The three books on my bedside table
Here’s what’s been lingering around my bedside table over the last month. Click the book cover for the link to Amazon for more info.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
This one was a gift from my best friend when she came out to visit about a month back. She is head of the English department where she teaches, and so gets to read a LOT of books to evaluate for use in class. Thus, she’s got really great taste in books. This one was a winner!
The author, Ms. Walls is a freelance writer and sometime contributor to CNN. She writes her real life story in what can only be the definition of non-fiction that reads like fiction. She’s got an amazing writing style and an even more amazing story to tell.
She and her siblings were brought up by nomadic, and in the case of her dad, alcoholic, but well meaning parents. It was an early life raised mostly in poverty and marked by drifting from town to down, or “doing the skedaddle,” when things get tight. There’s also a theme of outrageous parenting decisions.
Ms. Walls has an amazing ability to tell the story with non-judgment and even respect for her parents, who she comes to see almost as children through her adult eyes by the end of the book.
It is a can’t put down read. And if you *ever* thought you might have had some, erm, oddities, in your own growing up. Well. This will put all of that right into perspective. It’s almost unbelievable, it’s so outlandish.
As They See ‘Em: – A Fan’s Travel in the Land of Umpires by Bruce Weber
The Good Man had heard the author, Bruce Weber, on NPR, and talked about the interview and this book’s concept very excitedly.
TGM and I are both huge baseball fans, and this was a little understood aspect of the game for us.
The concept is that Weber, a baseball fan, and a reporter for the New York Times, was sent to umpire school in order to write a story for the paper. That set off a much larger odyssey to discover what really goes on in the land of professional umpires.
You get two aspects in this book, one, Weber’s own struggle with learning the aspects of umpiring, such as stance, where to go on what plays, how to call a strike, how to yank your mask off without upsetting your hat, and always, always keeping command of the game.
The other aspect was talking to actual big league veteran umpires. Hearing their stories, talking about their history, the big threatened ump walkout in 1999 that adversely affected plenty of men, and so on.
I found this book hard going through a lot of it. Though I loved the concept, I thought Weber labored the point an awful lot. I get it. Umps are the goats of the game. No one likes them. They are treated crappy. When they do their job right, they are ignored, and when they make a mistake, they are yelled at, name called and in some cases physically threatened.
But, to be fair, I also learned a lot from this book. I watch the umps a little more closely now to see how they do their job and I give them quite a bit more leeway in making tough calls in a game.
It was sort of strange timing, but just as I was reading this book, I witnessed three of the worst umpired games I’ve ever seen in the many, many years I’ve been watching baseball. There were egregious bad calls, and try as I could, with a new outlook from reading Weber’s book, I couldn’t accept the terrible calls.
But, as Weber is quick to point out, those kind of situations are not the norm, and truly, umps are the metronome that keeps baseball playing in perfect rhythm.
An essential part of the game.
And currently, I’m about halfway into a Michael Crichton book called Timeline.
I haven’t read a Crichton in quite a while and I always did love his style.
Ok, to be fair, this isn’t great American literature. This is a good, easy summer read. The first 100 pages were deadly boring, but as Crichton always does, soon after, he hooked me right in.
And now, I’m in for the ride. I don’t care of his explanations are based on shaky science, I’m BOUGHT in baby!
This is a classic time travel book. A group of research assistants are sent back to Medieval times to rescue their professor who’s gotten himself stuck back there. Only, the home base necessary to get them back home, the evil labs that sent them, has just experienced a massive explosion.
This book has the added bonus that the evil labs, makers of the time travel devices are located in…wait for it….New Mexico! Over by Gallup.
TGM read this book on the plane when we traveled in May, and I read snippets over his shoulder, so I’m happy to dive in. So far, so good.
There you go, that’s what I’m up to.
What are you reading these days?