About 4 years ago I started reading for fun. This is something completely out of the ordinary for me. I HATED reading as a kid and rarely ever made it through a full book. It was so boring and I always felt like I was going to fall asleep after just a few paragraphs.

I had to force myself, but I find myself enjoying a good read nowadays. The book that got me started on all this was “When You’re Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris. http://youtu.be/QabpFCnVnzk

I’m not sure what’s changed my thoughts on reading or why I don’t fall asleep on the third page anymore, but I’m proud to say that today I finished Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five“. It was good and for most people they consider it a short read. But to be honest it wasn’t short for me at all. I’m not the fastest reader out there…at least not when you have to comprehend/remember it. If that’s not the case then I’ve got it down to a book every 30 minutes. Just don’t ask me any questions about it. My favorite line was easily, “if the accident will.” I read it about 15 times and just kept looking at it. Out of context it really makes no sense, but the line before was something like, “maybe we’ll meet again.” I understood what the line was supposed to be, but I didn’t get it. Not one bit. If the accident will what? Why did he say it that way? And then it tagged me. The word “Accident” is treated as an entity. Almost like mother nature. He’s saying if the “will” of the entity “Accident” allows it. It’s just so clever. I don’t how he was able to come up with the things he wrote, but he did a great job at it.

I’ve read three of Vonnegut’s books these past couple year including “Cat’s Cradle” and “Sirens of Titan” which were both awesome. They truly make you look at how the world is and makes you shake your head. Besides the great writing I love how his books are setup. They are broken up not only into paragraphs, but into further smaller sections that make you want to read for a just a few more minutes, ok ok….maybe a just few more minutes and then boom a chapter is done. Any other book and I would be defeated by the length and move on.

I’ve created a goal for myself, using the Everest App, to read a book a month. I also need to set it up to remind me to write this blog daily. Once a month seems slow, but hopefully I’ll get faster. January I read “Start With Why” which had lots of great ideas and thoughts of how to go about communicating, but to be honest you get everything you needed out of his TED Talk (http://youtu.be/u4ZoJKF_VuA). I wasn’t a big fan of his speaking style, but his message is great.

So what’s on the shelf next? I just picked up Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to see how it goes. This typically wouldn’t be a book for me, but it was a present so why not. As for now, I’m proud to have killed another book. So it goes.

15 Years Crammed Into 1

This American LifeWell I did it. It took me 1 year and 4 months, but I have listened to all 402 hour long episodes of This American Life.

What started this OCD mess? 20 Acts in 60 Minutes did in December of 2008. I accidentally caught this show while driving on a Saturday afternoon and then I started listening most weekends on 89.9 WJCT. Then I found them online and it was on!

I listened to every episode in reverse order. I think that was the coolest part of it all. I could listen to stories regarding the election of a new president (15 years covered Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama) and then I could listen to the stories following up to it. The most interesting pieces I believe took place right around 9/11.  Starting in December of  ’01 and working backwards into August it was like walking through a fog and then all of a sudden daylight when the event hadn’t happened yet. I tried to explain this in a previous post.

Great episodes to start with:

Ira Glass does a great job hosting the show, but I find that I prefer Alex Blumberg as a producer even though they sound exactly alike. Don’t ask me why…it’s just how it is.

Scott Carrier is the one producer I really loved listening to. He has a mono-tone, but it doesn’t matter…his stories hook you. The first one I list below is a story about him and his brother testing a theory about how Native Americans ran down their prey instead of using advance weaponry. The second one is a compilation TAL put together.

Favorites of  Scott Carrier:

My other favorite producers are: Sarah Vowell, Nancy Updike,  Starlee Kine (best episode she has is 339: Break Up…she talks with Phil Collins about writing her own break-up song), and of course the stories of David Sedaris.

The TV Show: This American Life also has a TV show that is available to watch on Netflix. There is currently only 2 seasons, but they do a great job of making their radio shows come to life on the television.

The two very best ones are Season 1 Episode 1: Reality Check, and Season 2 Episode 6: John Smith.

I hope anybody that reads this actually takes the time to listen to an episode or two. Get lost in it…and really listen.