Monday, January 02, 2023

2022 Reading Roundup

Just a roundup of what I read in 2022:


Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL  by Jeff Pearlman

When Pearlman's passionate about his subject, he's a good read.  And he was passionate about tracking this down.  Good read....I wish the current USFL, in its first season, had even 1/8th of the color and energy portrayed in Pearlman's book.....

The Ends of the World    by Peter Brannen

A look through the various eras and extinction events suffered by the as an excellent companion piece to Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction

Rose Madder    by Stephen King

The continuing project.  This was one of the ones I'd never read all the way through.  I think I started it and abandoned it somewhere just after its publication.  Actually, not a bad read at all, though I wish King hadn't leaned so hard into mental illness as the genesis of Norman's abusive behavior....almost as if it's an out or an excuse of some kind.....

All About Me!    by Mel Brooks.

Lots of people found new projects during Covid-19's early days....Mel decided to write a memoir about his 70+ year career.  On the whole, I ended up not getting as much out of his movie-making stories that I'd hoped, but his adventures in TV before the movies, and on Broadway after, are well worth the read.

Camera Man   by Dana Stevens

The best biography of Buster Keaton I've read.  (I've now read three, to date).


Ballpark:  Baseball in the American City    by Paul Goldberger

A nice walk through the history of the ballpark and the Major League.  Does get a little repetitive....even if those multipurpose stadiums of the 70's are banal, do you have to use that word so much?

Ronan Boyle Into the Strage Place     by Thomas Lennon

This one is probably the funniest of the three Ronan Boyle books.  With one particular interaction having me crack up at a stoplight.

Junkyard Dogs    by Craig Johnson

Quick read.  Johnson continues to turn a good phrase....

You've Got Red on You:  How Shaun of the Dead was Brought to Life  by Clark Collis

Decent read....good look at the making of the flick....

Based on a True Story: a Memoir     by Norm MacDonald

Damn, but I miss Norm.  A re-read.  Easily one of the funniest books I've read.

The Green Mile  by Stephen King

The one was better than I remembered.....


The Lincoln Highway    by Amor Towles

I got this one for Christmas.  I'd been hearing about Towles for a couple of books....I liked this one.  

The Drive-In 2: (Not Just One of Them Sequels)   by Joe R. Lansdale

Just some good old goofy Lansdale.  I'd like to sit back and shoot the shit with this guy, perhaps more than any other author I read.....

The Shark-Infested Custard   by Charles Willeford

Hilarious, and dark as hell

Ghost Story   by Peter Straub

I ended up not caring for this one.  Long.  Never really coming to a satisfying point. 


George Washington    by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn

A little dry, but a good enough overview of his presidency

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination   by Neil Gabler

Creativity as a business endeavour fascinates me.....

Desperation    by Stephen King

I liked this one better than when I first read it in 1996....still, it's quite a bit longer than it needs to be.....

Eat a Peach   by David Wong much a musing on management as it is a memoir


American War     by Omar El Akkad

One of my two or three favorite books that I've read this year.  I might have liked it even more if we weren't living in a dystopian future already, and perhaps running headline into the scenario outlined in this book....

Hunter Houston and the Molten Menace   by Bobby Nash

A gift from a buddy.  A quick read.  Nash has a good ear for The South....

The Regulators   by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

Another new one----I'd never made it all the way through this one.  On its own, it's not bad.  But it doesn't have the same feel as the original Bachman books, somehow.....

In Cold Blood   by Truman Capote

Decided to re-read after catching the Capote flick one afternoon.  A re-read.  Actually read it for the work itself, instead of for content, in that half-assed resentful way I tended to read assigned works back in the day....

Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years in the Southern League    by Mark McCarter

Picked up for 75 cents at a local used book store.  Bathroom reading, if you wanna know the truth.  Also?  This one smells of being hurriedly and half-interestedly put together.  There's a bit of wikipedia journalism going on with this one.....

Razzmatazz      by Christopher Moore

With two books, Moore's Noir series is edging toward my favorite bit of his work.  At the very least, it's made me laugh more consistently than the bulk of his work since Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.  (And I say that liking the Pocket series a great deal....).  Funny, with lots of nice turns of phrase....


A Better Man  by Michael Ian Black

In a letter to his son, Black speaks on what being a man in the 21st century means.  This wasn't quite what I was expecting... though I was quite pleased by what I read.....

Blood, Sweat and Chrome: The Wild and True Story of the Making of Mad Max Fury Road   by Kyle Buchanan

A helluva good read.  Probably my favorite thing I've read this year.....

Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind     by Yuval Noah Harari

My bedtime read for most of the spring...  

The Devil Crept In      by Ania Ahlborn

I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did.  Solid concept.  but there were times the writing just felt wooden.....

The Dark Tower:  Wizard and Glass     by Stephen King

This one's in my top five favorite King works.  It was a pleasure to revisit.....


Once More Around the Park: A Baseball Reader   by Roger Angell

I'd had this on the shelf for a long time, and started thumbing through it when Angell passed.  Hundreds...thousands?....write about baseball, but few approach the poetic, nor have the pragmatic, philosophic eye for the game like Angell.

The Death of WCW by R.D. Reynolds and Brian Alvarez

Read this one around the 4th of July holiday, which was the second busiest week in my store's history.  Needed something light.  

John Adams by John Patrick Diggins

Another quick read.  Adams is as close as we got to a Philosopher King.  Always fascinating.

Transgressive Horror: Reflections on Scare Films that Broke the Rules edited by Christopher McGothlin

A Kickstarter collection of essays that my friend Alex had a piece in.  Not a bad read...surprisingly good take on Godzilla in there.....

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

This one had popped up as recommendation on a couple sites.  I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.....


Kindred by Octavia Butler

A re-read...hadn't read it since a SF class in College, and back then I read it too quickly to really enjoy it.  I liked it then, but really enjoyed it in 2022.  For me, who gets horror vibes from Fish out of Water scenarios anyway, thinks this is as good a horror read as it is SF.  

The Pallbearer's Club  by Paul Tremblay

What's better than one unreliable narrator?  TWO unreliable narrators!  This one's not bad.  Tremblay does good work in general....

Noir, edited by David B. Coe and John Zakour

Part of a Kickstarter....I liked "Basilisk Bluff" and "A Clear-Cut Reason" quite a bit.

Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale

I've read a lot of Lansdale, but somehow this one had slipped through the cracks, which is a shame, because it's a Banger.  In part, I'd not read the book because I'd seen the film adaptation first, which wasn't a bad flick at all.  The book is a lot of fun...

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

I started this one while I was in the hospital this year.  My first time in the hospital.  I did have a very nice doctor who talked books with me....coincidentally, this one was one of our favorites. 


The Church of Baseball: the making of Bull Durham   by Ron Shelton

Bull Durham is a flick that I've always kinda enjoyed, but have only really started appreciating in the past few years.  Maturity may be part of it, though I'm loathe to try to label myself as "mature."

The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias

I actually read Shyam's copy.  I picked it up and couldn't put it down.  Claustrophobic.  Weird.  And with just enough hospital stuff that it felt....proximal?  I'll watch for more from this guy

Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of his Work, Life and Influences  by Bev Vincent.

I wish I'd done my homework a little more.  It's not bad, but it just felt too much like one of those $18 magazines they sell in magazine stands because they aren't publishing as many magazines as they used to.  

There's Just One Problem by Brian Gewirtz

Surprisingly good read.  Creativity and Entertainment as a corporate enterprise always fascinates me.  This is a strong look at one organization's creative process, at least over the past couple of decades....

Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

Johnson turns a good phrase, but this might be the strongest of the Longmire books, as it doesn't lean on Johnson's gift of gab, and gives us an strong look into the double toughness of Walt Longmire....

the Last Days of the Dinosaurs by Riley Black

Decent entry point, I'd say, into the extinction event story Reads kinda cinematically, looking at the day of the asteroid strike on the Yucatan, the days, months, years and centuries. It's a deeply passionate subject for Black who's weathered some changes of her own in the last few years, some of them nearly as personally cataclysmic as the fate that befell the dinosaurs....


Holy Terror    by Cherie Priest

The Lunchtime read for a while this fall...a excellent look back at Priest's short fiction.  For my money, she doesn't get enough credit for her weird horror work...

Dandelion  by Alex Bledsoe

Nice, unsettling, spooky little story of Southern Deliverance.  Alex writes the South admirably, and this one is no different in that respect.  This one's strong.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

Man, this one crackles.  Remember the fish out of water anxiety?  Yeah.  This one is a lot stronger than I remembered.

Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain  by Charles Leerhsen   

Quick read. Not bad. Bourdain was interesting to me in that "creativity as a corporate enterprise" kinda way. I came late to his works (I don't think I read anything book length until after his death).... his TV was always interesting, but Bourdain himself always struck me as a man with an angry undercurrent. When I heard about his suicide, I was saddened, but not terribly shocked.

As far as Leerhsen's writing, the book flows well, and I like his legwork and self-deprecating humor, but there are a small handful of times where he seems to have an axe to grind with an interview subject.... and in the case of girlfriend Asia Argento, irritation at the fact she wouldn't interview.....

Thomas Jefferson,  by Joyce Appleby

Good, but it made me want to go back and re-read American Sphinx

Creek Walking,  by Tally Johnson

Quick Vacation read.  A bit uneven, but there are a couple good stories in there: "Some Hunts End Better than Others" and "Ferryman, Don't Tarry"

Swan Song by Robert McCammon.

Damn, I ended up hating this thing, and grudge read the motherfucker to try to prove myself wrong.  I was not wrong.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The commute listen. One Sunday early in November, Shyam and I went to a Fathom/TCM showing of the 1962 film version of Lee's novel. It's a favorite flick, and it made me realize that I hadn't gone through the book in a while.

I was first introduced to the book in Mrs. Lillard's American Lit class. In a stunning case of procrastination on my part, I waited until the night before our discussion and test on it to even start reading it. I blew through the whole book in a couple hours. And for the first time in my life, as soon as I finished, I went back to the front and started it all over again.

Good books about the South are rarer than you might think, as even Southern writers can lapse into ridicule, even when none is intended. Lee's is neither parody nor ridiculous. Choosing Scout as narrator is an inspired choice.

Illuminations by Alan Moore

I was really looking forward to this one, and I ended up not digging it much.  Long-winded.  A little too in love with the sound of his own voice.


The Babysitter Lives, by Stephen Graham Johnes

This one was a rollercoaster ride.  I've only come into his work in the past few years, but Stephen Graham Jones has moved up near the top of my favorite writers list....

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Annual re-read.  

A Heart that Works, by Rob Delaney

Heartbreaking.  I don't think a book has made me ugly cry like this in a while.  Maybe since childhood.

On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft    by Stephen King

One of the top three books on the creative process that I've ever read.

Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven

This one had come recommended....sold as a kind of Lord of the Flies in an amusement park.  It's got a pessimism about it that I don't always care for (but not one I necessarily say is wrong).  

Dynamite and Davey Boy: The Explosive Lives of the British Bulldogs by Steven Bell

There's a lot more legwork in this one than in most wresting bios, a niche genre rife with Google Journalism.  Bell did a lot of background here, and I applaud him.  The book itself is a little disjointed, and it's very much two bios in one.  A lot of people blame wrestling for destroying folks....but the gist I get is that Davey Boy and Tom Billington were very likely going to destroy themselves anyway.....

Maphead by Ken Jennings

I dig maps.  I always have.  I was glad to find a kinship with Jennings, who has a similar fascination.  Also, I was pleased that somebody else had the same reaction to the Atlas of the DC Universe that I did, way back in the day.....


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