I likely won’t make my goal of reading 100 books in 2018, but I got close. For a year with a divorce, a move, car accident and more, I’m okay with my results. Haters may say, “Yes well some are picture books,” but I didn’t just skim them or give them a quick five-minute read, I critically read and analyzed them and that was a triumph for me this year. So now, in no particular order are my favorite reads of 2018:
1.) The Awakening by Kate Chopin – This was a revisit for me. I read the story originally when I was a young adult. With the encouragement of my daughter, I reread it and found that it relates even more to me now than it ever has.
2.) The Nest by Kenneth Oppel – I experienced this as an audiobook and was blown away not only by the narration but by the surreal story which is at once elegant and effusive. A modern-day fairy tale with masterful execution.
3.)The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut – It was a joy to read this early work by Kurt Vonnegut. It was made even better by reading it with a great friend who would meet “virtually” for book discussions. This one definitely needs combing through.
4) Brief Interviews with Hideous Men & A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace – I have written extensively about these on previous blog posts.
5) Photographic: Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero – One of the best graphic novels of 2018, the gorgeous exposition on Photographer Graciela Iturbide is not simply an autobiography about her, it dives into the how and why of her life, artistic and philosophical choices. Author Isabel Quintero uses very few words to tell the story but they are carefully chosen and artfully constructed.
6) What It Is by Lynda Barry – A stunning book about the creative life. Barry shares her strife with doubt and writer’s block as well as the glorious moments her ideas and work flowed freely. She discusses that its normal to write about the bad things, most people do when they start. The most common things to write about are our doubts, fears, disappointments, regrets, etc. The last third of the book is a series of writing prompts, inspirations, ideas, and tools. Her work is a patchwork of handwritten letters, cut-out words and images, drawings and written text. You can get lost in the shapes, colors, and words. This would make a great gift for any creative person and a great tool for anyone who wants to write but doesn’t know how to get started.
7) The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin – Moving, original and thrilling- this book is full of magic, fortune telling, sex, relationships and a sprinkle of religious and familial conflicts and questions. If a mentalist told you your death date would you believe it? Even if you tried not to believe it would the deep subconscious thought take control of your actions? Could it become true because of the repeated thought in your mind?
8) Jelly, Garbage & Toys by Vik Muniz –This interactive picture book features artist Vik Muniz speaking to the reader of the book. He introduces you to his studio and tells the story of his relationship with art, which is a fascinating one. He is perhaps best known for pushing the limits of what is considered art. He created a reproduction of a famous photograph of Jackson Pollock splattering paint but he used chocolate as his medium. He reproduced the Mona Lisa with peanut butter and jelly and he made a piece called Medusa Marinara out of you guessed it, spaghetti and sauce. This book will compel even the most persnickety reader, at least visually. For any readers inclined to be interested in art, it is likely to encourage bouts of creativity and for the daring teachers and parents out there, maybe offer for your kids to play with their food.
9) Out of Nothing by David Blandy – This graphic novel encompasses 13.84 billion years and argues that all great changes and developments of storytelling came from someone mixing two unlikely things together. The book begins by introducing us to a human chimera whose ghost-like behavior allows her to inhabit the time and space of great thinkers and creators over this massive span of time. The books also consider scientific discovery and innovation via the mixing concept. From the Big Bang to the Manhattan Project, genetic mutations and the development of the internet. Teens and adults who enjoy a bit of brain poking with their graphic novel reads will certainly enjoy the experience of Out of Nothing.
10) Blankets by Craig Thompson – This was another revisit for me that felt like a brand new read because I read it with an internet friend and great analyzer of books. The story is a slice of life on a young man from his boyhood until his adulthood. It combines family, religion, first love and finding yourself in a beautiful balance of images and words.