Posted in Book Reviews Literature

What I’ve Been Reading: South and West by Joan Didion

I am always impressed by writers who have the ability to record intricate details of their experiences while traveling. I don’t feel like I can write well when I’m on a vacation or some excursion far away. I’m always either doing my best to soak up the experience or resting from the exhaustion of doing just that.  I suspect that there are two major reasons that I have not developed the skill to thoroughly document any travel experiences: I’m probably more crunched for time versus writers who are on some kind of writing assignment or simply take longer trips than…

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Posted in Book Reviews Celebrities

What I’ve Been Reading: The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson

Although I am a fan of the The Office and the character of Dwight, I’ve always been a bit annoyed by Rainn Wilson. I always get the sense that he is trying way too hard to be funny. He constantly punctuates his sentences with uncomfortably lame jokes to the point that I have a hard time listening to him. He’s the kind of person that seems to have a hard time “turning it off” to just have an actual conversation. The writing in this book is… unfortunately very similar in most chapters. If I were editing the book and took…

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Posted in Book Reviews Literature

What I’ve Been Reading: Rabbit Redux by John Updike

I am very much a fan of John Updike, becoming interested in his work first through his short stories and then extending my reading to his novels. In fact, I would rank him as one of my favorite novel writers, and I appreciate him more and more as I grow older. Reading some of his stuff here and there throughout the last couple decade, I learned that his “Rabbit” books are generally considered his best works. Or, at least, they’re pointed to as his works that best represent his style of writing and display some of his most personal explorations…

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Posted in Book Reviews Sociology

What I’ve Been Reading: American Fire by Monica Hesse

One of my favorite genres to read is any kind of true crime non-fiction. I saw a brief review of American Fire in TIME magazine before the book was actually released on July 11th. I was immediately interested in the story and ended up purchasing it not too long after it went on sale. In 2012 and 2013, a rash of arson fires occurred in Accomack County. This sprawling county is located on the eastern shore of Virginia. It was once a flourishing agricultural area, but is now a sadly typical rural area struggling with the issue of almost entirely…

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Posted in Book Reviews Celebrities Sports

What I’ve Been Reading: The Phenomenon by Rick Ankiel and Tim Brown

Rick Ankiel was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997 and debuted in the majors in late 1999. Before being drafted, he was one of the most highly touted pitching prospects of that year. In 2000, as the second youngest player in the league at 20 years of age, Ankiel went 11-7 for the Cardinals. He was in the top ten in the majors in nearly every pitching statistic and was second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. The Cardinals made the playoffs in 2000. Due to injuries on the pitching staff, Ankiel and veteran Darryl…

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Posted in Book Reviews Literature

What I’ve Been Reading: Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion

Play It as It Lays is an interesting title to me. As a golfer, I’ve long been familiar with the phrase “play it as it lies”. Going into the book, I didn’t know if the title was some kind of play on the golf phrase, something that a character said in the book, or just a phrase that I’d never heard before. As it turns out, it is the latter. Late in the book, the main character Maria recalls a time when her father was teaching her to play craps. His main piece of advice to her was that “it…

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Posted in Book Reviews Literature

What I’ve Been Reading: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

As a pretty frequent reader, I’ve noticed something funny about myself over the years. I realize that I often read strange words or names for years and never really know for sure if the pronunciation in my head is actually correct. Unless I happen to discuss the book I’m reading with a friend, or the word/name comes up organically in a conversation, it can go on for a long time. This was especially true before the internet became such a part our lives and it wasn’t possible to just Google “how do I pronounce —–“. Somerset Maugham is a name…

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Posted in Book Reviews Celebrities

What I’ve Been Reading:
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

This book first caught my eye at a bookstore because of the starkly white cover. It also grabbed my attention because I’m familiar with the name B.J. Novak as I’m a huge fan of The Office. I knew that he played the character Ryan Howard and was also a writer for the show. I looked very quickly at the book, not feeling like buying right away, but storing it away to possibly revisit someday. My assumption was that his stories were probably tidbits from behind the scenes of shows he worked on; perhaps musings from his time being a comedian…

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Posted in Book Reviews Celebrities

What I’ve Been Reading:
They Call Me Baba Booey by Gary Dell’Abate

It seems crazy that They Call Me Baba Booey came out in 2010 and I’ve put off reading it until now. It’s fun to remember moments from the show where they mentioned the book, both during the writing process and after the release. They spoke about pictures, cover art, and eventually his book signings. Of course, the one consistent practice throughout all of it was Howard giving him shit about numerous details in the book. One ribbing stands out to me. When the audiobook was released, Howard hyper-focused on the lists of songs that Gary had in the book. Stern…

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Posted in Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading:
Quivers: A Life by Robin Quivers

Robin Quivers is known for being the most extreme narcissist on The Howard Stern Show. In fact, she notoriously had the highest score when the staff was given a test by Dr. Drew to determine the level of their narcissism –by a fairly long shot. Ever since, it’s been a reoccurring joke on the show. That all sounds pretty bad, but it’s really just a part of her personality that is often overcome by other wonderful traits. Also, her narcissism is clearly connected to some of her strength. As narcissism is often the result of childhood trauma of some kind,…

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