Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell: The story of one woman’s life. Shows, in harrowing detail, the emptiness and soul-crushing boredom at the heart of the “American dream”. Funny and deeply sad.
Milk Wars: A crossover comic with DC’s biggest characters and Young Animal’s. Almost worth it just for the Milkman Man gag. Deeply surreal and weird. Riffing on stuff that Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have been doing for decades. It’s great to see someone finally pick up those toys and play with them.
Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign? by Geof Darrow: Astoundingly intricate and ultraviolent martial arts comic. No one does comic action like Darrow does. The mind-controlling crab is pretty great as a villain.
Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames: The sequel to Kings of the Wyld, which I liked a lot. These two are probably the best D&Desque novels I’ve ever read, for sheer enjoyment value. The band names are pure delight.
The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin: I thought this was my favorite Earthsea book until I (possibly?) re-read Tehanu shortly after. Reading these books again has been an experience in realizing how little I understood when I read them the first time. Maybe when I read them again in 20 years, I’ll realize how little I understand now. They’re those kinds of books. There’s something about these books that tries to get at what it means to be a man. What it means to be a good man.
Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin: The strangest thing to me is that I think I read this book when I was a kid, but I have almost no memory of having read it. I think I read it, but it was so outside of my frame of reference that I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get it so much, that I remembered almost nothing from it. It’s really, really good. I haven’t read them all yet, but I think this ranks up there as one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Hellboy (Library Edition v2): The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom, and others by Mike Mignola: Re-reading these Hellboy comics in a larger size really pays off. The art is so great. I can only think of one or two other comic artists whose styles have stuck with me so much. The story is a lot of fun too.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: How is it possible to be a good person? I almost read this book in a single sitting. I found it deeply compelling. Nothing much happens in it, except that a young woman tries to figure out what’s important in life. Moshfegh can write. I didn’t like this as much as her book of short stories, Homesick for Another World, which I can recommend unreservedly. In her writing, I think Moshfegh is really trying to get at how pernicious and destructive the lack of meaning in modern American life is.
Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja: A goofy military SF story. Good for a quick light-hearted read. I’ll probably read the sequel.
Beren and Lúthien by JRR Tolkien: I didn’t realize how much I missed reading Tolkien’s writing until I read this one again. Worth it just for Tevildo, Prince of Cats.
The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO Highway by Ben Mezrich: My book club wanted to read it. There’s something super weird about those cattle mutilations, y’all.