Books, Not Baseball
1.) One book that changed your life:
There is no one book that changed my life, but while I was in college I read a lot of books about the law that collectively helped to steer me in the direction of going to law school. The decision to devote so much time, energy, and money to an endeavor like that is pretty life-changing, so just like the Clinton's, I blame Ken Starr. Why this book? No particular reason -- I just remember that it was well written and insightful. I could have just as easily included Sandra Day O'Connor's The Majesty of the Law, or even harmless fluff like Scott Turow's well-known (at least in my circles) One L, both of which also added to my interest in the law and, in Turow's case, law school itself. The end result, however, was that I decided this was something I was interested in -- and here I am.
2.) One book that you've read more than once:
There are a number of books like this in my collection, but the first book that I ever loved enough to go through a second time (and then a third, and fourth, and . . . you get the picture) was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Incidentally, the picture to the right was not found on Amazon -- I had to do a google images search for it. The picture comes from the cover of the version of The Hobbit that I read as a child -- I believe it was the 50th Anniversary edition, or some such. This, to me, is what all hobbits will always look like (I loved the Peter Jackson version of the Lord of the Rings, and though that Elijah Wood did a fine job of acting -- but I don't believe he's a hobbit for a second. Sam Gamgee now -- well, Sean Astin makes a decent hobbit, I'll say that). As I grew older, The Lord of the Rings became nearer and dearer to my heart than The Hobbit, and I haven't even read The Hobbit for quite a few years. Nevertheless, it will always be the first book that I kept coming back to time and again while I was growing up.
3.) One book that you would want on a deserted island:
My first reaction here is to cheat and go with Stephen King's Dark Tower series, calling all seven books "one book." However, I don't think there's a strong enough binding or small enough print to make that a legit pick, so I'm going to go with the aforementioned Lord of the Rings trilogy -- which I know have been published together as one volume. The reason is relatively simple -- it's a long work with a depth of characters that I love to read and could never get sick of. I could think of worse things than being stuck on an island with Tolkien as a companion.
4.) One book that made you laugh:
There are a lot of things that I don't remember about Philip Roth's The Great American Novel. I don't remember most of the characters, I only vaguely remember the plot, and I don't recall much about when or where I read it. I do, however, have a recollection of thinking the book was wickedly funny (often in a subtle way). And, several years after I read it, I recalled distinctly the plight of the Rupert Mundy's (a fictional baseball team about which this novel was written) when the Montreal Expos started traipsing around the country to play ball games. You see, the Rupert Mundy's were required to play all of their games on the road one season -- and for a time, with the Expos playing in Puerto Rico and who knows where else, it seemed as if life was imitating art. I need to catch back up with this book -- and if you haven't read it, I recommend you do the same. Be forewarned, however -- Roth isn't for everyone.
5.) One book that made you cry:
A book has never made me cry outright, but I've often felt sad or melancholy while reading, and one of the books that had a number of sad moments. This is a kid's book, but it's a fun read -- I just picked it up again last year and blasted through it, and there are still points that make me identify with the characters. That's ultimately the job of any book, so congratulations to Allan Eckert for accomplishing it with a kid's book. If I wanted to get political, I could cite some other books in this category -- books that make me wonder what people are thinking, or why we collectively treat people the way that we do. I'm not going to, however, so this book will have to suffice for this category.
6.) One book you wish had been written:
This is a hard category for me, because while I have a great deal of interest in a lot of categories, I can usually find a book written by someone who was there at the time or who has taken the time to meticulously research the issue. I guess the book that I would most like to read would be an honest-to-goodness autobiography, written in the modern style, by Abraham Lincoln. There are so many conflicting accounts of his motivations and behaviors that it would be interesting to see him clear some things up -- but it would be more interesting to hear his first-hand accounts of how the White House operated during the Civil War.
7.) One book you wish hadn't been written:
I confess that I've never read Moneyball, and unless I change my mind drastically, I will never read this book. Why? Simply put, I got sick of hearing about it almost the instant that it came out. I'm sick of hearing how Billy Beane is a genius despite the fact that his teams have little to no post-season success (ironically, of course, the limited success in the post-season does include a butt-whuppin' of the Twins by the A's last October). I admit freely that I'm not being fair to this book, but I don't particularly care. It's time to end the tyranny of Moneyball!
8.) One book you're currently reading:
Back when I was in college, I had a thing for collecting the so-called "classics," as determined by people other than me. One of the books that I bought at that time was Swann's Way by Marcel Proust -- and for years it's sat on bookshelf after bookshelf, following me around from home to home. I've thought about starting it at times, but, frankly, there were always more interesting things to read and I could never get going. After starting my recent job, however, one of my co-workers commented that he thought I'd be reading something more high brow than the Robert Ludlum novel I was lugging to work every morning (it was dreadful, actually, and I stopped reading it) -- something like Proust. He actually mentioned Proust. How could I not bring it in the next day? I'm now about 2/3 of the way through the book, and have to say I enjoy it more than I thought I would. Proust discusses everything to death -- in fact, I'm not sure 400 pages in whether anything has actually happened in the book or not -- but he has a way of turning a phrase (or, his translator does -- hard to tell at times) that is delightful. Swann's Way is the first of a series by Proust, and my experience has been good enough that I just might fork over the money for Volume II and see how things go.
9.) One book you've been meaning to read:
There are so many! I guess if I had to pick one it would be Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which I've started many times but never finished. For someone like me who is such a tremendous fan of Tolkien, this is an egregious omission from my list of completed books. I also own all of the books containing partial stories, notes, and comments on Middle-Earth that were edited by Christopher Tolkien, and would like to get a chance to read through them as well -- still and all, it's clear that The Silmarillion needs to come first.
10.) Six people to tag:
Well, I'm only going to tag one person who I know reads this blog and might actually write something up: Marty, that'd be you.
Rather than calling it quits after just one, however, I figured I'd throw in some "fantasy" picks -- people whose answers I'd like to see but who will never, ever read this blog. They're pretty much all baseball related.
Terry Ryan -- Twins GM
Bill Smith -- Twins Assistant GM
Peter Gammons -- ESPN Baseball Guru
Buster Olney -- ESPN Baseball Reporter/Blogger/TV Personality
Jim Caple -- ESPN Baseball Columnist
So, those are the folks whose reading list I would peruse if I had the chance, just because I think it would be sorta fun. Needless to say, you shouldn't be expecting to see any of their answers anytime . . . well . . . ever, really.
Thanks again to Seth for tagging me. Once in awhile, it's nice to write about something other than just baseball!