First of all, an admission. I did not finish the entire list. In my defense, I had the books selected and in a special box I set aside to open immediately after my move. Such boxes have a tendency to creep away if not constantly watched. The categories I did not finish are National Book Award winner, for which I selected All the Pretty Horses; poetry, which was going to be a collection of poems by Rilke; and political memoir, which was a book about Abraham Lincoln which was adapted into the movie Lincoln. I have that one in audio book form, but it is over two days long and requires an internet connection to access. That was not happening during the move.
What did I finish?
- "becoming a movie this year" Silence by Shusako Endo. I'm not sure if this one made it to theaters this year after all, but it was scheduled for release at one point. The book concerns the true story of a Catholic priest sent to Japan at the end of its isolationist period to investigate claims that Christians there were being tortured and forced to recant. The book is written by a Catholic Japanese man and explores his connection to his Catholic and Japanese heritages and whether it is possible to be both. This is an example of how thoroughly following this meme has lead me out of my comfort zone. I cannot say I recommend this book, but it is certainly the most serious one of the year.
- "written by a comedian" An Unwelcome Quest by Scott Meyer. Meyer is a former stand-up comedian and former webcomic artist who is currently an author. In my experience, the humor of stand-up comedians translates very poorly to book form, but Meyer is a wonderful exception. This book follows the adventures of a group of lazy thirty-somethings who have ultimate cosmic power.
- "recommended by a family member" Why Not Women? by Loren Cunningham. My brother and I have been reading theology and history books together for half a decade. This one was his pick. The issue of whether women should be clergy must seem altogether incomprehensible to outsiders, but it continues unabated in many churches. The authors offer support to the argument that women can and should be clergy.
- "recommended by someone you just met" The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigaluni A friend introduced me to another friend who had been prompted in advance to give a book recommendation. This book has ambitions to be about the Obvious Impending Worldwide Catastrophe, a classic theme in science fiction (so far, the catastrophes predicted in such books as Soylent Green have mercifully failed to materialize). The book is set in Thailand of the Future, where many genetically-engineered plant plagues force the society to use deadly force in the policing of produce. Also, GMO super companies sell seeds that grow into plague-immune but sterile crops at a huge mark-up. The actual story follows around nine jerks who are varying levels of Asian stereotype. I am not going to pass the recommendation along for this one.
- "set in your home state" I'm going to omit this one for the sake of internet privacy!
- "from Oprah's Book Club" Walk Me Home by Cathrine Ryan Hyde. This tells the story of two sisters who walk away from their terrible home situation and are taken in by members of a South-western native tribe. You may be wondering which one, but it doesn't really matter because the author made up the tribe entirely. I don't really get the point of this.
- "written by a celebrity" Death Rat by Mike Nelson. Mike Nelson is, of course, the host of MST3K during the second half of the series run. This story is about an older man who writes a "true" story of a man's encounter with a giant evil rat. After the book becomes a hit, he hires a strapping young man to play the "author" of the book and convinces an entire small town to back up a story. The plot is...implausible.
- "first book you see in a bookstore" What If? by Randall Monroe. I would love to dislike Monroe, but his stuff continues to make me smile.