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May I Recommend a Book About Book Recommendations? - by Scott Goldberg

I am fortunate both in real life and on Facebook (for I know what is on Facebook is not real) to be friends with book readers.  Having never actually witnessed a friend reading, I know this mainly from requests on Facebook for book recommendations.

Responding to book recommendation requests has never been easy for me.  Does this person have the same tastes as me?  For instance, I recently read and enjoyed Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson.  Now if I knew you, or more likely your kid, was considering a career in archeology I would say this is a must read.  Otherwise, this book is only for those curious about what a different career path might look like---spoiler alert, the grass is not always greener.  

Just as important  (ok, actually more important, especially on-line) is how I will be perceived by making this recommendation.  I want to come across as thoughtful and literate and hip and well it’s difficult when I am really not any of those things.  So I found a book that allows me to seem to be all of those things, because the author is.  And the whole book is about books the author has read.

I found this treasure meandering the shelves of the Lane Road Library.  I love libraries.  I love the ideas of borrowing and returning.  I love that it’s basically free.  I love that it provides access to just about anyone and caters to all sorts of tastes and interests.  I guess it’s sort of like the internet, but infinitely more pleasant.  Having said that, it doesn’t take long to meander all of Lane Road’s first floor book collection.  Probably 70% of the space is devoted to computers and DVDs and CDs---stuff that are not books.   And if you eliminate self-improvement, how-to, cook books and romance novels, you are left with about three shelves from which to brouse.

Anyways, there among the remaining books this spine caught my eye. Read from top to bottom: Hornby Ten Years In The Tub A Decade Soaking In Great Books. I’ve read most of Nick Hornby’s books, so this spine caught my eye.  If you like witty, concise writing often with pop culture references pick up High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.  It includes discussions of creating the perfect mix tape (remember those pre-Spotify as if I know what I am talking about having never once used Spotify, although I do get billed monthly for it for my daughter).   The book was later made into a movie starring John Cusack (although Jack Black steals it)which I enjoyed as well.

Ten Years in the Tub is a compilation of essays that ran in a magazine called The Believer which I never heard of but sounds if it might be passed out for free by folks either in free-flowing robes or in neat suits knocking at your door at inopportune times.  His mandate was to write only positive book reviews (although he often humorously complains about this limitation).  The book spans 10 years from 2003 to 2013. Each month ( a few months are combined others are skipped) Hornby lists the books he bought/acquired (he buys/gets a lot) and the books he has read.  Although there is often some overlap between the two lists, just as often they have nothing in common.  Warning—the dude reads a lot.  At any one time, I am reading one or two books and I would say I rarely read more than one book a month.   Hornby knocks out four and five books a month consistently.  And he has many of the same excuses I have for not reading more—kids, work, alcohol, kids, watching sports, alcohol and kids.  His essays sprinkle in pop culture, sports (much of it English soccer—he might call it football) and small personal events from his life.  The essays read part book review and part scenes from a really good sit-com.

Currently, I am half way through 2006 and I have compiled a list of about eight books I want to read.  At my pace that is about 8 months of reading or basically how long Trump has been our President which seems like a really long time.  I am hoping many of these recommendations will lead me to new authors and additional books by them.  To be honest, some of the most fun in reading Hornby’s essays is when you come across a book you have already read.  It sort of validates your own taste in books and who couldn’t use a little validation now and again.

So next time you are looking for a good book, get Hornby’s book and read an essay or two (they are short and addictive—insert potato chip metaphor).  Just don’t run over to Lane Road Library to grab it, I still have that copy, sucker.

 

I just want to briefly address my only other contribution to this fine endeavor? blogosphere? black hole? When last I wrote, the Indians had just lost the World Series and we had elected our new President.  My emotions were a little raw.

9 months or so later, the Indians are once again perched atop the AL Central and look better than last year.  If everyone gets healthy…and the starting pitching is consistent…they are primed to break my heart and crush my dreams again this Fall—hope springs eternal.  

I will say one controversial thing about the Indians.  I know this player is a fan and team favorite, but the Indians best lineup does not include Jason Kipnis.  To me eye, Jose Ramirez is a better second baseman.  With Ramirez at second, Chisenhall can play third, and then the outfield is Brantley in left, Zimmer/Jackson in center, and Jay Bruce in right.  That team is a beast.

Sorry I got off track, but last Fall I wrote that if I could change only the outcome of the World Series or the presidential election, I choose the World Series.  In my defense, I have waited my whole life for the Indians to win a World Series.  I have not waited my whole life for Hilary Clinton or any woman to be President.  Even so, looking back I can see my words were a little self-centered veering towards self-absorbed.  Which makes me think I am more like this President, that I can barely stomach, than I care to admit.  

When you don’t like someone, and if it isn’t clear I don’t like Trump, almost everything they say or do can get under your skin.  His trip to Texas in the aftermath of the flooding was a perfect example.  Does he emphasize the devastation, the human tragedy? No he focuses on the size of the crowd that came out to see him.  If he were my son (a teenager), I would smile and shake my head at his utter self-absorption.   But this guy (who acts like a child all the time) is our President.  It got me to thinking about what book I would recommend our President read—not that I believe it would change him or make a bit of difference.  The Diary of Anne Frank comes to mind as does To Kill a Mockingbird.  But the first book I would give our President is The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss.  Happy reading Mr. President. 

Scott Goldberg also wrote It's Been a Tough Month for this Indians Fan in 2016. As of this posting the Tribe have won 19 straight games.