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Now I’m not necessarily a book worm, but there are reasons why the go-to story of my parents about me behaving badly as a child circles around a tantrum thrown because my books (The Saddle Club, okay) were taken away after I hadn’t finished my chores.  Maybe it was all the traveling I did as a kid, but I learned to rely upon books as a means of entertainment.  With that said, as my age gets higher and higher and the internet gets more and more mindless, I find myself, er… slacking on the books part.  So consider this a handy guide of books you MUST READ BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR (go ahead, make it 2012) because they are well worth avoiding your email for a couple of hours at a time.  I promise.

House of Leaves is one of those books that your “cool indie” friend will rave about (or you, if you read it and are the token “cool, indie” friend in your circle).  It’s chock full of backwards writing, weird footnotes, strange appendices, mismatched fonts and of course… incredible storytelling.  You see, House of Leaves is marketed as a horror story, but what most fail to realize until they put the book down is it’s also a love story, albeit a scary one.  Some friends of mine have even claimed to have nightmares from the book.  So for fear of giving away the plot (which is better left unspoken, I promise) I’ll just say this about House of Leaves: If I ever procreate, I’m definitely naming my firstborn after the noble but compulsive protagonist, Navidson. This is a book not to be missed, even 11 years after publication.

Token Amazon.com Review Snippet to Make You Wanna Buy, I mean Read It:“Had The Blair Witch Project been a book instead of a film, and had it been written by, say, Nabokov at his most playful, revised by Stephen King at his most cerebral, and typeset by the futurist editors of Blast at their most avant-garde, the result might have been something like House of Leaves.”

Despite my obsessive love for music, I’ve never really and truly been into the “rock biography” genre.  Maybe I’d rather just continue to think that ONE DAY I will get to chat up David Bowie over a beer (itcouldhappenokay!) than read about all the fun they had when they were young and dumb. Regardless, there is something to be said for a book that not only chronicles the life and times of the tumultuous punk movement, but also gives you glimpses into the soul of each person they interviewed.  The book is set up how one would figure VH1 Behind The Music starts… each person is interviewed about everyone else and everything else and then compiled, by event (or sometimes even remark) to show a reflective overview of the topic.  My favorite part? Well that’s simple:  When Iggy Pop finds out he got the Clap from Nico.  It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s even a little bit cautionary (as all tales of excess and overdose should be) and it deserves to be on your nightstand or kindle.

Token Amazon.com Review Snippet to Make You Wanna Buy, I mean Read It:Please Kill Me is a thrash down memory lane for those hip to punk’s early years and an enlightening history lesson for youngsters interested in the origins of modern “alternative” music.”

Yeah, so I hopped on the Game of Thrones (book collection) pretty quickly once I saw how vengeful and political Game of Thrones (tv show) was on HBO.  But how can you not love a show that presents strategy in such a scandalous light?  Both book one and the show are worth your time, even if you “aren’t a fan of fantasy” like a certain Chris Burns once told me — and now he’s addicted.

Token Amazon.com Review Snippet to Make You Wanna Buy, I mean Read It: “Martin’s Seven Kingdoms resemble England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families and their struggle to control the Iron Throne dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which barbarians, ice vampires, and direwolves menace the south as years-long winter advances. Abroad, a dragon princess lives among horse nomads and dreams of fiery reconquest. There is much bloodshed, cruelty, and death, but A Game of Thrones is nevertheless compelling; it garnered a Nebula nomination and won the 1996 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. So, on to A Clash of Kings!”

Have you ever lied to someone and told them you LOVED a certain book, but meanwhile you’re stuck in the first quarter (giving you enough knowledge to bullshit your way through a conversation, if you had to) with no hope of winning the war against text? Welcome to my hell with Infinite Jest.  I have tried to read this damn book at least eight times.  Eight times.  That’s more energy put into one book than I put into cleaning my room on a yearly basis.  Listen, if not for my sanity do it for yours — when you finish it, you’ll feel like you can climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and you probably should.

Token Amazon.com Review Snippet to Make You Wanna Buy, I mean Read It: “Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction, features a huge cast and multilevel narrative, and questions essential elements of American culture – our entertainments, our addictions, our relationships, our pleasures, our abilities to define ourselves.”

There’s always one book that, as a reader, you think you can write better than the author…. that one book you have more to say about than the self-satisfied rhetoric written in front of you.  Don’t get me wrong, Futureproof is an excellent book, one you can easily get lost in if you allow yourself to think back on the 90’s with a hardened shell and less forgiving (read: nostalgic) edge.  But it’s also a book, I think I could have written.  Maybe not to the depth at which Daniels writes about being a teenage boy in the 90’s, but my tales of being a teenage girl can and were just as harrowing at times.  Maybe it’s my cynical edge, but I would have loved to have read this book while going THROUGH the 90’s.  Maybe I would have learned a thing or two, instead of sitting here smugly thinking I could do better.

Token Amazon.com Review Snippet to Make You Wanna Buy, I mean Read It: “Saddled with a miserable home life, Luke attends Peckerbrook High and finds solace with Rocky Horror Picture Show fans, Nirvana freaks (who go into shock when Kurt Cobain kills himself), booze and drugs. He drops out and holds a series of dead-end jobs, gets high and prowls for girls, but manages, by the end, to learn how to live again. Though Daniels’s prose often feels too self-satisfied, his characters’ misanthropic adventures will speak to disenchanted youth.”


THAT’S ALL FOLKS.  Now use the comments to tell me about more books to put on my 2012 MUST-READ list, or even tell me how terrible/awesome you thought any of the above are.  Go on.  I dare ya.