TOYS AND GAMES: 52 Books More Auspicious than Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty-two books a year is more auspicious that Fifty Shades of Grey.

The latter comes down to titillation. The former equates to reading a book a week for an entire year. That means turning off the TV and tuning into your book rather than channel flipping and digging in under the covers.

Terry Shames Photo
Terry Shames

I’ve read that one should read at least 52 books a year. Well, I’ve tried, but the best I’ve done in one year since keeping track is 30, which I did in 2014, a year highlighted by my discovery of Terry Shames’ Samuel Craddock Mystery Series.

The fewest I’ve read in those years was 12 in 2011. That coincided with my writing 100 Things Giants Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.  During that journey to completing the book I like to refer to as “Giants for the John” my thumb drive got fried.  And, you guessed it, I didn’t back it up.  Thus, I lost Nos. 1 through 37 and had to start over.  All wasn’t lost that year, I did manage to read one of my favorite series of books by Larry McMurtry, which began with The Last Picture Show.100-Things-Giants-210-1

I’m off to a less than auspicious beginning in 2016–I’ve read just one book–too much football, Jeopardy! and old movies, so I’ll just have to wait and see how the year treats me.

If I enjoy a book, I’ll say so, but I’m hardly a critic of what’s good and what’s not.  I’m really not certain anybody is qualified for that task. I believe the whole process is a subjective matter. Everybody likes something different. Which leads me to my favorites I read in 2015, which were (and the fact that I read them in 2015 doesn’t necessarily mean the book came out in 2015):

Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Non-Fiction: The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

Favorite Book I Re-Read: Rich Man, Poor Man, by Irwin Shaw.

How do those selections rate with you list?

Laters, baby!

TOYS AND GAMES: Why Not Build the Ballpark Along Bayshore?

While the powers that be are searching for the right property to build the new ballpark in the Tampa Bay area, I’m curious when they’ll stumble across a gold mine: Bayshore Boulevard.

Outfielders could dive to rob home runs
Outfielders could dive to rob home runs

The outfield wall is already in place.  Hitters would hit toward the water. Home runs would splash once they cleared the wall. Balls that got stuck in between balusters would become ground-rule doubles just like balls stuck in the ivy at Wrigley Field. Let’s see, just clear a swath of land between Bay to Bay Boulevard and Howard Avenue. Now that would be a sweet venue.


Speaking of Bayshore, while walking along the “World’s Longest Continuous Sidewalk” I came upon one of the  not-yet-picked-up Port-O-Lets from the Gasparilla Parade. Written on the side of the blue structure: “I Love Nathan.”

I’m a dinosaur. Can somebody please tell me if this is how modern lovers profess their devotion.


Finally, I felt sadness observing parts of National Signing Day on ESPN U. One kid announced he had decided to play his football at Such-and-Such U before taking his game to the next level in three years. Completing his education didn’t seem to register with him. The odds of starting in college are stacked against most any recruit, much less the odds of “taking his game to the next level.”

The silliness of National Signing Day continues to grow. Said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops about doing whatever he had to do to sign high school players: “At some point we do things we’re not real proud of. … Sometimes you have to put your pride aside.”