Stephen Beckta’s reading list is a buffet of diverse interests (Think: golf, politics, history, and of course, food)

Story and photo by Andrea Tomkins – 

Stephen Beckta doesn’t have a lot of time for golf or reading, but we have a feeling he’s going to manage both just fine this summer. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
Stephen Beckta doesn’t have a lot of time for golf or reading, but we have a feeling he’s going to manage both just fine this summer. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

It might seem surprising to learn that Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game, by Joseph Parent is at the top of Stephen Beckta’s reading list, but there are actually quite a few lessons which can be shared both on the green, and off.

“There are lessons learned in golf that can be applied to work and life elsewhere: whether they are lessons about patience or being in the moment,” says Beckta. “To play golf well you need to be very much in the moment and be attuned to your emotions and how they influence others – or the golf ball.”

“Things happen when you believe they will happen.”

Beckta, a restaurateur and Westboro resident, has been golfing for twenty years.  (“It’s been erratic, just like my swing,” he jokes.)

Last year he says he hardly golfed at all, so this year he’s making more of an effort, and he’s picked up some reading material to go with it.  He’s just started reading Zen Golf, but it’s already making him rethink his game. Contrary to what one might think, it’s not a light read.

“It’s heavy. It requires digestion. You read a couple pages then you need to sit and think about it for awhile and really integrate it. Because it’s not an easy page turner.”

Although he likes to have a paper book on hand for stolen moments of reading – or when his young son borrows the iPad – Beckta actually prefers to do the bulk of his reading on the family iPad. He reads whenever he can find the time: in “ten minute snippets” before he falls asleep and in the half hour after he gets his son off to school or camp before work (they are reading vintage Hardy boys together). Beckta is determined to string up a hammock this summer – which he hopes will increase time and frequency of weekend reading.

Also on his reading list is The Third Plate by Dan Barber. Beckta says the book really helps readers understand how we eat and why we eat.

Barber is a chef who owns a restaurant in upstate New York called Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

“It’s my favourite restaurant in the world,” says Beckta. Blue Hill serves food that is harvested and raised on the farm.

“It’s on a 100-acre working farm, a former horse farm that the Rockefeller’s donated in order to encourage more agricultural production in Hudson Valley.”

In his book, Barber suggests that vegetables should be the centre of plate, with protein being “merely the garnish, the accompaniment.”

“[Barber] has changed the way people think about food,” says Beckta. “For sustainability, for health reasons, and for interest sake, it really changes the way you think about food. Why is it that vegetables are the things you have to eat, whereas protein is the thing you want to eat? How about we flip it around and make vegetables the most compelling thing?”

Last on Beckta’s reading list is Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black. It’s actually his third time reading it.

“Every time I need that history fix or political fix, it’s been a good one to go back to,” says Beckta, who is a self-described history buff. “I’m not a huge Conrad Black fan in general, but he is a pretty incredible writer…. It’s an extraordinary book, incredibly well-written.”

This post is part of our KT summer reads issue. Read all of our other profiles right here.

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