Seven days of my books and me

Reggie Jackson was my first favorite baseball player and I always read way above my grade level as a kid …

… which is how I wound up reading a book published when I was 9 that had the expression “uppity (you know the word, starts with ‘n’)” in the third paragraph and “If bull—- was religion, he’d be the Pope” on Page 9.

Becky Turner tagged me on Twitter to share the covers of seven books I own, without any explanations or reviews. (Instead, like she did, I’m writing after it’s done.)

Because I’ve read so many sports and non-sports books, I decided to make it 14 books, two for each day.

Rick Perlstein’s “Before the Storm” about the rise of Barry Goldwater and the conservative movement in the 1960s was the book I randomly paired with “Mr. October.” It’s the first of a trilogy that also includes “Nixonland” and “The Invisible Bridge,” and I recommend all three, regardless of your politics.

Chuck Culpepper’s “Bloddy Confused!” and “Brit(ish)” by Afua Hirsch are the only two I grouped together on purpose, as their both about England.

I read “Bloody Confused” before I went to London the first time, and as someone who was just starting to learn about soccer, it was exciting to read about his experiences getting immersed in the game.

The book starts to suffer in the second half, where he’s starting to understand a little better, and it wasn’t as good on second reading because the mystery and wonder were gone, although the story of the club he was following, Portsmouth, since he wrote the book is probably due for a book of its own.

On each of my trips to London, I always wind up getting two or three books about Great Britain, and “Brit(ish)” was a fascinating look at the life of a woman of African heritage in London.

When Will Ferguson writes humor, he makes you laugh from the first page to the last.

When he writes about life, it is both captivating and melancholy.

In “Hitching Rides With Buddha,” his memoir of walking the whole of Japan, he does both, and the result is a book that is by turns incredibly funny and utterly, heartbreakingly sad.

”Why Time Begins on Opening Day” is one of the best baseball books I’ve ever read. It’s more than 30 years old, and the writing still holds up.

“A Problem From Hell” is not a light read. It’s not a fun read.

It’s about genocide, after all.

But it’s brilliant read. It also led me to “Shake Hands With the Devil” by Romeo Dallaire, which just missed making this list.

I had read dozens, if not hundreds of baseball books before I got my hands on “Slugging It Out In Japan” by Warren Cromartie, but none of them had been about playing in Japan, which meant I knew nothing about it. Instant appeal.

Every year, I get “The Best American Sports Writing” for Christmas, and no matter what other books I get, I always read it first.

I am never disappointed. The writing is brilliant, even if it’s about topics I wouldn’t care much about otherwise.

There was a stretch where I read a lot of World War II books, and I included Stephen E. Ambrose’s “D-Day” over one of the selections from The Liberation Trilogy because I read Ambrose first.

I’ve read multiple books by Thomas Friedman since “From Beirut to Jerusalem.” None have been nearly as good.

”Good Enough to Dream” is about a year Roger Kahn spent as owner of the Utica Blue Sox, then an independing team in the New York-Penn League. I loved it, but it took on a whole new meaning when I read it after going to college in Utica.

I’ve gone to both Murnane Field and Spilka’s.

I know I was in the minority, but when I read it, I thought “A Season on the Brink” was actually pretty flattering in spots.

Not that John Feinstein didn’t detail Bob Knight’s temper and profanity — far from it — but I knew about that when I picked it up. However, the book also included moments of compassion, generosity and kindness between the curse words.

That being said, I haven’t read the book in years — it fell victim to a bottom bookshelf and a cat with end-of-life bladder-control problems — and I’m not sure it would hold up today.

I had a social studies teacher in high school, Mr. Golden, who every now and then would show videos by Tom Peters about successful businesses.

Almost everyone in the class hated them. I loved them. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Peters is still alive, and still active on Twitter. Although he was paired up with “A Season on the Brink” randomly — they were the last two left — I’m not sure he’d be thrilled to be side-by-side with Bob Knight.

So those are my seven days of books, but what really interested me was what I realized as I chose them.

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When Becky tagged me, I joked with her that I’d post a picture of my Kindle for seven days, since that’s where I do almost all my reading now. (The book pictured is “The Red and the Blue” by Steve Kornacki.

But when I searched through the 127 books I have on the Kindle — one of the reasons I like it, as I’d need to build another room on my house otherwise — “Brit(ish)” and “The Best American Sports Writing” were the only two that lived on my Kindle, although I have several editions of the latter on the device.

As I asked myself why, I started to think about my relationship with my books.

I’ve enjoyed all the books on my Kindle, some more than others, but you could say that about physical books as well.

However, when I was looking for books to include, ones that jumped out at me, my Kindle books were just words on a list.

Even though I liked the books, and even though I love the convenience of a Kindle, they didn’t grab me the way, say, the sight of Will Ferguson’s name did in a way that said, “Oh yeah, that book was awesome. I have to include it.”

And my older books, especially my older sports books, I’ve read over and over, probably close to a dozen times for some of them.

Because that was a time when books were hard to get. It meant going to the bookstore — or since most of my books, then as now, were for Christmas or my May birthday, my mother going to the bookstore.

There was no Amazon to deliver to the house in a couple days, and there was definitely no Kindle, where if I’m ever out of books, I can have a new one in front of me in minutes.

Then, books were something savored, to read again and again. Now, they’re what I read, enjoy and then file away.

As I scrolled through the list, there were a lot of books I had forgotten I owned.

It’s not better. It’s not worse.

But it’s different.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Seven days of my books and me

  1. You, Me and Benny

    oh wow this is really cool – I love old books and some of your books definitely look loved!!! Those are the BEST !!

    Like

  2. This is a really neat post. I think the differences between physical and digital books was a super interesting dynamic to bring up. I love the access that the Kindle brings (though I don’t have one myself), as well as the history that comes with physical books. Also, I’ll have to check out some of these authors! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Thoughts and a wish for 2020 – A Silly Place

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