now that we’re in glorious summer, it’s time to plop down on a stretch of lawn somewhere and enjoy a good book, and even more ideal with a yummy beverage.
lately, books have been occupying my time like microfroth monopolizes the os market, but that would be an unfair comparison since books are not hated by me. when i was younger, periodicals occupied more of my time: they were full of color, the info was current, and the articles were sufficiently short that i didn’t have to spend too much time agonizing over the the contents. but as we change, so do our tastes, thus book it is. i secretly envy my more well-educated brethren and sistren for their encyclopedic recollection of quotes from books with ancient names, as though the words held secret knowledge, deciphered only with the appropriate decoder ring or the correct edition of a long-lost estonian dictionary, and perhaps a windtalker or two. (i imagine my well-educated brethren & sistren would sneer in mockery at the mere mention of an enigma machine, certainly a piece of buffoonery not worthy of the slightest challenge of their intellect.) as such, i’m frantically trying to catch up by reading more, not that it’d make any difference at this point of the game. suppose i actually have to learn to enjoy reading. ughhh. perish the thought.
all kidding aside, reading to me is a way to experience. as many pool players can attest, sharking is a constant bane of their game. i posit that it could be that a player is sharked because he or she has not experienced what a particular sharking move would feel like in his/her mind. it is possible that once a player experiences a sharking move, he/she will be better prepared for it the next time around. it is also possible that if someone were to describe the move in advance to the player, he/she can mentally prepare for it by coming up with coping strategies to offset the move’s effect. so to combat sharking moves, experiential knowledge can be valuable. in my limited scope of thinking, experiential knowledge can be obtained by physically going through an experience, e.g., gambling with someone, or by learning from examples, e.g., a player passing on his/her experience, or reading. yes. now you see where this is leading.
as a reader, i’m not super picky. i tend to read books on different subjects because they interest me. besides, you don’t really know what you’re going to learn by picking up a book outside your scope. put it this way, if all you’re reading are stuff by tony robbins, you’re not going to be a well-rounded individual, and neither will your library or bookshelves. similarly, if i’m one-dimensional, i would not link to a quilting blog. granted, the blogger is a pool player who quilts (or maybe a quilter who plays pool), but still. sometimes going outside your comfort zone can yield pleasantly unexpected results. and when was the last time you used your two hands to make something? if i tried to make something with my hands, i’d look as clumsy as a cub bear playing with his p~*k, pardon my french.
anyway, here are some books i recommend reading. as i’ve mentioned before, use your local library first so you can see for yourself whether you want to buy it or not. if you fancy (huh!) with a nook, you can read most books on nook for free when you visit the local barnes and nobles store. don’t know if amazon has a similar deal for kindle; i know that ipad users have to buy the books. you can download a sample on all three devices, and that may be enough for you to decide on the purchase.
ayn rand. i enjoy most books by rand. if you’re super lazy, read the anthem to get an encapsulated version of randian philosophy. it’s free on the gutenberg project as well as on most ebook readers, so don’t buy it. i must say that the anthem will hardly do rand justice, so start with we the living or the fountainhead, then move on to atlas shrugged. some of rand’s books contain very graphic themes, so be warned. oh, if you happen to be Christian, don’t even try to reconcile randian philosophy with Christian beliefs. it can’t be done. if you do, either the mental gymnastics were extra-terrestrially heroic, or you’re insane. (feel free to read a small treatise by my friend on this subject.) read the books for what they are though, you’ll enjoy them and possibly be changed forever. this is not me talking. many rand readers have experienced it.
natan sharansky. if you’re in the mood for heavier stuff (not that rand is light by any stretch of the imagination), sharansky outlines why it is necessary to fight against tyranny. his books defending identity and the case for democracy are both gems. and sharansky should know: he was imprisoned in russia as a political prisoner, no picnic by anyone’s standard.
vince flynn. this is good rollercoaster fun. mr. flynn specializes in crazy cia assassins novels, and they are ultra-violent with a flow that’ll carry you to the end like a class six whitewater rapid. an almost perfect summer read. start at the first book term limits and work your way through. the blockbuster of novels.
david baldacci. master plot weaver; you pretty much will guess your entire way through one of his books. baldacci rose to fame when his novel absolute power was made into the movie starring clint eastwood and gene hackman. baldacci has written a bunch of stand-alone novels as well as different series starring different main characters. use wikipedia’s bibliography page to figure out which series is which, and start at the beginning of each series. (or read one of the stand-alones if you want to try his novels out first.) baldacci’s books are quite dense, but the payoffs are usually super satisfying. good for extended vacations where you’ll be sitting around somewhere enjoying icy beverages with warm sand between your toes.
howard wasdin. a former SEAL team six, wasdin wrote the memoir SEAL team six detailing some of his experiences as one of the world’s elite supersoldiers. if you wish to gain some insights into the mind of a top-flight commando, this may do the trick.
dr. laura schlessinger. most of us living in the US know who dr. laura is. like her or hate her, you have to respect the way she puts her opinions out there, knowing they’ll be judged by millions. as a champion for traditional values, dr. laura is second to none. her latest book, surviving a shark attack (on land), deals with the subject of betrayal and revenge. very good read.
car and driver. probably the best car magazine on the planet. if you know any other car magazine who’ll race an m1a1 tank against a car powered by a tank engine, or do a review on a street sweeper, lemme know. i dare ya.
blogger extraordinaire omg enjoys books by edith wharton, so check those out if you like. after you finish reading, put down your books and hit a few balls. you need to stretch your limbs after all this, you know? and drink a cool beverage.
let me leave you with this.
I have closely noted that people who watch a great deal of TV never again seem able to adjust to the actual pace of life. The speed of the passing images apparently becomes the speed they aspire to and they seem to develop an impatience and boredom with anything else.
. . . Of course these changes in cultural behavior and the invention of diversions are part of an economic system far beyond my ken. I think of it as a matter of swimming in an anemic, sterile, and crowded swimming pool stinking of chlorine compared to swimming in a lake back in the woods, the lake’s edge rimmed with flowering lily pads upon which small turtles sit, a heron or two in tall pines or in the shallows, a few water snakes in the reed beds, and when you dive down you see fish resting motionless under upraised logs. Even the black depths look attractive compared to a swimming pool, like a rainy spring walk in the woods compared to a serial where people in New York or L.A. are shot or pummeled to the tune of witty quips.
~ Jim Harrison, Off to the Side