READING in 2020 (Books I Read in 2019 — Books I want to Read in the New Year).

Greetings to my fellow writers and readers.

I was impeccably fortunate to have read so many fascinating and entertaining books this year! I read an eclectic selection of hard-boiled pulp, horror fiction, the cross sections of science and spirituality, existential philosophy, and fantasy.

Some of the authors of these books have even responded to my fan mails (I have no shame in geeking about this fact)!

Having a bunch of extra time on my hands this year has especially enabled me to diversify my reading.

I’m wondering what books my friends have read this year? What books do you desire to read in 2020?

In my humble opinion, books are the among one of the best reasons to live. I also find that I value my public library card far more than even my driver’s license.

reading

Here, in chronological order, is the listing of every book I read to completion in 2019, two of which I was lucky enough to get published in!

1) Hot Water Music by Charles Bukowski

2) Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris

3) The Outside by Colin Wilson

4) Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Stephen Mitchell translation)

5) Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

6) Just After Sunset: Stories by Stephen King

7) Strange Weaterh by Joe Hill

8) Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit by Krista Tippett

9) God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

10) Freedom From the Known by Krishnamurti

11) No Death, No Fear by Thch Nhat Hanh

12) Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe IDispenze

13) Mother Teresa In Theory & Practice: The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens

14) Secret Windows: Essays & Fiction On the Craft of Writing by Stephen King

15) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

16) The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

17) I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

18) Houses of the Unholy by JG Faherty

19) On Writing Horror: A Handbook by The Horror Writers Association

20) How to Write Pulp Fiction by James Scott Bell

21) Emerging American Horror Writers: Midwest Region (in which my story “Welcome Home” was published)

22) Hell House by Richard Matheson

23) The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

24) The Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

25) Offspring by Jack Ketchum

26) Red by Jack Ketchum

27) The Courage to Create by Rollo May

28) The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

29) Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

30) A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell

31) The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

32) The Essential Harlan Ellison: A Retrospective

33) Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene

34) High Cotton: Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

35) Pulp by Charles Bukowski

36) Living Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

37) Gwendy’s Button Box by Richard Chizmar and Stephen King

38) Existentialism Is A Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

39) Smoke & Mirrors: Short Fictions & Illusions by Neil Gaiman

40) Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens

41) Stardust by Neil Gaiman

42) Ghost Story by Peter Straub

43) The Lottery & Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

44) Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton

45) Ghosts: A Haunted History by Lisa Morton

46) Turn of the Screw by Henry James

47) Catch & Release by Lawrence Block

48) Shearing Time by Sara De Luca

49) Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters & Hot Rod Horror

50) Five Novellas by Jeff Strand

51) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Other Stories by Washington Irving

52) The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

53) The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield

54) The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

55) The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Moral values by Sam Harris

56) Bag of Bones by Stephen King

57) Thinner by Richard Bachman

58) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

59) On Writing by Charles Bukowski

60) Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

61) Locke & Key Vol. I by Joe Hill

62) The Death That Walk (edited by Stephen Jones)

63) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

64) Accursed: A Horror Anthology (in which my story, “The Typewriter” was published)

65) Psychedelic Healing: The Promise of Entheogens for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Development.

 

Now, as for books I’d like to read in 2020 . . . Well, the list is possibly infinite!

But, I suppose I’d like to read some more classics. Perhaps Dickens, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky.

As for particular titles, I’d like to read The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud, Moby Dick by Herman Mellville, How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Questions & 20 Attempts to Answer by Sarah Bakewell.

And oh yes, my friend Jack Ontario will be releasing his debut book of poetry this upcoming January! A fine volume of poetry entitled, “Sunburst Woman”.

How about you, fellow friends and bloggers? What might you be reading? And what books have you read in 2019?

 

For Addicts of Writing

A writer is a word junkie, a crazed addict of paper and ink. His paraphernalia includes a pen or pencil, some paper, typewriter or computer, and his imagination. A writer must secure his fix and write daily. If he doesn’t, he’s bound to feel sick, unbalanced, and maladjusted, which may or may not result in volatile consequences for society at large. Therefore, we should all do well to keep the writer well fed. If you find a writer on the street, hair billowing wild, going crazy, hand him a pen and some paper to keep him busy. Otherwise, he’s bound to take his twisted imagination out on just about anybody — Even you.

 

PS

Are you a recovering writer? You poor, poor soul!

Be sure to join your local Write-a-holics Anonymous group and seek serious help.

The Multi-Universe of the Written Word

The Multi-Universe of the Written Word

The ability to read is among the most beautiful and abundant gifts of human life. Each book can be seen as a miniature universe unto itself, and the library as a collective multi-universe. Authors are mini-gods, popping in and out of existence all the time, gifting us with their creations. Our minds and imaginations are versatile spaceships, intricately connected with two seeing eyes which serve as the perfect coordinate communicators.

Each letter is an atom, each word a molecule, each sentence a planet, each paragraph a star. From page to page, from cover to cover, the open mind and hungry heart yearn for those miniature Gods to deliver us some beauty, some insight, some fantasy, or even just some plain amusement.

Whenever I see a child nestled in a cozy corner, oblivious to his external environment, lost in the little universe of his book, smiling bemused, there is inevitably a glow stirred within my heart. It reminds me to think back to those quiet, undisturbed summer days, sitting beneath a tree in my backyard, reading a paperback, and feeling happy as the sun shone down through the leaves, scattering light between shadows upon the pages of my book. True peace, true happiness, is often just as simple, just as easy as getting lost in a well-crafted, enticing story created by the adoring mind of an author, whom was merely trying to write the truth of his mini-universe as well as he possibly could.

So remember, the next time you pay your library fines (if you have any) or donate to your local public library, you are effectively funding an expanding, undulating multi-universe of human ingenuity, legend, and happiness.

***

A Few Aphorisms…

A neglected soul shall fly only by tattered feathers upon shattered wings. Some will say this is not flying at all.

Interests may change, but one will always return to what one loves.

Whenever someone creates something out of the fabric and goodness of one’s soul — a book, a poem, a painting, a sculpture, etc. — I want to applause.

With the tools of the mind, plying the materials of chaos, the artists constructs therefrom a cosmos.

I must be approaching death. How does a man as inept as myself hope to survive the ravages of daily life combined with an utter lack of common sense?

***

Bubbles in my Coffee & Honest Lies

There’s a Multi-Universe of Brownian Motion in My Coffee!

I’m staring down into my coffee cup, watching all the brown and white bubbles dance magnificently upon the black of the coffee. The bubbles are swirling and colliding with each other. They form and dissipate over and over again and I am endlessly fascinated. Here I am — sitting here, staring down into the cup, utterly transfixed and looking like a complete idiot. Fascinating!

There! — the bubbles have coalesced into the center of the cup, and if you look closely you will see that there are multiple layers of coffee bubbles stacked upon each other, hundreds of them. Little satellite bubbles on the outer rim move closer and collide into the super-bubble-form located in the center, like asteroids merging with the moon. The closer the satellite gets, the faster is flies into the collective. Then the super-bubble-form drifts to one side of the cup and disperses itself flat along the rim. Then the bubbles rise up and it starts all over again.

Just as the snow pile outside my writing room window resembles a giant mountain, just as a cell resembles a galaxy, the bubbles in my coffee resemble the multi-universe, forming and dissipating and re-forming on into the depths of infinity.

***

An Honest Liar

I have stated previously that I put no stakes on immortality, or even the near future, but that I live only for the present, that one continuous moment of being. Yet if this were true, for what purpose do I write my books and provide them to the public? Like all writers past and present, known and unknown, I am plagued with a subconscious vanity for glory and recognition from my fellow man. I write with mortality upon my fingertips, with the secret hope that if my works are not read now, then at least sometime after I am dead.

Even now, I am imagining my corpse blue and rotting in its grave, and there are people — no particular people, just people in general — reading through my books, which have since graduated to hard copies, and the people are laughing, talking, enjoying my words and exclaiming and shouting the grand heights of my literary genius. What a load of Dukkha (suffering)! What a selfish dream, what a human dream, what an ego trip!

Thus, all I have written has either been a lie, or an accessory extension of that lie. Lies are close to illusions. Illusions are close to Life, which may or may not be an illusion (I haven’t decided yet, to tell you the truth). Is it true that Life is an elusive lie, and if so, am I telling the truth? Oh, me, oh, my! Down what rabbit hole have I gone to now? And exactly who am I?

Well. At least if anything, I am honest.

My Creativity Is My Tombstone (A Tribute to Cannibalism and Miles Davis)

It’s a good night to be a writer. The moon is waxing and the stars are shining and Miles Davis is playing from beyond the grave just for me. Kind of Blue. Oh baby, what a great record this is. I compose my sentences tonight in accordance to his soul and mine. And how do you like that? I like it just fine. OK.

As a writer of poetry and general lively observation, I have a nasty habit of writing with an awareness of my own mortality. This might be seen as bleakly pretentious by some. Yet I cannot help but think as I write — what if these words that I’m now penning down were my very last? It is a question of ego and self-importance. Wise men and women of my fellow species understand that being remembered isn’t so important in the grand scheme of things. Yet my self-importance persists, like some ragged corner of a sunken gravestone sticking up from ground for others to stub their toes on. Whoops!

I always write my stories and poetry with an understanding that perhaps they will be read only after I am “good and dead”. I won’t say after I’m “passed on”. Passed on is such a silly minded euphemism. Meant for the weak minded whom don’t care to discuss the natural phenomenon of death with the use of practical, direct language. You know it.

Kings, presidents, CEOs and an otherwise various panorama of rich assholes current and throughout all time have spent a lot of time and a lot of money, and a lot of resources and lives on being remembered. They hire wage slave labor for the building of monuments and statues, of well funded foundations and extravagant markers for the sake of preserving their ego for the rest of posterity. You and I know these men were merely crazed fools greedy for self-importance and post-necro security. These men weren’t humble or kind men, and they probably weren’t that important of men either. Not if they had to pay the citizenry money to secure their memories in some organized, fine tribute. I personally refer to this as an Existentially Pathetic Display of Ego Preservation. Dig it.

But let’s get back to me, the writer, your number one guy at this very moment. Anyone who knows me knows I’m certainly no CEO, president, king or otherwise rich asshole. In fact, I’m rather the polar opposite. I’m a working class asshole, meager and rather close to the poverty line, in fact. But to some extent, I am admittedly still self-important. I picture myself as a contemporary peasant, without name or honor, and hungry for base immortality…but I won’t ever pay people to build monuments or institutions in my name. I wouldn’t do that even if I did have the spare cash. No. I just write down my words, man. I write, paint and sing my own songs. And I love the special human beings I’m blessed with every day.

I figure the human brain is the most impressive construct to be created via process of evolution in this currently known version of the universe, so I’d better attempt to utilize it to its greatest extent — and that greatest extent, to me, is creativity. And when I am “good and dead” as they say, what will be left is the material of my most personal thoughts and ideas. I will tell my beautiful girlfriend, my family and friends, don’t buy me an elaborate stone or a marker. Don’t put me in one expensive as hell “cremation receptacle”. Those things are for the death dealers of our race making their millions of dollars. I won’t be a sucker for them, not even in death. So you can just throw my body in a meat grinder and package me up neatly and ship me to some hungry cannibals as soon as you’re able. Cannibals are people too you know — and they deserve fresh meat for their dinners. They can eat my packaged up meat and make unique furniture from my bones. They can take my skull and bleach it clean and put a light bulb inside for a quality lamp. In short, I want to give to the less fortunate, even in death. No boring, plain Jane organ donation for me! And oh me, oh my. I can tell by your expression that you believe I’ve gone loony. Well, I digress. Here’s where all this is leading to. Here’s all I’ve really wanted to say this entire time. The rest has been accessory, an add on, an elaborate explanation.

My creativity IS my tombstone.

There you are and so be it. I’m Kind of Blue, baby. Mahalo! 

Tombstone for Creativity