Tuesday, July 02, 2019


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Let's Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, The Life of Ernie Banks by Ron Rapoport. As a lifelong Cub fan, I revere Ernie. I know the stats: 512 home runs, back-to-back MVP awards, 14 All Star games ... and no World Series ring. I adored his upbeat public persona, but knew little about his life off the diamond. 

His life was not at all what it seemed. The man who never turned down a kid who wanted an autograph was more isolated than I ever knew. The man who always had a grin for the fans was smiling through Jim Crow, divorce, and regrets. Ernie died in 2015 -- he didn't live to see the Cubs finally win The World Series in 2016 -- and now the people in his life felt comfortable sharing freely to this author. It feels like I'm finally getting a full portrait of the husband, father, friend, and peerless ballplayer who was Mr. Cub.

2. What did you recently finish reading? A Common Struggle, by Patrick J. Kennedy. This is a serious, downright wonky book about how Americans view and treat mental illness and addiction. Patrick Kennedy is uniquely qualified to present this to us. A member of the House of Representatives who helped craft and pass health care legislation, he's also bipolar and an addict.

He's the son of Ted Kennedy, nephew of Jack and Bobby, but this book contains no juicy stories about his famous clan. Instead, he uses his family to emphasize the universal nature of addiction and mental illness. For example, when his brother Teddy was diagnosed with cancer, America showered the family with compassion and well wishes. When, around that time, his mother Joan's emotional and alcohol problems became obvious, they were met with gossip and judgement. Yet Joan was just as ill as her son Teddy. Depression and addiction are sicknesses, not character flaws. They are illnesses that have likely touched you, your family or someone close to you. Battling them is, as Kennedy explains, a common struggle.

3.  What will you read next? Not another biography. Maybe a mystery or perhaps some chick-lit.