I listed the dozen books I read this year that had the most effect upon me, leaving six reads off the list. None are bad books, and here is the list:
The Raft by Robert Trumbull. Written in 1942, it's about 3 American fliers stranded on a tiny rubber lifeboat when their torpedo plane went down in the Pacific during the war. They were adrift over a month before being picked up by a passing American ship. A tale of privation, resourcefulness and determination, I read it as a boy and was mightily impressed by it. It was okay as a re-read half a century later.
Fire by Sebastian Junger. Junger's The Perfect Storm is one of my favorite books. This book, a collection of stories about wildfire firefighters, several of whom lost their lives, is also okay.
Micro by Michael Crichton and Robert Preston. Ghost written by Preston from an unfinished book by Crichton after Crichton died, I think it's about tiny robots that attack humans by getting into their blood stream and saw their way out with minuscule scalpels. But I really don't remember, and can't remember how it came out, beyond that the world didn't end. How many more unfinished manuscripts did Crichton leave behind?
Harbor Nocturne by Joseph Wambaugh. I've read all of Wambaugh's books about cops so I read this, his latest effort. If you haven't read Wambaugh before, start with The New Centurions (fiction) or The Onion Field (factual) instead.
Tin Can Man by Emory J. Jernigan. The wartime experiences of a sailor aboard a destroyer in WWII, written 50 years after he lived through them. Interesting details about the daily wartime experiences of sailors, and some of the personal incidents the author relates might even be true.
Iwo by Richard Wheeler. A standard battle book about the most savage fight of WWII, excepting, perhaps, only Stalingrad. The ferociousness of this fight to the last man between the Marines and the Japanese had a lot to do with the decision to use atomic bombs to end the war finally.
I'm always interested each year to tally up the types of books I read each year. Of the eighteen, three were literature (A Tale of Two Cities; Walkabout; Food of the Gods), two were biographies (John Paul Jones; Kesselring) seven were histories (Glittering Misery; Retribution; Iwo; Tarawa; Japan's War; The American Revolution; Lincoln and His Generals), one was political science (Wilson), two were novels (Harbor Nocturne; Micro), and three were true action (Fire; The Raft; Tin Can Man).
I don't watch a lot of movies but sometimes I check DVDs out of the library. I enjoyed The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger made a couple of years ago because, actually, it was well written and Arnold was at his understated best. The absolute worst movie I have seen in a long time was The Little Fockers, a terrible, pointless waste of time despite a great cast including Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand.