Summer Reading

Summertime and the reading is easy!

For some wonderful reason, summertime is the time for reading and relaxing for those who still remember how to do that. Photos and artwork depicting a slow, lazy day of summertime reading adorn many of the walls in our homes, offices and in the pictures of our lives. Can’t afford to take a vacation away from the hurry up world of electronic gadgetry? You don’t know what you’re missing. So, in a throwback to yesteryear, reach for a favorite book(s), plan a slowdown vacation and get your read on.

“What are you reading this summer?” I’m asked. “Great question,” I respond. For me, 2017 is the year of the biography. It started with “The Godfather’s” Kill ‘Em and Leave by James McBride. Kill ‘Em and Leave was “The Godfather,” James Brown road motto. After “killing them” (the audience) during another “funky as you want to be” show, James Brown would immediately retreat to his dressing room, according to author James McBride, get his hair done (if you know the Godfather’s shows, you understand), and slip out without the hugs, kisses and well wishes friends and fans were waiting to bestow on him. The book ventures inside Brown’s tiny inner circle and instead of looking for the “Godfather of Soul” the author instead searches for the real James Brown with his hidden stash of cash and his love and fondness for Michael Jackson. It’s a great read but more so if you’re a “Godfather” fan.

Lorendo by Ken Ringer is an interesting look back at a time and a man who became a three sport athlete at Georgia, led the Southeastern Conference in pass receiving in 1949, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, was an assistant to legendary football Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan at Auburn and was my offensive coordinator on some great Auburn teams of the 1970s. Coach Gene Lorendo was probably the coach who was most responsible for my being awarded a full athletic scholarship within 11 months of my arrival as a walk-on. I started for him as long as he was the offensive coordinator. He was the rough and tough “right hand man” for “Shug Jordan” for 25 years. We won a lot of games together. Coach is a man who should be remembered and Ken Ringer has done a good job of giving him his due.

Up next is Bus Ride To Justice: The Life and Works of Fred Gray. I’m already a hundred pages into it and as soon as I finish Lorendo, I’ll be in with both feet. I am a history buff, especially when people I know have been involved. Much of what is included in the book served as a precursor to my life and the challenges I faced during integration. Fred Gray’s book reminds me, I would not have been in the position to face integration were it not for people like Fred Gray.

During his legal career, Mr. Gray was the attorney for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, The Desegregation of Alabama Schools, The 1965 Selma March and The Harold A. Franklin case that desegregated my alma mater, Auburn University.

Finally, I will get into Hook. It’s a book I’ve been anxious to read ever since I got it. Again it’s by someone I know. Hook, by my friend, my book editor and one of my former football players, Randall Horton, recounts his “gripping story of transformation.” As a recent college graduate in 1975, I was asked to coach the B-Team at Parker High School in Birmingham. Randall Horton was a wide receiver on that team. He was a nice, smiling 15-year-old with a positive future ahead of him.

In Hook, Randall tells of his downward spiral from unassuming Howard University undergraduate to homeless drug addict, international cocaine smuggler and incarcerated felon-before he discovered literature and reclaimed his life and is now a college professor.

So what are you reading? Click off the television. Put your devices down. Select the book of our choice; whether hardback, paper cover or electronic, pick yourself out a good spot by some calm water, or sink into a comfortable couch and gorge yourself on a load of some summer reading. Have a good summer! I plan on it.

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