2016 Reading List

After the year that was 2016, with a ton of celebrity deaths (of celebrities people actually liked, like David Bowie and Carrie Fisher) and the election of a xenophobic candy corn here in the US, I could always find some kind of solace in a good book. And I got through 23 of them this year, which is a happy number, since my goal is at least 20 every year.

2016 has been an interesting year, and not one I would like to forget any time soon from its upsides (instead of as a cautionary political tale). I started dating a sweetheart of a human being, two of my best friends got married, I attended some awesome press events even if I subsequently took a break from being a professional video game critic late in the year. I interviewed a sitting world champion of pro wrestling (AJ Styles, the best wrestler on the planet with or without the belt) and attended my sixth E3. I moved into a new room. Got my first two tattoos.

It’s been a productive year, when I really sit down and think about it. And 2017 is going to be better, because I’m going to MAKE it better.

Like I did with the 2015 list, here is the list of what I read, along with a two-sentence review and a final score. Hope this might help tune you into some good books for your 2017!

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Review: Crazy dudes, lots of drugs, simple assignment. Reminded me a bit too much (aside from the hardcore drugs, I just drank a lot) of a few press events I’ve spent time attending, but otherwise it’s an interesting – intense – tale of a dude basically unravelling.
Score: B

Casino Royale
Review: James Bond is still clearly a misogynist, but damn if he’s a cool spy. Pretty decent read through, and as I read it back in January of last year I’m fuzzy on certain details
Score: B

Slum Online
Review: A student is obsessed with a MMO fighting game, and searches for the elusive Ganker Jack while figuring out how to… y’know, be a person… around a girl in his class. It’s sweet and treats the video game world as something with genuine weight, which I respect.
Score: A-

23rd Century Romance cover image. Not my image, all rights to their respective owners.

23rd Century Romance
Review: In the future, you don’t have to ever have sex with a real person, which is why most people don’t. This is the convoluted tale of one such person who finds a way to have a meaningful relationship with a human anyway.
Score: B+

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again
Review: Introverted David Foster Wallace was promised that a cruise was a lot of fun. He didn’t really agree, and it’s kind of amazing how well he lets the reader know.
Score: A

Ready Player One
Review: I’d like to think it gets better with every reading, but after maybe three times through, it’s just kinda… still. Even so, it’s not bad, and another story where the virtual world is treated well in an entirely believable (though still dystopian) future.
Score: B+

Attempting Normal
Review: Marc Maron is unstable, and so is everyone in his life. This is his attempt to make some sense of that fact.
Score: B

Shadow of the Colossus
Review: An amazing story walkthrough of one of the greatest artistic games of all time. And actually leaves you feeling not only like you’ve played it as recently as he has while he writes, but with added context to flesh out the story further as well.
Score: A

Consoles Wars cover. Not my image, all rights to their respective owners.

Console Wars
Review: “Genesis Does With Ninten-Don’t” and “Nintendo Is What Genes-Isn’t.” The true story is more interesting than what the magazines were reporting at the time.
Score: A

Metal Gear Solid
Review: It was an interesting take on how two kids grew up and the game shaped their lives. Wasn’t bad, even though I read it as somebody who’s never played the game (and has no real interest in the sneaky games).
Score: B

Fahrenheit 451
Review: I’m just going to leave this picture I took a few days after my birthday for reference:
Score: A+

Think Like A Freak
Review: Economic theory as used in everyday situations brings interesting insight to a lifetime’s approach. And it’s an easy read too, so it’s applicable as well as informative.
Score: A-

We’re All Damaged
Review: A guy goes back home to help with a dying relative, address his family’s impending disintegration, and (kind of) meets somebody he likes. Too bad it’s a bit predictable and, while amusing, slightly underwhelming by the end.
Score: C+

Lion’s Pride
Review: Ever wanted to know the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling? This is a good way to do it, ranging from humble beginnings to its modern-day renaissance.
Score: B+

Diary of an Oxygen Thief cover. Not my image, all rights to their respective owners.

Diary of an Oxygen Thief
Review: Damn this guy’s a dick. Deplorable, rude, cruel, and yet kind of still… endearing?
Score: A-

The Professor, The Banker, And The Suicide King
Review: The richest poker game every recorded from its beginnings as a rich math wizard wanting to push himself, to looking for an edge, to big wins and losses.
Score: B+

Things To Shout Out Loud At Parties
Review: Heart-expanding micro-fiction with likely-fake stories telling real emotional tales. It’s a fast read, VERY fast, but worth the smiles.
Score: A

Chameleon On A Kaleidoscope
Review: Expanding on the life told in Diary of an Oxygen Thief, where he’s not quite the asshole he once was. Still is, but… yeah.
Score: B+

Super Mario Bros. 3 cover. Not my image, all rights to their respective owners.

Super Mario Bros 3
Review: Growing up with the greatest game in the Mario universe (COME AT ME BRO) and every emotional moment that came with it. Not a walkthrough of the game, mostly a personal memoir, but absolutely a must-read for any SMB3 fan.
Score: A

Hear The Wind Sing
Review: Early Murakami, without much structure but still interesting. Kind of like hanging out with that friend you had in early-1970s Japan in college.
Score: C

Pinball, 1973
Review: More structured, more of a point than Hear The Wind Sing, but still mostly aimless and wandering. There’s more to it though, though not enough to make it a must-read.
Score: B-

The Disaster Artist
Review: The story of Greg Sestero’s friendship with Tommy Wiseau, and how turbulent the making of The Room actually was. It’s gripping, it’s emotional, and for as crazy as Wiseau comes off (both in book and in public) I’m actually… proud of him?
Score: A
That was my book list for 2016, did you read anything that left a lasting impact on you last year? Leave any recommendations in comments, maybe you’ll have the book to look to for 2017. I can always use something to occupy my reading hours with!

Stand Tall, my friends, and here’s to a letter-loving 2017!

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