john January 27th, 2010
Way back in my undergrad days, when I was incredibly depressed and rudderless and desperate for some sense of meaning or achievement, I started keeping track of what books I read and what movies I watch.
It’s something I’ve stuck with because the items on the list turn out to be convenient fenceposts along my memory: I watched this with her; I saw this one right after I moved; I watched this one abroad with family, etc.
At any rate, as a librarian it’s worth some reflection on the books I’ve read.
Death Note vol. 5 – 12
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman
The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: 2.0
The King of Mulberry Street
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Good As Lily
Bound by Law?
The Complete Concrete
The Book of Lists: Horror
The Bloody Streets of Paris (graphic novel, not prose)
The Pride of Baghdad
Stray Bullets v. 1
Fax from Sarajevo
Notes for a War Story
Into the Volcano
Astro City: Life in the Big City
Artemis Fowl (graphic novel)
Yossel. April 1943
Y: the Last Man, v. 1 -10
Dogs & Water
Same Difference & Other Stories
Artemis Fowl (prose)
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception
Superman for All Seasons
Tales from the Brothers Grimm (graphic novel adapation)
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony
Why I Killed Peter
Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox
Invincible trade paperback: v.1 – 11 (and, later, Ultimate Invincibles 1-4)
Jellaby: Monster in the City
Queen & Country: Operation Broken Ground
Swallow Me Whole
Chicken with Plums
Don’t Look Behind You
The Graveyard Book
The Artemis Fowl Files
Debbie Harry Sings in French
Grammar of the Shot
Hatter M: v. 1 in the Looking Glass Wars (graphic novel)
Creatures of the Night
The Facts in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
The Beast of Chicago: the Murderous Career of H.H. Holmes
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copy Cat Crook
G-Man v. 1: Learning to Fly
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Daredevil: Echo / Vision Quest
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
The Professor’s Daughter
The Goon: Chinatown
Desperadoes: a Moment’s Silence
When I read Nation in May I thought it would be the best book I read all year–and it was, until December, when I read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read ever.
On this list, it’s worth noting the works which hinge on older technology or culture in a way that serves as a detriment to the story: the Complete Concrete suffers from its cultural references, many to people younger kids wouldn’t know; Johnny Hiro is moving in that direction; the plot of Channel Zero relies on obsolete technology; and while I enjoyed Little Brother, I expect that in twenty years it will look quaint.
Smax and Animal Man were both terrible books by good comics authors, and from the Neil Gaiman books I read this year–all of which struck me as slight, including The Graveyard Book, which won the Newbery–I’d like to say that I’m done with his work. But I’ll probably keep reading them as they come out, in vain hope that they’ll be worth it.
The Strain was a terrible book co-written by a decent director (Guillermo del Toro).
Diary of a Wimpy Kid didn’t amuse me, at all. To me, it just seemed like the same joke over and over (look: Greg Heffley is self-centered and oblivious!) and I chose not to read the next two books although I’d already bought them. The library was happy to have them.
The Artemis Fowl books are good individually, with probably The Opal Deception the strongest among them, but reading them all within a short span makes their weaknesses show: each one depends entirely too much on that same tired ace up Colfer’s sleeve.
Y: The Last Man was very good, in spite of some spots that strained suspension of disbelief, but the ending was crap. It, like Asterios Polyp, works much better if you ignore something big that happens at the end (except with Y there are two of those somethings, one pointlessly cruel and the other frankly impossible).
Invincible was another good find. It’s a rare treat to find a fresh voice in superhero comics which isn’t in the vein of Alan Moore or Frank Miller, too macho to show warmth and too cynical to show hope.
Of all these, it looks like less than 20% were written or co-written by women authors (and since most of the books here are comics, it just reinforces the notion–correct, in this case–that comics are a boyzone). Interestingly, I liked 3/4 of the books by women, which has the men beat by far.
The memoris ranged from good to very good. The non-memoir non-fiction books were more uneven. And I still don’t know what to make of Crumb’s Genesis, except that I wanted to like it more than I did.