Book Challenge – Nominated by Tony Livernois
“In your status list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends, including me so that I can see your list.”
Imma gonna cheat and lump some books together in genre chunks, just to be different. And I probably thought too hard and took too much time about this as I started listing. Not a good role model, I guess. I think I need an editor . . .
“Why Time Begins on Opening Day,” Thomas Boswell. – This is a go-to, multiple re-read favorite of all the baseball lit I’ve devoured since I was a scrawny kid checking out towering armfuls of ANYTHING baseball related from the Hild Regional Branch of the Chicago Public Library (a mere two miles from Wrigley Field). Could have also chosen anything else by Boswell, Wait ‘Til Next Year (Doris Kearns Goodwin), Boys of Summer, Ball Four (and Ball Five), Moneyball, Veeck as in Wreck, Only the Ball Was White, Babe (Robert Creamer), Satchel, Lords of the Realm, Season Ticket, Eight Men Out, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly, The Physics of Baseball, Ya Gotta Have Wa (Japanese baseball), Cobb, I Never Had It Made (Jackie Robinson), I Had a Hammer (Hank Aaron), Men at Work, Koufax – A Lefty’s Legacy, Baseball As America, You Know Me Al (Ring Lardner), Shoeless Joe, and dozens of others – plus dozens of non-descript baseball histories, biographies, and anthologies. Damn, this is fun remembering all these books.
Harry Potter series – so important to our whole family. The craze over the books hit as Adrian was approaching the age of the main characters. We read the books out loud to him, then to Ben, and each other. We awaited the next book with great anticipation, as well as the movies. The whole of our early parenting lives are milestoned by each of Rowling’s books. The guys will always have these stories embedded in their early memories; so glad they were of such great quality and imagination.
“Tao of Pooh,” and “Tao of Piglet,” Benjamin Hoff. Karen and I were big fans of the A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh stories (along with the original illustrations by E.H. Shepard). We gave each other Pooh gifts, outfitted our first nursery with Pooh wallpaper (NOT the Disney stuff), etc. The kids heard us read them all the original stories over and over again. We came across the Tao of Pooh during this phase and loved it. One of my first glimpses to the simplicity and peacefulness of Taoism, Buddhism, and other Eastern philosophies. Cherished memory of reading the book aloud to Karen at a beach in western Michigan early in our life together.
“Jurassic Park,” Michael Crichton. Read this entire book out loud to Karen in our hotel room during our honeymoon in Cancun when she caught a bit of the Montezuma’s Revenge. The cover art alone takes me back to memories of the lovely views from our balcony, ordering room service in my pidgin Spanglish, and climbing El Castillo in Chichen Itza (which, I think, is now prohibited).
“The DaVinci Code,” Dan Brown – I’m not much of a fiction guy, but when I started this one, I couldn’t put in down until I finished it. Gripping. Similar reaction to Angels and Demons. Apprehensive about picking up his other stuff; will ruin my sleep.
“Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin. Fascinating, humanizing bio of Lincoln. Was always a fan of Abe (who isn’t, especially growing up in Illinois), but this deepened my understanding of the real person and the history of the time exponentially. Better than the movie (Spielberg’s “Lincoln”), which was also good.
“The 20th Century Children’s’ Book Treasury.” Can’t remember how we got this book (probably a gift), but I read from it to the kids for many years. Best bedtime story book EVER. All in one book, we had Madeline, Curious George, Guess How Much I Love You, The Stinky Cheese Man, Make Way for Ducklings, Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, The Sneetches, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Alexander & The Terrible, No Good Very Bad Day, and LOTS more. All high quality; mostly Caldecott winners. Indispensible.
Anything written by Dave Marsh. Dave is a rock critic, author, columnist and list maker. He wrote mostly at Rolling Stone in its heyday, but is still at it and still the best and the one I trust. I’ve read so many of his thoughtful, expansive, definitive bios of music figures (Elvis, Springsteen, The Who, etc). His Rolling Stone Record Guide was like a bible to me as I was learning about the best the genre had to offer. And a nice guy to boot – met him at a book signing when I was still a teen. I’ve digested tons of other music bios over the years by other authors (Elton, Jim Morrison, Beatles, Lennon, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Buffett, etc.). But Dave’s the man.
“Up the Down Staircase,” Bel Kaufman. Written in ’65, I probably stumbled on this as a kid in the seventies. Chances are good that Mom picked it up at a rummage sale as a bag of books for a buck. Quirky book about life as a teacher; memorable mostly in its method of story telling without much prose; a series of memos, letters, interoffice communications, etc. Story still holds up great even though.
“A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance,” Leon Festinger. First communications theory and theorist that caught my imagination as an undergrad coms studies student. Basis of quite a few papers.
“Dreams From My Father,” Barack Obama. This came out in ’95, before he ran for Senate in Illinois. When I first heard his name, I thought he had NO chance for ANY office of ANY kind. Hearing an early speech and debate during his Senate campaign inspired me and got me to seek out this book. I knew then we needed this guy . . .
“Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility,” Charles Larson. One of my first undergrad texts in Communication Studies and an outstanding one. First published in ’74 and in its 13th edition. I’m still remembering passages as I write anything. First to get me thinking about audience perspective.
“Try and Stop Me,” Bennett Cerf. Another one from the buck bag of books. Short stories, jokes, puns, and mini-bios of the noted performers of the 30s and 40s from the founding publisher of Random House. Re-read many times along with others of his compilations. Very entertaining and informative. Brought an understanding of the era, the main characters of the day, and an early influence on writing style.
I nominate Liz Shimkus, Adrian Thornburg, Bart Smith, Cathy Cousins Veal, Ron Stutts, Ron Pine, Matt Shaw, Janelle Booth Clevinger, Mary Parker Sonis, Bill O’Luanaigh, Johnny J. Jones, Andy Bechtel, Patti Barretta Steele. Way too many; I need an editor . . .