Best Novel (read in 2007): Walker Percy’s The Second Coming. As I’ve described him before, Percy is like Dostoevsky with wit. The Second Coming is a novel about a rich, middle-aged man (who may or may not be going crazy) and his encounter with an escaped mental patient who has already been down the crazy road for quite awhile. All of this craziness leads up to, in typical Percian fashion, unparalleled sanity.
Best Nonfiction Book (read in 2007): Dick Keyes’ Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the power of Suspicion. Cynical that this is the best? Read my review.
Best Misguided Book (read in 2007): Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz is funny, well-written, and Miller makes many valid, salient points. However, the author’s constant brooding and elevation of doubt to the status of virtue transforms a potentially groundbreaking book into little more than faddish whimsy.
Best Movie: Like last year, I only made it to one in-cinema movie. My favorite DVDs of the year were Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, Apocalypto and Amazing Grace, which is comparable to Chariots of Fire for those of us who work in the political realm.
Best TV Show: 2007 will be known as the “Year In Which Television Went Down the Drain.” With striking writers having to take real jobs just to make ends meet, it’s been a pretty lousy year in the television industry. So, my best of this year is a toss-up. The Office is hilarious — when the episodes aren’t an hour long. I’m a fan of Lost, but episodes of the show seem to be living up to its name — only eight episodes will appear in 2008. The Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild is thoroughly entertaining, if not all that good for the appetite. House continues to be one of the smartest (read sarcastic) show on the air, and is unafraid to venture into difficult subject matter. These are all, of course, shows I mentioned last year, which must mean that 2007 was so 2006.
Best Science News: The research of Dr. Shinya Yamanaka which shows how induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can behave like embryonic stem cells should put an end to embyro destructive stem cell research. It’s monumental news, and politicians who supported destructive research should see this as a way out of the unethical research battles.
Best Underappreciated Web App: The Google Browser Sync is handy little tool which syncs your Firefox bookmarks across multiple computers. The days of having to compile separate bookmarks for all the different computers I use are history.
Best Quote (campaign 2008): Howard Dean: “and we’re going to California and Texas and New York. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaghhh!” — Howard Dean. Nevermind, that was 2004.
Best Quote (overall): When visiting a church while traveling, the lively pastor began a loud, boisterous rant during the sermon. My three year-old son, who is new to listening to preachers, looked at the preacher, then turned to me and remarked (aloud): “He’s silly!” I don’t know if his comment or my subsequent laughter caused more trouble.