You Should Read This Book

Ha.  That was a little like a quarterback fake.  Because I don’t really intend to recommend a book to you, I’m going to tell you how I decide what I read, and how.

First, I’ll try to explain the quarterback fake.  Fakename explaining anything about (American) football is a little like Fakename explaining nuclear physics.  Except I know a little more about football.

There are two ways to advance the ball down the field to the goal, which is either by running it or passing it.  A play always starts with the quarterback who more or less makes the decision of which to do.  It’s the job of the defensive team to be prepared for either one.  So a quarterback fake occurs when the quarterback appears to hand the ball off to a runner, but instead retains the ball and passes it.  This only succeeds when the QB has sufficient speed and stealth to pull it off, and/ or when the defensive team is sufficiently tired or inattentive enough not to catch it.

So please don’t be offended.  My QB fake was in the service of humor.

So where do I get book recommendations?  In no particular order:

1.  The library.  During fallow periods when none of my other sources have come up with anything that I’m particularly excited about, I just cruise the library, like an Orca searching for a seal.  That’s how I came up with “The Lost City of Z”, which turned out to be  a jewel of a book that I would never have known about if not for the library.

2.  The Book Page.  This a free monthly publication you can get at the library (and I think you can subscribe too), which does book reviews. The Book Page is the reason I now have, sitting in my car, a book called “Every Day, Every Hour”, and for the life of me I can’t remember why I wanted it.  But the publication has given me many other unfailingly good ideas, such as “The Snow Child”.

3.  NPR.  This is probably my number one source.  I often hear author interviews there and become intrigued.  This is why I just finished “The Odyssey of KP2”, about an orphaned monk seal.  I’m usually a sucker for books about animals.

4.  My book club.  I’m a member of a branch of a real book club, which we whimsically refer to as “The Long-Distance Book Club”.  There is a real book club in Virginia.  One of its members is a high school classmate of ours, so a very small group of us  got together and formed a group that works via email, and a blog we set up for discussion.  Often the books we read I’ve never heard of, and/or are books I would never have read except for the (voluntary) requirement to read them.  One per month.  So without that group, I would never have read “The Night Circus”.  Truly a startling and imaginative book.

5.  My sister.  She is an inveterate reader too, although we don’t always agree on what is a “good” book.  But as we speak, I’m reading a book she recommended.  “Rabid:  A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus”.  And it’s mesmerizing.  It takes the history of rabies from the first known writings about it and their explanations for it (quite amusing from the vantage point of the present), to cultural depictions of what were probably rabies victims in book and film (it’s thought that vampires and werewolves grew out of early observations of real victims) to Louis Pasteur’s successful creation of the first vaccine and his first use of it in a human being. And that’s only half the book–which is where I am now.

My next book will be a novel called “The Dog Stars”.  How do I know of this book?  From NPR.  Maybe one day I will get around to “Every Day, Every Hour”.  Or not.


14 responses to “You Should Read This Book

  1. OK. I had started a long-winded comment about books, where I hear of them or find them, with a list of those that I currently am waiting for the library to cough up. And where is this exemplary note you ask? I accidentally X’d out the window while jumping back-and-forth to that library list. I am so despondent over the loss of that prose that I am giving up the idea. At least for tonight.

  2. I get my book recommendations from Fakesister and another mutual friend, which is how I came to read “The Odyssey of KP2”. Or from Discover or Smithsonian magazine, which is where I heard of “Rabid”. Or from reading blurbs in a book catalog, Bas Blue. Or from displays at the library entrance, or by wandering the aisles. The latter is how I found my latest book, “Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever”.

    “Eclipse” tells of the times, the people, and the horses at the dawn of Thoroughbred racing as we know it today – beginning in the late 1760’s, before us pesky colonists made such trouble for the social order. Eclipse, himself, is the sire-to-sire-to many times repeated-sire of all but 3 of the Kentucky Derby winners and of nearly all the successful racehorses alive today.

    I have on request at the library currently:

    A History of the World in 6 Glasses – using beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and cola to voyage through time. I’m down to 23th in line, from something like 179th.

    The Dog Stars, that Fakename mentions. (22th)

    In The Woods, a psychological murder mystery set in Ireland. (8th)

    Seeing Trees, a pictorial love affair with ten common American trees. (2nd)

    Midst Toil and Tribulation, which is 6th in a series of sci-fi based loosely upon Protestantism breaking away from Catholicism. The others, in order, are “Off Armageddon Reef”, “By Schism Rent Asunder”, “By Heresies Distressed”, “A Mighty Fortress”, and “How Firm A Foundation”.
    These latter two especially tap deep into my religious upbringing to trigger earworms of extraordinary potency. I can literally sing these two hymns in my sleep. The prior two are lines from another hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”. “Midst Toil and Tribulation” is another line from the same hymn, one which I thankfully do not know! “Off Armageddon Reef” fits in well with the story line as it begins but I know of no hymn using that phrase.

    I will now go to bed with “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your grace in his excellent word. What more can we say, than to you he hath said, you who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?” Or “A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing. Our shelter he amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe, doth seek to do him woe. His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate. On Earth is not his equal.”

  3. I am 1st in line for Midst Toil and Tribulation but it’s not being published until mid-September.

    If they are still at the library tomorrow, I will pick up “The Story of Beautiful Girl” and “F in Exams” The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers”. If they get checked out before I get to them, I’ll reserve them as well.

  4. Hopefully, fakesister will find the exemplary note of prose that was accidentally tossed ( or, lost somewhere in her computer.) I am also equally despondent about the loss of all of the valuable information contained in her note: intelligence gathering info. about the sources she uses in procuring great finds, invaluable verbal info. from library workers who “don’t act too busy or bored to pass on “in-house” finds, personal favorites, or highly recommended books by their library’s prolific readers.” The image of fakesister “jumping back-and-forth to that library list is not funny, but it made me smile, since I am guilty of losing so much info. that my Bookclub friends have to replace and update my reading list all of the time. I am glad that they “love” me, or, at least, are kind and exceedingly polite enough to continue emailing me those booklists. I think that I may start referring to my dear Bookclub friends as my fakesisters. I have found it almost impossible to get my hands on a copy of Book Pages: budget cuts, having to line up on the first day of each month?? I am glad that you mentioned purchasing a subscription. I got my last book tip on UNC-TV “Bookwatch,” and found it immediately at this little town’s Independent book shop. Great Title: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. It has been called The Catch-22 of the Iraq War. Billy is a 19 year old Texas native whose squad was caught up in a ferocious firefight —3 min. and 43 sec. of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew. The eight surviving men of Bravo Squad are America’s most sought-after heros, and are sent on a media intensive nationwide Victory Tour by the Bush Administration, to reinvigorate support of the war, while ending the media tour with their guest appearance at a Dallas Cowboys football game, before returning to Iraq. Billy begins to understand truths about the media, “selling and profiting” from the war, the Cowboy’s hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues. He begins to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his brothers-in-arms, both dead and alive, the use of Bravo Company as mascots and the motto of “I Support Our Troops” in helping to “sell the war.” The interview with Ben Fountain was excellent; he sold me the book. He stance is definitely anti-Middle-eastern War.His last book was “Brief Encounters With Che Guevara.” Fountain has won too many writer’s prizes to list: Pen/Hemingway, Whiting, O. Henry, two Pushcarts, Barnes & Noble… He lives in Dallas,Texas. I am aware that Fakename2 just read a book about Che Guevara. I have read about his South American motorcycle trip (north to south.) I have also spoken to many Cuban, Mexican, and Peruvian friends about him. I seem to be getting about 50/50 positive/negative responses to him. Would like to know more. I have a personal request for Fakename2 and Fakesister. If you ever have time(ha), would you write a random list of books that have impressed you & that you would recommend on one of your (LONG) blogs. Give a heads-up as to when this very interesting, eclectic list will be printed. No need to comment about your choices, unless you want to give a short comment/rating. I respect your judgement. Are Fakename2 and Fakesister related?

  5. When I finally finished my lengthy comment, I was delighted to see that Fakesister had left a plethora of ideas!!! Just wondering what profession Fakesister is in. I find a lot of great book ideas in Science News and Scientific American. “Moonwalking With Einstein,” “The Plasticity of The Brain…” The titles may not be exactly correct. I am fascinated with the brain, and subscribe to Brain News, the Dana Brain Science Forum, and many others. I had always hoped that one of my sons would do cutting edge research in neurology, since the development of brain scanners, etc., or study cancer genomics. BUT, both boys dislike anything about science and medicine. (Law and business, instead!) Maybe… if I had been born now, with all of the possibilities of measuring brain function, physiology, etc… Too old,too late, getting senile!!

  6. Haha, nice fake…well played!

  7. My goodness, lots of great reads in the comments as well as the main post today!

    I don’t have any organised or set ways of choosing books. In fact often the books choose me rather than me choosing them – I don’t mean that in any deep meaningful way, I just mean that friends will sometimes just lend me books that they’ve read, or my partner will often buy me books that he thinks I’ll like.

    At work we have some bookshelves where people bring in any books they don’t want anymore, and people are free to take them from there, and either keep them or return them to the shelf after reading. So if I have a spare few minutes I’ll have a little browse on there and see if anything takes my fancy. There’s also a bookshelf like that of books people have donated at my son’s trampolining club that are available to buy for a very small donation to the club, so I’ll browse that sometimes whilst my son is bouncing! All a bit random really!

  8. Barb, fakesister is my sister. Although she doesn’t comment often, I also have a fakecousin, who is really my cousin! And fakesister is an engineer by training, but like so many of us, presently does a job that utilizes little if any of her background–except for the problem-solving skills and analytical thinking. Beyond that, I’ll have to let her explain what she actually does.

  9. Vanessa, my hair salon has a “reading room” just like the one at your son’s trampolining club!

  10. Barbara, Fakename and Fakesister are, indeed, sisters in real life. And Fakesister is employed in the data communications world as a network architect. She has a degree in Industrial Engineering from the U of Tenn at Knoxville.

  11. To all: you should check out HankeringforHistory’s blog! His blog is one of the newest blogs I follow, and he writes great stuff. Two of his latests posts were about restoring his own little piece of history, in the form of his grandmother’s 1982 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and about the history of bumper stickers 🙂 And as an extra added strange coincidence, he is studying history at the university I graduated from (the University of Memphis).

  12. The Judge bought “Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk” on Kindle after reading your comments and she read it in 2 days, couldn’t put it down….she really could have read it more quickly, but she does have a big trial going on right now. Now, it’s my turn because she said it was that good.\Jeff

  13. Jeff, good for the Judge! I thought I had heard of this book, and may have, but I also had it confused with “The Long Walk”, a memoir by Brian Castner. He was in charge of an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team in Iraq. The long walk refers to the walk to the bomb. I might read both.

  14. There is a great, Canadian-produced TV series called Flashpont. I looked forward to seeing it every summer, when CBS aired it during the lull between regular series. This year, they elected not to. Essentially it follows a fictional SWAT team There was one episode that still gives me nightmares. A bomb threat is called at a skyscraper and a member of the team starts to go in first,when he accidentally steps on a pressure plate, and can’t move from it because it will activate the bomb. While one of his fellow officers is screaming at him not to move, and he is coming after him, the guy steps off the plate. Because he doesn’t want the other guy to die too. And gets blown up. So there is what really happens. It isn’t sanitized like so much of American TV.

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