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2017 Summer Reading

I haven’t read as much as I’d like to this summer, but when I finish reading Beatles Gear and Stephen Donaldson’s The Power That Preserves, I’ll read two of these titles I bought recently at City Newsstand:

I’d already read the issue of Tape Op, as I’m a subscriber and read/save every issue, but my May/June issue was mauled in the mail and I wanted a clean copy. I look forward to reading the other two soon!

The Visuddhimaga (“Path of Purification”)

buddhaghosa-with-visuddhimaga

I finally finished reading the Visuddhimaga by Buddhaghosa (translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Nyanamoli). The Visuddhimaga (“Path of Purification”) is a comprehensive summary/analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path. Written in the fifth century, this 900-page book can make reading Proust seem like a walk in the part, but the little gems tucked away in the text make it worthwhile, like the verse in the section dealing with anapanasati:

“So let a man, if he is wise,
Untiringly devote his days
To mindfulness of breathing, which
Rewards him always in these ways.”

Or the lines on aging:

“With leadenness in every limb,
With every faculty declining,
With vanishing of youthfulness,
With memory and wit grown dim,
With strength now drained by undermining,
With growing unattractiveness
To wife and family and then
With dotage coming on, what pain
Alike of body and of mind
A mortal must expect to find!
Since aging all of this will bring,
Aging is well named suffering.”

I’d already read sections of this book over the years, but it was nice to read and view the work as a whole for the first time. That said, I prefer practical Buddhism and don’t like to waste time on such ideas as rebirth-linking, supernormal abilities, etc. I’m glad I read this book. To be honest, though, I’m up for a little light reading.

Books I Read in 2015

Here are the books I read or reread in 2015:

  • The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook, Third Edition (Bobby Owsinski)
  • Tune In–The Beatles: All These Years #1 (Mark Lewisohn)
  • The Dhammapada (translated by Irving Babbitt)
  • The Dhammapada (translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita)
  • The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What to Post, How to Blog, and Other Proven Strategies (Dan Zarrella)
  • My Struggle: Book 1 (Karl Ove Knausgaard)
  • Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha’s Path (Bhante Henepola Gunaratana)
  • The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses (Kevin Birmingham)
  • The Mastering Engineer’s Handbook, Third Edition (Bobby Owsinski)
  • A Confession (Leo Tolstoy)
  • Buzzing Communities (Richard Millington)
  • Don’t All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller (Brett Milano)

Greatest British Novels I’ve Read

British Flag

When BBC Culture asked book critics to name the top 100 British novels and then published the results earlier this month, I couldn’t resist going through the list to see how many I’d read. As it turns out, I’ve only read 15 of them:

  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne)
  • Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
  • Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
  • The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
  • Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)
  • Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
  • David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
  • The Forsyte Saga (John Galsworthy)
  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • A Room with a View (E.M. Forster)
  • Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
  • Sons and Lovers (D.H. Lawrence)

I do have Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf) on my Kindle, so sometime next year I’ll make it 16. Until then, however, I’ve got some nonfiction to catch up on.

For more from the BBC, see “What makes a ‘Great British Novel’?”

Half Price Books

Half Price Books

One of my favorite places to shop is Half Price Books, so for my birthday last month, among other things, I received a Half Price gift card. I finally got the chance to drop in yesterday, and I found some treasures:

Book

  • The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses (Kevin Birmingham)

CDs

  • The Legend Begins (Tony Sheridan and The Beatles)
  • Gene Vincent (Gene Vincent; 2 CDs)
  • The Chess Blues-Rock Songbook: The Classic Originals (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection) (Various artists; 2 CDs)

Hey, isn’t Father’s Day next Sunday? 😉

I’m a Reader – The Jerrys

I'm a Reader

My new single, “I’m a Reader,” is available as a free download!

I’m a Reader

If it’s got what I want
If it’s got what I need
Then I’ll pick it up
And I’ll give it a read.
If it’s got what it takes
If it’s doing it for me
Then I’ll read it again
‘Cause that’s just me.

I’ve got to have it.
I love the smell of a page.
I can’t help it
‘Cause I’m a reader.

If it’s only a tweet
Or a Ulysses
Then I’m right at home
I’m feeling at ease.
If it’s only a word
Or a tome or two
Then I want to read it—
How about you?

You know I love it.
I love the words on a screen.
I can’t help it
‘Cause I’m a reader.

If it’s making me laugh
If it’s making me cry
If it’s telling me how
If it’s telling me why
If it’s got what I want
If it’s got what I need
Then I’m eating it up
‘Cause I love to read.

I’ve got to have it.
I love that reading all right.
I can’t help it
‘Cause I’m a reader.

Words and music © 2015 Jerry Schwartz

 

Books I Read in 2014

Here are the books I read or reread in 2014:

  • Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio (Mike Senior)
  • The Subterraneans (Jack Kerouac)
  • Journey to Mindfulness (Bhante Henepola Gunaratana)
  • Get More Fans (Jesse Cannon and Todd Thomas)
  • Who I Am (Pete Townsend)
  • Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix (Charles Cross)
  • The Dhammapada
  • The Recording Engineer’s Handbook, Third Edition (Bobby Owsinski)

My Top 10 Favorite Last Lines from Novels

Books

When Stephen Covey penned “Begin with the end in mind” as the second habit in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he wasn’t referring to novel writing, but it’s great advice nevertheless for anyone wishing to write a novel. Just as novelists must work and rework the first lines of their creations to engage readers from the start, so must novelists regard last lines in terms of importance—it’s been said that the opening lines sell the book, while the last line sells the next book. I’m nowhere near finishing my second novel, but I’ve had the end in mind for some time now, and I’ve been thinking a lot about last lines. In no particular order, here are my top 10 favorite last lines from novels:

“…you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable

“All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”
Voltaire, Candide

“His father and grandfather could probably no more understand his state of mind than they could understand Chinese, but those who know him intimately do not know they they wish him greatly different from what he actually is.”
Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

“yes I said yes I will Yes.”
James Joyce, Ulysses

“L—d! said my mother, what is all this story about?— A COCK and a BULL, said Yorick—And one of the best of its kind I ever heard.”
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy

“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

“Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining.”
Samuel Beckett, Molloy

“I shall feel proud and satisfied to have been the first author to enjoy the full fruit of his writings, as I desired, because my only desire has been to make men hate those false, absurd histories in books of chivalry, which thanks to the exploits of my real Don Quixote are even now tottering, and without any doubt will soon tumble to the ground. Farewell.”
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

“And I go home having lost her love. And write this book.”
Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans