Thursday, December 2, 2010

Books of the Year - 2010 has once again released their list of The Best Books of 2010 so it seems more than appropriate to release my 2010 list. Like last year, this list will contain the good and the bad and will be expanded with a whole plethora of new catergories.
Now, without further ado - the 2010 Books of the Year
The Clive Cussler Award (Best Page Turner)
Fiction: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly - As I just recently wrote, this book got me through a weekend on the couch when I was sick. More complex and twisty than Connelly's usual offerings you will be put it down and pick it up a minute later.
Non-Fiction: Boys Will Be Boys by Jeff Pearlman - An examination of the 1990's Cowboys Dynasty, this book gets into the deep and the dirty secrets of the one of the best football teams of all time. Pearlman draws you into the characters who experience ridiculous highs and crashing lows before finding, in the most unlikely of times, redemption.
The James Patterson Award (Most Disappointing Books)
3. Dark Matter by Philip Kerr - The only time I have branched off and read a book by Kerr other than his phenomenal Bernie Gunther series. It will also be the last time. I understand what Kerr was trying to do; turn Isaac Newton into Sherlock Holmes, but the execution is off. Boring is a word I never figured I would associate with Kerr's writing but there you go.
2. Iron River by T Jefferson Parker - I really enjoyed the first book is his Charlie Parker trilogy and the second was a decent read. In this novel, however, Parker tried to be James Lee Burke. The main problem? No one can be Lee Burke but Lee Burke. This one had so much promise but ultimately fell apart under metaphysical circumstances that made no sense.
1. The Bodies Left Behind by Jefferey Deaver - Deaver's books are good for one thing: the jaw dropping twists and turns they take. In this one though, (which, admittedly I read after watching Inception) the "patented" twists were so telegraphed I had figured out the entire plot four pages in. Terrible, sloppy work from someone who has done much better.
Bill Simmons Award (Best Sports Book)
2. Bringing the Heat by Mark Bowden - A great portrait of the 1992 Philly Eagles, Bowden gets inside the world of Pro Football and his work is illuminating, well written and touching.
1. The Book of Basketball / Now I Can Die in Peace by Bill Simmons - Two of the best books I read this year.
Jon Krakauer Award (Best Non-fiction)
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - As advertised; I learned more from this book (and I had the illustrated version) than I did in 12 years of school. The best part? It is a page-turner.
Gary Smith Award (Best Article)
"Bleed Through" by Charles Bowden GQ September 2010 - One of the first articles to examine the impact of the Mexican Cartel Wars on Texas, this article is chilling, haunting and a very terrifying reading experience.
David Simon Award (Smartest Book)
The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke - A potential series swan song? Burke certainly throws all of his skills into one of the best final chapters of his career.
Books of the Year
5B. The Red Riding Quartet by David Peace - A dark, extreme noir ride through the years 1974 - 1983 in Yorkshire. Centered around the infamous "Yorkshire Ripper" Case, the books are a deep expose of police corruption and the impact of violence. A towering literary achievement and the final pages of voulme four will leave the reader completely staggered. Powerful stuff.
5A. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John LeCarre - The best spy novel of all time. Less is more for LeCarre and here is a taut, minimalist masterpiece about a deeply conflicted spy who desperately wants out.
4. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - So full of interesting information your head may explode when you read it. My favourite part? Calling "Darwin's singular notion" the greatest idea anyone has ever had in the history of the world.
3A. LA Confidential by James Ellroy - The plot is so brilliantly convoluted that it makes the movie look like about as complex as the Lion King. When the villain is finally revealed, the punch is so powerful you may drop the book.
3. Now I Can Die in Peace by Bill Simmons - A look at the Boston Red Sox and their ultimate title journey through the microcosm of the movie The Shawshank Redemption. The most-apt comparison? 1986 was like the two years Andy spent being abused by "the sisters". Absolutely hilarious and rightly deserving of the accolade: the "Moby Dick of Red Sox books".
2. The Passage by Justin Cronin - Long, sprawling and at times there are wasted words. However, Cronin's dystopian future is so poignent and harrowing that it makes up for the slight (100 page) drag in the middle. A page-turner that means so much more then the words on the page, this is a book that will stick with you for some time.
1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty - This is a Pantheon-level book (one of the best ever) and as a novel is absolutely stone brilliant. McMurty's characters are so beautifully drawn that their long (900+ page) journey could easily have been 900 pages longer. A singular achievement.
Author of the Year: Bill Simmons
Between his books The Book of Basketball, Now I Can Die in Peace and his columns and his podcasts, no one kept me better entertained this year. Truly, no other author was even really in contention once I read his incredible and hilarious book on the history of the NBA. He reignited a long dormant love of Sports books and is without a doubt my author of the year.
Looking Ahead - 2011's Most Anticipated Books
World War Z by Max Brooks - Supposedly the best zombie novel around, combining the best of horror and social commentary.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett - Always a solid author, this one starts a new trilogy.
The Tiger by John Valient - A book about a tiger, hunting men in Siberia? I am in.
The Underground Empire by James Mills - Discovered in a used bookstore, this is a book from the 80's that tried to examine the full scope of the Drug Empires that have taken control of our world.
The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam - Widely considered the best sports book of all time.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson - His best book The Devil in the White City and its follow up Thunderstruck were great. No reason this one, set in Nazi Germany should be any different.

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