Most Kick-Ass Books of 2010

Okay, so maybe we’re a little late to this party, but who doesn’t love a good list? Especially if it’s a round-up of must-reads, saving you, Dear Reader, the effort of wading through masses of BAD books, right at the top of a brand-new year? You’re updating your e-reader and making To Do lists and resolutions like it’s 2011, so why not add “Read Black Heart’s Kick-Assingest Books of 2010” to your to-do?

We promise you won’t hate us for it.

Plus, there’s PICTURES!

HOTTEST BOOK OF 2010: Krakow Melt by Daniel Allen Cox

DUH, it’s about pyromaniacs setting things on fire! In Krakow! Get it?

But seriously, Cox is our favoritist living writer in North America, possibly the world, and this—his second novel—is truly excellent. Art, hijinks, sexcapades, visions of the former Pope (John Paul II) in compromising situations, dragons, Pink Floyd, cross-cultural love affairs and confusions, and oh so much more. From the author who brought you hustlers gone literary, and Jehovah’s Witnesses gone rogue, what else can you expect but one wild and crazy ride?

Highly recommended, highly flammable, and impossible to stamp out.

HOTTEST COMIC OF 2010: Henry and Glenn Forever by Igloo Tornado

Henry Rollins + Glenn Danzig as excellent gay lovers in comic book format + Hall and Oates as Satanists = ROFLOL pants-wettingly hilarious awesome good times. We love the concept, and love that it pisses Danzig off. Glenn, just admit you’re all about Henry’s barefoot style and stop being such a wiener. We don’t care if you’re gay, straight, pansexual, polyamorous or pro silky-haired goat, to be honest. It’s all about love, man, and if you can’t handle love’s many and varied forms, then maybe you’re the one with the problem, friendo.

Also, anyone who can take Danzig’s over-the-top lyrics and make them sound even vaguely human? Is tops with our pops.

MOST OVERRATED BOOK OF 2010 (THAT STILL KICKED ASS): Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Yeah, we said it. Franzen’s satire of modern American life was endorsed by Oprah and given the royal treatment, spurring a million tiny little fistfights in the literary community.

Was the praise overdone? For sure. Were the ladies who objected to Franzen’s status as Best American Writer perhaps protesting too much? Mayhaps, but at the same time, wherefore art thou, Serious Female Writers Who Aren’t Judged By Their Looks? (No, really.) Were Franzen’s glasses worth stealing? Ask the punk who made off with ’em, and got his 15 minutes.

Was the book still ass-kickingly good? C’est vrai, mon ami. But don’t take our word for it: download an e-version or check out a copy from your local library and read it for yourselves.

MOST REBELLIOUS BOOK OF 2010: The Bomb by Howard Zinn

Though the great American historian Howard Zinn is no longer with us, his memory lives on with this excellent personal essay on the subject of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 2010 was the 65th anniversary of this wartime atrocity, perpetrated in the name of “freedom,” and Zinn audaciously questions both the reasons behind the dropping of these bombs as well as the meaning of freedom itself.

Are those who carry out the orders of higher-ups set on vengeance truly free? Are we, as Americans, free from blame because we carry the torch of democracy? If we had to do it all again, would we—should we—have dropped those bombs? Zinn argues passionately, reasonably, humanely. His book is a shining example of the Constitutionally protected ability to question what we have been told, and should be required reading for all patriotic Americans.


If you were waiting until the new year to pick up a copy of this excellent little volume of accessible poetry, you’re SOL, my friend. The first printing of Mashak’s first book of poetry sold out sometime around the end of 2010, and while a second printing is in the works, you’ll just have to sit back and snivel over your loss while the rest of us Kick-Ass types revel in the 1890’s printing press loveliness of the original.

Sucks to be you, fool!

But whether you love poetry or hate it, Mashak will make you embrace its seductive charms with his original works, short and suckerpunchingly to the point. Check out our interview with the author for more dirt on this hot little number. (The poetry, we mean. Perverts.)

WEIRDEST BOOK OF 2010 and BEST AUSTIN BOOK OF 2010: Museum of the Weird by Amelia Gray

Okay, so maybe the first one in this double-whammy is cheating ‘cus the word “weird” is actually in the title, but can you really pass up a book entitled Museum of the Weird? We sure as hell can’t.

Also, we [heart] Amelia Gray, the most Kick-Ass of Austin writers, for letting us ask her a bunch of crazy questions, and for writing unusual, short fiction that continues to bolster our town’s reputation as both a weird and a literary town. Talking armadillos are just a matter of course, my friends, in a town that actually sports a real, live, honest-to-God-the-serial-killer Museum of the Weird.

Got a fave we haven’t mentioned? Tweet us @blackheartmag!