More reading…

I AM FAR behind in updating what I have been reading. In a blatant effort to get rich, I’ll share some of the last several week’s reading with you. The links or cover pictures take you to Amazon. If you happen to buy something, I get a few cents. (After doing this for three years, I’m up almost $4!)

About a year ago I was on one of my regular flying trips to the UK. I saw a book there called Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon. I can’t describe exactly why, but I found it interesting, odd, different, a bit darker than my usual reading. Several months later, back in the UK, I found another of his books, Defectors; A Novel. I had the same je ne sais qua feeling about the book, but thought I’d like to read more. On a recent trip, I found Istanbul Passage in a Kansas City book store. Reading up about Kanon on Wikipedia, I learned that almost all his stories take place in the year or so immediately after the end of world war II.

I’ve been to Turkey, though not Istanbul. I have some knowledge of the history, traditions, and culture of Turkey. I rather enjoyed the book. I expect I’ll eventually work my way through all of his books:

Sometimes at the book store I see a name that gets my attention because I’ve read most of that author’s books and am looking forward to the next one. When I see D… Brown I have to think for a second – “Is that Dale Brown or Dan Brown?” Dale – Flight of the Old Dog – Brown’s books are completely different from Dan – DaVinci Code – Brown’s books. Doesn’t matter, they’re all great!

I’ve just finished Dan Brown’s Origin. Read it. That’s all I can say.

Scott Turow has been writing really good lawyer stories for years. His latest, Testimony, takes place in an interesting international environment instead of small town America. I’d say Origin, above, is a bit more riveting. But this is definitely worth a read; it will keep your attention.

The three novels listed above might make you think I’m slacking off on my promise over the last year to continue to raise the caliber of what I’m reading. I also have three non-fiction books to mention.

Some months ago I saw a reference to Nicholas Stargardt’s book Germany at War; A Nation Under Arms, 1939-45. This book focuses on the stories of several real people or families during the course of the war. Rather than discussing grand strategy or the general staff, it describes the every day life for soldiers on the front and family or civilians at home. Very well done. If you have an interest in this era take a look:

As I write this, I am reading two completely unrelated books, a biography that became a movie recently and an aviation safety book. Both are interesting and attention-keeping. (OK, I’ll admit that the aviation safety book isn’t for everyone…)


BMW Driving Course

I HAD THE chance to attend an eight-hour BMW driving course. I got to spin out in the most expensive car I’ve ever driven – several times. OK, “got to” is not quite correct since I didn’t really intend to…

A few months ago I discovered the BMW Driving Academy and decided to attend a class. I am very glad I did. I did it for fun, but there is really a lot of good safety and better driving information. Although I did the class in German, they offer training in English as well. I asked if they would take a VAT Form, which they had not yet heard of. It took a few weeks, but they agreed to do so, saving me 16 percent on the cost of the day.

You will see in the pictures and video that it wasn’t a beautiful day, but the weather cooperated enough that we never got rained on. But, just in case, they do the training in the rain as well.

The training was great. It included learning about how to position yourself properly in the seat, a tiny bit of “car physics” and why you can/will have understeer/oversteer problems and lose control, emergency braking, emergency lane changes, steering with maximum braking, and a timed slalom run at the end.

I’ll let the photos and video speak for themselves.