Just what do those old, retired couples do with all that time? For me, in the 3 years that I haven’t answered an alarm clock or a clinic schedule, stuff to do just emerges. Often, it’s stuff I’d never thought of. But now there’s not enough time in the day to do all the things I want. My wife Kathy, having jealously observed my new life of freedom, will finally be joining me among the elderly unemployed in June. As she’s only working half time this term, her foot is already partway out the door. She’s seeing that what emerges aren’t single activities, but projects. And what project most consumes this doddering old couple? Our house! We’ve loved it since we bought it in ’85, but not so much that we haven’t renovated it twice, including a redo that had us move out completely for a year in ‘04-5 (1). For the past 3 years, with all that time to stare at these 4 walls and ponder how to make them better, I’ve suggested many improvements and Kathy has approved some of them. Now that she has some more idle time, the pace is picking up. While most of our time this past month or two has been devoted to figuring out how to plaster as many of our posters and certificates up on our walls, we’ve also been paying attention to our books. The dozen and a half or so bookcases of various shapes and sizes we already had up didn’t seem quite adequate, so we erected 3 more. That got us looking more closely at the books there on the shelves. I couldn’t help but notice the books I’d acquired fully intending to read them, but seldom got past the first few pages if I cracked them at all. I found a long time ago that, for me, action was more likely to happen if first I created a list of the items to be acted upon. So, to make it more likely that I might actually gain the joys, insights, and knowledge in these unread books, I made me a little list, and here it is. Books listed alphabetically by author. With comments. Book covers are not to scale.
Bacon, John U. The Great Halifax Explosion. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. 374pp. A Christmas present from Kathy a few years back. John is a local guy whom Kathy and I know a little bit, and hands down my favorite sportswriter. This ain’t a sporting event, but John’s such an excellent writer, I’m sure it’s a gripping tale.
Beatty, Paul. The Sellout. A Novel. New York: Farrer, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 289pp. This one’s out of the local library, sought at the advice of my dear friend and fellow Barnes survivor Rajiv, who said with my warped sense of humor I’d appreciate it. I didn’t know there was a racial angle. But Rajiv’s my best African American friend (born and raised in Kenya by Indian parents), so I’ll trust his judgment.
Bierley, Paul E. John Philip Sousa, American Phenomenon. Miami FL: Warner Bros. Productions, 1973. 231pp. Every morning at 7:15, Dave Wagner of WRCJ 90.9 plays the “SousaAlarm”, and if up, we are roused by something by the March King. Gitcha goin’. The little piece I wrote on the 90th anniversary of Sousa’s death got me interested in his ties to Michigan (2). I have folks at the Bentley Historical Library digging up stuff. I thought I’d familiarize myself with this remarkable man by reading this biography.
Crowell, Rodney. Chinaberry Sidewalks. A Memoir. New York: Vintage Books, 2011. 259pp. Purchased from the author’s wife at his merch table after his concert at the historic Capitol Theater in Clearwater Friday of our spring break week. Rodney’s a successful country singer-songwriter who’s been around since the 70s. Once Johnny Cash’s son-in-law, I hadn’t heard about him till I stumbled across his inspiring anthem for boomers everywhere, “It Ain’t Over Yet” (3), sung with his ex-wife, Rosanne. We first saw him in concert on Veteran’s Day in Chicago last year (4). My wife and I are still working through his amazing oeuvre finding good advice (5) and inspiration (6).
Harrison, Jim. Brown Dog. New York: Grove Press, 2013. 525pp. I was very into Harrison in the 90s. “Michigan’s Hemmingway”, only a much better cook. This is his 3rd to last book, and a whopper. He died in 2016.
Kennedy, Robert F. Jr. The Real Anthony Fauci. Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2021. 449pp. I can manage about 3-5 pages at a time. So dense. So frightening.
Kryk, John. Stagg vs. Yost. The Birth of Cutthroat Football. Lanham MD: Rowan and Littlefield, 2015. 287pp. Having spent time in both Hyde Park and Ann Arbor, I find it thrilling that the contests between these two schools were the pinnacle of college football once upon a time. Plus, I can never know enough about Fielding H. Yost (7,8).
London, Jack. Complete and Unabridged. Six Novels. The Call of the Wild. The Sea-Wolf. White Fang. Martin Eden. The Valley of the Moon. The Star Rover. New York, Barnes and Noble, 2006. 1038pp. The motivation was to read The Valley of the Moon, which is a real place in Marin County where my good friend and favorite guitar player Bill Kirchen wed Louise. Plus, I love Jack London, having read White Fang and The Call of the Wild in high school.
Markson, Sharri. What really happened in Wuhan. New York: HarperCollins, 2021. 392pp. I’d sure like to know. I’ve spent some time in virology labs, though never handling biohazards. I’ve started the book, but it’s slow going with all the Chinese names.
Metaxas, Eric. Is Atheism Dead? Washington DC: Salem Books, 2021. 403pp. I submit that atheists are just lazy and not paying attention. I’m counting on Mr. Metaxas for examples and arguments.
Schembechler, Bo and Bacon John U. Bo’s Lasting Lessons. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2008. 313pp. The more the U tries to wash away the memory of Bo (9), the more I cling to what I already know and seek to learn more.
Schembechler, Bo; Seyferth, Fritz; Eagle, Kim. The Heart of a Champion. My 37-Year War Against Heart Disease. Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Media Group, 2008. 125pp. This is Bo’s medical story, and an inspiring one. I worked with or at least know most of the docs in here. The pacemaker company Medtronics was giving this book away when it first came out. I gave what turned out to be my only copy to a protégée who is a big U of M fan. High time I read it.
Shepherd, Jean. Shep’s Army. Bummers, Blisters, & Boondoggles. New York: Opus, 2013. 225pp. Jean Shepherd was a witty, sarcastic guy out of Illinois who wowed ‘em with a nighttime radio show out of NYC spanning 3 decades. I have 12 CDs containing 756 of his shows from ’57-’77. Comedians from Jerry Seinfeld to Harry Shearer to David Letterman to Andy Kaufman cite him as an influence. His time in the peacetime Army Signal Corps was a rich source of material. Oh, yeah, he wrote “The Christmas Story” and he was Ralphie.
Wells, H.G. The Croquet Player. Lincoln NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2004 (originally published 1937). 108pp. I believe I bought this slender book to impress my mother, who loves croquet. I should have realized that HG Wells wasn’t a sportswriter.
So here they all sit, that baker’s dozen plus one of unread knowledge, at the head of my bed, just ‘a waitin’ to be read. Wish me luck as I dive in.
1. Ike B. on Harbal. WordPress 9/21/20. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/09/21/on-harbal/
2. Ike B. Hail Sousa! Hail Elbel? WordPress 3/6/22. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/03/06/hail-sousa-hail-elbel/
3. Crowell R. It Ain’t Over Yet (feat. Rosanne Cash & John Paul White)” [Official Video]. YouTube 1/5/17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFrpzPR6TLY
4. Ike B. taste of joy. WordPress 11/12/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/11/12/taste-of-joy/
5. Crowell R. Let The Picture Paint Itself. YouTube 11/17/20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiHYOiY4dB4
6. Crowell R. The Flyboy & the Kid. YouTube 11/27/18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38HavG75j7c
7. Ike B. deathless loyalty. WordPress 5/29/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/05/29/deathless-loyalty/
8. Ike B. more Fielding Yost. WordPress 6/4/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/06/04/more-fielding-yost/
9. down the hole, Bo. WordPress 9/12/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/09/12/down-the-hole-bo/