What We’re Reading This Week - Rebecca
After about a year of dabbling in comics, mostly thanks to excellent recommendations from my Bookrageous co-hosts, I’ve decided to go whole hog and have dubbed this the Summer of Comics. Paul made me a syllabus because he’s awesome like that, and I’m now having my brain blown open by the kickoff title, Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. This is a history of comics, an introduction to the fundamental elements and concepts of comics, and an analysis of comics in broader cultural contexts. It’s giving me a better handle on what the medium is AND a vocabulary for discussing it, and I’m just enjoying the hell out of it.
In between obsessive, multi-episode West Wing sessions on Netflix, I’m finding myself drawn to dark, wry, noir-ish stuff. Maybe it’s something about the weather? Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready is set in near-future New York, a few years after a dirty bomb destroys most of the city. The main character lost his wife in the Times Square event and in the aftermath has reinvented himself from garbageman to hitman. It’s gritty and funny and hard-boiled and great, and I’m now looking forward to the second book about this character Spademan, Near Enemy, due out in January from Crown.
What We’re Reading — Jenn
It’d be hard to get more different than the two books I’m reading right now, which is just how I like it. Eimear McBride’s forthcoming-in-the-US A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing (out September 1 2014) won the UK’s Bailey Prize, and is a strange, choppy novel, almost poetry in some places, about a young girl growing up in the shadow of her older brother’s childhood brain tumor. I’m about halfway through and it’s a doozy — I’ve had to put it down a few times to catch my breath, and I definitely won’t be reading it anywhere other than at home so I can not ugly-cry in public.
And then there’s Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, which I have been meaning to read since I saw the (pretty excellent) movie, and have read the first 200 pages of about three times. This is the summer though, friends! I can feel it. Thackeray writes with the super dry wit and shark societal commentary that I love from 19th century literature, and I haven’t otherwise been able to decide on my Big Summer Read, so Becky Sharp it is.
Bookrageous Favorites Out This Week!
Starz Developing ‘American Gods’ Series With ‘Hannibal’ Creator Bryan FullerStarz is turning Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ novel into a series, from showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green.
What We’re Reading — Jenn
For one of the jillion book groups I’m in (ok there are only four but some months that feels like a jillion) we read Alan Moore’s Top Ten Vol. 1 & 2, which turns out to be the whole run. I was prepared to feel about this like I feel about most Moore — really interesting work, but not necessarily a personal favorite. But! I found Top Ten to be my favorite Moore I’ve read. There are a ton of jokes (both visual and written), the plots are solid, the political commentary is there, and even though I didn’t love the style of the art I was incredibly impressed with the amount of STUFF that Cannon fit into every panel. (The colors, though, those ’90s colors. Ugh.)
It got canceled (because of Moore, as I understand it) before all the different plot threads could get integrated, but even with that the ending was pretty satisfying. It’s out of print, but if you can get your hands on it (Powell’s has some) it’s worth your time.
What We’re Reading This Week — Rebecca
I’ve been lax with the reading updates lately, but that’s because, well, I’ve been kind of lax with the reading itself. Summer! Sunshine! Travel! I’m back in the saddle now, friends, and I am so filled with books by and about badass ladies, I can’t stand it.
I’m finally reading Americanah, which is just as smart and funny and packed with cultural criticism and also a love story as everyone said it would be. I’m about halfway through, and it’s everything I can do not to beg off work and ignore all my life responsibilities until I finish.
I did manage to finish one book at the beach last week, and now my sand-covered copy of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October) sits in a special spot on my shelves. There’s no one but A.S. King who could explore the possible end of women’s rights AND the struggles of adolescence through a story about two teenage girls who grind up a petrified bat, mix it with beer, drink the potion, and then find themselves able to see other people’s pasts and futures. And King does it so well! This is a wonderful book, and a wonderfully weird one.
Finally, my adventures in comics continue with Lumberjanes, which I picked up after Jenn (and Preeti…and pretty much every other smart lady who reads comics) recommended it. There’s nothing I don’t love about this story about a group of friends at a camp for “hardcore ladytypes.” Highly recommended.
What We’re Reading Now — Jenn
Biss looks at immunity from the perspectives of a mother, a writer, a layperson, the daughter of a doctor. Does herd immunity really exist? What is the evidence for links between vaccines and autism? Whose fault are allergies? What’s the goal behind chicken pox parties? And what does Dracula have to do with all this? It’s beautifully written, carefully researched (with meticulous source notes in the back, which made this former History major positively gleeful), and absolutely engaging. Here is one of my favorite bits, to give you a feel:
That so many of us find it entirely plausible that a vast network of researchers and health officials and doctors worldwide would willfully harm children for money is evidence of what capitalism is really taking from us. Capitalism has already impoverished the working people who generate wealth for others. And capitalism has already impoverished us culturally, robbing unmarketable art of its value. But when we begin to see the pressures of capitalism as innate laws of human motivation, when we begin to believe that everyone is owned, then we are truly impoverished.
ALWAYS the question…