Here in Philadelphia we are preparing for whatever part of Hurricane Irene comes our way. Looks like there will be time spent in the Monroe basement fighting the onslaught of water. Wet vacs at the ready.
In the lull before the storm, this would be a good time to review the good reads of the summer. I’ll tell you what I read if you tell me what you read or listened to via CD/recorded books. Is there a theme? I read things that caught my interest which was all over the place.
- Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, by Jason Stearns. Stearns has done a masterful job in collecting first person interviews from those involved. From Congolese, rebel fighters, RPF soldiers, Ethnic Tutsis who have long called the Kivus area home. If you are interested in trying to understand the complex nature of the political and humanitarian crises in this area after the Rwandan genocide, this is a good book to read. A bit depressing but helpful in prep for our October trip to the Congo and Rwanda. I also started a book about Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe but didn’t finish it.
- The Anglo Saxon World, by Michael D.C. Drout. I listened to this 7 CD set. Dr. Drout (from the other Wheaton College) was eminently capable in his lectures covering the rise and fall of the Anglo Saxon world in England from 500 t0 1000 AD. I never lost interest! Helped me understand its Germanic roots, influence on English Christianity, the value of Epic poetry like Beowulf (which I have decided to read now), and some of the foundations for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (Drout considers Tolkien one of the foremost Anglo-Saxon experts).
- Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, by Paul Theroux. Listened to this book as well. Paul writes a travel log of his retracing a prior travel some 33 years earlier where he takes trains across Europe to China and up Russia. Some 25,000 miles of travelling. Quite interesting if you like knowing what life is like in the countries he explores. Seems to be quite focused on the sex trade and some very heartbreaking descriptions of trafficked women in southeast Asia. But the BEST part of his book is this: read his introduction to the book here on p. 1-3. See what he says about travel writers pathology. Funny!
- Baseball books. I read two this summer. Knuckler: My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch, by Tim Wakefield. I’m a big Sox fan and I have a great deal of respect for Wakefield. He’s no superstar but he is absolutely willing to do whatever his team needs, whether go out and start, do long relief, or sit the bench during the playoffs because they need someone else to be on the roster. As I write this, Wake is trying for his 200th win…and getting hit around. Seems he’s stuck on 199 for a bit. The book was a nice look at his life from his own vantage point. The second book was even more interesting to read. Nobody’s Perfect tells the story and the back story on what should have been a perfect game thrown by Armando Galarraga–except for a blown call on the last out (what SHOULD have been the last out). What makes this interesting is that each chapter is written in the first person telling the inner story of the pitcher and the umpire, James Joyce. Both show their quality character. If you like baseball and understand that a perfect game is so unlikely and that umpires never admit their mistakes, you will like this book.
- On recommendation by someone who gets how systems work, I read, The Primes: How any Group can Solve any Problem, by Chris McGoff. Excellent business planning book that didn’t feel like business at all but how to figure out how to do the “one thing” that you just have to do. I’m reading it as I try to figure out how to devise a continuing education and consultation side of my work. If you ever dream about starting a business or solving a work problem, I’d encourage you to read this.
- You might be wondering if I read anything in my own domain of counseling. I did. Two books. Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths to Hope and Recovery in a Violent World, by Richard Mollica. He describes how the act of telling one’s trauma story can lead to healing. If you are working with international trauma, a must read. I also read Working with Narrative in Emotion-Focused Therapy, by Angus and Greenberg. I started blogging on the chapters but went on vacation and finished it when I didn’t have access to the Internet. I hope to get back to blogging the chapters.
I think that is it. I know I skimmed and glanced at a whole bunch more. I tend to do the 5 minute read on lots of books that might be interesting but that I know I don’t have time to read. The 5 minute read gives me the main points and conclusions without having to take so much time.
By the way, the summer isn’t over. I have an edition of Beowulf on my nightstand. Not sure I’ll get through it. Linda Polman’s The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid is waiting right beside it. I’m about to start listening to John Milton’s Paradise Lost on my drives to work and I’m listening to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter at the gym. My new great love is listening to stuff when it would normally be wasted time. My way of not thinking about problems.
So, did you read or re-read something fun this summer? What was it?