Books

You Can Judge a Book

July 3, 2016 – Earlier today, my wife & I were discussing things that I can do while I am not working.  When I was at the Store, I worked 6 days a weeks and be away from the house for an average of 12 hours a day.  She did most of the work around the house while she had a full time Monday-Friday career of her own.  Suffice to say, there were several tasks that were neglected in our home.  Specifically, we collected a lot of clutter.  So, my honey-do list is full of “clean (name a) room” tasks.  One of the rooms that needs to de-cluttered is our front bedroom, which we uses as an office and library.  There are 3 large bookcases and a couple of smaller ones that need be sorted through and arranged.

Another related task I have is to update my Goodreads account.  My goal is to catalog every book I own, as well as categorize them onto different “shelves.”  I won’t write reviews on Goodreads, but I may use this blog to write reviews occasionally.  Even without reviewing books, just uploading each one will take awhile.  I’ve already scanned 400 books, but I estimate that I own over 1000 books.  This will take awhile.

But to get a sense of my variety of interests, I will highlight 6 books below as a cross-section of my tastes:

Sports books:10315099

My biggest single passion is sports.  I am a consumer of American sports, most notably professional baseball.  While I am interested (to varying degrees) in most other sports, baseball is my number one love.  My favorite team is the San Francisco Giants, though I do appreciate the Oakland Athletics, living less than 5 minutes away from the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.  More often than not, my TV is tuned into a sports station, like ESPN, Comcast Bay Area or MLB Network, and the 1st two presets on my car radio are KNBR (radio home of the Giants) and The Game (radio home of the A’s).  I’ve read dozens of sports books, as well as regularly read through ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated.  I even am a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), participating in the local Lefty O’Doul Chapter.  Though I do not produce my own original research, I do consume much of it, both through the local meetings and through SABR’s publications.

A Band of Misfits by Andrew Baggerly holds a special place in my heart.  It is one of the many books released after the Giants won the 2010 World Series, the first championship for the franchise since moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958.  I grew up going to Giants games at Candlestick Park with my family, and I even had season tickets from 1998 through 2005.  I’ve attended hundreds of Giants games over the years, and my wife & I have been going on vacations to see the Giants play on the road for the last few years, including trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver and Seattle.

That first World Series championship was magical.  Personally, I thought I would never see the Giants win in my lifetime, having gone through both the 1989 World Series (known more for the Loma Prieta Earthquake) and the of the 2002 World Series.  But a team that was thrown together with a bunch of miscast pieces (along with a couple of heralded rookies).  I remember exactly where I was when the Giants clinched the championship:  watching the game at a Thai restaurant in San Francisco’s SOMA district.  Every other place near AT&T Park was packed, so we ducked into this place to watch the game at the bar and have some dinner.  Right after the last strike, we high-fived everyone in the bar and headed out to the streets of San Francisco, meeting up with 100s of Giants fans right outside the park for an impromptu celebration.  I still think that was the best night of my life!

I’ve read through A Band of Misfits several times, reliving that season over and over again.  It still gives me chills, thinking about that year and that team.  I’ve also been lucky to meet Andrew a few times, and my copy is autographed by him.  I also read through his blog everyday during the baseball season as well as follow him on Twitter.

BTW, if you haven’t been paying attention, the Giants also won the World Series in 2012 and 2014.  If you don’t believe me, just check out this photo.  And since 2016 is an even year, I expect the Giants to win again this year.  (Sorry, Cubbies fans!)

Poker books:

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One of my favorite memories as a child was playing poker with my father.  We played a lot of crazy wild-card games, with multiple draws and 5-of-a-kind was a regular occurrence.  But as I grew up, I realized that serious poker players and card rooms didn’t spread these type of funny games.  After the 2003 World Series of Poker and the Chris Moneymaker phenomenon, every rounder with a few bucks thought they could become the next WSOP bracelet winner.  Of course, I was one of them; I joined a local home game and started playing poker regularly.  I did pretty well in this game (and in the local cardrooms), but I wasn’t quitting my job anytime soon to pursue this professionally.

I’ve read all the standard poker books, but knew that my poker game was missing something.  I know all the regular plays, the poker math, and the ways to bluff and catch bluffing, but there’s always more to learn.  This is why I love poker:  you can know a lot about the game, but you can never master it completely.  The Mental Game of Poker will hopefully fill in the gaps of my knowledge, going beyond the felt and address some emotional and intellectual aspects of poker that are usually glossed over.  I have not read it yet, having picked this up last month when I played in the World Series of Poker.  Hopefully it will help me improve my game and my results for next years WSOP.

Philosophy books:
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My time at UC Davis from 1994-1998 was filled with several adventures, a lot of laughs and some tears.  Many of those tears came when I realized I wasn’t going to cut it was a biochemistry major.  So, for most of my sophomore year, I explored a variety of the humanities to choose a major.  While I ultimately did not decide on it, I did enjoy my philosophy classes.  The notion of trying to live correctly was very intriguing, though very intellectually challenging.  But the study of philosophy is hollow if it is not brought to the modern age.  This is why the majority of my philosophy reading is through the light of current pop culture references.  I loved the Hunger Games, both the books and the movies, so The Hunger Games and Philosophy was a no-brainer.  These books take a lot of time and energy to read, so I plan to read this during my unemployment time.  I picked this up the other day from Half Price Books.

Young Adult Fiction:

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Not all of my reading is of the intellectual variety.  I admit:  I’m a sucker for young adult fiction, especially the dystopian sub-genre.  I’ve read all the current best-sellers:  the Hunger Games, Divergent, the Maze Runner, the Testing.  But my favorite is the Legend series, by Marie Lu.  While all of these books are pretty easy reading, Legend stands out with deep and conflicted characters.  Marie Lu also does a great job of world-building, creating a rich environment, one that has great consequences for the characters.  I have not read Marie Lu’s 2nd trilogy, the Young Elites, my wife has and loved it more than the Legend series.

Comic Books:

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If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m pretty geeky.  But my geekiness is not very comprehensive.  While I used to collect comic books as a kid, I realized early on that collecting ANYTHING (comic books, baseball cards, Beanie Babies, Pokemon cards, etc.) is a very expensive hobby.  Currently, my comic book collection consists of trade paperbacks and graphic novels.  I don’t need any “collectible” versions of comic books.  I would rather read through them than try to preserve them for the hope of an (inflated) value down the road.  I was burned with that notion as a kids with baseball cards.  I don’t need to repeat that lesson with comic books.

Penny Arcade is a webcomic about video games.  TBH, many of you won’t get it.  It’s pretty crass, with some blatant use of violence.  The video games they reference are both classic and sometimes obscure.  But if you do understand the lingo, this comic is HILARIOUS!!!  Even though it is often NSFW, and I would never recommend this to children, I enjoy Penny Arcade thoroughly.  Feel free to judge me accordingly.

Choose Your Own Adventure books:

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Before video games, before (good) in-home consoles and handheld units, kids had the Choose Your Own Adventure books.  These paperbacks offered a way for kids to “decide the fate” of the characters of these novels.  The Cave of Time was the first book of this legendary series.  Later books had settings in space, the Old West, the jungle, among other areas.  While the books were very campy, many publishers launched their own versions of this genre.  Some were simple, like the CYOA series, others were Dungeons & Dragons/RPG types.  My favorite of this type was the Lone Wolf series, where you played as the titular character and your “stats” carried over from book to book in the series.

Even though in the last section I railed against the cost of collectibles, I have made an exception for these books.  I have over 300 books in my collection, many of them rare and hard to find.  But my acquisitions have slowed down over the years, as many of the missing titles are very hard to find and pretty expensive.  I am not so much of a completionist where I am compelled to fill out my collections.  If I find a deal online, then I will pounce on it.  But $50+ for a single issue is hard for me to swallow.

 

So, that is a small selection of books in my collection.  Over the next month, I hope it will all be cataloged and arranged (digitally and IRL).  I also hope to read more books.  My current Goodreads challenge is 12 books read in 2016, and I am halfway there.  I’m hoping to finish it out before the summer ends.

If you have any book recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments.  I am always looking for interesting books to read!

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Speaking of the comments, I have been overwhelmed by the public feedback and private messages.  I did not intend to garner much attention from this blog (even though I put it on my Facebook page).  I knew some people wanted to know what was going on in my life, as my previous job had cut my communication off to a minimum.  I am very grateful for the care and concern from all my family and friends, and I hope that I can continue to let everyone know how I am doing through this blog.    Again, thank you and please keep the feedback coming!

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