Yeah, there’s the whole solstice thing.  Not talking about that.  And nights dipping down into the 40s – another big clue, but not the one I’m discussing.  And the sun setting earlier, and nights getting longer – also valid.

But what I’m talking about is that my summer reading is over.

I tend to read more than one book at a time.  I guess it’s a byproduct of getting bored easily, or of wanting multiple inputs.  I’ll let my biographers analyze me later.  I just know it happens.

This summer, my four books were A Good Walk Spoiled, Affluenza, a commentary on Romans, and The Man Who Ate Everything.  Four non-fiction books, and it seemed like a slog to get through them.  I finished all of them in a 24-hour period about a week ago.  Lightly reviewed in order.

John Feinstein’s golf book is a review of the 1994 season, written in 1995.  It was interesting to learn the mechanics of how professional golf works, how people are invited to tournaments based on how well they are doing, the exemptions they get based on what they have won in the past.  But I’m not a golfer, and the human interest didn’t grab me.  The writing is good, and I felt an obligation to finish it once I had started.  The most interesting part for me was the added last chapter, written in 2005.  It had a summary of where the major players had ended up ten years later, including Payne Stewart’s sad plane crash.  The fascinating section was about Tiger Woods – not an adulation of him, like was presented in the popular press, but a recounting of how he didn’t think he had to play by the rules.  If he didn’t want to talk to the media after a bad day, he didn’t.  Everybody else did.  He fired his agent because the guy wanted him to talk to the press more.  Back in 2005, before his off-course activities caught up to him, there was a scent of something being wrong.  Nice reporting, Mr. Feinstein.

I read the British version of Affluenza, a book about how we’re all affected by the virus of always wanting more and never having enough.  All except the Danes, where the men actually help take care of their children.  I mention the overseas version of the book because some figures of speech haven’t been Americanized, making it a bit harder (and a bit more informative) to read.  The other thing I noticed is that the Brits seem to accept words that in the US are considered swear words.  I’m not going to read the US version of the book, and I’m not going to make a notation of what words are on what page.  I was underwhelmed by this book, and happy to see that it received two and a half stars out of 5 on Amazon.  This sentence from a 1-star review overstates my feeling, but not by much:

It’s a very thick book but the core idea is covered in about two pages and the rest is just reiteration of that idea.

At the end, the author states his own ideas for how to battle this virus, and he sounds just like Obama a socialist.  When a baby is born, one of the new parents should get three years off, with pay (equal to the national average).  “I shall leave it to others to squabble over the funding of such a plan”.  That’s on page 493.  494 has “the richest in our society must be divested of a significant portion of their wealth, and the amount that senior managers are paid must be regulated so that they do not earn more than five times the national average.”.  And of course, “I leave it to others how to enforce this”.  Not enough for you?  How about page 499’s “Housing property should cease to be a means of defining status.”  He wants to knock 90% off the price of all houses, and “Great care would be taken to enforce the law”, followed by “Only the government-determined price could be paid”.  No, thanks, in spades.  I’m not a full-blooded Libertarian, but I have enough in me to want to run away from this – or better yet, keep it from happening.

The commentary on Romans was well-written, and went through the book in good detail.  Conservative theology, and the author occasionally took issue at how some Greek words or phrases were translated in the NIV.  That corresponds to other reading I have done, that there are places where the NIV misses the mark.  This should probably be a reference book instead of a “sit down and read five pages” book.

The final book is a collection of food writing done back in the 90s.  Nice writing, though it seemed to get a bit repetitive.  The guy likes to hear himself speak, which can be annoying for somebody like me, who likes to hear myself speak.  Completely different, somehow, you understand.  Each selection is great, but these were probably better read as they were published, one a month or so.

I have replaced these four books with four more: Wireless, a collection of science fiction short stories (which I am enjoying very much), a biography of Macaulay (I haven’t read the output of Mr. Macaulay, so maybe getting the input will help – slow going so far), Comeback Churches (which seems to be a review of statistic-gathering about churches that have come back from declines or stagnation – I’m early in the book so don’t have a sense of it yet), and Robert Ludlum’s The Arctic Event, from the Covert-One series created by Robert Ludlum, a new novel written by James H. Cobb (a summer read, if you couldn’t tell).  I like to have in my reading library (the one with the white chair) a fiction book, a non-fiction, and something God-related.  I have those now, and the fall will be a better time for it.  Fiction is the grease that allows the grind of non-fiction to get by.  The Ludlum knock-off replaces the golf book in the other library, read mostly when I’m brushing my teeth.  Two helpings of fiction are twice as good.  I also have the second book in Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles on reserve at the library, and if The Wise Man’s Fear holds up to what was delivered in The Name of the Wind, I’m in for another thousand pages of good adventure.

Cool beach pic by WadeB