A Few Good Books

You should quit reading books. Bad books, that is. I’m talking to those who are spared from buying technical bricks written by tenured professors. I apologize if this excludes you. You can revisit this when you’ve graduated into my target demographic: the agnostic recreational reader.

According to a Washington Post article from 2018, only 19 percent of Americans read for pleasure. While disappointingly low, I very much relate to my fellow 81 percent of Americans. As a child I loathed assigned reading. During a conversation with my mother a few years ago she said as much. And that I was almost forced to repeat the first grade because of my disinterest towards reading. But today my bookshelf is full. In fact, it is overflowing and has spilled onto the ground in knee high stacks. If you thumb through them, you could quickly form a rough sketch of who I am, or who I was at that time, and what my priorities were. So, I’m not convinced that you don’t like to read. You just haven’t found your book yet.

Below are a few of my favorites:

Inside Delta Force, by Eric L. Haney, CSM (Ret.)

If you ever wondered how the U.S. Army selected and trained its elite anti-terror unit, Delta Force, this book is for you. Retired Command Sergeant Major, Eric Haney shares his journey from high and tight Army Ranger to shaggy commando. It really goes deep into the initial selection process during the 1970’s. My favorite part is when CSM Haney describes how his teammates breached a room and shot live rounds around him during a mock hostage situation. Goosebumps.

Men and Manners, by David Coggins

This is a practical guide for doing the little things right. Coggins’ writing style and advice are clear. As we regain our social lives it’s prudent to brush up on public manners like tipping, planning, and parties. My favorite section covers technology. Please don’t Facetime in a restaurant. Better yet, don’t have your phone out unless you’re a doctor on call.

Things Worth Dying For, by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

Archbishop Chaput shakes you awake and brings you back down to Earth with this book. He helps you take a step back and see how much we focus on consumption as a society. He then goes into our desire to live with meaning. This is something I’ve been wrestling with for a while. Inside he details the story of Saint Thomas Moore, which really resonated with me. “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Do you believe in anything worth dying for? It’s a sobering question. But one worth asking.

The Great American House, by Gil Schaefer III

This book could technically fall into the “coffee table” category. But if you get caught in the beautiful pictures, you would be missing out on insights from on one of the U.S.’s top architectural minds in Gil Schaefer. Schaefer specializes in remodeling historic houses, and new builds with old souls. Inside, Schaefer goes into detail on the three pillars that make a house a home: architecture, interior design, and finally, purposeful landscaping. My favorite part was him going through his upstate New York Greek revival home. If you need inspiration for a room or an entire house, Schaefer is the source for finding the sweet spot between classical style and modern comfort.

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

While not a traditional book, Meditations is a collection of personal journal entrees from Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. It’s gained popularity as stoicism’s found the millennial generation (my people). I love it because a lot of it is about staring our mortality in the face and being at peace with it. One of my favorite quotes: “Do every deed, speak every word, think every thought in the knowledge that you may end your days any moment.” Every day decisions are a lot easier to make through the lens of Emperor Aurelius.

Wine Folly the Master Guide, by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack

If you’ve caught the wine bug and want to take it up a notch, get this book. With details on hundreds of wine varietals, broken down regions, tasting notes and charts, Wine Folly has it all. For example, if you love Cabernet Sauvignon, they can recommend regions and similar varietals to try. They can help you pair wine with food and finally help you figure out the difference between acid and tannins.

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