Look­ing for a good book? Con­sider these

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - Rick Ma­cLean Rick Ma­cLean is an in­struc­tor in the jour­nal­ism pro­gram at Hol­land Col­lege in Char­lot­te­town.

It’s time to kick back, find a bit of beach and read a good book. Here are a few sug­ges­tions from among those I stum­bled into this year.

• The en­tire Dark Tower se­ries by Stephen King. About a group’s quest for a mag­i­cal tower. I re­sisted read­ing any of King’s books for years, fig­ur­ing any­one that pop­u­lar was prob­a­bly a lousy writer. Wrong. Then I re­sisted read­ing this se­ries of eight books. It’s re­ally one big book, King says. Fi­nally, Beau­ti­ful Daugh­ter bought me the boxed set of the first four. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.

• Snakes in Suits: When Psy­chopaths Go To Work by Paul Babiak and Robert Hare. About the psy­chopaths who don’t end up in prison, which is most of them. They have no con­science, don’t stick with any­thing – or any one – for long, and leave wrecked lives in their wake. This book is in­tended to help you spot them, and es­cape.

• The Boys in the Boat: Nine Amer­i­cans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Ber­lin Olympics by Daniel Brown. About the U.S. men’s row­ing team try­ing to win the eight­man event at the Hitler Olympics in Ger­many. The train­ing was bru­tal, the Nazis cheated and then came the fi­nal race. Don’t go to YouTube to watch the race un­til af­ter you’ve read the book. No cheat­ing.

• League of De­nial: The NFL, Con­cus­sions and the Bat­tle for Truth by broth­ers Mark FainaruWada and Steve Fairaru. About the ghastly price some football play­ers pay for smash­ing their heads into each other. Pittsburgh Steeler cen­tre Mike Web­ster is an ex­am­ple of what can hap­pen when your brain can’t take it any­more. Asked by a doc­tor if he’d ever been in a car ac­ci­dent, he said, “25,000 times.” The NFL knew what was hap­pen­ing, but played the to­bacco game. Deny. Deny. Deny. For years. The PBS tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary by the same name is a win­ner too.

• War by Se­bastien Junger. About a 15-month tour by Amer­i­can sol­diers in the hell of Afghanistan’s Koren­gal Val­ley. Junger wrote A Per­fect Storm – the movie starred Ge­orge Clooney, so he can tell a story. The first rule of war: young men die. The sec­ond rule: you can’t change the first rule.

• Con­fes­sions of a So­ciopath: A Life Spent Hid­ing in Plain Sight by M.E. Thomas. An au­to­bi­og­ra­phy by a psy­chopath. He (or she) doesn’t like be­ing called a psy­chopath. Watch­ing an an­i­mal drown in a pool is the open­ing scene. I sus­pected Me Thomas – get it, a fake name – wasn’t real, but by the end I was con­vinced. Chill­ing.

• Team of Ri­vals: The Po­lit­i­cal Ge­nius of Abra­ham Lin­coln by Doris Kearns Good­win. About Lin­coln’s un­canny knack for get­ting things done, us­ing com­pro­mise and clear think­ing. Lin­coln was no an­gel. He was an ice-cold politi­cian with a cal­cu­la­tor for a heart, when he needed to be. To­day, the Repub­li­cans wouldn’t run him for pres­i­dent in a mil­lion years. Sad.

• The Em­peror of All Mal­adies: A Bi­og­ra­phy of Can­cer by Sid­dhartha Mukherjee. About medicine’s bat­tle to cure can­cer. Science is about learn­ing from mis­takes. The can­cer fight has had its share. Women los­ing breasts for noth­ing was one of them. Doc­tors who were too sure of them­selves and ig­nored science is an all-too-com­mon theme here.

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