My dad had surgery yesterday. I contemplated sending him flowers or fruit, but decided that since he’ll be home from work for at least a month, he’d enjoy some books to keep him entertained. I don’t think he’s read much in recent years, but at one point he was a big reader. I got some of my taste in books from him– in high school I’d greedily borrow Vonnegut, Bradbury, and Stephen King from his bookshelves.
Sending books– especially if they are personal favorites– is always a risk. It is easy for me to share a book I like, but sharing a book I love feels very personal and vulnerable. I feel almost hurt when I share a book I love and the recipient doesn’t like it, or worse yet, doesn’t bother to read it at all.
I sent him No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy), The Night of the Gun (David Carr), and The Devil in the White City (Erik Larson).
I’ve written about No Country for Old Men before. To put it simply– I love this book. It is amazing. The story is terrifying but entrancing. If my dad picks up any book of the ones I sent him, I hope it’s this one.
The Night of the Gun is consistently on my short list of “Books You Should Read.” It’s a non-fiction and autobiography, but unlike one you’ve ever read before. Carr battled a crack addiction for years. He destroyed relationships, and had a Midas touch for catastrophe, all while miraculously working as a successful journalist with the New York Times. Eventually, Carr beat his devil, and once clean he investigated his own life. Carr has a keen understanding of the fallibility of memory. Carr investigates himself like any other subject, and speaks with a voice full of skepticism (of his own recollections) and humility. It is simultaneously a book about a tragic but amazing life, and a fascinating study of memory and addiction.
I also wrote about Devil in the White City recently. I’m not nearly as emotionally invested in this book as I am No Country for Old Men, but it’s a good and quick read, and thought my dad would enjoy it.