I'm going to make this confession here in this private place (limited to the viewing of only those who have internet access.) Then I'm going to move on. And frankly, I blame my mom. The last couple weeks we've been at the beach. I'm not a beach person. My beloved is a beach person. I'm a Type A person who tends to go NUTS at the beach. I'm not into the whole suntan lotion, sand between the toes, and skin cancer thing. (This despite the fact that this little spot in Pensacola Beach is like holy ground to us.) I get by during our beach stays by activity. I'm up early for a bike ride--often down Ft. Pickens Road to the end of the peninsula. Then there's the trip to get two papers (USA Today and the Pensacola News-Journal) which I read over my sticks-and-twigs cereal. Then my brief appearance at the beach, followed by lots of tennis and the daily mecca to Joe Patti's seafood to pick out the amberjack, shrimp, or grouper. Then I cook what I "caught." But amid all that, there's plenty of time to read. This year I took a book on the Congo (King Leopold's Ghost) and another on Paraguay (At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig), along with a book my mom gave me. It was Nicholas Sparks's book that I mentioned a couple weeks ago, Three Weeks With My Brother. He interweaves a travelogue of his trip around the world with his older brother, Micah, with the amazing story of their lives (stark poverty, loss of parents and sister, etc.). And it made me want to read one of his novels. Now, I don't know many guys who read Sparks's novels, even though they're regularly right at the top of the bestseller list. So, I snuck into Barnes and Noble and bought Nights at Rodanthe . . . then went back for The Wedding and The Guardian . . . and then once more for The Notebook. So here is the confession: I read five books by Nicholas Sparks. In the absence of a new Grisham novel and after a summer of coaching eleven- and twelve-year-old boys, it was a nice escape. I liked that Sparks's faith is interwoven in the stories without overwhelming them. Plus, I liked that all the stories were set in coastal North Carolina, where we lived 2 1/2 years. But how in the world does a guy (former track star, no less) write so well about romance and women's intuition? I'm thinking of Jack Nicholson's explanation from "As Good As It Gets," but let's not go there. The man's just creative and gifted. Well, I'm back home. Thanks for the reading detour, mom. I walked in the door to our house Sunday night, and there were two Sports Illustrateds waiting for me. Ah, Rick Reilly . . . .