I had more favorites this year than last year and that makes me quite happy. Fourteen of the 52 books I read this year were by women creators. I’m glad I upped my count from the previous year by five, but it’s still not where I’d like to be. From Saga to Hawkeye (Fiona Staples, Annie Wu), by far my favorite writer this year was Rainbow Rowell. I haven’t read Fangirl or Eleanor and Park, but they’re on my list for this year. I also liked Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, so I’m going to make sure I read the rest of her work. I liked Karen Russell’s Sleep Donation, so I’ll probably read Swamplandia. Giving Margaret Atwood and Neal Stephenson another shot is on the field too. A lot of people have told me that Blind Assassin and Reamde are not good places to start with either author. My favorites this year:
The Princess Bride was far and away my favorite book, but I’m not sure if that has anything to do my love for the movie. Goldman’s meta asides and cutting into the book was fun’s action was exactly the kind of thing I love, and did here and there in my new book.
Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was affecting and quite perfect. Where it got me was in the dual citizenship: belonging to two places but not either. That’s sort of the theme behind The Worst Writer Ever. The format of Alexie’s book and TWWE, (this still makes me cringe) was always going to be like this book. A memoir, illustrated with comics, with some alternate history stuff. Maybe down the road I’ll get to that. I guess, there are parts of both of these to play with.
Syllabus by Lynda Barry was tremendously helpful. I just wish I received it earlier. I’m definitely going to use some of her exercises in my comics’ class, and I plan on reading What It Is this year too. Life’s a lot better with some Lynda Barry in your yearly reading list.
27: First Set by Charles Soule and Renzo Podesta. I’ve already made a big deal about how much Soule’s work processes have helped me reach toward my potential in the last year, and be a much better human. This was my favorite creative work of his. I read a lot: Thunderbolts, She Hulk, Inhumans (as much as Marvel Unlimited has allowed), and Letter 44, but this one was the one that connected with me. The idea of creative processes like music or writing linked to some higher magical order isn’t something that’s particular new in comics see Phonogram and probably The Unwritten though I still haven’t read that.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown: This is kind of a first for me, because my list is usually full of nonfiction or essay books. Syllabus counts as nonfiction but it’s in a different medium of nonfiction. Along with Soule, this book helped me compartmentalize and think about what was important for me, and it taught me to—not so much be selfish—but more focused on the vital for my well being and it helped me boil it down to three things: Job, writing, and personal. Going outside of that takes away from the three most important things to me on a daily basis. To add one more thing is to take away from those three most important things, and, well, I just don’t have the energy for that fourth thing. My 2015 is looking pretty booked. I recommend this book to anyone who is suffering through a horrible habit of saying yes to too many things, and sacrificing the things that matter most.
Attachments and Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Rowell is bloody great. I want to be like her when I grow up. Her and Kelly Sue and Matt. I’ve expressed my love for those two before, but add Rowell to the list too. I love the idea of living in the middle of nowhere, writing affecting stories that hit people right in the feels and do fantastic things. I’m super excited for her graphic novel with Faith Erin Hicks.
Now for the crime noir, a classic and a new classic—not that I’m biased. The Long Goodbye by Chandler is so fine tuned it’s no wonder that he wrote it in his mid-forties. Chandler was a late-bloomer, and that’s sort of what I’m expecting with my writing. I’ll probably write and write and write and not get published until I’m in my forties. Whatever. It’s not why I do it. My friend TJ Brearton’s Habit is not really a book I read in 2014 as read drafts of over the last two years. I’m so happy for his success with this book, and as many good friends who are writers it’s always good to have one gain success that makes you up your game. Tim’s done that for me for years, and that’s why he’s one of my best friends. We’ve been friends for almost fourteen years. Fourteen years! How amazing. That’s why I’m going to take the next step and start submitting my work—I’m not getting any younger and if I want to take this sort of thing than I must engage in the market. I’m excited to see what I can learn.
Books I’m psyched to read this year: I want to read Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon, Garth Risk Hallberg, Karen Russell, Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam series, some Ursula LeGuin and I’ll re-read some old favorites—Kavalier and Clay, Oscar Wao, and Fortress of Solitude for a proposal I’m writing. After I finish My Antonia, I’m excited to dive into Vivian Apple at the End of the World by katiecoyle.
What are you psyched to read this year?