Thursday, January 15, 2015

20 in 2014 Book Challenge


The challenge my wife and I take to read at least 20 books within a year hit year five in 2014 and this was our best year yet.

Since I read a lot of comic collections and art books (which don’t take long to read), I allow myself to count one book to my list for every 10 of those types of books. It wouldn’t be fair to Heather who actually reads nothing but prose books.

I read 32 books and 31 comic type books. So that makes my adjusted total 35. And Heather got at least 20 in too. Not too shabby for a couple that’s busy with work, a 6 year old, freelance work, etc.

Here is my list:
  • Alien by Alan Dean Foster (Took me like 35 years but I finally read this novelization of the film. It held true to the source material and fleshed it a out a little more.)
  • X-Men, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo and others (I've actually been enjoying these new X-Men books. I kinda like Cyclops as the jerk revolutionary.)
  • VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave by Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, and Alan Hunter (I was the perfect age when MTV first debuted so I enjoyed this book, nice look behind the curtain)
  • The Crow by James O'Barr (This was a reread, still as cool as ever.)
  • All Star Superman Vol 1. by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (I liked it but not as much as people led me to believe I would)
  • Captain America: Red Menace Ultimate Collection,The Death of Captain America, Vol. 1, 2,  and 3 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and others (Really enjoying these stories, art is fantastic)
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Liked Gone Girl more)
  • Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Longest Winter, Vol. 2: Broken Arrow and Vol. 3: Black Widow Hunt by Ed Brubaker , Butch Guice, and Michael Lark (Very cool series. Favorite "new" character in a  long time)
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Not the typical book I'd read but my wife recommended and I trust her opinion. It was really good)
  • Saga, Vol. 1, 2 and 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Wow, I loved these. Hooked me right away.)
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Can't really say much, except awesome.)
  • Beneath The Planet of The Apes by Michael Avallone (I'm a POTA freak, so I liked this.)
  • The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz (Really interesting look at the making of his films. A must read for any fan of his)
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (I'd had never gotten around to reading any of her books before. I liked this one a lot and plan to read more)
  • Glamour Girls of Don Flowers by Don Flowers (Really nice book of retro one panel gags, amazing art)
  • New Ultimates: Thor Reborn by Jeph Loeb (Author), Frank Cho (Got it strictly for the Cho art, which did not disappoint)
  • Shanna, the She-Devil by Frank Cho  (Same as above)
  • Mr. Murder Is Dead by Victor Quinaz and Brent Schoonover (Bought this because my friend Brent drew, really enjoyed the Dick Tracy throwback feel of it)
  • Willie and Joe: Back Home by Bill Mauldin (I got this because I loved the Wille and Joe collection where they were in the War. I didn't enjoy this as much due to my ignorance of a lot of the political and social stories of the time. I'm sure if I was reading back then, a lot of it wouldn't have been over my head)
  • The Judas Apocalypse by Dan McNeil (Decent book. World War II, Cathars, Religious Mystery, good stuff)
  • Conan, Conan of Cimmeria, Conan the Freebooter by Robert E. Howard and Others (I'd never read any prose stories of Conan, only comics. I really liked them, Freebooter was the weaker of the three.)
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (I enjoyed it but preferred And Then There Were None)
  • Jaws by Peter Benchley (First time reading this, it was interesting to see what they changed in making the movie)
  • The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb (Fascinating look into the making of the movie)
  • Night Without End by Alistair MacLean (First Alistair MacLean I've read. Will be reading more, good book)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Steven Spielberg (Never read it before, it was enjoyable. Very economical writing)
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells (Started reading this but then realized I had already read it. Finished it anyway)
  • Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (Awesome as always. These never disappoint)
  • The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers, and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall (Great book about some great shows. I enjoy Sepinwall's writing online and it was nice to see it in longform)
  • High Lonesome by Louis L'Amour (Continuing my efforts to read more Westerns, liked it a lot)
  • The Terminator by Randall Frakes and Bill Wisher. (Most movie adaptations are kinda lame but I was surprised at how much I like this. It also kept in the deleted scenes)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind Diary by Bob Balaban (interesting read about the making of the movie)
  • Morning Glories Vols 1-6 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma (Fun read, dark at times. A lot of times)
  • Pure Drivel by Steve Martin (This one was a bit of a letdown. I love Steve Martin but this just wasn't as good as I wanted it to be)
  • Alien: The Illustrated Story by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson (Very cool but condensed comic book version of the film)
  • FF - Vol.1: Fantastic Faux by Matt Fraction, Mike Allred, Joe Quinones (Read this solely for the Allred art, never disappointing.)
  • iZombie Vol 1-3  by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred (see above)
  • Crash and Burn by Artie Lange, Anthony Bozza (Man, if you've ever thought about taking hardcore drugs, read this and you won't)
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth (Yes, sometimes I read like a teenage girl. I'de it well enough. It's no Hunger Games)
  • Bowdrie by Louis L'Amour (I liked that this one was a collection of short stories featuring a central character)
  • First Blood by David Morrell (Really different tone fro the film, but I liked it.)
  • Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsey (Dexter novels are always good. Kinda sad that the next might be the last one)
  • Now You See Me by S. J. Bolton (First book I read of hers. I liked it enough that I'll probably read others)
  • Awakenings by S. J. Bolton (And so I did. It was good as well)
  • The Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia (I liked this one a lot)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen and others (Mostly a re-read for nostalgia sake.)
  • Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (Always great, always at the top of the list)
My favors of the year? Well, if there is a Game of Thrones book in the year it'll be up there and read two this year. I also really liked The Bellweather Rhapsody.

3 comments:

the genius said...

1. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn. Best novel I read all year. I liked the movie too, but the book really spoiled me. I plan on reading more of her.
2. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed. Great book, but I still think she is crazy for trying this. Just by luck she avoided being raped and starved to death. Should come with a sticker "DO NOT TRY THIS".
3. Sycamore Row, John Grisham. Horrible. First novel that I read by him that I didn't like.
4. SuperFreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Fascinating read. I love books that piss people off, and this one does in spades. When you look at social issues purely from data, they make some fascinating studies. Like, did you know the FBI was catching terror cells in the U.S. by watching people who made regular $9,000 deposits in banks but never bought life insurance?
5. Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King. Greatness. He is branching out more and more into murder mystery territory; I like it.
6. Dexter Books, Jeff Lindsey. (I'll count them as one since I burned through them pretty quick.) I finished all the Dexter Books in order, except Darkly Dreaming Dexter, which I'd read before. Dexter's Final Cut is how the series should have ended.
7. Johnny Carson, Henry Bushkin. You always have to take these with a grain of salt, but if all this is true, Johnny Carson was a huge douche.
8. Yes Please, Amy Prohler. Kind in the same vein as Tina Fey's book, but not as well written. Funny in parts.
9. Perfidia, James Ellroy. Love this guy; he is a real sick fuck. This was my second favorite book last year.
10. Edge of Eternity, Ken Follett. Most disappointing book of the year. I really liked the other two novels in this series, and this one tried too hard to wrap things up. Besides, the title sounds like a bad romance novel.
11. Robogenesis, Daniel Wilson. Most disappointing book, silver medal. The plot of this one was way too confusing and didn't grab me as much as the other one did.
12. The Stand, Stephen King. They have the mini-series on Netflix, so I decided to re-read this one. Still holds up.
13. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Jeff Hobbs. Great, great read. But goddamn depressing too. Can't spoil it with details.
14. Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle. Whoa, great novel, fantastic plot. Definately read this.
15. The Fever, Megan Abbott. Friend gave me this one; good novel, but it took a little while to get going.
16. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck. My classic novel of the year. Liked it; I was impressed how closely the John Ford movie followed it.
17. Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong, Juliet Macur. Armstrong, what a dick.
18. Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak, Andy Hall. Really good book; re-affirms my belief that all mountain climbers have a death wish.
19. Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line, Michael Gibney. Really good read. Chefs work much harder than everybody thinks, and get paid nothing. Kind of like graphic artists.
20. Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness, Neil Swidey. About the Boston Harbor tragedy in 1999. Really brave guys, all killed needlessly.
21. Easy Street(the Hard Way): A Memoir, Ron Perlman. Great book. I really like this actor and his story is really fascinating. I want to have a beer with him.
22. Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s, Tom Doyle. Pretty interesting, I read it because I was going to see McCartney in concert. I was surprised to learn about how insecure about himself he was and how Linda is the one who helped him through it. Also, they smoked a shit-ton of weed.
23. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King. I liked it, it was creepy dark. He should do another sequel; "Christine II: Evil Hybrid".

There it is man, 23 books. 29, if you count the Dexter novels.

the genius said...

BONUS SECTION: TELEVISION

My favorite TV of last year.

1. The Americans (Season 1&2). My new favorite show. Great writing. New season starts on January 28.
2. The League. Holy shit, funny and weird.
3. Parks and Recreation. Powered through these on Netflix during XMAS. Can't believe I haven't watched it before. Nick Offerman is a fucking genius.
4. Homeland. Made a really good comeback this year. More cloak and dagger shit.
5. Sons of Anarchy (last season). Greatness. Made me cheer for a psycho killer, and the ending was perfect.
6. Ray Donovan. Better second season. Plus, Ray and his son have a Run-Dmc Dance Off.
7. Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown. I've always liked him and he goes to really interesting places like The Congo. I wouldn't eat some of the stuff he eats at gunpoint though.
8. Top Chef. Fuck you, I like it.
9. Game of Thrones. I loved the Tyrion trial speech, Geoffery poisoning, the head-crush and Shae and Tywin gettin thier comeuppance.
10. Fargo. Billy Bob Thorton was genius in this. "Is this what you want Lester?"

Honorable Mention: Bojack Horseman. Lots of laugh out loud moments.

Cal Slayton said...

I'm going to look into a few of those. That's disappointing about Robogenesis. Heather is reading it right now, I'll probably read it later.

RE: TV, I've been binge watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it's greatness. Also, we went through Luther which was also really good, I recommend it.