Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Books of the Noughties: At Last

Oh, my friends, how many Noughties lists I have made this month! And how quickly they will go stale, like Christmas cake left under the couch. But now you'll know what I LIKE while I'm busy complaining all the rest of the year about the things I LOATHE.

It is worthwhile to say that I also loved Stephen King's Dark Tower series, particularly Song of Susannah, and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series (who DIDN'T, I ask you?). Honorable mention as well to the Dune books of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, 'Anonymous Rex' by Eric Garcia, Eoin Colfer's 'And Another Thing..'. I'll stop there. It's a reminder to me that I don't read enough, and that there are many things I never got around to that would probably be equally well suited to this list. But it's favorites, it's subjective, and mine, and it stands.

(Why eight? Screw you.)

8. Why We Suck by Dr. Denis Leary
Just as in TV, I love comedy, and in this case I find it very instructive. A self-help book VASTLY more helpful than that balderdash 'The Secret' (oh yeah, the Universe is so generous that if you just WISH REAL HARD it will just GIVE you any frakking thing you desire regardless of what you deserve. THAT'S how the universe works, sure, right. That's why so many people die every minute. Of starvation, for example. They weren't WISHING TO LIVE hard enough.) And yes, Denis Leary-- more of a doctor than that douchebag Dr. Phil. A balm of a book for those of us sick of the entitled, pompous jerks humans so easily become.

7. Star Wars: Millenium Falcon by James Luceno
I like tripe. So sue me. I've read forests of TV and movie tie-ins. This one was a lot more fun than most, a family adventure exploring the history of the greatest spaceship character of them all. Sorry, Moya, Planet Express Ship, Enterprise. You know I love you all. (Mike loves all spaceships equally: this entry is entirely arbitrary.)

6. Our Inner Ape by Franz de Waal
I love monkeys. Good thing, too, that's what us primates are, at heart. This Dutch dude had plenty to say on the bonobos and their similarities and differences to the human monkey. Most of which stuck when I read it and I find myself interjecting factoids from this book into conversation even (perhaps especially) when it isn't appropriate.

5. Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Tongue-in-cheek detective adventure in a cynical consumerist dystopia. And from Mike Bookstore to all of you this festive season: "Drink Coke, Enjoy Stomach Cancer".

4. Last Words by George Carlin & Tony Hendra
My friend Darrel played some Carlin comedy monologues for me this year, I watched some of his routines on YouTube and HBO. That old dead guy was awesome. Funny, yes, whip-smart, too, and with some vital introspection as well. Farewell, Rufus dude. May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

3. Mike Nelson's Mind Over Matters by Mike Nelson
It's a bunch of facetious, meandering anecdotes. By a giant, meaty Midwesterner who talked to puppets for a living. I love it so. Making the pessimism of Schopenhauer funny? Priceless.

2. Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein & Spider Robinson
Another dead guy, plus his quirky acolyte. And one of the better books I've read, ever. I guess after buildings fall, and our world view is shattered, we tend toward cynicism, misery, German sitcoms, and other painful pursuits. And that's probably healthy, I don't know. Nothing wrong with it, at least. This is not one of those pessimistic entertainments. Optimism in the face of disaster sucks. And it's the only choice that makes me happy.

1. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 9 by 22 lovely people who aren't me... AND ME!!!
Speaking of things that make me happy, three years ago I got to taste the manna from heaven that is being a published author. And I've made precious little progress on that front since. But, what the hell. The best thing about the future is that there's more of it tomorrow, right?

So happy new year! Keep reading, keep writing, keep bumping uglies, and let's make 2010 into something even more awesome than the Roy Scheider movie of the same name.


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