Reading and Writing

Old Book and Pen I like to write and I like to read.  But, my relationship with writing, literature and publishing goes a little deeper than that.  I would go so far as to phrase it as a love affair.  For some, writing is about language.  For me, it’s also about books.  Books are beautiful things.  By picking up a book, you instantly plug into five thousand years of human history, culture and knowledge.

Books and my involvement with them have taken me to interesting places: both real and imagined.  While in High School, I thought long and hard about a career in graphic layout and design.  I first worked for a printing house and later interned with a layout firm.  These experiences culminated in a stint as the Senior Production Editor for an academic journal.  From those experiences, I learned to appreciate not just good writing, but also book making. Here you will  articles, essays and links about both.

Articles and Essays

Miscellaneous Bullshit

  • Of Artists and Artisans.  There are two types of creative personalities: artists and artisans. This essay explains what distinguishes them and dissects the differences.
  • An Audiobook Conversion Story. A well read audiobook can reveal complexities of narrative and make you appreciate a story in new ways.  This is the story of how I became an audiophile.
  • Religion and the Rise of Civilization.  For much of human history, Science and Religion have had a tumultuous relationship.  But though they occasionally quarrel, they are not enemies. Far from it. In fact, you might just say that they are jointly responsible for the rise of civilization.
  • The Positive Power of Propaganda.  As a communication medium, propaganda has gotten a bum rap.  Throughout its long history, propaganda has been used to influence, educate, and bring about positive change.  This article explores one example used to bring down the European slave trade in the early 19th century.

The Inheritance Cycle –
Christopher Paolini

  • Truth and Fiction.  An introduction to Inheritance’s more nefarious ideas.
  • Eragon Shadeslayer: Sociopath.  Sociopaths choose evil because they can, they don’t have baggage, they don’t need a backstory and they don’t need a motive.  They just are.  It is very odd, then, that the central hero of the Inheritance Trilogy is a thorough sociopath.  This essay explains why.
  • Inheritance Questions and Answers.  Why do we cling to moral absolutes and high minded ideals in an amoral and relative world?  Short answer: knowing black and white help to clarify the shades of gray.
  • Some Thoughts on Children’s Literature.  A well meaning reader wrote to say, “[Brisingr] is just a children’s book, can’t you cut it some slack?”  The short answer to that question is, no, I can’t.  This essay explains why.

Book Reviews

  • The Solstice of Strange. There are some backs that are so bizarre, strange and terrible that you just can’t book them down. Summer’s Path, by Scott Blum, is one of those books. Avoid it, at all costs.

Anathem

  • Anathem: Big Book, Big Ideas.  Say what you will about Neal Stephenson, but he doesn’t think small; and his novel “Anathem” is proof.  To know what it’s about, you really just have to read it.  Hopefully, though, this article will nudge you in the right direction as you do so.

Essential Reading

Martin Luther King

  • A Letter from A Birmingham Jail (PDF).  “We know from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  For years now, I have heard the word, ‘Wait!’  It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity.  This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’  We must come to see … that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ … We have waited for more than 340 years for constitutional and God-given rights … and there comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.  We are done waiting.”

Ramblings and Deep Thoughts

My Collection of Stories

Typography, Bookmaking and Design

  • LaTeX.  LaTeX is a typesetting system that enables anyone to create professionally typeset and well-structured documents.  It allows you to focus on the content of your writing without needing to worry about the layout, or appearance of your work.  You simply write.  Once finished, LaTeX will generate a document that is internally consistent and surprisingly elegant.  This page contains links to articles, tutorials and other resources to help you get started with LaTeX.
  • Designed to Be Looked At.  Small choices in a document, such as the position of images, the spacing of paragraphs, and choice of type can have a big effect on how people read and remember what you write.  This article explores an example created by Massimo Vignelli.