Books That Spark Interesting Discussions

Two of my Christmas gifts this year were excellent books, the kind that beg to be displayed on coffee tables so guests can flip through their over-sized pages illustrated with incredible pictures.  The subject of these two oversized volumes also spark conversation -- each one is a subjective list that will surely cause readers to nod in agreement and also question the specifics, while pondering what has been omitted.

The first is Moments That Made the Movies by David Thomson.  The film critic selects iconic scenes from the one-hundred-plus-year-history of motion pictures. He's an excellent writer, as was evidenced in his other recent book, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies. The text, juxtaposed with the color and black-and-white photographs from the celluloid flicks, is a delight to read. Thomson includes many classic moments that made cinema what it is -- Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Psycho, The Godfather, etc.  Part of the fun is arguing about what he left out. No 2001: A Space Odyssey?  No Star Wars? No Pulp Fiction? Inspiring his readers to re-examine and question those moments is part of the author's goal. He writes, "There are surprises, offbeat choices, perhaps even capricious or provocative selections, as well as plenty of films that you might have guessed would be included -- though not always with the moments you anticipated."

The other book is Baseball's Greatest by the editors of Sports Illustrated. A compilation of lists is always fun to skim through and any attempt to rank the so-called best in anything is bound to generate some buzz. The writing here is superb and the categories range from the obvious ("The Greatest Pitchers," "The Greatest Managers," "The Greatest Ballparks") to the the fascinating ("The Greatest Rivalries," "The Greatest Franchises"). I was engrossed by the recaps of "The Greatest Games of All Time," and silenting cursing that the New York Yankees Pinstripes were only ranked third in the countdown of "The Greatest Uniforms." Packed with incredible pictures, this is a tome that will entertain any fan of the sport.

These two books will provide hours of terrific information and countless more in conversation when you discussion the content with friends who share your love of movies and baseball.