March 6, 2014 by libroshombre
It’s snowing in Fairbanks, but springtime for professional baseball teams, including my beloved Texas Rangers. Though never much of a player, I learned to appreciate and savor the game, and love summer evenings at Growden Park with the Panners. Thankfully, there’s solace to be had in well-written books on the sport, and this winter’s reading included “Hit By Pitch,” a nonfiction graphic novel by Molly Lawless about the fatal beaning of Ray Chapman in 1920, and Baseball Prospectus’ “Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong.”
There are scads of fine baseball books, but none ever quite capture the full sensations of actually being at a game. However, like all good books, they do preserve and convey enough to be informative, illuminating, and sometimes even transformative. That’s what Alex Rios, the Texas Ranger right fielder, is hoping for. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last week that Rios “is aiming to read 99 books in the next couple of years … The 99-book goal comes from a website by Josh Kaufman that lists the 99 best business books that can help people earn their ‘Personal MBA.’”
Kaufman’s book, “The Personal MBA,” provides a reading list touching upon the full gamut of business subjects, but there’s not much depth to most. “The conceit of this book is that the highly condensed information within will supplant a formal MBA program,” the Library Journal reviewer noted. “To the contrary, it is best suited as a primer for those considering a business degree.”
Fortunately for him, Rios recognizes the intrinsic value of reading broadly, and moves “from motivational to fiction to architecture.” Players’ baseball schedules leave lots of free time, and Rios fills it with the reading habit. “Reading books is better than watching TV,” Rios said. “[I]t’s something I’m looking forward to doing more.” Now there’s a wise young multi-millionaire!
Speaking of reading, “Read It” is a namesake for Reddit, “a social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of links or text posts. Users then vote each submission ‘up’ or ‘down’ to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s page.” Reddit is broken down into a variety of categories, or “subeddits,” such as “educational,” “entertainment,” and “humor and image.” It’s also home of some of the web’s weirder sites.
There I found BirdsWithArms.tumblr.com, where 60,000 people have joined to post images of birds with human arms, often muscled and flexing, photo-shopped in place of their wings. During the recent Alaska Library Association Conference, I mentioned BirdsWithArms while dining with a longtime colleague and pal, Dan Masoni, the director of the public library at Dutch Harbor. Dan had related the time some bald eagles began attacking people outside the Dutch Harbor library, how the local government decided to relocate the eagles, and the bureaucratic and ornithological high-jinx that ensued. Suffice to say the birds won, and somewhere on the Internet are photos of Dan and his staff re-enacting the attacks in crouching, fearful poses that would have done Hitchcock proud. Still, it’s not the same as being there.
Dan’s retiring from his post at Dutch after a remarkable 19-year career that was wrought with effectiveness, foresight, and good humor. It’s transition time for Alaskan libraries as many long-term directors retire. However, fresh new faces with new ideas are arriving and the Alaskan library tradition of close cooperation and outstanding public service is in good hands.
It’ll be fine, but if you doubt it, you can visit www.IceChewing.com. Readers addicted to chewing ice are finding solace and advice there. Find out what others are chewing (“the foggy little white pieces are the best”), best refrigerator ice machines (go with GE), and how ice-chewing might be a sign of iron-deficiency, stress, OCD, or sexual frustration.
Failing that, there’s CarpetsForAirports.com, a site dedicated to “carpeteers” sharing photographs of airport carpets. I have no time for that foolishness, because I want to log onto Reddit’s “What Is That One Book You Could NOT Put Down?” subeddit and tell them “Seasons in Hell: with Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and ‘The Worst Baseball Team in History’ – the Texas Rangers,” by Mike Shropshire.