Jake’s Favorites

These are some of my favorite books, video games, movies, and television shows. Some are what I consider my “classics”, and some are what I’m into right now. These are in no particular order, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list. Just something to give an idea of my tastes.

Fantasy BooksScience Fiction BooksVideo GamesMoviesTelevision

Books

Fantasy
1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: Gotta love grandaddy Tolkien. I first read them when I was probably too young to really appreciate them. Coming back when I was older and had converted to the Catholicism helped me to really see the depth of Tolkien’s work.

2. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (/Brandon Sanderson): I don’t exactly remember when I started this series, but I was fairly young when I did so. Finishing it earlier this year was like closing a chapter in my life. By the time it finished I had definitely grown and developed more in my tastes, but it holds a special place for me as my introduction to the huge epic fantasy series.

3. The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson: Like many, I first discovered Brandon Sanderson because he was chosen to finish the Wheel of Time books. He quickly became one of my favorite authors. I really love his inventive and well thought out magic systems, and his Mistborn books really show that off. Especially the fourth, Alloy of Law, which takes it forward in time a bit and adds some interesting new twists.

4. Monster Hunter International by Larry Corriea: A secret, southern (I went to school in the south) mercenary group that hunts down monsters like werewolves, vampires, and zombies. Just plain awesome.

5. A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin: I probably started this series too young, but since he writes so slowly I had time to grow into it. I don’t really care for the really amoral, nihilistic worldview, but he’s such a brilliant stylist and really makes you care for the characters (and then kills them).

Science Fiction
1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: A classic. I’ve read and reread this book more than any other. It was the only novel I brought with me when I moved across the country for college.

2. Pandora’s Star+Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton: I’m amazed at how well Hamilton is able to juggle this massive plot and huge cast of characters. Though I don’t agree with Hamilton on the direction of humanity, I have not found an author who does a better job of extrapolating the consequences of a few new technologies.

3. Dune by Frank Herbert: Probably my second most-read book behind Ender’s Game.  Herbert does such a fantastic job with the creation of this world, though I don’t think I’d ever want to live there.  The Fremen are the prototypical bad-ass desert warrior culture, and the sandworms are some of the coolest creatures ever.

4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: The classic dystopian novels are all proving to have been very prescient in at least some ways, but I find Brave New World to be the one that scares me the most.  It represents the worst kind of slavery, the one where you don’t even realize that you’re enslaved.

5. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein: I wish the movie wasn’t such a terrible representation of the book.  It’s less about the alien killing and more about the political philosophy.  I wish more college philosophy and political science classes would use it.

Video Games
1. Shadowbane: Shadowbane was a MMORPG that focused completely on PvP, especially guild versus guild warfare. You would build and seige player cities. It was incredible. Some of my best gaming memories come from Shadowbane. It also had some of the greatest lore of any game I’ve ever seen, sadly it didn’t play enough of a role in the actual game.

2. Asheron’s Call: My first MMO and the game that really turned me into a serious PC gamer. When I was 9 my babysitter would play at my house (because we had high speed Internet before most people around). I was completely captured by this idea of a living, online world. My current disappointments with the MMORPG genre largely stem from trying and failing to recreate the wondrous experiences I found in AC and SB.

3. The Civilization series: I am fairly young, and so my first Civ game was catching the tail end of III. I actually spent the most time playing the sci-fi spinoff Alpha Centauri, which is my favorite in the series. I played a ton of IV, and now V is the only video game I still play regularly. I know many don’t like the changes from IV to V, but I definitely appreciate what they’ve done. In single player, especially on Diety, it’s a great test of your knowledge and ability to execute a game plan, as well as react to people trying to interrupt it. I also love multiplayer. Oftentimes I’d get together with 4-5 others and spend a Sunday competing for world domination.

4. Perfect Dark: This is a nostalgia pick, but it was a very important time in my formative gaming years. Like many I considered Perfect Dark to be the successor to Goldeneye, which I also loved. My friends and I would spend hours and hours in front of the TV shooting and blowing each other up. I loved the missions, I loved the bots, I loved all the different weapons, especially with the addition of the secondary fire modes. It was just an all around good time.

5. NCAA Football: I’m a very intense college football fan. I struggle to decide whether it’s more important to me than baseball, but I certainly know which comes first in video game form. NCAA football (and the other sports games) are the only reason I regret not having a console anymore. I absolutely love dynasty modes.

Others: XCOM, Crusader Kings II, Age of Empires, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Warrior Monsters, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Left 4 Dead 2

Movies
1. Gladiator: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Need I say more?

2. So I Married An Ax Murderer: Classic Mike Meyers. Perhaps the most quoted movie in my family.

3. Star Wars: Not that I need to specify, but I’m obviously talking about the Original Trilogy. I grew up a huge Star Wars fanatic, and have read almost every EU novel and supplementary material, played the d6, d20, and Saga versions of the PnP RPG, and played most of the video games. Star Wars Rebellion is actually one of my favorite games of all time. The movies started that love. The classic hero’s journey with lightsabers and spaceships, what more could you want?

4. Happy Gilmore: Another great from my childhood. It’s such a quirky, feel good tale that makes golf seem fun.

5. Rounders: I love Matt Damon as an actor, and Ed Norton is fantastic as well. And they play poker. Just great.

Others: Bull Durham, Away We Go, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Anchorman, The Last Samurai, That Thing You Do

Television
1. Avatar: The Last Air Bender: Try as they might, my college roommates could just never get me to enjoy anime. However, this American cartoon completely stole my heart. It’s fun and funny, and still manages to have serious action and danger as well. It’s a beautifully crafted and thoughtfully populated world.

2. Archer: This show is terrible. But it’s so. damn. funny.

3. Castle: Nathan Fillion! I generally enjoy the crime serial, and really loved Bones until the last couple seasons, but Castle is the best. It’s not particularly gory, and the humor is top notch. Plus they have plenty of great episodes that give a nod to their nerdier than usual fan base.

4. The Voice: I love competition shows, I spent a long time singing, and I hate American Idol and the X Factor. Plus I love the banter between the coaches.

5. Iron Chef America: This could just be any sort of cooking competition show in general. I love to cook, and usually can’t watch an episode of Iron Chef without having to go make something afterwards. I also have a man crush on Michael Symon.

Others: Firefly, Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother

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