Book Review: ‘Man Up!: 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy’ by Paul O’Donnell

Man Up! is a pretty cool book. For one thing, out of the 367 skills, there is certainly a lot of stuff for every guy to learn. I don’t care who you are, there’s new skills in here for everyone. Now whether each “how to” is the best way to accomplish these tasks would have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis and since there’s 367 of them, I don’t have that sort of time.

Regardless, the book is pretty thorough for as many skills as it runs through. And after reading through them all, everything seems pretty straightforward and pretty kosher.

It isn’t a massive book but it is a decent size. The sections are well organized and similar things are categorized together. The illustrations are well done and add to the helpful nature of the book.

I enjoyed Man Up! quite a bit.

Book Review: ‘To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever’ by Will Blythe

Every time March Madness rolls around, I want to read a good book on college basketball. Last year, I was treated to the wonderful Duke Sucks.

Being that that book was fantastic and that I am always down with a little Duke hate, I wanted to read something similar. So, I got a copy of this book, To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry.

Needless to say, this book wasn’t on the level for me. Everything that I absolutely loved about Duke Sucks seemed to be absent from this piece of work.

Instead of tons of facts about Duke and North Carolina and a lot of steady jabs, what I got was a guy’s biography that was all weaved together with the thread that represents his hatred of Duke. Yeah, everyone hates Duke but I want more of that and less of this guy’s personal journey and how Duke was always a cloud over his personal events that I don’t give a shit about.

I would say that Blythe is a more accomplished writer than the authors of Duke Sucks but his book pales in comparison to that other mighty magnum opus of Duke hatred. And while this is more of a comparison to that book than an actual straight up review, I have to analyze the two side-by-side in case someone wants to know which of the two books is the definitive masterpiece on Duke hatred. Well, it isn’t this one.

I wanted more of that “Fuck Duke!!!” sentiment and less “well that time I was interviewing Uma Thurman…” Bro, I don’t give a shit.

In all honesty, I got bored with this pretty quickly as the dude’s life was the subject more than the greatest rivalry in college hoops history.

But at least the book features a picture of Mike Krzyzewski looking like the demon spawn we all know he is.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Mental Training’ by DC Gonzalez

This book is crap.

While I often times have problems with staying focused, I was looking for something that might help in that area. This book only helped in wasting my time for 139 pages. Well, at least it was short but had it been any longer, I would’ve probably put it down.

This book is a combination of “true examples” that seem a lot more like fiction and psychobabble bullshit a bad middle school volleyball coach would say to make his players mentally tough before their crushing defeat.

Essentially, this book keeps talking up it’s method and its three steps but doesn’t actually give you the simple three steps until the end. The first 80 percent of the book is a sales pitch. Well, I already bought the fucking thing, so save the sales pitch. Then when you get to the climax and see what the three step method is… be prepared for an epic face palm.

There is no “art” to any of this. There is also no “training”. One would be better off taking advice from a random fortune cookie.

I don’t understand how this book has a 4.7 rating on Amazon but then again a fraud like Sylvia Browne has several books over 4 stars because people eat Tide Pods.

Book Review: ‘Swamplife: People, Gators, and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades’ by Laura A. Ogden

Being a native Floridian who has grown up on the edge of the Everglades, I found the subject matter in this book to be quite compelling.

Swamplife was more than just “pretty interesting”. I ended up reading it over the course of two days because it was hard to put down.

Between the tales of the infamous Ashley Gang and reading about what life was like for the people of the Everglades before everyone else moved down here, I was thoroughly engaged.

Anthropology has always been a subject I’ve enjoyed but never have I come across a book that was just about the area I grew up in, at least nothing this specific.

Swamplife really covered a lot in 200 pages and I was impressed with not just the quantity of information but also the quality.

If anyone is interested in reading about the original South Floridians and how they tamed one of the harshest environments in the world and found a way to survive and thrive in it, this is definitely a book worth your time.

Book Review: ‘Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories and Stuff’ by Don Cherry and Al Strachan

*written in 2014.

Don Cherry is a hell of a sports personality and probably my favorite guy in the world of hockey that was never a Blackhawk. Cherry has an interesting panache and style. In fact, I recently did a post that counted down his flamboyant jackets (that was for another website). He also has a very Don Cherry way of talking and expressing himself and tapping into that is what made this book unique and special.

Instead of this being a book penned in an academic or typical biographical style, it is a disorganized oration of Cherry telling disorganized stories – written verbatim by co-author Al Strachan. It reads in exactly the same way Don Cherry talks when he is gracing the television set ranting about this or that.

It is a beefy book with a lot of tales: some short, some long. Regardless of their length, each story is engaging and entertaining, as you read the words on the page and hear Don Cherry in your mind, boisterously reciting the words on the page. This book is almost like sitting in a room with the man, as he tells countless stories and enhances the legend of already known tales.

Don Cherry, is a “love him or hate him” type of character. If you love him, this book is well worth your time. If you hate him, go worship that piss midget Pierre McGuire.

Book Review: ‘Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing’ by Anne Fitten Glenn

*Written in 2014.

I picked this book up in the Asheville airport on my way back home from my recent trip there. It made for great reading on the plane, especially after having just experienced Asheville and its robust brewing culture.

This book is fairly short but even so, it leaves no stone unturned and gives the reader the whole background on Asheville, as well as the city’s relationship with alcohol.

After the big history lesson, it delves into how brewing became a big thing in Asheville and the surrounding area. It gives detailed histories on all the breweries that existed at the time of this book’s publishing and even gives insight into the breweries on their way (some of which are already there now).

The book is very well-written and straight to the point. Anne Fitten Glenn has a great talent for being very exacting yet engaging with her writing, as well as being very thorough and organized. This book is a bit of a hidden gem for serious beer lovers out there. I didn’t know it existed until I saw it in the airport.

If you have any interest in craft beer or are a history buff or better yet, both of these things, than this is a great read. I’m actually glad that I read it at the end of my trip, as having gone to many of the breweries covered, I was able to visualize the beautiful locations and know what beers were being referenced.

Moral of the story, read the book. Bigger moral of the story, go to Asheville. Biggest moral of the story, drink good beer.

Book Review: ‘The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime’ by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca is a pretty exceptional little sports book. It delves into a side of baseball that most people are completely unaware of.

The stories in this book are fantastic. I’ve read dozens upon dozens of baseball books throughout my life but the stories never get old and I always thirst for more. This book did not disappoint and in fact, it was loaded with stories, most of which are new to me, as they are stories that peer behind the curtain of baseball that the general public isn’t typically allowed to see.

Have you ever wondered why that insignificant seeming infielder got deliberately beaned by that pitcher or why the entire team clears the bench to rumble when a batter sucker punches a pitcher? What’s with all that pine tar? Well, this book answers those questions and more – giving you unparalleled insight into what it truly means to be a ballplayer and to understand the code they all live by.

Turbow’s writing is stellar and he has a way with words that paints a mesmerizing picture with each baseball tale he passes on between the pages of this book. It goes so in-depth yet leaves you wanting more. For me, it left me with an even bigger level of respect for the players on the field, as well as a better understanding of their behavior.

If you truly are a fan of the game, this book is definitely a must read.