Monday, February 05, 2018

the not top ten books of 2017

One of the things I started doing in 2013 was keeping a list of books read... or "read", I should say, as there is some question as to whether "audiobooks" is considered reading.  But you could also contest if graphic novels or plays would count as books (I count those too), so each person really has to come up with their own qualifications and rules. 

If you count the books I read (but didn't officially list) in 2012, in six years, I've managed to get through 204 books.  That's nothing compared to some of my friends, like Jessica Jobes, who reads 150 books a year or something.  But 204 is a big deal to me! 

Also, in six years, I've clocked 1773 hours and 42 minutes of read time, meaning I could reread everything I've read starting tonight, and it would take me until April 17th to finish.  I impress myself.  Again, there are those who see these numbers, shake their head and know they've already done 200 books since the beginning of the year, but for someone who didn't read much of anything from 1995 to 2012, I'll take it.  

So I will be posting my Top Ten Books of 2017, but I wanted to give a quick rundown of all the other books I read last year as well.

These are in no particular order:

"Free Prize Inside" by Seth GodinThe sorta sequel to "Purple Cow", its all about outside the box marketing. Its a great read for business. 

"29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life" by Cami Walker. The author was 33 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She then sought to give 29 gifts in 29 days, and you can follow along here.

"Without You" by Anthony Rapp I like Rapp's work in "Adventures in Babysitting", "Rent" and other projects, but I found this memoir to be... well, boring. I hate to say that about someone else's story, as mine would likely be boring too, but it just wasn't for me. 

"The Princess Diarist" by Carrie Fisher. Fisher's final book before her death dives into the 1977 production of "Star Wars", or the stories behind it, including her love of Harrison Ford. Won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word, and though I wasn't crazy about all of it, I enjoyed it. 

"The Best In the World (at what I have no idea)" by Chris Jericho. Tons of WWE backstage stories, including the accident that gave Undertaker 3rd degree burns on his chest before he went into a steel cage match. 

"My Seinfeld Year" by Fred Stoller. He was a writer on Seinfeld and he tells a few stories. Meh. 

"Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk (and other truths about being creative) by Danielle Krysa. This book isn't targeted to me, its targeted to crafty women. Like, literally knitting and creative women. 

"Scribe" by Bob Ryan. He's been around the Boston sports scene for decades, and sports in general, and this isn't so much a memoir as it is a collection of stories from his life in it. Tales of Red Sox, Bobby Knight, Patriots, Celtics, the 92 Dream Team, his love for John Havlicek and more. Honestly, I enjoyed Al Michael's memoir more, but "Scribe" is also great for sports fans. 

"Skeleton Crew" by Stephen King. A short story collection that was a slog to get through. Some stories were solid, many were tedious. 

"The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower" by Stephen King. I put this off for a long time, knowing that if I liked it, I would be sucked into the other 7 Dark Tower books -- books that are 25 and 30 hour commitments each. Thankfully, I didn't care for this book at all, so there goes any thought of me having to read the rest of them. 

"Gwendy's Button Box" by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar.  Another case of "does it count?", with this being a novella. And yes, I counted it because you can purchase it as a standalone book. Its a fun story that will end up leaving you with more questions than answers. 

"Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser. If you don't want to know where your food comes from, about the gross mistreatment of some farmers, the political side of fast food franchising or the history of food additives, stay away from this book. Otherwise, its a fascinating read. 

"Powerhouse CAA: The Untold History of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency" by James Andrew Miller. I'm a sucker for a good oral history, and for 75% of this book, I was completely riveted. It tells the story of the formation and rise of CAA, a huge talent agency in Hollywood, and its key driver, Michael Ovitz.  Dozens of stars like Tom Hanks and Bill Murray share their opinions and experiences as well, and it was great... but when Ovitz left, the book just kind of tailspins into a revolving door of people coming and going at CAA and it loses something.  The first 20 hours would make my 2017 Top Ten. The last 5 keeps it from the list. 

"Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign" by Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes. This book was actually pretty funny, and I believe it a darn site more than I do Michael Wolff's Trump book.  Why?  Because even Wolff has disputed the accuracy of his own book, while very few have come out against "Shattered" on the DNC side. Hillary's campaign was a mess, and this book tells why.

"The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients Lives" by Theresa Brown, RN.  Chronicling one night in the shift of a nurse who has been in the profession a long time and has seen a lot. Tells the stories of four patients in various stages of emergencies (not everyone makes it out alive). Enjoyable. 

"When to Rob a Bank... and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well Intended Rants" by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner.  The Freakonomics guys gathered their decades worth of newspaper articles and essays they wrote and compiled some of the best into this volume. Why does KFC run out of chicken? Why flight attendants don't get tipped? How do you curb gun deaths? Should there by a sex tax? This is a great read, but know that you are wading literally 132 essays. 

"Bill O'Reilly's Legends & Liars: The Patriots" by David Fisher. I've found the "Legends & Liars" series to be really great, and this collection of little known stories and anecdotes from the Revolutionary War was awesome. 

"Bill O'Reilly's Legends & Liars: The Civil War" by David Fisher. Everything I just said about "The Patriots", except about the Civil War. 

"The Shadow of the Matterhorn" by David W. Smith. If your uncle told you stories of his cool job he used to have, and kept referring to chicks he hooked up with at his job, that's this book.  A former cast member dishes on his time at Disneyland, and while some of it is kinda fun, much of it is awkward and random. 

"The Circle" by Dave Eggers. I hated this book. I hated everyone in the book. I didn't care what happened to anyone.  The movie was just as bad. 

"Camino Island" by John Grisham. A departure from his courtroom dramas, this is a book about stolen rare manuscripts, slick bookstore owners and a chick undercover trying to solve the case. A quick and fun read.

"Rooster Bar" by John Grisham. While I liked the story itself, the main problem I had with it was seeing the three protagonists -- the "heroes" of our story -- shirk all of their responsibilities, which include paying back their student loans because they went to a crappy college. Proceed with caution, you may not like anyone in this book. 

"Hollow World" by Nick Pobursky. Disney World fiction with lots of violence, death, hostages, language and a fat crime boss.  Count me in!! 

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning" by Lemony Snicket. Another series that I wanted to read, letting the first book determine if I was going to continue.  Though I enjoyed this more than the Dark Tower, it still wasn't enough to push me to read the other books. I looked up the plots on Wikipedia, and am happy with that. 

"Good Girl" by Mary Kubica. Mia Dennett is abducted early in this novel, and we are treated to various perspectives of the story, including lead investigator Detective Hoffman, Mia's mom, and the kidnapper himself. Though not as brutal as "Gone Girl", its in the same vein. I guessed the ending about 1/2 way through the book, but it was still a fun resolution. 

"I'm Your Biggest Fan" by Kate Coyne. A celebrity writer dishes on stories about George Michael, Wynonna Judd, Tom Cruise and stalking Mariska Hargitay.  I really liked the pop cultureyness of this. 

"As If! The Oral History of Clueless" by Jen Cheney. This is the book about the movie Clueless that you didn't know you needed. From screenwriting to pitching it to studios to casting to filming to the movie's release, this is the story of the movie as told by director Amy Heckerling, Jeremy Sisto,  Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Stacey Dash, and of course, Alicia Silverstone, as well as many more. The best parts include detailed looked at the best, most iconic scenes of the movies, including the Rollin' with the Homies, the freeway scene, the kiss at the end, the Bosstones party, the origins of "cake boy" and much more. 

"Steel Magnolias" by Robert Harling. Love reading plays, and this one was super familiar because I love the movie. Of course, the play takes place entirely in Truvy's Beauty Shop, but overall is pretty close to the film. 

"Barefoot in the Park" by Neil Simon. The classic about Paul and Corie, newlyweds who immediately run into problems days after the wedding. It's warm and sweet and super fun. 

"Biloxi Blues" by Neil Simon. The story is narrated by Eugene (the play itself is the second in the "Eugene Trilogy", which includes "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Broadway Bound" - both read in early 2018) but really centers around the conflict between Pvt Epstein and the brash Sgt Toomey, in basic training amidst WWII.  Reminded me of the Matthew Broderick movie. 

 "Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama" from NPR.  Does this count as a book? Its the drama as played on National Public Radio. It was great. I count it. Sue me.

"Reasons to be Happy" by Neil LaBute. I'm a big LaBute fan, and this book picks up after the previous "Reasons to be Pretty", with the lives of Greg, Steph, Kent and Carly, all in different places, trying to carry on after the events of the first one. 

"The Money Shot" by Neil LaBute.  The story of 2 actors who's fame has dimmed, and are being forced to tell their significant others about a very intimate scene they have to film for a movie that will supposedly reignite their careers. Funny, if not darkly funny, but full of language, as many LaBute plays are.

And the re-reads:
"102 Minutes" by Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn. The best 9/11 book I've ever read.

"11/22/63" by Stephen King. I re-read this after seeing the meh mini-series on Hulu, and discovered I didn't like this book as much as I did the first time. Without spoiling the ending, you'll find the story comes to a very unsatisfactory ending.

"'Salem's Lot" by Stephen King. I love this book so much, mostly for how it slowly unfolds for lead character Ben Mears, who is returning to his childhood town to write a book. And the dark house  that overlooks the town, suddenly rented by two very mysterious figures. Great characters, and its 12 through the book before you understand what is truly happening to the town.  

So that's 35 books down. I'll list my Ten Favorites of the year in a day or two, when I write the post. 

If you want to follow along with books read, movies watched, TV seen and Amy Adams pictures inserted at random, check out @TheDaveofPop on instagram! 

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