My 2013 in Books and Graphic Novels

Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young, Fortunately the Milk

A rare instance of a book I bought and read in the same year it was published.

I rarely review printed matter on this site, but rest assured I find time to read a book or two where I can — in between buying new comics every Wednesday (single issues, pamphlets, floppies, whatever you prefer to call them), occasional issues of the Indianapolis Star, my longtime Entertainment Weekly subscription, Bible study, internet, contributing to this site close-to-daily, overtime at work, chores, family, and other distracting excuses. But books are definitely on my activity list, ranking well ahead of laundry, shining my shoes, and any home repair projects that I don’t actually know how to start.

I spent the first part of the year trying to clear out my accumulation of new finds and autographed items from conventions. I wedged in some prose novels and even a little nonfiction wherever I could, but most of my reading was catching up on the graphic-storytelling variety. I’m really tired of having a large backlog, and some tentatively planned restructuring of my free time and priorities in 2014 should help facilitate that. Maybe. Hopefully.

Presented below is the complete list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections that I finished reading in 2013. A few were started in 2012 and one was an on-‘n’-off side project for years, but I reached their final page this year and that’s what matters. I’m also pessimistically assuming I won’t have any reading time over the three days remaining. If reading time does occur, I’ll just stop three pages from the end and save it for January 1st. Fair enough?

That list, then:

1. Various, Reading with Pictures, Volume One
2. Charles Schulz, The Complete Peanuts 1985-1986
3. Joshua Hale Fialkov and Brent Peeples, Last of the Greats
4. Dan Miller, No More Dreaded Mondays
5. Andy Stanley, Fields of Gold
6. Victor Carungi, Jeff Blascyk, and Antonio Brandao, Pencilneck
7. Jim McCann and Janet Lee, Return of the Dapper Men
8. Rich Burlew, The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs
9. Rafael Alvarez, The Wire: Truth Be Told
10. Berkley Breathed, Bloom County: the Complete Library Volume 1: 1980-1982
11. Warren Ellis, Gun Machine
12. Stephen King, Nightmares and Dreamscapes
13. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Phonogram: the Singles Club
14. Christos Gage and Chris Samnee, Area 10
15. Charles Soule and Greg Scott, Strange Attractors
16. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables
17. Floyd Gottfredson, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley
18. Walter Koenig and JC Baez, Things to Come
19. Michael Moreci, Steve Seeley, Axel Medellin, et al.; Hoax Hunters, Book One: Murder, Death, and the Devil
20. Elmore Leonard, Glitz
21. Timothy and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
22. Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole
23. Charles Schulz, The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988
24. Various, The Best of Omega Comics Presents, Vol. 1
25. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 2: Jack of Hearts
26. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 3: The Bad Prince
27. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 4: Americana
28. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 5: Turning Pages
29. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 6: The Big Book of War
30. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Mark Buckingham, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Fables, v. 13: The Great Fables Crossover
31. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Chris Roberson, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 7: The Adventures of Jack and Jack
32. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 8: The Fulminate Blade
33. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Russell Braun, et al.; Jack of Fables, v. 9: The End
34. Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, David Lapham, et al.: Fables, v. 14: Witches
35. Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Inaki Miranda, et al.: Fables, v. 15: Rose Red
36. Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Eric Shanower, et al.: Fables, v. 16: Super Team
37. Matt Feazell, The Amazing Cynicalman Volume 2
38. Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, et al.: Fables, v. 17: Inherit the Wind
39. Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Gene Ha, et al.: Fables, v. 18: Cubs in Toyland
40. Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore, Leaving Megalopolis, vol. 1
41. Neil Gaiman; Fortunately, the Milk
42. Harvey Pekar and various, Our Movie Year

Personal favorites among the bunch: Phonogram (yay Gillen and McKelvie!), The Meaning of Marriage (it’s been literal years since I encountered a book with new insight on the subject), Swallow Me Whole (an experimental award-winner about mental illness), The Wire (because Best Show Ever), Area 10 (surprising fantasy crime drama), and the pleasure of binge-reading three years’ worth of Fables back-to-back. Gaiman’s new book was precious in a good way and the illustrations by Skottie Young were an ideal match, but I’m hesitant to bestow a “year’s best” crown on a YA short-novel that took less than half an hour of my time. Pretty nifty, regardless.

Least favorite: Last of the Greats, a disturbing entry in the not-uncommon “What if Superman turned evil?” sub-subgenre that I wish I could unread.

By way of comparison, my yearly book count from 2008 to the present has trended like so:

2008: 39
2009: 50
2010: 44
2011: 33
2012: 23

You’ll note 2012 is the year this humble site began, and my writing time began to exceed my reading time by an unhealthy margin. Also, I spent that January and February on Neal Stephenson’s REAMDE. Anytime you add a Stephenson novel to your lineup, ten other books will have to wait an extra year for their turn.

I’ve found one interesting idea to supplement my 2014 reading experience: blogger/author/speaker Jon Acuff has announced a fun project he’s calling “The Empty Shelf Challenge“, encouraging participants to clear off one shelf in their house, fill it with each book they finish in 2014 as they go, and post photos to a Pinterest group he’s formed for the occasion.

This should serve two purposes for me: (1) a handy way to quantify my reading progress; and (2) a reason to do anything with my barely used Pinterest account, which I registered months ago for a dumb reason. I do appreciate that it’s not a competition, just a creative accounting method.

For me, the hardest part won’t be the reading. It’ll be emptying an entire shelf and keeping it reserved for twelve straight months. Some furniture expansion may be in order…

One response

  1. Pingback: My 2013 in Books and Graphic Novels | West Coast Review

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