Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Words Wednesday #2 (For Political Junkies & Sports Fans)

Two weeks ago, I introduced "More Words Wednesday," a Wednesday post where I highlight books that I've read and think someone out there will enjoy. I shared my last MWW with my little brother and he made a good point. "How can you recommend books for a general audience? You're good at recommending books for people you know, not just randoms." I take constructive criticism well, so instead of flying to Germany to remind him that I was his big sister and I could still beat him up, I conceded the point.

He's right. You won't like ALL the books I recommend. Nevertheless, I have a pretty diverse taste in literature so at least one of these Wednesdays should hit the spot for you. The whole point of a review is to give you an idea of whether it's worth your hard-earned dollars. (And if you make it to Borders soon, you can catch their Going Out of Business Sale! I bought a book today marked down 40%!)

Today, I have a fiction recommendation for the political junkie and a non-fiction rec for the true sports fans:

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. In 2004, just like the majority of Americans, I voted for John Kerry. As we all know, he didn't win and the Bush family continued to be our First Family. I'm not a big fan of George W, but his wife Laura wasn't so bad. American Wife is technically fiction, but it is based very loosely on Laura Bush's life. I know... it doesn't sound super interesting does it? But I PROMISE it is. For instance, did you know that as a teenager, Laura (and the fictional character, Alice) hit her high school friend in a bad car accident and killed him? (Not on purpose of course). Anyway, the story is pretty juicy and has a dramatic climax towards the end. No more spoilers; read it for yourself. Curtis Sittenfeld never fails.

Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden. The title of this book is provocative and -to many- ludicrous. How dare you compare slavery in the 1800's to the career of an athlete paid millions of dollars for their talent?! Well, I'd explain it for you, but Mr. Rhoden did a much better job. His works offers history and current examples of the trials of the professional athlete and a whole lot of context for his premise. For example, did you know that the first winner of the Kentucky Derby was a Black man? In fact, black horse jockeys were so successful that eventually exclusive jockey associations and clubs were created to exclude them and prevent them from monopolizing the winners' circle at derbies. One quote from the book is the following:
How tough is it to buy an inner-city kid? Buy him some shoes, take him to dinner, and get him some nice clothes, maybe a car. You become his best friend, and he gets hooked like a junkie,” Rudy Washington said. Then you control the product. The secret is controlling the produce early It’s just like slavery. Modern-day slavery is what it is.

Check it out. Even if you don't agree with it, I promise you'll learn something!

There you have it! MWW, Edition #2. Here's to more drama, more discussion, and more words this Wednesday.