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Posts from the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Vonnegut and Fitzgerald Ponder Punctuation

Only dorks like me have opinions on semicolons.

I love quotes and tips about writing, especially from the great writers.

So, on occasion, I’ll throw a writing post into the mix–especially if it has something to do with an author on the Time list.  In fact, the most popular post in the history of this blog is about writing.

Anyway, here are two of my favorite quotes about punctuation from two authors on the Time list:

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The Blah Story is Full of Blah

You can’t make this stuff up.

I stumbled across this last month while we were discussing the longest novels in literature. An “author” named Nigel Tomm “wrote” a “book” that consists of 23 volumes, 11,338,105 words, 61,745,771 characters (with spaces), and 17,868 pages.

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So You Want To Write A Novel?

It’s Friday, so I thought I’d veer off the beaten path a little bit.

I absolutely love this video a friend sent me the other day. It’s clever, hilarious, truthful.

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The Plan

As Gone With The Wind lumbers along, I thought I’d write a little about my plan for this 101 book adventure.

I’m a numbers guy. When I’m training for a marathon, I love creating an Excel sheet with 54 runs, adding up the total mileage, tracking my pace for each run, and so on. But, mainly, I like having a plan.

This is no different. Like running 26.2 miles, my strategy here is to start with a steady pace–not too slow, not too fast. With that in mind, I started out of the gate with several manageable books, no more than 300 pages each: The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Slaughterhouse Five, Lord of the Flies.

This is kind of like Dave Ramsey‘s debt snowball.  Pay off the small debts to create momentum before you get to the large debts. Same thing here. I guess you could say Gone With The Wind is the $80,000 student loan then. I am about 70% complete after a month of reading.

There are quite a few bulky books on the list–Gone With The Wind, Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, Lord of the Rings, just to name a few. I’ve got to spread those bad boys out or I’ll never keep my momentum going. That’s the general idea–four or five short-to-medium sized books, then a long book. Rinse and repeat.

I haven’t mapped out the order in which I’ll read all 101 books. Right now, I’ve planned about 3 or 4 books ahead. The next three are The Big Sleep, Blood Meridian, and I, Claudius.

As always, feel free to make suggestions, or join in on the fun and read along with me.

Famous Opening Lines


I think some of the best book openings insert the reader into an immediate point of tension. There’s drama right off the bat. I can appreciate books that provide a lot of back story, but I have to make myself be patient.

Moby Dick isn't on the list, but it has one of the most famous opening lines in the history of literature.

So I’m adding one section–“the opening line”–to my reviews of the 101 books. I think it’s pretty self explanatory. I’ll simply write out the book’s opening line. If my review sucks, maybe the opening line will spur you on to read more.

Since I’ll be doing this going forward, starting with my review of Gone With the Wind, I thought I’d write out the opening sentences of the four books I’ve already reviewed.

The Catcher in the Rye: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

To Kill A Mockingbird: “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”

Slaughterhouse Five: “All this happened, more or less.”

Lord of the Flies: “The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon.”

Even though its my least favorite of the first four books I’ve read, Lord of the Flies has my favorite opening line of these first several reads. Who is the boy with fair hair? Why is he climbing down a rock? Why is a kid in a lagoon?

These are the questions I get from just reading that first sentence. I think The Catcher in the Rye has a great first sentence, too–one that provides a lot of questions and tension right away.

What’s your favorite opening line of any book?


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