5. Emergency by Neil Strauss
The sub title of this book is "This Book Could Save Your Life" and I think what I was expecting was more survival manual, less autobiography. Emergency is the story of writer Neil Strauss and how in the wake of 9/11 and the beginning of Bush's second term he begins to fear that the end may be near for civilization as we know it. His whole premise is summed up nicely at one point in the book where he talks about being a high school student and learning about the Holocaust. In retrospect there was a long lead up to the Holocaust and in realizing this young Neil Strauss wondered why people didn't leave Germany when they started seeing the signs. The answer is two-fold. On the one hand it is natural for people to assume that things won't get any worse. Hope can be as harmful as it is helpful sometimes. On the other hand, it actually isn't that easy to just up and leave one country for another one. So Neil as an adult living in fear of a time "when the shit hits the fan" in the United States goes about seeking a second citizenship in nearby St. Kitts in order to have a viable safe haven WTSHTF. Eventually he begins to realize that an escape plan may not be enough and he goes about learning how to survive a multitude of situations. The great part about the book is that it's really not what you think, or at the very least it not what I thought. It't ultimately not a story about learning how to run away or fight back, it's a story about learning how to live and in the end while Neil does gain all the skills he was looking for, he gains a new outlook as well and while he'll be ready WTSHTF, his outlook on the present and his role in life has made that at most a secondary concern.4. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
I had heard about this book a lot before I started reading it and after thumbing through it in a Borders while waiting for my new car stereo to be installed at the Best Buy across the street I decided to buy it. Chuck Klosterman is an intellectual Generation X writer who manages not to come off as an elitist, nor overwhealmingly cynical although he is both these things. When Chuck Klosterman writes he just sounds like he knows what he's talking about. The book's opening essay on how John Cusack is the reason why his every relationship is doomed to fail is nothing short of brilliant. I became an instant fan with this book and I think anyone who's ever argued the social impact of MTV's The Real World or pondered the significance of Saved By The Bell, should read it.3. Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton
Some of you may remember Wil Wheaton as the lead kid in the film Stand By Me where he acted alongside River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry Conelly. Some of you may remember Wil Wheaton as the oft times annoying Wesley Crusher on Star Trek the Next Generation. Since that time he's managed to keep busy in more ways than one, ultimately arriving where he is now as well followed blogger, writer, and yes ... actor. More than anything though he's making a living being a geek. Just a Geek is a reworked collection of Wheaton's blog posts spanning the first couple years of his wilwheaton.net and chronicles his journey of self-discovery from the point where he is still a struggling actor trying to break back into the business and loathing the perception of himself as a character he played on a sci-fi show in the 90's, to the point where he realizes that he loves to write and begins making the transition from actor to writer. Wheaton is a very captivating writer and I've been following his blog for 7-8 years now. Just a Geek is an amazing story for anyone who ever got a second chance in life and was able to start over and discover what they really wanted to do. All told, Just a Geek is moving and fun and Wil continues to blog and write books and prove that above all else, he's a geek.2. Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman
This is the second book I read by Klosterman and it's different from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs in that it's not a collection of essays but rather the story of a journey made in the writing of an article for Spin magazine. The task was simple enough, visit the sites where various rock stars have died and write an article about it examining the culture of glamorous death that seems to surround rock and roll. Killing Yourself to Live is only marginally about this process however as it ultimately becomes the tale of Klosterman riding around the country in his Ford Tauntaun, gathering information for this article while trying to piece together these three past and present doomed relationships in his head. It's like if High Fidelity were about a road trip. I think Klosterman sums it all up very nicely near the end of the book when he says "I've been inside a car for 1000 years, worrying about women and thinking about death and playing KISS and Radiohead and all this other shit, and - for some reason - I keep writing all this stuff down, and I don't know exactly why. But it all feels the same, you know? It seems like love and death and rock 'n' roll are the same experience."and he couldn't be more right.1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I'm a fan of the apocalypse, we all are. We're all just sitting around waiting for the day it all comes crashing down because deep inside we're pretty sure things can't keep up the way they are forever. I read The Road because of the movie. I knew the film was coming out and I had heard the book was good and I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie. I'm glad I did, because while the movie was good and a mostly faithful adaptation, the book is incredible. The Road is simply the story of a man and his boy barely surviving on an Earth that has undergone some unnamed calamity and is all but dead. The simple premise is that the winters have been growing progressively colder and in order to survive they make the decision to head south to the shore along the eponymous road. It's a story about survival and desperation, but more than anything else it's a story about the relationship between the man and the boy and it is incredibly moving. The end of this book has got to be one of the most moving pieces of fiction I have ever read, a scene that not film could ever hope to reproduce with all it's emotional magnitude intact. It's a quick read, but a good read and probably the best book I read in 2009 if not one of the best I have ever read.I thought I was going to get to games in this post, but it's already taken me a while to get through books so there will be a part three. Until then, farewell.