Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best of 2012: Books

For our final "Best Of" I get to wrap the year up in Books.  Now if you knew me in high school you would think, "He don't know no books."  Weel, first I would correct your grammar, "I do not know any books."  But then I would have to agree with you. I never ever ever read any book in high school.  Not one.  I remember taking a test for 'My Antonia' and it was a open book test and I was just scrambling threw the chapter and I thought, "This is the dumbest book I've ever had to skim." I never read, "To Kill a Mockingbird." I never read, "The Scarlet Letter." I never read, "Huck Finn." I never read, "Lord of the Flies."  I hated to read, I raged against.  It was dumb and you were dumb if you did it.  Then, I was living in California and I didn't have a TV and I woke up in the middle of the night and I could not get back to sleep and there was copy of 'The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe'. I opened it, read the first word, the last word, and all the words in between in that one night.  I was fixed. And now I get to sift through all the books I've read this year and tell you my favorite:

The Best: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. 

It begins with a dying actress and it winds through the history of the movie Cleopatra, LA Screen Plays, the Donner Party, WWII German Soldiers who paint, and community theater.  It is beautifully written and stuffed with interesting facts about subjects I didn't think I cared about. Everything ties together, but lightly and without strain.  If you are going on a cruise around Italiana this year, you need this book...but not as bad as if you are NOT going on a Italian cruise.

Guilty Pleasure: The Sisters Brothersby Patrick deWitt.  

The protagonist is a ruthless hit man (and his brother) in the wild west who get an assignment to hunt down and knock off a amateur chemist.  You guys, this book is wonderful.  SUPER FUNNY, and weirdly has this heart that hit me just right.  There is wild 1800's science and the relationship between the brothers is so spot on...I would know, I have four.  It might get violent, but not so much that you put it down...let's just call it dark.

Josh's Picks:

Best: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

When you try to explain this book and tell people that it is about a girl with terminal cancer who meets a boy in her cancer support group, people think you must hate yourself. Why would anyone want to read such a depressing story. John Green is an amazingly gifted writer (one of my personal favorites) who creates believable, lovable characters. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that I sobbed several times while reading this book. It is gorgeous and life affirming and hopeful and wonderful.

Guilty pleasure:The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson 

Let me tell you a story. There is this series of books called The Wheel of Time that I started reading when I was a freshman in high school. They are of the epic fantasy vein and are full of a million characters, good vs. Evil and are all about 900 pages long. I would eagerly await each book and devour it when it came out and then begin the long (sometimes 2 or 3 year) wait until the next book came out. The books started out great, then by about the 6th one they started to drag. In those 900 pages, very little would happen to advance the big plot. It was painful and I eventually gave up. I figured I would just wait until they were all done and then read them. Then, after 11 books, the author of this series, Robert Jordan, died tragically and left the series unfinished. His widow picked a new author, Brandon Sanderson, to write the last three books using Jordan’s notes and wrap it up. Books 10 and 11 (the last 2 Jordan wrote) were absolute slogs. Page after page of description with no plot advancement. The Gathering Storm is book 12 and was amazing. It reminded me of everything I love about these books. I to read the next two and finally, after about 20 years, see how this series ends.

Brett's Picks:

Best - Bossypants, Tina Fey. 

I know, I'm late to the party but this book is so good because I laughed a lot and learned extra stuff about something I love: comedy and improv
Guilty Pleasure - Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

Very late to the party on this one. That's why I feel guilty about it. It's really quite amazing and I'm glad I finally got to it. Card really puts you right in it, makes the stakes super high, and keeps raising them through the whole book. There's not one moment that feels like padding. Just so good.

Ken's Picks:

Best Book: The best book I read this year? Why, it’d have to be Tell Me Who I Am, written by your very own Part Time Authors, plus others! 

If I’m not self-promoting, then I would have to select AMillion Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. 

Mr. Miller wrote a book called Blue Like Jazz,and then, in the wake of its huge success, he found himself in a weird funk where he kind of questioned his life and life in general. While in this slump he was approached by two movie producers that wanted to make Blue Like Jazz into a movie. (Which they did! And it bombed at the box office!) However, in writing the screenplay and transforming the book events into proper and interesting movie dialog, Donald learns more about the elements of story and through that process learns more about life being a story and the story he wants to be living. I love storytelling, so this book struck a chord with me.

Guilty Pleasure: I don’t think I have any guilt pleasures in this area. But if you want to read books out loud to your kids, may I suggest the classic Rascal, by Sterling North. 

We did that this year, and it was a great read!    
Chris' Picks:
I really only read non fiction, to be honest. I have no idea why. Im not proud of it or  trying to sound awesome or smart. In fact, a lot of the non fiction I read is trashy, pointless, or inflammatory. That being said, My favorite book this year was Life Itself by Roger Ebert. A really charming and funny memoir by someone who loves movies as much as I do and probably more.

I also read that Amateur book about President Obama but it was pretty dumb. I'm sure enjoying Untouchable, a biography about Michael Jackson right now! Whoo boy! He was a kook!

Well, there you go!  Happy Reading!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...