Saturday, January 31, 2015

2014: On the Page

To be totally frank,* I'm surprised I read as many books as I did, and particularly that I beat my score from last year.  Many of these are comics and young adult books, and I have absolutely zero remorse about that.  Contrary to what Ruth Graham believes, I think that there can be beauty in unexpected places.  YA lit focuses on periods of stretching, the hard transitions.  Even adults transition at pointswhen I'm between jobs, or trying to adjust to life in school, or out of school, these stories can comfort me.  Me, an adult.  Imagine that!  As for comic books, well that's an art form, the marriage of story and image, and is often a better method for telling a narrative than word alone.  This year I read Fun Home and Marbles, both graphic novels, both dealing with quote/unquote serious issues, and both benefit from using art to express certain plot points.  Both of those are lovely books, by the way, which I recommend.

This is all to say that I am over any kind of book-shaming.  I will read books about a teen's summer and the love triangle developed therein.  I will read about superheroes.  I will read classics.  I will read.

As for what I read in 2014, here are some highlights.

Total Books Read: 63. Up five from last year.

Classic Book that rocked my world: The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood.  I had never read this before, and after reading The Blind Assassin and thinking 'meh' I wasn't prepared to love an Atwood.  But this blew me away.  The Handmaid's Tale isn't just one of those books that's well-written, it's one of those books that's important.  I think it's often criticized for being anti-Christian, which I don't buy.  Like any dystopian novel, it cautions against a society where those in power take freedoms away from the masses. In this case, those in power use a perverted form of Christianity to strip people, particularly women, of their rights.  It's a gorgeously-written warning, a story about how easily cultural norms can build into something dangerous.

Book that disappointed me: A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.  I hadn't liked any of Egan's previous workhadn't even gotten through an entire bookbut this one was so highly recommended I thought it would be different.  Well, it was different, because I actually finished.  And I did like certain aspects of the musical thread throughout periods of time, and I thought the future section was well-described, but overall it was a huge thud.  I don't like the way Egan writes characters.  I hate almost everyone in her books, and not in a fun way.  In a 'why am I reading this?' way.

Book that stayed with me a surprisingly long time: The Circle, by Dave Eggers.  I'm not typically a fan of Eggers, someone who seems the ultimate hip author, but this book had a weird staying power. Maybe it's because I am not-so-secretly terrified of technology,** so it got to me.  It follows a woman who could be named Annie Millenial, she's so typical ambitious tech-obsessed twenty-something, as she gets a job working for the Circle (a thinly disguised Google/Amazon amalgamation).  It shows how easily freedom is given up for the next cool thing, how subtly companies could use that power for evil.  It wasn't the Greatest American Novel, but boy did it resonate with me.

Series I bid a fond farewell: The Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin van Draanen.  I read the first book in the series, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, when I was in elementary school.  Eighteen books and all these long years later, van Draanan brought the era of Sammy to an end.  Sammy is a great protagonistsmart, sassy, and super courageous.  She's a hero, but I suppose jr. high had to end at some point.  New goal in life: get box set.

Author Obsession: E. Lockhart.  I had read a couple of her books before, and seriously enjoyed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, but this was the year I became a completist and avid cheerleader.  Lockhart is the single best writer of girls I've ever seen.  She allows her heroines to be smart and strong, but that's not their entire personality.  They're boy crazy.  They make poor decisions.  They're foolish, and moody.  They're mean to their peers, who are often mean back, and usually without any real purpose but with long-lasting effects.  It's an honest account of being a teenager, hormones and intelligence all jumbled together.  I think every teenage girl should read Lockhart, just so they know they're normal.  It's also a good how-to for handling those situations with grace.  Eventually.

*well, actually I'm Cat. HAHAHA!
**the robot rebellion is going to happen one of these days, I have no doubt.

  • A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  • This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  • Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • Saga vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • Anne's House of Dreams by L.M.Montgomery
  • Anne of Ingleside by L.M.Montgomery
  • Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • East of West vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • Saga vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • Zero vol. 1: An Emergency TP by Ales Kot, P. Walsh Michael, Tradd Moore
  • Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
  • Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
  • A Plague Year by Edward Bloor
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
  • Scorpion Shards by Neal Shusterman
  • The Boyfriend List by E. Lockart
  • The Boy Book by E. Lockart
  • American Vampire vol. 6 by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • Thief of Soulsby Neal Shusterman
  • Chew vol. 6: Space Cakes by John Layman and Rob Guillory 
  • The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart
  • Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
  • This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong
  • The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly 
  • Compound by S. A. Bodeen
  • One Day by David Nicholls
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
  • Runaway by Wendelin van Draanen
  • The List by Siobhan Vivian
  • Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City by Wendelin van Draanen
  • Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise by Wendelin van Draanen
  • Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • This is a Call by Paul Brannigan
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • Batman: Night of the Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
  • Batman: the Heart of Hush by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? bu Philip K. Dick
  • Sex Criminals vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
  • Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Marbles by Ellen Forney
  • The X-Files Season 10: vol. 1 by Joe Harris, Chris Carter and Michael Walsh
  • Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye by Wendelin van Draanen
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans
  • Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung
  • Black Science vol. 1 by Matteo Scalera and Dean White
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
  • Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
  • Batman Zero Year: Secret City by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo


Kate said...

We overlapped on Where'd You Go Bernadette?, which I found quirky, funny, and out there. I highly recommend you start out 2015 with The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang.

Cat said...

I really enjoyed Where'd You Go Bernadette?. Completely charming, and also made me so homesick for Seattle when I read it, you couldn't believe.

The Shadow Hero is totally added to my library queue. Can't wait to read it!