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The List

The List: The weather outside is terrible, so stay inside and read

I'm Matt Mencarini. I cover city government and other happenings in Dixon.

It's been cold and snowing everywhere in recent weeks. Well, not everywhere, but even in places like Knoxville and Atlanta.

This winter has seemed colder and snowier and longer than others in the past, which means most people probably aren't looking to do things outside.

And since we're all stuck inside for the next few weeks, I thought I'd share a list – in no particular order – of some books I recommend reading while seeking a respite from the weather.

1) The Perfect Storm: A true story of men against the sea, by Sebastian Junger – 225 pages.

Junger is a genius storyteller. This book was made into a movie that starred George Clooney, but like most movies based on books, the book is far better.

In 1991, a fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, got caught in the Perfect Storm off the coast of Massachusetts. Junger starts the book by writing about the lives and families of the six crew members of the ship, then tries to reconstruct what might have happened on the boat during the storm. He "tries" to reconstruct it because all six men died.

It's beautifully written and full of details. And the weather in this book will make you think it's summer outside.

2) In The Woods, by Tana French – 429 pages.

This is the only fiction book on my list. I mostly read nonfiction, but my brother recommended this to me, and I'm glad he did.

French tells the story of two homicide detectives in Ireland who are working to solve the murder of a 12-year-old girl. The hidden past of one of the detectives becomes too much to handle, given the circumstances of the murder.

French created some really interesting characters.

3) Meat Market: Inside the smash-mouth world of college football recruiting, by Bruce Feldman – 304 pages.

This is the perfect time to pick up this book. National Signing Day, when many high school football recruits can officially sign letters of intent for their scholarships, is Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Feldman is now a college football writer with CBS Sports. He takes you behind the curtain of this crazy recruiting world with inside access at the University of Mississippi while then-head coach Ed Orgeron was recruiting the 2007 class.

The last line of the book tells it all.

4) The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe – 344 pages.

This book is about American test pilots in the 1950s, and specifically the seven who became the Mercury Seven – the first American astronauts.

It's also about Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier for the first time. It's about "the right stuff" and what exactly that is. This book also was made into a movie, which is great, but I recommend you read the book first.

And if test pilots and astronauts don't have you sold, then Wolfe's writing is reason enough to pick this up.

5) Born To Run: A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen, by Christopher McDougall – 304 pages.

This book is about running. But not the running you or I do, or even the running that marathon runners do. It's about ultramarathons – 50 to 100 miles – in extreme conditions and the people who run them.

It's about a society you've never heard of in a place you've likely never heard of.

McDougall takes you along from the initial moment of curiosty about the best way to run, all the way to him being alone in Mexico's Copper Canyon in the midst of a race against some of the best long-distance runners in the world.

Bonus points because there's no actual running required when you read it.

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