor the art. It didn't connect with me in any way and I was left feeling not much.

Watchmen : About time I read it. Ya it's a masterpiece, really dense and took almost an hour for me to read some chapters. Dialogue is perfect and it deserves it's legacy.

Batman Knightfall : The story arc of Bane breaking the Bat. It starts really good and than a new super 90's angst version of Batman emerges, looking like a Beast Wars Transmetal II design. I still have a few left to read of the saga, it's okay.

This is a mostly unexplored medium for me. I read comics and I get certain series every week but not of the main characters like Batman, Superman, Daredevil & Spider-Man who I've always liked from the movies but never read the real stuff before.

Meanwhile, I've just finished Emily Koch's debut crime thriller 'If I Die Before I Wake'. A very, very good read, with an unusual plot and an even more unusual protagonist/narrator.

@AndyGetch, thanks for reminding me of the Sondheim book, 'Finishing the Hat'. I've just ordered it. Can't wait to read it. I'd jotted the title down a few months ago, but of course lost the piece of paper it was on.

@katpiercemusic, glad I could suggest something that clicked. Wink

@coolparadiso, poetry can be inspiring. Wink I visited Portugal in January, and returned home with a wonderful book featuring a selection of Portuguese poets. I'd never read - or even heard of - any of them previously, so it's been a fantastic discovery.

@Donna Devine You're welcome. I didn't know it existed until I saw it in the library.

@AndyGetch sounds like there are about 736 possible lyrical themes from that rather diverse group of books!!! Smile OK, I exaggerate, only 712.

I need a lyrical way of incorporating this into a song: "The aim of proof is, in fact, not merely to place the truth of a proposition beyond all doubt, but also to afford us insight into the dependence of truths upon one another." Frege, Grundgesetze

Just finished Daisy Jones and the Six - the story of the rise and fall of a young starlet and a rock band in the 1970s, told in the style of a talking head interview of the band members and the occasional side character, who each tell a similar yet pertinently different story.

I enjoyed it. Cleverly done, and would probably be of interest to a community such as this Smile

@TomS yes lots of lyrical direction cause reading does fill the well for me. I gotta tell ya the Sondheim book is mind-blowing that way he analyses lyrics. Especially the way he takes a critical look at his own. Last 5090 I wrote a song from a gossipy biography about the Kinks which focused on Ray Davies. That one I managed at least to finish, party cause it was the only book I had on a day long train ride. Hmmmmm I wonder what would Westerberg do?

@TomS; "Proof to place the truth beyond the shadow of a doubt;
Proof is also there to make all other truths more stout". Wink

Hey @Fuzzy I think we've started our first collaboration...a bit early...but rules are for breaking, right!? Smile

@AndyGetch if and when I read that I am going to realize what a lamoid I am. Biggrin

Like a couple others who commented above, I've been reading poetry - my wife was preparing for a poetry and yoga workshop she presented, so the books were lying all around the house. Mainly Whitman's Leaves of Grass, the Persian mystic Hafiz, the Indian yogi/poet Kabir.
The last book I read start to finish was Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris. He's an ABC TV reporter who had a panic attack on-air in 2004 and turned to meditation to change his lifestyle.
I read a lot about meditation, and I'm co-teaching a meditation-teacher certification program in the fall. Also been reading about the importance of breath awareness. But I usually have two or three books going at once, and I jump around in them.
I think the last fiction book I read was the adolescent classic Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, and that was last summer.
I read lots of print magazines - National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, various yoga-related magazines. A couple 50/90s ago, I wrote a song inspired by a Nat Geo article about cliff climbers somewhere in the Middle East/Far East who risk their lives to look for and harvest hallucinatory honey.

I recently picked up a book with a gift certificate that I started reading called "A Discovery of Witches", it is a trilogy, I think it is on tv or something, but the description on the cover sold me...it is about a library, an old book and magical beings....I'm all into that. I always keep "Pride and Prejudice" by my chair and read it from time to time and I read my antique poetry books often.

cts's picture

Currently I'm reading The Hero With An African Face. It's an exploration of African mythology and religion.

I’m currently reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. She seems to be flavour of the moment here in the UK but I’m a bit on the fence with it.
The most enjoyable books I’ve read this year so far are…
Love Is Blind by William Boyd (if you’ve never read anything by him I would heartily recommend doing so)
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook
All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison

I recently finished American Hippo by Sarah Gailey, and it is so far my favorite thing I've read this year. It's a gripping, brilliantly funny collection of two novellas and a couple of short stories featuring hippo-riding cowboys. It's SO GOOD. I might have to mine it for some lyric inspiration. Smile

My Coney Island Baby by Billy O’Callaghan

Reading? I haven't had time yet to get my systems up for writing! Or listening for that matter. never mind. I was reading Joshua Slocum "Sailing alone around the world" again. Lovely book. All true, more or less.

I read rather too much probably.
Ongoing I read "Grow Your Own" and "Kitchen Garden", which are monthly magazines Smile
Book wise I just started reading "The Obstacle is the Way (The ancient art of turning adversity to advantage)" by Ryan Holiday.
I'm also reading some murder mystery on my kindle, of which I can't even remember the title, let alone who wrote it...

After dancing around the edges of his oeuvre for years, I'm doing a deep dive on Neil Gaiman. I'd only read Sandman, American Gods and his kid-oriented picture books, but I'm spending the summer plowing through just about everything else he's written. My Kindle is full of his work and I'm having a blast going through it.

Am reading Philip K Dick - The Man in the High Castle. It's set in a USA where World War II was won by the Axis powers. It is full of references to Zen Buddhism, the I Ching, what is true and what is fake, redemption, etc.

I have a pretty good turnover also... lots of fiction and a biography or nonfiction audiobook for my commute.

Just started The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. I'm compelled to read a series in order (anyone else? I knew it!) and this is the 5th out of 6 Inspector Grant novels, so I've been looking forward to it for a while.

Working my way through the Gregor the Overlander books by Suzanne Collins (2 down, 3 to go) and the Track series by Jason Reynolds (3 down, only 1 left) because I have youngish nephews and I sent them the books, so I like to see what I've gotten them into. Highly recommended on both counts.

Music-wise, I've been reading a series of "All The Songs..." for various groups, such as Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Beatles, Dylan, Michael Jackson, Clash, etc. I holler at my Amazon Echo "Hey, Alexa--play __________..." when I start reading about the particular song in a book. Fun way to study music.

I just re-read Small is Beautiful. First read it almost 40 years ago. It's still a wonderful, important book.


So no one has read anything for the past three and a half weeks...? Sad

I'm halfway through Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan the Untamed", published in 1920 (I'm reading a first printing and it smells like it's been sitting in someone's basement for 50 years).
I've never read a Tarzan novel before (this is apparently number seven out of what seems like about a billion in the series).
It's definitely a ripping yarn; Tarzan sure has an exciting life.

By modern standards, this book is intolerable; lots and lots of casual racism (as befits an unabashed colonialist writing about Africans), and it was written during World War One so the Germans are without exception depraved and evil Huns. Lots of sexual undertones, as well - Tarzan is always (always!) described as "naked" or "half-naked", and the female antagonist has had her "pale bosoms" exposed not once but twice so far (Tarzan took no notice, though; I guess he's above that sort of thing).

It's also brutally violent. At one point Tarzan sends a hungry lion in to the German trenches and then machine guns the survivors to death as they cower in fear (yes, Tarzan used a machine gun!). He casually tosses grenades in to gun emplacements. He frequently strangles people or rips out their throats with his teeth. He stabs quite a few Germans to death. He beheads some poor guy and displays the head on the end of a stick. Full-on psycho killer behaviour.

So much reading I can't describe it here >> Here's my good reads profile >> https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/27376621-george-slade

Feel free to add me.

Eckhart Tolle's book lol. I mean it's not even that bad, I learned a thing or two.

I am currently reading a book by Felix Francis (son of Dick Francis). It's a murder mystery set in the world of English horse racing.

@john crossman yes ! I also have to read a series in order Smile

Not reading any fiction other than what my writing group brings to meetings, which is mostly fantasy and sci-fi. I've been making my way through some of Natalie Goldberg's writing books : Wild Mind, and Old Friend from Far Away, which is a book about writing memoir. And usually some poetry that's lying around.

White.by Bret Easton Ellis

Re-reading some odd and oddly moving short stories from two collections I've enjoyed in the past: Aimee Bender (The Girl in the Flammable Skirt), and Miranda July (No one belongs here more than you). I'm not quite as quirky and imaginative as these two, but I like to think these are "my people" anyway.

@Aging Ophelia
Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones really opened me up the same way skirmishes do -- direct access to "first thoughts" -- like good improv -- where you let go and find out how good it is when you get out of the way! Love her!!

@Fuzzy - I recall vaguely a Tarzan novel on the shelf of a childhood home. I can even sort of picture the cover. Probably belonged to my dad. I wasn't interested at time, but had I known ...
@Trendall - I read an Eckhart Tolle book many years ago. His name pops up now and then among my crowd. And I just Googled him and read that his net worth is $70 million. Wow!
I have a novel out in front of me called The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx - I've tried at least 3 times to get into it. But if I have time to read for pleasure and actually turn physical pages, it's a magazine.
My wife and I are going on a weekend-long Bhagavad Gita study retreat, so today I found the Gita translation/commentary that is suggested. I've already read it once. I've read four Gita commentaries - the Gita itself is perhaps my main go-to how-to-live manual.

Re-reading "The Real Frank Zappa Book" by, of course, Frank Zappa.
An interesting read, but frustratingly short on anything I really want to hear about.
As well, his "smartass wiseguy" persona can be a bit intrusive.

@Fuzzy - all the thigs that embarrased you about Tarzan have motivated me to get the entire collection. just started reading the first book last night

@billwhite51; Tarzan was an interesting read - fascinating to see mores and attitudes in popular fiction from 100 years ago.

I'm reading John Lilley's "The Center of the Cyclone" and, frankly, it hasn't aged well.

Lilley was an interesting guy: his work on training dolphins (for the US military, but he ended up sending them on acid trips) inspired the 1973 film "The Day of the Dolphin" and his work with sensory deprivation tanks and LSD inspired the Paddy Chayefsky book and Ken Russell movie, "Altered States." He clearly had some extremely interesting experiences in the tanks, and this book is an account of him trying to make sense of what those experiences meant. But his insistence on couching his ideas in painful, 1960s hippy terms is excruciating. He will always write "human biocomputer" when he means "brain" and "programming alternate metaroutines" means "change how you think". And so help me, he even uses the verb "to grok" on more than one occasion. When he writes like this, and when he describes his relationships with the other people in the book, he just sounds like a monumentally pretentious dick. It's *fascinating*, in a can't-look-away, car-crash sort of way. If I don't throw the book out of the window first, I'll finish it.

"Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America," by Thomas Fleming. A wide ranging, vivid history of that famous and fatal meeting.

@headfirstonly; yeah, Lilley is an interesting guy for sure; I have a pile of his books. I've learned with stuff like that to ignore the language and deal with the ideas. Difficult at times, though, especially with some of the 60's and 70's authors.

@Fuzzy I love the Real Frank Zappa Book!

Edit: dunno how to tag users, pretend I did it right