Monday, February 7, 2011

Media Review 2010: Top Books.

[Time once more for me to reveal my picks for the best in media for the previous year. Today's entry: the best books of 2010.]

Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, Sean Carroll
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, Mike Brown
The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of 'Proper' English from Shakespeare to South Park, Jack Lynch
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, David Sedaris

5) Sonic Boom: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the New Economy, Gregg Easterbrook [Very interesting thoughts on the immediate future of our world as we experience a "sonic boom." The publisher positioned it as a "business book," but it isn't, really. It's just interesting, if you're into that sort of thing.]
4) The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis [Still feel like you don't completely understand what happened with the credit crisis in the fall of '08? Still befuddled about what exactly is a "credit default swap"? Want to learn about the handful of people who made a bundle while the rest of us were losing our collective house? This is the book for you.]
3) Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger!, M.T. Anderson [There's a series of books called "Pals in Peril!" This is the fourth one. They are very, very funny, especially if you spent your childhood reading series books.]
2) Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, Michael Spencer [Michael Spencer used to write gospel-centric rants about wrongheaded ways we do church and theology in 21st century America. He wrote them on the internet. Then he got a book deal and wrote this. Then he died. His was a clear-headed way of thinking about Jesus that sidesteps the pointless blather and speaks directly to the heart of the matter. Oh, and full disclosure--I am an infrequent contributor to his website,]
1) After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, N.T. Wright [This is the natural progression from my #6 book of the decade last year, Surprised by Hope. Sometimes it gets a little egghead-y, but it's still entirely worth the read.]

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006), Francis S. Collins [Dr. Collins led the Human Genome Project, the conglomeration of scientists that unraveled the mystery of our DNA and figured out what every bit of it does. This book is a history of the project itself as well as Collins's firsthand account of the way he found Jesus in the midst of it. Awfully darn good.]

The Soul of Spider-Man, Adam Palmer & Jeff Dunn [This one wasn't supposed to be released until next year, but then Regal brought it out anyway! My streak remains alive!]

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins [I was introduced to the very good book The Hunger Games this year, which I devoured with relish. Then I found out it was a trilogy and did a little dance of joy. I got the second book, Catching Fire, and thought it was so-so, but it picked up toward the end. So then it was time for Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy, and I was cautiously optimistic--surely she would end on a good note? Nope. Collins makes bad decision after bad decision, forgetting what made the first book so great. Such a disappointment.]

Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race, Jon Stewart et al [It's no secret: I really like The Daily Show a lot, and I think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert both serve a wonderful purpose by poking holes in the public discourse. Colbert's book, I Am America (And So Can You!) is smart, incisive, and seriously funny. This book, by Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show, is stupid, crass, and juvenile, with jokes that land as gracefully as the whale in The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. Stick to television, fellas. Full disclosure: It was so bad I didn't even make it ten pages in. Maybe it gets awesome on page eleven. I don't care.]

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