Nicholas E. Barron

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Author: Nicholas E. Barron (page 2 of 3)

17 best baseball books for fans of America’s favorite pastime

What are the best baseball books? Getting any two baseball fans to agree on the best books about baseball may be as difficult as bringing Yankees and Red Sox fans together. After all, a sport as old and storied as baseball has a seemingly unlimited number of books written about it.Photo of a man watching a baseball game inside a stadium with the words "17 Best Baseball Books" to the right of the photo.

There are books that celebrate baseball. There are books that are critical of baseball. And there are books giving a deserved look at baseball’s long struggle with race.

Baseball is, to many of us, nostalgia as much as it’s a sport. Baseball is hot summer afternoons with no foreboding of school tomorrow. It’s hearing the crack of a bat through the car radio, of staying up to watch Baseball Tonight long after mom and dad have gone to bed. Baseball is yesterday, and yesterday looks better and better to us the further removed from it that we become.

Maybe that’s why we love to read baseball books. They help us indulge in a nostalgic pastime in an adult way, by reading a book.

Below is a list of the best baseball books. This list is based on extensive online research. The books included in the list of 17 below were ranked high on websites such as Goodreads and repeatedly showed up in other best baseball book lists. The list is in no particular order.

What’s your favorite baseball book? Tell us in the comments.

This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small amount of money if you make a purchase using these links. Visit my Disclosures page for more info.

17 of the Best Baseball Books

17) The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
16) Ball Four by Jim Bouton
15) Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?: The Improbable Saga of the New York Met’s First Year by Jimmy Breslin
14) Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy by Jules Tygiel
13) The Pitch That Killed: The Story of Carl Mays, Ray Chapman, and the Pennant Race of 1920 by Mike Sowell
11) Veeck–As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck by Bill Veeck
12) Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
10) Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams by Robert Peterson
9) The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S. Ritter
8) Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion by Roger Angell
7) The Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball by John Helyar
6) The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics by Alan Schwarz
5) Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy by Jane Leavy
4) Babe: The Legend Comes to Life by Robert Creamer
3) Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer
2) The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America by Joe Posnanski
1) Wait Till Next Year – A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Baseball Books Bonus Round

There are many great baseball books. Here are two that popped up in some of my research, just not enough to warrant being included above.

 

20 Most Popular Books March 2017

Look at the Most Popular Books March 2017 list and you’ll see it doesn’t take a blockbuster movie to boost a book’s popularity.The words "Most Popular Books March 2017" over an image of green grass.

A movie based on “The Shack,” the 2007 novel by William P. Young, was released in early March. The book appeared on Google’s 20 most popular books in February 2017 list.

And even though the movie isn’t well-received by some, the book catapulted to second on the Most Popular Books March 2017 list. Not bad for a movie with a 20-percent Rotten Tomatoes ranking.

Before I Fall” is another book benefiting from a movie release. The book debuts at number three on the Most Popular Books list. Its movie version opened March 3.

As TV has become increasingly popular, the medium is also pushing books. For example, “Big Little Lies” jumps eight spots this month after debuting on the February Most Popular Books list. The book-turned-miniseries ran on HBO from Feb. 19-April 2.Book cover of "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher. The book is number 16 on the Most Popular Books March 2017 list.

Speaking of books-on-TV, “Thirteen Reasons Why” appears on the most-searched for books list for the first time. The book is now a Netflix series which was released on March 31.

The third and final debut on the most popular books list is “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” An updated version of the book was released on March 14. Plus, the book’s movie version was released on DVD and streaming last month.

The big drops on the Most Popular Books March 2017 list come from “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “The Girl on the Train.” The latter dropped eight spots on the list, its second consecutive eight-spot drop. Will the book find a way to stay on the Most Popular Books list? We’ll find out next month.

This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small amount of money if you make a purchase using these links. Visit my Disclosures page for more info.

Based on Google search data for the United States.

1) The Bible Book cover for "Before I Fall" by Lauren Oliver.
2) The Shack ↑18
3) Before I Fall NEW
4) Big Little Lies ↑8
5) Fifty Shades Darker ↓3
6) The Great Gatsby ↓1
7) To Kill a Mockingbird ↓1 Book cover for "Hamilton: The Revolution."
8) Romeo and Juliet
9) Hamilton
10) Quran ↓3
11) Sword Art Online ↑2
12) 1984 ↓2
13) Fifty Shades of Grey ↓10 Book cover of "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher.
14) MacBeth ↓3
15) Hamlet ↓1
16) Thirteen Reasons Why NEW
17) Lord of the Flies ↑2
15) The Girl on the Train ↓8
18) Frankenstein ↓2 Book cover of "Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them" by J.K. Rowling.
19) The Fellowship of the Ring ↓1
20) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them NEW

 

New additions to the books to read in 2017 list

At first, my books to read in 2017 list wasn’t for you. It was for me. But of course, a reading list is a great way to discover your next book."38 Books to Read in 2017" written above 38 book icons.

After all, we glom over Stephen King’s reading list. A popular book blog regularly publishes reading lists. Another blog, Brain Pickings, highlights notable folks’ reading recommendations. And many author interviews have the interviewer asking the writer, “What are you reading now?”

Seems like finding out what books others are reading may be the easiest, most effective way to decide what we should read. So it makes sense we readers love reading lists. And it makes sense that my 2017 reading list isn’t a list just for me. It’s a list for you as well.

As you may know, the first version of my 2017 reading list included 34 books. But I’ll read more than 34 books this year. You probably will, too. You see, the plan was always to add books to the list.

Maybe a new book gets released or I find a book I previously didn’t know about. Plus, an author or publisher may ask me to review their book. So I need to leave room on my annual reading list for additions.

Well, we’re three months into 2017. It’s now time to make some additions to my books to read in 2017 list.

This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small amount of money if you make a purchase using these links. Visit my Disclosures page for more info.

Updates to the Books to Read in 2017 List

There are four books I’m adding to my 2017 reading list. Each book is listed below with a short explanation of why I’m adding it to my 2017 reading list.Book cover of "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

  • “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • President’s Day weekend I watched a friend tear through “Americanah,” and listened to her praise the book. Then the book was chosen for the “One Book, One New York” campaign. OK, Universe, I will read “Americanah.”
  • “Main Street” by Sinclair Lewis
    • There’s a litany of previously published books I’ve never heard about, much less read. That’s why I have a lot of catching up to do. Then on Lewis’s birthday, The Writer’s Almanac highlighted “Main Street.” Being from the rural Midwest and someone who’s writing often reflects that background, I decided to give the book a shot. Here’s my review of “Main Street.”
  • “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer
    • Here’s another book added to my reading list through the “playing catch-up” rule. Since I’ve never read Norman Mailer, I figure I should change that this year.
  • “Fatima’s Room” by Charlotte S. Gray
    • Arc Light Books will publish “Fatima’s Room.” It’s based on the diaries of a young Sudanese woman. I’m reading it now and will publish a review once I’m finished.

These additions bring my list of books to read in 2017 to 38. But there’s still room for more. After June, I’ll give you another update letting you know what books I’ve added to the list.

What books have you added to your annual reading list?

"38 Books to Read in 2017" written above 38 book icons.

 

Here are the Real Stars of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is a book for people who enjoy a fuse’s slow burn without needing the explosion.Book cover of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.

Sure, there’s a murder. It’s a heart-wrenching murder. And there’s a mystery. But “Idaho: A Novel” is not a murder mystery, at least not in a traditional sense. In fact, we find out early in the book who committed murder.

The mystery of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is not in who killed whom. The mystery is in why. And answering “why” is the plot of “Idaho: A Novel.”

This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small amount of money if you make a purchase using these links. Visit my Disclosures page for more info.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich Overview

Five main characters comprise Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. Four of these characters (Jenny, Wade, June, and May) form a family. A fifth character, Ann, forms a family with Wade, but only after Jenny, June, and May exit Wade’s life.

By the way, you could win Idaho by Emily Ruskovich in my April book giveaway. Subscribe to my newsletter by 11:59 p.m. EST Thursday, April 6, 2017 to be eligible to win.

The story unfolds across the present and the past. Chapters, often short and broken into blog post-sized sections, rotate between what’s happening now and what happened then.

Check out this #bookreview of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. Click To Tweet

These glimpses into the past help color between the lines so we can understand the present. Ruskovich handles the flipping between timelines well. There’s not much confusion about what’s happening to whom and when.

It’s this constant tossing between flashback and present day that leads to “Idaho: A Novel’s,” slow-burn storytelling. Little realizations occur throughout the book. And you don’t have to invest much time into reading “Idaho” before you start to be rewarded with these revelations. An image of mountains behind a quote from Idaho by Emily Ruskovich reading "The revelation of kindness hurts worse than cruelty. There is no way to equal it."

But the incessant drizzle of discovery comes at a cost. Readers expecting the big reveal of a whodunit will likely be disappointed.

The breadth of “Idaho’s” story follows Jenny and Ann on disparate timelines, two women who love the same man (Wade). How did they arrive at where we discover them when the book begins? And where do they go from there?

True Stars of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

There are two stars in “Idaho,” women and the book’s namesake state.

Nearly all of the characters in the novel are female, and the male characters are diminished or diminishing. It’s not a leap to see this as an allegory of man’s declining role in Western society.

Here's why women are the real stars in Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. Click To Tweet

The women in “Idaho” are responsible for providing the solutions they seek. The men they encounter throughout the book, however well intentioned, range from unhelpful to oblivious.

Still, the women are not freed of men. They turn to male characters for aid or answers, but they are consistently disappointed by what the men have to offer. And the women are impacted, often negatively, by the dominant actions of men. Photo of mountains behind a quote from Idaho by Emily Ruskovich reading "Maybe she thinks that what she did all those years ago is a point in time that only a straight line can someday render too far in the distance to see clearly."

It wouldn’t be fair, however, to categorize “Idaho” as anti-male or a feminist mantra. Ruskovich doesn’t appear hell-bent on entering the novel into gender debates.

Instead, the author seems content to suggest men may not be the bee’s knees and yet they still maintain control over many women’s lives.

The other star of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is, of course, Idaho. The state’s geography and weather play key roles in the novel’s story.

There’s a mountain on which Jenny and Wade live, followed by Ann and Wade. There often is snow on the mountain, and when there isn’t snow the mountain’s residents make preparations for when the snow will come. Indeed, it’s these preparations that serve as a central plot point for the story.

So important is its setting to “Idaho” it calls to mind Norman MacLean’s “A River Runs Through It.” As you cannot separate McLean’s novella from Montana, you cannot cleave “Idaho: A Novel” from Idaho the state.

The prose of “Idaho” may not sing quite as well as MacLean’s, but the former is still a well-written book. It’s a story that will keep you reading, even if it lacks a big explosion.

Photo of pine trees behind a quote from Idaho by Emily Ruskovich reading "The revelation of kindness hurts worse than cruelty. There is no way to equal it."

 

Idaho Book Cover Idaho
Emily Ruskovich
Fiction
Random House
January 3, 2017
320

A stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss--from O. Henry Prize-winning author Emily Ruskovich Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband's memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade's first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives--including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison--we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny's lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho. In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade's past becomes the center of Ann's imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew--and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own. Advance praise for Idaho "Idaho is both a place and an emotional dimension. Haunted, haunting, Ruskovich's novel winds through time, braiding events and their consequences in the most unexpected and moving ways."--Andrea Barrett "Emily Ruskovich's Idaho is a novel written like music. Striking arpeggios, haunting refrains, and then you come to a bridge, and Ruskovich leads you up into the mountains, introducing a chorus of rich and beautiful voices woven deep in the Idaho woods, each trying to come to their own understanding of a terrible tragedy. This book is full of extraordinary women and men overcoming extraordinary loss through love and forgiveness. Ruskovich digs deeply into everyday moments, and shows that it is there, in our quietest thoughts and experiences, where we find and create our true selves."--Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief "It's been six years since I first read Emily Ruskovich's breathtaking prose, felt the force of her unsparing imagination, and knew I was in the presence of a singular talent. I've been waiting for the novel she would write ever since, and now it's here: Idaho begins with a rusted truck and ends up places you couldn't imagine. Its language is an enchantment, its vision brutal and sublime. This book is interested in what can't be repaired and every kind of grace we find in the face of that futility. It caught and held me absolutely."--Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams "Emily Ruskovich has written a poem in prose, a beautiful and intricate homage to place, and a celebration of the defeats and triumphs of love. Beautifully crafted, emotionally evocative, and psychologically astute, Idaho is one of the best books I have read in a long time."--Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees "Emily Ruskovich has intricately entwined a terrifying human story with an austere and impervious setting. The result--something bigger than either--is beautiful, brutal, and incandescent."--Deirdre McNamer, author of Red Rover

First Book Giveaway Starts Next Week

What better way to help you indulge in books than a book giveaway?Photo of a tree with white blooms and a blue sky and the words "Book Giveaway April 2017."

My first book giveaway will be next week. Then I’ll give away a book every month thereafter. Anyone who’s subscribed to my newsletter by the monthly deadline is eligible to win. The deadline for the April giveaway is 11:59 p.m., Friday, April 7.

In this month’s sweepstakes, you can win a copy of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. (By the way, my book review of Idaho will publish Saturday.)

Hosting a monthly book giveaway is one way I can say “thank you” to you for subscribing. And it aligns with this blog’s goal of helping you indulge in books.

Details are below. The gist is, subscribe now if you want to be eligible to win.

Book Giveaway – April 2017

Book cover of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.

  • Prize: One copy of Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.
  • Drawing: The winner will be selected at random on Saturday, April 8, 2017.
  • How to enter: Subscribe to my newsletter by Friday, April 7, 2017. All subscribers to the newsletter as of 11:59 p.m., April 7, 2017, will be eligible to win.
  • Who can enter: Anyone in the United States who’s at least 18 years of age. (I would love to open the giveaway to readers outside the U.S. Unfortunately the legal complications of offering sweepstakes internally preclude my doing so at this time.)
  • Winner selection: The winner of the book giveaway will be chosen at random using random.org.
  • Winner notification: The winner will be notified using the email address they used when subscribing to my newsletter. The winner has 48 hours to respond to the winner notification email. After 48 hours, if the first winner of the book giveaway does not respond to the winner notification email, a second winner will be selected at random using random.org. The first winner will be ineligible to win in the second drawing. However, the first winner will be eligible to win the next month’s book giveaway provided they are subscribed to my newsletter as of the deadline to enter the following month’s sweepstakes.
  • Prize delivery: The book will be delivered through Amazon. The winner can select between three formats in which to receive the book: Kindle e-book, hardcover, or paperback. Format selection must be made within 48 hours of receiving the winning notification email. If format selection is not made within 48 hours of receiving the winning notification email, a second winner will be selected at random using random.org. The first winner will be ineligible to win in the second drawing. However, the first winner will be eligible to win the next month’s book giveaway provided they are subscribed to my newsletter as of the deadline to enter the following month’s sweepstakes.

Photo of a tree with white blooms and a blue sky and the words "Book Giveaway April 2017."

20 Most Popular Books in February 2017

What were the most popular books in February 2017? Below are the 20 books searched for the most on Google in the United States last month.Image of snow behind the words "20 Most Popular Books in February 2017."

Movies based on three of the most popular books were released in February. These books are “Fifty Shades Darker,” “The Space Between Us,” and “The Shack.” And a movie based on a fourth book, Sword Art Online, was released March 1.

TV shows based on two of the most popular books drove those titles to the top of the most-searched list.

Big Little Lies” debuts on the top 20 list after its TV version premiered on HBO last month. And “The Magicians” appears again, although the title did slip six points. The book’s TV version’s season two premiered Jan. 25, 2017.

Update: The list of most popular books for March 2017 is now available.

The biggest gainers on the list were “The Great Gatsby” and “Romeo and Juliet.” The latter, a story of two tragic lovers, may have benefitted from Valentine’s Day. Could the holiday also explain Gatsby’s rise?

Discover the 20 most popular books in February. Click To Tweet

The month’s largest drop comes from “The Girl on the Train.” The book slipped eight spots. This ends the book’s four-month run in the top 10, a sequence which began with the novel’s movie release in October.

A well-covered literary trend during the Trump Presidency has been the resurgence of dystopian novels. Two such works, “1984” and “Lord of the Flies,” made the most popular books list last month.

This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small amount of money if you make a purchase using these links. Visit my Disclosures page for more info.

Most Searched Books February 2017

For the United States, according to Google

1) The Bible
2) Fifty Shades Darker ↑1
3) Fifty Shades of Grey ↑2
4) The Space Between Us NEW
5) The Great Gatsby ↑7
6) To Kill a Mockingbird ↑4
7) Quran ↑1
8) Romeo and Juliet ↑7
9) Hamilton ↓3
10) 1984 ↓1
11) MacBeth ↑6
12) Big Little Lies NEW
13) Sword Art Online ↑6
14) Hamlet ↑4
15) The Girl on the Train ↓8
16) Frankenstein NEW
17) The Magicians ↓6
18) The Lord of the Rings NEW
19) Lord of the Flies NEW
20) The Shack NEW

Ways to Indulge Yourself with Books

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You love books. You like reading them. You might like writing them. This blog’s goal is to help you indulge your love of books. This means giving you options in how you follow this blog. That’s why there’s a newsletter, and that’s why we’re also on Facebook and Pinterest.Photo of a cup of coffee sitting on a table with foam designed to look like a heart.

You can follow this blog where and how you like. Links to subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog on social media are below.

Maybe you want to write for this blog. I accept guest posts. You’ll find a quick rundown of this blog’s guest post guidelines below.

And if you have a book you’d like reviewed on NicolasBarron.com, let me know. Info on how to submit your book for review is below as well.

Subscribe and Follow Links

Newsletter – One email a week. Never miss a post. Be eligible for giveaways.

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Facebook – Links, photos for book lovers and writers.

Twitter – My personal tweets. Some stuff for readers, writers.

Guest Post

Want to guest write for NicolasBarron.com? First, send me a pitch. In your pitch, include:

  • A brief introduction of yourself. (1-2 sentences)
  • A link to your blog, website, or social media profile(s).
  • The proposed title of your post.
  • A brief outline of what you plan to submit. (2-4 sentences)
  • When you plan to submit the blog post.

Use the form on the guest post guidelines page to send me your pitch.

Submit Your Book for Review

Have a book you’d like reviewed on NicolasBarron.com? Here’s how you can submit your book for review:

  1. Read the submission guidelines.
  2. Read the disclosures and transparency.
  3. Email a short pitch to nicolas at nicolasbarron dot com.

Image of a Margaret Atwood quote reading, "I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most."

 

Why We Should Make Sinclair Lewis’s ‘Main Street’ Great Again

What’s surprising about Sinclair Lewis’s “Main Street” is how little has changed in the 97 years since the book was published.Book cover of Sinclair Lewis's "Main Street."

We’ve fought wars, made our phones into computers, and still, the struggles of America in the 1910s and America in the 2010s are fairly similar.

Yes, “Main Street” is a small town story, but it’s a book reflective of societal challenges. That the setting is a rural America most Americans today won’t recognize doesn’t matter. The issues Lewis raises are all too recognizable to contemporary Americans.

Read more

Main Street Book Cover Main Street
Sinclair Lewis
Fiction
Penguin
2008
475

Features the story of a college graduate from St. Paul who leaves to marry a doctor in a small, middle-class town, only to find her efforts to bring culture and beauty to the town thwarted by its residents, testing her idealism.

20 famous Irish authors and some of their biggest books

With St. Patrick’s Day coming, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of famous Irish authors. You’ll find the list below.Photo of Ireland's coastline below the words "20+ Famous Irish authors & some of their biggest books."

I intend to use this list of Irish authors as a resource. It’s important for my reading practice to include a diversity of authors and works. That’s why, for example, my 2017 reading list includes a section for African literature.

The list below will help me include Irish authors in my reading.

For this list, I defined Irish authors as being born in Ireland or citizens of Ireland. The authors are listed in alphabetical order by their first name.

Check out this list of 20+ famous Irish authors. Happy #StPatricksDay! Click To Tweet

Did I miss an Irish author who should be in this list? Or is there a book you would add under an author’s name? Tell me in the comments.

Famous Irish authors

Book cover of Irish author W. B. Yeats's "Collected Poems."

Bonus Irish authors

There are too many notable Irish authors to stop at 20. Below are four more Irish writers worth mentioning. They’re listed in alphabetical order.Book cover of Irish author Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin."

Check out this list of 20+ famous Irish authors. Happy #StPatricksDay! Click To Tweet

Here’s the Joy of Discovering Harry Potter as an Adult

I hadn’t been asleep long when it happened. A noise, like skin slapping wood, jolted me awake.

“Nick awoke with a fright,” my internal monolog said.

Quickly I realized the noise was innocuous. Then I returned to the sentence that ran through my mind as I was roused: “Nick awoke with a fright.”The book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Where did that come from? This is when I realized the impact Harry Potter was having in my life.

Much is made of the downsides of aging, but here’s at least one benefit to getting older. You unearth something delightful that was there all along, waiting for you to discover it at the time that’s right for you.

A recent example of this for me is the Harry Potter series.


The first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was published in 1997. I was a junior in high school at the time.

This is to say I was a closeted gay teenager in rural America hoping religion would save my soul. I had no friends and little hope my life would ever be more than a daily struggle against sinful homosexuality.The book cover of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

In hindsight, I was depressed.

Stories for some people, reading and writing them offer an escape. This was not the case for me. I was too obsessed with fighting my gayness, and too depressed about the hopelessness of it, to read anything other than Sports Illustrated or the Bible.

This means I was unaware of the Harry Potter books that quickly dominated young readers around the world starting in the late 1990s. In hindsight, I could have been part of the first wave of Potter fandom, but instead, I was focused on avoiding hell for being a homosexual.

Over time I accepted my gayness and emerged from the depressive, closeted state of my teenage years. By then, Harry Potter was too big to ignore, but I was an adult now and saw little reason to read a children’s series.

This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small amount of money if you make a purchase using these links. Visit my Disclosures pagefor more info.

The book cover of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Then I read Stephen King’s On Writing. King lists as the end of the book other books he read the year prior to On Writing being published. Three Harry Potter books made the list.

I realized if the master of storytelling Stephen King is reading Harry Potter, maybe I should, too. And that’s how I came to reading Harry Potter for the first time at age thirty-six.

Harry became my constant companion for fifty-seven days. I tore through the books, immediately understanding why so many made such a fuss over Harry Potter. So obsessed was I while reading the Potter books that my inner monolog took on the series’ narrative voice. Hence my waking from a dream thinking the sentence, “Nick awoke with a fright.”The book cover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

It wasn’t until after finishing the final Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that I began to think about some similarities between myself and Harry Potter.


Harry Potter and I are the same age. Harry’s birthday is July 31, 1980. That’s within two weeks of mine.As a boy, Harry faced down dark magic that sought to destroy him. So did I. While Harry was fighting Lord Voldemort in England, I was fighting the destructive belief that being born gay is wrong.The book cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

As a boy, Harry faced down dark magic that sought to destroy him. So did I. While Harry was fighting Lord Voldemort in England, I was fighting the destructive belief that being born gay is wrong.

Harry eventually defeated Voldemort. I defeated being a closet case.

Of course, seeing my fight against evil as similar to Harry’s is what makes still today Harry Potter such a draw for kids and adults. It’s a story onto which we all can project our personal struggles.

After finishing the Potter series, I wondered if I regretted not having discovered them when I was a teenager. Could reading Potter have helped me deal with my homosexuality earlier, avoiding years of missteps and pain?The book cover of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

I doubt it. My existence was too bleak back then to be open to the fantastical world of Harry Potter. I would not have been receptive to his story, and certainly in no position to see myself in his shoes.

Besides, the tumult of the years in which I slowly came to accept my gay self provided for me experiences that today make me a better writer.

There were the interesting jobs, such as working in a mental hospital. And jobs, like being a newspaper reporter, that taught me useful skills. There was living in different states, meeting numerous people with varied backgrounds.

There were the experiences, like passing a herd of antelope grazing in a Wyoming ghost town at midnight. Or standing alone in an Oregon rain forest listening to raindrops patter onto the leaves of enormous, green ferns.The book cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

And had I read Harry Potter earlier in life, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading his story through adult eyes and understanding. The world is full of treasures awaiting our discovery, and sometimes they stay hidden until we’re ready for them.

Finally, at age thirty-six, I was ready to read Harry Potter.

How old were you when you first read a Harry Potter book?