Wednesday, March 02, 2011

On My Nightstand (In Honor of Dr. Seuss' 107th Birthday)

I literally can't remember a day in my life when I didn't have a book in front of my nose. Oh I'm sure there were some, there must have been. I mean, I wasn't born reading or anything. I remember the "Aha!" moment when I knew I could read though, as crystal clear as if it was yesterday.

Hop on PopI was sitting on my mom's lap and she had Hop on Pop open in front of us. She'd probably read it to me a thousand times. I looked down at the page, and all of a sudden I knew that the words on the page were the words she was saying. I knew what each word meant. I think I was about four years old and from then on I could read. It was just a matter of accumulating more words. By first grade, they didn't know what to do with me, so they put me in a fourth grade class for reading. I loved it. By 6th grade I had consumed everything on my parents' bookshelves from pop psychology's  I'm Ok You're Ok to my dad's hefty historical tomes like Miracle at Midway. Yes, I've even read War and Peace. Books have been my friends as long as I can remember.

So today we honor that wonderful man known affectionately as Dr. Seuss. When I was in college on this day, my friends and I used to stand on the "free speech mound" in front of the student center and have an all-day read-aloud Seuss-a-thon. We would bring bubbles to blow and take turns reading our favorites. Mine are The Lorax (but you knew my tree-hugging self would love that) and The Sneetches and Other Stories (but you knew my non-conformist self would love that).

I still read nearly constantly. Being a very fast reader sometimes is a disadvantage. A good fiction book doesn't take me very long to devour. But it also means that I can usually make it through several books a week, just reading during my morning tea and at bedtime.

This week's picks are:


Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit This is honestly one of the best biographies I've read in a long time. Instead of just sensationalizing on the whole Bruce Lee memory, the author Bruce Thomas captures the essence of Lee himself. In addition to an extremely thorough bio of Lee's life through all its stages, Thomas delves into Lee's philosophies, both of training and of life, and the evolution of his approach to training, fighting, and the mental aspect of his arts. He doesn't just report on them either, he interprets and indeed expands on them. For anyone interested in the martial arts, I'd say this book is a must read. It's impossible to underestimate the impact that Bruce Lee has had on modern martial arts.

Be Iron Fit - Okay, this is a re-read for me. But I found this book invaluable in preparing for my Ironman, and since I'm coaching triathletes (including half-Iron and Iron distance athletes), I thought it would be worth checking out again. Though I've checked it out from the library multiple times, this one has gone on my Amazon "to buy" list. The simple straight-forward advice in this book, and the three training plans for Ironman make it worth a purchase for any athlete looking at going this distance.

Winning With American Kata - Okay, this is an esoteric little book that only a martial artist interested in improving their kata (or forms) would read. But it fit what I was looking for precisely. The first part of the book is dedicated to creating your own new kata, which at this point I'm not interested in at all. But the second half contains lots of great tips on improving your kata for tournaments or tests.  And the pictures are priceless. This guy has the ultimate fierce look DOWN.


Tricks by Ellen Hopkins This book is aimed at young adults, but it looked intriguing and I picked it up. Although it's a fictional story of the lives of several young people, written in first person, it's written in poetry not prose. At first that was hard to get used to, but eventually the book's format started growing on me. As a parent of a teenager, the theme of the book was both intriguing and horrifying. Without giving too much away, it's partly about the many ways that young people can get themselves into bad situations. It's good to go into parenting teens with your eyes wide open. This book is a fast read that sucks you into the lives of the characters.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest I probably don't need to recap this one. You either love this series of books (a trilogy, along with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire) or not. Translated from their original Swedish, they're a hard-hitting series with a kick-ass female protagonist. I like that. However, they're also chock full of nitty gritty details (what each character ate, what underwear they put on before putting on their charcoal grey worsted wool slacks, that kind of detail). And the plot, with its unfamiliar place names (to those of us who have not lived in Sweden) and Swedish surnames takes a bit of brain power to keep straight. Still, I've really enjoyed this series, and was on the wait list at the library a long time before this copy got into my hands. I didn't like it as much as #2, but better than #1.


Megan said...

I also remember the exact time I 'got' reading...I also kept the very first chapter book I read all in one night. <3 reading.

Marv said...

I really like this post. This is great Robin ! We have one common book (Ironfit). I too, have been reading daily since "in the beginning." When I go places, even to the grocery store, I like to have something on-board to read, just in case. I tend to re-read books, and never fail to be enlightened and uplifted by visiting old friends, again.

Robin said...

I love to re-read books too. You're right, it's like visiting an old friend!