What I Read Last Year: Miscellaneous

As I mentioned in my previous post(s), I read so much in 2016 that I'm breaking up my annual roundup of books into four separate posts so as not to overwhelm everyone (although perhaps the fact that there are four posts is overwhelming in a whole different way).

This post, which is the third of four, will be the listing of all of the miscellaneous grab bag of other stuff that I read this year. Be warned, there's a lot of this stuff, too.

Graphic Thingies

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, 224 pages

Derf Backderf was in high school with Jeffrey Dahmer, and this is his account of the experience. Dahmer was failed by pretty much every single adult in his life, and the kids who knew him didn't really know how to react to him. This graphic novel is dark but very good. I liked the art style and the meditative reflections from Backderf. He treads the line of sympathy and condemnation really well.

Sheltered Vol. 3 by Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas, 128 pages

The conclusion to the Sheltered series that I started reading last year, about a group of preppers who have the apocalypse thrust upon them early by an extra-paranoid teen. I was kind of expecting the ending, and this entire series didn't quite give me what I wanted narratively, but it wasn't bad by any means.

Anatomy of Melancholy by Joey Comeau and Emily Horne, 138 pages

When Comeau and Horne announced that they were ending their webcomic, A Softer World, I was very disappointed. I'm not sure how long I'd been reading it for, but I think it must've been close to a decade. Anyway, it wasn't even really a decision for me to contribute to a Kickstarter for the first time ever and get a copy of this book, a collection of their favourite comics that they'd written over the years. So it's probably obvious that I loved this immensely. And the truth is that I've always loved A Softer World for its combination of melancholy and defiance, and this captured that so well, and was exactly what I needed when I finally read it last fall.

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

  • Vol. 1, 193 pages
  • Vol. 2, 189 pages
Tired of waiting for more anime, I decided to get into the Attack on Titan manga. There isn't a lot to say about each of these individually. Basically they're as much fun as the anime and might actually be revealing more of the story than was shown in the anime. We'll see.

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J. M. Ken Niimura, 184 pages

A ten year old girl named Barbara uses D&D to cope with the horrible things that are going on at home and at school. I think I would have liked this better if it had been just a tad longer. A lot of the transitions felt quite rushed, and as is often the case with graphic novels, I had a hard time connecting with the material. Nimura's art is good but just wasn't for me.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley, 223 pages

I managed to score a colour copy of this from the library, and I think that made it just that much better. This is the second installment in O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Hildafolk by Luke Pearson, 24 pages

If this had been just a bit longer, it would be perfect. Hildafolk is about a girl named Hilda who lives in a folktale world. The colours in this are unbelievable, and Pearson's art is just the right mix of creepy and adorable. Reading it just felt cozy. I can't wait to read more from this series.

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka and J. G. Jones, 90 pages

Believe it or not, this was my first ever superhero comic, which I read because I wanted some Wonder Woman in my life before the movie comes out (I cry every time I watch the trailer). In this comic, Wonder Woman accepts a bond to protect a young woman on the run. I have to say I didn't love it. As is usually the case with this sort of thing, I wanted more. Also, the more "realistic" art style didn't agree with me.

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil, 158 pages

See also this post. This is the story of two young people who bond over their experience of "bad houses." Anne's mom is a hoarder and Lewis's mom does estate sales. Again, I might have enjoyed a novel of this length on the subject, but the graphic medium didn't give me enough.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, 266 pages

Speaking of wanting more from graphic novels, I want more Nimona for the exact opposite reason: this thing was so good that I want to read about a hundred more stories set in this universe. Nimona is a young shapeshifter who manages to become the sidekick of the local supervillain. Hilarity ensues, and also so much sweetness. Since there's just the one book for now, I'll have to settle for just rereading Nimona.

Rat Queens Vol. 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Stjepan Sejic, 128 pages

Sadly this wasn't as good as the first volume of Rat Queens. On the other hand, vulgar badass lady adventurers are something that I'm into seeing more of. Apparently there was some behind the scenes drama that led to the change in artists, and the change wasn't for the better in terms of my enjoyment of the art at least. We'll see what I think of the third volume.

Short Fiction

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, 239 pages

Bacigalupi is very much not writing optimistic sf. He's writing some very dark visions of the future, and I was into it from start to finish. Almost all of the stories in this collection were solid (the one dud is the least sf of the bunch, and "The Yellow Card Man" drags on too long). The standout is "The People of Sand and Slag," in which genetically modified people make the acquaintance of a dog that is anything but. Here's a link to an audio dramatization of the story that I haven't listened to yet but hope to in the not too distant future.

Tales from The White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke, 179 pages

A very fun classic sf short story collection in which a group of writers and scientists in a pub tell each other stories that are just this side of plausible. Scarcely a woman in sight anywhere, of course, but an excellent demonstration of how to weave a yarn.


Peter and Alice by John Logan, 70 pages

This is a play in which Peter Davies meets Alice Hargreaves, and if it's not immediately obvious why that's relevant, you may need to consult Google. I have a full post on this scheduled for several months from now, so for now I'll just say that I really really enjoyed this play, and wish I could see it performed.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, 168 pages

I've informally decided to read one of Shakespeare's plays per year now that I know it's possible for me to understand them (at least somewhat) outside of a classroom setting. I would've read Richard III this year but instead I read this in order to prepare for seeing the genderswapped version, J. Caesar, performed on stage. I was not prepared for how awesome this play is. Possibly the most fun I've ever had with Shakespeare.

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