Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Book Swap - Book 3

I wanted to introduce this book by first showing you a video of  how I think of George Plimpton. However, I was unable to find one that I could link to. Perhaps you have seen him in Nero Wolfe. If you have, then you would know what was running through my head the entire time I read this book.

Apparently my husband has a lot of sports books he feels I should read. To be fair, I've been wanting to read this one. I should start out by saying, I don't care for football. My high school didn't have a football team, they had a soccer team (football to the rest of the world). So, despite several attempts, I don't really understand the game and find it rather tedious.

Which of course makes you wonder why I would want to read this book. Well, for starters it was written by the founder of The Paris Review. Second, I'm a big fan of Bill Buford and enjoy narratives of someone unwittingly getting in far deeper than they expected in a project. (Husband's review of Heat.) George Plimpton pioneered the novice taking on a challenge with professionals to give the every day guy a glimpse into that world narrative. In this case, professional football.

Overall, it's quite good. Plimpton's cover is blown early on and the team sort of adopts him while still hazing him a bit. There were some echoes of Bull Durham in just life on the team and in whether you're going to be kept for the upcoming season.

I still don't care for football. Not even George Plimpton was going to change that. However, I do have a better appreciation of what goes into playing football. It's surprisingly complicated if only there were a better way to show that on the field, I might consider watching. Well, after several  - other - issues are taken care of as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer Book Swap - Book 2

The Girl is a big Miyazaki fan and also as a result has come to love some of the source material from his movies. One of her favorite movies is Howl's Moving Castle which is based on a book by Diana Wynne Jones. The book is of course a little different than the movie but very good and introduced to the writings of Wynne Jones which The Girl has been devouring of late.

When it came time for the book swap The Girl felt it was time I read the follow up to Howl's Moving Castle - Castle in the Air. She felt it was actually a better book than the first.

I'm not sure I entirely agree. They're both very different stories. And the 2nd book isn't really a sequel as much as a story with guest appearances.

It tells the story of Abdullah, a young carpet merchant, who daydreams he's a stolen prince. One day a man comes and sells him a magic carpet and suddenly he finds his dreams coming true in rather unexpected ways.

I really enjoyed this. It was a nice twist on the get a magic carpet and a genie trope. Characters from the previous book were well used. I finished this book around the time we saw Frozen and the princesses in this books were a lot cooler than either of the ones in that movie. Really it just ended up highlighting why I dislike Disney movies. But the book was well chosen on The Girl's part and we're both looking forward to reading the 3 book in the group as well as other Wynne Jones books.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

First of hike of 2014 wherein we get to the top of Mount Mansfield and on the way down vow to never hike again but only ramble.

I'm going to do hiking posts this year in sort of a 5/5 format. Which means 5 photos and 5 minutes of writing. Well at least for me.

On the way up as I usually do I start to think about what I'll write about in the blog post. I had some pretty lofty idea about things changing even though they seemingly stay the same. And thought about talking about recent trip to New York where we walked around the city for miles and I was going to go into a recent radio program I listened to about writing and walking related to Bloomsday that included a walk with one of my favorite authors, Will Self. But things changed as the hike progressed. I wanted to talk about the sea of green in hiking and how you have to look for changes just like walking around New York presented me with so many changes since I was last there.

One piece of advice I'd like to give is never listen to kindly old women at entrances to state parks who do not inform you that the hike she suggests for you is rated very difficult going up and merely difficult coming down. She should have at least asked if we had hiked yet this summer. At the same time we should have known better. Or really I should have known better and not let The Girl's pleas to accomplish going up Mt. Mansfield tug at my heartstrings while not remembering The Husband's fear of heights. And I should have remembered that it is far more difficult to go down rather than go up and if I was already having problems going up, it should have been a sign.

But we did it, we hiked to the Chin and hiked back down. Now after I recover fully, I will relisten to the radio program and think more about rambles in urban areas or hikes labeled Easy, for at least awhile.

Quick stats - 5.4 miles round trip best I can tell somewhere around a 2,000' climb.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Book Swap - Book 1

Is this thing still on? Going back and forth about the blog but Summer Book Swap has me dust things off.

After reading about a book swap party here Book Swap Party

I've been wanting to figure out how to do one as well. So with summer approaching I suggested we do one in the family for summer reading. So 2 days before end of school for The Girl we gathered around each of us with 2 possibilities for each other and tried to sell our books.

For The Husband, I suggested either Heat by Bill Buford with back up of 1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies. For The Girl, I suggested The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper with back up of Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E. L, Konigsburg (why are her titles always so long?). I was able to sell Heat to the hubby but the girl went with the back up.

From The Husband, I was sold on The Soul of Baseball, A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski. His back up was Paper Lion by George Plimpton.

Overall I gave this book 3 stars, Goodreads doesn't allow half stars or I'd up it to 3 1/2. It was a quick, easy read with touching stories from Buck's life as well as the author witnessing him reaching out to people to keep the flame of The Negro Leagues alive as well as the soul of baseball. Joe Posnanski is obviously in love with his subject, a love that I think kind of clouded over some potential rough spots in the process. Some of the issues do come out in comments from other Negro League players. As for what Buck O'Neil really truly thought and experienced in his time, it's carefully painted over by Buck O'Neil himself in the attempt to present the view of what Buck O'Neil would like history to take from that time in history.