Apr 03

Talk about revolting

I love every David McCullough book. Whether it’s "The Bridge," "Mornings on Horseback," "1776" orAdams
something else, McCullough does it for me. Every work is a masterpiece.

So, as might be expected, I couldn’t wait to see HBOs take on the McCullough book, "John Adams."  And, while I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve also found myself wincing at times.

Having read the book, I knew how critically important Abigail Adams was to John’s success and stability. But, the HBO series focuses on the marital angle to the detriment of the rest of the story. So, instead of seeing Adams negotiating with the vanquished Brits at the Paris Peace Treaty conference we, instead, see him dropping his drawers and ravishing Abigail. That’s way too much information, especially with Paul Giamatti playing the lead role.

HBO also took great pains to ensure the octogenarian Benjamin Franklin (played by the scene stealing Tom Wilkinson) is seen cavorting with French tarts. Talk about revolting. The whole thing gives new meaning to the phrase ‘founding fathers’ and diminishes what, in my mind, is an otherwise outstanding contribution to cable programming.

Aug 24

You can have my blackberry but not my book

If I were stranded on a desert island for a year, I could do without a lot of things.  Sure, I’d miss iceImage_3
cream, movies, my weekly tennis game and my Blackberry – a lot – but I’d get by.  But if, on the other hand, someone said I couldn’t read a single book for the whole year, I’d start making my own sailboat.

Which is why I was bummed to read that according to a new AP-Ipsos poll, one in every four Americans did not finish a single  book from cover to cover last year.  I could certainly understand if the reason so many people aren’t reading is because they’re working 12-hour days, taking care of families and falling into bed at night, only to start all over again the next day.  I’d still argue that one of the best ways to relax and escape is with a good book, but I’d get it.

Unfortunately, the reasons are less noble and more predictable.  Increasingly according to another, similar study, we’d rather spend our time watching TV, playing video games or online.   It’s probably the same quest for instant gratification that makes us prefer fast food to a well-cooked meal that takes time to prepare.  Like fast food, these other forms of entertainment good in the moment but ultimately less satisfying and probably not so good for you in the long run.

During the most stressful times in my life, books have helped me lose track of time, place and worries.
  And as they did, I also learned a lot of history, philosophy and culture.  They also helped me to learn how to think and how to write.  But mostly, they just entertained me.

I don’t know how to encourage people to read more books, but I can sure recommend a few good ones, beginning with the business books to the right here.  If you want some suggestions for lighter reading, try "Everyman" by Phillip Roth, "1776" by David McCullough, and "Time and again" by Jack Finny (great, great book about time travel and the NYC of 1888).