Friday Links 08-04-11

From the Web

Cal Newport’s Automatic Schedule – Another great post about productivity at Study Hacks. I have a similar system to the one Cal describes, where most of my focus is on the non-routine tasks and activities. Everything else becomes a habit that uses up less energy to perform. While writing blog articles, going to the gym or finishing regular assignments requires thinking, if you’ve been doing the same thing for months, it doesn’t require the same focus to get done.

Write Like a Blogger – A post about the nuances of a blogger writing style. A few good tips:

  1. Use headlines. Not just boring ones that announce your purpose, but interesting or puzzling or engaging headlines.
  2. Interactivity is a great shortcut. Your readers care about someone’s opinion even more than yours… their own.
  3. Don’t be afraid of lists. People like lists.

From the Archives

You Suck. Get Over It. – “Life isn’t a steady escalator. Sometimes getting better requires that you first get a lot worse. If you can’t admit to yourself that you suck at something, chances are it will hold you back from future improvements.”

From the Shelf

Slaughterhouse-Five – After finishing Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Kurt Vonnegut’s writing style is a joy to read. The last few books I’ve read have been 800-1200 page odysseys, so it’s great to see a well-written book under 200 pages. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade, A Duty-Dance With Death looks at the fire-bombing of Dresden in WWII. The twist is that the story is told from the perspective of Billy Pilgrim, an optometrist who has slipped out of time and is captured by aliens.

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  • James Avery

    Slaughterhouse five is one of my favorite books, I can’t tell if this is the first Vonnegut you have read but if it is you should also put Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater. If you enjoy essays then Fates Worse Than Death is a great read.


  • Sam Crockett

    Slaughterhouse-Five is a true classic. When introducing Vonnegut to someone that is the first book I recommend they read. It’s often hard to find a writer with Vonnegut’s style and prose that can write an enjoyable story in so few pages. The closest anyone has come is Chuck Palahnuik, though he even has a writing style all his own.

    Is there any authors that you would recommend for fans of Vonnegut?

  • Scott Young

    Sam & James,

    I’m still new to Vonnegut, so I can’t comment on much more. But I really enjoyed his style, so I’ll probably read more of his books soon. Palahnuik is also a great writer, I enjoyed Fight Club, and I plan to read Choke.