Thursday, April 21, 2005

Slow Reader

My reading life has taken a detour since a job change (same company, new location) put me into a forty minute car commute. Now, instead of a forty-five minute bus and train commute, during which I plowed through the books, I now have a bunch of books languishing on my mantle. I read them, but in small bites only (a few pages a day). So what's on the mantle?

The Know-It-All is my bathroom book. In the morning, I'll take a seat (ahem) and I will read an entry or two from A.J. Jacobs' lively book. He's read the entire Britannica, and each 'entry' in his book is a summation of an entry in that famed encyclopedia. The book also serves as a memoir of sorts, and I am enjoying his witty takes on life.

The Brothers Karamazov is a book I had started just as I was getting the job transfer. However, the impetus for reading this book was planted way back in high school when I finally finished Crime and Punishment. The mood of Dostoevsky's masterpiece put me in such a reading trance that I didn't want to rush it. Even though my English class 'finished' the book (I must have skimmed it), I kept reading it right into summer vacation. I knew I wanted another experience like that. Fast forward almost twenty years later, and I'm reading this fascinating novel about "the brothers." And it's just as mesmerizing.

All Souls is a book that my wife finished earlier in the year, and she said "You've got to read this!" I read a few pages, got hooked, and am now scrambling to find time for it. It's Michael MacDonald's memoir of his Irish family living in "Southie" (a neighborhood in Boston) during the tumultuous 1970s. The forced busing conflict brought segregation to the forefront of his consciousness. He also tackles the rise of crime and drug use in his neighborhood. It's so far a great book about the inner city.

All of these books are taking a back-seat to The Boys of Winter, a stirring recollection of the 1980 United States men's hockey team and their "miracle on ice" at the Lake Placid Olympics. I received this as a birthday gift (thanks Mom) and it's a super work. I can still recall the rousing patriotism I felt when our team beat the Russians. But to this day, I had never read more than a few articles about that victory. This book dissects the Russian-United States game, much like my other favorite "single game" books, Nine Innings and Forty-Eight Minutes. This is a splendid book so far.

I don't mind reading slowly. But I hope by the end of the month I can report on finishing at least one of these books.

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