Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read: #44 Moneyball by Michael Lewis

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Hey look, I’m not waiting months to get my 2015 reading off the ground. I actually started this book last year sometime and I would read and then not and then read. Anyway, I finished it last night and I have some things to say. Remember guys, with the books from the Amazon list I’m just telling you what I think and I’m not going to tell you detail after detail from the books. These aren’t reviews.

This was the fifth book I’ve read from the list since it was released about a year ago. I’m hoping to get a few of these under my belt before this year comes to an end. Now onto the book.

Moneyball

This book follows the 2002 Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball. Hopefully some of that sentence rings a bell. Michael Lewis followed the team to get a look inside Oakland’s unorthodox manner of building a professional baseball team. Stats like batting average and stolen bases and runs batted in (RBI) were no longer valued as they had been for all of baseball’s long history. Instead Billy Beane and his staff focused more on on-base percentage (OBP) and sabermetrics. In short, sabermetrics are the statistical study of in-game baseball activity.

During the course of the 2002 season the Oakland Athletics set an American League record of 20 consecutive wins while having the second lowest payroll in all of baseball. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

My Thoughts

Wow. Just wow. I have to admit that I saw the movie adaptation of this book long before ever picking up the book. Chances are that you have too. Brad Pitt. Jonah Hill. Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations. Yeah. Anyway, so I thought I knew a good bit about the book. Wrong. I knew nothing.

Michael Lewis tells you about the origins of sabermetrics. And how Bill James (a pioneer of sabermetrics) originally wrote for an audience that didn’t exist. No one cared about sabermetrics because they’d never heard of such a thing and figured that baseball people knew what they were doing. It tells the reader a whole lot about how the Oakland Athletics drafted players that were not on other teams’ radars or were heavily undervalued. Lewis puts you in front of these players who sometimes don’t understand why the Oakland Athletics have such interest in them (because no other team does).

But the greatest aspect of this book is how well Billy Beane is described. Billy Beane is the general manager of the A’s and the main subject of the book. See, in the movie we get to see him work his magic during the course of the 2002 season. But in the book we learn so much more. We learn about his playing career. We learn that he was drafted out of high school in the first round and expected to be a Major League outfielder in short time. We learn that he didn’t pan out and ultimately quits baseball to become a scout. The movie is only able to give you snippets of his life prior to his role as the GM.

When the book was originally released in 2003 Billy Beane was the joke of all jokes. Everyone thought he wrote the damn thing to make himself out to be some genius. To make himself out to be smarter than every executive in baseball. But that’s not what I take away from this book. I see a man passionate about his work who refuses to accept mediocrity in its execution and results. And he also didn’t write the book.

All in all, this book far exceeded my expectations. Every baseball fan should read it. I have it ranked as #18 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. And oh by the way, sabermetrics are used by every baseball team in Major League Baseball today.

The movie is also titled Moneyball.

PS: any newcomers to my blog can check out what I thought of The Fault in Our StarsThe Diary of a Young Girl, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; also from the Amazon list.

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Saturday Selects: Blogging amidst your social media

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For all you newcomers to my wonderful blog, the first Saturday of each month I write a post about something unrelated to my typical book posts. It’s my way of discussing other topics that interest me and bringing a LITTLE bit of diversity to the blog. This week we’re talking about how blogging relates to your other social media accounts. I’ve had this post in my head since the last time I did a Saturday Selects post over a month ago. Let’s begin.

I definitely don’t have the greatest social media presence. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. That’s it. No Pinterest. Or Tumblr. Or Instagram. Or Snapchat. Or Vine.

Facebook

I first joined Facebook all the way back during my sophomore year of high school. That would be ’07-’08. Ish. I thought it was pretty cool. I started adding all those people I had been in school with for years. I even interacted with plenty of them. BUT then, like seemingly everyone else, I just lost interest. I mean, the platform itself is essentially the same as it’s been, but now there are so many other options out there. My blog is linked to it and I post a status about once a year. Seriously, I checked. I mostly go on there for Vines and memes. Judge me. But I should also admit that I do not talk to a single person from my high school graduating class. Not one. That was just four years ago. So maybe that’s why I lost interest. I don’t have anyone to talk to.

Twitter

I first made an account on Twitter in 2009. The site was used, but it wasn’t what it is today. I didn’t know a single person who had an account. I didn’t use it again until 2011. By then it was wildly popular and EVERYONE I knew had an account. I think I tweeted like 90 times or something and again stopped using it. Then I started writing and knew it would help people find me IF they somehow read my book and wanted to follow me. I’ve stuck to it since about September. I used to strictly tweet about writing and books but now I tweet pretty lame stuff just like everyone else. I like it. It’s okay. BUT I still don’t have many followers. Like 58 or something. If you follow me on here and like what I post then you should follow me on there to get a glimpse at me in a different medium. Come on. I’ll follow back and if you tweet interesting things I’ll even favorite or tweet you back! I have that Twitter thing on the side for ease of access. But you can just go ahead and click here if you want to. You should. I’m funny on there.

WordPress

I don’t remember ever hearing about any person I knew ever maintaining a blog throughout high school or even during college. Well, as soon as I walked across the stage at my university’s graduation ceremony almost a year ago I started this bad boy. My original intent was to only talk about my writing process and the journey to publishing my first book. I stuck with that until January of this year. When I realized that there were so many things I wanted to say about writing and books and publishing. That’s how I’ve gotten to interact with all of you! I honestly don’t see how I’ll ever stop blogging. It’s wonderful. It’s like interacting with hundreds of versions of me. We all love books!

My Favorite

I’d think it fairly obvious by this point that blogging is easily my favorite social media platform. Honestly, I love it. I love interacting with people who share the same interests as I do. I love reading such great posts every single day. I love having people read the posts I write. I love talking to people from all over the world. But most of all I love being able to share a part of me that I don’t get to discuss much in person with people I know. I do have a handful of people who are genuinely interested in my writing, but it’s not the same as the people I meet on here. I mean, I’m not going to go up to any friend of mine and ask how they name characters in their book. I have no writer friends. I can’t ask them what they think of the bestselling authors since 2001 because they don’t care and likely don’t know half of them. I can’t ask them what their favorite series of books is because they’ve likely read Harry Potter and nothing else. And I can’t ask them what they think of Amazon’s 100 books list because they don’t know it exists. But I can do ALL of those on here.

Thank you for that. And thank you for reading and interacting with me every week.

You’re awesome.

What’s your favorite social media site to use? I don’t mind if it’s one of those sites I don’t use.

Photo Credits: Florida State University College of Communication and Information

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Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read

Last week the Amazon editors released a list of 100 books that they believe everyone should read. There are other similar lists out there but this one just happens to come from the world’s largest bookstore. So in my effort to broaden the appeal of this blog I’ve decided to go ahead and challenge myself to read the books they’ve listed. This is not something that can be accomplished in a few months or even a year. I’ll most likely be working on the list well past the end of 2014 because I’m going to mix in the books from the list with my regular reading. If you’re interested in checking out the full list then just take a look at my Amazon 100 Books List page and I’ve listed the entire list and checked off the books that I’ve already read.

Also, I’m suffering from what I’m calling the second book blues. My definition of this phenomena is that I’m on the verge of abandonment. Abandoning what, you might be wondering. I’ve been working on my second book for several months now and it has been a struggle since the start. I’ll remind you that I wrote my first book in about three months. The second one is just not coming along like I’d hoped. BUT I can’t quit now. I’m going to keep pushing along to see if I can light a spark. Perhaps I’ll just change the story some. I don’t know, but I won’t give up. I can’t.