I completed my first book of 2018 last night. It wasn’t on my List. The Book, “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years by David Litt was a book that I had started around Christmas. I was less than fifty pages into the book at the beginning of the new year. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Mr. Litt’s humor, candor, and analysis of his time in the Obama White House is both entertaining, and sheds light on a culture for which we outsiders rarely catch a glimpse. Litt’s ability to blend the absurdity of a 24-year-old kid writing speeches for the leader of the free world with humor, insight, and self-deprecation makes for an enjoyable read. His narrative, the arch of the story, and how it all ties together to explain the Obama presidency from his perspective – one many in my generation shared – was refreshing. In the era of Trump, it is a nice reminder of how government can function.
I substituted this book for number 2 on my list, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George by Kelly Carlin. The reason for the substitution was simple. I only purchase books that are ‘shelf worthy.’ What constitutes shelf worthy? For me, a book is shelf worthy if it serves a lasting purpose past the initial read. Meaning, it is one that I can read repeatedly and receive continued value. It is something that I go back to and pull information from often. It is one that I reference or recommend to others. It needs to earn space on the bookshelf. Examples of shelf worthy books that I currently have are Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari . As much as I want to read this book I didn’t feel that it was worth a purchase and it wasn’t available at the local library. Nor was it in stock at the local book store (I would have simply read it there if it was available). There was a second reason too. I love George Carlin. He is one of my comedic idols. Part of me didn’t want that respect I have for his performance, craft, and skill to be diminished by finding out he was a garbage human being when not on stage or in front of a camera. I don’t know if this would have been true, seeing as I didn’t read the book, but, again, part of me didn’t want to take the chance. I’m still trying to process the whole Louis CK thing.
Book number 1 on my list was A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I remember seeing the movie as a teenager and have always floated the idea in the back of my brain to read the book. Creating a reading list for 2018 was the perfect opportunity to ‘force’ myself to get it in my hands and check it off the list. It was available at the local library so I checked it out last week. I had immediately made a substitution with the book above, and was going to try real hard to stick to the plan of reading books sequentially according to the list. I opened the cover and read the introduction last night. One page into the actual text and I closed the cover. It is going back to the library this week.
I REALLY enjoy reading. I want to read as many books as I can get my hands on. Reading is one of the few activities that I can participate in that truly shuts my brain off from the outside world. Anxiety, the constant spinning and self-doubt – it all yields to the words, wonder, and enjoyment I get from the pages in front of my eyes at any given moment. I’m not giving up on the list. If nothing else, the list is a way to curate ideas and interest and provide a roadmap for learning and exploration. 310 pages into 2018 and I’m ready for more! Happy reading folks.