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6:58 a.m. - April 28, 2006
The Books, They Scream Read Me. I Saunter Away.
Before we get into today’s essay, first an important announcement from SmedCo:

“Patrons of SmedCo, hear ye, hear ye! Ye are hereby informed that starting this Sunday; it will be proclaimed “Music Week” here at Smed’s Corner. From this coming Sunday, the next seven days hence to next Saturday, Smed’s Corner will be about music, and only music.

Patrons will read about hymns, kid’s songs, the best and worst of his mixes from the people who know best – the receivers of said mixes, the Beatles, and more. Please mark your calendars accordingly and read on the prescribed days. Thank you.

Patrons may now resume regular activities.”

Late bulletin: Music week may be extended a day if a package from Oklahoma comes in a timely manner!


I try to read a lot. Because reading IS fundamental.

I get three newspapers a day. Ok, two of them are the local rags, and they’re very small, and the Lafayette paper isn’t exactly huge. I also get two Sunday newspapers, and that’s a good morning’s reading right there.

I have subscriptions to eight magazines, which are down from my peak of 12 just recently. But I cashed in some frequent flier miles for those mags (I only travel on business and only a couple of times a year, and it’d take me a bajillion (technical term) years to actually qualify for a free trip to somewhere where I’d like to go) and when some of the subscriptions ran out I said, meh. But the mags I get, I devour voraciously.

And then there are my books.

I really don’t read much fiction; my collection is mostly non-fiction. They can be split, mainly, into these six subgroups:

• Baseball – Especially historical and statistical analysis of baseball. No fluff. The hard stuff.
• Racing – Mostly about the Indy 500 and Formula One. Ok, all about that.
• Music – Again, focusing on the historical, the sociological, or the statistical (as in where did these records chart) variety. The music bios I have are critical looks, and not fluff.
• Hunter S. Thompson – Hell, I don’t know where to put him, so he’s his own category.
• Pop Culture – Humor books, TV books (I have a game show book, by gum), and some books on bad and cult movies.
• History – Analysis of various times in history. I love reading about World War I, the Popes, the Kings of England and Britain, US Presidents (the more obscure, the better), Dictators, and Serial Killers (though I sold back my books on those for our adoption home study. Though it would be prudent.)

As you see from this essay, I have a lot of books!

I keep buying them, too. In fact, I just got three from Amazon today in the mail.

Two are baseball books, one on the greatest blunders of all time in baseball history, and the second a detailed statistical breakdown of various myths and ‘truths’ – kind of the Mythbusters of baseball. The third book is a great pictorial history of Formula One racing from the beginning to 2002, I believe.

Of course, I’m going to be diving right into them.

However, this makes me feel a bit guilty.

I feel I’m betraying other books in the house. The betrayal list is twelve books, to be exact, which have remained either totally unread, or unfinished, since I bought them.

And what are those books that lay fallow, whilst the baseball books will be breezily (well, not breezily, since you do have to think about things) read in short order?

A Peace To End All Peace - by David Fromkin. This is the book I’m currently working on, and it’s fascinating. It’s a history of the Middle East from the beginning of WWI through the 20’s, where British and Western hubris basically exacerbated situations over there that kind of foreshadowed and let to this mess we have now. It’s a good read, but I lost the mojo when I took it to Baltimore and didn’t read it because I was “distracted” (in a good way) or tired (still in a good way). I really need to get back to it.

The Juice - by Will Carroll. Will’s a friend of mine. My sister-in-law got this book for me. This is about baseball’s drug problem, but I really don’t want to read about it since I hear about it all the flipping time on my websites and on ESPN.

Embedded in America - by The Onion. I read the site every week, though I’m not as rabid as I once was about it. This is a good bathroom book, and I’m just haven’t had a lot of potty breaks where it was handy lately. (Yes, men read all the time in the bathroom, ladies. We have to. It’s part of our charm!)

The Truth Book - by Joy Castro. Joy is a professor at Wabash, and this is her story of her life. It’s very poignant and touching, and deeply affecting. Her parents were involved in Jehovah’s Witnesses and this is the story of the abuse she suffered, her escape, and her journey from young single mother to college Professor and gifted writer. I need to read this, but I’m a bit afraid on how it will affect me.

Guns, Germs and Steel - by Jared Diamond. I really loved Collapse, and I know this is just as good, and when I get to it, I won’t put it down. But Kristin has been picking up books now and moving them around (no kidding) so I’ve lost track of where this has been in the pecking order.

The World Is Flat - by Thomas Friedman. I read Freakonomics in a weekend, and it was a good read. I know this is a bit more difficult to slog through, but I feel compelled to at some point.

The Coming of the Third Reich - by Richard Evans. I saw this got great reviews at Amazons, and I like my Nazis like this. Mostly dead, and analyzed in book form. This movement fascinates me (well, it also fascinates the History Channel, too) because of how insidious it was and how it took over an ostensibly democratic society (albeit one with mega issues thanks to World War I).

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - by William Shirer. This is the granddaddy of all Nazi books, and I think I’m just a bit taken aback by the sheer volume of it, but I shouldn’t be. Nazis and despots make smashing reading. I polished off a big book o’ Stalin in about a week.

The First World War - by John Keegan. I’ve started this a couple of times, and I think my mistake was taking it to conferences. I get too distracted at conferences to read serious books. There are too many people to see and meet and too many shenanigans going on! Of course, many of those shenanigans are self-inflicted, but hey.

Europe - by Norman Davies. I bought this comprehensive history of Europe a long time ago, because I was always intrigued about how Europe got to be Europe of today, and how the various kingdoms, principalities, and fiefdoms all became these countries with distinct identities. I did read some of it, but I’d need to start again, because you need your pillaging and smiting in chronological order, you know.

The Myth of the Great War - by John Mosier. Another one that was highly recommended on Amazon, yet I’ve not cracked it open yet, as I was waiting to finish the Keegan book before I dove into this. You know, I always have thought that the siege of Verdun would make a smashing film – a real piece of cinema instead of Hollywood fluff. Oh, go read about it here. See? Smashing film!

Utopia In Power - by Mikhail Greer and Aleksander Nekrich. I bought this in college and read some of it, and then I sold it to a used book store. I re-bought it when I realized I was intrigued in the machinations of the Soviet machine, and how it quickly turned into something that was never promised or intended. Plus, there are secret policemen everywhere, so beware.

I know, there’s not a lot of fluff on that list, and some of these books are going to be bears to get through. But I bought these books and I am still interested in the subject matters, so why aren’t I making an effort to read them?

Hmpf….oh look a baseball book! Yea!


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