Thursday, December 15, 2016

Eimer's Best Reads of 2016

According to the awesome book-cataloging site Goodreads, last year I plowed through 21 books, read more than 6,776 pages, and gave an 3.4 (out of 5) average rating on said books.

Not to brag ... but I've read harder.

This year, I started reading more books off my Kindle, which might not be a good thing. I still prefer a book book, but I hate reading a book book at night. I like to lug a book book around, but I don't like the bright light of a Kindle book. I like the convenience of book-marking a book book to see how you've progressed (almost like running a marathon), but I don't like a "percentage" of how fast you're reading as a sign of progression through a book... it makes it feel more like a contest than enjoyment.

We'll see how long this Kindle experiment will last. I'm still not sold.

In any event, I checked out a wide-array of books from a wide-array of genres including horror, graphic novels, biographies, mysteries, fantasy, etc. etc. etc. Below are my favs from 2016. Not my best list (see 2012) but I felt there were some solid choices in the bunch nonetheless.

Enjoy ... with links to Amazon for easy-buying.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Great read! Almost like a mix between Avatar, Cocoon, and Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Fun, fast entertaining read. Highly recommended if you're a fan of science-fiction.

Trashed by Derf Backderf
Every Christmas, I always tip our sanitation works. After reading this book, I may tip them even more. Jus a terrific graphic novel following a character's (Derf) two years working for the sanitation department. Also, with tons of interesting tidbits about trash and refuse. I find myself thinking about this book quite often, especially the statistics about trash. Very interesting read and highly recommended. If you like this book, also check out Derf's other graphic novel 'My Friend Dahmer'.

But Enough About Me: A Memoir by Burt Reynolds
I grew up watching Burt Reynolds films in the 70's and 80's. Sharky's Machine. Cannonball Run 1 & 2. Hooper. The End. Deliverance. So, there's a special place in my heart for Burt. In this book, Burt takes a look at his entire life from his childhood all the way to Boogie Nights and beyond peppered with great stories - warts and all - about the movie industry, his financial ups and downs, the various ladies in his life and the friends he met along the way. Highly recommended if you're a Reynolds fan.

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
First off, Cabin Boy is a movie that's near and dear to my heart. I saw it twice (TWICE!) in the movie theater. Many people hated it. I loved it. So, I was really excited to hear that the man who wrote the screenplay for Cabin Boy (among other things) had written a book. A memoir nonetheless. I heard about the book on Mark Maron's WTF podcast and thought 'What the hell? I'll pick it up.' What I found inside where some of the funniest autobiographical stories I've read in quite some time. Just some strong, witty, deeply sarcastic writing that pulled memories of Harvey Pekar's 'American Splendor' as well as Paul Feig's autobiographical work 'Superstud' and 'Kick Me, Adventures in Adolescence' - all recommended by the way. Just a fun, quick read that will - at the very least - have you chuckling to yourself. 

When I found out that Writer/Director Alex Garland (of Ex-Machina fame) was adapting this into a movie with Natalie Portman playing the lead, suffice to say I was intrigued. And I didn't put the book down. After a bit of contemplation, it reminds me a bit of the 90's video games MYST and RIVEN - dystopian, green lands void of humans but filled with mystery around every corner - but it's much more than that. It's a science-fiction mystery, it's a study in psychology and biology, it's horrific, and it's a soap box message about humans interaction with it's surrounding environment. It's pretty damn interesting is what it is and I can totally see why Garland optioned this as his next film. Check 'er out. For your information I read the other two books in the series and I thought they sucked. So, you've been warned.

Most final trilogy installments suck. I'm looking at you Hunger Games, Southern Reach & Chaos Walking trilogies. I've fawned over Cronin's two previous 'vampire' novels (The Passage and The Twelve) and often contemplated this final installment. How's he going to bring everything together? How will he tie up all the loose ends? Will the story make sense? Well, Cronin succeeds mightily. This is a long trilogy with combined pages totaling more than 2,400. There was a head scratching moment in the middle of the novel discussing the life of a certain person who shall not be named at this moment. But, it works to the overall storyline so well and would be a tragic deletion to the overall scope of the book. Just like Harry Potter, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the Lord of the Rings - this journey is well worth it. What more can I say? Well written. Well executed. Fantastic dialogue. And the ability to weave words into beautiful sentences that paints the perfect, tragic, violent picture. Highly Recommended.

I'm a sucker for time-travel books. This time-travel book delivers ... and even offers up a different twist in the genra. After you live your life, you get to live it again from birth all the way to death. Over and over and over again. But, it's much more than a time-travel book, it's a bit of a mystery and a thriller. Our protagonist and antagonist going tete-a-tete with one another over the same centuries. Year after freakin' year. Hats off to Claire North. Seems to me like she did her homework on this. Packed with great dialogue and well-written prose, this is one of the better fiction books I've come across this year. Keeps you thinking days and months after reading it.

Funny book. Follows Spade's life as he grows up, enters college, strikes out with the babes, gets accepted into the SNL cast and beyond. Great behind the scenes stories. And just funny, funny stuff - especially if you like Spade. Highly recommended to listen via Audio because Spade reads the book himself. Enjoy!

Very great, thought-provoking read. Almost a horror novel in a sense. It's almost like the precursor to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell's 1984 - more so the latter. A Google-esque company strives for total transparency with no secrets, no lies, and no whispers. Is it good? Is it bad? I'm sure plenty of people will lean on one side or another. For me, it's a lesson: once in a while, maybe more often than not, we all should put down that evil rectangular handheld computer device in our hands. Take a moment to step away from the vehicle, look around at our surroundings - and simply go out and stare at the clouds ... without saving it to the cloud.

Great inspirational read. Motivates you to toss your fears aside, and start getting busy on your writing, your art, your gardening, your DIY project, your jewelry - whatever you do that's creative. One of my speed bumps in life is whether or not I'm going to eventually make some money off of my creative work. Gilbert's book puts all of that crap into perspective with a big 'Who cares!!". I always feel the most satisfied after I send off a cartoon, a piece of writing or finishing a chapter in my forever unpublished book. We should be chasing those creative feelings and not the monetary ones. This book talks about that and much, much more with plenty of mistakes and uh-oh moments that Gilbert made along her journey - which is always nice, and motivating, to read about as well.

Other Top Reads From Year's Past:

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