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It’s the end of the year. I suppose that means I should post an obligatory section on best books. But, since I love all sorts of world building and story structure, I’m going to expand that to movies and comics. Basically, what were the top stories that I read this year and, obviously, why. In no particular order, because, that’s unfair, subjective, and pointless, let’s get started.

  1. The Signal and the Noise: Nate Silver‘s explanation and deconstruction of statistics revolutionized my perception. It also resulted my first attempts to review a book with concrete thoughts. This book was not the fastest read, but I would list it as my favorite and most influential of the year.
  2. Her Fearful Symmetry: Audrey Niffenegger’s sophomore novel didn’t grab me the same way her first book did, but I connected with it none-the-less. A powerful tale of twins and family and love,
  3. Mindless Eating: A book about how to eat less, mindlessly. The primary point of this book is to propose that we can eat less, not more, without really trying. That there’s an eating point where this all becomes natural. And it does so by presenting the psychology of eating, not diets. Interesting note, most people think they’re immune to these little eating tricks, but almost everyone falls for them. Worth considering.
  4. Ender’s Game: I’m not sure if there’s anything to say about this. Absolutely a classic science fiction tale that sets the standard for a generation to follow.
  5. Ender’s Shadow: A story that runs concurrently to Ender’s Game. This time from the perspective of a previously secondary character, Bean. Neat little trick.
  6. Hickman’s Avengers: This run includes the mini-series Infinity, the regular Avenger’s comic, as well as New Avengers, starring the secretive Illuminati. Hickman’s had my attention since he came on the scene with Secret Warriors a few years ago, but this year, he’s told an interweaving story through two books and miniseries. Looking back, it’s astounding to realize that all of these books came out this year. Total, he’s written 44 comics that tell the first stage of a massive story plan. He’s got large ideas (antimatter bombs to blow up parallel earths, a planet fired backwards in time as a bullet, the Builders, intergalactic war), character, and great artists. Some of the best in the industry. There’s nothing not to like.
  7. Under the Banner of Heaven: Try my thoughts here. Deeply fascinating and disturbing. I’m just sorry it took me so long to read.
  8. SCoE Ghosts: A classic science fiction tale if I ever remember one. A story told through probability and odds. Definitely a throw back and one of the better stories told in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series.
  9. Ano Hana: Getting a truly emotional reaction from me is hard. At least, in fictional worlds. I don’t care when characters die, like Remus or Lupin in Harry Potter, or television shows, like Battlestar Galactica when Roslin dies at the end. I find it all rather pointless. That said, Ano Hana had me bawling. A brilliant, original animated series, it follows five friends following the death of a member of their group. As they grow older and their friendship falls apart, the ghost of the dead friend reappears, trying to remember a promise/wish. The point is, the last two episodes packed so much power and emotion that I couldn’t help but have tears. Okay, so part of that was watching it at 2am, but still.
  10. Pacific Rim: Gabriel DelToro’s movie tribute to giant monsters fighting giant piloted robots was everything I could have hoped for. The story’s pretty thin but it’s GIANT Monsters fighting GIANT Robots. Which is basically everything I could have hoped for. With an awesome music score, some excellent one liners, and great CGI effects, there aren’t many better ways to spend a couple of hours.

That’s my list. Agree? Disagree? Not actually paying attention? Excellent. Let me know.