Saturday, January 26, 2008

One of the things I like most about life on the porch is that I get to read a lot. Our family is supposed to be keeping a record of our reading this year and have been challenged to make a little Christmas ornament for each of the books we read to hang on the tree next Christmas. I hope I can read the most books but that can be tough in this family. I have some grandkids who are voracious readers. I hope the limbs of the Christmas tree have trouble bearing the weight of the ornaments or that we have to get an extra large tree this year.

Since Christmas I have knocked out a few books for my contribution to the tree. This is the list so far:

1. Woodrow Wilson by H.W. Brand. This is a short but complete biography of his life written by an A&M professor. Wilson was a scholar and intellect, which is very unusual for a president. His father was a minister and when Woodrow was a kid he practiced making speeches from the pulpit to empty pews. After the death of his first wife he was very depressed but married again while in office. He suffered a severe stroke during his last term and his wife Edith covered for him and carried on the duties of the president.

2. Great Feuds in Medicine by Hal Hellman. I’m using this book to help me prepare a talk on the same subject. It’s an interesting book about some great feuds but it could have been written better and made more interesting.

3. Hearts by Thomas Thompson is about the development of heart surgery by the two greats, Debakey and Cooley. It details their famous feud and is interesting reading.

4. Suspect by Michael Robotham- this one is a page turner. It’s a psychological thriller that takes you into the mind of a serial killer by a master forensic psychologist.

5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This is supposed to be a true story, but is almost unbelievable. It’s about a brilliant alcoholic father, a brilliant artist mother and their four children who live in a homeless environment. They are constantly on the move, living on nothing, eating out of dumpsters and existing in squalor until they end up on the streets in New York. They are all highly intelligent people and the children end up amazingly well with the second child, the author, becoming a very successful writer.

6, The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn & Hals Iggulden. This is a great book, full of everything for boys from 1 to 100. It’s full of facts, stories and just about everything interesting you would want to know for those of us who are still boys. It contains stuff like how to make a paper airplane, how to juggle, how to build a battery, how to make a bow and arrow, and many facts about things like astronomy, the weather, animals and insects and spiders. It tells you about codes and ciphers and contains many, extraordinary stories about things such a explorations, inventions and great battles.

7. The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything. This is a resource book and is a more sophisticated version of the Dangerous Book for Boys. I have not read the entire book but have read and studied large sections about things of interest to me. There is a lot about travel, investing, food and drinks, law, movies, sports, medicine and just about every aspect of daily life.

8. Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens – I reread a large portion of this book during Christmas. Every Christmas I get the Dickens fever. I love his characters and have to revisit them especially at Christmas time. This is about the exploits of Samuel Pickwick and three other gentleman in his traveling group, Tupman, Snodgrasss and Winkle. Chapter 28 contains one of the best descriptions in the English language about why we celebrate Christmas.

8. A Man Called Indomitable by Sonny Kleinfield – This is the story of Dr. Raymond Damadian who some credit with developing MRI. He did not share in the Noble Prize for his contribution which may have been a great oversight

9. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. This book should be required reading for every American. It’s worth a separate blog. This blog will follow. This is a true story about a modern day Saint who should get the Nobel Prize for his efforts in building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has the formula for understanding and working with the Muslim people that is the best hope for a lasting peace.


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