*Friday’s Five Books is a bi-weekly post on Between the Covers that highlights book recommendations from the reading community.
My name is Richard N. Wade II. I am a twenty-five year old writer from Sanborn, New York. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Buffalo State College in May 2009. My hobbies include reading, writing, and collecting sports cards. I buy a lot of books, and I have way too many magazine subscriptions, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also have two different newspaper subscriptions, so I’m never at a loss for reading material. If you want to reach me, my Twitter handle is @Suede_Wade.
Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member by Sanyika Shakur, aka Monster Kody Scott
I picked this book up on a whim. I’ve always enjoyed reading autobiographies, especially those so opposite of me. Kody Scott grew up on the rough street of Los Angeles, succumbing to gang life at a very early age. He joined the Crips gang at age 11. He performed brutal acts of violence, often just to survive to the next day. It was common day to sell drugs, shoot a rival, then go home to plan the next attack. After years of gangbanging, a lengthy stay in jail led Scott to convert to Islam.
Much like an action thriller, this book was very fast paced. Each page offered a glimpse into the vicious life led by Scott. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read. You will be shocked and drawn into a world like no other.
Life by Keith Richards
When I first heard that legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was writing an autobiography, I knew I had to read it. The Rolling Stones are one of the most famous bands in history. Their hits include “Jumpin Jack Flash”, “Brown Sugar”, and “Start Me Up.” Richards was right alongside lead singer Mick Jagger the whole way, despite almost coming to blows more than once. All of the drug binges Richards endured would have killed the normal person. A saying goes that if an atomic bomb were dropped, the only things that would survive are cockroaches and Keith Richards. This book is an excellent read not only for Rolling Stones fans, but rock fans in general. After reading this book, I wished I had lived during that time period. You might feel the same way when you are done.
Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever by Filip Bondy
My dream as a young boy was to become an NBA player. I had a portable hoop in my driveway, occasionally inviting friends over to stage pickup games. When I stopped growing at just over six feet tall, I knew my future as an NBA player was finished. I heard about this book after writing for a sports blog. I was doing a little research, and stumbled upon this. As a lifelong basketball fan, the 1984 draft is very important. This is the draft in which Michael Jordan was selected third overall. The first two picks were Akeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie respectively. Olajuwon became a hall of famer with Houston, leading them to consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. Bowie played ten seasons, averaging 10.9 points per game. Jordan is generally regarded as the best player in NBA history.
The book does an excellent job of providing behind the scenes details on how teams prepared leading up to the draft. Some teams were accused of purposely losing, just to gain one of the top picks. I would only recommend this book to NBA fans. If you’re not familiar with the NBA, then stay away from this book. The onslaught of statistics might bore the casual fan.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Billy Beane was a first round draft pick of the New York Mets in 1980. After compiling a .219 average over six seasons from 1984 to 1989, Beane became an advanced scout with the Oakland Athletics in 1990. After serving under General Manager Sandy Alderson for seven years, Beane became Athletics GM in 1998. He used the Sabermetrics principle to make the A’s into winners, despite a payroll that was consistently a quarter of typical Major League Baseball salaries. Beane didn’t have the financial freedom to spend like the Yankees and Red Sox, so he used statistics to find undervalued players.
The book is a classic in the sense of making you feel like you are in the moment. The pressure Beane endured on a daily basis is unlike any other. A movie adaptation is set to release later this month. I would recommend this book to any baseball fan. If you aren’t a serious fan, then you may find the tedious player evaluation process rather boring.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
This is by far my favorite work of fiction I’ve ever read. Murakami has a way of getting the reader emotionally and physically attached to his stories. The novel revolves around a young man named Toru Okada. He is searching the streets for his wife’s missing cat. Shortly after beginning his search, his wife too goes missing. The search leads Okada to a murky world unknown to most people. He reluctantly gets involved with a host of interesting characters, including a psychic prostitute, a morbid and troubled sixteen-year-old-girl, and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by hideous war experiences.
I can honestly anoint this book as a must read to all fans of fiction. The plot is a little hard to follow at times due to the wide variety of characters, but excellent once you get entrenched in the story. I liken Murakami to a painter painting a masterpiece. One of the very best books I’ve ever read.
Thank you for the recommendations, Richard. I’m looking forward to checking a few of these out!
**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).