Saturday, January 2, 2010

Books I Read in 2009 (Most with some kind of review)

  1. Almost History by Roger Bruns
    Collection of primary source stuff about things that almost happened, were supposed to happen but didn't, etc. Includes the speech JFK was supposed to make in Dallas, FBI memos about trying to deport John Lennon, and memos about the various plots to kill Castro, just to name a few. My only real complaint is that in a lot of cases the explanation is longer than the actual thing it's introducing. In some cases, this makes sense, but in others it would have been nice to see, for example, a complete exchange of information rather than a single letter/telegram/memo/whatever.
  2. I'm A Lebowski, You're A Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have You by Bill Green, Ben Peskoe, Will Russell, & Scot Shuffitt
    This book was written (without blessing or curse from the Coens) by the guys who started Lebowski Fest. The heart of this book are the interviews with most of the cast (from The Dude himself to the Ralph's check-out girl) and the people The Dude and Walter (and some storylines from the movie) were based on--including the real life Larry Sellers. The book also has lots of trivia, a glossary, a few pages on Dudism, Lebowski Fest info, and a lot of stuff that I would make fun of if the book were about Dr. Who or something. But it's about the Big Lebowski, so most of it's ok (though a couple of the fan interviews are a bit much--I can see the interest in knowing what Patton Oswald or Tony Hawk thinks about the movie, but "the guy who built the Dudism website" is a litle too fannish for my tastes). If you're a fan of the movie, probaby worth a read.
  3. The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore
    It's Christmas, and a stupid angel comes to town to grant a child a Christmas wish. It goes badly, but in a very funny way.
  4. Redneck Words of Wisdom, Collected by Jamie Muehlhausen
    Some mildly amusing, some not redneck. I paid $1 for this book and feel a little ripped off.
  5. Swine Not?, Jimmy Buffett
    A story about a pig who lives in a fancy New York City hotel. Entertaining, but aimed at a younger audience, I think.
  6. World War Z, Max Brooks
    Very good zombie book.
  7. 'Scuse Me While I Whip This Out: Reflections on Country Singers, Presidents, and Other Troublemakers, Kinky Friedman
    Kinky muses about people he knows, people he thinks he knows, and probably a few people he forgot he knew. Quite entertaining.
  8. Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG Core Rulebook by C.J. Carella
    Now I see why George Vasilamynamesoundslikeamadscientist felt threatened by my Buffy word document. This game is not terribly good (it's not awful either, but there's not a lot to recommend it). I figured it would at least have pretty pictures, but a lot of them are grainy. The game itself is completely mediocre, and the writer seems to believe the entire point of the show is witty dialog (which s/he tries (and fails--it sounds like Danny Tanner trying to be hip) to reproduce). Note to Hex creative department: If M. Alexander Jurkat ever applies for an editing job, politely send him away. Apparently he's behind the awful editing of this book, which at times makes early White Wolf editors seem nitpicky.
  9. Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener
    Tesla built a robot and now it runs a paranormal investigation agency and occasionally fights Nazi brains in domed robots, mobile pyramids, Jack Parsons, the ghost of Rasputin--the usual. Really no way for this not to be great.
  10. The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney
    Pretty much what it sounds like.
  11. The Damned by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
  12. The Damned: Prodigal Sons by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
    That Cullen Bunn--he's no Robert Kirman or anything, but still great stuff.
  13. Monster Spotters Guide to North America by Scott Francis
    M-Force 2E Research
  14. The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Les McClaine, and a few others
    The Middleman and his art school chick apprentice work for an agency so secret even they don't know what it's called. The first story is about a superintelligent monkey gangster. They also go up against luchadores, ninjas, giant mutant sharks, and big ass robots. No way to go wrong with that kind of material.
  15. Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry.
    Neat concept, but too much cop/gun/military fetishism for my tastes.
  16. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
    Great concept, but possibly executed too well--a lot of it reads like a survival guide.
  17. Dave Barry's History of the Millennium by Dave Barry
    Collection of Dave's year-end reports, with a "Millennium End report" for 1000-1999 added.
  18. Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (movie novelization) by Richie Tankersley Cusick
    Pretty straightforward adaptation of the movie, written at about a 5th grade level.
  19. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
    Great Gaiman short story collection. The creepy-ass Snow White retelling is probably my favorite, but there are a few other contenders.
  20. Dumbing Down: Essays on the Strip-Mining of American Culture, Edited by Katharine Washburn and John Thornton
    Most of the essays aren't so much about the good kind of elitism as they are about snootiness and conservativism.
  21. Muzzled: For T-Ball to Terrorism-True Stories That Should be Fiction by Micahel A. Smerconish. Review at Epinions:
  22. Invincible Volume 2: Eight Is Enough by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Otley. Review at
  23. Heaven, LLC by Wayne Chinsang and Dave Crosland. Review at
  24. Global Frequency Volume 2: Detonation Radio by Warren Ellis, Simon Bisley, Chris Sprouse, Lee Bermejo, Tomm Coker, Jason Pearson, Gena Ha, and David Baron. Review at Epinions:
  25. The Pro by Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner. Reviewed at Epinions:
  26. Bluntman & Chronic by “Banky Edwards and Holden McNeil” Review at epinions:
  27. I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen T. Colbert. Reviewed at Epinions:
  28. Cyberpunk: Hackers and Outlaws on The Computer Fringe by Katie Hafner and John Markoff. Review at Epinions:
  29. Monster by A. Lee Martinez. Review at Epinions:
  30. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Review at epinions:
  31. Three Days to Never, Tim Powers
    Einstein's great-great-grandson and his daughter get caught up in a race between the Mossad and a group of bad guys who are trying to get a time machine put together by Einstein and Charlie Chaplin. Neat time travel story and better characterization than some Powers novels.
  32. Spook Country, William Gibson
    Neuromancer took me several attempts to get into enough to finish, but when I did I loved it. This was the opposite. It starts of really strong and then just kind of runs out of steam. The ending is anti-climactic and too ambiguous to be interesting (and remember, I usually like ambiguity).
  33. More Information Than You Require, John Hodgman
    Follow up to The Areas of My Expertise. Lots of completely made up information on a number of subjects including the perks of being a minor celebrity, which presidents had hooks for hands, and lots of information about Mole-Men (who may in fact be the new Hobos). Very funny stuff.
  34. Death’s Daughter, Amber Benson Reviewed at Epinions:
  35. El Zombo Fantasma by Dave Wilkins and Kevin Munroe
    Story about a luchadore who returns from the grave to protect a young girl who's the incarnation of an ancient Aztec goddess. Not bad. Artwork is very pretty but not particularly good at storytelling.
  36. The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson. Reviewed at
  37. Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down--Dave Barry
  38. Bible Stories for Adults--James Morrow
  39. The Werewolf's Guide to Life--Ritch Duncan and Bob Powers
  40. The Wordy Shipmates--Sarah Vowell
  41. The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell
  42. Merlin, Norma Lorre Goodrich
  43. Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell

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