Books – October 2009

So really, October was Harry Potter month. I ended up getting hooked, and couldn’t stop reading them until I had finished with them, and the only reason I had another book in the middle of them all was I had it in my car for reading on my lunch breaks at work. We’ll start with the non-Potter book first and then a general Potter fest to complete the rest of the month out.

Moneyball – Michael Lewis – A very controversial book when it came out, Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland A’s Baseball team) and his uncanny ability to put together a consistently winning team that had a budget much less than half of his major competition in Baseball (think of the Yankee’s payroll!). Great book that shows a front office that in an effort to save money looked to the stats of a player and what the players statistics told about their potential. It pits the “old guard” scouting core who looked more at the physical and mental make up of a ballplayer. They frequently would pass on players who didn’t look like a ballplayer physically, but Beane and his staff would find something about the player in his stats to like – Walk to Strikout ratio or their On Base Percentage – and discover diamonds in the rough. \Unfortunately others picked up parts of his ideas over these last few years, and it’s harder to find a good deal anymore for those lackluster A’s. Our own Mariners now have a GM in place who has similar principles in evaluating talent and has helped turn the M’s from a 2nd worst team in the majors to a winning record and significant growth in only a year. Great read, and I want to read his other book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which covers the story of the Left Tackle position in Football. Great writer.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
So I went to town in October when it came to Harry Potter, like I said above. I started down that path and ended up not being able to resist starting on the next book so I could find out what happened to Harry and his pals. What can I say. J.K. Rowling writes well enough of a story to keep me hooked until the end. I’m actually pretty glad I waited until now to read them when the series is complete, as I stare back at my bookshelves looking at a couple of series that are still in progress and the patient wait for the next novel can be maddening. Like I said in a previous post, I read these books on a Sony Reader, which was great for nighttime reading in bed. Lightweight, easy to pick up and down, but so much less satisfaction of finishing a book when you can’t really close it and pick up the next one and start at the beginning again.

I’ve not looked at lists of others favorite Harry Potters, but I found that I enjoyed Goblet of Fire probably the best out of the series, followed by either The Prisoner of Azkaban or Order of the Phoenix. Book 4 just had a great mix of action, new characters with the other schools joining in and giving you a bigger picture of the wizarding world at large. Plus Harry Potter vs. a Dragon. Excellent. Still book 5 and 6 continued well, but book 7 was almost a let down, saved by the excellent scenes at the end, the middle part just drug on and on as Harry and co. wandered through the wilderness for months seemingly doing not much other than arguing. Thanks guys. Let’s get back to saving the world please!

As a modern book series for children, I can’t believe how well Harry Potter succeeds. I’m also so pleased at how well it reads for an adult as well, and can see why so many people were gladly toting these things when each new one came out. As I’ve mentioned before, I love books that get people reading and how much these books helped many kids who wouldn’t normally read, actually sit down and do so is wonderful. Bonus points for them being actual good books! What’s also great is how this series also has flawed characters. Harry’s not perfect. He get’s angry, he looses his temper over silly things, but has a hard time apologizing sometimes. But, in the end he’s also got a great heart, and he’s got great loyal friends who all learn to stick with each other through thick and thin. He’s occasionally whiny and boorish, but then it helps make him all that more believable of a kid stuck in an impossible situation.

In the end, it’s a series I’d recommend to anyone. Looking for a relaxing book to enjoy on a rainy day? Potter. Looking for the beach book? Potter’d work. Looking for a fantastical take on England? Potter there sir. I’ll gladly have my son read these in a few years when he gets older and is looking for books to start reading. With his appetite for books already I’m sure he’ll love to read these when he get’s of age and I’d love to share them with him and read them again when that time comes.

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