What I’ve been reading

1. Coaching Team Defense, by Fritz Shurmur. This simple, elegant book is probably the best “must-read” for coaching defense and understanding how it is played. Shurmur was of course a defensive coordinator, notably for the Green Bay Packers during their most recent Super Bowl run.

2. The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler. Highly readable, and highly rewarding. You forget how much crime fiction became a cliche after Chandler, and yet it is surprising how fresh he is despite the emulators.

3. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, by H.G. Bissinger. I probably shouldn’t admit that I had never read this until now. I am only about fifty pages in so far, but it appears quite good so far. My expectations, based on the reviews, are high. I do think football is the greatest game not only for reasons internal to it, but for cultural reasons as well.

4. The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood. I thought the first 60 or so pages were too cute, as the narrative was told (or hinted at) by excerpts from newspaper articles, flashes of dialogue by unnamed people, and a few recounted memories. But since then the book’s narrative has picked up considerably, and of course Atwood is an incredible stylist. We’ll see.

5. In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic, by David Wessel. Wessel is the Wall Street Journal’s economics editor, he does a wonderful job in this book of lucidly explaining the hows and whys of the Federal Reserve’s actions over the last year. The book is a great window into rather cataclysmic times just a few short months ago. Wessel comes down firmly on the side that the Fed and Treasury were right to act boldly. I’ll leave it at that, and say that this book does give you plenty of good reporting on the behind the scenes regardless of how you come out on these questions, and although something just shy of 300 pages, the book was brisk enough for my to finish it on a recent plane ride.

As a final note, I am curious what the reviews are on the Kindle. I’m an iPhone addict, and had been set to go out and buy a Kindle, but have mellowed on my desire to get one. Nicholson Baker’s recent essay on the Kindle is worth the read. Per Baker’s recommendation, I downloaded some of the free reading applications for the iPhone, and have been surprised how much I like reading on it. I’ve been using Stanza and sticking so far to public domain works, but I’m halfway through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (a re-read), and it’s actually quite pleasurable with the large text on the small screen. Cycling through pages is no trouble at all, just a tap on the right side of the screen. Anyone have any advice or commentary on the future of reading? Or just what I should be using to do it? I’m still kind of a book guy, but I don’t have any particular sentimental value for them.

  • Chris

    I have a kindle and love the thing. It’s not a true computer screen so it’s easy on the eyes, and the ability to finish a book and then grab another off the free wireless network for less than it would cost at a book store is like touching Jesus.

  • Jon

    I moved this year and have a commute to work and decided to listen to audiobooks. So far, Ive heard Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam, Master of The Senate by Robert Caro, and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. As for as print books, I’ve been reading Inverting The Pyramid. It’s about the evolution of soccer formations and tactics.

  • Tom

    I’ve been using the Kindle app for iPod Touch. Works very well.

  • mike

    “Coaching Team Defense” book is running $50. In your opinion is it worth it. I would like to defensive concepts.

  • Jgordon1
  • Socrates

    First-time commenter, longtime reader. I really enjoy your site and always look forward to your posts.

    Thanks for sharing the reading list. As you rightly noted, Atwood is quite the stylist, and, in my view, both her writing and thoughtfulness make The Blind Assassin worth the time and care it takes to get through it.

    With regard to the Kindle, though I would not, per se, be opposed to reading newspapers and periodicals on one, I am worried about the potential for advertising on Kindle given that while one is reading a novel or nonfiction work when such things are one of the only written mediums of communication that our culture has that is still free of direct advertising (cover blurbs aside). Given the conceivable ubiquity of devices like the Kindle, I worry about the future possibility of them crowding out paper and cloth books.

  • Tom#2

    Man, PoA is a rough read. The amount of symbolism and ulterior meaning to everything is pretty staggering. After reading it, I was amazed at how much I didn’t “see” when going over literary criticisms of it.

  • HAAL Fan

    Was visiting with a former coach of mine, Jim Ingram, this past summer. He took a bunch of books and threw them at me from across his table and said “You’d be better set saving all your school supplies once you get through college Phillip. If you’re gonna be a coach, stepping on that grass … that’s when class begins.” Surprised to see Shurmer’s book running for 50 on Amazon. I thought it was informative. Liked it a lot for finding ways to streamline and organize our defensive practices. He’s right on the money when stating that coaches get so caught up with the scheme in which to play that they forget to coach the physicality with which the game is played.

  • jgordon1

    I have also heard that Arnsparger’s book is also a must defensive read