Recommended Reading 2014

Every year, I curate my list of read books to present to you a few that I think truly stand out and are worthy of your time and energy…to say nothing of your hard-earned bucks! This year, I heartily recommend you read:

  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin
  • The Last Policeman by Ben Winters
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  • I Am the Mission by Allen Zadoff
  • The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer
  • Joyland by Stephen King

Learning to Sleep

© 2008 Christopher Meredith. Used under Creative Commons 4.0.

Given that I’m an idiot — and a self-absorbed one, at that — it probably comes as no surprise to you to learn that of the myriad things I did not know about babies until I became a father is this: Babies don’t know how to sleep.

More accurately, babies know how to sleep, but they don’t know when to do so or how to fall asleep. I was stunned to watch my daughter — clearly exhausted beyond belief — fight sleep with all her might,1 despite her very obvious, very desperate need for some shut-eye. Babies, I learned, have no clue how to fall asleep. It is the job of their parents to teach them.

Now, it is family lore that I — quite infamously — never slept as a baby. So at least Leia comes by her insomnia honestly. My father, to hear him tell it, did not sleep a wink during the last Nixon Administration, spending his late nights rocking me in a cradle, keeping himself awake by watching old reruns of Perry Mason.2

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  1. And she has a considerable amount of might.
  2. This was ancient times, people — no Netflix. No DVDs. Hell, no cable!

Horn Book Reviews Lucky Day

Lucky DayWay back in September, The Horn Book reviewed Lucky Day. Somehow, I missed this!

Appropriately, given its adult protagonist, the tone of this prequel is very different from the novels’. Instead of Jazz’s teenage first-person narrative, here a partially omniscient third-person narrator relates G. William’s (very mature) concerns and experiences.

Check out the complete review here.

Interview: Twinja Book Reviews

I’m interviewed over on Twinja Book Reviews for their Diversity Month. I loved this interview; lots of smart questions that I haven’t been asked before.

Including this one, which I’ve never gotten before:

a few of us fan girls gotta know, are you a Sista on the low [or a] black guy with a Full Blown vitiligo?

If you want to see my answer to that one — and much more, including discussion of Connie, Howie, and Dear Old Dad — check out the interview!

The Secret to My Success

Often times, I will be walking down the street when random passers-by will approach me and inquire, “Barry, how is it that you are so successful? What is the secret that makes women weep and men tremble at your approach?”1

I usually modestly brush them off, but I’ve thought recently that perhaps I should share the secret of my success with you, my closest friends on the Internet.

How did I become such a towering figure of renown and fame? How did I come to bestride the world like unto a Colossus? I shall tell you, and the telling you shall be now.

Oatmeal.

That’s right: Oatmeal.

Since the very earliest days of my career, I have eaten oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every single day. Exceptions are made when I’m at a breakfast meeting or when my wife gives me that look that says, I cannot abide watching you eat oatmeal again, so we are going out for brunch.

But easily 300+ days a year, I eat oatmeal for breakfast. I’m a creature of habit and routine.2

And you’re thinking Oatmeal, and I say, Have you been listening? Yes. Oatmeal.

Perhaps you are skeptical. Perhaps you scoff. Perhaps you think there can be no connection between oatmeal and success. But I can tell you this: I’ve breakfasted3 with M.T. Anderson and do you want to know what he ordered?

That’s right, punk: Oatmeal.

If it’s good enough for YA’s own personal Jesus, why isn’t it good enough for you?

Now, realize that when I say I eat oatmeal, I speak not of a simple grayish bowl of mush, as you might see in a production of Oliver! or on a small child’s high-chair tray. Oh, no. I have an elite, special recipe that I will now bequeath unto you, so that you, too, may achieve your dreams. Here we go:

Uncle Barry’s Success! Oatmeal Recipe

  • 1/2 cup Quaker Quick Oats
  • 1/2 cup H2O (“water”)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 palmful blueberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 banana, sliced evenly
  • 1 handful chopped walnuts
  1. Combine the oats, “water,” and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Nuke the combination for one minute and forty-five seconds. No longer, no shorter. Tamper not with the timing.
  2. Add the honey and stir until evenly distributed.
  3. In the following order and only in the following order, add the remaining ingredients: First blueberries, then banana, and finally walnuts.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy your oatmeal and your success. They are both delicious.

You may be tempted to substitute blueberries with, say, blackberries, or a similar fruit. You may be tempted to use the whole banana, or even to replace the walnuts with almonds. DO NOT DO THIS! STRAY NOT FROM THE RECIPE, OR ONLY DOOM AWAITS YOU!

Ahem.

There you go: Now just do that every day for several years in a row and you, too, will walk on water.



  1. Sometimes the women tremble and the men weep instead. I’m not sure why.
  2. Someday, I will tell you about the lunch I eat every single day. But you aren’t ready for that yet. Patience. The time will come.
  3. “Brokefast?” “Brokefasted?”