Monday, February 13, 2012

Media Review 2011: Top Books.

Well, it's been a long time coming, but I just had so many films I wanted to see and books I wanted to read before I finished up my annual media review. There are still some out there (especially in the book world), but I can delay no longer. So with that, here's my list of:


Let's start with the printed word. Not a whole lot to say about the books of 2011, other than very few of them really moved me in a memorable way. I read a lot of supposedly humorous stuff this year, and I'd just about give up entirely on humor as a viable genre of book were it not for Tina Fey and John Hodgman. Also, an astonishing low number of Jesus books passed in front of my eyeballs this year, which was not intentional. Just not a whole lot tickled my fancy. Anyway, here goes.

All Is Grace, Brennan Manning
Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography), Errol Morris
Bossypants, Tina Fey
The Four Holy Gospels, Makoto Fujimura [You owe it to yourself to at least check this link out and watch the video about its creation. Stunningly gorgeous]
Life Itself: A Memoir, Roger Ebert
One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
That Is All, John Hodgman

5) Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick [The follow-up half-art/half-prose book from the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which a certain ten-time Oscar-nominated film was based on). This one builds on his storytelling style, but instead of combining stark, detailed chiaroscuro drawings and writing to tell one story, Selznick tells two (eventually) intersecting stories, one with pictures and the other with words. Captivating and creative.]
4) Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell [I had no idea the history of Hawaii could be this interesting, especially when told by perennially white-skinned and nasal cityfolk like Vowell. I will forever be indebted to her for writing this sentence: "For Americans, Acts 16:9 is the high-fructose corn syrup of Bible verses--an all-purpose ingredient we'll stir into everything from the ink on the Marshall Plan to canisters of Agent Orange."]
3) Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Rob Bell [I really don't like Bell's writing style, nor his whole "ain't-I-a-stinker?" approach to marketing himself, but kudos to him for getting the nation talking about this very important topic. Also, this book holds a special place in my heart, because I was reading it when I found out Osama Bin Laden had been assassinated.]
2) The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt [Imagine if the Coen Brothers wrote an original Western novel with a slight sci-fi twist. Now stop imagining, because it exists! It just was written by Patrick DeWitt instead of the Coens.]
1) A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor [This guy is the director of the British Museum in London. He took 100 different objects from the museum and used them to draw the line of human history from our beginnings to now. This one never stops being fascinating, covering parts of history I've never even heard of before. It's a little daunting, but I had no problem finishing it before it was due at the library. Oh, and the pictures are nifty, too.]

Write More Good, The Fake AP Stylebook
Newspaper Blackout, Austin Kleon

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [I'd read at the Holmes series several times in my life, but this was the first year I read one of the books from cover to cover. Thoroughly engaging material, even though it's been copied and re-copied by just about every mystery author since.]

Zombie Mommy, M.T. Anderson [Mediocre things don't generally wind up in the "worst" category for me--it's usually media that is hugely popular for a reason that eludes me (see Transformers: Dark of the Moon) or media from an author whose work I admire but who has begun to tread the water of mediocrity. This is a case of the latter. M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril! series is a magnificent invention of supreme cleverness and insightful hilarity, but this latest entry is neither clever nor even very funny. It's just aggressively boring, and that makes it the worst.]

Tomorrow: Top Music!

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