As many Patch readers know, it is not uncommon for commenters on this site to:
- Be mean and overly critical for no apparent reason;
- Focus on one negative thing in a story and comment on that and only that, sometimes over and over again;
- Have tons of spare time to do so;
- Get very angry about something that many other people do not think is a big deal; and
- Often do all of this anonymously (which I find cowardly).
I know of at least one other Patch blogger who thinks twice about posting anything because of concern that any topic, no matter how safe it may seem, will be somehow twisted into President Obama being the Antichrist (or something along those lines).
My last post was tied into the apparent demise of Hostess. Meant to be a walk down Sugary-Snack Lane, it became a place to comment on unions, mismanagement, my being a crappy writer, corporate greed, and maybe some other things (I stopped reading after a while). I thought I was just writing about Twinkies.
This post will include a free service to such commenters (and yes, I know all commenters are not like the ones described above).
Covered below are the best books I've read in 2012. Maybe you'll like some of them, yourself. Maybe you'll see one you think will make a nice Christmas gift for someone else. That is the intent of the post.
But, for the cynical, angry, and nit-picky among us, I'll also include a reason you should criticize the book, the author, the blogger, or, just society in general, while I happen to be recommending this book.
Our first category is Short Stories, a genre that doesn't seem to get too much attention these days, but should.
"Astray" by Emma Donoghue
- Why should you read it: Donoghue took snippets of history - newspaper clippings, old letters, etc. - and crafted them into compelling works of fiction. One of the best books I read this year.
- Something to criticize: Donoghue is not a member of Team Heterosexual. Thankfully, she's Irish and lives in Canada, so she couldn't vote for Obama or Elizabeth Warren, nor is she likely to push for gay marriage in the USA and contribute to the downfall of our great nation.
"Light Lifting" by Alexander MacLeod
- Why you should read it: MacLeod's dad, Alistair MacLeod, is one of my favorite authors, although he's published relatively little in his career. After reading reviews of this book, I thought I'd see if the apple fell close to the tree, and it did. Interesting situations, characters I cared about, and great (though not always clean) endings in every story. I had to buy it in Canada, though it's since become available on Amazon in the US.
On a somewhat related note, my dad is a CPA and very good with numbers, while I still sometimes count on my fingers. Dad/son skill sets don't always work out as well as they did for the MacLeod boys.
- Something to criticize: Not only is MacLeod from Canada, a nation that still somehow endures despite having a government health plan, but he is also a college professor, which I'm sure makes him elitist and anti-American. He probably prefers Labatt's or Molson over Budweiser, as well.
"Dark Lies the Island" by Kevin Barry
- Why you should read it: It has something for everyone. Young love ("Across the Rooftops); a beer tasting trip, where not much happens, but much is revealed ("Beer Trip to Llandudno"); physical and mental peril ("Fjord of Killary"). A great read.
- Something to criticize: "The Girls and the Dogs" is about a guy on the run who hides out at a rundown farm, whose occupants are undoubtedly on some sort of public assistance, and dragging down the rest of society because of it.
Next up, a few non-fiction selections.
"Churchill" by Paul Johnson
- Why you should read it: An excellent and succinct biography (from 2010, I just got to it this year) of a man whose contributions to his country are nearly impossible to calculate. I really felt like I knew the guy a little bit after reading this book. Of all the biographies I've read over the years, there are only a few that, even though I knew it was coming, I still felt bad when the subject died at the end. This is one of them. It whet my appetite to one day tackle William Manchester's "The Last Lion" Churchill trilogy (when I'm ready to read about 3,000 pages about one guy).
- Something to criticize: Like Ted Kennedy, Churchill was born into a wealthy family and was a career politician. He was born in a palace! Clearly must have been an elitist.
"Buddy" by Brian McGrory
- Why you should read it: I love dogs, but we don't have the time, space, or money for a pet. "Buddy" is McGrory's story of how he went from owning a Golden who was his best friend, to marrying into a family that came with a private menagerie, including Buddy, a rooster who loathed him (to put it mildly).
"Buddy" is about more than that, though. It's about how McGrory changed as a person through his family and (gulp), even through Buddy. It almost made me want to go buy some chickens. Not roosters, though; I'd never buy a pet that causes testicular endangerment.
- Something to criticize: McGrory's day job is writing a column for "The Boston Globe," a left-wing rag supported by elite Democrats and only still in business by the grace of God, its Sports section, and "The New York Times" (not necessarily in that order).
"Johnson's Life of London" by Boris Johnson
- Why you should read it: You'll learn something new about London and a lot of people who called it home. From Roman times (Boudica) to modern times (Keith Richards), London's Mayor Boris Johnson spends a chapter on some of the most interesting and influential people in London's history, and includes snippets about the city along the way. I flew through this book, and didn't want it to end.
- Something to criticize: How does a guy run a city and find the time to write a book at the same time? Johnson is the English version of our Governor Deval Patrick - two men with high-profile, supposedly high-responsibility jobs, who have the time to write a book. I barely have the time to write these posts, and I barely proofread.
Next time: Favorite Novels of 2012, just in time to stuff a stocking.