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Wednesday, 27 November 2019 11:15

The year in books: 2019’s recommended reads

It has been yet another fantastic year for the written word, with many tremendous literary offerings hitting shelves in 2019.

Reviewing books is one of the best parts of my job. As part of that job, I’ve read dozens of books over the course of the past year. I freely admit that I tend to seek out works that I know will resonate for me – and hence usually enjoy the books I review – but even with that degree of curation, there’s no denying that there are always some that particularly stand out.

This is not your traditional “best of” list – that’s not my style. Instead, consider this a collection of recommendations. These are suggestions; I enjoyed them, so I thought that you might as well. I’ve also included selections from my writings about these books (please note that the full reviews are available eslewhere on our website). Bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list. I’m just one man – there are scores more books out there, exceptional works that I simply never got a chance to read.

So are these the best books of 2019? I don’t know – it’s all subjective. What I can say is that every one of these works captured my imagination and my attention … and perhaps one or more of them will do the same for you.

Here are my recommended reads from 2019.

Published in Cover Story

Few writers today have been working the cultural criticism beat as long and as successfully as Chuck Klosterman. To many, his is THE voice when it comes to pop analysis and contextualization. But while his latest book might explore some of those same ideas, it does so through a different literary lens.

“Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction” (Penguin, $26) offers the same sort of quick-hit cleverness that permeates Klosterman’s nonfiction, but via a delivery medium of short fiction. Flash fiction, really – none of the 34 pieces that make up this collection is more than a handful of pages and some are considerably shorter.

The book’s subtitle is an accurate one – the tales contained within are brief, fictionalized explorations of the same ideas and hypotheticals that feature prominently in Klosterman’s nonfiction work. They are strange and offbeat, small and skewed glimpses of the zeitgeist through weird-colored glasses – think “Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror,” only in a much bigger hurry. And while they vary in length, style and tone, all of them ring loudly with the author’s distinctive voice.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 10:46

The year in books - 2016's recommended reads

This year has been a phenomenal year for the written word. So many brilliant works – fiction and nonfiction alike – appeared on bookshelves in 2016.

Published in Cover Story

Klosterman book aims to look at the present from a future perspective

Have you ever considered the possibility that we're wrong?

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 11 July 2013 09:26

The grayness between black and white

I Wear the Black Hat' explores good and evil

What makes a villain?

That's the question being tackled by Chuck Klosterman in his new book 'I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)' (Scribner, $25). The noted cultural critic best known for collections such as 'Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs' has turned his sardonic eye toward a new subject the nature of villainy.

Have you ever wanted to read a breakdown of the major players in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal (with a healthy dose of 'Basic Instinct' thrown in for good measure? You can find that here. How about a discussion of the similarity of attitude and impact between rap group N.W.A and the NFL's Oakland Raiders? That's here too. Or maybe you're looking for a deeper exploration of the O.J. Simpson case including a look at the absurdity of the mere existence of Simpson's 'If I Did It' memoir. If so, Klosterman has got something for you.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:25

Donning the black hat

Discussing the nature of villainy with Chuck Klosterman

Over the past decade, Chuck Klosterman has become one of the preeminent voices in the world of pop culture analysis. He has combined an encyclopedic breadth of knowledge with insightful wit to create his own unique voice - a voice he has used to dive beneath the shallow surface of our cultural waters and explore the seemingly-mundane with passion and precision.

He has written a number of popular essay collections that have explored diverse topics spanning the cultural landscape - the realms of television, movies, music and sports. Whether it's an exploration of the true nature of Zack Morris's Bayside, a breakdown of the deeper meaning behind the 1980s rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics or an in-depth interview with Britney Spears, Klosterman has repeatedly found ways to take the pulse of the zeitgeist and report on it with a style and panache that is his and his alone.

Published in Cover Story

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