Luckily, Charlie Brown never meets the tyrannosaur


Lot of comics this go-round which surprised me as I've been reading a lot of prose of late. But I'm in the middle of lots of books, not at the end. Other than rushing through Emily St. John Mandel's latest, my personal reading's been at a more deliberate pace with comics thrown in for spice. And three of the eight I read with other people. Here's to reading as a communal activity!


110) The Complete Peanuts: 1961 – 1962 by Charles M. Schulz, finished October 9

We spent sooo much money getting me this entire set to it's high time I start reading them again. I decided, however, that I would not start at the beginning or feel I had to go in order and certainly not like I had to read the introductions. Just enjoy the art.

Sally begins kindergarten in this volume. Much of the dialogue from the Halloween special comes from these strips. Schroeder forgot Beethoven's birthday in 1961 but made up for it in a big way for 1962.

In short: wonderful. Just wonderful.

maybe three weeks

111) Theseus: Volume One by Jordan Holt, finished October 19

I received notice from Kickstarter that volume two is now for sale so I figured I better read volume one (which I have no memory of supporting but arrived in the mail one day anyway) to see if I want another.


The writing is terrifically funny, even the fake letters page and the how-I-do-comics pages (which are also more informative than usual)—and most people who try to be funny there are, ah, a bit embarrassing.

So this retelling of the Theseus myth complete with gods and monsters is entirely entertaining and all I want is more. So I guess I'll get more. Even though I sorta kinda swore off buying more comics on Kickstarter.


two days

112) Over the Garden Wall by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell, finished October 20

Following Over the Garden Wall's (deserved) success, comics started appearing. This volume collects the first set of stories, which occur between the episodes of the (excellent) show. And they do a fabulous job capturing the show's vibe and its pleasures. Which seems like review enough.

two days

113) Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel, finished October 20

"I've never been interested in auto-fiction," Olive said, but it was difficult to meet his eyes now. 

That's the most interesting sentence in Sea of Tranquility. Because Emily St. John Mandel is clearly messing with us. Olive is a character who found sudden success writing a novel about an impossibly volatile flu and then, a few years later, finds herself living in a world where a real pandemic arrives. On other words, Olive Llewellyn and Emily St. John Mandel are too similar for anyone to doubt the possibility that Olive is just a fictionalized Emily. And so when Olive says she has no interest in auto-fiction, one imagines Emily too must look away.

Or consider an interview Olive gives mid-real-pandemic:

"What are you working on these days? Are you able to work?"

"I'm writing this crazy sci-fi thing," Olive said.

Sea of Tranquility takes place in a number of years from 1912 to 2401. It includes some deliberately paradoxical timeloopery and is intentionally a sequel to The Glass Hotel, although not the one I read. When Jonathan starts imagining another world rather than the prison life he is living, it is that imagined world that is the real world in Sea. Not to mention the characters more or less prove they are living in a simulation. So "crazy sci-fi" seems reasonable. But so would "metafictional" or "auto-fictional."

This is a pure example of the pandemic novel. It can only exist because its author had little else to do. And it's a successful experiment. I don't think it's quite as good as her last two novels, but it is good and it's, well, it's crazy. It may prove to be a transitional work for her. What we see next may be something entirely new.

Which is pretty exciting.

And maybe worth screwing up the timelines.

a week

114) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, finished October 21

I first (and most recently) read this to Baby O when he was a literal baby. He is now a freshman in college. I first remember hearing about the story when Siskel and Ebert loved a film adaptation, which I then rented on VHS as a teenager on their recommendation. (Or, possibly, just remembered their recommendation clearly enough that I eventually watched it much later. Who knows.)

Anyway, the story is emotionally compelling and moving and filled with details the 5yrold liked as we spread it over a couple months of bedtimes.

That said, it is also racist and classist even as it strives desperately not to be. It's sort of racism and classism that's nearly impossible for someone like my daughter to pick up on, but pausing for pleasant conversation to explore the, ah, sticky issues raised was not wasted time.

She's very excited to read it again. I'm not sure I feel the same way, but after her library book, I don't have something else in mind, so we'll see if she still wants to read it then.

probably over two months

115) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures: The Meeting of the Mutanimals, finished October 22

Part of one story in this collection was drawn by Noah Van Sciver, which is how it came up in my library search. It's a short, for-kids book so I decided to just start at the beginning and read through. And I'm glad I did even though it was largely dumb because of a story written and drawn by Ben Costa starring a mutant frog who is nothing more than an extended riff on Napoleon Dynamite. Not excellent, not important, but 100% delightful. You have to see his photo of his girlfriend.

one day

116) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, finished October 26
117) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, finished October 27

What a weird play.

I mean—it's this great romantic comedy, but over half the jokes are about cheating. The very last joke is "Hey, Prince—get married. It's great! You'll be a cuckold! Haha!" The whole play's like that.

Because wearing horns isn't really part of our culture anymore most of the jokes will be left out and those left over will slide by unnoticed but this play is intensely cynical about love. Intensely. Maybe it would have been best if that turn to tragedy had just gone all the way to piles of dead bodies.

Still. It's fun. I did laugh.

a few schooldays

118) Love by Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci, finished October 27

I read the first of these (Tiger), a soundless journey through natural India, alighting on animal after animal and ending with a startling human appearance. I liked it enough but it wasn't a hundred pages and I didn't have that much to say so screw it. It doesn't count.

But I did like it enough to read another. And after that one, I did have something to say. So I kept reading them and now I've read all five (at least, all five so far) and I kinda love them. Certainly like them much more than the other book I've read by these two.

I love how they are shockingly brutal at times. I love how they show many different parts of ecosystems. I love that small animals and large, both predators and prey, get to be protagonists for moments.

Dinosaur is rather different from the others in that the cover animal seems like the second protagonist, not the first. But I discovered that the original title is plural—Les Dinosaures—which makes more sense.

I like how both land and water are engaged in each volume. I like how big their worlds are. Fox takes place in an ice age and there's a volcano and orcas hunting bears and man oh man it is awesome.

I mentioned the shocking appearance of man at the beginning of Tiger. Man, appropriately, also appears in Mastiff and, again, in a shocking manner.

My five-year-old really likes these because they have no words. But she also finds them pretty dang scary. I'm not certain she's read every panel.

Because they are genuinely thrilling. Life and death. Survival of the fittest, at times, survival of the luckiest at other times. Lots of owls. At least four different continents. Wondrously detailed and felt. Just terrific books, especially when added together into one great whole.

a few weeks


Previously . . . . :

Previous Posts

001) U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton, finished January 4
002) Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin et al, finished January 7
003) Joseph Smith and the Mormons by Noah Van Sciver, finished January 7
004) The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, finished January 11
005) The Art of Perspective by Christopher Castellani, finished January 11
006) Bad Kitty Goes on Vacation by Nick Bruel, finished January 12
007) Remina by Junji Ito, finished January 15
008) The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill, finished January 15
009) The Tea Dragon Festival here by Katie O'Neill, finished January 15
010) A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, finished January 18
011) Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon & Dean Hale and Victoria Ying, finished January 26

012) Just Julie's Fine by Theric Jepson, finished January 28
013) The Art of Description by Mark Doty, finished January 28
014) Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Lê and Andie Tong, finished February 5
015) Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope, finished January 9
016) The Art of Mystery by Maud Casey, finished February 11
017) The Art of Bible Translation by Robert Alter, finished February 13
018) No Longer Human by Junji Ito, finished February 15

019) Zatanna and the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody and Yoshi Yoshitani, finished Febraury 17
020) Fuzz by Mary Roach, finished February 19
021) Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection by Junji Ito, finished February 25
022) You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis, finished March 4
023) Audience-ology by Kevin Goetz, finished March 4
024) The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, finished March 7

025) Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, finished March 8
026) The Croquet Player by H. G. Wells, finished March 11
027) Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It by Michael J. Trinklein, finished March 12
028) Nightwing: Leaping into the Light by Bruno Redondo and Tom Taylor, finished March 13
029) Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, finished date
030) Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist by author, finished date
031) Ghosts of Vader's Castle by a slew of folks, finished March 15
032) The Flintstones Volume 1 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, finished March 16
033) The Flintstones Volume 2 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, finished March 16
034) The Jetsons by Palmiotti/Brito/Sinclair, finished March 16
035) Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan, finished March 18
036) Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia, finished March 19

You tell me whether it's garbage-in or not

037) Bride of the Far Side by Gary Larson, finished March 23
038) Batman: Night of the Owls by the entire DC bullpen, finished March 23
039) The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, finished March 25
040) The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash, finished March 25
041) Slaugherhouse-Five or the Children's Crusade: a Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut / Ryan North / Albert Monteys, finished March 28
042) The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith, finished March 28
043) Jem by Frederik Pohl, finished March 31
044) The Mundane Adventures of Dishman by John MacLeod, finished March 31
045) Because Sometimes You Just Gotta Draw a Cover with Your Left Hand by Stephan Pastis, finished April 4

Books: extralong edition

046) Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 1: Hooked On A Feline by Leth/Williams/Allegri, finished April 9
047) The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner, finished April 11
048) Weird Al: The Book by Nathan Rabin with Al Yankovic, finished April 11
049) My Year of Flops by Nathan Rabin, finished April 16
050) The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet, finished April 19
051) Beast of Burden: Occupied Territory by Dorkin & Dyer & Dewey & Piekos, finished April 16
052) Building a Better Life by Stealing Office Supplies: Dogbert's Big Book of Business by Scott Adams, finished April 22
053) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, finished April 27
054) Salt Magic by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, finished May 5
055) Star Wars Adventures: The Weapon of a Jedi, finished May 6
056) Hemingway in Paradise and Other Mormon Poems by Scott Hales, finished May 8
057) Romeo and Juliet: The War by a team assembled by Stan Lee, finished May 10
058) The Dark Horse Book of the Dead edited by Scott Allie, finished May 14
059) A Little Lower than the Angels by Virginia Sorensen, finished May 15

060) Irredeemable by Mark Waid, et al., finished May 20
061) Stanslaw Lev's The Seventh Voyage by Jon J Muth, finished May 23
062) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage, finished May 28
063) Heike's Void by Stephen L. Peck, finished May 30

064) Night Weather by JS Absher, finished June 2
065) Will Eisner Reader, finished June 2
066) Pen Pals by Aaron Cometbus, finished June 4
067) I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, finished June 6
069) Pluto: Urusawa × Tezuka 001 by Naoki Urasawa et al, finished June 16
070) The Gadget War by Betsy Duffey, finished June 16

071) Sensational Wonder Woman, finished June 22
072) Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin, finished June 27
073) 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by The Oatmeal, finished June 29
074) Socks by Beverly Cleary, finished June 29
075) The Ultimates Volume 1: Super-Human by Millar/Hitch/Currie, finished June 30
076) In China with Green Day by Aaron Cometbus, finished July 4

077) V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton, finished July 7
078) Spin by John Bennion, finished July 10
079) The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker edited by Robert Mankoff, finished July 11
080) The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett, finished July 23
081) W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton, finished July 25
082) How About Never—Is Never Good for You? by Bob Mankoff, finished July 28

083) Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less by Leidy Klotz, finished July 29
084) Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley, finished July 30
085) Urban Legendz by Paul Downs / Nick Bruno / Michael Yates, finished July 30
086) The Best Film You've Never Seen by Robert K. Elder, finished August 1
087) It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth, finished August 4
088) Spencer Kimball's Record Collection: Essays on Mormon Music by Michael Hicks, finished August 7

089) The Last Man by Mary Shelley, finished August 11
090) Funny Business by Revlio, finished August 13
091) The Sopratos by Stephan Pastis, finished August 15
092) Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished August 16
093) Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished August 16
094) Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished August 16
095) The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard, finished August 20

096) One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale, finished August 20
097) My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long, finished August 22
098) Chivalry by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran, finished August 23
099) Chouette by Claire Oshetsky, finished August 25
100) Weiner Dog Art by Gary Larson, finished August 26
101) A Bestiary of Booksellers by Aaron Cometbus, finished September 2
102) Slaughterhouse-Five, or. the Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, finished September 9

103) Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw, finished September 10
104) Bug! The Adventures of Forager by a trio of Allreds, finished September 22
105) The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, finished September 24
106) Fangs by Sarah Andersen, finished October 2
107) The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, finished October 3
108) Brindille by Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci, finished October 5
109) Shelterbelts by Jonathan Dyck, finished date

final posts in this series from
  2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013
2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020 = 2021

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