The Character of Books

When I started reading in the late 1970s, all books were on paper. There were hardcover books, and paperbacks. There were trade paperbacks, and an occasionally rare edition. But they were all paper. I began keeping a list of the books I read in 1996. Even then, it wasn’t until my 408th book in June […]

The 17-Year Itch: Or, Waiting for the Sequel

I have a love/hate relationship with sequels. With very good books, I always want more. In nonfiction, this could be something like Edmund Morris’s biography of Theodore Roosevelt, which came out in 3 separate volumes spanning several years. For fiction, Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles comes to mind. I loved the first two books in the […]

On Book Ratings and Reviews

When it comes to book ratings I am not fan. One reason I have been reluctant to use a system like Goodreads is because it seems to be centered around a 5-star rating system. (Another reason is the mishmash user interface that is overly busy and confusing.) What’s wrong with a 5-star rating system? As […]

People Used to Be Travelers

Sometimes a single line from a book really knocks me in the gut. Earlier this week I was reading Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. Adams was chatting with his guide, an Australian named John, when John said, “People used to be travelers. Now they are tourists.” I paused to jot down the […]

A Year On Paper

About a year ago I wrote about the paradox of journaling. I had read about Thoreau’s journal. One commenter pointed to a guy who’d been keeping a diary on paper for 66 years. Not long after the post, I read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. There, I discovered that more than 7,000 pages […]

The Butterfly Effect of Reading

When it comes to discussion of books the three words I most dread are, “You should read….” I have developed a process for discovering books I want to read and I put my entire trust in that process. I call it the Butterfly Effect of Reading. I believe it is a result of the freedom […]

The Story of My Life

Over the last twenty five years, I have kept a journal more often than I have not. Over the last 14 I have written more than 6,000 posts on this blog. Over the last 11 years I have tweeted more than 25,000 times. There’s a lot for me to look back on if I wanted […]

Writing at the Turn of the Century

Over the last few years I’ve read several books that I enjoyed so much, I wanted to know more about their authors. I recently completed Dumas Malone’s 6-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson and His Times. It took Malone decades to complete. I was fascinated by the sheer dogged persistence of someone completing such a […]

Why I Read: An Essay in Two Acts

I. Learning to Read “There is no Frigate like a Book to take us Lands away.” —Emily Dickinson The importance of books My parents taught me the importance of books. They surrounded me with books, read to me, and encouraged my love of books. As a child of the 1970s, I was lucky: There were […]

Writing What I Know

Write what you know! That old advice and my lack of writing on this blog might lead one to believe that I know nothing. I have neglected the blog far too long, but I was tired of the kinds of things I had been writing about. So I’ve decided to take that old advice and […]

Voices of the Ballgame

Baseball is a game of senses: the roar of the crowd. The crack of the bat. The smell of the popcorn. The feel of the worn leather mat. The green and browns of the field against a blue sky. The taste of Big League Chew, or a cold beer in the stands. Amidst the sounds […]

Casting a Line in Literary Rivers

This weekend a friend told me about the Sports Illustrated 100 Best Sports Books of All Time. I don’t think I’d known about this list before, and I was immediately intrigued. As with the Modern Library Top 100 Nonfiction Books, I immediately picked through the list to see what I had already read. Turns out […]