Friday, June 16, 2006

Big Russ and Bones: Summer Reading

In the spirit of the season, I have begun my summer reading routine. I started with Tim Russert’s follow-up to his smash hit Big Russ and Me. In his new book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons, Russert shares with us some of the correspondence he received from those among us who enjoyed “Big Russ.” I have to say I was moved by the first book. Russert’s tribute to his blue-collar Pop didn’t necessarily lead me to appreciate my own father more. However, it accentuated the point that fathers must be cognizant of the most subtle interactions with their children. The two Russert books remind us again and again that we can never underestimate how our words and actions influence our kids. In my view, both of these offerings are must-read material for men at any stage of fatherhood.
Russert and his correspondents remind us to celebrate small moments with our children. Certainly, since reading the books I’ve taken more delight (and exercised more patience) in sitting to listen to a new CD with my daughter or supporting my son’s desire to redecorate his room again and again. We learn that these are the kinds of things that our children remember as adults.
My wife and I got an alarmingly late seat on the The Lovely Bones bandwagon. This remarkable novel, which apparently has been read by everyone in the known universe except us, has occupied our thoughts and discussions for a week now. In an odd and unintentional way, the book is a workable companion to what I took from Tim Russert. The Lovely Bones starts with the kidnap and rape of a 14-year-old girl. It’s a brutal and disturbing start to a story that, through the magnificent talent of the author, becomes uplifting literature. The story is told from the girl’s perspective. Although she dies in the book’s first pages, she watches her world from Heaven. Her observations on grief, fear, retribution, and reconciliation are enlightening and inspiring. As the father of a 14-year-old girl, I found the story difficult to endure at times. The work is artful and compelling, though. I couldn’t put it down. The destination is worth the journey.
I need a couple of days off to recover. I think I’ll read a sports book next. Doesn’t Rick Reilly have something new on the shelf?
Yes, he does, and I've finished it: a fun little two-day read entitled Shanks for Nothing. It's a sequel to the entertaining Missing Links. The most recent book can stand alone, but having read the first one will enhance enjoyment of the second.

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