Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reading list 2008

It's around this time of year that I wheel out that horribly cliched line "it's that time of year again…" But it is actually that time of year - the time of year for me to reveal my annual reading list!

*waits with baited breath for collective applause*

Is that tumbleweed?

Ahem. Right, so I've fallen a smidgeon short of last year's grand total of 34 books (and waaaaaay short of Dinah's 50+), having read 33 this year. But in my defense I did sort of make an effort to follow through on the promise I made last year to achieve more of a balance between graphic novels and full-on prose, and some books made me think (Freakonomics) until steam came out of my ears, while others were epically long (East of Eden), so all in all I think I did pretty well.

*pats self on back*

As with previous years I'm linking each title to the relevant page (or an alternative if Amazon don't stock it) so you can pop off and buy/read-up a bit more on anything that appeals to you, and I'm once again grading each book like an English teacher marking his students. As you'll see, for the most part the class of 2008 has been pretty darn good (that and the fact that I appear to have exception taste in books). 

*puts on corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches*

Shall we begin?

01. Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol. 3 - Straddling 2007 and 2008's list, this is the third volume in Robert Kirkman's brilliant saga of a teenage superhero: A
02. Heroes Vol. 1 - An enjoyable but somewhat forgettable collection of very short stories based around the TV show; on this basis I wouldn't particularly bother with volume two: B-
03. The Complete Peanuts: 1965-1966 - Another gem of a volume in Fantagraphics' ongoing series collecting every single Peanuts strip: A
04. Birdland - Gilbert Hernandez's Eros Comix tale is a highly-sexed, highly entertaining romp: A
05. Love and Rockets: Perla La Loca - The fifth volume in the new compact Love and Rockets range; pure genius from Jaime Hernandez: A
06. Love and Rockets: Beyond Palomar - Volume six of the compact Love and Rockets range focuses on Gilbert Hernandez's characters, as the title suggests, beyond the town of Palomar: A
07. My Boring-ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith - I liked this, but it needed some serious editing and did drag a bit in places. There's only so many times I can read about someone getting up and taking a dump before the joke wears a little thin. Still, the recollection of how Kevin Smith helped Jason Mewes kick his drug habit was both touching and painfully honest, and made the whole book worth reading: B
08. Northline - The second novel by Richmond Fontaine frontman Willy Vlautin charts the sad tale of a young woman trying to move on with her life. This book came with its own CD soundtrack, and both the prose and the music were utterly heartbreakingly wonderful: A
09. The Learners - Another second novel, this time by Chip Kidd. A wonderful story, and a beautifully packaged little hardback book. I Loved this: A
10. The Worst Years of Your Life: Stories for the Geeked-Out, Angst-Ridden, Lust-Addled, and Deeply Misunderstood Adolescent in all of us - A collection of short stories edited by my favourite contemporary writer, Mark Jude Poirer. Needless to say, his story was the standout tale for me: B
11. Paul goes Fishing - The latest touching and brilliant semi-autobiographical graphic novel in Michel Rabagliati's 'Paul' series: A
12. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - A coming of age story written in the form of letters: B
13. Up Till Now - A touching and insightful memoir from the original Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. It's warm and witty, and painfully heartbreaking when he writes about the death of his wife Nerine: A
14. Invasion of the Mind Sappers - An entertaining graphic novel focusing on three teenagers who suspect the headmaster of their school is an alien: B-
15. Freakonomics - Stephen D. Levitt and Steven J. Dubner put a unique spin on economics; interesting concepts, but it eventually becomes a tad repetitious: B-
16. The Education of Hopey Glass - Jaime Hernandez's latest collection of Locas stories. Sheer brilliance: A
17. Amor Y Cohetes - The seventh and final volume in the new compact Love and Rockets reprints collects the non Locas/Palomar stories from Los Bros Hernandez. It's worth the money just for Jaime's wonderful Rocky Rhodes tales: A+
18. Bottomless Belly Button - Dash Shaw's very thick, very good graphic novel about three grown-up kids who learn that their parents are getting a divorce after 40 years of marriage: A
19. Snuff - Chuck Palahniuk's latest book is something of a return to form after two horrifically bad books, but the story seemed a bit stretched in places and is still nowhere near as good as some of his earlier work: C+
20. The Complete Peanuts: 1967-1968 - Another beautiful collection of Charles Schulz's masterpiece: A
21. The Shadow of the Sun - Polish journalist Ryszrd Kapuscinski recounts some of his exploits on the African continent. Not my usual fare, but a fascinating read nontheless: B
22. Knockemstiff - A fantastic collection of gritty, interconnected short stories by Donald Ray Pollock. I loved this book: A+
23. Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 - The latest volume of Love and Rockets adopts a new, annual graphic novel-sized format and gets off to a cracking start. Genius: A+
24. East of Eden - Some classics are never as good as you expect them to be, but John Steinbeck's epic saga of the Trask and Hamilton families is a beautifully written story populated by wonderfully engaging characters. Simply incredible: A+
25. The Three Paradoxes - Paul Hornschemeier's autobiographical graphic novel weaves three separate storylines into the tale of a father and son taking a walk together. Brilliant: A
26. Whoa Nellie! - A Love and Rockets book focusing on the world of lady-wrestling. As I've come to expect from Jaime Hernandez, this book is beautifully drawn, and brilliantly written: A
27. Superman: Last Son - If only all Superman's comic book adventures were as good as this tale penned by Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner and his one-time assistant Geoff Johns, maybe I'd still be buying them: B+
28. Abandoned Cars - Tim Lane's beautifully illustrated and brilliantly written collection of film noir-style tales. A superb book: A+
29. Submarine - Joe Dunthorne's debut novel charts the very funny story of a teenage boy coming to terms with love and life while trying to save his parent's marriage: B+
30. I Love You, Beth Cooper - The debut novel by former Simpsons writer Larry Doyle feels like little more than a padded-out screenplay, and is thus greatly disappointing. Maybe the forthcoming movie will be more satisfying: C+
31. Speak of the Devil - Gilbert Hernandez spins a gripping tale of a peeping tom and a spate of grisly murders: A
32. Fair Weather - Joe Matt's brilliant autobiographical graphic novel tells the tale of a weekend from his childhood. I liked it so much that I can't wait to checkout some of his other books: A
33. Of Mice and Men - I finish off the year with confirmation that I am now a full-on Steinbeck junkie. Apparently I was the only person who didn't get to read this book for GCSE English at school, but I've rectified that now! A stunning tale, and a true classic: A

So there we have it - a rather cracking collection of books, I think you'll agree. And as this is my last post of space-year 2008, I'd like to take the opportunity to wish you, dear readers reader, a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. May 2009 bring you everything you wish for yourself and more!

*bows theatrically and departs stage left*


Tara said...

I must either lack focus or I'm not reading the right books. I finished one book this year, though. Last year was better, I finished three.

CyberPete said...

I've only read about 13 books. It turns out having an iPhone with you on the train is far more appealing than sporting a book.

Happy New Year Tim, and thank you for making 2008 a bit more amusing.

eroswings said...

Smallville is entertaining; though, I wonder if they'll ever introduce Batman or Green Lantern or more importantly, Wonder Woman (Wonder Girl?).

Happy New Year! Cheers to a fun, fantastic, and great New Year!

Tim said...

Tara - Well, your 2008 total should be easy to beat in 2009!

Cyberpete - And to you too, sir! And hopefully we'll make 2009 a LOT more amusing!

Eroswings - It's funny, but I find that the TV and film writers seem to have a better handle on the comic book characters than the comic book writers these days! I think the former producers of Smallville wanted to get Bruce Wayne on the show, but the head of Warner Bros. nixed it because they didn't want to bugger up the Batman movie franchise (I think that's why Green Arrow ended up being used). Wonder Woman would be an awesome addition though!

Happy New Year to you too, dude!

the projectivist said...

i was going to write something about books and something else about that being a great list
but i changed my mind when i saw your blog archive over there on the right -
have you seen that thing?!
and now 2009 is there too
that's got to be the longest list eva!

you deserve a badge or something.

Tim said...

You reckon? Most of it's nonsense, y'know…!

M said...

33 books - impressive! For 2009 might I recommend 'The interpretation of murder' by Jed Rubenfeld, I think you might like it.

Happy New Year Tim ;o)

Tim said...

Thanks M, I'll check it out! And Happy New Year to you too!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Happy New Year!

I feel drawn to the first book of your list. I'm going to have to do some research about this Invincible fellow...
I must also read some Steinbeck. It seems you weren't the only one not to have read his work for English GCSE.

*bows theatrically and departs stage left* - 'In theatre' now are we? I knew it! You've gone way past Metrosexual!

Tim said...

I think you'd like Invincible. If only because I'm hoping you'll lust after the main character rather than me…

There's nothing wrong with bowing! I'm being polite! DAMN YOU - I WILL NEVER BE YOUR PLAYTHING!

CyberPete said...


Did it start fabulously?

Tim said...

Oh yes it did! And yours?

CyberPete said...

Great thanks!

missy&chrissy. said...

this posting inspired us to read more in the new year - we didn't read nearly as many books as you did last year, and are certainly slacking in that department!

Tim said...

Do it! And report back!!