Saturday, August 06, 2005

Books, books, books

What I'm reading nowadays:

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. An excellent book that challenges the received wisdom on how ideas take hold and change manifests itself by demonstrating with various historical and contemporary examples how seemingly minor factors can play a critical role in making things happen. Surprisingly relevant to the blogging discussion I've been having with Mr. Jarvis in one of my comment threads.

Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story by Brian Michael Bendis. A graphic novel chronicling in morbidly humorous detail Bendis' epic failed attempt to turn one of his critially-acclaimed crime comics (Goldfish) into a movie. While the story turns out to have a happy ending after all -- Bendis is currently involved in the production of Torso, the real live story of Eliot Ness' pursuit of what may have been America's first serial killer -- it's hard not to feel for the guy as he gets chewed up and spit out by Hollywood's dream factory.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman. An eclectic collection of essays by one of Spin's senior writers. Klosterman isn't afraid to declare his undying love for junk food -- not just the edible varieties, but the kinds we Americans watch, listen to, and wallow in as well -- nor does he shy from giving the likes of Pamela Anderson, Billy Joel, professional soccer, and The Sims the sort of intellectual consideration normally reserved for more highbrow and "scholarly" topics.

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805 by Richard Zacks. Just getting into this one, but the true tale Zacks recounts reads like the plot of Michael Bey's next blockbuster -- an American frigate runs aground while fighting the Barbary Pirates (the al-Qaeda of their time) and its 300-man crew is taken prisoner and held for ransom, prompting then-President Jefferson to authorize America's first covert overseas operation to free the hostages and bring "regime change" to the pirate capital in Libya. If you always wondered what the shores of Tripoli had to do with the United States Marine Corps, well this is your big chance.

Did Babe Ruth Call His Shot? And Other Unsolved Mysteries of Baseball by Paul Aron. Aron, a journalist for the Virginia Gazette, tackles both the big questions of America's pastime with definite (although sometimes surprising answers) as well as the contentious matters of opinion, such as were the players of baseball's golden age better than those today, or can a small-market team compete with the likes of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox? A fun book to dip in and out of when you feel like a little light reading.

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