Pleasures of the mind


106) The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra, finished October 18

This is a very intelligent comic for kids. With art a cross between Little Nemo and Cursed Pirate Girl, this version of Wonderland stars a brother and sister who wake up in a weird forest and have to trust their instincts regarding whom to trust and whom not to trust. Always, of course, trusting each other. Beautiful and kind.

off and on on an evening


105) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, finished October 27

It's hard to know how to elevator-pitch this book. Towards the end, I was planning to tell you "It's Nineteen Eighty-four meets The Stepford Wives" but then the denouement made that feel too simplistic and almost silly.

One reason this novel is so hard to pin down in terms of comparisons to other dystopian/postapoc novels is that the female characters are both richly drawn and voluminous in number. The second primary reason is that although this novel seems rather dystopostapocish, it ain't either, in fact. This world is so close to 2015 as to be the uncanny-valley version of today's news. It's like the unpleasant version of the final season of Parks and Rec. Early on it seems further away, but the deeper into the book we read, the closer and closer the world comes to our own. That also is rather upsetting.

And who do the characters remind us of? Charmaine seems quite a bit like Lenina Crowne of Brave New World, but at the same time I've never seen a better depiction of the banality of evil. So banal, in fact, that we can forgive her. Because hey---we might have done it ourselves, given similar circumstances. We would want to be forgiven.

Part of what makes the book real is the casual evil those with money inflict upon those without. It's not such a leap to imagine those who bleed us financially going literal. Especially if they're confident no one will know.

Other than their fellow bluebloods of course.

The style of the book is light---almost flippant---which can make it harder to get into, because it's not acting like a thriller. That tone does, however, make it feel all the more likely and possible and maybe why not even know?

No one in this novel is blameless. In fact, it's hard to find anyone really worth cheering for. Even those who don't commit crimes are rather awful people. Take Stan. Not a bad fellow. Sure, he shouldn't have plotted to cheat on his wife, but largely the thoughts he has that make us like him less are thoughts we've all had to one degree or another, more or less often. And yet---we end up liking him less than his wife. Who, as I said, could reasonably be called evil.

This is a novel that doesn't let you rest comfortably knowing bad guys from good guys. And it doesn't even allow you to arrive at the end knowing what we have all learned today.

In that respect, it's almost more like a news story than a bit of fiction.

A really "funny" and painfully grotesque news story.
eight of ten days


104) Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson, finished October 18

Although I suspect that Jill Thompson is best known as a creator cutesy "girl" comics, I always think first of her connection to Sandman. The stuff she writes and draws herself is great though. Trixie is a, mm six-year-old witch? Eight? Anyway, she's young and her Monstersorri schoolmates are a mummy, a frankenstein cobbling, a couple vampires, a werewolf. Deftly laid out personal dynamics there and at home. Although this is almost a hundred pages of comics, sections feel like stand-alone picture books. Thompson's made a nice transitional text for littluns.

The message at the end is both expected and dangerous enough to make its sweetness earned.


103) Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires, finished October 17

This is technically too short to qualify for this list, but I found it too charming not to share and I write too many books posts as it is without writing extras. So there it is.

This isn't the first book in the series, but I take it that Binky---maybe all cats?---believes that he is an astronaut of sorts, that his house is a spaceship, that his job is to protect his people from aliens (insects). Anyway, another cat shows up and things get complicated. The jokes are adult funny and the gags are pure kid. In short, great stuff.
early afternoon


102) Humor, Horror, and the Supernatural by Saki, finished October 15

I love Saki. You love Saki. Everyone loves Saki.

This particular volume is a Scholastic Book Services edition from the '60s. Where it's been since some child got it until I got it, I can't say. What's certain is that everyone should read Saki in their childhood.

Saki's still enjoyable as an adult---I particularly enjoyed discovering "Sredni Vashtar"---but he can get a bit tiresome. And if this collection is any indication, his work's highlights aren't enough to fill a book on their own. Most of the better stories were ones I'd read before. And the final story was an is-it-or-is-it-not-surely-it-is-anti-suffragette curiosity.

Largely, Saki is clearly a product of his time and place. We all are of course, but I feel that his work is aging rapidly with its casual acceptance of empire and violence to animals and use of the word "toilet" and sexual politics and suchlike. That said, at the top of his game, no one provides a half-dozen pages of pure pleasure like Saki does.
about eleven days

Previously in 2015 . . . . :

Book one hundred-second to one hundred-sixth
106) The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra, finished October 18
105) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, finished October 27
104) Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson, finished October 18
103) Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires, finished October 17
102) Humor, Horror, and the Supernatural by Saki, finished October 15

Book ninety-eighth to one hundred-first
101) 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King, finished October 14
100) Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle, finished October 5
099) Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, finished September 29
098) Johnny Cash — I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, finished September 26

Book ninety-seventh
097) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, finished finished September 24

Books ninety-third through ninety-sixth
096) North 40 (volume one) by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples, finished September 23
094) Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar, finished September 17
093) Castle Waiting Volume 2 by Linda Medley, finished September 15

Books ninetieth through ninety-second
092) Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien, finished September 5
091) The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink, finished September 5
090) The Animal Family by Randall Harrell, finished September 4

Books eighty-seventh through eighty-ninth
089) Zenith: Phase 1 by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, finished September 4
088) The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay, finished September 1
087) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished September 2

Books eighty-second through eighty-sixth
086) A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales edited by , Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, finished August 31
085) Castle Waiting by Linda Medley, finished August 30
084) An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell by Deborah Levy, finished August 30
083) Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact by Neylan McBaine, finished August 30
082) The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes by Gary Cieradkowski, finished August 25

Books seventy-fourth through seventy-seventh
081) Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver, finished August 20
080) That A Guise, John? by Brace Pannier, finished August 19
079) A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett, finished DATE
078) Revival Volume Four: Escape to Wisconsin by Tim Seely and Mike Norton, finished August 16

Books seventy-fourth through seventy-seventh
077) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, finished August 15
076) Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 6
075) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, finished August 4
074) The Erotic Spirit: An Anthology of Poems of Sensuality, Love, and Longing edited by Sam Hamill, finished July 28

Books seventieth through seventy-third
073) Dial H: Exchange by China Miéville et al, finished July 27
072) Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World by Sid Fleischman, finished July 24
071) "C" is for Corpse by Sue Grafton, finished July 22
070) Isle of 100,000 Graves by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason, finished July 19

Books fifty-ninth through sixty-ninth
069) Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, finished July 17
068) Dial H: Into You by China Miéville et al, finished July 15
067) Benny Breakiron: The Red Taxis by Peyo, finished July 15
066) Bossypants by Tina Fey, finished July 14
065) Liberating Form: Mormon Essays on Religion and Literature by Marden J. Clark, finished July 12
064) The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope and J. T. Petty and David Rubín, finished July 12
063) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 11
062) The Last Days of Video by Jeremy Hawkins, finished July 6
061) Arabel's Raven by Joan Aiken, finished July 3
060) Templar by Jordan Mechner and Alex Puvilland and LeUyen Pham, finished July 2
059) Heaven Knows Why! by Samuel W. Taylor, finished June 26

Books fifty-sixth through fifty-eighth
058) Itself by Rae Armantrout, finished June 21
057) Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry by John Frederick Nims and David Mason, finished June 19
056) Matilda by Roald Dahl, finished June 15

Books fifty-second through fifty-fifth
055) Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil, finished June 14
054) Star Wars Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika by Mike Kennedy and Carlos Meglia and whoever, finished June 12
053) Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year - Dark City by by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (et al), finished June 11
052) Deadpool's Art of War by Peter David and Scott Koblish, finished June 10

Books forty-sixth through fifty-first
051) Men of Wrath by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney, finished June 10
050) X-Men: No More Humans by Mike Carey & Salvador Larroca & al., finished June 9
049) Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, finished June 9
048) Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome by Alan Moore (not credited by name) and a bunch of other people, finished June 6
047) Coffin Hill: Dark Endeavors by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, finished June 6
046) Coffin Hill: Forest of the Night by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, finished June 4

Books forty-second through forty-fifth
045) Castle Waiting: The Lucky Road by Linda Medley, finished at midnight so either June 2 or 3
044) The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami and translated by Ted Goossen, finished June 2
043) The Round House by Louise Erdich, finished June 1
042) Best American Comics 2014 edited by Scott McCloud, finished May 31

Books thirty-seventh through forty-first
041) The Brothers K by David James Duncan, finished May 18
040) Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, finished May 18
039) Skandalon by Julie Maron, finished May 1
038) The Final Story by Jeff Shaara, finished April 29
037) Shutter Volume 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca et al, finished April 29

Books thirty-second through thirty-sixth
036) The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis, finished April 27
035) Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot et al, finished April 22
034) Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender, finished April 19
033) Animal Man Vol. 4: Splinter Species by Jeff Lemire et al, finished April 17
032) Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder by Charles Soule et al, finished April 15

Books twenty-eighth through thirty-first
031) Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, finished April 6
030) The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith, finished April 2
029) The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West by Steve Sheinkin, finished March 29
028) Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits edited by John Maloof, finished March 23

Books twenty-sixth through twenty-seventh
027) Passing by Nella Larsen, finished March 18
026) Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson, finished March 17

Books twenty-second through twenty-fifth
025) Ghost World by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff, finished March 16
024) Hawkeye: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction and some very talented artists, finished March 15
023) Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction and a large number of artists, finished March 14
022) Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction and David Aja and Javier Pulido, finished March 12

Books twentienth through twenty-first
021) Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation by Eric Kaplan, finished March 11
020) Babymouse #8: Puppy Love by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, finished March 11

Books sixteenth through ninteenth
019) The Book of Mormon, finished March 3
018) Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos, finished March 1
017) Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, finished February 26
016) Drawings II by Jake Parker, finished February 19

Books twelfth through fifteenth
015) The PreHistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit by Gary Larson, finished February 18
014) Nation by Terry Pratchett, finished February 16
013) Fences by August Wilson, finished February 10
012) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, finished February 6

Books tenth through eleventh
011) Adverbs by Daniel Handler, finished February 4
010) Death by Chocolate: Redux by David Yurkovich, finished February 3

Books sixth through ninth
009) The End of the World by Don Hertzfeldt, finished January 31
008) Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, finished January 24
007) Drop Shot by Harlan Coben, finished January 18
006) Cardboard by Doug TenNaple, finished January 15

Books first through fifth
005) The Complete Peanuts: 1991-1992 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 10
004) City of Brick and Shadow by Tim Wirkus, finished January 9
003) Harem Scarem in El Cerrito by Neva Calvert Carpenter, finished January 4
002) iPlates Volume II: Prophets, Priests, Rebels, and Kings by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 4
001) Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 3

final booky posts of

2014 = 2013 = 2012 = 2011 = 2010 = 2009 = 2008 = 2007

most recent post
in this series

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