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The Big To-Do

In the depths of winter, my ever-expanding “to-read” list is a monolith blocking the sun. When the skies clear and summer has finally arrived, it’s when that list begins to look less infinite. It is at this time an avid reader must form a plan and strike, because deep down the reader knows we will never read all we want to read, but we must believe we can, or else all is lost.

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at my past summer failures – my dog-eared, incomplete copies of Infinite Jest, Don Quixote mark the failures of a prideful youth (the past two summers). But it’s ok; it’s a lesson in humility. I will dust myself off and try again, but this summer is about reasonable expectations. A constant barrage of literature that will keep me engaged and not damage my momentum in crossing more off my list. As always, dear reader, I will let you know how I fare, and what turns I took along the way. Without further ado…

The Bad Guys Won – Jeff Pearlman

Back when baseball was gritty, salaries were low (George Foster making 2 million a year is considered blasphemous) and players had something to prove, the Mets showed New York they had more swagger, more talent, and more fun than any professional team has ever had before, or since. The story of the rise to stardom of the ‘86 Mets gives me hope in being a Pirates fan, but it also makes me wistful for an era of baseball I never knew.  Worth it alone for the early career hijinks of Lenny Dykstra (my favorite ballplayer).

Tom Sawyer; and, Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Confession time. I’ve never read “Huck Finn” (dodges slap in the face). I know the story, I know I’m supposed to love Twain (and as a rule I do) but I’ve never read one of the most important books in American history. I’m remedying that currently, and really, really regretting that I haven’t done so already. Making up for lost time feels good.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/The Age of Wonder – Richard Holmes

Blame David Grann for this odd pairing, but it is through him I first became interested in Sherlock Holmes by reading his constant referrals to the detective in his stories (seriously, pick up a Grann article and you will see Sherlock).  For the first time I felt that I was missing something in not reading Conan Doyle’s significant work, and out of my debt to Grann I will read them all. (Note: Sherlock Tones is also one of the better nicknames ever given to me).

Evidently Sherlock leads to Richard Holmes, because of Grann’s mention of the British Royal Society in The Lost City of Z, I have been since enamored by the idea of a committee in which the celebration of art and discovery is listed as its sole purpose. This book has been on my list for ages itself, and I’m relishing the opportunity to tackle it under the summer sun.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

This book holds a special place in the “Ask Tony if he’s read this fantasy book series” contest. I can’t tell you how many people told me about this book (okay it was three!) – it is praised on high by fans of Herbert and Tolkien alike. Clearly, these people know how to get my attention, as I don’t read much beyond those two “fantasy” authors, unless you count Douglas Adams, who I think gets his own category of awesome. Anyhow, Rothfuss seems like a guy to read and cheer for, he envisioned The Kingkiller Chronicle series and was soundly rejected for years before winning the attention and success he has since earned. So I’ll be reading this before Game of Thrones after all.

I’m sure, as is the case with any plans, that the books may change and I may run out of time like any other season, but I’m looking forward to this next month of reading as if I have a sense of organization. How about you, dear reader? Anything I should add to the list, or would you care to share your own?

– Tony

P.S. – The title of this post is inspired by the Drive-By Truckers. Perfect summer music if I ever heard it.


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