Although I didn’t keep a formal reading log of the books I read in 2012, I’m going to attempt to do it after the fact. After reading Austin Kleon’s post on Keeping a Logbook, it has inspired me to keep a brief reading journal throughout the year as a way to record my thoughts while they are still fresh on my mind.


Willie Nelson: An Epic Life by Joe Nick Patoski

I really enjoyed Patoski’s book on another Austin legend, Stevie Ray Vaughan, so I knew picking this one up would be a no-brainer. It gets a little too thorough at times, but dang… what a life. You really can’t make this shit up. The book also has some great history of the Austin music scene.

San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills by Charles R. Townsend

Before there was Willie, there was Bob. Waylon Jennings once said “It don’t matter who’s in Austin, Bob Wills is still the king.” An exhaustively researched story of one of the most important musicians in Texas music.

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By It’s Stars, Writers and Guests by Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller

Live from New York is written in an interview style similar to another SNL-related book I enjoyed, The Chris Farley Show. It was fascinating to hear about all of the drama and history from cast members and producers. Spoiler: Chevy Chase is an asshole.

The Art of Drew Struzan by Drew Struzan

Greatest movie poster artist ever! I prefer this book to The Movie Posters of Drew Struzan (haven’t picked up Oeuvre yet). Drew offers insights and stories behind each poster he’s created… it’s kind of like a behind-the-scenes bonus DVD.


House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father, Johnny Cash by John Carter Cash

Another great coffee table book that feels more like a scrapbook. There are all kinds of pull-outs, takeaways, etc. It’s not really a biography… for that I’d HIGHLY recommend Cash: The Autobiography (one of my favorite books). 

Weird Al: The Book by Nathan Rabin & Al Yankovic

Who doesn’t love Weird Al? This book felt like a fun, casual conversation with Al. Lots of great images… it’s more of a coffee table book. I read it over 2 evenings on Christmas break. 

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

This is the latest installment in his Kenzie-Gennaro detective series made famous by Gone, Baby, Gone. It’s not near as good as some of the earlier books and there’s no reason to grab this one unless you’ve read the previous 5 in the series.

The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly 

I’ve loved getting into this series. It centers around Harry Bosch, your classic hardboiled detective in LA. This is the 3rd book in the series, and I think they’re up to 19 or 20 now. I’ve read all 3 in a weekend.


Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design by Jennifer Bass, Pat Kirkham & Martin Scorsese

A behemoth of a book. I had to set it on a table to read - it’s not something you can easily flip through. Lots of great images and insight into his work. I bookmarked the hell out of this book and wrote down a ton of notes. I’ll probably pass it down to my grandkids. 

Chesapeake: A Novel by James A. Michener

I’ve started picking up a Michener novel to coordinate with my vacations. They’re all historical, so it’s fun to learn more about where I’m going. I’ll be honest, though… his books can be a bitch to get through. They’re long and they’ll drag at times. I prefer Texas & Centennial to this one. 

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

An unapologetic look back on the life of Steve Jobs. By Steve’s request, Isaacson didn’t hold anything back. Jobs didn’t want any input into how he wrote the book. Isaacson also wrote biographies on Albert Einstein & Benjamin Franklin, and this one belongs on that bookshelf. 

Chainsaws, Slackers and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, TX by Alison Macor

Before there was the Alamo Drafthouse, there was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dazed & Confused. This is a must-read for any local film buff. Lots of great history on the independent film scene in Austin. 


Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon & The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero

I love it when my friends write great books! I’m going to group these last two together, because they’ve been just as much about the process as the finished product. They’re both brilliant. If I had to recommend 2 must-have books for 2012, this is it.