The best books of the year
Each year I release a mixtape of my favorite songs of the year. 15 years ago when I started this it was actually a mixtape that evolved to a physical CD and now lives on a streaming service. However, I thought before I do that this year I would do a couple other posts about some of my favorite things of the year - starting with books.
The Girl With All the Gifts is a fantastic take on the zombie genre and I am not sure if it is because I have a daughter that I found this book to be so haunting or that M.R. Carey is just that good but this was a refreshing take on a genre that can be a bit, stale at times. I will keep this description pretty vague because giving too much away will really rob the text of its power.
James Risen's new book Pay Any Price is one of those books like Ghost Wars or The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn that I feel most should read. The Military Industrial Complex (a phrase coined by Eisenhower) has become a thing that seems much more like an industry in a Marvel comic book that something which surrounds and effects most of us. Regardless of the side you might be on politically, this feels to me like a book that creates conversations we should be having more.
I have friends that are very scared of Nicholas Carr books, because by in large they are scary in subject matter in much the same way that Stephen Hawking feels that AI will own us all someday. The Glass Cage attempts to take on our ideas of automation and ask larger questions about our reliance on that automation. Before you buy the book, try to do your multiplication tables without a calculator and you might be in the right frame of mind.
When the Edward Snowden/NSA story broke, I was transfixed - I read every piece that Glenn Greenwald and the other journalists wrote and pre-ordered No Place To Hide when I saw the narrative of what happened was turned into a book. The first half reads like a Jason Bourne novel and morphs into this chilling description of our data and worldwide data and what the CIA had been doing with it. We can have a debate on your thoughts on Edward Snowden, but if you have a smartphone, a laptop, or a tablet - you owe it to yourself to read this book.
I have read Your Turn twice since I got in the mail last week and this is, without question, Seth's best book. If you have followed his trajectory it has lead to this moment where he arms everyone with the tool-set to "do your art" and my wish for anyone who reads this blog in 2015 is that they do just that. The book is laid out with design in mind to complement the content. I cannot say enough great things about this book so please pick it up.
Nick Cutter's (real name is Craig Davidson) debut horror novel The Troop is a disgusting, twisted ride that any fan of the horror genre will devour. I brought it along on vacation and read it in one sitting. This could be partially because my years as a cub and boy scout fed into the terror the boys on this adventure must have been feeling or my general enjoyment of things that make you uncomfortable. In the podcast above he is compared to Steven King and I think there might be something to that both in the prolific nature in which he writes and the sort of scares he leans on.
Two years ago James Luceno wrote a book about Darth Plagueis (the Sith lord before Palpatine) that I could not put down. Now with the new movie around a year away, fans like me are looking for stuff to consume to keep us satiated until Episode 7 arrives. So, when I saw that Luceno wrote a book about about Moff Tarkin, I bought it. While I am not finished - if you have a Star Wars fan on your list, it is pretty brilliant.