The Twenty

People like to make lists. Well, I like to make lists and assume that there are others who share this predilection. Here are the 20 titles of books or plays (in no particular order) that I have found immensely enjoyable, insightful, impactful and timeless. While my wife agreed with a number of them, she strongly (and vociferously) disagreed with a few.  I gently pointed out to her that she can make her own list. Women!

Although plays are meant to be seen and not read, I invite you to read any of the following that you have not yet encountered:

    1. Hamlet (best piece of literature I ever read)
    2. Huckleberry Finn (best American novel I ever read)
    3. King Lear
    4. The Canterbury Tales
    5. Cyrano De Bergerac
    6. The Great Gatsby
    7. A Farewell to Arms
    8. To Kill a Mockingbird
    9. Dune
    10. Macbeth
    11. The Old Man and the Sea
    12. All Quiet on the Western Front
    13. Pride and Prejudice
    14. 1984
    15. The Boys in the Boat
    16. River of Doubt
    17. The Taming of the Shrew
    18. Native Son
    19. A Tale of Two Cities
    20. Bonfire of the Vanities




I Want to be Lazy!


My wife the beautiful AP said to me the other day, “You’re becoming one of these grumpy old men who sits around all day watching TV and spouting off like Archie Bunker.”

I wish. Oh, how I wish!

You see for my life up to now (69 years as I write this!) I have been a Type A personality (make that Type A+). I’ve been working real jobs since I was 12 years old. Some of these jobs were not glamorous: cleaning sewers, cleaning giant roach-infested elevator shafts in public housing, cleaning and collecting trash, sweeping up the debris from drug addicts in public parks, and teaching public school.

I’ve written 35 books. I wrote four in one year for Triumph Books, a division of Random House. Not short books but nice big, fat hefty ones. The year-of-the-four I also continued to write my articles and columns for a thousand magazines and newspapers (well, not quite a thousand). I also wrote a couple of television shows.

How did I do this? By working 12-hour days and not watching much television or even relaxing much. I did shower though, so no one had to smell my fevered writer’s body. I also got really fat. When I was an actor I was a slim, well-built leading man – now I would be the fat, comical neighbor.

I do not (as in do not) want to do that anymore. I want to take a break  like for the rest of my mortal days , and work a lot less, yes, and be (yes! yes!) lazy. I am going to work on being lazy–a lot.

Even when I was teaching, I’d get up early, write like a maniac, go teach and come home and continue my manic ways. I am one full year ahead on my columns for a number of publications, even weeklies! I know, I know; that is ridiculous but I can’t seem to stop myself.

So what I‘ve done these past six (or more!) months is this: I write for three hours, also answer what is becoming a mountain of email, and then I say to myself, “Screw working any longer; I am going to watch a movie (or two damn it) every day.” So I’ve watched movies or an orgy of a given television show such as Breaking Bad to fill the time when I would have been working.

I fidgeted through them for a while, like some drug addict giving up his beloved heroin. But I am now calming down. Oh, baby, I am getting into the lazy thing. It’s great!

Here is a list of how I am being lazy (as told to me by my wife):

  • When I finish eating or snacking I do not put my dirty dishes in the dish washer; I put them in the sink which is right next to the dish washer, but I am now too lazy to bend and pull the door open. That feels so good.
  • Years ago the housekeeper quit, so I replaced her with my wife. When she vacuums the living room I help her by lifting my feet up so she can vacuum under me and my recliner. Same goes for when she mops the floor.
  • I used to thoroughly clean the bathroom twice per week. Now on rare occasions I do it. My wife inspects the job I do and notes that it looks just as dirty as when I started and accuses me of cleaning with my glasses off. (She’s right, but please don’t tell her.) She then re-cleans it while muttering, “Hopeless. Incompetent.”

My friends and readers: I am going to keep practicing my laziness until I get it down pat… or die. I want to become an expert at it.

“Honey, my love, my Beautiful AP, my darling, bring me the remote please! Ouch! Why did you hit me in the head with it?”

[Frank’s new book Confessions of a Wayward Catholic is available on, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, at bookstores and at the Vatican — not really the Vatican, he’d be excommunicated if they read it.]