I’ve decided to release my list a little early this year because I’ve looked at my work and non-work schedule for the next three weeks and there is not a chance that I’m going to be able to do anything but finish the book I’m currently reading. Here’s this year’s list (helped a great deal by my trip to Scotland) with an occasional note from me where needed.
The Hike by Drew Magary
It’s easy to write off Magary as little more than “the guy who writes the funny stuff at Deadspin,” but the reality of it is that he his a hell of a writer and that whatever you might be expecting when you pick up this book, you will be wrong- in the best possible way.
Film Noir Reader 4: The Crucial Films and Themes ed. by Alain Silver and James Ursini
Well, I read the first three, it wasn’t like I was going to skip this one.
Hell Bay by Will Thomas
Old Scores by Will Thomas
The Cooperstown Casebook: Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques by Jay Jaffee
I nodded my head in agreement with 99.99% of this book (especially how sooo many Yankees in the HOF don’t belong there, but when he said that Dwight Evans shouldn’t be elected to the Hall, well, well I NEVER!!
The Heckler by Ed McBain
See Them Die by Ed McBain
Give the Boys a Great Big Hand by Ed McBain
King’s Ransom by Ed McBain
Til Death by Ed McBain
Killer’s Wedge by Ed McBain
Lady Killer by Ed McBain
Killer’s Payoff by Ed McBain
Killer’s Choice by Ed McBain
The Pusher by Ed McBain
The Con Man by Ed McBain
The Mugger by Ed McBain
Cop Hater by Ed McBain
These books are part of the “87th Precinct” series that McBain wrote between 1956 and 2005. These are “adjacent” to the type of crime fiction I really like (“hard-boiled”) and are probably best described as, “police procedurals.” I enjoyed them (short, engaging novels that were perfect for the plane, train, etc. while in Scotland) and will probably read the rest of them, but I’m really struggling to compliment them without having said compliment come across as “backhanded.” McBain (the nom de plume of Salvatore Lombino) isn’t Chandler of Hammett, but he isn’t trying to be either. His characters and plots are straight forward, social commentary is minimal, etc., but in the end, they are enjoyable and that’s really all they need to be.
The Play of Death by Oliver Potzsch
Book of the Night: The Black Musketeers by Oliver Potzsch
Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge by Daniel Rachel
An exhaustive (sometimes overly so) oral history of three interconnected musical/political movements in the United Kingdom starting in the late 1970s and stretching into the early 1980s which, if one can generalize, were united in their opposition to the policies of Margaret Thatcher’s government and the ways it changed British society. Way too many parallels to what is currently going on in the United States and made me wonder why our artists (musical or otherwise) cannot form a cohesive and vocal opposition to our current regime.
Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire by Joe Nick Patoski
Comprehensive- if not particularly well-written- but given the compelling subject matter it almost doesn’t matter. Heart-breaking in the sense that it confirmed what I had always suspected- that, having conquered his demons, Stevie was just about to enter the height of his career/powers. That’s really all I can say, such a shame…
Ruler of the Night by David Morrell
11/22/63 by Steven King
I’ve now read it and listened to it (unabridged) as an audio book…three times.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Reread it on my trip to Scotland- as I always do.
Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino
I rationed this book of short (some very short!) stories out over the entire year because Calvino has been dead for thirty years and, at some point, there won’t be anything of his left for me to read and that makes me sad.
A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt
An “addiction to film?” I’ve never heard of such a thing…
As always, I’m sure there is a book (or ten) that I’ve forgotten to include, please include any recommendations from your year in the comments.
But seriously, read whenever you can- my dad will be proud of you.