#45 Mickey Mantle, Jamaica, and a Leisurely Read

In my line of work, I am always reading. Whether preparing for a presentation, finding new material for my students, or researching for a writing project. I review various books, magazines, blogs, and web articles most every day. This is one of the many benefits of my career—I am always learning.

The downside, though, is that I do very little leisurely reading. I seldom make time for reading what one might call enjoyment. You know, reading simply for pleasure; not for professional purposes. No pen in hand to underline important passages or concepts. This past week proved different.

My wife and I spent a week in Jamaica celebrating our 35th anniversary. We totally disconnected from our usual world. No cell phone, no email, no computer, no newspapers, no television news, no business or work-related projects. A total mind enema. We dedicated the week to ourselves; recharge time. And among the things I chose to do was read purely for leisure. The book: Jane Leavy’s The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood (Harper Collins, 2010).

Having seen “The Mick” play during his career, I was particularly pulled to the book. Leavy meticulously researched this Yankee icon. The result is a riveting journey from Mantle’s rise as DiMaggio’s heir apparent to his many health and personal tribulations. As with many of our sports heroes and celebrities, Mantle was a gifted man tormented by many personal demons. Leavy said of her work,

So how do you write about a man you want to love the way you did as a child but whose actions were often unlovable?… This is my attempt to understand the person he was and, given who he was, to understand his paradoxical hold on a generation of baseball fans, including myself, who revered The Mick despite himself, who were seduced by that lopsided, bucktoothed grin.

Leavy did not disappoint. The book is a wonderful read. It was Mick and me on a Jamaican beach. A rare treat to read for no other reason than enjoyment.

Video recommendation for the week:

Enjoy Mickey Mantle Day.

Aside from the book and the joy of reading, this experience reminded me of an idea I had a few years ago for an article. As I was walked the beach one summer day, I did notice the ubiquitous paperbacks. People everywhere with their books folded back; engaged in the written word. I thought it would be interesting to ask these leisure readers two questions: 1. What are you reading? 2. What drew you to that particular book?

So with the Jamaican breezes a memory and the Mick still fresh in my mind, I’ll toss the questions to you: 1. What leisure books do you have on your short list for summer reading? 2. What about the books (or authors) have attracted you to those books?

About stevepiscitelli

This entry was posted in Reading. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to #45 Mickey Mantle, Jamaica, and a Leisurely Read

  1. Pingback: A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2011 in Review « Steve Piscitelli's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s