The two I expect to remember are In and Ursula's


090) Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale, finished on September 4

My son brought this home from the middle-school library. It had an amusing title and he said it was good, so I decided to read at least the beginning, and I'm glad I did.

Although it's aimed at a young audience, this comic could make a genuinely terrifying movie. It would only require four physical sets (school, city streets, taco shop, green-screen room) but the CG sets would be elaborate.

It's a dopey horror setup worthy of the most absurd 50s b-flick, but the explanation of what's happening takes a wonderfully long time to arrive. Long enough that we get to experience the terror and confusion of the unknown, but not so long that the arrival feels like it flushes everything we've experienced down the toilet.

In short, the shape of the plot and the madness of the concept are perfectly balanced. If you're the least bit interested in this sort of thing, this is for you.


091) In by Will McPhail, finished on September 4

Abebooks has a 50 Essential Graphic Novels list and I was checking out how many I'd read. This one (new this year) I had not, but it had a striking cover and my local library could provide it so I picked it up.

I think I was also attracted to his name because the similarly named David McPhail is a solid picture-book creator. I do know this other McPhail's work from The New Yorker but I hadn't learned his name.

Anyway. I had no idea what to expect. But what we have is an urban fellow probably around age thirty who is connected to his environment, but not in any meaningful way. And he's seeking more meaningful connections. And he begins to find them. But will it be enough? Will it be in time?

Most of the book is mostly black and white with gray washes—like his New Yorker cartoons—but the moments of breakthrough become full-color digital paintings flooded with metaphoricality.

It's a moving book. And if it weren't for some explicit sex, I would push it on my teenagers.

I worry about the pandemic generation's capacity to connect with each other.

And I worry about their ability to know about this lack.

about fifty minutes

092) Deadpool Does Shakespeare by Gerry Duggan and Ian Doescher, finished on September 4

The Shakespeare part had plenty of fun play with the plays but, ultimately, and as per usual, I find the Merc with a Mouth dissatisfying. I wish it weren't so.

Although, note to self, Deadpool did, whilst going Elizabethan, use the contraction "I'ld." Add this to the list.

watching my daughter rollerskate

093) WE3 by Grant Morrison, finished on September 4?

So the government picked some lost pets off the street and turned them into a cyborg murder team. But they're still just a dog and a cat and a bunny that have learned to live together. So, when they get decommissioned and manage to escape, they try to incredible-journey their way to a new life.

It's not a perfect success and there's hella blood and guts (and teeth and spleens) along the way to what is, largely, a happy ending? I guess?

a sitting

094) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, finished on September 21

I picked this novel up because I wanted to consider adding it to the dystopia list I use for an AP Lit assignment. I'll need to think about it a bit longer before I decide but I think the answer is no. It's a brilliant novel  but it deconstructs the whole utopia/dystopia dichotomy so thoroughly that I think it would end up difficult for students to apply to the assignments. I mean—they could definitely do it but they would spend so much time stressing over basic questions like just what is the dystopia here that the whole process would end up focused on the wrong things.

ANYWAY, the point is, this novel is brilliant. And because of its backtrackingly complexitous engagement with the genre, maybe my favorite utopia/dystopia.

For one thing, I love that the failing of the utopia is what allows it to prove that it is, in fact, a utopia.

Among other things, I'm impressed how well Le Guin predicted her world. I'd wondered if Terra was in fact our Earth and now I know for certain that it is. But that Earth falls apart after hitting nine billion people and the collapse is caused by things I can find by reading the news or by looking out my window. She even describes the effects of plastics as we think of them now. I had no idea these thoughts even existed in 1974.

As I was reading, oh, maybe thirty, fifty pages from the end today, leaving campus, as the possibility of utopia was being reborn in one timeline just as it was being crushed in the other, I realized there's a nice parallel with another book I'm currently reading, the new biography of Eugene England.

One of the complaints people (including Bob Rees, who should know) are making about that book is that the author, Terryl Givens, is calling Gene naive and a dope for failing to sufficiently (properly) suckup to Church leadership. I'm not deep enough in to take a stance yet but I'm certainly leaning toward agreement with the criticisms. What I'm seeing (and maybe this is some form of projection?) is a man who consistently gave others the opportunity to do the better thing, even when the alternative could be damaging to himself. I can understand that motivation.

And it's a motivation we see in Shevek, the hero of The Dispossessed.

Even before I made the Eugene England connection, I had been thinking about the Anarresti in terms of Mormon parallels. What if the Saints had been isolated long enough to truly form a separate ethnicity?

They Anarresti invent a language (ie, the Deseret alphabet; although actually, I assume, the recreation of Hebrew) both designed to be more accurate to their philosophy and to keep outside ideas outside.

A great religious leader whose greatest, most radical ideas seem absurd and impossible to outsiders.

A sexual and relationship reimagining that, let's face it, is hella queer by contemporary standards.

Although the differences to Mormon stuff are at least as great as the sames, it was impossible for me to read The Dispossessed without imagining glorious what-ifs. 

***Incidentally, a couple Mormons-on-Mars novellas (Steve Peck's Adoniha and my Prophetess) build on similar themes in an extremely Dispossed way with actual Mormons and I recommend them to your consideration.***

This is a wise novel. Wise and provocative, in all the best ways. This is a world important for us to imagine.

But I don't want to do it alone. Even if (or because) the book does tell us that "An artist can’t hide behind the truth. He can’t hide anywhere."

under three weeks

Previously . . . . :

books from this year

1, 2, 4, 5, 6

001) The Sun Has Burned My Skin: a modest paraphrase of solomon's song of songs by Adam S. Miller, finished January 3
002) You're a Pal, Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 4
004) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 9
005) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 17
006) Shem in Zarahemla by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 19

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 3

007) iPlates: Zerin's Sacrifice by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 21
008) iPlates: Alma in the Wilderness by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 24
009) Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, finished January 27
010) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished February 4
011) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, finished February 4
003) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, finished January 6

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

012) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, finished February 5
013) My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, finished February 15
014) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, finished February 16
015) Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, finished February 18
016) A Desolating Sickness: Stories of Pandemic edited by D.J. Butler, finished February 21
017) Nothing Very Important and other stories by Béla Petsco, finished February 22

18, 19, 20, 21, 22

018) Muppets Present "The Great Gatsby" by Ben Crew, finished February 24
 Uncanny Avengers: Counter-Evolutionary by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna, finished February 28
 Guts by Raina Telgemeier, finished March 2
 The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by D. Manus Pinkwater, finished March 4
022) Ghosts by Raina Telgemeieir, finished March 5

23, 24, 25, 26, 27

023) Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian, finished March 11
 Memoirs of an Invisible Man by H.F. Saint, finished March 12
 Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, finished March 20
 The Invisible Saint by Curtis Taylor, finished March 25
 Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, finished March 25

28, 29, 30

028) Scrap Mettle by Scott Morse, finished March 26
029) Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse, finished April 1
030) The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse, finished April 1

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36

031) Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do by James Thurber and E. B. White, finished April 1
032) Boys Who Became Prophets by Lynda Cory Hardy, finished April 11
033) George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall, finished April 12
034) Stuart Little by E.B. White, finished April 14
035) Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, finished April 15
036) Have It Your Way, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 15

37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42

037) The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, finished April 21
038) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished April 22
039) The Garden of Enid—Volume One by Scott Hales, finished May 2
040) Tiny Writings by Danny Nelson, finished May 5
041) Whispering Death! by R.A. Christmas, finished May 6
042) Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, finished May 9

43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

043) T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton, finished May 14
044) Sweet Tooth – Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
045) Sweet Tooth – Volume 2: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
046) Sweet Tooth – Volume 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
047) Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition – Volume 2 by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
048) Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition – Volume 3 by Jeff Lemire, finished May 23

49, 50, 51

049) A Book of Lamentations by James Goldberg, finished on May 23
050) How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, finished on May 25
051) We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, finished on May 26

52, 53, 54, 55, 56

052) Vertigo CMYK, finished on June 5
053) Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Eme Lenox and friends, finished on January 5
054) The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael edited by Sanford Schwartz, finished on June 9
055) Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card, finished on June 11
056) American Cult edited by Robyn Chapman, finished on June 12

57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63

057) Messages on the Water by Merrijane Rice, finished on June 14
058) Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen, finished on June 16
059) There There by Tommy Orange, finished on June 19
060) The Shakespeare Stories by Andrew Matthews and illustrated by Tony Ross, finished on June 19
062) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part Two by Scott Hales, finished on June 20
063) Do the Movies Have a Future? by David Denby, finished on July 14

61, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69

061) World War Z (abridged audiobook) by Max Brooks, finished June 23
064) The Child Buyer by John Hersey, finished on July 14
065) Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, finished on July 15
066) Dani and Ramen: A Nomad's Tale, volume one by Jake Morrison, finished on July 17
067) Dani and Ramen: A Nomad's Tale, volume two by Jake Morrison, finished on July 17
068) The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, finished on July 23
069) Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier, finished on July 23

70, 71, 72, 73, 74

070) It's a Magical World by Bill Watterson, finished on July 29
071) Future Day Saints: The Gnolaumite Crystal by Matt Page, finished on August 1
072) Dutch House by Ann Patchett, finished on August 5
073) Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox, finished on August 7
074) House of Women by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 10
075) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, finished on August 10

76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83

076) The House by Paco Roca, finished on August 11
077) Are Comic Books Real? by Alex Nall, finished on August 13
078) Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha, finished on August 16
079) Baby-sitters Little Sister: Karen's Roller Skates by Katy Farina, finished on August 17
080) Lulu Anew by Étienne Davodeau, finished on August 17
081) The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees by Douglas W. Tallamy, finished on August 24
082) Thor: The Goddess of Thunder by Aaron/Dauterman/Molina, finished on August 24
083) Pashima by Nidhi Chanani, finished on August 25

84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89

084) Now We're Getting Somewhere by Kim Addonizio, finished on August 27
085) I Am Young by M. Dean, finished on August 30
086) The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye presented by Sonny Liew, finished on August 31
087) The Oven by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 31
088) Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky, finished on September 3
089) Loverboys by Gilbert Hernandez, finished on September 3

final posts in this series from

2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012
2013 = 2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020


the most recent post in the books-read series *

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