What I’m Reading – To Infinity and Beyond

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Blog, What we read

What I’m Reading – To Infinity and Beyond

I’m an avid reader. I’m also an extremely visual person with a short attention span — so I read in fits and spurts.

Ted VanderveenIt may sound weird, but the very first novel I ever read was Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry. My grandmother, who taught high school English in Chula Vista, California, gave it to me for Christmas one year. The entire Star Trek story blew my mind. I was especially fascinated toward the end of the novel, with the revelation of the “V’ger”, which at its fictional heart was based on Voyager 6 and the very real Voyager space probe program. Roddenberry was the first author who made my jaw drop, and eventually led me to another favorite writer, Douglas Adams. The novels in his five-part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series are some of my favorites. They are witty yet approachable, and riddled with fantastic quotes, far too many to list here. One favorite: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” I find the most randomly hilarious line from Hitchhiker’s Guide to be when Arthur exclaims: “There’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out.” Reading that always puts a smile on my face.

Aside from science fiction, journalism remains one of my favorite genres to read. Through my middle and high school years I was drawn to the writing of political satirist P. J. O’Rourke — I even had my mom plunk down a subscription to Rolling Stone so that I could read his stories. O’Rourke led me to an even edgier form of journalism in the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. I read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey into the Heart of the American Dream” in 1987 (a full fifteen years after it was published) and was blown away by the narrative style — in spite of the controversial nature of some of Thompson’s subjects. Sticking with the Rolling Stone theme, I enjoy reading Matt Taibbi’s articles (knowing that he has a somewhat rocky relationship with the magazine). I consider Taibbi the only current events writer with the pedigree that might allow him to inherit the legacy of O’Rourke — unfortunately I think P. J. has become quite boorish in his role at Cato and The Atlantic. Yes, I am a total nerd.

1985 Sidd Finch

Reading has also shaped, and continues to inform, my career in visual media. I was in college when Sports Illustrated dropped what I consider the greatest April Fool’s Day prank of all time — the Sidd Finch issue. The cover article, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch”, was written by one George Plimpton, the same man who had enticed me to ask my parents for an Intellivision video game system when I was a kid (they obliged). The article was a piece of storytelling genius, some of the best prose I think I’ve ever read. And when it was revealed that the entire thing was a hoax, just a joke to fool the reader since the issue hit newsstands on April first, I wasn’t mad — I was even more impressed. I am still amazed at how visually real the article was, and how many people it fooled.

To keep current on my craft, I am constantly scanning various visual media blogs. Since my forte is digital/video marketing, I’m particularly interested in the burgeoning realm of 4K resolution — something that’s anticipated to be adopted much more quickly than standard 1080p FullHD. I spend a lot of time reading posts on 4krumors.com and 4kshooters.net.

Outside of science fiction, edgy journalism, and digital media, I’ve been told several times recently to read Jason Gray’s book, “Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living.” I haven’t gotten around to digging into Gray’s book too deeply yet, but I am already hooked by the introduction:

“The book you hold in your hand is a rule book. There have been rulebooks before—stacks upon stacks of them—but this book is unlike any other rulebook you have ever read. It will not make you rich in twenty-four hours, or even seventy-two hours. It will not cause you to lose eighty pounds in a week. This book has no abdominal exercises. I have been doing abdominal exercises for most of my adult life, and my abdomen looks like it’s always looked. It looks like flan. Syrupy flan. So we can just limit those expectations. This book does not offer a crash diet or a plan for maximizing your best self. I don’t know a thing about your best self. It may be embarrassing. Your best self might be sprinkling peanut M&M’s onto rest-stop pizza as we speak. I cannot promise that this book is a road map to success. And we should probably set aside the goal of total happiness. There’s no such thing.

Like the title says, I want us all to achieve little victories. I believe that happiness is derived less from a significant single accomplishment than it is from a series of successful daily maneuvers. Maybe it’s the way you feel when you walk out the door after drinking six cups of coffee, or surviving a family vacation, or playing the rowdy family Thanksgiving touch football game, or just learning to embrace that music at the gym. Accomplishments do not have to be large to be meaningful. I think little victories are the most important ones in life.”

Reading itself is a little victory for me. It’s a time to become engrossed in something I love, to become more informed about our world, to reconnect to another time in my life, or to bring a smile to my face. Gray’s book sounds to me like the perfect thing to be reading right now — I can’t wait to get started.

About the author

Ted Vaderveen – Digital/Video Marketing Specialist + Ambassador of Buzz


John Arthur – Writer & Wordmatician

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