Enviously emulating the amazing Art Garfunkle, who has kept a record of every book he has read for the past 40 years, I pledged to keep my own list of books nibbled and devoured this year. Here’s what’s on my plate for post-holiday reading:
What: One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow.
Why: Ninth-grade daughter has been talking, unpushed by her parents, about being a lawyer. (Do we blame Legally Blonde?) If we happen to find $200,000 on the street, she might have a go at Harvard.
Status Report: About half through and starting to skim. Surprised at verdict on his profs so far: One tyrant, one mumbling incompetent, two ciphers. Work load predictably crushing. Never have so many paid so much to be abused.
What: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Why: Thought The Tipping Point was brilliant, though Blink was a great falling off.
Status Report: Just starting. Advance buzz says book buries “lone genius” myth, argues that most great successes emerge from webs of helpers, mentors, and lucky connections.
What: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis
Why: Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, The New, New Thing, Moneyball and others, is one of those writers, like Larry McMurtry, whom I find always interesting whatever the topic. He is lucidity itself. Also, I love books that delve into the psychology and sociology of sports. The “blind side” here, btw, is the quarterback’s blind side, and protecting that blind side has become the overriding goal of modern professional football.
Status Report: Book opens with an amazing dissection of that horrific night when Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theismann’s leg on Monday Night Football. If the rest of the book is this good, I should have paid more for it.
(Trivia: Name, without looking below, the three announcers in the ABC booth that night. Hint: All three were former NFL stars. Hint: One has had a little trouble with the law.)*
I’ve also got The Best American Essays 2008, a great series I’ve followed for years; McMurtry’s Books: A Memoir; Erik Wilson’s Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy; and The Art of the Playwright by William Packard. Our book club will also tackle V. S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River soon. More on those later.
*Joe Namath, O. J. Simpson, and Frank Gifford, who says “Theismann’s in a lot of trouble” as the mayhem unfolds. It’s the sports equivalent of “Houston, we have a problem.”