Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Books and whatnot

Just a listing of what I've been reading and/or listening to this year:


Welcome to Night Vale    by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

Isaac's Storm    by Erik Larson

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams     by Stephen King

Faithful Place     by Tana French


McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories   edited by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay    by Michael Chabon


Patient Zero       by Jonathan Maberry

The Proud Tower      by Barbara Tuchman

The Sirens of Titan      by Kurt Vonnegut


The Cartel       by Don Winslow

The Dark Tower:  The Gunslinger      by Stephen King

Lovecraft Country       by Matt Ruff

The Serpent King     by Jeff Zentner


The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor

The Dark Tower:  The Drawing of the Three      by Stephen King

The Bully Pulpit           Doris Kearns Goodwin

A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
          by Josh Karp

Geek Love        by Katherine Dunn


City of Mirrors        by Justin Cronin

True Grit        by Clinton Portis

Mayflower      by Nathaniel Philbrick

the Sex Lives of Cannibals     by J. Maarten Troost

The Union of the State      by Corey Stulce


The Fireman     by Joe Hill

Broken Harbor      by Tana French

Disappearance at Devil's Rock      by Paul Tremblay


A Man on the Moon:  Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts   by Andrew Chaikin

End of Watch      by Stephen King

The Hike      by Drew Magary


The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America--The Conflict of Civilizations
        by Bernard Bailyn

Chapel of Ease      by Alex Bledsoe

Underground Airlines     by Ben H. Winters

Southern Gods      by   John Hornor Jacobs


Based on a True Story           by Norm MacDonald

Family Plot      by Cherie Priest


Jerusalem       by Alan Moore

Savage Season      by Joe R. Lansdale

Cades Cove:  the Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community  1818-1937
             by Durwood Dunn

But What If We're Wrong:  Thinking about the present as if it were the past
             by Chuck Klosterman


Dark Matter:  A Ghost Story       by Michelle Paver

Moonglow: a Novel          by Michael Chabon

Secret Place             by Tana French

The Best Horror of the Year, volume 4        edited by Ellen Datlow

Dark Force Rising           by Timothy Zahn


2016 was a difficult year.  There were professional issues (shorthanded for a large part of the year, changes in expectations for my schedule, and a disappointment when a potential window for promotion slammed shut in surprising fashion).  There were personal issues (Dad's hip replacement and issues surround it, largely).  Most of which boiled down to a real shortage in free time.  And when there was free time, a lot of the time had to be used doing something other than reading.

Add to that:  The early part of the year is painted by an aborted attempt at David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, which I started in late January and kept plugging with until late March before finally admitting that now wasn't the time for that one.

Favorite books?

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country was amazing fun.  Interconnected stories of an African American family dealing with a powerful evil while wrestling with racism in 1950's America.  Perhaps one of the most satisfying endings I've run across in years.

Jeff Zentner's Serpent King writes the Southern Teen as well as anything I've run across.  I'd seen it pop up in my Goodreads feed, and I'm always looking for somebody who writes the South without trying to make it a character itself.  I bristled, at first, with this an what I was calling teenage melodrama.  I made myself remember, though, that I'm 39, and don't remember as well what 17 is like as I'd like to pretend.  I found it true to life, and oddly inspiring.

Alex Bledsoe continues to entertain and impress with the Tufa Series.  I like the way Alex's characters talk.  I also like the way Alex manages to maintain an air of mystery with the Tufa, four volumes in.  This one's a wry little mystery.  I dug it.

Drew Magary's The Hike might end up being my favorite book this year, if only because it kept me off balance for nearly its entirety.  Nothing but curveballs, and keeping no rhythm other than its own.  I gave this book as a gift to a couple folks this year.

Norm MacDonald's wondrous, ponderous Based on a True Story made me laugh more than any book I've read in recent memory.  Completely full of shit.  Worth every minute of it.  And whether you like it or not is of absolutely no consequence.

Cherie Priest's Family Plot is a beautiful ghost story.  Another writer with the knack for hitting this local nail right on the head, the characters in this Chattanooga based spooky story felt very close to home.

Alan Moore's Jerusalem was an amazing, beautiful love letter to his home town.  I was hesitant to go into this one, especially after giving up on an attempt at Infinite Jest.  The investment of time?  Would it be worth it?  Short answer:  Yep.  It's an occasional mindfuck.  A giant playpen for Moore.  I could spend my entire afterlife reading the adventures of Phyllis Painter and the Dead Dead Gang.....

Michelle Paver's Dark Matter came recommended from a couple places within a short amount of time.  That synchronicity had me order the book from England.  A novel that takes the form of a diary, I ended up reading nearly the whole thing one night when I couldn't sleep.  A young man takes an expedition to the Arctic, ends up alone in the ongoing winter night.  Just a fun read.

Michael Chabon's Moonglow brought back the same feeling I got when I read Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  Hit the right chord for me, especially since my own grandparents were distant figures for me, and more than geographically.  I never really knew the people behind the title.  The story of Chabon getting into the hows and whys of his grandfather and grandmother was heartbreaking and amazing....


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