Friday, January 8, 2016

My (Previous) Year in Reading: 41 to 50

…in chronological order.

2015 has been a great year when it comes to reading books for me. During it, according to Goodreads, I have gulped down 212 volumes that were not only novels for adults but also volumes that belonged in many other genres: YA, graphic novels, poetry, children's stories, short stories and books in translation. This has also been a year that I stopped writing reviews since I had much else occupying my mind and time, so below I'll give you no more than a few words about the books I have read. I hope some of my choices echo yours and I look forward to an exciting new year of reading.

So here it goes:
41) Oddly Normal Book 1 by Otis Frampton. How can someone be oddly normal? Well, in comic books anything can happen and it does. This is a story of magic and adventure and big discoveries. And a story about friendships and the past that more than less determines the future. A brilliant idea by the creator, with a great delivery on the page as well. Read it if you can.

42) Madame Frankenstein by Jamie S. Rich, Megan Levens and Joelle Jones. As you can probably guess this graphic novel is yet another take on the popular myth, and you know what, if you liked the original probably you will like the tome at hand as well. This is the story of a man who's trying to create the perfect woman with catastrophic results. Good story, lovely art.

43) The Frog in the Tree by Paul Waters. This children's book I admittedly enjoyed more than I thought I would. Perhaps it has awaken the child in me or some other such cliché. Anyway this is a great story that explores friendship and courage, and it's also a road trip of sorts, a journey towards maturity. Beautiful prose and illustrations that capture the spirit of the tale wondrously.

44) Give to the Heart Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Wann. This graphic novel arrives to us from the far shores of South Korea and it describes the world in the distant future, after a major catastrophe which saw whole civilizations go extinct. In that world… gods happen, or at least godlike creatures exist, and as such, even among the ruins, they do everything possible to achieve their own personal goals. Very good myth, though the art looked a little bit strange to my western unaccustomed gaze. Nevertheless, I have to point out that I liked the second volume more than the first one.

45) Final Meeting: Selected Poetry by AnnaAkhmatova. This is the second collection by the poet I've read this year, though unlike Evening this is a bilingual one. Unfortunately I don't speak Russian and thus I cannot tell as to whether the translator did justice to the original. What I can say is that I really enjoyed reading these poems, and that I'll definitely dive into more of AA's work in the future.

46) Cimarronin by Neal Stephenson, Ellis Amdur,Charles Mann, Mark Teppo and Dean Kotz. Well, just writing the names of the creators took about all the space I have. Anyway, jokes aside this is a very good graphic novel. If you are fond of westerns and big adventures, of lonesome warriors and things like that, you'll surely enjoy this volume that recounts the exploits of an exiled Samurai in New Spain. Breathtaking at times.

47) Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala. This is one of the most heartbreaking stories that I've read last year. It's a tragic tale that talks about child soldiers in Africa and about how they get to lose themselves in the paranoia of war. These children, though innocent at first, become more and more bloodthirsty as time goes by, and the author spares no detail in explaining why. Don't read it if you don't have the stomach for it. Read it if you are interested in great life-based fiction.

48) The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller. This novel is different from the one above in many ways, but similar in some. The former is preoccupied with war, the latter talks about forced-labor camps. They both have young protagonists to whom life has gifted naught but hardship and pain. The hero of this story has to work his way to freedom, though he may never quite make it there. A harsh, harsh tale, rich in events and emotions, and thus well-worth reading.

49) Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Hortonby Don Tate. Who said that poets can't change the world? The hero of this story is a man that did change it in a small but important way by becoming, all the way back in the 19th century, the first African American to be published in the South. It only takes the author 32 pages to tell the children all about him, and they'd better hear his story. Good work.

50) In the Flesh by Christa Wolf. There's a scenario made in nightmares playing out here. A woman is hospitalized for various symptoms, but then life itself seems to become a symptom for her as well, as she seems to lose herself into the narrow corridors of the past, the hospital she inhabits and her own mind. She cannot tell what's real and what's not anymore and she even comes to doubt her sanity. A story as dark as they come written in an almost spare, straightforward way.

To be continued.

Read also: 1 to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 30, 31 to 40

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