Monday, January 04, 2010

My Reading List for 2009

I have been posting my reading list for the previous year with some reflection and commentary since 2006. It has become a tradition of mine here at The Gypsy Librarian. Without doing the tally, this year it felt like I did not read as much; it's just a feeling. I think in part it is because I picked up some pretty thick books. For instance, Let The Galaxy Burn took me a few months to get through it since I would pick it up, drop it, pick it up again. It was a short fiction collection, and books like that lend themselves to reading a little at a time for me. In addition, the year was somewhat chaotic at work, so that kept me a bit from reading since I would come home on the tired side. However, I did persevere, and I think I got a pretty good tally this year.

I did some rereading this year. For instance, this was a Macondo year for me. This means I reread Gabriel García Márquez's Cien Años de Soledad. This is kind of a ritual of mine every so often. I just get in the mood for it, and I know it is time to go back to Macondo. I think this year was my fourth or fifth time around. I also reread a few other things. Some I reread in order to get ready to read something new in a series. That was the case with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. I reread the previous volumes to get ready for that. For Halloween, I reread Batman: The Long Halloween. It is an excellent book to put you in the mood for Halloween, and I think I may make that another little ritual of mine for the coming year.

Graphic novels and manga continue to be a strong presence in my reading. I am not a purist, so the term "graphic novel" here refers to both "traditional" graphic novels like Safe Area Gorazde and comic compilations. Mangas here can include manga, manwhas, and similar, which I do read in English translation (one of my wishes in life would be to learn Japanese and a couple other Asian languages just to read these in original). I still mostly get these when I buy them, often out of town. I have noted previously that this is something that our local public library fails at miserably, and the local bookstores are somewhat limited. I may have to seriously look into buying some online. By the way, as before, I did utilize my campus Interlibrary Loan Service. The only catch with ILL is that you can't really get stuff that is recent (libraries are not willing to lend out something new or recently popular), but otherwise, I could get just about anything on ILL. In general, my basic rule is: if I want to just read it once, I borrow it. If I want to reread it, or I like it, then I buy it. The borrowing part tends to apply more to nonfiction, especially if it deals with current events (timeliness is the issue). Overall, this was a good year for me in terms of manga and graphic novels for me.

Using GoodReads to keep track of the books I have read continues to be useful. The only catch is that I don't write as many booknotes on the blog as I used to, but doing GR means I can make quick notes on books I read and keep track of genres, so on. You can find the widget for GR on the right side column of my blogs; the widget is set to display what I am currently reading.

And speaking of currently reading, I will note that I jot down books on the month I finish them. So, if I carry something over from the previous December into the next January, it gets on the following year's list, that kind of thing. Otherwise, I am not big on things like knowing the exact day I finished a book. I just want a sense of what I did per month. Anyhow, here go the numbers:

Number of books read in 2009: 98 (5 rereads)

Number of books read in 2008: 111 (the 2008 list).
Number of books read in 2007: 85 (the 2007 list).
Number of books read in 2006: 106 (the 2006 list).
Number of books read in 2005: 73

I read less than last year, but I still read quite a bit. Entering 2009 was chaotic and sad for me since my mother passed in December of 2008. I only read one book during December of last year, and that was barely. Then, as I mentioned, work was somewhat hectic (and I am not saying more). Anyhow, I did read a lot of good things, so I can say it was a very good year overall.

Here goes the list. As before, if something is not readily apparent about a book from the title, I will add a small note after it. If the title is in Spanish, it means I read it in Spanish. Asterisks are re-reads:

January:
  • Mickey Spillane, Vengeance is Mine.
  • Wendy Northcutt, The Darwin Awards Next Evolution (Book 5).
  • Fernando Baez, A Universal History of the Destruction of Books.
  • Koushun Takami, Battle Royale, Ultimate Edition, Vol. 1.
  • Huw Davies, Pedestrian Safety Expert Gets Hit By Bus.
  • Greg Rucka et.al., Batman: Bruce Wayne: Murderer?
  • Greg Rucka et.al., Batman: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Vol. 1.
  • Greg Rucka et.al., Batman: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Vol. 2.
  • Greg Rucka et.al., Batman: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Vol. 3.
  • Masaki Segawa, Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, Vol. 1.
  • David Bischoff, Hunter's Planet (Aliens vs. Predator, Book 2).
  • Wess Roberts, Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun.
  • R.A. Salvatore, The Legend of Drizzt Book 1: Homeland (Forgotten Realms, graphic novel).

February:

  • George Carlin, Three Times Carlin: An Orgy of George.
  • Masakazu Yamaguchi, Arm of Kannon, Vol. 1.
  • Sin-ichi Hiromoto, Stone, Vol. 1.
  • Masaki Segawa, Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, Vol. 2.
  • Hunter Davies, Hunter Davies' Book of Lists.
  • Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1.*
  • Ben Reed, Cool Cocktails.

March:

  • Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2.*
  • Alison Lewis, ed., Questioning Library Neutrality.
  • Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red.
  • Chris Warner, Star Wars: Infinities--A New Hope.
  • Garth Ennis, Punisher Max: Widowmaker.
  • David Land, Star Wars: Infinities--The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil.
  • Kazuo Koike, Samurai Executioner, Vol. 1.
  • Bill Willingham, Robin: Days of Fire and Madness.
  • Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love.
  • Koushun Takami, Battle Royale Ultimate Edition, Vol. 2.
  • Ian Spector, Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T: 400 Facts About the Baddest Dudes in the History of Ever.
  • Professor Happycat, I Can Haz Cheezburger? A LOLcat Colleckshun.
  • Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier.

April:

  • Joe McGuire, Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter.
  • Douglas Tonks, TV's Most Wanted.
  • Larry Wilmore, I'd Rather We Got Casinos, and Other Black Thoughts.
  • Frank Miller, Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, Vol. 3.
  • Haden Blackman, Star Wars: Victories and Sacrifices (Clone Wars, Vol. 2).
  • Haden Blackman, Star Wars: Last Stand on Jabiim (Clone Wars, Vol. 3).
  • Jaimie Muehlhausen, Redneck Words of Wisdom.
  • A.J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically.
  • Enrico Marini, El Escorpion: La Marca del Diablo (Vol. 1; graphic novel).
  • Janet McNeil Hurlbert, Defining Relevancy: Managing the New Academic Library.
  • John Layman, Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness.
  • Mark Millar, Superman: Red Son.
  • Masaki Segawa, Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, vol. 3.

May:

  • Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits.
  • Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde.
  • Denis Leary, Why We Suck.
  • Masaki Segawa, Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, vol 4.
  • Cheryl Russell, Bet You Didn't Know.
  • Masaki Segawa, Basilisk: The Kouga Ninga Scrolls, vol. 5.
  • Ian Spector, The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About the World's Greatest Human.
  • Kai Tsurugi, Black Knight (Kuro no Kishi), vol.1.

June:

  • Kai Tsurugi, Black Knight (Kuro no Kishi), vol.2.
  • Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals About Reading, Libraries and Community.
  • Markman Ellis, The Coffee House: A Cultural History.
  • Elizabeth J. Wood, Beyond Survival: Managing Academic Libraries in Transition.
  • Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts, 1971-1972.
  • Alice M. LeGrow, Bizenghast, Vol. 1.
  • Alice M. LeGrow, Bizenghast, Vol. 2.
  • Gabriel García Márquez, Cien Años de Soledad.*
  • William B. Whitman, The Quotable Politician.

July:

  • Gary Paul Nabhan, Tequila: A Natural and Cultural History.
  • Siku, The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation.
  • Koushun Takami, Battle Royale Ultimate Edition, Vol. 3.
  • John Wagner, Star Wars-Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire.
  • Andy Mangel, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters.
  • Paul Pope, Batman: Year 100.
  • Angela Watrous, ed., 50 Ways to Support Lesbian and Gay Equality.
  • Brian Augustyn, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.
  • Koushun Takami, Battle Royale Ultimate Edition, Vol. 4.
  • Koushun Takami, Battle Royale Ultimate Edition, Vol. 5.
  • Jennifer 8 Lee, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.

August: (This was a bit of a slow month in terms of reading. There was a lot happening at work for one)

  • Ryan Sager, The Elephant in the Room.
  • Gustavo Arellano, Ask a Mexican.
  • Marc Gascoigne, ed., Let the Galaxy Burn (Warhammer 40,000 short fiction collection).
  • Kazuo Koike, Crying Freeman, Vol. 1.

September:

  • Hiroshi Sakurazaka, All You Need Is Kill.
  • Adam Gallardo, Star Wars: Infinities--Return of the Jedi.
  • Drew Karpyshyn, Star Wars: Darth Bane: Rule of Two.
  • R.A. Salvatore, The Legend of Drizzt Book 2: Exile (Forgotten Realms, graphic novel).
  • Brett Booth, Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, Vol. 1: Prodigal Son (graphic novel).
  • R.A. Salvatore, The Legend of Drizzt Book 3: Sojourn (Forgotten Realms, graphic novel).

October:(Another slow month. From this point on, my reading decreased until the end of the year.)

  • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween.*
  • Matthew Sturges, House of Mystery, vol. 1: Room and Boredom (graphic novel).
  • Allan Brandt, The Cigarette Century.
  • Karen Traviss, Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel (Star Wars novel).

November:

  • Mickey Spillane, One Lonely Night.
  • Kurt Busiek, Conan Volume 3: The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories.
  • Kazuo Koike, Crying Freeman, Vol. 2.
  • Kazuo Koike, Crying Freeman, Vol. 3.
  • Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, Working for You Isn't Working For Me.

December:

  • Eduardo Galeano, Las venas abiertas de América Latina.*
  • Kazuo Koike, Crying Freeman, Vol. 4.
  • Matthew K. Manning, Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon.
  • Kazuo Koike, Crying Freeman, Vol. 5.

Other thoughts and comments:

  • Number of books read in the worst months: 4 (August, October, and December). Overall, the first part of the year was better than the later part. As I have mentioned, work got chaotic to put it politely.
  • Number of books read in the best month: 14 (March).
  • Fiction: 62. As I did last year and before, graphic novels and mangas fall under fiction, unless they happen to be memoirs or similar. Memoirs and similar I would include with nonfiction.
  • Nonfiction: 36. Fiction, especially graphic novels and manga won out this year. I was clearly going for a bit more escapism, but I also picked up some excellent mangas this year. 4 books of nonfiction fell under library science.
  • Graphic novels: 32. This would include fiction and nonfiction works.
  • Manga: 23. I completed reading of some limited series (i.e. they don't keep going on and on like Naruto for instance) this year, and I discovered one or two new items as well. See my note about mangas in my 2008 list. What I wrote then is still applicable.
And finally, what my three readers are waiting for: my favorites for the year:

  • The Battle Royale series. This is simply the best reading experience I had this year. I could not put these books down once I started them. I read them in the newer ultimate editions. As noted in the Wikipedia article that I linked, these are graphic in terms of sex and violence (so is the novel on which the manga is based). Having given warning, this is one I highly recommend. Excellent characterization, fast and furious pacing, and the art is very good. Think Lord of the Flies with 1984, throw in The Running Man (the novel, not the movie), and put it on steroids, and you just might, might, get close to this. To me, this is what crappy reality TV like Survivor should be like. None of that stupid voting the ones you dislike of the island. Arm them, set them loose, and let them kill each other. And if they refuse, blow up their collars. It's called Survivor for a reason. The TV show as it is looks more like island pageant. Anyhow, I highly recommend Battle Royale. You can pick up the individual 15 volumes, or do what I did and get the hardcover ultimate editions (well worth the price; and the Wikipedia article apparently has not updated that the ultimate editions are finally out).
  • Following Battle Royale has to be the Basilisk series. This is the story of a feud between two ninja clans that comes to the fore as they fight to determine which member of their clans will be the next shogun. There is a novel of it, and there was an anime made of it as well, which I am interested in watching some day after having read this. The series also features a tragic romance and ninjas with very special powers. What's not to like? This is one worth revisiting.
  • George Carlin's Three Times Carlin: An Orgy of George collects three of his books and some additional material. If you need to get your fix of the thinking person's comedian, this is the book to pick up. Another comedian book I read this year that I liked was Denis Leary's Why We Suck. It is not as good as reading Carlin, but it is still good. Just look up the part about the Oprah Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Book that made me angry in the "getting outraged over the atrocities people do" kind of angry: Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil. The situation in Rwanda was simply an inexcusable failure to act by other nations in stopping a genocide. The book is Dallaire's story of his time as commander of UNAMIR in Rwanda, where he was basically abandoned by his superiors and forced to do his best with what he had to defend the innocent.
  • I always recommend One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I reread this year. I read it in Spanish, but it is available in English translation for my English-reading friends.
  • I delved a bit into romance this year with the Black Knight series. It's yaoi manga (i.e. boys who love boys). I picked it up in part out of curiosity; I know a lot of teen girls find yaoi manga appealing, and I wanted to know why. The interesting thing about this series, for me as a librarian, is that it follows a lot of the conventions of a basic romance novel. The plot is basically the love of a prince and the knight assigned to protect him. If the prince was a princess instead, this would be a basic romance novel in manga form. I think this is where a lot of the appeal factor lies for teen girls, that and cute guys. There is some sexual depiction, but I would venture to say it is nothing most teens can't handle (much of the depiction is implied, as in you see nudity, but the "naughty parts" are strategically covered). It was a fun read, and I will probably keep reading it just for kicks. Another way to look at it if you are wondering whether to read this or not: I would let my daughter, who is a manga reader, read it. She is 13, and this is no worse than some other stuff I know she reads. In contrast, no, I would not let her read Battle Royale until she got older.
  • The "hmm, that was interesting and different" book this year was Siku's The Manga Bible. Though it claims to go from Genesis to Revelation, this book is a selection. Having said that, it is a very comprehensive selection and adaptation of the Bible. If you want to get a good sense of what the Bible contains, what the overall story is, and the key stories and characters, this is a very good reading. The book does include chapter/verse references so you can check up in your regular Bible. This was one my daughter requested to borrow, and she gave me positive feedback about it. Whether you are Christian or not, believer or not, this is one I recommend. It is a pretty quick read, and as I said, a different way to look at a book that a lot of people think they know.
  • The book I wish more people would read: Watrous' 50 Ways to Support Lesbian and Gay Equality. You may already be supportive, but you do not quite know how to turn that support into constructive action. This book will tell you how.
  • A book that will help explain why Republicans (and right wingers) behave they way they do: Sanger's The Elephant in the Room. If you want to understand Republican politics now, and why the party seems to be self-destructing, this book provides a good explanation. The main argument of the book is that the GOP is divided between two major camps: the "leave me alone" libertarians and the fundamentalist evangelicals who strive to pretty much create a theocracy.
  • Kazuo Koike's Crying Freeman series. This is another great limited series (five collected volumes published by Dark Horse). Freeman is the assassin working for the 108 Dragons, the Chinese Mafia, who sheds tears when he kills his victims. The characterization on this one is rich and complex. Yes, it does have sex and violence, so not for the little kids. Good story and action, and the art is pretty good as well. If nothing else, the art detail on the tattoos makes this worth a look. This is another one worth revisiting for me. Koike is also the author of Samurai Executioner, of which I read the first volume this year. I will strive to read the rest of that series as well and also look up his other popular work, the series Lone Wolf and Cub.
  • The "really cool discovery of the year" for me was the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. I just saw this in a bookstore one day, picked it up while browsing, and the description of the book hooked me. Initially, I thought it would be similar to Algis Budrys' Rogue Moon, but other than the warrior/hero who dies and is reborn to do his task over and over, this novel is unique. You don't quite figure out why Keiji, the recruit hero, keeps being reborn each morning to fight until you are deep in the book. Once you get there, all I will say it is a very interesting science fiction twist. This is one I recommend to science fiction readers out there. This is a very good example of Japanese science fiction. Personally, I am inclined to pick up other titles from the publisher, Haikasoru. If the others are anything like this, we are looking at some very good stuff.
  • The Legend of Drizzt graphic novel adaptations are very good. I have enjoyed the ones I have read so far, and I have the next three on my shelf to be read soon. If you read the novels, you should take a look at these. And if you have not, these may make you want to go back and read the novels.
  • Busiek's Conan series for Dark Horse comics is also good. I read the third volume this year, and this is one I am planning to collect and enjoy.

5 comments:

CW said...

I've never been much of a manga reader but some of your reading sounds intriguing. I wonder if my favourite local bookshop stocks "Battle Royale"...

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Hey CW: Happy New Year. Thanks for stopping by. If you do pick up Battle Royale, let us know when you read it. Best, and keep on blogging.

othemts said...

It's nice to see someone who reads as much as I do and keeps a list. Some of my friends make fun of me for reading too much.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (in English) is on my reading list for 2010.

In case you're interested, here's my list for 2009 (with absolutely no overlap with your list): http://othemts.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/2009-year-in-review-favorite-books/

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Liam: Hello there, and thanks for stopping by. I am always interested in book lists and what other people read. I will certainly hop over and take a look.

Best, and keep on blogging.

Peter said...

Angel, drop me a line at info@flashlightworthy.com ? I have a quick question for you. Thanks.

Peter
(The guy who runs Flashlight Worthy)
http://www.FlashlightWorthyBooks.com
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. ;)