I read 53 books in 2019, which is more than the previous year. I enjoy consuming stories as audiobooks on Audible, eBooks on my Kindle, or as old-fashioned physical books. Thrillers, autobiographies, self-help books—I love them all! Below are five my favorite books that I read in 2019 and my thoughts on them.
Positively Unstoppable by Diamond Dallas Page
I’ve been listening to several audiobooks lately and the newest is Positively Unstoppable: The Art of Owning It by Diamond Dallas Page. I recently interviewed Dallas, and he was a pleasure to speak with. I’ve been eagerly anticipating his book for a while now, and I devoured it in record time. As expected, it’s excellent. From the foreword by Mick Foley to the fitness and nutritional recommendations, Positively Unstoppable is jam-packed with useful information that will educate and inspire you to live your best life.
This audiobook features several narrators but Joe Barrett is the one who handles the bulk of the narration. At first, I found his voice to be grating and melodramatic but eventually I got past that and was able to focus on the content of the book itself. I enjoyed Dallas narrating the introduction and I wish he had done the entire book. However, as he says, he chose to have a professional narrator tackle this one.
Positively Unstoppable is great for people like myself who are DDPY devotees, as well as those who know nothing about Diamond Dallas Page and his health and wellness program. By reading – or listening – to this book, you’ll learn more about Dallas and yourself. It will give you a new perspective on what you eat, how you exercise, and, most importantly, how you can own your life. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and my favorite book of the year so far. Buy it, live it, own it!
Live Long and…: What I Learned Along the Way by William Shatner
I love William Shatner. He’s a brilliant actor, incredibly funny and an inspiring person because of the longevity and diversity of his career. He’s never slowed down and along the way he’s embodied iconic roles that millions of people know and love. He’s also written numerous books that are charming, humorous, and insightful, including his newest memoir – Live Long and…: What I Learned Along the Way.
Back in 2012 I met William Shatner, along with Scott Bakula, and it was a wonderful experience as both actors were delightful. And in 2018 my Dad and I saw Bill when he did a live Q&A in Philadelphia, following a screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Again, this was a highly enjoyable experience punctuated by Shatner’s undeniable charisma and charm. Over the years, I’ve listened to several of his audiobooks as I enjoy hearing the man himself share stories about his fascinating career. When I heard he had a new memoir coming out, I was instantly intrigued and I recently listened to the entire book.
Live Long and…: What I Learned Along the Way is a funny and, sometimes, serious take on Bill’s journey thus far and life in general. Sure, there’s a bounty of funny tales about all of the ups and downs of his career. However, more importantly, I enjoyed the reflective parts of this book where he pondered the meaning of life and how to live it well. Hearing what Bill is grateful for, what he regrets, and his philosophy on how to get the most out of one’s life was insightful, educational, and inspiring. If you like William Shatner, you must listen to this audiobook. If you don’t, I bet you will after giving this a shot. It’s a story about a man who’s boldly gone where no one has gone before.
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
Prior to reading The Thief of Always, I had heard great things about this book. What I didn’t expect was how much I’d wind up enjoying it. The Thief of Always is now not only one of my favorite Clive Barker books, it’s one of my all-time favorite books in general, regardless of the author. Why? Because it is a tightly-woven fable with vivid imagery, whimsy, and grandeur. What impressed me most was the writing style. I’m used to Clive Barker’s dark, macabre writing style. You won’t get any of that here. It’s so dramatically different that I thought I was reading another author’s book. The Thief of Always has a charming and lovingly presented style that goes down as smoothly as an ice-cold orange cream soda on a sweltering summer day. The characters are splendid, and the story is epic and succinct all at once. While reading this book, I experienced the same joy that I did from watching The Neverending Story as a child. I was filled with awe and happiness because I was fully immersed in a world I didn’t want to leave. Even better, the narrator for this Audible Original is perfect. His warm, emotive voice perfectly captures the mood and tone of the book and enhances it tenfold. Everyone should experience The Thief of Always—it’s a timeless tale for young and old about the wonders of the world . . . and beyond.
Backstage Pass by Paul Stanley
Paul Stanley has always been my favorite member of KISS. I’ve had the good fortune of doing a cover story interview with him, taking part in a backstage guitar meet and greet with the Starchild a few years back, meeting Paul numerous times during KISS meet and greets backstage, interviewing his son Evan for his first U.S. cover story, and much more. His music, personality, and sense of style are appealing and admirable. I loved his first book, Face The Music, so I was eager to check out Backstage Pass.
Face The Music was special for a variety of reasons, one of which was Paul narrated the audiobook. That made for an exceptional listening experience, as it felt like having a cup of coffee with my favorite rock and roll frontman. Unfortunately, Paul didn’t narrate this time around, which is a real bummer. Also, this book is one-third of the size of his first. Furthermore, it reads like a stream-of-consciousness book, where he meanders from topic to topic without much structure. Don’t go into this expecting a ton of KISS stories – there’s only a few – or solid, actionable advice for how to improve your life. If you do, you’ll be disappointed. I left this book satisfied because it provided me with another glimpse inside the mind of Paul Stanley. While I wish he’d given us with something more raw and emotional, that’s not who he is. Paul has always been polished and professional, and Backstage Pass is just that – a memoir fixated on mortality burnished for our enjoyment.
SNES Omnibus Volume 2 by Brett Weiss
As I’ve previously stated, the Super Nintendo is my all-time favorite video game system. Last year, author Brett Weiss released The SNES Omnibus: Volume 1 and I said how it was “an excellent tribute to an iconic system and video game library.” The same holds true for its sequel, which is coming out very soon. The SNES Omnibus: Volume 2 covers games N through Z, along with various essays about different aspects of the Super Nintendo, such as The Super Game Boy and The Super Scope 6. If you’re a video game fan, love Nintendo or simply want to take a deep dive into the golden age of 16-bit gaming, The SNES Omnibus: Volume 2 is a must-buy. It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it.