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Mar 01

The Adventures of Reading

In Brief—Reading is one of the cheap pleasures we can enjoy. It’s not sex, but it’s still a road to enjoyment second only to good sex. I’m not Oprah, but the books mentioned here are guaranteed to give you many hours of pleasure. Give your brain a treat!

 

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A Good Book is a Magic Carpet—

“Oh, if I could only write like that!” I murmured.

West With the Night—

Beryl Markham evokes the sights, the smells, the feel of East Africa in “West With the Night,” her book about growing up in an as yet untamed land early in the 20th Century. Even Ernest Hemingway, one of the great writers of our time stood in awe of such elegant prose. Markham was a truly great writer and an incomparable person.

Beryl Markham was exceptional. A life-long independent spirit, a daring bush pilot in the early years of flight, she went on to become the first woman to fly non-stop east to west from Europe to North America. She was a knowledgeable expert on horses and went from obscurity to fame to poverty and back during her long life. Headstrong and unconventional, she lived her life to the fullest. It’s all there in the book.

Thanks to a warm friend and former teacher—not to mention a skilled potter and avid reader—“West With the Night” was a strong endorsement, a superb book that my friend read years ago and that remains one of her all-time favorites. Her recommendations are priceless to this book junkie whose eclectic reading was set aflame by my first wife many years ago. Any book Anne recommends is worth reading not least because it will feed your brain with knowledge you may never have expected to learn, but also because such books are simply jolly good, can’t-put-it-down reading.

Seabiscuit—

I want the famed racehorse Seabiscuit to live forever. Certainly Seabiscuit will live in my head until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil. The book “Seabiscuit” was a gift from Anne. It taught me about the athleticism of jockeys, the world of horse racing and the men who inhabit that world…and about a special horse, Seabiscuit. Thanks to her gift, my knowledge has expanded into areas never before explored.

The Boys in the Boat—

Through “The Boys in the Boat” I learned about the young University of Washington crew athletes who went on to win gold in the 1936 Olympics, the men who trained them during the depths of the Depression, how a shell is lovingly built. The book added to the depth of my knowledge of Nazi Germany’s efforts to eradicate the Jews and manipulate world opinion. This was one of Anne’s gifts.

Unbroken—

“Unbroken” taught me about the horrors of being a prisoner of war in Japan, of man’s inhumanity to man and the courage of soldiers under conditions that I have difficulty comprehending. The former teacher has taught me more than thanks can ever convey.

If you enjoy reading a good book, you are guaranteed to spend many pleasurable hours reading the ones I have mentioned. Whether, like me, you prefer non-fiction or enjoy a good novel, reading is a wonderful way to spend your time and feed your brain. Vacation reading or perhaps in that quiet time after your kids or grandkids are off to dreamland, pick up a book or your Kindle/Nook/iPad and enjoy the supreme pleasure derived from reading. And if you have a friend like Anne, you are one of the lucky ones.

The Train to Crystal City—

By the way, if you’re into non-fiction, I think you’ll enjoy “The Train to Crystal City” about the internment of Japanese-Americans and German-Americans during WWII. Some of them were kidnapped from South American nations and many of them were used as trading chips with the Axis powers during and after the war. It’s guaranteed to make your blood boil even as you find it cooking in your gut and anything but dry and boring.

Reviews and More—

You can get reviews of all the books I have mentioned at the Amazon site. Enjoy! Oh, and post this encouragement on your Facebook page. Who knows, you may move someone to discover the joy of reading a book. Your recommendations are more than welcome!

10 comments

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  1. Arthur Ulene

    I am running out to buy the girl on the train, because your first three choices were three of the best books I have ever read. If you have not already done so, I’d like to suggest that you read Erik Larsen’s books. He is a magnificent meticulous writer and documentarian My favorite books that he has written: The Devil in the White City; Thunderstruck and In the Garden of Beasts. Must reads… all. Oops, I just slipped off my Magic Carpet. Gotto go now. Another book is waiting for me.

    1. Don Bay

      You are obviously a confirmed reader, Art. Many thanks for the recommendations. I will check out Erik Larsen’s books on Amazon. Now climb back on that Magic Carpet and be sure to read “The Train to Crystal City.” It’s guaranteed to be a riveting experience.

  2. Jim Newton

    Don, thanks for these recommendations. I have read Beryl Markham and thoroughly enjoyed her. I’ll look into the others.

    1. Don Bay

      You certainly enjoyed a treat with Beryl Markham’s “West With the Night.” I found it to be one of the best written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I have no doubt that you will be a reader throughout life.

  3. Shelley Stockwell

    Dear Don
    Nice book list. Thank you.
    Love Shelley

    1. Don Bay

      Thanks for the strokes, Shelley. Any recommendations you or your friends make will be appreciated. By the way, note my response to Art. It’s a correction of a goof in the piece.

  4. Arthur Ulene

    Which “The Girl on the Train” are you talking about? Amazon shows three different books with that title (and several others that are close), but none match the description you gave. Name of author please.

    1. Don Bay

      I goofed. The brain must be going. The book is “The Train to Crystal City” by Jan Russell. Read that one. It’s a good read and guaranteed to make your blood boil. And thanks for the heads-up!

  5. Jim Newton

    Three books come to mind. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (historical fiction Slavery), Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup and The Sandcastle Girls about the Armenian genocide in Turkey. All well written and important

    1. Don Bay

      Bravo! Good recommendations. I urge readers to check these out. If Jim recommends them, they’re bound to be good. Of these, I’ve seen only “Twelve Years a Slave” and it is worth the price of admission. Other readers are encouraged to submit their own suggestions.

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