A Guy Named Charley: My Refusal to Be Average
by Charley P. Riney

"It seems to me that the key to being successful in anything we do is to demand of ourselves that mere average is unacceptable."

Author Riney is 6’6”, a natural athlete, champion basketball player, and army veteran who has suffered innumerable life-threating health emergencies and chronic medical conditions. His duty in Viet Nam began with a savage attack by the enemy on the very first day, but he survived and was soon selected to work in what he calls “the greatest oxymoron of all - military intelligence.” He was awarded a Bronze Star and came home to find that the institution where he’d been teaching was closed down. He quickly secured a new job. A high school teacher and highly successful athletic coach for 46 years, he finally had to retire after battling lupus, diabetes, successive heart attacks, kidney failure, skin cancer, and many long weeks in rehabilitation over the past 13 years. Typically, he takes this retirement as a time to give back by encouraging others.

Riney, who writes articles about coaching, composes poetry, and paints charming landscapes, here offers a solid message of hope along with a refreshing, subtle sense of humor about the dire events that shaped him. Once, for example, he met a former student during a medical procedure; she was assigned to shave his groin. His memoir exudes his personal ethos: he is certain that he has kept himself alive longer than medical science could have predicted. Riney took to heart the words of a college friend who was given less than a year to live but said he was “not average” and would beat the statistics, living on for another thirty years. So each time the author has been confronted with a fresh challenge—sudden horrendous weight gain, eyes swollen shut, job loss—he determined to overcome it. Without preaching or ranting, through true events told well, his book offers a simple, positive framework for others to adapt.

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