Social Distance and a Few Good Reads

Social Distance and a Few Good Reads

Many of us have some time on our hands these days and one way to break things up is by reading a good book. There was a time in my life I was a much more avid reader than I am today. As my family grew and my career developed, though, it seemed like I had less and less time to devote to a good book. Without travel baseball, travel soccer, and lacrosse commitments, however, I’d like to find a story again. And if any of you are in the same boat, I’d like to recommend a few books you might want to consider.

11/22/63: I’ve always been a big Stephen King fan and I’ve read most of his works. I know he is mostly famous for his horror novels, but I also know those aren’t for everybody (If that is your thing, though, consider Salem’s Lot. It’s the best vampire story I’ve ever read). 11/22/63 falls outside the horror genre and tells the story of a high school English teacher who discovers a way to travel back in time in a way that allows him to be in a position to (possibly) prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. It is a very interesting concept and King executes the story perfectly. My favorite books are always the ones that allow me to totally escape into the world of the characters and root for them as they develop their relationships and meet challenges along the way. In that respect, this book is a home run. It’s also over 800 pages long, which should help with any excess free time you might have.

Moby Dick: I don’t recommend this Melville classic because it is easy or fun to read. I recommend it for the same reason I might encourage someone to join the Army or hike the Appalachian Trial -– because it is a challenge and an achievement to get through. Most of us are familiar with the basic story: Captain Ahab’s obsessive chase of Moby Dick, the great white whale. What makes this book such a challenge is Melville’s extended discussion of the practice of whaling, down to the finest details of whale anatomy and the equipment used by whaling crews. It’s not easy reading. It’s not even really fun. At the end of the journey, however, you’ll be able to say, “I read Moby Dick,” which, to me, is satisfaction enough.

The Undoing Project:  For those non-fiction fans out there, especially those that enjoy pop-psychology, this book by Michael Lewis is absolutely fascinating. Lewis chronicles the collaboration and friendship of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who  devoted their lives to examining the way people think. It’s one of those books that will open your eyes to the world around you and provide a deeper understanding of why it is people act the way they do, even (or especially) when they act in seemingly unexpected ways. As a side note, this book is indispensable to anyone whose job involves convincing other people to behave in a certain way. Any lawyer, coach or sales representative out there should pick this one up right away.

Many of us have some time on our hands these days and one way to break things up is by reading a good book.