Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What I've been reading

Or listening to on my way to work. Most of my "reading" these days is done while driving. A good reading can add a lot to the book, I think, as it makes the story come alive more, but a bad reading can make you really hate some of the characters.

Recently finished:
The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, a year in the life of a soccer team of a small village in Italy's B league. Fascinating look at the players and the travails of a not quite good enough team competing where it didn't belong. Almost a feel-good story, but a bitter end to the true story.
Revenge, A Story of Hope.A woman whose father was shot (but not killed) by a random Palestinian terrorist while vacationing in Jerusalem plots revenge on the guy and his family. She ends up making friends with the family. Interesting, not compelling.
Yogi Berra's favorite baseball radio shows, oslt. Some radio shows from the 1940s featuring baseball players. I mention this only for tangential reasons. One, I think Abbott and Costello are partly responsible for my sense of humor, which relies way too much on the pun. I used to watch old A&C movies when I was 10 or 12. Two, the ads were part of the show and some of the ads were for cigarettes ("TMFLS--Tobacco Men Favor Lucky Strikes", "Camel works on your T-zone: That's T for Taste and T for Throat", you had to smoke whatever you could get during the war and that should have made you appreciate Camels even more). Three, the guest stars were not like they are on Letterman or Leno, but would take part in routines where they played themselves, often badly. Four, the jokes were corny.

"My Losing Season", by Pat Conroy, author of The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, and others. Conroy recounts his senior year as the point guard on the 8-17 1963 Citadel basketball team. The author's father was a sadistic Marine, his coach just tore down his players anytime they did something good, and The Citadel itself tore down its cadets. Fascinating look at an undertalented misfit struggling to get past the abuse of all the authority figures in his life and figure out who he is. I was in love with this book about halfway through, then I read a couple well-written negative reviews of it and it ruined it for me. I suddenly saw the author's flaws and inconsistencies and it just wasn't the same.

The politics of glory: how baseball's Hall of Fame really works, by Bill James. I'm on the ultimate Hall of Fame Committee and was looking to one of my favorite authors for ideas. I would like to help set up the process so that errors are infrequent and don't get compounded. For instance, we'll make it clear to voters that you don't use the lowest common denominator argument (X is a better player than Y, and Y is in the Hall, so X belongs in the Hall), because that leads to an inevitable decline in standards.

An American story: the odyssey of Solomon Northup. True story about a free black man who was kidnapped in 1839 and held as a slave for 12 years.


luke said...

just finished a book called like 'men of ice' or something, about hockey (like men at work by george will), then the history of the 1980 hockey team, called the boys of winter, lonesome dove by mcmurtry, currently reading surely you're joking, mr. feynman , into the buzzsaw by various which addresses the myth of free press, waiting on dark alliance by gary webb which is your basic cia conspiracy book if ever their was one, also waiting on Harry Potter, In french, as it seems the best way to relearn the only foreign language i ever learned.

Anonymous said...


if you're into military/cia conspiracy stuff, look into killing hope by william blum.

Justin R said...

i tend to go for historical stuff. a couple that i have liked recently:

"a path between the seas". tells the story of france's and the united states efforts to build a panama cannal. it's abridged but still very good, and well read.

"endurance" yeah the whole shackleton story. if you've never read or heard about it, it's fantastic. especially if you have ever been to the artic/antarctic.

parinella said...

I read "Endurance" on my way to a two-week science experiment on an ice sheet in the Arctic, about 60 miles north of Barrow. It's one of the most memorable stories I've ever read.

I love the character of Richard Feynman. I'm not sure they'd all get along, but I'd love to be at a dinner party with him, HL Mencken, and Arnold Palmer.

luke said...

Godforsaken Sea, about solo boat racing around the world is a great one in the vein of the whole Shackleton thing... Especially, if like me, you found the small boat trip and herculean journey to the whaling station the most compelling part of Endurance...

luke said...

miracle of castel di sangro is one of my favorite books.

parinella said...

I wish it would have had a happier ending, though.

This was another case where my opinion of it was hurt by reading reviews that called the author a know-it-all blowhard.