Some Books I Read Recently

(It’s a smorgasbord! Sometimes I think, I haven’t been reading that much, and then I go back over my list of recently read books…)

The Wild Storm v1 & 2 by Warren Ellis: Back in the Noughties, I read pretty much all of Warren Ellis’ comics. He’s really tops when writing team books (see also: Planetary, Nextwave, Injection, and others) and this series sees a return to form. Deeply mysterious, witty banter, and the art’s gorgeous. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Clean Room v1-3 by Gail Simone: Bright, vibrant colors make the creepiness and horror muchly more so. If you’re prone to nightmares, definitely stay away from this one. 

Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe by Dean Radin: This book’s got the most succinct and thorough overview of the history of Western occult practices and movements that I’ve ever read. Worth it, just for that. Unlike much occult writing, extremely readable.

All-New Wolverine Vol. 1: The Four Sisters by Tom Taylor: Absolutely injected new life into the whole Wolverine thing which–at this point–is feeling pretty tired. (See also: Old Man Logan.) A nice balance of humor and high stakes.

The Mighty Thor Vol. 5: The Death of the Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron: I’ll read pretty much anything Jason Aaron does at this point. Brings the Jane Foster/Thor story to an excellent conclusion. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Lady Killer by Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones: A showcase of Joelle Jones’ excellent artwork. I don’t have much stomach for gore these days or I might’ve enjoyed it more. ’50s housewife is secretly an assassin. Very Mad Men-y. She’s doing a new Catwoman series. Could be good! Regardless, the art will be great.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith: Read this one for my book club. I’ve been seeing this book displayed prominently in bookstores for what feels like years and years. It had a definitively mixed reception from my book club, but I quite liked it. “Hysterical realism” is a phrase I ran across on the internet related to this book and I think it’s extremely on the nose. I wasn’t sure about this book until about the mid-point, but then it really gets cranking and I was very much onboard at that point, thoroughly enjoying the ride. Some useful insight about the immigrant experience, I’m thinking. At the sentence level, the writing is swooping and fantastically exuberant.

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente: Perhaps the most worthy successor to Douglas Adams, re funny science fiction. Boundlessly creative, it really is almost too much at times. It’s hard to imagine one brain coming up with all this stuff. But then one only has to read her other books to realize this isn’t just a one-off kind of thing. Me, I just imagine painstaking and painful wordsmithing. Still, a joy to read if you love to see words bouncing around all over the place. Eurovision in Space! Brilliant!

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins: A book about magical “librarians”. (Apart from getting their magical powers from books, I didn’t find them very librarian-y. A minor quibble.) I kind of had to read it. Sometimes you want to just eat some popcorn, you know? Gonzo, bonkers, magical weirdness. I dug it.

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle: (I liked Universal Harvester more.) (Yes, it’s that John Darnielle. Of Mountain Goats fame.) Captures, in a way that’s harrowing, that dangerous time of life from about 15-22 years old. The protagonist has an adventure-game-by-mail business that’s quite alluring, although I wanted it to be more fantastical. The image of the “wolf in white van” definitely sticks. This book has the kind of eye for detail that makes me think “boy, I really haven’t been paying attention to the world around me…”

Equinoxes by Cyril Pedrosa: It’s the details that stuck with me, even as the “plot” of the thing eludes me. The small ways that people are decent (or indecent) to one another. The weight of history. The ways in which people relate to art, photography and painting. The small moments that heap together to make a life. It’s a beautiful book.

My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly: A silly comic about a vampire. Kinda sexy, in a campy vampire sort of way. Reminded me a bit of Mac Wellman’s Dracula play.

If Found…Please Return to Elise Gravel by Elise Gravel: One of the most charming and delightful books I’ve seen all year. On its face, just a bunch of doodles. But so endearing and heartwarming.

Hellboy (Library Edition, Volume 1): Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola: When the Hellboy comic first started coming up, it was a recurring topic of conversation among my friends and I. (We were so excited for that movie!) I wanted to see if 1) my kid would like it, and 2) if I’d still like it. No to 1 and yes to 2. The art is so great. Worth picking up, for sure, if you’ve never read it.

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