Denver Bar Association
November 2004
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What's on Your Nightstand?

by Diane Hartman

From Homer to Harry Potter

What are Denver lawyers reading? It’s a wild variety, from children’s books to Homeric essays. We won’t count the guy who has a volume of Colorado Revised Statutes stacked on his bookshelf.

Bill Ritter is reading Stand Up and Fight Back, by E.J. Dionne, Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward, and for light reading—a book by Bill Shore called In the Light of Conscience. He says: "I don’t read much fiction in election years. I don’t have to."

Bill McClearn is reading Senator Mansfield—The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat, by Don Oberdorfer. He said it’s "a delightful experience to read about a contemporary politician of whom one can truly be proud. Gives renewed faith—to some extent—in our political institutions."

Wick Downing recommends Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi. He said it’s about "women as chattel and what it does to them, as well as men; and how Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is the perfect metaphor for the awful human condition imposed on women in such cultures by the dirty old men who control them."

Mysteries are the best escape, says Mary Phillips. She’s reading The Ghost Walker, by Margaret Coel: "It’s part of a series set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming—these are wonderful books about an Arapaho lawyer, Vicky Holden, and a Catholic priest, Father John O’Malley, who team up to solve murders."

Mary Celeste is reading It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness, by Sylvia Boorstein. It’s "a lighthearted Buddhism book with great everyday stories exemplifying the Buddhist tenets told by a renowned New York Jewish woman Buddhist.

John Sadwith has these suggestions: Four Trials, by John Edwards . . . "a master lawyer and politician tells about four
trials he had that changed his life." Then Who’s Your Caddy, by Rick Reilly. "Rick caddies for good golfers and bad . . . an exposé from inside the white jump suit!!" He also bought My Life, by William Jefferson Clinton, but said he was waiting for his full recovery to start it.

From Joan McWilliams: "I am loving Masaru Emoto’s The Hidden Messages In Water. It is an amazing exploration of and statement about the power of thought."

Alan Friedberg said he stayed up past his bedtime to
finish Driving Force, by Dick Francis, an English ex-jockey and the author of more than 30 novels related to horse racing. This one has "dead people, a little violence, a lamentable lack of sex, and mysteries to be solved—a bit like my law practice."

Over the summer, Loren Ginsburg got into Angels and Demons, the Goldie Hawn biography, the Janis Joplin biography, Mercury 13—about the failed women astronaut program—and, with his kids, The Borrowers.

Terry Kelly is working on What’s the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank. "Growing up in Iowa, we were always curious how Wilt Chamberlain ended up in Kansas, and how Jayhawk men were able to charm Southern women (e.g. Bob Dole; Norm Mueller). Mr. Frank writes entertainingly of Kansas’ enigmatic devotion to conservative political policies." Also Mary Magdalene: The First Apostle, by Ann Graham Brock. "Brock’s sources reveal Mary Magdalene as a powerful leader in the early Christian church, a true Apostle, whom early church figures replaced with the less threatening figure of Mary of Nazareth."

Ed Kahn just started The Known World, by Edward P. Jones. "Cyndi has read it and thinks it’s quite good." He just finished After the Empire, by a French writer about the U.S. role in the world. It was "thoughtful but repetitious."

Elizabeth Weishaupl told about "Roosevelt’s Secret War, about private
espionage and the very interesting
relationship between Roosevelt and his boyhood patrician friends who provided intelligence up to the entrance of the war. The Seven Ages of Paris—a historical perspective on the city of light from the Romans to the present."

Stephanie Kane is reading: "Deception, a twisted psychological suspense novel by Denise Mina, and Bushisms: the Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President. They complement each other well!"

Stacked on Chris Little’s night table are Beauty and the Beast, Scooby Doo Mystery, and Go Dog Go. Obviously, these are being read to 5 year-old Molly. Chris also enjoyed the Harry Potter series and is awaiting the sixth. "Fantasy provides a nice escape—I may re-read the Trilogy but only if I can convince myself that the first 200 pages of The Hobbit aren’t boring."

Barbara Laff read First Queen, by John Gall—he’s "brought the first female Pharaoh of Egypt to life, from her sulky teen years to her ascension to power, at a time when women were expected to act only as helpmate to the male Pharaoh."

David Fine read: How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, by Franklin Foer. It’s "an interesting (especially if you love soccer), if ultimately unsatisfying, examination of how international soccer is affected by and in turns helps explain globalization of the world economy." And: This House of Sky, by Ivan Doig, "an early masterpiece about growing up in rural Montana, by one of the country’s best writers, who is under-appreciated because he writes about the West."

City Attorney Cole Finnegan is reading Erik Larson’s book, Issac’s Storm, which tells the story of the landmark hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900. Also The Iliad, by Homer: "Embarrassed by my inability to answer my son’s most basic questions while watching the movie, ‘Troy,’ I decided it was time to break out the old college text. It’s actually a great read."

Craig N. Johnson highly recommends: In the Land of White Death, by Valerian Albanov, about survival in the Arctic; Brotherhood of the Bomb, by Gregg Herken, "a story about how politics and personalities influenced the emerging field of nuclear science;" and Flyboys, by James Bradley, "a book that makes you re-evaluate assumptions about he conduct of war."

Liz Starrs just read Hostile Witness, by William Lashner, about a lawyer who isn’t perfect. "After a while I get tired of the perfectly beautiful/handsome, athletic, brilliant but sensitive characters in most other trash novels." She’s also delving into The 9/11 Commission Report, which is "really much more interesting than I thought it would be."

Saying, "I hate to admit it, but when it comes to books I have a slight case of ADD," Judge Alfred Harrell is reading: the book of Joshua in the Bible; How To Read The Bible for All It Is Worth, by Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart; The Politics of War, by Walter Karp; The Land of Israel: Jewish Perspectives, a collection of essays; and Through Our Enemies Eyes, written by an anonymous author, said to be a decorated member of the U.S. intelligence community, about Osama bin Laden and Radical Islam.

With some shameless plugs of friends and family, David Erickson is reading: 1,000 Place to See Before You Die, by Patricia Schultz. It has "concise descriptions of many of the world’s most interesting places." Also: "The Player, by prominent Denver attorney and author, Warwick Downing, and the draft of a novel being written by my daughter, Jennifer Davis."

Judge Julie Anderson read Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. "It’s great—I would definitely recommend it!"

Pat Furman likes Women of Consequence. These are "short biographies of some of the women in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Several lawyers made the list."

Judge Fred Rogers said he always has three books going. Right now: Perfume, by Patrick Suskind, Just One Look, by Harlan Coben and The Fractal Murders, by Nederland lawyer Mark Cohen.

Mary Jo Gross just finished reading Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, and loved it. "I was a Latin major in college and really got into the epic-telling and imagery of the ode—so Homeric! Right out of Virgil! The tale even begins in Asia Minor, with the story of incest, genetic mutation, and metamorphosis."

Judge Leland Anderson is reading How Proust Can Change Your Life, a "small but thoughtful book about Proust." Now and then, he will dip into "Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War, a long read and rather tedious, but (it’s) like mining for diamonds. Every now and then you make startling discoveries that make the events of 431 B.C.E. seem like this morning’s news. People who believe that mankind is on a progressive track leading to more compassion, greater humanity, and a deeper understanding of human nature would do well to read Thucydides."

The current reading list of Doug McQuiston includes American Soldier, by Tommy Franks and The Interrogators, a book by an anonymous author. The first is "an excellent account of Gen. Franks’ rise from buck private to 4-star general and Centcom CINC (Commander in Chief) over his illustrious 30+-year Army career." The second book is by a Reserve Army interrogator who was one of the interrogators in Afghanistan. It’s "a fascinating description of the means and methods used by American military interrogators on the front lines of the War on Terror and how they managed to extract information from hardened Al-Qaeda
terrorists without resorting to violence or violations of the Geneva Convention."

Judge Tom DeMarino is re-reading Edward Lear: The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense. He’s entertaining his grandchildren with it. Also, "One of my very favorites is, The New Vestments. The drawings are wonderful."

Chuck Turner just finished In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, by Robert McNamara. "I have always wanted to read his book, but especially since I saw the documentary, ‘The Fog of War,’ which I have re-rented to see again. Now I am plowing my way through Fast Food Nation, which is interesting, but pretty sloggy. Cheeseburgers are us."

Diane Hartman would like to recommend Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer as a distraction from the constant barrage of politics. "A New York Times writer, who’s an Alabama football fan, follows the RV crowd—the faithful who show up on Wednesday night for a Saturday game. One of the funniest books I’ve ever read and I personally know that every word is true. Sad, but true."


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