Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reading In The New Year

To my son Tommy,

I have some reading to do for the new year and I started today.  For Christmas this year, I got two books.  One is Nelson DeMille's "The Panther" and the other is "The Antidote" by Oliver Burkeman.

The Nelson DeMille book was a no brainer on my gift list.  I own and have read most every book written by Mr. DeMille.  John Corey, the protagonist in this book and many others, is my favorite combination of smart ass and talented detective.  I have been a fan ever since "Plum Island" where we meet John Corey wearing cutoff jeans and flip flops and it occurs to him that "the problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you're finished" or something like that.  But that book is more of the "devil that I know" and the other book is the one I have started.

"The Antidote" is subtitled "Happiness For People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking".  I heard the author on NPR when his book was being released and it intrigued me so.  Mr. Burkeman had spent some time, in his other career as a journalist, covering self-help gurus and other such nonsense.  With a healthy helping of skepticism and humor, he pokes holes and fun at some of the gibberish in the "happiness industry" and finally provides a decent counter balance to all those people who tell you to think positive all the time.  Ironically he joins the same "happiness industry" to accomplish this but we will forgive him that indiscretion.  I have read my fair share of self help books in my life, but it has been much more than eighteen months since I gave into this urge as I had figured out that the only one thinking positive was the guy getting paid for the gibberish he was selling.  As for breaking down and getting this "self-help" book, I figured the negative path to happiness could use some funding and I hold to the belief that a Christmas gift doesn't count even if I asked for it.  I haven't finished the book yet (as it has been only one day since I started and I had to work a little in between chapters) but it won't be long.  The book may end up influencing this blog, but my approach already wasn't that much different in its focus

One of the reasons I started writing these letters to you was to provide realistic advice for you as you grow.  I don't plan on telling you everything is roses and that if you just sit on your butt and think of good things, good things will happen.  That is a little too fairy tale for me and won't do you any good.  I focus on doing and learning from your mistakes or more importantly giving you a chance to learn from your old  man's mistakes.  But I do try to bring a sense of love, family, and hope through to you in my words.  Some people will mistake this for avoiding the negative but I look at it as utilizing a tool to help you deal with the bad things in our life head on.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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