Monday, February 23, 2009

Best I Read Three Things

This past week I finished three books, the first books I’ve finished since late November. Ugh. But the good news is that two of the books were the two books I got for Christmas, meaning that it’s just February and I’ve already accomplished my annual resolution of reading all the books I get for Christmas before the next Christmas. The other book I found in a pile of books headed for the trash in the apartment building where I lived for January.

Disquiet Please: More Humor from the New Yorker

Emily (my sister) gave me this for Christmas. She gave me the first volume of New Yorker Humor Writing (Furious Pajamas) many years ago, so I appreciated the thoughtful consistency. I never finished Furious Pajamas because I’d just open it and look for something that looked funny and then put it down when that was done. I decided to read Disquiet Please cover to cover and it made for a fine journey. Furious Pajamas was more focused on collecting the most famous New Yorker pieces by the most famous writers, but this volume was far more varied and featured a lot more excellent contemporary stuff (as well as plenty of great stuff from the 30’s and other decades now long-gone.) Also, numerous Sedaris pieces were to be found in this volume…I wonder how many of them are in his new book? I might never know.

Press On: Messages on Faith, Hope, and Charity by Joseph B. Wirthlin

I just about never get gifted church books. So I was a little surprised when Mom gave me this for Christmas. Let’s just be honest, Joseph B Wirthlin was one of the lower profile apostles, so not only was I surprised to get a book of talks by an apostle, but to get a collection by an apostle that wasn’t Oaks, Holland, Eyring, or Ballard? Mom picked up on my confusion after I unwrapped it and said “I got you it because whenever I think of Elder Wirthlin, I think of you.” Fair. So I read it. And I really liked it. These talks all seem pretty basic coming out of the gate, they’re all focused on simple principles, the sort of talks you might totally zone out on during General Conference. But here’s the thing: if you read them and pay a little attention you’ll realize that these are totally excellent talks and that you don’t have to be the most charming Apostle in the Quorum to really have a thing or two to share with everyone. Of course I realize everything I’m saying here is bordering on irreverent and a little bit trivializing important matters—so let me stop but before I go may I strongly suggest you examine these two talks of Elder Wirthlin’s: Living in Thanksgiving Daily and The Abundant Life. You’ll recognize the Abundant Life if I happened to home teach you in the last couple of months. Also, President Uchtdorf’s October 2008 talk “The Infinite Power of Hope”? Very very similar to the Abundant Life (right down to certain quotes) and the theme of Press On…I’m just saying! It’s not like these things aren’t nice to hear a few times from a few different people!

Wise Guy by Nicholas Pileggi

I was leaving 227 Riverside one afternoon when I saw this stack of books in the lobby. The way they were stacked, it made me pretty sure they were abandoned. So I grabbed a whole bunch, I couldn’t resist. And for some reason (perhaps the thrill of holding a thick, mass-market paperback with a raised image of a beefy hand holding a revolver on the cover while riding the masses, the hoi paloi reading feeling of it just felt like too much guilty fun) I picked this one. It’s the “true story” of a mid-level Mafia guy who now lives under Witness Protection. I don’t know, the whole time I read it I just kept going “Yeah right” about all this stuff that was supposed to be true…it just seemed too right out of the movies for me, too absolutely imaginary. But here’s the number one fun fact about this book: it wasn’t until days after I read it that I learned that the movie Goodfellas (which I’ve never seen, not even when its been playing on TBS on JetBlue) was based on it and that the screenplay for Goodfellas was written by the guy that wrote this book. That makes total sense. I think I’d rather read cases from my old Criminal Law books for my true-life crime tales, I need that stamp of assured authenticity if I’m going to be reading this kind of nonsense.

1 comment:

Damian said...

Amen on "the Abundant life". In his last year Wirthlin's talks were, let's be honest, lest interesting. I think as he got older there was maybe less charisma in his addresses, but they were all very well thought out. I think he is one of the most interesting apostles to read. if not the most engaging to listen to.