Troxellian Literature Awards 2k20 (Pandemic Version)
Welcome to the Pandemic Version of the Troxellian Literary Awards!!1
It's pretty much the same awards post I do every December ... BUT DURING A PANDEMIC!
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 indisputable. Novels, graphic novels, and non-fiction are fair game in all general categories, but there are specific genre awards as well.
Here are your winners ...
The “DON'T THREATEN ME WITH A GOOD TIME” 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…
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley
This award typically goes to a comic, and this year is no different. I read comics when I'm taking a break from more serious literary endeavors, and they're usually just a good time. I love the Scott Pilgrim movie so reading the comic series was a no-brainer. It speaks to the video game nerd in me. It's so different than anything else out there, and it's a true Xenial work geared toward the generation of comic readers out there who always wanted to see themselves as the hero. Slacker Power!
Honorable mention: Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
The “TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION” Award
This award goes to the best non-fiction book I read this year. And the Troxell goes to…
Fight Write by Carla Hoch
I'm always hesitant to include craft books in these awards (I usually don't), but this year I'm awarding my award for best non-fiction work to a book about kicking ass and breaking bones. Fight Write is a craft book about writing realistic fight scenes, and the detail put into this book was impressive. From weapon specs to fighting stances to the effects of a concussion, it's all in here. I recommend the book for any writer looking to splatter more blood on their pages.
The “Young at Heart” Award
This award goes to the best YA book I read this year. And the Troxell goes to…
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
I gave up on nearly every series I started this year (Wheel of Time, The Enemy, The Testing, Cinder). None of them inspired me to continue the series (To be fair, I'm not overly into series). I initially had Inkheart, a story about book villains who leave their book to terrorize a book collector and his daughter, on that list as well. When I finished it, I thought it was very meh. A few weeks passed and I found myself wondering about the characters and what they were up to when their adventure ended. I guess that's a sign of an effective novel. The characters should stay with you long after the book is closed and the last page read. Inkheart was one of the rare books to do that for me in the chaos of 2020.
Honorable Mention: The Fear by Charlie Higson
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 Stand by Stephen King
Is there anything more perfect than reading The Stand, Stephen King's pandemic magna opus, during a real life global pandemic (How ya doing, Captain Trips?). The Stand is my favorite King novel. I've read it twice before (even though it's long as shit), but reading the novel during an actual pandemic put a new twist on things. It was fun to see what he got right and what he totally whiffed on. Where were the masks, Stephen?! And why are people shaking hands still?! And why isn't the true battle between Good and Evil being fought over toilet paper?!
Honorable Mention: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
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…
The Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
I actually read this pandemic/post-apocalyptic novel BEFORE the actual global pandemic (I'm writing a pandemic/post-apocalyptic series at the moment so this was supposed to be inspiration). In the book, a virus wipes out 99.9% of the human population, leaving only a handful of people behind to pick up the pieces (Sound familiar?). This book is the antithesis to The Stand. It's a post-apocalyptic novel where absolutely NOTHING happens. Nothing! The few survivors band together, get along, figure things out, start families, and keep humanity marching along. It sound boring as hell, but there's a serenity to the book that made me feel cool with near human extinction, and it's probably the most realistic post-apoc book ever written. Even if humanity was wiped out, the Earth would keep on trucking along. So it goes.
The “‘Badge of Honor’” Award
This is a special award this year for my victory over a book that had previously bested me. And the Troxell goes to…
Ulysses by James Joyce
Technically, I'm not giving this award to Joyce's "masterpiece" but to ME for finally reading this abomination. This was my third attempt tackling "the greatest novel of all-time" and 2020 was the year I finally survived it. It was like a job I forced myself to go to until I finished it. Let me just say this: I get it. I get the praise for this novel. The way it plays with form and narrative is innovative, boundary-shattering stuff. But it's still a shit story. I like an actual plot in my books. Yay to me for reading it! You can take this book, James, and choke on it all the back to Araby!
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…
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
2020 is the year I discovered John Irving. I already knew who he was, but I had never read any of his stuff, but he found me this year. And I am glad he did. In Irving's work, I found elements of Vonnegut absurdity mixed with strong writing and some of the most memorable, interesting, and tragic characters in all of modern literature. I devoured Owen Meany, Cider House, and Garp in 2020, but it was Owen Meany who will remain with me for a long time. I loved the themes, the settings, and Owen Meany is one of my favorite characters ever. I named my son after him way back in 2012 and didn't even know it (at least that's what I'll tell people from now on). And that moment with the slam dunk on the grenade?! C'mon!
I plan on riding out the rest of the pandemic with some excellent books so I'll see you next December for the best books of 2021. Hey, it can't be any worse than 2020 ... right?!
If you're looking for a book to add to your reading list in 2021, check out my latest dark comedy, Cheshire Moon! Buy it here!