Monday, February 16, 2015

the 2014 book report part three

You can read the first part of this by clicking here... and then continue onto the second part by clicking here...

Alright, ten more books to go... let's do it!

Book 26 of 2014... "Glengarry Glen Ross", a play by David Mamet, also known for it's incredible movie adaptation.  It was short, it was thrilling, but the movie is even better. 

I started "Gone Girl" back in 2013 and got about an hour into it, and left it for something else.  Having seen the movie, I went back to the book, and was immediately sucked in for good... Gillian Flynn weaves an intricate, twisted tale where you find yourself not really liking anybody, yet rooting for at least one or two people... if you don't know the major twist in the middle, I won't tell you, but if you aren't familiar with it, it's one heckuva twist.

The book is a duel narrative, told first from Nick's point of view, then from Amy's, then back to Nick's, then back to Amy, telling us the story of a husband who has lost his wife, and a wife who's dealing with a cheating husband and more.  And the ending?  Whew. 

From major intensity to slow burn, next we picked up "Revival" by Stephen King... you meet Jamie Morton as a six year old who meets the new local pastor Charles Jacobs.  Things get a little strange not too long afterwards, with Rev. Jacobs obsession with electricity and his subsequent meltdown after a huge tragedy... we then follow Jamie through his life's ups and downs, randomly running into Charles Jacobs at various times.  It all leads to a climax that is both unexpected and insane, and it left me a little unsatisfied.  Good book, not great.

A little book called "Stuff Christians Life" by Jon Acuff was a good change of pace from the craziness of the previous two.  Back when he was Jonathan Acuff, he writes essays on everything churchy like how to not be judged when people don't see you put something in the offering plate (because you tithe online), the glory of side hugs vs full frontal hugs, hip youth pastors and metro worship leaders, and other takes on pop culture.  I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I'm also a fan of his blog--if you don't like his blog, then you probably won't care for this book as much.

Book 30 of 2014 was written by Leonard Kinsey, who has done a few adult-themed novels set around Walt Disney World.  This one is called "Habst & the Disney Saboteurs", where the main character, an unlovable loser named Reggie "Habst" Habstermeister finds himself in trouble when attractions in Walt Disney World begin to break down while he's in the vicinity.  His friend, or at least the only guy who can actually tolerate him, Charlie joins him to figure out what's happening in this situation--and it's a little crazy, I tell ya. 

Also, Charlie is a character in another book called "Hollow World", by Nick Pobursky, which makes me wonder if Leonard Kinsey and Nick Pobursky is the same guy?  Or just from the same publishing company?

My friend Writer Chris Holmes wrote a book called "Note to Myself: Thoughts to Challenge and Encourage", and its not only charming, but...well, challenging and encouraging.  He's so good at just writing one liners that make you think, that make you ponder and that motivate you.  You can shoot through this book in a half hour or less, but you want to come back a few times and really concentrate on many of the lines... personally, I would have called it "Note to Self" cause it flows better, but overall, it's an excellent book to read, to remember and to go back to.

I picked up a book that, before I even read it, I knew I was going to like, mostly because "The Princess Bride" is one of my top ten favorite films of all time.  Cary Elwes, who portrayed "Westley", wrote "As You Wish: Inconceivable Takes from the Making of the Princess Bride", a behind the scenes narrative of the iconic movie... not only is its a first person narrative from Cary, he also gets quips and stories from Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), Rob Reiner (the director), Robin Wright (Buttercup), Christopher Guest (Count Rugen) and several more--and in the audiobook, he has those people actually read many of their parts in the book.  It was funny, it was a love letter to the movie and its fans, and its full of Andre the Giant tales, including how Elwes broke his toe on Andre's oversized ATV 4-wheeler, then had to do the Dread Pirate Roberts confronting Buttercup on the mountaintop scene (notice the way Westley, aka, The Man in Black, sits down on the rock and how his leg is extended... that's because in real life, he's in extreme pain). 

If you are a fan of the movie, you should read this book... it's simply wonderful.

Book 33 of the year, "You Are a Writer (so start acting like one)" is by Jeff Goins, and is a simple pep talk to let people like myself know that yes, I'm a writer, so own it, so do it, so write it down.  It also goes through a few things you'll need to know, including platforms, passion for what you do, and is relatively short, so I breezed through it in an afternoon with a few notes here and there.

Book 34 was a last minute pickup, as I saw the end of the year approaching... on Tuesday nights, I always flip through the new releases and see what has just come out... lo and behold, Matthew Modine has written a behind-the-scenes account of "Full Metal Jacket" aptly titled "Full Metal Jacket Diaries".  The book goes through some of the trials and hardship it took for the movie to get made, directed by the ever eclectic and possibly insane late Stanley Kubrick.  And though you can tell Matthew Modine has a healthy amount of respect for Kubrick, it's pretty obvious that he feels Kubrick was a little insane and a lot intense.

The book is not very long, and seemed a fitting end to the year!  In fact, I went ahead and outdid myself by reading "Big Driver", by Stephen King, for 36 books for the year... it's a great little tale about a saleswoman who listens to the wrong person and ends up in a nightmare.  And gets some revenge for it later. 

But wait... on December 30th, I realized something... "Big Driver" and "A Good Marriage" (not mentioned yet, for the reasons I'm about to explain) which I read in July, are actually part of a larger book called "Full Dark, No Stars" by Stephen King.  They are novellas... so they don't count.  Meaning, I didn't read 36 books, I read 34.  And I had about 36 hours to finish the 35th, or miss the goal for the year.

So I downloaded the whole of King's "Full Dark, No Stars", and went to it... there are four novellas in this--the aforementioned (and best) of them, "Big Driver"... "A Good Marriage", a tense tale about a woman who discovers something a little terrifying about her husband (which pulls from a news story that was huge at the time of the writing, but I won't tell you what it is and spoil it for you)... "1922", a first person account about a man in Nebraska confessing to the murder of his wife, and how his family falls apart... and "Fair Extension", where a man has a run-in with a Devil-persona and gets more than he could ever wish for.

Thankfully, having read 2 of the 4 novellas, I only had to do 1/2 the book... and around 6pm on New Year's Eve, I finished it!  So, officially, 35 books in one single year, and I guarantee I'd never done that before.

So, here are my top ten books of the year...

The rest of my top ten first time reads in 2014, in order:
  1. "Moment Maker" by Carlos Whittaker... sticks with you, and I made notes.  So challenging to make every moment go unwasted.
  2. "I Don't Know What You Know Me From" by Judy Greer... love her as an actress, and the book is super funny.
  3. "As You Wish" by Cary Elwes... love the movie and love the behind the curtain stories, and the audio features cameos by Rob Reiner, Mandy Patinkin and more.
  4. "Shrinkage" by Bryan Bishop... funny and sad and happy all in the same book.  If you only know him from Carolla, there's a lot more to this guy.
  5. "Stuff Christians Like" by Jonathan Acuff... taken from his blog, with some new stuff too, and is laugh out loud funny.
  6. "Mr. Mercedes" by Stephen King... a whodunit thriller from King, with great characters and a crazy circus ending.
  7. "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell... tense and wrought, what he goes through is absolutely mortifying.
  8. "Rush Revere & the Brave Pilgrims" by Rush Limbaugh... I would take the history presented here over most schoolbooks nowadays.  Entertaining for kids and adults.
  9. "Note to Myself" by Writer Chris Holmes... line by line, page by page, words that make you smile, warm the fuzzies but also make you think you need to get up and do something.
  10. "Love Does" by Bob Goff... while slightly unrelatable, it's overall premise is wonderful.

And I'm almost five completed books in 2015, on the way to 40 total... do you have a book goal?  What was your favorite book of 2014?

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