Two for the price of one – short reviews of “Why We Swim” and “Mendoza’s Heroes”

 This post is a deviation from my usual complete post as I have recently read two books that were not submissions for reviews – one was for an online non-fiction book club and one that I just wanted to try for something different and light.  Both of them were okay – three star reads and since they were not submitted to me for review, I decided to post a short, one paragraph review for each one.  They are listed below:

“Why We Swim” by Bonnie Tsui


This was an okay book. While I didn’t mind the writing style and felt it was more of a memoir, I just had a hard time picturing the author as a swimmer first with these amazing stories – instead I found myself thinking this is a journalist who happens to swim. Even if that is the wrong impression, it was how I felt when reading the book and as a result the stories lost some luster.  Even some of the more interesting stories that did grab my attention such as the swimming story from a service member in Iraq, did not seem to have the same luster for me that it did for other readers.  Maybe that doesn’t make sense to some, but that’s just how I felt – not a book I could connect with.  But the work is commendable and many readers have written glowing praise for it – I give it three stars out of five. 

“Mendoza’s Heroes: Fifty Batters Below .200” by Al Pepper

Overall, this is a decent book that provides a short biography or at least career highlights of 50 major league players whose career batting average was below .200, commonly referred to as the “Mendoza line”, which was made popular by broadcasters and named for former infielder Mario Mendoza, who spent nine years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers hitting right around that magic figure. It should be noted that he finished his career above that threshold at .215.  As for the book, some of the stories are great, especially when Pepper writes about players who failed to get above .200 in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Finding that information took a good deal of research, but after those chapters, the book felt more like an encyclopedia instead of good reading.  That includes the sections on the status of the game during the time frame when again, the early chapters were good, but not as good as the book progresses.  It merits a three star rating out of five.  

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