FOOTBALL

I’m guessing it’s a publicist’s dream! The pub date for Steve Almond’s new book popping up right in the middle of the most recent NFL scandals. AGAINST FOOTBALL: ONE FAN’S RELUCTANT MANIFESTO uncovers Almond’s struggle to hold on to his lifelong love of the game, (and of the Oakland Raiders,)  as he keeps bumping up against the realities of football and its fans in our culture.

From 9-year-olds playing in Miami, where poor people look to football as a means to escape poverty… to high school players who compromise- and sometimes lose- their lives by submitting to repeated physical violence… to colleges where spending and attention  on football far outstrip academics… to the tax-exempt and profit- driven professional games which leave wealthy retired players with non-functioning brains …Almond has done his research, which is interspersed with his personal recollections of his own football watching addiction and the way it serves as a basis for male bonding.  Along the way, he also touches on the ugly sides of the football culture with news reports of racism, homophobia, and (always) violence. He deepens the connections between football and culture, by recalling his own macho encounters with his two brothers.

Almond apologizes repeatedly to football fans, as he continues his reality check. He suggests a few practical steps, solicits honest conversation, and offers a forum at  www.againstfootball.org

Mugs

How many coffee & tea mugs does one person need? An apparently endless supply is good! Let me loose in Pier 1, Anthropologie, or Home- goods, and my supply of mugs increases. Yet, I already have so many!

I have been pondering this addiction and realizing that each of the old mugs has a story attached. The memories make me mug-removal-resistant. (Blame it on my sentimental Cancer -with -Cancer-rising side.) That angel mug always reminds me of my friend A. who has filled my life with angels for many years. The mug with the trees? It evokes a time in my life when I was learning to live alone and finding comfort in my animal companions; it was at  the pet store that I found the tree mug. The big pottery one with the crack? It’s from a church fair in Weston and always reminds me of my friend R.  The tall one with the blue flowers? It’s from a garden store in the town where my daughter used to live. Many happy grandma stories swirl around with the tea or coffee in that one.

Maybe a collection of vignettes to match my collection of mugs…Hmm.

InSights: Then & Now

As a Collection Librarian (that’s resource collection, not debt collection) I wrote a blog on “Reading Insights.” As a RETIRED librarian, I will be sharing my insights about whatever facets of life attract my attention…including the books I finally have the time to read!

I have been trying to broaden my reading of fiction to include some of those well-reviewed and/or popular thrillers. Nope! Unless, the story is a psychological thriller, my interest lags and my progress stalls. Fifty or a hundred pages in, I still do not care what is going to happen and gratuitous violence shuts down the story even sooner. Give me a story full of complex characters- I like complex sentences, too- reacting to each others’ personalities and I zip along with relish.

Some recent gems: Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken, Next Life Will Be Kinder by Howard Norman, The Storied Life of AJ Fikrey by Gabrielle Zevin, Orphan Train by Cristina Baker Kline, All We Had by Annie Weatherwax, and The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

Non-fiction fascinates me also- especially the social sciences. Expect future reviews of current ideas about religion, spirituality, psychology, technology,and the general condition of our relationships with each other these days.

This summer’s favorites: Power Cues by Nick Morgan, Virtual Unreality by Charles Seife, Invisibles by David Zweig, and The Narcissist Next Door by Jeffrey Kluger.