Between The World and Me, is one of the most important books to be published this decade, surely, possibly even this young century. In context of the long list of tragic events of the past few years (from Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston), it is timely, but that’s the easy part. It’s the combination of Coates’ framing (a letter to his son) and his raw, unapologetic tone (no white gaze-y appeasement here) that makes it stand out as a singular work that has drawn deserved comparisons to James Baldwin.
When it comes to technology, I’m generally an early tester, late adopter, especially when it comes to gaming. We got a Wii about 1.5 years after it had launched, and didn’t buy an Xbox 360 until last December, but something about the Xbox One grabbed my attention from the moment it was announced. More importantly, though, it grabbed my non-gaming wife’s attention, who then shocked me by pre-ordering it from Amazon the first day they opened pre-orders!
“Wow…” That was my whispered, slack-jawed reaction to the final 30 minutes of BioShock Infinite, arguably the most compelling video game experience I’ve ever had. It’s not a perfect game by any stretch of the definition, and since completing the game, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the more measured reviews that haven’t been afraid to point out its flaws, but to borrow a phrase from Grace Jones, it might not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me.
Unlike movies, I rarely read books when they’re first released, especially hardcover fiction, so my favorite reads in any given year are usually a mix of backlist and “new” trade paperbacks. I also like to mix things up throughout the year, so I rarely read as deeply in any one genre as I might like to, and my to-read pile grows ever higher as I discover new-to-me writers with deep backlists that I’ll never have enough time to fully explore. Here are my five favorites (plus one honorable mention), in order of combined awesomeness and emotional impact, in what has arguably been one of the best years of reading in a long time, not just in quantity, but quality, too.
It will be interesting to see what other publisher can successfully go the Marvel route; with a $2B+ worldwide box office already in for the Avengers’ on-screen storyworld (one that still bizarrely lives in total isolation from the comics), I’m guessing several will make the attempt within the next 2-3 years. Two gaming franchises I think have some serious transmedia potential are Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls and Activision’s Skylanders, though you might be surprised by which one I think has the most potential.