Best of 2010 – Books

Just like last year, I’ll give you my picks for music (and books) that I have bought/listened to/read this year.  These weren’t necessarily RELEASED in 2010, but I got them this year.  Let’s start with books.  I’ll do CDs in another post.

BOOKS

It was pretty surprising to realize I read around 20 new books this year (as well as rereading some old ones), and have another 10 or so in the queue.  Not that I don’t like reading, I just usually don’t set aside the time to do it.  Finding Grassroots Books, the best used bookstore EVER, has helped, as most of the books I bought didn’t cost me more than $3.  More surprising is that only two (three?) of the best books I read this year were fiction.  I’m getting old.  So here we go.

BEST BOOKS I READ THIS YEAR

6.  A Lion’s Tale – Chris Jericho: This is a wrestling book about one of the most entertaining figures in the business.  Even though there is a ghost writer, this feels like Mick Foley’s books in that it seems like it is Jericho himself writing.  The stories are a amusing, and he sets himself up for a second book (which is due to come out next year.)  Light enjoyable read.  (paid $3 at Grassroots for it)

5.  A Man on the Moon – Andrew Chaikin: This book was the inspiration for the HBO miniseries, From Earth to the Moon. The book version is very very long and can get a bit repetitious, but it was extremely informative.  Outside of Apollo 11 and 13, I didn’t know an awful lot about the missions.  This tells you all you’d want to know, and more.  You need to be interested in space travel/astronomy to get through it.  (got for free from Grassroots)

4.  Bringing Down the House – Ben Mezrich: This was the inspiration for the movie 21 with Kevin Spacey, but don’t watch the movie – it’s a overglorified adaptation.  I read the book in a few hours one night, and it really is quite a story.  The fact that it was true is even more mind-boggling.  And unlike the movie, they don’t make unnecessary conflict – the story stands on its own merit. (paid $2 at Grassroots for it)

3.  The Peace War/Marooned in Realtime – Verner Vinge – 2010 marked my return to loving sci-fi.  I was recommended these books from the owner of Grassroots, and I tried them.  They’re very intelligent sci-fi, and both books have a distinctly different feel for being sequels.  There really is an awful lot of great ideas packed into these two books.  Read if you have time.  (TPW for ~$14 from Grassroots, MIR for ~$8 from Amazon used)

2.  The Foreclosure of America – Adam Michaelson: Who know I would like topical non-fiction?  This is the story of Countrywide and the burst of the housing bubble from a higher-up at Countrywide.  While I feel he too often paints himself as a saint within a corrupt company, this is a tell-all look at the problem that has been way too politicized since 2007.  If you think only one side was at fault, either side, I encourage you to read this.  ($1 at Grassroots warehouse sale)

1.  Contact – Carl Sagan: Sagan’s a smart guy, I always knew that.  And I had seen the end of the Jodie Foster adaptation of this book, but still had wanted to read it.  What he does exceptionally well is compliment fascinating sci-fi with elements of religious contemplation, gender roles, and probably a little Freudian psychology.  This book kinda jump-started my sci-fi/astronomy train I’m on which accounted for nearly half of the books I bought this year.  ($1 at Grassroots)

WORST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

(note, I didn’t really read anything terrible this year, but here’s my best effort)

6.  Dumbheart – Darb Conley: It pains me to put any Get Fuzzy book on this list, but this strip isn’t the consistently laugh-inducing strip it was 5 years ago.  I’d say ever third day has a good chuckle in it, but when you compared it to the days when each BOX had a laugh in it, it’s a letdown.  (~$6 from Amazon used)

5.  Sputnik: the Shock of the Century – Paul Dickson: This book would probably have been higher, but the final chapter or two about the lingering affects of Sputnik were so insightful that it nearly redeemed it.  However, it seemed like the book was written 20 years too early, as it still seemed like there was some info that was not being told (or not known yet.)  ($2 from Grassroots)

4.  Naked Pictures of Famous People  – Jon Stewart: I’ve been a fan of Stewart since You Wrote it You Watch it and his ill-fated late night talk show on Channel 9.  However, I think I’ve been changed by his current run with the Daily Show and his current sense of humor/sensibilities that I was disappointed by this “older” book.  I also hadn’t realized it would be a series of short skits.  It wasn’t bad, just not what I had expected.  ($2 from Grassroots)

3.  Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium – Dave Barry: In high school, the Dave Barry column I would look forward more than any other would be his end-of-the-year recap.  Now, reading this compilation (which only goes from 2000-2004, and he didn’t do one in 2001) seems like a shabby cash cow for a publisher.  Plus, I don’t find him as funny as I used to.  That makes me sad.  ($3 from Grassroots)

2.  39 Years of Short Term Memory Loss – Tom Davis: I’m still actually in the middle of this book, but have put it away.  Even though I’m not a SNL fan by any means (even of the early days), this book interested me because those early years were pretty momentous for TV.  I figured the stories would be great, and maybe they will be, but his writing style is so all-over-the-place it’s nearly unreadable.  In a single paragraph he’ll leap through three stories and cover two years, then go back to something that happened before that paragraph.  Maybe it gets better.  We’ll see.  ($1 at Grassroots warehouse sale)

1.  Builders of the Ancient World – National Geographic: Yeah, I bought a National Geographic book all about the architectural feats throughout time.  I’m not even through the introduction and I’ve put it to the back of my queue.  The writer seems to mention himself as much as the buildings, and there is no rhyme or reason to the chronology he uses to discuss the architecture.  In one page he’ll talk about The Great Pyramids (for maybe 3 paragraphs) then move to his time in the Mayan ruins, then we’re up to North America where he talks uninterestingly about something else.  If I manage to drain my queue before buying more books, I’ll try to finish this and get to the chapters where he properly organizes things.  ($1 from Grassroots warehouse sale)

2 thoughts on “Best of 2010 – Books”

  1. yeah, tom davis did a ton of lsd and well, pretty much everything else, so it doesn’t surprise me his book is jumbled like that. the best thing he ever did? introduce the dead at radio city in 1980 making fun of brent for being the member to introduce them when he’s only been in the band for 15 minutes. the crowd was mostly silent throughout the franken and davis routine until they left.

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