On the seventh day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...Seven Books For Reading (Seriously)
Six Beers Worth Drinking
A fiiiiifth Golden Ring..... (please?)
Four Years of Marcus;
Three Scummers Picking;
Two albums to look forward to; and
A fat guy in a jersey
Last year, I read twenty-two books (according to my Gheorghemas post). Not too shabby, if you look at how many books most Americans read each year. And many of these books were either long or difficult . . . or both: Infinite Jest, The Goldfinch, Far From the Tree, Columbine, etc.
Congrats to me.
Though I titled last year's post Seven Books for Reading, it might have been better titled: Seven Books You Can Brag That You Read (To Other Elitist Bastards). I'm proud I powered through them, but I'm not sure they were practical recommendations.
This year, however, was different. This year I read a shitload of books-- many of them short and many of them easy (two superb traits that our fearless leader Rob possesses). Plus, I was really sick in the spring with the flu and bronchitis, and I went on a cross-country trip for much of the summer. So I had some serious reading opportunities. I am proud to say that I read forty-six books, and many of them are actually books for reading: crime fiction and travel and sports and financial stuff. Here are the seven most memorable-- and I've included the covers so you can judge them:
1) The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
Megafauna and an impending biological apocalypse (if you're partial to humans). This is the only "serious" book on the list, but it's vivid, surprisingly readable, and contains information vital to human survival-- so you might want to skip it and move down to the crime-thrillers.
2) The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian Mckinty
It's 1981, and a hipster Catholic cop (who is partial to The Clash) treads some dangerous ground: he's a member of the Belfast RUC, the mainly Protestant police force . . . and being the token Catholic on the force is difficult enough, but he's also simultaneously dealing with the constant civil unrest and a bona fide serial killer. Read the trilogy.
3) Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine by George Dohrmann
If you're a parent and/or a coach, you need to read this book. It's a wild ride, full of highs and lows, despicable characters and inspirational moments, and it will change the way you view youth sports. A Mark recommendation.
4) The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
I read this in August, while I sat on the beach at Sea Isle City, surrounded by my friends and family. While they laughed and had good times, I was immersed in a world of DEA agents, drug cartels, and torture. LOTS of torture. Winslow reads like a blend of two of my favorite authors: James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard; after I read this one, I went on a Winslow binge: Savages, The Winter of Frankie Machine, The Dawn Patrol . . . they are all worth reading.
5) Ready Player One by Ernest Kline
This book was so entertaining that I felt guilty while reading it. I recommend it to anyone enjoys references to Joust, Zork, TRS-80, War Games, Pac Man, John Hughes, Dungeons and Dragons, and things of that ilk.
6) Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush by Geoff Dyer
an entire book about a nearly unwatchable science-fiction movie). To write this relatively short book, he crammed his long and rangy body into an aircraft carrier for a few weeks; then, in spectacular Geoff Dyer fashion, he just hung around, complained a bit, and observed how things went: his insight is alternately absurd and inspirational . . . and if you've never been in the military, then this book is not only entertaining, but it's also educational (warning: if you're on the flight deck, watch out for the cables!)
7) A three way tie: Flash Boys, David and Goliath, and Think Like a Freak
Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, and the Levitt/Dubner duo have been churning out some of the slickest, most entertaining, and totally excellent non-fiction ever written. Even though these these three books will probably be considered minor efforts in their collective oeuvre, they were still totally entertaining and totally worth reading. Flash Boys sheds light on the dark and weird world of high-frequency trading; David and Goliath turns multiple underdog stories upside-down; and Think Like a Freak explains what David Lee Roth and King Solomon have in common.
Below is my entire list of books from 2014. Right now I am reading The Gentleman's Hour by Don Winslow and A History of the American People by Paul Johnson. I will certainly finish the Winslow book; it's a crime thriller set in San Diego-- lots of surfing, drugs, and male camaraderie, but I doubt I will get through the Paul Johnson tome . . . but there's always next year.
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead , What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, The Cold Cold Ground, American Hippopotamus , Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life, Looking for Alaska, The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers, The Improbability Principle, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, The Interestings, Dare Me, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, You Should Have Known, Dog Soldiers, Lost in My Own Backyard, Expiration Date, The Improbability Principle, Flash Boys, The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death, It's Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State , Travels with Charley, The Lost Continent, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity, and the Many Paths to Greatness , Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism, Power of the Dog, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, I Hear the Sirens in the Street, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture, Think Like a Freak, Bad Land: An American Romance, Shelter, Ready Player One, The Fever , Over Easy, The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession, Savages, The Winter of Frankie Machine, Dawn Patrol, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World