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RICK MACLEAN: Book about songs worth a summer read


It’s time for the annual edition of my books worth reading this summer column. Here are my suggestions based on what I’ve read this year, part one.

• Anatomy of a Song: The oral history of 45 iconic songs that changed Rock, R&B and Pop by Marc Myers.
Do what I did, get a copy of each of song, listen to it, read the chapter on it, then listen to the song again.
I couldn’t even remember the tune to Joni Mitchell’s Carey. It was about a love affair in Crete with a guy named Cary. The author finds the “mean old daddy” she wrote about. “The truth is I was in love with Joni and missed her,” he said.
Yeah, I’m listening to the song while I write this.

• All The Truth Is Out: The week politics went tabloid by Matt Bai. Gary Hart thought he was John F. Kennedy – and every president before him. He thought as long as his fooling around with women other than his wife didn’t affect his job, reporters didn’t care.
Wrong. Instead, reporters from a Miami newspaper staked out his love nest and ambushed him on his way out the door.
It was the beginning of the end of his seemingly sure-fire bid for the presidency. Media coverage of the private lives of politicians was never the same. The change has not been an improvement.

• The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Thing in Sports by Jeff Passan.
Major League Baseball drops $1.5 billion – that is not a typo – on pitchers every year, yet their arms keep exploding. Passan travelled the world to talk to pitchers and those who pay them. And he makes the now-famous Tommy John repair surgery interesting.
His conclusion? Human arms aren’t made to throw a 95-mile-an-hour fastball for very long.

• The Daily Show: An Oral History as told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith and Jon Stewart.
Somehow, and much to his chagrin, Stewart topped the list as most trusted news anchor in a Times magazine poll in 2009. It wasn’t close. He received 44 per cent of the votes. Brian Williams had 29 and Katie Couric seven.
It said mountains about the state of journalism south of us, and plenty about the comedian who made news entertaining while interviewing everyone from Barack Obama to Bill O’Reilly. Hard to go wrong when you cast of characters includes Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert.

• Deep: Freediving, renegade science, and what the ocean tells us about ourselves by James Nestor.
The author wanted to get to know the ocean, up close and personal. His journey included hanging out with people who compete to see who can dive deepest using only the air in their lungs. Oh, and at 300 feet those lungs are compressed to the size of two baseballs.
Those who survive, a distressing number don’t, can re-emerge barely conscious, blood pouring from their noses. The author is not a fan. But freediving at reasonable depths, that he loves.

• The Dark Half by Stephen King. I haven’t finished it quite yet, but it involves a dead twin, who was never really alive, who might be a novel character come to life, and murder. Hey, it’s Stephen King.

- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.


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