Thursday, December 19, 2013

The 12 Days of Gheorghemas: Day Seven

On the seventh day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me . . .

Seven Books for Reading
Six cocktails

Five gooooals / things
Four legal mic drops
Three critters and an otter
Two names for naming
And a fat guy in a jer-sey

I'm not going to beat around the bush and attempt to humblebrag. I read a lot of books. Real books. LONG books. Can you even brag about something so nerdy?

I attribute this not simply to the fact that I like to read. A lot of people I know like to read, and many of them don't read a lot of books. I get shit done in the book department because I don't mind starting several books until I find one I really like, and once I really like a book, I don't mind committing to it. Though I've been called ADHD as much as anyone (who is not actually diagnosed with ADHD) the truth is that I don't really love surfing the web, or browsing magazines. I don't watch the news or scan through the channels on TV or go on Facebook or Twitter. I like albums over songs. This can be a disadvantage. At times, I can be be totally out of it, and not know basic current events or pop culture. But I love getting lost in a big idea or a convoluted plot, and I also have a deep appreciation for people who spend years of their lives researching and writing on one topic.

I went through Sentence of Dave, and I think this is a fairly accurate list of the books I finished this year. If I actually finished a book, that's a credit to it, because I'm willing to bail on a book I don't like fairly quickly. I am rather arbitrarily choosing seven of these books as "must reads," but don't take my choices too seriously -- they are all good reads (except the George R.R. Martin fiasco A Dance with Dragons . . . I hope that guy dies before he finishes his next exercise in prolixity).

Some Books I Finished in 2013:

Far From the Tree, Wild Ones, The Goldfinch, Antifragile, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Columbine, The Great Stagnation, The World Until Yesterday, A Perfect Mess, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I Wear the Black Hat, Fist Stick Knife Gun, The Looming Tower, A Dance with Dragons, The Devil in the White City, Overdressed, House of Mirth, Psychiatric Tales, Collision Low Crossers and Infinite Jest.

Here are the seven that I urge you to read.

Collision Low Crossers: A year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football

by Nicholas Dawidoff

I just finished this one, and while I would probably have enjoyed it even more if it were about the Giants (I can imagine how compelling this book would be if you were a diehard Jets fan) but, rooting interests aside, I think this is going to be regarded as one of the greatest sports books ever written. Take that recommendation with a grain of salt, because I love saying something is the best thing ever (until the next best thing ever comes along). Anyway, this is my book of the year. 460 insightful, vivid, brilliantly written pages.

What does it offer? Nothing typical. No Cinderella story. No dramatic run to the Super Bowl (that would be the 2011 Giants). Just a great reporter, who "embedded" himself with he 2011 Jets and writes a comprehensively detailed account of all the stuff you don't see on Sunday: the camaraderie, character, and monomania of the coaching staff, the hours of watching film, tactics at the Combine, grading and evaluating players, the invented language of football, what goes on during the countless hours these men spend at "the office," the complexity of play-calling and strategy, the mind-numbing mundanity of the meetings, the anxiety of trying to play a violent sport at the highest level possible, how to be a leader of men, what happens when you don't win, what happens when your quarterback doesn't step up, loads of everyday minutia, and defense, defense, defense. An inside look written by a total outsider. Right up there with The Blind Side and Friday Night Lights.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

by Catherine Boo

Everything you need to know about living in a Mumbai Undercity (and more!) An incredible work of journalism, and a great reality check that will make you appreciate your life (unless you live in a Mumbai Undercity . . . then it might just offer some practical tips on how to get by salvaging junk and navigating the byzantine Indian legal system).

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

Just noticed that this is the only novel on the list. That says it all. Dickensian to the max. Picaresque.

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

by Andrew Solomon

If you are a parent (or have parents or know any parents or have ever been a child or know any children) then you must read this book. A magnum opus that took ten years to write. The least you can do is spend a couple weeks reading it.


by Dave Cullen

If Newtown disturbed and confounded you, take a step back and read this comprehensive account. Another ten year effort.

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America

by Jon Mooallem

This is one of those books that I serendipitously stumbled upon, and immediately felt like it was written expressly for me. Butterflies, cranes, and polar bears. Occasional mega-fauna.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

by Erik Larsen

If you like architecture and serial murder (and who doesn't) then this is the book for you. Because I read a lot, I forget a lot. Though I read this a while ago, I still remember it vividly, and I imagine the images from this book will stick with me for the rest of my life.

The book I am most proud of finishing this year -- Infinite Jest -- didn't make the list because it's ridiculously long and probably only geared for elitist douche-bags. That being said, it is about sports, and it is kind of humorous, and Jerry finished it long before I did, so it is another one to keep in mind, if you like tennis and have (more than) some time to kill.


T.J. said...

only one guy:

- doesn't use the proper gheorghemas tag

- spells out the number

philbert, you are the worst

Jessica said...

I had a Christmas wishlist of books. The only novel I asked for was also The Goldfinch. Love Donna Tartt.

T.J. said...

let Santa work his magic, m'am

Dave said...

you two should form a book club!

what is the proper gheorghemas tag?

T.J. said...'s "gheorghemas", assface

Greg said...


Clarence said...

Gorgheous Gheorgemas Assfaceous

Nice work, Philbert. You read books like TR hits the john and TJ hits the ballot.

zman said...

I've got more hits than Sadahara Oh.

zman said...

Its a Basil Hayden's kind of night.

zman said...

Speaking of New Mexico, their supreme court legalize gay marriage today.

TR said...

Why do you think I was there? Boitano!

Squeaky said...

TR, you could do better.

Squeaky said...

Officially off until the 2nd. I will definitely have to try those recipes from Danimal over the next week.

Mark said...

Last night I was seeing Dave Chapelle. Tonight I'm home with the kids while my wife is at the Justin Timberlake concert. What the fuck?

rob said...

had a pre-dinner bulleit manhattan. thanks danimal!

also, i could've sworn i just read dave slagging someone for being prolix. must be the whiskey.

kevy said...

Well done, dave.