2017 Troxellian Literature Awards!!!!1
The year 2017 was terrible for pretty much everyone from politicians to celebrities to sports figures. But you know what can help numb the pain? LITERATURE! It's time to announce the winners of the 2017 Troxellian Literature Awards!
These are the mandatory end-of-year awards where I rate all the books I read over the past year and give them fake awards based on the whims of a madman (That’s me). My reading list is usually limited to books I’m reading to assist with whatever novel I’m currently working on, classics that I’m rereading or that I’ve never gotten around to reading, books that others recommend to me, or books that by one means or another serendipitously find their way into my life.
The nominees are limited to the books I read in the past 12 months and can be found here. All winners were chosen by me and the results are nothing more than one man's opinion (mine). Novels, graphic novels, and non-fiction are fair game in all general categories.
So with no further ado (I hate too much ado...), here are the winners:
The “DRINK IT IN, MAN!” Award (Formerly the "Woohoo!" award)
This award goes to the book that I had the most fun reading during the year. Maybe it wasn't the best written or most literary but it was just a good time! And the Troxell goes to…
The Hike by Drew Magary
Magary breaks the two-year run graphic novels have had in this category. The Hike is a difficult book to describe. It's magical realism...? It's about a dude who goes for a hike (duh) and ends up being transported to this twisted fantasy world populated by talking crabs and killers wearing dog faces on their faces and sexy giants. It's like an adult, acid trip version of Lord of the Rings (and you know I like me some LoR). The ending sucked but I enjoyed every other step of the journey. Each obstacle was innovative and there were plenty of "What would I do in that situation?" scenarios. Good stuff.
Honorable mention: Armada by Ernest Cline
The “HULK OUT!!!” Award
This award goes to the book that pissed me off the most for one reason or another. And the Troxell goes to…
It by Stephen King
Every year I try to read at least one King novel. In September, my wife's friend backed out on going to see the movie version of It so I agreed to go with her. I had no interest in seeing the movie because I despise horror movies, mainly because they're never scary and usually they're stupid. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. Basically it was Stranger Things with a clown. Great combination. So I decided to read the book. BIG MISTAKE! It was everything I hate about King. Ridiculously and unnecessarily long, poorly edited, and aliens jammed into the narrative because, hey, why the fuck not? Oh, and the 11-year-old gang bang in the sewers? Not cool, Stephen, NOT cool...
Dishonorable mention: Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk
The “Fine Wine” Award
This award goes to a classic work of literature that totally lived up to the hype. And the Troxell goes to…
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
No, I've never read Sherlock Holmes before this year. I've never enjoyed mysteries. Never. They bore me but not because I always figure out the mystery; it's usually because my solution to the mystery is always so much BETTER! A few years back, a student of mine was appalled that I had never read Sherlock Holmes so she gave me a collection of the complete works. Then I didn't read it for a couple years just to spite her. Finally I broke down and read the damn thing. You know what? It was pretty damn good! All the classic Holmes traits were there from the very beginning. It's amazing how well Sherlock Holmes has aged through the decades. It's a classic for a reason.
Honorable Mention: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig
The “‘Didn’t See That Comin’” Award
This award goes to a book I enjoyed way more than I expected to. And the Troxell goes to…
Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John Anderson
Ms. Bixby's Last Day had all the makings of a book I despise. It's a YA novel about three boys who are trying to create the perfect day for their beloved teacher who has just been diagnosed with cancer. My principal got the book at a conference and dumped it off on me since I was the first person he saw after attending. I read it because I never turn down a book that has found its way to me. I usually despise the way teachers are portrayed in literature and I try to steer clear of books built on a foundation of sentimentality. So I was surprised when I actually enjoyed the book. The characters were likable and their friendship was genuine without being sappy. It was an excellent "boy book" with real heart behind it. I always enjoy being surprised by a good book.
Honorable Mention: Harold and Maude by Collin Higgins
The “It's Funny Because It's TRUE” Award
This award goes to the best non-fiction book I read this year. I've never given this award before because I rarely read or enjoy non-fiction. And the Troxell goes to…
Where's the Next Shelter? by Gary Sizer
I read some really great non-fiction this year. I read a book written by a guy who was a WWE ring announcer for years (Best Seat in the House) that was excellent and another about a guy who lived in the woods by himself Thoreau-style for 27 years (Stranger in the Woods) that definitely would have won this award if the writer hadn't become so intrusive towards the end of the book and harassed the hermit he was writing about, but the award goes to Where's the Next Shelter? The book is the chronicle of Gary Sizer's journey through-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine (over 2000 miles). Really fascinating stuff. Sizer puts you right there on the trail and does an excellent job of explaining the unique culture of through-hiking. Definitely got me more interested in hitting the trails.
Honorable Mention: Best Seat in the House by Justin Roberts
The “BEST IN THE WORLD” Award
This award goes to the best book I read during the year. The best book...IN THE WORLD! And the Troxell goes to…
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
I've always been a big fan of literary science-fiction (a few novels in that category have won the top award in the past). On the cover of my copy of Stranger in a Strange Land it says "The Most Famous Science Fiction" Novel Ever Written." That's a pretty hard sell. I went in skeptical and you know what? It was pretty great. Some of the ideas and concepts are dated and probably came off as more revolutionary in the early 60's but much of its commentary on politics and religion still ring true. How would the world treat the first man from Mars? Would his arrival be politicized? Would he come with his own ideas about culture, religion, and love? And what would happen if we didn't like what he said? All I can say is: "Thou art God."
So there you have it! Another year in literature. I can't wait to read the books that find their way to me in 2018.