Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The earth-shattering Ka-Boom

Last night on twitter (and yes, every time I write that, I hear the tv recap voice in my head. You know: "Previously, on Alias...." I digress. And I still want to be Sydney Bristow when I grow up.) I asked for people to recommend things that would make my head explode. Although I wasn't specific, all the suggestions were things to read. (I'm actually not surprised by that - I'm a writer, many of the people I follow are writers, many of the people who follow me are writers. It's the way of things.)

I'm excited about this list, and the possibility of an exploding head. Er, the figurative possibility. Because when something blows the top off my brain, creates new pathways in there for the information to run through, makes me see things in a different light, and connect them in different shapes, well, my writing gets better.

Yet even though I know this is what happens, that a sure way to born new ideas in my fevered brain is to listen to something weird, or read something outside of my comfort zone, when the writing (or my life) is being difficult, I retreat to the literary equivalent of flannel pajamas. My comfort books are well-worn.

I'm ready to challenge myself. To experience something new and different, that will thunder through me like Beethoven's Ninth. Tell me, where should I start?


  1. Well, I don't know that much about your reading habits, so you might already have read the book I'm about to suggest - but I have found Hakawati from Rabih Alameddine to be a very, very interesting read. Also, maybe Insciallah by Oriana Fallaci, but I am not sure if it was translated in english. It's one of her novels, one of the few that are not overtly biographical. I'd also suggest The Demons by Dostoevskij, but I am fairly sure you have read that one.

  2. Thanks Alessia,

    That looks like a really interesting list. And while I've read Dostoevksy, I haven't read The Demons, and I rather think I should.

  3. Someone probably already said this, but just in case: _Godel, Escher, Bach_. The author's conclusions about AI turned out to be wrong, but the book is still very much worth reading anyway, for the ideas it explores along the way.

    Also, Ecclesiastes. It's the ultimate "big picture" book. It's short enough to read through once in a single sitting, interesting enough that you will be compelled to read it several times, and deep enough that it significantly altered my entire outlook on life.

  4. Jonadab: Thanks. Both are great suggestions. I really appreciate them.

  5. New to the blog (and your twitter feed, from whence I came), but find this interesting. Not so much to suggest anything, but to find out what your list ended up as. Care to share? :)

  6. Hi Geoff,

    Thanks for stopping by, and for introducing yourself. I don't so much have a list yet, but a good friend recommended David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. It was on my list of books I really should have read already, so I'm starting there, and I'm only sad I waited so long.