Paterno by Poz

I told BrianS I would pick up the book day post.  The wife and kids are out of town for the weekend so I figured I could fit this in between cleaning the garage, raking leaves, trimming bushes, trimming trees, etc.

I recently finished "Paterno" by Joe Posnanski.  I'm not a big college football fan.  I'm not a big non-fiction fan.  I am a big Posnanski fan although I was disappointed in both of his first two books.  This book had an uphill battle to win me over.

I wasn't really sure how this Paterno book would go.  Poz works best when he is telling feel-good stories and I think he made it pretty apparent that he was a Paterno fan-boy.  He didn't sign up to write this kind of story.

Despite the challenges, Poz did a great job with this book.  It starts out a little slow with Paterno's Brooklyn upbringing.  But that focus on his upbringing, and the emphasis on doing something special, helps us not only to understand his achievements but also his shortcomings.

In the end, I didn't feel hatred towards Paterno.  I felt disappointed.  I felt he was deeply flawed.  I also felt that he did really want to do good things with his life.  Somewhere along the line, I think Coach Paterno took over and Joe Paterno no longer existed.  The best line in the book was this one - "It is hard for any man, even a plainspoken Brooklyn kid determined never to lose his bearings, to hold on to what matters when people start to see him as a saint."

So, what are you reading?



27 thoughts on “Paterno by Poz”

  1. I've been working on "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" since Prague, and I'm not really any farther in it. I have barely bothered. Instead I switched over to "For Whom The Bell Tolls". I'm a few chapters in right now.

    I read Allan Moore's Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns". It was a quick one, it only took me an afternoon. I had the same problem with it as "Watchmen" in that I have no frame of reference for the political climate of the 80s. I know about it from reading about it, but I didn't live it, so the works don't quite resonate as much as they might otherwise.

    Other than that, FTLT loaned me "Our Band Could Be Your Life" which has been on my "to read" list for about 2 years now, but I've never gotten to (mostly because it's not available on Kindle). I'll start that as soon as "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is done.

    1. I found the first 2/3 of For Whom the Bell Tolls a slight slog. The last 1/3 is great however. Push on through if you're having trouble. Our Band Could be your life is also excellent. Nice recommendation Buffalo.

  2. Working my way through a few different WGOM referrals but I haven't read enough sufficiently to review them. About half-way done with The Roommate's book and another 45 pages into "A Confederacy of Dunces". I have to admit, neither of them have compelled me to read during every waking moment like "American Gods" did, but both have had really good moments.
    Finally, I borrowed "Guns, Germs and Steel" from my dad. It's something I've been meaning to read for about 5 years but it never made the cut while at the library. Through the first 3 chapters, I've been very impressed.

    1. I have "Guns, Germs, and Steel" at Mom & Dad's. I've read the intro like 4 times, and then got distracted. I should put it on the list of stuff to get from them at Thanksgiving.

      1. GG&S is a fascinating, if a bit repetitive, read. I also recommend his The Third Chimpanzee, which preceded GG&S by 6 years. It covers some of the same themes.

        Jared Diamond is no Stephen J. Gould, but he's pretty good.

        1. GG&S was great, but I was completley disappointed with Collapse. That was really, really repetitive.

          1. Agree with both points. Someone should take the best parts of Collapse and publish it as an e-book.

  3. Only thing I've really read was Frank DeFord's The Entitled. Mrs. Runner found it on Barns and Snowball's Free Friday offerings, and since it was about baseball, she snagged it for me. It's the first book I've read on the Nook tablet, and it was entertaining if a bit light.

  4. On the off chance that I will actually get the First Monday done on time for November, I'll hold off on one of the two books I've been reading. But I will mention Vernor Vinge's Children of the Sky, the sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep.

    The original came out in 1992 and I read it at least a decade ago. I really should have re-read it before starting this book, as I'd forgotten too much of the backstory to be fully comfortable with this book. It does not quite stand alone as a story. The action is interesting and compelling, the lead characters are fascinating, but the book is unfortunately flawed by the inclusion of one ridiculously stupid and, therefore unbelievable, protagonist, and by a dissatisfying ending. This book is too much a set of "middle chapters" to a longer book, and not enough self-contained novel.

    Yo, Vernor. If you are gonna write a trilogy, please don't wait a decade between volumes. Hurry up already with the last one.

    1. Speaking of those, I finished A Deepness in the Sky. I much preferred it to A Fire Upon the Deep, I think due to how he handled the technology in the two. In Fire, there's lots of handwaving about the zones and computation in them. It feels as if he grossly underestimated Moore's Law and just how far our simple silicon can go. However, in Deepness, he had nearly a decade more of observing technology and I felt his speculation had better grounding.

      The idea of "programmer archaeologists" is also an interesting concept. That's already somewhat useful now, and we only have around thirty years of software. Add another thousand years and it will need its own department.

      Spoiler SelectShow
  5. Even though Poz had to write about the events at State College and had some nice insider information, I still think he was had by the family, who was looking to put JoePa in the best light possible. Paterno didn't know what sodomy meant? Really? Paterno was no rube, he was actually a well read man who was versed in the classics and modern literature and was very interested in politics and was a devout Catholic. No way a man like that doesn't know about the catholic sex scandals for instance. I think the family was intent on portraying Paterno as a kindly grandfather figure who had no idea about the events outside of football and Poz bought into it.

            1. How else are we going to be able to appreciate people's adventures with autocorrect if they can fix it immediately after?

  6. I recently read The Big Roads which was packed with some really interesting nuggets about the development of the Interstate Highway system (i.e., why the signs are green).

    It was a nice little fluff book which was needed after I read The House of Morgan by Ron Chernow. The financial stuff was incredibly dry and I completely failed to understand the final third of the book (after J.P. Morgan, Jr.'s death in the 1940's). Chernow does a great job on biographies (Titan was excellent, and the first two-thirds detailing the two J.P. Morgan's and Junius Morgan were really well done), but the financial stuff about crazy stock trading went well over my head.

    I started Anna Karenina and am loving it thus far. This is my first foray into the Russian greats, so I may try The Brothers Karamazov soon or even attempt to tackle War and Peace depending upon how much I enjoy this first exposure to Tolstoy.

    Oh, I also read Sir Thomas More's Utopia. It was fascinating because it was a gift from Sheenie's dad (who decided I needed to read some of the classics). He is a small-business owner and absolutely hates government regulation and interference with his business, yet he managed to give me a book that pretty much spelled out why Communism could be great. He must be mis-remembering the book from his college days.

    1. Apart from Utopia, meaning "Noplace," several other lands are mentioned: Achora meaning "Nolandia", Polyleritae meaning "Muchnonsense", Macarenses meaning "Happiland," and the river Anydrus meaning "Nowater". Raphael's last name, Hythlodaeus means "dispenser of nonsense" surely implying that the whole of the Utopian text is 'nonsense'. Yet, it is unclear whether More is simply being ironic, an in-joke for those who know Greek, seeing as the place he is talking about does not actually exist, or whether there is actually a sense of distancing of Hythlodaeus' views from More's own.

      It's been a long, long time since I read Utopia....

      1. It was actually a really quick read for being five hundred years old. It was definitely a really clever way of telling the story (intermixing fake letters from real people talking about other fake people talking about More's real work as an ambassador). I enjoyed the way he tried to blend some reality into the story and took some pretty nicely veiled pot-shots at the England of Henry VII/Henry VIII.

  7. I found Zone One by Colson Whitehead to be an interesting take on the zombie craze. It's an intense page turner that focuses more on the psychological aftermath rather than the cheap fight aspect of the genre. Whitehead creates an often haunting, but at times tender, look at the end of civilization.

    I've started three other books this month including The World That Made New Orleans by Ned Sublette, Filth by Irvine Welsh, and Farther Away non-fiction essays by Jonathan Franzen.

    The World That Made New Orleans is a fascinating examination of the political forces that laid the foundation for the big easy. My only criticism is that it's a dense read that can be repetitive at times, but the info is great. Filth is pretty, well, um, filthy, and I've just barely scratched the surface of Franzen's essays. I highly recommend his previous book of essays How To be Alone.

    1. I really enjoyed Whitehead's interview with Kerri Miller on MPR for Talking Volumes.
      Speaking of, AMR, hypothetically speaking of course, how can you uhm..."grab" the audio for a song from that broadcast? I'd really like to get a copy of this for my iPod and the artist hasn't released it (as far as I can tell on his website). I even e-mailed the artist and submitted a question/post on his book of faces page to no avail.

  8. Apropos of the First Monday Book Day posts.

    More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library. At the youngest end of the spectrum, high schoolers in their late teens (ages 16-17) and college-aged young adults (ages 18-24) are especially likely to have read a book or used the library in the past 12 months. And although their library usage patterns may often be influenced by the requirements of school assignments, their interest in the possibilities of mobile technology may also point the way toward opportunities of further engagement with libraries later in life.

    The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has taken a special look at readers between the ages of 16 and 29 because interest in them is especially high in the library world and the publishing world. This report examines how they encounter and consume books in different formats. It flows out of a larger effort to assess the reading habits of all Americans ages 16 and older as e-books change the reading landscape and the borrowing services of libraries.

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