Way back in the day, I did a Top 100 of everything of the previous year... I decided to drop that idea with 2011 being the final year of that list. Last year, to review 2013, I kinda just did a Top 10 of things like movies, books and such, and that worked as well.
This year, as I evolve the way I want to remember the previous year (because a blog isn't just for others, it's also so I can remember, because I can't remember much of anything anymore... who am I?), I decided to do something a little different.. my goal was to read 35 books this year, nearly everything done on audiobook format--and yes, I contend that it's "reading", because when I do have a paper book in my hand, I tend to scan or read too fast, and sometimes skip ahead. I knew the fate of George Weasley three chapters before I even got there because I looked ahead... sad, I know, but some things are too unimportant to change.
When I have an audiobook, however, I listen intently, I can't skip ahead--well, I could, but it would be really complicated, and a crapshoot as I would just scroll ahead in time and hope that something important popped up when I stopped.
I keep a list of movies watched for the first time (that's a post coming soon) and books read, and I managed to get through 35 books this year, plus three that I started and never came back to.
I had to teach myself that it's okay to NOT finish a book... and that was a hard lesson, because naturally, if I start it, I want to complete it, no matter how terrible it was. Having said that, out of the three I didn't finish, I only found one to be something I likely won't go back to--that is "One More Thing: Stories & Other Stories" by BJ Novak.
You might know Novak from "The Office", or as one of the "Inglorious Basterds" or perhaps as one of the Sherman Brothers in "Saving Mr. Banks" from 2013... the book is a collection of... well, short stories written by Novak. Stories that go nowhere. Stories that I just could not get into. Stories that I cared nothing about... so I stopped it and went to something else.
The other two are books that I will go back too, both are well over 15 hours, so the longer I wait, I may have to re-start them--"Marvel Comics: The Untold Story" (more boring than I thought it would be) and "Jim Henson", the biography that is really thorough. Great, but thorough. So I'll come back to them hopefully this year.
First book of the year... I started to reread "Harry Potter & the Sorcerers Stone", intending on reading the entire series, but somehow got derailed within the first chapter of the next book. Already in 2015, I've started "Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets" and have put it down to grab another new book. Anyway, I love the Harry Potter books and will eventually get to all of them.
Next book was "My Story" by Elizabeth Smart. She was the chick who was kidnapped out of her home in 2002 by a deranged psychopath named Brian Mitchell and his equally insane Wanda Barzee. It gives a first hand chronicle of her ordeal in capture, her psychological and emotional response to being held captive and her eventual discovery, rescue and recovery--even though you know she turns out okay, her rescue is still nail biting and tense. Really well written, and the audiobook is read by Smart herself, with a great delivery.
Wanting to get to a something a little more lighthearted, naturally I picked up Marcus Luttrell's "Lone Survivor". Holy crap this book is brutal. What Lutrell goes through in this ordeal is insane... stuck in a canyon wall crevasse for over 8 hours, barely moving, with his gun aimed, then crawling down and out, then crawling miles and miles and miles to get to what might be considered "safety". The movie, starring Mark Wahlberg, was also very good, but doesn't come close to what Lutrell dealt with. And with the emergence of "American Sniper", the story of the late Chris Kyle, coming out and having its validity called into question, it's comforting to know there is very little about Lutrell's book that has been disproven or refuted.
"Live from New York" was next, via audio, but unfortunately it was an abridged version. I picked up the incomplete version against my better judgment and have decided I'll never do unabridged again on anything. What's more, there is a newer, updated version of the book out now!
One of my favorite books of all time, "It" by Stephen King, was next on the list. On audio, it tops out at about 42 hours or so, and this being the fourth reread lifetime, it was just as thrilling as I remember it. Creepy, intricate, amazing.
Rush Limbaugh, one of my favorite people, has written a series of books for children and young teens starring "Rush Revere", and this first one was called "Rush Revere & the Brave Pilgrims", the story of the founding and settling of America. These books are known for their fun storytelling (including a talking horse named Liberty) and featuring bits of history that we have never heard due to his extensive historical research. Loved this book.
I'm a fan of true crime fiction, especially when it comes to Dateline NBC and the Investigative Discovery channel, so it was fun to finally read the Truman Capote classic "In Cold Blood". Written in the 60s, it takes a bit to adjust to it's style of investigation (as in, no DNA, no computers, etc), but its a serious, well written story of two brothers who massacred a family in Kansas. Thankfully, it's a bajillionty times better than "Breakfast at Tiffany's", also by Capote, which I could barely get through.
Another Stephen King book, "The Long Walk", was on deck. This was written under his famous pseudonym "Richard Bachman", and known as one of his first novels ever published. The futuristic story of how teenage boys, once they reach a certain age, are forced to enter a walking style race... "race" is loosely defined, as essentially they have to walk on a marked highway, and the last one walking survives. Move to slow, or stop and rest, and they kill you. Good times had by all. Very 70s sounding.
(this book would come back to haunt me on December 30th of 2014... see part three of the 2014 Book Report coming soon)
The 9th book of the year was "From Dreamer to Dreamfinder", written by the famous Dream Maker himself. He's a legend at Epcot in Walt Disney World, in case all of this sounds vaguely familiar to Disney fans... or foreign to those who don't frequent the parks much. He was the guy who walked around with Figment, greeted guests, granted wishes and so on. He was a much loved character and figure, and Figment was a much loved Epcot icon. I thought this book would have much more to do with Disney World, but his three or four years spent at Epcot was only a fraction of the book. While his life is interesting enough, the book lost my attention at parts.
Book 10... it's chick lit. Alice Clayton's "Unidentified Redhead". Don't know how I got it, it might have been free on Audible, and the first few chapters were fun enough to pull me in. Dig this--I don't mind a romantic comedy, which this seemed to be in book form... aging Hollywood star meets younger co-star, sparks fly, yada yada. But about a 1/3 into the book, they started having themselves some relations. Okay, I can deal with that. The Lovely Steph Leann has been reading romance novels most of her life, so you know, whatevs. But then a few pages later, the couple does it again. and again. And again and again and again. I finished the book, because I just don't like to not finish a book, but yeesh. There are two more in the trilogy, but I doubt I'll get to them anytime soon.
One of the few negatives about Audible is that when you grab a book such as "Unidentified Redhead", suddenly, Audible assumes you are now diving into the Chick Lit genre, so your "Based On This Purchase, We Recommend..." section is now filled with books you'll never read with covers that are too racy for daytime and titles that are filled with innuendos that you don't like.
Same goes for Netflix... as a co-host of "The Deucecast Movie Show", we sometimes watch crap movies... so my viewing of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" has destroyed my "Since You Watched..." credibility.
Okay, we'll stop here and pick up tomrorow.... more of the 2014 book report to come, including a stretch of books that get better and better and my favorite book of the year already...