Critical Mass

Dog Days of Summer Reads: Steve Weinberg

By Steve Weinberg

Like my 23 colleagues on the NBCC board of directors, much of my “discretionary” reading time is devoted to examining books that might end up as winners in each of our six award categories. The rest of my reading is devoted mainly to review assignments plus books I need to read as background for the books I'm writing under contract.

Still, I have found time to read three books just published by authors from my modest-sized hometown of Columbia, Mo. Mike Stadler, a University of Missouri professor, is author of a trade book from Gotham about another passion of mine–baseball. (At age 59, I still play in leagues on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.) “The Psychology of Baseball” breaks lots of new ground about the specific sport, and about athletic performance in general.

Ibtisam Barakat, a freelance writer in Columbia, is author of “Tasting the Sky,” a memoir of her Palestinian childhood published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Critical Mass featured a Q&A with Barakat earlier this year.

Janine Latus used to live in Columbia, where I came to know her as a journalist colleague. Her memoir, from Simon & Schuster, appeared briefly on the New York Times bestseller list earlier this year. Much of the book is set in Columbia, Mo. “If I Am Missing or Dead” tells two sagas of domestic abuse–Janine's saga (the villain, who is not identified by his actual name, still lives in Columbia), and her sister's saga, set outside Missouri. Janine survived. Her sister did not.–NBCC Board Member Steve Weinberg