Friday, December 29, 2006

Books

Here's a little light reading. I used sports as a theme, but they're all also pretty easy reads. Dig in!

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Stotan!, by Chris Crutcher
$6.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0060094923
* (easy)
Four boys from their high school swim team spend a week testing their physical and emotional limits at sports camp. Against this backdrop, our heroes deal with issues like an abusive father and a band of racist neo-Nazis. The issues the
book deals with are kind of deep, but the athletic competition and sometimes jokey style keep it light and fun. This book is from the "Young Adult" section, although I'm in my early 30s and enjoyed it immensely. Coming-of-age with boyhood friends, sexuality, loyalty and love all intertwine beautifully in the locker room and in life. And in case you're wondering, a Stotan is a cross between a Stoic and a Spartan: a serious, feel no pain dude who works through the pain and doesn't whine about it. The world could use more guys like this.
Friday Night Lights, by H. G. Bissinger
$14.35 at Bn.com ISBN: 0306809907
** (pretty easy)
Set in a high school in Western Texas where the whole town takes football way too seriously. Good sportsmanship starts to eclipse education in the school system, and creates nothing but heartache for the all-American teenagers who just want to play some ball and maybe get some money for college. The characters could all be
people from your own neighborhood, and Bissinger writes conflict with impressive urgency. It's an old story: when does commitment to excellence become mania? How serious is too serious? It's just a game, after all.
Moneyball, by Michael Lewis
$19.96 at Bn.com ISBN: 0393057658
*** (moderate)
Professional sports have been under a lot of heat lately, and rightly so: multi-million dollar salaries and performance enhancing drugs have replaced the ideals of athletic excellence. Plus the players often (not always) seem like such a**holes. So how does one succeed in a game filled with cheats where money gets you everything? How can you hope to win a game without steroids when every other player in the game uses them? We may never be able to return to the golden age of professional sports personified by the '55 Dodgers, but Lewis proposes that there are limits to what teams can do to win the game. It's an intriguing question: what to do when everyone seems to be cheating but you.

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