2017 A Year in Book Read....
Didn’t get a lot of reading done this year, but there is still room for the top 5!
#5 The Shining by Stephen King 6 out of 10
I keep saying that Stephen King is an amazing writer, but he had to start somewhere. I've read a fair amount of newer Stephen King. Revival, Duma Key, Cell, Bill Hodges trilogy... And, each time I read one I think, 'it is written amazingly, but it's Stephen King. He's possibly the best writer of our time.' I believe this to be true, but it was not always the case. He was not born the best writer. I think most people miss out on the greatness that is later King novels because they got turned off in the middle of his career. Suffice to say, I wasn't overly impressed with The Shining. It is a good book, but nothing spectacular. The story is interesting, but it meanders a lot. He was trying to write a story inside the head of someone who is going insane, but it didn't quite read like that. There is a blurring of narration because of this effect and it made the idea feel more like a gimmick than well done. The characters are pretty well fleshed out. There is some good back story to that for you, but not so much that you get bogged down in it. I feel the mother character could have used more personality, and maybe even some of the monsters, but it felt pretty well done. The writing was the most disappointing part of the book. Nowadays Stephen King could write a story about an accountants job and I would find it interesting just because his prose is so well done. This is an earlier book of his. The writing is very good, but not up to par. There are some repetitive sentence structures and more than once there is a word that doesn't fit, it will be an obscure word that makes the narrator seem to suddenly have a much larger vocabulary than you thought before hand. Now, if anyone else wrote this book I would have no complaint on the writing, but this is King. And because of the not as amazing prose the book has to stand on the merits of story. Overall it is a good book. I would suggest it if you haven't read it, but it is far from King's best work.
#4 The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines 6 out of 10
If you like Fixer Upper you will most likely like this book. I can't say a lot for the writing. It is basically Joanna telling a story and Chip butting in every once in a while. It isn't written well. It is fairly flat and simple, but that isn't why anyone is reading this book. It was never meant to be literary genius. The reason people want to read this is because of the people it is about. Chip and Joanna are fun and lovable characters. This comes through well in the book. Yes, it delves into how they got where they are and their business ventures along the way. But, the bread and butter of the book is the interaction between the two that create fun and adorable memories. It is the same reason the show is good. Again if you like the show you will like the book, but years down the road when no one remembers their show anymore it will be a very average book.
#3 The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost 7 out of 10
You would think a travelogue where the person hates where they go would be a terrible reading experience. You'd be wrong. This book was fun at times, ridiculous at times, and quite informative at times. It was a pretty good read really. As far as the writing goes it is very European. I say that mostly because of the well developed vocabulary and the tendency to use very vivid metaphors. But, it is written well and edited well. The information in the book is also very good. It tells you a bit about the island and its history and the people on it. There are plenty of gross bits of information, but needed to get its point across. I would have liked it if he would have been a little heavier in information at the beginning and more story at the end, but that is being a bit picky. The thing that sets this book apart from other travelogues and also the thing that makes this book mediocre to me is that it isn't just about the island. Especially in the latter half of the book it is more about the author and his wife. How they are adapting to life on the island and how their views of the world were changing. This is fine, but it takes away from the idea of a travelogue and creates a ton of egotism. The end result is a book that is half travelogue and half biography of some dude no one has ever heard of. In the end it is fun, but a little full of itself.
#2 Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull 8 out of 10
As much as I love Disney, Pixar is not quite the same to me. This book actually helped me understand how much they've really accomplished. This one is a pretty easy read and if you like animated movies you will easily know all the subjects they cover especially when it comes to stories about making specific movies. It is written well and the language is simple and conversational. There were a couple small issues with the book though. First, it wants to be a business book. The author seems to think that the lessons he learned about management and company culture are the pieces of the book that are going to drive it. That of course is a ridiculous notion. Anyone picking up this book is going to see Buzz Lightyear on the cover, see the reference to Monsters Inc. in the title and pick it up for the love of Disney, Pixar, or animation. The business lessons are a side note at best. Second, it isn't exactly organized too well. Again, it read easy, but there are constant references to previous and future chapters that make it feel a bit more like a text book than a non-fiction pleasure read. Overall it is fine book that could have used a bit more review and editing. Maybe he should have used some of his tricks he pulled in making his movies in making this book.
#1 Duma Key by Stephen King 8 out of 10
Another high quality book by Stephen King, but this one did have some noticeable issues for me. The writing as per usual is spot on. He uses a fun gimmick in this one of quoting one of his characters constantly. It creates a nice bit of anticipation in the early parts of the book. As far as the characters are concerned, just like his other books Stephen King writes great characters all with different personalities, different speech patterns, and different motivations. The story... This one is a little flat at times, but not when you'd expect. Much of the book is about learning of these strange people and their lives. All of this is very interesting as it feels a bit like a mystery. You know something is going on pretty early, but it doesn't unfold for a long time, so the exploration of characters keeps you interested. Then there is a huge part of the story that is about the creative process for a painter. Again, it sounds like it should be boring, but somehow the passion he has for creativity shines through. The weak part is the end when the horror, supernatural, and action adventure rears their heads pretty much out of nowhere. Even though this is a very entertaining and well written book, similar to Revival this one feels like it had the ending haphazardly tacked on at the last minute.
My newest book… The Kings of One Color by Richard W. Kelly
Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston