What I Read in 2015, Part 2
|January 14, 2016||Posted by Jess under Books, Comics|
Um. So. Let’s call 2015 the year I stopped reading books without pictures in them? Because, uh, I read a ton last year, but it was almost exclusively comics. Not totally, though! Here’s some prose:
5. The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin: Shy Yue-ying is the overlooked maidservant to the beautiful courtesans at the Lotus Palace. Foppish eternal student Bai Huang is smarter than he seems. They fight crime! No, literally, they solve a murder mystery while falling in love. It’s pretty great, and I love that the book doesn’t offer pat answers to the social gulf between them or Yue-ying’s past sexual trauma.
6. Winter by Marissa Meyer: The thrilling conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles! I’ve been waiting for the final installment of this series of sci-fi fairy tale retelling for what feels like forever, and it did not disappoint. Meyer’s so good at breakneck, tightly-plotted action adventure crammed full of colorful, enjoyable characters; I couldn’t put it down.
7. The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes, and the Stories Behind Them by Mina Holland: This book is a guide to “cooking and eating your way around the world.” Starting in France, it goes region by region, talking about the local agriculture, specialties, and culinary traditions, then provides recipes for a handful of iconic dishes from each location. It’s…well. The section on Western Europe is great (although weirdly Greece is left out). It gets broader and less authentic (as Holland herself admits) the further from Western Europe you get (India and China each get two cuisines and the entire continent of Africa gets three). To a certain extent that’s understandable, since this book for a Western audience needs to provide cuisines and dishes that the readers are at least passingly familiar with in order to get them to buy it, and certainly I’m not equipped to say what’s missing in, say, the Africa chapter, but the Western-centric approach made me uncomfortable. I think Holland, who is British, would’ve been better suited to make this an edited collection, with experts providing the overviews and recipes for their regions.
She also ends with the Americas, which for me, because I’m obviously most familiar with the food of my home country, cast suspicion on everything I’d already read because the States were so poorly represented, with only two cuisines: “California cuisine” (California cuisine is fish tacos from a truck and juicing, come on), and Louisiana, meant to stand in for all of Southern cooking even though Cajun and Creole food is a very specific subset of Southern cooking. You don’t go to, like, Texas or Virginia for gumbo.
Mostly, though, I was put off by some really disturbing nostalgia for the antebellum South and colonial India, as well as her declaring that the names of Mexican peppers sound like “the names of a drug cartel,” yes, really, I couldn’t believe it either. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but honestly, just based on that language, I can’t recommend this book.
…and yeah, that’s it for prose books read since April. Whoops! (I mean, there were some rereads in there, but still.)
Moving on to TPBs:
If you follow me anywhere else on the internet, you know by now that that stupid show got me completely obsessed with ol’ Horn Head. I read my way through his entire history last year (more on that later), and am slowly collecting my favorite runs in trade. And this run is my absolute favorite favorite. I’ve been a Waid fan for years, and Samnee’s art is crisp and fluid and gorgeous, his layouts stunning. And Hollingsworth’s colors! Just a beautiful, beautiful book. It’s also one of the funniest books I’ve read in years – and yet the final storyline in the second trade is one of the best portrayals of depression I’ve ever seen in fiction, and rings painfully true to my own experiences (well, not the being attacked by children with mind control powers part, but the rest). That’s a pretty impressive combination of tones to hit. I love this book and I wish it had gone on forever.
11. Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon by Mike Grell, Ed Hannigan, and Dick Giordano: Way back when I first got into comics, I plowed through All the Green Arrow in a few feverish weeks (much like this year’s All the Daredevil adventure). After Smith/Hester and O’Neil/Adams, I liked the Grell stuff best. I haven’t reread it in over a decade, though, so I was very excited when DC finally started releasing it in trade. Overall Grell doesn’t quite embrace the inherent silliness of the character to the degree that I’d like, but otherwise, this is my Ollie, who I’ve sorely missed since well before the 2011 reboot: crotchety, impulsive, given to histrionics, and a hopeless bleeding heart. COME BACK TO ME YOU CRANKY OLD HIPPIE.
And that’s…that’s it for books with, like, ISBNs and stuff. SHRUG EMOTICON.
But I also read…a crapton of comics? Like. So many comics, you guys. I tried to track them, but then I realized that a) that would be super complicated, and b) no one wants to read a huge list of issue numbers. So instead, here’s a sort of general summary of what I read:
- All the Daredevil – so that’s Volumes 1-4 plus annuals and every mini, oneshot, or crossover I could find. I figure that’s somewhere around 600 comics? It turns out I really like Daredevil, you guys!
- Alias, for obvious reasons.
- Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, and Luke Cage, Power Man, for further obvious reason.
- Iron Fist v1, plus all of Danny’s initial appearances in Marvel Premiere, and the first 100 or so issues of Power Man and Iron Fist. Sensing a theme here?
- The first 100 or so issues of Fantastic Four v1. It’s been a Marvel-heavy year.
- All of Convergence. Yeah. The whole damn thing.
- Captain Atom v3, about 50 issues or so.
- And my regular pull list, which has exploded to about 30 comics a month since I started at Panels.
I’m hoping to keep up with this flood while getting back on track with prose books in 2016. I’m thinking of jumping on the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks hashtag, at least until my TBR pile is a bit more under control. I shall report back with my progress! Try to contain your excitement until then. 😉