JS Best Books of 2016

Let me get this out of the way up front: These are not the best books of the year by any metric other than “what I enjoyed most.” If you’re looking for a great read and you trust my tastes, this post is for you.

I’ve done book recommendations for three years running now, usually before Christmas, but with my Big Move I didn’t have time to post about the previous year’s literary gems until now. Enjoy!

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The perfect image to talk about some great books and to put in a quick plug for the online Oscar contest I’m running. Join in, win free books!

1) First up is a book I’ve loved for a long time, but re-read in 2016. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is hard to categorize, but perhaps could be called a “Fictional Memoir.” Transcending the genre of war literature, this novel (or, arguably, collection of stories) is more a treatise on what it means for a story to be true. Highly recommended for lovers of storytelling and its impact on us as people.

2) Next is Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Nick is one of my writer buddies, and this is the start to his latest series. For my money, Nick is really hitting his stride as a writer here. This book has a unique hook and it hits hard. Book 2 releases this summer and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes with this world and these characters.

3) Bun by Brian Silveira and Lisa Nguyen is the bizarre and beautiful brainchild of my cover artist for SUPERPOWERED and PATHOGENS in partnership with his wife. After reading book one, I have to say: Brian, you have been holding back on my covers! The art on these pages are creative, detailed, stunning, and masterful. You can read the book for free online, but I’d highly recommend reaching out for a printed copy.

4) Finally, a book I listened to as I’m gearing up to write my fifth Click Your Poison novel, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Alfred Molina was the narrator and did an incredible job, but that’s not the reason this book made my list. I’ve read/listened to a lot of classics, but this is one of the few that doesn’t dip into “widow dressing” (describing a scene ad nauseam). It’s also the progenitor for all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the restaurant Long John Silver’s, and basically our entire “Talk Like a Pirate” day culture.

Honorable Mentions

I read Best Food Writing 2015 edited by Holly Hughes as part of a book club last year, and there are some fantastic, thought-provoking stories in there. Some of the authors do an amazing job of relating new perspectives on food culture. However, I can’t 100% recommend it, because there were a few stories inside that weren’t quite to my…tastes.

I almost loved Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. I think I wanted it to either be funnier or more insightful. Though it’s a short read with a little of both, so feel free to pick it up and judge for yourself. Or grab the audiobook and let Aziz make fun of you for being too lazy to read…


So, what do YOU think? Have you read any of the titles listed? Any suggestions for me?

Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

 

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Happy Star Wars Day!

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It’s Star Wars day! A day when fans celebrate the greatest film trilogy ever made and fanatics do so slightly more than on any other day.

For me, I wanted to say that my Reboot The Prequels project is still alive and well.

Since last year, we were introduced to a new Star Wars film that I quite enjoyed, but wasn’t without its detractors. People complained (somewhat validly) that The Force Awakens was just a soft reboot of the Original Trilogy. A Star Wars “Greatest Hits” if you will.

I can definitely see where this criticism comes from; I just don’t see it as a bad thing.

As an audience member, I was extremely skeptical of a new Star Wars movie. I’m sure many of us were. So, giving us something that “felt” like Star Wars was a big step towards regaining that audience trust. Now I’m incredibly excited for the next installments in the saga.

But for my reboot? It’s a great thing! The Prequel Trilogy was all but written off in the new film, leaving a wide berth for the Reboot Trilogy to fit within the confines of the saga overall.

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I know it’s been a while since I announced my intent to rewrite these movies, but here’s a solid commitment: After I finish my next Click Your Poison book (this summer), I’m going to dive into these Star Wars scripts full time.

So…it’s coming. I just need to buckle down and remember, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

PS — I also had my fist taste of a “reboot hater” on the internet this year. I get that you might think I’m wasting my time, or hell, you might even like the prequels. But if you don’t think rebooting the prequels is a good idea, let’s just each go our own way on this issue, okay? Especially on Star Wars day, I think we can agree to disagree.

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What do YOU think? Still waiting patiently? Don’t care and hope I don’t take too long of a sabbatical between books? 

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Oscar 2016: Results

We had the biggest year ever with 22 entries! And…most of you beat me. So, I’m gonna owe a lot of books. Here’s a fair representation of yours truly as I’m grading these things:

There was also a four-way tie for second place, and only a single-point lead for first, so I narrowly avoided having five winning players! I better come up with a tie-breaker question for next year.

All participants should have received an email with your results. Unless your name is “dasdasd” and you chose to input your email address as “adasdasd@dasdd.com.” Umm, thanks for playing?

Interesting trends:

  • No one predicted Mark Rylan’s win. Literally no one. That’s the only weighted category no one got.
  • Most people (me included) over-estimated Gaga’s chances. She and Stallone were the most common “wrong” answers.
  • Likewise, Ex-Machina’s visual effects win was a shocker to most. But it’s a great movie and I’m glad it got some love.

That’s it for 2016’s contest. See you next year!


Did you watch the show? How many winners did you manage to see this year?

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The Year of the (zombie) Monkey!

Happy Chinese New Year! Just wanted to make a quick note that CYP#4, PATHOGENS, is coming along nicely. It’ll be available summer 2016, so get excited!


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Anyone out there as excited as I am?

Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

2016 Online Oscar Pool

It’s time for the 3rd Annual, James Schannep Oscar competition!

If you beat my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards, I’ll gift you or a friend an e-copy of a Click Your Poison book. The highest scoring participant also gets a $10 giftcard to Amazon.com.

All you have to do is fill out the form below before showtime on Feb 28th (I’ll post mine online before then too) to qualify.

The complete list of the nominees can be found here.

If I messed something up, please let me know in the comments.


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