Archive for March, 2010

More Readings

March 11, 2010

Finished 9. Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs

I enjoyed the book. Jacobs’s biggest talent is making himself appear as some sort of “just plain folks” normal guy. Truth is, he went to an elite private high school, graduated from an Ivy League University and is the spawn of well-to-do New Englanders. And yet, he manages to paint himself as just a normal guy. Well, a normal guy who reads the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. A good trick.

10. Living on the Black by John Feinstein

Feinstein is an utterly unlikeable human being who happens to write some solid books. He’s most famous for spending a year with a 1980s vintage Bob Knight to produce “A Season on the Brink”. But this time, he spends a year catching up with late career Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina. He provides some interesting insight into the art of pitching. HIS trick was that he actually humanized Glavine to the extent that I felt BAD for him that the mean old Atlanta Braves only wanted to pay him $9 million per year to pitch, instead of the $11 million that he plainly deserved. It was a difficult trick, as I wanted to beat Glavine and Feinstein about the head with this 500+ page book when I figured the trick out. Ah, if only I could’ve pitched. I could’ve had four days to blog in between my starts.

So there we are.
As of yesterday, March 10th (day 69 of the year)
Books: 9.2 (thus resolving the “Magic in the Night” 2009/10 controversy
Page Count: 3,770
Pace needed to meet goals of 50 books/20,000 pages: 9.5 books/3,781 pages

So there we are. ALMOST on proper pace. Dave Barry is next up, so that promises both fun and a quick book (although a low page count).


More Books

March 1, 2010

And on with the great literacy challenge of 2010.

7. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller.

Donald Miller is one unique cat. He would be my Christian theologian most likely to be seen in a bar. And in his latest book, he talks about what he learned in preparing one of his autobiographical/essay books to be a movie. Basically, he had to create himself in a movie. Which, admit it, we’ve all done 7,000 times in our head. I’ve even got the soundtrack to mine, even though I still have to figure out a scene which allows for a semi-random use of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”.

From this premise, Miller hypothesizes that LIVING a life is, essentially, creating a story. We can sit on the couch and watch a lot of reality shows (or read Christian themed literature), or we can go out and DO something, something to strengthen our relationships with God, and with other people. And that juxtaposition isn’t coincidental. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is half of God’s own two most important commandments.

Miller reconnects with his father, rides a bicycle coast to coast for charity, falls into and out of love, and describes a renewed commitment to living life aggressively rather than passively. Which is a good focus for a Christian book. Most of your Christians aren’t out there lopping off heads and sodomizing animals. If they fail, they often fail for lack of initiative and involvement. And hopefully, Miller helps prevent that here. I dig it, as I have pretty much all of his books.

8. Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich.

From Christian spirituality to card counting. Mezrich recounts the story of a group of MIT math students who use an intricate team-playing system to bust casinos in games of blackjack. The book is so fun that it reads like a thriller. Unfortunately, the more I read about the book, the more I learned that Mezrich played hard and fast with the truth. Jeff Ma is the real name of Mezrich’s main subject… google him if you want some more info about all of this.

And if it all sounds familiar, the movie “21” was made from this book. I’d love to see it, if anybody wants to send me a belated Presidents Day gift.

9. (ongoing) Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs

Jacobs is a magazine writer who decided to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Wacky hijinks ensue. He had me in the earliest pages of the book when he confessed that this wasn’t the worst idea he’d had– that he once tried to write a screenplay about a President with Tourette’s syndrome, called Hail to the Freakin’ Chief.

Or when he recounted an article from an old edition of the EB, which stated that ex-President John Adams retired to a life of drinking a tankard of hard cider every morning before breakfast and admiring the size of his manure pile. Of course, you can insert your own President/hard drinking/piles of crap joke here, with the name of said President likely being indicative of your particular leanings. But if you say it about John Adams, it was apparently true.

So anyway, the page count…
2,250 +
A Milion Miles 288
Bringing Down the House 288
Know-It-All 200 (so far)
TOTAL 3,026/20,000
Books: 8.6/50

And correct pace through 59 days of 2010 would have been 3,233 pages and 8.1 books. So I’m a bit behind on my page count and a bit ahead on my book count. Or am I? I counted “Magic in the Night” as a full book, when I read about 80% of it in 2009. I did go back and only count 50 pages from the book… so that probably explains the disparity there. I’m actually probably a little behind on both fronts. But hey, there’s 10 months to go.