Friday, January 02, 2009

My Reading List for 2008

The new year is a good time to look over at what I read in 2008. I enjoy putting together the list of what I have read and taking a look at any patterns, so it will be something I will continue in 2009. As I type this, I can say I already finished the first book of 2009. It seems I am off to a decent start. As I noted last year, finding good graphic novels to read here in Tyler is a challenge. Mangas are particularly difficult; even Barnes and Noble's selection here is so-so, but the occasional trip out of town usually remedies that. I have bought a few more graphic novels and mangas than I usually would, but I suppose that is alright in order to read a format and genre I enjoy. I am pretty much not using the public library here, which also noted before, is pretty dismal when it comes to current popular selections (and no graphic novels, which I noted last year). I may find one, maybe two things in Tyler PL, but overall, I am relying a lot more on my university's ILL to get things we may not have that I want to read but not buy. I have to give a shout-out then to my ILL librarian who manages to come through for me.

The big event for me this year was my mother's passing in December. Mom was a big reader. I always remember her reading a book. She always encouraged her boys to read. Of the three brothers, I am the only one who really got into the reading habit. I could not thank her enough for that (and for a lot of other things). Isabel Allende was one of her favorites, along with other Latin American masters like Vargas Llosa and García Márquez, writers I enjoy as well. So was Agatha Christie, which she read in Spanish translation. Later on, she favored the works of Paulo Coehlo. My last gift for her was Coehlo's La Quinta Montaña (The Fifth Mountain). I do not know if she finished it, but she did mention starting to read it as she remarked to me about that book I got her being about the prophet Elijah. I am sure that a part of heaven will have a good library for her, much as Borges envisioned.

Here then is the list for 2008. Unless it is readily apparent, I will make little notes like specify if something is a graphic novel (if it is not readily apparent) or part of a series. Books with an asterisk are books I reread, something I am trying to track this time around. I will put the little stats with some comments at the end. There are not many reviews in the blog because I have been using GoodReads to keep track of my reading. It allows me to keep a list, and I make my review comments over there as I finish a book. There is a link to my GR profile on the side column of my blogs, and it is also visible in Facebook (if you happen to be on FB as well). Pretty much, unless a book is special, or I make a lot of notes about it, I just make the note on GR. It's easy for me at least, and right now, I find that I need things to be a bit easier.

Here goes:

  • Andrew Helfer, Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography.
  • Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones.*
  • Jay Leno, Headlines.*
  • Jay Leno, More Headlines.*
  • Kurt Luchs, Leave the Gun, Take the Canoli: A Wiseguy's Guide to the Workplace.*
  • Jonathan Kozol, Letters to a Young Teacher.
  • Patricia H. Fisher, Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan: A Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive.
  • Jay Leno, Headlines III: Not the Movie, Still the Book.*
  • Grant Morrison, Batman: Gothic.
  • Adam Horowitz, The Dumbest Moments in Business History.
  • David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous.
  • Jay Leno, Headlines IV: The Next Generation.*
  • Bill Maher, New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.
  • Keith Olbermann, Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values.
  • Brian Thomsen, Tales of Ravenloft (Ravenloft).
  • Drew Rausch, The Dark Goodbye, Vol. 1.
  • Thich Naht Hanh, Taming the Tiger Within.
  • John Wagner, A History of Violence.
  • Scott Adams, All Dressed Down and Nowhere to Go (Dilbert)
  • Michael Reaves and Steve Perry, Death Star (Star Wars).
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Doctor Strange: Beginnings and Endings.
  • Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations.
  • Steve Perry and Stephani Perry, Prey (Alien vs. Predator).
  • Larry L. Hardesty, ed., Role of the Library in the First College Year.
  • Peter David, Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four.
  • Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury.
  • Derek Bok, Our Underachieving Colleges.

  • Steven D. Price, 1001 Dumbest Things Ever Said.
  • Josh Blaylock, G.I. Joe Vs. The Transformers, Vol. 1.
  • Alan Moore, V for Vendetta.
  • Lisa A. Ennis, Government Documents Librarianship: A Guide for the Neo-Depository Era.
  • Elaina Norlin, Usability Testing for Library Websites.
  • Susan Gibbons, The Academic Library and the Net Gen Student.
  • Mark Millar, Ultimate Annuals, Vol. 1 (Marvel)
  • Mark Youngblood Herring, Fool's Gold: Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library.
  • Lou Hudson, Speak Texan in 30 Minutes or Less.*
  • Mark Millar: The Ultimates, Vol. 1: Super-Human.
  • Clamp, Legal Drug, Vol. 1.
  • Robert Wilder, Tales from the Teachers' Lounge.
  • Carole Cable: Cable on Academe.*

April (This was an extremely bad month for reading. I was very busy with work. That I managed to finish anything was amazing.):

  • Paulo Coehlo, Life: Selected Quotations.
  • Wayne W. Dyer, Living the Wisdom of the Tao.
  • Lou Dobbs, Independents Day.


  • Beverly Kaye, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay.
  • Jimmy Gray and Justin Palmiotti, The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning.
  • Guy Delisle, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.
  • Michael Eric Dyson, Is Bill Cosby Right?
  • Helen Thomas, Watchdogs of Democracy.
  • Barbara Pachter, The Jerk with the Cell Phone.
  • Melissa L. Rossi, What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World.
  • Karl Shaw, 5 People Who Died During Sex and 100 Other Terribly Tasteless Lists.
  • Osama Bin Laden, Messages to the World.
  • Akira Yoshida, Elektra: The Hand.
  • Henry Beard, X-treme Latin: Unleash Your Inner Gladiator.*


  • Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance Chronicles, Book 1).
  • Donald T. Phillips, Lincoln on Leadership.
  • Paulo Coehlo, Veronika Decide Morir.
  • Kurt Busiek et. al., Conan Volume 1: The Frost Giant's Daughter and Other Stories.
  • Grant Morrison, Batman and Son.
  • Clint Willis, The I Hate Republicans Reader.
  • Alton Brown, Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run.
  • Mark Millar, Wanted.


  • Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke.
  • George Soros, The Bubble of American Supremacy.
  • Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
  • Stuart Shea, Rock and Roll's Most Wanted.
  • Alan Moore, Watchmen.
  • Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting With Jesus.
  • Scott Walter, ed., The Teaching Library.


  • Mark James Estren, A History of Underground Comics.
  • Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan, eds., A Passion for Books.
  • David Michaels, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.
  • Geoff Johns, Infinite Crisis.
  • Xenophon, The Expedition of Cyrus.
  • Mark Verheiden, Predator: Cold War (graphic novel).
  • John Ney Reiber, Captain America, Volume 3: Ice.
  • Charlie Huston, Ultimate Annuals, Volume 2 (Marvel).
  • Grant Morrison, Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul.
  • Ben Jacobs, The Quotable Book Lover.*
  • Mario Puzo, The Sicilian.*
  • Matt Taibbi, The Great Derangement.
  • Min-Woo Hyung, Priest, Vol. 1.

  • John M. Budd, Self-Examination: The Present and Future of Librarianship.
  • Texas Edition I Didn't Know That Almanac 2007 (Cool Springs Press).
  • Elizabeth Royte, Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It.
  • Min-Woo Hyung, Priest, Vol.2.
  • Jack Cafferty, It's Getting Ugly Out There.
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
  • Pete Blackshaw, Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000.
  • Stuart Kelly, The Book of Lost Books.
  • Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse.


  • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween. *
  • Min-Woo Hyung, Priest, Vol. 3.
  • Suu Minazuki, Judas, Vol. 1.
  • Satoshi Shiki, Kami-Kaze, Vol. 1.
  • Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Dragons of Winter Night (Dragonlance Chronicles, Book 2).
  • Douglas Cook, Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors.
  • Frank Miller, Frank Miller's Robocop.
  • Sean Williams, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
  • Alan Moore, Promethea, Book 1.
  • Alex Ross et. al., Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Collected Best, Vol. 1.
  • Peter Normanton, Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics.
  • Paulo Coehlo, Manual del Guerrero de la Luz.
  • Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of the Nation.
  • David Hine, District X Vol. 1: Mr. M.
  • Alan Brine, Continuing Professional Development: A Guide for Information Professionals.
  • Dan Slott, She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Single Green Female.
  • M. Sandra Wood, Introduction to Health Sciences Librarianship.
  • Dan Slott, She-Hulk, Vol. 2: Superhuman Law.
  • Timothy W. Ryback, Hitler's Private Library.
December (Given the chaos of this month, it is a miracle I managed to finish any books. I did manage to finish just one more in time for the end of the year):
  • Sandy Mitchell, Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium.

The numbers then (for those who may be interested):

  • Total of books read in 2008: 111 (talk about a nice number). Out of these, 12 were books I reread.
  • Total books read in 2007: 85 (the 2007 list)
  • Total books read in 2006: 106 (the 2006 list)
  • Total books read in 2005: 73
I have to admit that I was a bit surprised that I managed to read more in 2008.
  • Number of books read in the worst month of 2008: 1 (This was December, and it was a miracle I managed given what was going on. However, this one book was one of the best I read this year).
  • Number of books read in the best month: 14 (January. I also did a lot of my rereading this month).
  • Fiction: 49. As before, graphic novels and mangas fall under fiction, unless they happen to be memoirs. Memoirs and similar I would include with nonfiction.
  • Nonfiction: 62. This time around nonfiction won out. This is the first year since I have been keeping track where nonfiction comes ahead. For one, it was an election year, and I did try to read a bit more in current affairs in order to feel better informed. As usual, I read a few library science books. I will say on those that I was not terribly impressed overall. The Ennis on GovDocs librarianship stood out for me, but overall, library science writing is pretty much lukewarm. This does not surprise me. The lukewarm nature of library literature, to put it mildly, is not a new phenomenon.
  • Graphic novels and comics: 32. By comics, I mean what most people define as such, things like works published by Marvel and DC Comics. These count as graphic novels usually, but I mention it to distinguish from other works like Bechdel's Fun Home or Helfer's on Ronald Reagan. The distinction is mostly for me. Graphic novels continue to be a favorite genre for me. I continue to discover many well written works with good quality in terms of storylines and art. In some cases, the works are much better, and in some cases much more literary, than anything out there (i.e. the regular text works). If you are not taking a look at graphic novels, you are missing out on a big part of the reading experience overall. This includes mangas as well.
  • Mangas: 7. This is the first year I am actually listing the total number of these. I have been acquiring more during the past year, and they are waiting to be read. My daughter is a big reader of these. The Naruto series is one of her favorites. Personally, I tend to prefer my mangas with more adult themes, and some of the ones I read do carry the parental advisories they add here in the States. Don't let that deter you (while some works can be graphic due to violence or sex, actually, some of those with advisories are very tame, which makes me wonder how accurate the labels can be). Some of those are among the best works I have read. Now and then I do read some mangas that fall under the young adult label, and I have been known to look into things my daughter suggests. Overall, the nice thing about mangas is that there is a genre for every reader: from romance to horror to adventure and humor, and even some more adult themes, you can find it all. I think this, the variety, has a lot to do with the format's popularity. All I know is they make some very good reading.
And now what everyone is waiting for, my favorites of 2008. I read a lot of good things this year, so picking favorites was a bit hard. Anyhow, these are ones that, if I could, I would really try to put in your hands:

  • Keith Olbermann, Truth and Consequences. This is a collection of his special commentaries on Bush and the War on Terror. Definitely a must read right before the election.
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Doctor Strange: Beginnings and Endings. I picked this up on the basis of the author, also known for the series Babylon 5 (one of my favorites). A retelling of Doctor Strange's origin, but in the hands of this author, it is very well done.
  • Peter David, Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four.
  • Akira Yoshida, Elektra: The Hand.
  • Mark Millar, Wanted. This was definitely one of the best I read this year. I have not seen the movie, but from the previews I know it can't be all that good. No way Ms. Jolie can play The Fox as the character is presented in the graphic novel (no matter how hard Jolie tries). I will probably rent the movie anyhow just for curiosity.
  • Alan Moore, Watchmen. If there is such a thing as having a reading event, this was it for me. This work is simply amazing, and it truly immerses the reader. It is indeed an example of what can be accomplished with a graphic novel: it is very literate; it has great art, great characters, and a lot of substance with the action. This is one that needs to be reread, and you will still discover new things.
  • Alan Moore, V for Vendetta. I read a lot more Moore this year. This is another excellent work. As often the case, the movie barely gives it fair due.
  • Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus. I recommend this one to everyone I see. If you want to really understand the dynamics of certain red areas in the country, you need to be reading this. Another pre-election must read.
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. All I will say is that this was a very moving work. Another fine example of the best graphic novels can offer.
  • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween. I reread this during the last week of October, in time for Halloween. It is definitely one of my all time favorites, and while you don't have to read it for Halloween, it is a great read for that season.
  • Sandy Mitchell, Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium. I have a new hero, and his name is Ciaphas Cain, regimental commissar. This is one of the most pleasant reading discoveries I have made in a long time. It has a great blend of humor and military scifi. Don't let the fact it is part of a series, the Warhammer 40,000 in this case, deter you. This one is worth it. If you like rogues and sly characters who still manage to be heroes and do the right thing, you will like this. Also, it makes a good introduction to the WH 40K universe. I know I will be reading more of this series, and others in the WH 40K universe, soon.

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