Any time I get a chance to go to a museum, I take it. While not artistic myself, I do enjoy seeing all kinds of creative things, like paintings, sculptures, dioramas, and more.

This often puts me in the position of defending some kind of art to someone who may not get it (think so-called “modern art”). My philosophy is simple: If it makes you feel good when you look at it, then it is good. Still, even I have to admit there are some really crazy things in the world of art.

One time we went to MASSMoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), a truly wonderful place where you never know what you will encounter. They once had a car hanging from the ceiling.

Right as we got in, I noticed a stepladder with an open can of paint and a wet paintbrush on the little fold-out shelf. I thought that was a little odd but I figured that the maintenance guy was on his break.

After we’d toured the museum, we passed by that stepladder again and it was only then that I realized that it was actually “art.” How about that.

This is like the exhibition I read about where the garbage on the floor — empty coffee cups, McDonald’s wrappers, and the like — was art as well. The janitor got reprimanded when he tried to sweep it up.

True story: A 91-year-old woman wound up inadvertently vandalizing a $116,000 piece of art. The piece, hanging on the wall of a museum, looked like an empty crossword puzzle. Alongside it was a sign that said, simply, “Insert Words.” So that's what she did.

The management decided not to press charges because “she didn't mean any harm.” Very similar to the stepladder I saw at MassMOCA. Is it art or isn't it? Who knows?

This is where it gets hard to defend modern art. Does that mean the mess in my garage is art? Or the overstuffed closet, the sink full of dirty dishes? Using my rule — does it make you feel good when you look at it — I'd have to say no.

But then you look at something else and you have to think twice. Again at MASSMoCA, there was a display on the wall of just the bottoms of the typical brown bag you’d pack your lunch in. Doesn't sound like much but the way they were arranged was quite attractive, so there you go. I never would have thought to do that but it really did work.

One artist you probably have heard of is the late Thomas Kinkaid. Not long ago, he took the art world by storm with his quaint, homey pictures of little log cabins or rustic houses nestled by babbling brooks or at the base of snowy mountains. He even had a chain of stores — there was one in Albany — where artists trained by him would put the finishing touches on his original canvases that you could buy.

I remember reading interviews with people who bought his work, and it all came down to the fact that, when you looked at one of his paintings, you knew exactly what you were looking at. It didn't have to be explained to you before you could appreciate it. No one wants to feel stupid, especially when simply looking at a picture. Which brings up my all-time favorite art story.

I had roped my friend who is not a fan of modern art into a visit to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in Manhattan. We were having a good time looking at everything until we came upon a very large, white, square painting.

For all intents and purposes, it was just a large canvas painted white. In effect, it looked like the starting point for a picture; certainly not like an actual finished work. The straw that broke the camel’s back was in the write-up on the little card that described the painting.

“Without doubt,” the card said, “this is by far the greatest work of this artist's career.

Upon reading that my buddy had enough and we had to leave. How can you defend something like that?

In the book “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. one of the characters finds himself in a similar situation, having to defend a painting that consists of nothing more than a white rectangle with an orange stripe running down the middle. In the book, the patrons of the art gallery are getting ready to riot, as they feel they've been ripped off by the artist.

Then it’s explained to them that the white part represents mankind, and the stripe represents all the conflict in the world (I'm simplifying greatly but this is the gist of it). When it’s explained to them this way, they all sigh, “Oh, now we get it,” and everyone is happy again.

Vonnegut, the true genius that he was, nailed it perfectly, though I wonder if even he could have explained the symbolism of the garbage on the floor that is supposedly art.

Recently, I finally had the chance to research that plain white picture at MoMA where my friend, upon seeing it, made us walk out of the museum. Turns out it’s by a very famous artist called Barnett Newman.

The painting in question is part of his “The Stations of the Cross” series, and is truly considered his masterpiece. He subtitled this series “Why have you forsaken me?” — a reference, of course, to Jesus Christ’s last words.

Now, just like in the Vonnegut book, after hearing it explained that way, don't you feel a little different about that plain white square? Maybe the plain whiteness of it symbolizes there is nothing left but for Jesus to return to God the Father for all of humankind's salvation.

When you look at it like that — or when someone tells you to look at it like that — even a plain old white square can be hauntingly, almost painfully, moving. It sure makes it much more interesting, at the very least.

So that’s the never-ending conundrum with modern art. One day, I was walking in a glass-enclosed hallway, having just gotten a cup of coffee. Outside the wind was blowing fiercely, such that some random garbage, like straws, newspaper pages, and coffee-cup lids, was blowing in a swirling, circular pattern, around and around and around.

It reminded me of seeing smiling kids’ faces on a merry-go-round as they happily go around and around. Yes, it was just random items blowing in the wind but it was truly one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. If it makes you feel good, it is good.

Location:

When my oldest daughter lived with us, it was not uncommon to see her doing homework on the computer while listening to music and having about 10 instant-messaging windows open at the same time. This is known as “multi-tasking,” and, while this amount of sensory input would make my head explode, it must have worked for her as she went on to get a Ph.D. in applied mathematics

Still, I have my own multi-tasking that I’d like to tell you about. It allows me to get my physical and spiritual development done at the same time. Now that I can handle.

It starts on Sunday morning when I leave my house and start out walking. The good thing about walking then is there are not many cars out. This is great because where I'm walking in Guilderland there are no sidewalks, so you're either in the street or on someone’s lawn, which is still kind of weird to me.

I mean, I grew up in Brooklyn and I always assumed sidewalks were part of the program but I guess I was wrong. Actually, on some parts of my walk there is an angled asphalt buffer; it's about a foot wide and slanted at about 25 degrees. Walking on that slope is something because you want to stay vertical but now your ankles are all keeled over, resulting in an odd kind of a limp. It still beats being in the street or on the front lawn.

You see all kinds of things when you walk in suburbia — golf balls, beer cans, doggie doodoo, and fast-food waste of all kinds. Littering always makes me sad and I don't know why there is just so much of it.

At least every now and then, I find a good washer or bolt or something else I can use back in the workshop. The other day, I found two small pumpkins that now grace my front step. Where these pumpkins came from in January is a mystery but who cares. Their vibrant orange color makes me think of spring.

So a brisk walk on a Sunday morning is how I take care of my physical development. The spiritual part comes when I get to my destination, which is Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church on Western Avenue in Guilderland.

You know you're there because Pastor Stewart Pattison is always out in the parking lot, directing traffic and greeting people with a firm handshake or a big hug, with his wavy hair blowing wildly in the wind. I've been to a lot of churches over the years but Pastor Stewart is the only minister I've ever known to call the parking lot his own. Since his parking lot is kind of small, his masterful traffic directing really helps. Now that's going above and beyond for sure.

Before I tell you why I like Pastor Stewart so much, let me tell you about a couple of incidents that happened to me not too long ago. There are many ways to get the word out about Jesus, some worse than others. This particular one happened at another church on a beautiful spring Sunday morning.

Imagine perfect weather, with lots of lush, green grass and colorful flowers blooming. There are well-dressed men and nicely coiffed women. The children have their Sunday-best outfits on, the birds are singing, and the sun is shining so brightly that the door at the back of the church is open so that the wonder of God's creation can come in.

Just then, when you couldn't feel any more spirit of rebirth and hope, the reader says, and I quote: "Before we begin, let's just get one thing straight — if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, you are going straight to hell." With that, all the air went out of the room and the moment was ruined. Ouch.

At another church, I remarked to the pastor how wonderful the music was. He literally yelled at me: "You don't go to church for the music!"

I just read the other day the Capital District has one of the lowest church attendance rates of anywhere in the state. You'd think that pastor would have been happy I was there for whatever reason, wouldn't you? No one likes getting yelled at, in church especially.

This is why I like Pastor Stewart so much. He never "glooms and dooms" you; conversely, he's not a Joel Osteen type where you just want to wipe that annoying perpetual smile off his face. Rather, with Pastor Stewart, you get the feeling that he's on a long journey, and he's just allowing us to come along for the ride with him.

We all have ups and downs, "warts and all" as they say, and, as you listen to him week after week, you get the feeling that he has concerns and problems that trouble him, just like the rest of us. His basic message is to try to genuinely be a good person, a person of God and love, while letting the love of Christ be in your heart at all times. Nothing wrong with that.

He really tries hard to share his joy and optimism with everyone. In this shallow, short-attention-span age we live in, I think he does a great job about sharing the message in as nonjudgmental a way as possible. Now if we can only get him a comb!

After the service a lot of the church folks try to get me to spoil my lunch with all kinds of sweets and all that stuff. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I let my beautiful wife Charlotte — she's the organist — drive me home.

But on a good day, I turn down the snacks and the ride and walk back home, getting some more much needed low-impact exercise to finish out my productive morning of physical and spiritual development. Nothing has more bang for the buck physically than the simple act of walking. Combine that with one of Pastor Stewart's well crafted and uplifting sermons and I'm good to go every time.

I'm not normally a fan of multi-tasking. I can barely do one thing at a time well so why try for anything more? Still, walking to church has been very good for me. I just hope my one leg doesn't wind up shorter than the other one from all that walking on the slanted asphalt shoulder.

Location:

If you watch or play sports, you know that injuries are inevitable. When you hear that an athlete is having surgery and will be out for a while, you just accept it and move on because it happens so often.

I never thought much about this until I had surgery recently. Let me tell you, when it’s you that is under the knife, you realize that there is nothing at all routine about surgery.

In my case, I had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. for an early morning surgical procedure. Thankfully, I had my lovely wife to escort me.

I can’t imagine doing something like this on my own, though I know some are forced to and that’s too bad. After some shaving on my body and then some artistry with a magic marker, I was hooked up to an IV and rolled into the operating room.

The last thing I remember is noticing how really big the light was over the operating table. I was imagining how having a light that big over my garage workbench would make it so much easier to rebuild carburetors when the next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room. It was like time travel, for real.

After I was awake for a while, the surgeon came in and told me everything had been a success. This was a routine outpatient procedure and it had gone as smoothly as she had promised. Then she asked me how I felt.

“Well,” I said, giving it some careful thought, “I feel like I’m here and my head is on the other side of the room.”

With that, I was admitted for an overnight stay after all. The thing is, this was the first time I have ever been sedated completely, and I just don’t do well on drugs.

I know some people take drugs to escape reality, but I have enough trouble with reality as it is and drugs only make it worse. When I say that, I’m not even kidding. It really felt like my head was no longer attached to my body, if you can believe that.

I looked forward very much to that overnight stay in the hospital. The food was bland but I was just happy to have anything.

The real problem came with trying to sleep. At first I couldn’t doze off, so I just did lap after lap around the recovery ward, trailing my IV like a pet on a leash.

When I finally did manage to go to sleep, a nurse would come in and tell me she needed to take my “vitals” — pulse, temperature, etc. Then I’d go back to sleep and two hours later the same thing. I was awakened at least three times during the night by nurses making these checks over and over.

How are you supposed to get any rest like this? I guess it’s their subtle way of making sure you don’t get too comfortable so you won’t want to extend your stay.

When I was finally ready to check out the next day, I was pushed in a wheelchair to the curb where my wife was waiting with the car. What’s funny about that is: Why bother with the wheelchair, since once you get out you're on your own, you know? I'd rather have practiced the long walk to the car just to get ready for the recovery, so to speak, but everyone gets the ceremonial wheelchair exit ride, it seems.

With my surgery, I was told to do absolutely nothing, nada, zip, for one whole week. You’d think that would be easy, but I'm not the kind of guy that likes to be waited on or to sit still for too long. I hated to have my family do some of the things I normally do around the house, but there was no way around it.

If you've had surgery, you know what I mean. You feel like a real bump on a log just sitting there all day. It’s terrible. I can’t imagine what pro athletes do when they’re laid up for months at a time.

My surgeon told me I’d have some pain in the first week after the surgery. OK, I guess that’s to be expected. Day one after the surgery was fine. I must have had some pain meds left in me.

Day two and day three were so bad I actually called her up to ask if she had left her scalpel inside of me. Yes, it was that bad. On the one-to-10 scale, where one is getting tickled with a feather and 10 is death, this was a solid seven, close to an eight. I mean I was almost in tears.

Apparently this is par for the course when recovering from surgery. Who knew? So, whenever someone is recovering from an operation, be sure to give them some slack. I would never, never have believed how painful the recovery was if I didn’t experience it firsthand.

In fact, my wife has unfortunately had to have several surgeries. Each time, when the procedure was completed, the doctor would come and find me in the waiting room, slap me on the back, and tell me how great she did. Had I known those times how painful the recovery would be, I would have taken much more time off from work to tend to her. Oh well, you live and you learn (if you're lucky).

With a whole week of nothing to do, you’d think that would be a great time to catch up on movies, TV, reading, and music. The thing is, when you don’t feel good, none of that is really appealing in the way it normally is. You try to get into something but you just can’t do it.

I remember, in the last years of my dear departed mother’s life, asking her to do all sorts of things. I’d get so frustrated when she’d more often than not say no. But she hadn’t felt good for a long time, and now I can fully understand her reluctance to do anything. When you don’t feel good, it's hard if not impossible to get excited about anything. Totally understandable.

After the week was over, I could start walking and lifting things again, but only very light things. I'm not a huge muscled guy, but so many of the things I normally do — rotating car tires, shoveling snow, general work around the house — actually require lifting quite a bit of weight. You don’t realize it until you can’t do it for a while. Heck, even a gallon of milk weighs seven pounds and that was too much. I felt totally useless during that week. Not good.

It’s been six weeks since my surgery and only now am I allowed to start exercising again. Even so, I was told to start slowly and work back into it gradually.

It’s really hard to do that of course, but when you get that wince of pain it kind of forces you to slow down whether you want to or not. I can’t wait until I’m totally pain free and get back to my prior lifestyle.

Like Joni Mitchell sings, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Amen sister.

One time a friend told about getting injured playing volleyball. “I tore my rotator cuff. I have to keep my arm in a sling. I'm going to need surgery and miss the rest of the tournament. It’s terrible.”

My other friend then said, “It could have been worse.”

The first friend says, “How could it possibly be worse?”

The second one replies, “It could have happened to me.”

Surgery is no picnic. The next time your favorite ball player, friend, or relative goes under the knife, be aware that it’s just the beginning of a potentially long and painful recovery process.

Location:

One of the most common icebreakers at a party is to ask a person what he does for a living. As I inch closer and closer to retirement, I find myself reflecting on work more and more. Our occupations and career choices so define us.

I mean, I could retire right now, but I'm just not ready to answer the “What do you do for a living?” question with the words, “I'm retired.” At least not just yet.

I started working at age 14, delivering the Long Island Press in my Brooklyn neighborhood on my bicycle after school. The thought that someone would pay me to do anything was mind blowing at the time.

It really did make quite an impression, as I've been working non-stop ever since then except for a two-week vacation once a year and a day or two off now and then. That's 43 years working and still going strong.

My next job was working in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant that was located next to a big hospital. I was to keep hospital visitors from parking in the restaurant's parking lot. Let me tell you, I took my life into my own hands with that job. Fortunately, the restaurant changed owners and I got to work inside after that. That's probably why I'm still alive today.

The restaurant was Nathans, of Coney Island hotdog-eating-contest fame, and every now and then I’d put on a giant hotdog shaped “Mr. Frankie Man” costume and stand outside waving at passing cars and people.

The costume was huge, heavy, and hot as hell inside. The eye holes were in the middle of the hot dog, which had to rise at least four feet over my head. It was very disorienting in there, to say the least. When I wore it, I'd get cursed at, spit on, and even little kids would try to knock me over just for the fun of it. Still, it was part of the job and I was just glad to be getting paid to do anything.

I would advise any teenager to take a minimum wage job for a year or two. The lessons you will learn about hard work, showing up on time, and dealing with the public are priceless.

I know there's a movement now to make fast-food jobs have a living wage. No matter, I would advise working there and moving onward and upward if possible, but since fast food is so prevalent in our society maybe it could be considered a career for some (especially if you move up into management). All I know is I was glad to get out of that business so I could stop coming home smelling like grease.

Then I got a job with a big savings bank, first as a teller, then as a traveling branch auditor, and finally moving into EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Auditing. I had computer training in high school that was somewhat rare at the time, which is how I was able to get promoted. I still use those skills every day. Auditing bank processing on a mainframe IBM computer would prove to be great work experience.

The bank liked me so much it decided to pay for my continuing education, so I would work all day in midtown and then go downtown to Pace University two or three nights a week until I got my bachelor’s degree. Surprisingly, once I got my degree, the bank refused to give me an actual IT (Information Technology) job.

The bank argued that, if it hired me in IT, I'd get a year of experience and then leave. So I had no choice but to leave right then. Very strange — the bank got virtually no return on its substantial education investment in me — but it is what it is.

Around this time, I was also working part-time with a guy doing hardwood floor sanding and cleaning. He liked me for two reasons: 1) I showed up and 2) I worked. He claimed that, believe it or not, finding someone who could do these two things consistently was extremely difficult.

I left that job because I was already working full-time and going to school, but I often wonder what would have happened if he and I had continued to build that business up. Who knows, maybe I would have been retired and moved on to something else a long time ago.

From the savings bank, I wound up working for a very large commercial bank in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. By that time, I had passed the test for entry-level computer programmer with New York State. I could have taken the job in the World Trade Center or in Albany.

Since the pay was nowhere near enough to get an apartment in the city, I decided to move to Albany, get a year’s experience, and then go back to the city for the big bucks.

When I told one of my female co-workers at the commercial bank that I was leaving for a job in Albany, she said, “It's so boring up there, you'll be back here in six months, guaranteed.”

What actually happened was I rented an apartment in Rotterdam, got engaged to the landlady not long after, and I've been here ever since. How about that? And no, I don't have to pay rent anymore.

I often think about what would have happened if I'd taken the job in the World Trade Center and just lived at home until I got enough raises to move out on my own. Many of my co-workers died there on that awful day, Sept. 11, 2001. Very sobering to think of that.

What a stupid and senseless way for so many totally innocent people to die. I could have easily been one of them.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about work from working first for myself, then in the private sector, and now in the public sector:

— If you are supposed to show up on time, then show up on time. I'm so big on this that I show up extra early just to make sure I'm there on time;

— If you are going to do something, then do it as best you can, not just because you are getting paid but because it reflects on you;

— Be especially thankful that someone finds you desirable enough that he or she willing to pay you good money for your services. Never take this for granted. There are plenty of folks with fancy framed degrees from very good schools who can’t find work;

— Don't be bummed out when Monday morning comes around and you have to get up and go to work. Be thankful that you have a job to go to;

— Realize that organizations are made of people, and people have all different personalities, likes and dislikes, good days and bad days, etc. There is always stress when people are involved (that’s why I love working with computers so much). You can only control what you can control. Don’t let it get to you; and

— No matter what job you have, the only constant is change, so make sure to keep learning as much as you can. It's the only way to stay relevant.

During the election, you heard the word “jobs” so often you probably got as sick of it as I did. I mean, just look around you. Jobs are all over. There are endless driveways to seal, decks to be built, houses to be painted, cars to be washed, lawns to be mowed, etc.

If you want to work, you can find work. It may not be the work you really want, but we don’t all get to be supermodels or 787 pilots or CEOs, but you have to start somewhere.

You are so lucky that you live in a country where you really can start from nothing and rise as far as your perseverance can take you. Work hard, work often, and things will look up eventually. That’s why, no matter what anyone says, there is no need to make America great again. It always has been great and will continue to be great as long as we keep working hard and innovating.

Remember the landlady that I wound up marrying? When I first met her, she was a single mother with not one but five, count ‘em, five, jobs. Everyone thinks I married her because she’s beautiful, intelligent, and the most caring person in the world, but her work ethic impressed me to no end 30 years ago and she's still going strong (although she’s now down to “just” three jobs).

When they coined the phrase “Protestant work ethic,” I’m pretty sure they had her in mind. I love to read and I always feel guilty sitting in my comfy chair enjoying a book at the end of a long day while she’s still flitting around the house doing a dozen things (but I do it anyway).

We naturally think of getting paid to work but don’t underestimate the power and satisfaction of volunteer work. Go into any church or club and look at what the volunteers are doing; it'll blow you away.

I've edited several club newsletters over the years, and I always got a rush when my copy came in the mail. Even though I put it together on the computer, seeing the physical copy it in my mailbox always gave me a thrill.

There's nothing like volunteering, if you haven't done it, you should try it. Really. I'm certain you'll get much more out of it than you put into it like I always do. I only wish I had time to volunteer more. Maybe when I finally do retire.

Work defines us in so many ways. When to end a working career and move on to the next phase is an important decision we all must make at some point. If I look tired when you see me next it’s because I've been up late thinking about it.

Location:

For the past several years, I’ve read one book about every two weeks on average. It got to the point that I was reading so many books I'd be at a tag sale or benefit sale and buy books I'd already read. So I decided to keep track of all the books I was reading just to keep that from happening. I hate more record-keeping but I couldn't think of any other way to do it.

Then I figured, as long as I'm keeping track of the books I read, I might as well rate them. I decided to use a movie-like star rating system — five stars is a totally wonderful read, and one star is suitable for birdcage lining. I haven’t had a one-star book yet.

With all that being said, here are the books I gave five stars to. Any of these I guarantee would make a great read or a great gift for someone who likes to read:

— “The Sheltering Sky,” Paul Bowles, 1949: A sprawling novel about a couple with marital problems traveling with a friend through the North African desert. Expansive and thought-provoking on many levels;

— “The Big Sleep,” Raymond Chandler, 1939: A true crime novel with detective Philip Marlowe. This is the seed of Garrison Keillor's famous “Guy Noir, Private Eye.” Think trench coats and dames;

— “The Stories of John Cheever,” John Cheever, 1977: I’d never read Cheever and this just blew me away. Masterful in every sense. If you ever fantasized about what goes on in the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan, look here;

— “Deliverance,” James Dickey, 1970: You know the movie; it’s even more intense in print. When you read something like this, you just wonder where it came from. This chilling story still resonates today and I’m sure will for a very long time;

— “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg, 2012: Very insightful. Master this and you can do anything. Makes you wonder if you really have as much control of yourself that you think you have;

— “The Narrow Road to the North,” Richard Flanagan, 2013: Epic prisoner-of-war tale. Superb, and based on true events. There is nothing pretty about war;

— “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn, 2012: A modern true-life thriller. Like something right out of the news. It may be a little cliched, but, then again, if you watch any TV, you see that every day. If you like plot twists, here you go;

— “Fortunate Son,” John Fogerty, 2015: Autobiography from the Creedence Clearwater Revival legend. Wonderful. What this American songwriting genius had to go through to survive the slimy recording industry is truly eye-opening. Money just has a way of ruining everything;

— “The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway, 1952: I read this in high school and it’s even better with age. You cannot not love it. The old man is the kind of guy we should all have in our lives (and the boy is too);

— “Fortune Smiles,” Adam Johnson, 2015: Just brilliant personal fiction. This is the kind of writing that I myself aspire to. Nothing is more fascinating to me than the way people deal with and react to the world around them;

— “The Basic Kafka,” Franz Kafka, 1946: If you have never read “Metamorphoses,” where the narrator wakes up as a giant insect, you'll find it here. Incredible. This brilliant writer was ignored in his lifetime, but his words will live forever;

— “The Trial,” Franz Kafka, 1925: The classic treatise against bureaucracy. I think of this when I'm waiting on hold, or filling out a tax form, or trying to find the customer-service phone number. There is nothing funny about it, which really makes it hit home;

— “Jailbird,” Kurt Vonnegut, 1979: Nobody satirizes our imperfect society better. I've read all of his books and I only wish there were more. Another great one is “Breakfast of Champions.” If you’ve not yet discovered Vonnegut, a Schenectady native for cryin’ out loud, what are you waiting for?;

— “The Railway Man,” Eric Lomax, 1995: A true-life prisoner-of-war story. Very moving. I don't know if I could have lasted with all he went through, described in excruciating detail. An amazing story of survival and redemption;

— “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” Carson McCullers, 1940: Truly moving and brilliant. A very special work. It will stay with you for a long time. This is a real gem;

— “Chesapeake,” James A. Michener, 1978: A monumental study of the southeastern seaboard area. How he can write these kinds of huge, all-encompassing books is a miracle for sure. A masterpiece;

— “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage,” Haruki Murakami, 2015: A wonderful introduction to the haunting and introspective world of the great Haruki Murakami. When I read him, it’s like he knows my thoughts. I don’t know anybody better who is currently writing;

— “The Kind Worth Killing,” Peter Swanson, 2015: A modern-day “Strangers on a Train,” Hitchcock-type thriller, and a great page turner. You will want more;

— “Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit,” Andy Rooney, 2009: Don’t you miss the old master? His writing is just like his talking. I just love finding the magic in the ordinary. He’s gone but his words are still with us, thank goodness;

— “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” William Styron, 1966: A controversial but nonetheless amazing work about slavery. The new movie is controversial as well. It’s just the nature of the subject. Still, the writing is powerful and direct. You will never again think about slavery the same way after reading this; and

— “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Oscar Wilde, 1895: So funny and timeless from the master of wit and satire. He was truly brilliant. One can only imagine what he’d think of Facebook, the Karsdashians, or our president-elect. The male master of the one-liner (the great Dorothy Parker is, of course, the female one-liner master).

  So there you have it. If you read one of these and enjoy it, please let your friends know. We could all use a little good news these days, and these books are all that good. Enjoy!

Pages