Archive for April, 2010

Yet more readings…

April 30, 2010

Just trying to catch up on the reading quest

15. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

The crappy local mall bookstore went out of business many months back, and so, when the stock was getting priced lower and lower, I went and picked up a few books that looked interesting. This was one.

Henry VIII was an absolute giant in his own time. He solidified the English monarchy when it had bounced all over the place. And he had problems with women, specifically those he married. My father had taught me the basic story as a boy: six wives– divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. And in a nutshell, that’s it.

But there’s so much more depth here. The incredible scheming, the religious paranoia, and lots of humanizing touches– like the claim that Henry never consumated his marriage to Anne of Cleves because she smelled bad. Considering that this was the 1500s, I assume that everybody probably smelled like a garbage dump, so that Anne of Cleves must have been one noxious lady. I also enjoyed the story of Katherine Howard’s father, of whom little information survives, except a letter where he complained to someone that a medication he had taken had caused him to “bepiss my bed.”

Weir wrote a very interesting and fair look at a complicated time, and at six women and one man who would change the world. It was long… but enjoyable.

16. The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the ’60s Pop Sensation by Andrew Sandoval

I had high hopes for this book. I dug the Monkees during their late 1980s rerunnings. I thought the book would be a nice chance to learn a little more about the Semi-Fab Four. Unfortunately, Sandoval’s book is only useful for the superfan. I don’t care that on July 18, 1968, Mike recorded a song called “Tapioca Pudding” with his friend, Bill Noname on backing vocals, and that the other Monkees didn’t like it, but after seven remixes, it was eventually placed on a 1990s Rhino album. Yeck. Slow, slow, slow reading… and by the end, I feel much less warm and kind toward the Monkees. They were handed pop success, and instead wanted to record their own rambling crapola.

17. A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall

I can tell you about this book, or this story. Or just show you the video which put it in print. I’m not watching it again, because it seems like somebody keeps slicing up onions about 2/3 of the way through the video. At least, that must be what it is. Yeah.

And turn your speakers down, unless you want deafened by Whitney Houston.

Henry VIII 656
Monkees 288
Christian 256

So now… my totals 16.2 books, 6,058 pages.
To be on pace for the goals of 50/20,000: 16.3 books, 6,521 pages.

Ouch. So the book count is almost right on, but I have fallen about 470 pages behind pace. Might be time for that giant John Lennon book, or the giant Abe Lincoln book.


More reading materials

April 5, 2010

Will see if I can remember these all… no promises.

11. Dave Barry’s Money Secrets by, you guessed it, Dave Barry.

Every so often, I get an itch for a good Dave Barry book. They’re lightweight reading, generally a lot of fun, and just pleasant all around. “Money Secrets” can’t hold a candle to “Dave Barry Slept Here”, which is on the short list of books that ALWAYS crack me up. But it’s still a fun book. If you like Dave’s irreverent humor, you’ll dig it.

12. The Card by Michael O’Keefe and Terri Thompson

A confession here: I was a terrific baseball card nerd as a kid. I still have a few cards left over, but fortunately, I left the hobby at least mostly behind. This book talks about a particular card– a 1910 T-206 Honus Wagner card, which is apparently in the best condition of the few such cards in existence. This is the card that people have paid literally millions of dollars for now. The book goes on to look at the massive amounts of fraud and unethical card doctoring which occur in the hobby. The long and short of it is that cards aren’t worth much anymore unless they are professionally graded. But the grading companies appear to be somewhat crooked, and some people get around them. It’s an interesting story if you like to read about baseball cards and/or consumer fraud. If not, just skip on.

13. The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies by Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow.

Just what is says. This book ranks and discusses the top 100 sports movies. Think of your favorites– they’re all here, along with a few you’ve probably forgotten, a few you’ll wish you had forgotten, and a few that sound worth checking out. By way of a complaint, Rudy is WAAAAAY too low at 50-somethingeth. You don’t need to be a sports nerd to enjoy the book– but being a movie nerd probably would help.

14. Bluegrass by William Van Meter

Van Meter’s book is a chronicle of the murder, investigation and associated trial in the Katie Autry killing. Autry, a freshman student at my alma mater of Western Kentucky University, was raped, beaten, and set on fire in her dorm room. The book focuses on Autry and on the two suspects in her murder– Stephen Soules and Lucas Goodrum, one of whom is in prison for life, and one of whom walked free. Van Meter doesn’t unveil any novel theories of the crime, or even point fingers, so much as he raises possibilities, and writes of three young lives that intertwined in a hideous moment. I won’t say I enjoyed it, but it was a careful and thoughtful book, and is one worth reading.

Total Books: 13.7/50 (counting 1st book, which was mostly read in 2009, and two books in progress, mentioned below)
Total Pages:
Last count 3,770
Dave Barry– 240
The Card– 256
Sports Movies– 352
Bluegrass– 240
Two more in progress– one at 140 pages in, the other at 75.
TOTAL: 5,073

Pace needed to meet goals of 50 books/20,000 pages: 12.9 books/5,151 pages.

So there we are: almost a full book ahead, but still about 80 pages behind. One of the two in progress is a nice 600 plus page monster, which should help balance these out.

Stay tuned.