Artists you need to know for the 2014 Grammys

Mark your ballot with these Grammy predictions

With a formidable group of frontrunners to significant snubs, the 56th Annual Grammy Awards stack up as one of the more intriguing in recent memory.Rapper/impresario Jay Z, who leads the pack with nine nominations, enjoys his status more for collaborations with other (wife Beyonce, Justin Timberlake) than for his own lukewarm "Holy Grail" album. Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars were outright slights for Album of the Year, while Lorde is inexplicably absent in the Best New Artist category. …

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Gordon Gee cites both pepperoni rolls and Flying WV cookies in his top 10 reasons for returning to WVU

Returning West Virginia University President Gordon Gee, who is in the job temporarily until a replacement can be found, has already gone semi-viral.

WVU released a video of a David Letterman-style Top 10 list in which Gee demonstrates his well known sense of humor. (You know, the one that has sometimes gotten him in hot water. See here and here.)

By the way, Gee’s presence on the Nerd Living blog is not to say that he lives like a nerd.

But you know, the man IS wearing a blue and gold bowtie

A year of reading

I did not (all by myself) complete 150 books during the WV150 reading challenge, where teams of readers aimed to read 150 books collectively. But with the challenge as an incentive, I did manage to read more than most years.

Not everything was heavy reading. A lot of it was short. I was heavy on fiction. It was fun.

Here’s what I got read:

  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, 1/18/13
  2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain 1/26/13
  3. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman 1/31/13
  4. Magic Tree House No. 4, Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne, 2/8/13 (I read it with a kid; No, for real!)
  5. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty, 2/16/13
  6. Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese, 2/26/1
  7. themoviegoerThe Moviegoer by Walker Percy, 3/4/13
  8. Bossypants by Tina Fey, 3/7/13
  9. West with the Night by Beryl Markham, 3/21/13
  10. The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin, 3/26/13
  11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 4/13/13
  12. Gone Girl (audio) by Gillian Flinn, 4/20/13
  13. Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clark, 4/23/13
  14. Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell, 5/4/13
  15. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, 5/20/13
  16. The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma, 5/30/13
  17. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, 6/1/13
  18. Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume (audio), 6/2/13 (Played for the family while driving back from vacation. Still counts!)
  19. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, 6/10/13
  20. Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese 7/6/13
  21. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming 7/7/13
  22. Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, 7/15/13
  23. Raylan: A Novel by Elmore Leonard, 7/21/13
  24. Mercury Rests by Robert Kroese, 8/3/13
  25. Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know by Jill Geisler, 8/20/13
  26. The Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko, 8/27/13
  27. Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury, 9/14/13
  28. Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut, 9/18/13
  29. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, 9/27/13
  30. The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett, 10/9/13
  31. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie, 10/20/13
  32. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, 10/30/13
  33. Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, 11/25/13
  34. Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline, 12/8/13
  35. Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Other Stories by Truman Capote, 12/15/13
  36. The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, 12-26-13
  37. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, 12/29/13

I have some classics on the list, but I’ll admit to spacing out a bit while reading “The Moviegoer” and “The Sun Also Rises.” Same with the mysteries “Five Little Pigs” and “Death is a Lonely Business.” That’s probably not a sign of intense interest.

I often like southern literature but I disliked “Tobacco Road.”

billylynn“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” are not necessarily meant to go together but are both stories of young men at war. They work nicely as a unit — if you want to remind yourself that war is not as glamorous as it’s often made out to be.

I read “Brave New World” and “The Boys From Brazil” back to back. I liked both, and recommend them if you’re in the mood for some alternate histories. I got around to “The Man in the High Castle” a while later but it felt like it fit in with the other two books.

Vonnegut’s “Slapstick” and “Timequake” are very similar to each other. They’re both sad and hilarious.

“Mayflower,” the story of the Pilgrims, and “Lost in Shangri-La,” which was about soldiers being rescued from New Guinea after a plane crash, both read like action tales. Thumbs up to both.

Some of my favorites were books that I knew very little about. Low expectations helped. But I found “The Center of Everything,” “West With the Night” and “The Sky Unwashed” to be simple, gentle, enjoyable stories.

What books did you enjoy in the past year?

And will you read 150+ in the coming year?