Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I'm something of a voracious reader.  Even though my job consists of poring over countless legal documents, cases, and memoranda, I still find myself thumbing through novels for pleasure nearly every evening.  I also tend to be streaky--I'll read a bunch of non-fiction, then some crime novels, then biographies, then horror. 

So what have I been reading lately?

I finished up "Where Win Men Glory: The Odyessy of Pat Tillman" a few months ago.  Both uplifting and tragic, it tells the story of Pat Tillman, who walked away from a multi-million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the United States Army. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan. Although known amonst his platoon that Tillman had died as a result of fratricide, the Army kept this information from Tillman’s family members and the American public for five weeks following his death. Eventually, the Army  notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire.  Like all of Jon Krakauer's books, it was exhaustively researched and well written.

I followed up "Where Men Win Glory" with a book given to me by my folks for Christmas detailing the story of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the tragedy at Jonestown.  In "Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People," journalist Tim Reiterman reveals the complete, shocking story of Jonestown, providing the definitive account of the worst cult tragedy in American history. The book explores the ideals-gone-wrong, the intrigue, and the grim realities behind the Peoples Temple and its implosion in the jungle of South America. I was shocked and troubled by the manipulation Jones helf over so many people that eventually led to their mass murder (or "revolutionary suicide" as Jones put it).  Religious fantacisim frightens me.  If a person is absolutely convinced that their actions are not just acceptable, but are in fact irrevocably justified and mandated by a higher power, then there is no reasoning, there is no debate, there is no compromise.

On the heels of "Raven" came "Open: An Autobiography."  Other than a single fleeting summer at the age of 14, I have never spent much time playing tennis.  And I cannot recall watching a single match on television.  For me, Agassi was the "image is everything" guy with the crazy hair who played tennis and married Brooke Shields.  Nonetheless, "Open" was riveting.  The relentless training regime instituted by Agassi's father at a young age had broken all of his siblings, but somehow Agassi persevered, despite an open abhorence for the sport and what youth it claimed from him.  Both wanting to quit and needing to succeed existed within Agassi, and he weaves a complicated story of man grappling throughout much of his life with trying to ascertain who he really is and what he truly wants.  If anything, "Open" teaches us not to push our children too hard to fulfill our dreams.

Lastly, in a sharp turn away from non-fiction biographies, I just finished Joe Hill's "Horns."  (I did not know Joe Hill was Stephen King's son until I was a good way into the book, and I'm glad because I think I would've constantly compared Hill to his father during the read.)  "Horns" tells the story of Ignatius Perrish, a charmed 20-something born into privilege whose life is shattered after his girlfriend Merrin is brutally raped and murdered.  Although never charged or tried, in the court of public opinion Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters.  A year after Merrin's death, Ig wakes up hungover and with a pair of horns growing from his temples.  Ig soon learns that he can influence people's behavior with his horns, acting as their own pesonal devil and convincing them to take a step down the dark road to Hell.  And Ig intends to use his new talent to find out who killed Merrin and destroyed his life.  "Horns" was an enjoyable, quick read, and Hill shows a lot of promise.  My only complaint is that the novel was a little too tidy in the way all of the details came together in the end.  But that's a minor quibble, and one that many folks might appreciate.

So what's next? Any recommendations?

1 comment:

johnt said...

How about Human Action by Ludwig von Mises?


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