Winter break and the holiday season are both coming. This means free time and the need to buy presents for other people. Luckily, books are good for both of these things.These – in no particular order – are the books that I read and most enjoyed this year:
A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones books 1-5) – George R.R. Martin
If you haven’t read any of these, start now – it’s going to take a long time. The Game of
Thrones series may cause you to neglect your relationships, your classes, and your health because you can’t stop reading. By comparison, this makes The Lord of the Rings look like a children’s tale. Books 1, 3, and 5 are the best, while 2 and 4 felt, in many ways, like something that you had to slog through to get to the reward that turned out to be in the next book. Martin sometimes goes on far too long, with entire chapters about monotonous and slow characters whose names aren’t Tyrion Lannister (Brienne of Tarth is particularly painful). But it’s all worth it. Just don’t get too attached to any of the characters. If you don’t like reading, watch the TV series, where season three starts on HBO this Spring. Winter is coming.
Tom Clancy was the author whose work most inspired me to write. His work has spawned countless movie adaptions—the Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, the Sum of All Fears—and video games—Rainbow Six and its many sequels, Splinter Cell and its many sequels, and so on. Clancy has shown an unusual willingness to add his name to anything spy-related as long as it earns him so extra money. Most of the books that have come out bearing that name in the past few years have had a coauthor’s name in small print below, and their quality has deteriorated significantly. Even some of his later, non-coauthored books weren’t as good as readers had come to expect. The glory days of Clancy are long gone, and I haven’t yet found an author in the genre that replaces his combination of quality writing, incredible detail, and amazing action. Many of the popular writers of spy thrillers today make Dick Cheney look liberal and aren’t afraid to show it (Brad Thor), set up good characters but don’t write convincing action and fail to adequately wrap up story lines at the end of the book (Ted Bell), or write great stories but do so poorly (Dan Brown and many, many more). Although Clancy wrote more an extraordinarily large number of awesome novels, here are my five favorites (Mild spoilers follow):