Reading Round Up

It’s been a hectic summer and fall for me, full of travel for book research and other adventures here and there. But I recently got a bit of a break where I could catch up on my reading. And I’m pleased to say that I’ve been on a run of really good books lately.

filkinsFirst up, I finally read Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War. I’m awfully late to the party on this one since it was released almost a year ago and racked up a ton of awards, including being named a best book of 2008 by the New York Times. And after finishing this amazing book, I’m sorry that it took me so long to get around to it. Filkins way with a phrase and eye for a scene ensures that every page is engrossing. Often, when I’m trying to catch up on my To-Be-Read Pile, I find myself gulping down books, just trying to make a dent in the pile, feverishly striving to finish each text, just so I can check it off. However, with The Forever War, I found myself savoring each page, leisurely reading (and re-reading) to fully soak in each scene. It’s just a great, great book. And if I’m not alone in being behind the times on this one, if you still haven’t read it, be sure to pick it up today.

Second, Matthew B. Crawford’s bestselling Shop Class as Soul Craft raises an interesting argument and one I’ve held for years. Our society needs to do a better job of respecting tradesmen and craftsmen instead of trying to funnel everyone into so-called white collar jobs. Particularly impressive is the way Crawford defends the trades, without resorting to romantic cliches.

Third, David A. Kessler’s The End of Overeating was a thoroughly researched, scientifically argued explanation of why some people are prone to mindless overeating. Although the extensive quotes of scientific experiments might have gone on just a tad too much, I was pleased to see them. That type of examination puts a different spin on a book that otherwise could have been easily (but unfairly) viewed as just another weight loss text.

beckhamFourth, The Beckham Experiment by Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl was an in depth look at a gargantuan move to bring the most famous athlete in the world to America so he could play in, what many international observers consider, a minor league. Wahl’s position with SI afforded tons of great access and interview possibilities and the behind-the-scenes quotes and information in this book are amazing.

And finally, it was like Christmas in the middle of the year when I got the mail one day and found and advance reader copy of Andrew Vachss’s new novel, Haiku. Due out in early November, this engrossing novel tells the story of a misfit family of homeless people in New York City. Readers familiar with Vachss’s work know that he defines family in terms of how people treat each other and what they do, as opposed to their blood lines and last names. In this case, an Asian martial arts master, a damaged war veteran, a streetwise alcholic, a tormented reader, and others band together in a quest that is surprisingly human, warm, and kind. Sure, there are elements of crime and danger here. But at heart, it’s about kindness, respect, and helping out a colleague.

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