What I’ve been reading

1Football’s Eagle and Stack Defenses, by Ron Vanderlinden, currently Penn State’s linebackers coach. This is a solid book on one particular defense, though much of it has general applicability. Fortunately you can read most of it online via Google Books, here.

2. Ravelstein, by Saul Bellow. Sad, funny, wistful (I enjoy the fake-word “wisty” as a descriptor). I’m only about halfway through but it’s written beautifully and thus is recommended. Not for everyone, I suppose, but I enjoy it.

3. Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System — and Themselves, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. This book has no real policy analysis, no economics, and no politics, and these are strengths; it is a blow-by-blow of the End Of Days Scenario that was our recent financial crisis. I wasn’t going to pick this up (it’s not a short book), but I read some of the excerpts online and found them gripping. Indeed, someone mentioned that they imagined Sorkin writing this in one long manic Kerouacian frenzy, and it does read like that. Again, this is a compliment.

4. The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons (The Sports Guy). Someone picked this up for me. This is another of those too-long books that I nevertheless am tempted to hunker down and read. In particular, I am intrigued by this review of the book by economist/polymath Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution:

Could this be the best 736 pp. book on the diversity of human talent ever written?  It starts slow but eventually picks up steam.  It’s also devastatingly funny.  That said, if you don’t know a lot about the NBA, it is incomprehensible.  (I could not, for instance, understand the section of Dolph Schayes because that was not the NBA I know.)  In the historical pantheon, he picks David Thompson, Bernard King, and Allen Iverson as underrated.  The 1986 Boston Celtics are the best team ever, he argues.  And so on.  I found this more riveting than almost anything else I read and yes I think it is very much a work of social science, albeit in hermetic form.

  • http://www.shakinthesouthland.com DrB

    I also have the Vanderlinden book, its scheme specific but in a multiple defense you have to be able to change things up.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    I’m surprised to see you recommend the Bill Simmons book. Whatever Bill Simmons is, this website is the opposite of that.

  • More of a “Sports Guy” than B.S.

    Agreed, 4.0 Point Stance. Bill Simmons is a joke. All he does is talk about the NBA and Boston-area teams (mostly the Celtics). Who cares. Even worse, he was one of those whiny Red Sox fans who reminded everyone the curse every 10 minutes back in the day. Then the “curse” mysteriously ended, and of course he writes a book about it.

    He’s actually a pretty solid writer/blogger, but when it comes to what he talks about he can’t stay out of his own way.

  • Matthew Feagen

    I was wondering if anyone has tried this Sports Handicapping Service? I encountered his video on Youtube and it turns out the service is sold through clickbank which means it comes with a 60 day money back guarantee. Was wondering what peoples thoughts were.