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LMNOP's 'Read As Many Books As I Can In One Year' Project

While I'm still finishing up last year's challenge, I wanted to get a start on my new project. Over the past few years, my fervor for reading has dwindled significantly. And it saddens me. Reading was a huge part of my life growing up, and I have college to thank for quelling my love of written/read word. I could reminisce endlessly about how, from an early age, illustrated books nourished my desire to draw; of smuggling parent-forbidden books into the house to read by flashlight; of the countless hours I spent drawing and listening to audio-books...
...but I won't bore you.


Instead, I want, this year, to read as many books as I can in order to jump-start my love again. In this, I am not strictly limiting the perimeters of what defines a book. Be it a short children's book, graphic novel (or decent comic issue/story), full-fledged novel, or set of encyclopedias, I will include them all, listing (as with last years challenge) a review discussing my thoughts toward it.


I would like to challenge myself to do a sketch for each book I read, but I won't make any promises. If you wonderful people have any suggestions (or books I should avoid), I'd love to hear them.


Happy reading!




1. Hellboy: The Midnight Circus - Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart
Even though Hellboy is by far my favorite comic creation, there are quite a few of his stories I have yet to read. I was blown away by The Midnight Circus, not only in terms of Mignola's ever enjoyable meshing of irreverent tone with ancient mythology but also in the fantastic art/coloring of Ducan Fegredo/Dave Stewart (whose style and color schemes (respectively) pay homage to what makes Hellboy great). It works both as a nugget of Hellboy's past (for avid readers of the comic) AND a sort of introduction to the character for newcomers (and a taste of the series as a whole (much like the short story Pancakes)).


2. Carrie - Stephen King
Having seen the original 1976 film adaptation beforehand, I wasn't in the dark about how the story of Carrie plays out. After finishing the book, though, something I was in the dark about (and something that was severely glossed-over/lost in the film(s)) is the amount of complex themes in the book. King masterfully sets up this story of puberty/telekinesis in a way that clues the reading into the eventual climax of the tale, but he does so in a way that encourages the reader to race to the end.
I do not mean that it makes the reader want to plow through for the sake of plowing through (as one might with an archaic novel); I mean that the prose is so expertly constructed (everyday speech mixed with the intertwined, complicated worries of the mind), and the themes so fully realized (the anxiety of puberty; the foolishness of youth; the trauma of abuse), that you'll arrive at the end before you'd like to. Add, also, that this is King's first foray into the world of published novels, and it's hard to view Carrie as anything but a modern classic.


3. Animal Farm - George Orwell
Though its narrative language is somewhat dated, Orwell's storytelling skills are on full display in Animal Farm (a short fable about animals rising up against their masters). Not once does he make stark comparison between the themes of the book and their relation to the events surrounding its publication, and there is not need to.
Animal Farm highlights/satirizes so many cultural pillars that it is, at times, hard to keep track of them all. The most relevant, unchanging theme, though, is the unfortunate cycle of conquest for an idyllic utopia. The answer that Orwell gives for this quest is simple: no such utopia can ever exist; in the presence of corruption and oppression there will always be an innate desire to overthrow it, and, inversely, in the presence of utopia there will always be, among some, a thirst to manipulate it.
I am only too glad that novels such as Orwell's were published before the rise of social censorship we are beginning to witness in society today.


4. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Although the repetitive nature of the story and imagery wore me down slightly at times, there's no denying the power behind the utter bleakness of the book. Even the title suggests the sparseness of the events in the novel, and yet McCarthy's prose is so eloquently composed that you can't help but view something as raw as the extinction of humankind as anything but beautiful and poetic. The messages in The Road are apparent throughout but aren't forced upon you through straightforward dialogue; as easy as it is to understand the world the author creates, there is also a sprawling vagueness, and, as much as it may seem contradictory, it actually adds to the experience of reading it. You need the focus to be on the characters (rather than the history behind how they came to be where they are) in order to feel their suffering so that you can rejoice in the small glimpses of hope that they stumble upon. Whatever small gripes I want to make about The Road are irrelevant compared to its importance as a work of art (and as urgent social commentary), and I continually recommend it to people who love to read and who, as the characters do, ponder the future of our species.


5. Blankets - Craig Thompson
In terms of imagery, Blankets is singular. Thompson pours so much of himself into this graphic novel that nearly every page aches with the emotions they communicate, and Blankets is elevated above most of its coming-of-age tropes because of it. A heartbreaking tale of love and lost faith, it never condemns its damaged characters nor the pursuits they chase after, choosing instead to focus on how the relationships we establish as young people can shape our perceptions of the world as adults. Thompson navigates the nearly 600 page recollection of his young life with painstaking detail and grace, and the reader is thrust forward effortlessly, retreading the journey alongside him, feeling, in tandem, his painful remembrances and personal triumphs. It's a must read for anyone interested in the power of the comics medium as a thoughtful examination of the human condition.


6. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
7. Asterios Polyp - David Mazzucchelli
8. Blue Angel - Julie Maroh
9. Fables: Legends in Exile - Willingham, Medina, Leialoha, Hamilton
10. The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton
11. American Vampire Vol. 1 - Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Stephen King
12. Shopgirl - Steve Martin
13. Dolores Claiborne - Stephen King
(reading) 14. American Vampire Vol. 2 - Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Mateus Santolouco
(reading) 15. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
(reading) 16. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett




On the Roster


Classics
- The Grapes of Wrath
- The Catcher in the Rye
- Watership Down
- Of Mice and Men
- 1984
- A Tale of Two Cities
- Brave New World
- East of Eden


Drama
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- Middlesex
- A Million Little Pieces
- Everything Is Illuminated
- Life of Pi
- Cloud Atlas
- White Teeth
- Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
- Hocus Pocus
- Timequake


Satire/Comedy
- Catch 22
- (finish) Cat's Cradle
- Fight Club
- (finish) A Clockwork Orange
- (finish) This is a Book
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series


Horror
- Frankenstein
- Dracula
- Something Wicked This Way Comes
- The Stand
- 'Salem's Lot
- The Shining
- IT


Thriller
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
- The Girl Who Played With Fire
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
- Misery
- The Dead Zone
- No Country For Old Men


Mystery
- The Cuckoo's Calling
- The Green Mile
- Carter Beats The Devil


Sci-Fi
- Player Piano
- (finish) The Sirens of Titan
- Slapstick, or Lonesome No More!
- Dune
- (finish) The Martian Chronicles


Fantasy
- American Gods
- Stardust
- Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch


Graphic Novels/Comics
- Goodbye, Chunky Rice
- Maus
- Persepolis
- Black Hole
- Shortcomings
- Epileptic
- American Vampire


Biographies/Autobiographies
- The Diary of Anne Frank
- Killing Yourself to Live
- Storyteller

Watch this
The Paper Crane
The Paper Crane profile pic Alumni

I don't read much fiction but The Hobbit is my favorite.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

sounds like a good year ahead.

Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni

That is an ambitious list with some really great books. I am not sure if you want to add anything. If you are interested, I would add just couple that are some of my favorites:

  • The Time Machine (or something else by H.G. Wells)
  • Slaughterhouse 5 (Vonnegut is one of my favorites)
  • Dune (If you have not read it, it a must read Sci-fi).
  • Blood Meridian (It is a harder read than "The Road" but it is better IMO)
  • Daytripper (A really amazing graphic novel).

I am now curious to see how far you got into your movie list. I haven't seen that blarg in a longtime.

karaed
karaed profile pic Staff

Love this so much. Since the beginning of last year, I've been documenting every book I read on Instagram: http://instagram.com/karaed

I've read everything on your classics list. A Tale of Two Cities took forever to finish, but the rest are all pretty quick reads. And if you like Steinbeck, try to fit in East of Eden. It's really long but completely amazing.

vanillablue
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Tale of Two Cities is a super long read but soooooooooooo worth it.

Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni
karaed said:

Love this so much. Since the beginning of last year, I've been documenting every book I read on Instagram: http://instagram.com/karaed

I've read everything on your classics list. A Tale of Two Cities took forever to finish, but the rest are all pretty quick reads. And if you like Steinbeck, try to fit in East of Eden. It's really long but completely amazing.

Very nice Instagram. Very good books pictured too.

mike bautista
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I need to up my reading game. I have about 10 books checked out but I'm slow to get to them. I was in a reading zone last year but it dwindled out.

nice to see A Heartbreaking Work on there! it's really good. if you like that, you might like Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr. they're different but I felt the same age in authors. it's only a couple days' long too. lately I've been getting into Murakami. Sputnik Sweetheart turned out to be one of my favorites.

also, for comics you should check out Black Hole by Charles Burns. it's depressing, so you should follow it up with The Making Of by Brecht Evens.

JaymeArt
1 design submitted -

cool picks. I see some of my favorites on there. Have you read Watership Down?

karaed
karaed profile pic Staff

Middlesex is one of my all time favorites. White Teeth was a bit much for me. Along the same sort of fucked up family lines, I absolutely love The Ice Storm. And The Corrections was much better than I expected.

I haven't read Stephen King since I was really young, but I did just read his pseudo memoir On Writing and it was fantastic. Great anecdotes, great advice, and just really engaging.

L-M-N-O-P
L-M-N-O-P profile pic Alumni

@ The Paper Crane: I've only read The Hobbit once (when I was young) but enjoyed it immensely.

@ Musarter: Slaughterhouse Five is one of my all time favorites. I've bought the book twice and ended up giving away the first and losing the second. I'm adding some of those suggestions to the list, though. Thank you.

@ vanillablue: I've heard from many that that is the case.

@ mike bautista: dude. Get in the reading zone. Let this blog ghost you. Or don't.

I'm excited about A Heartbreaking Work as well. I have it and have read about 10 pages or so, and what I read I was impressed with. I can tell that I'm really going to like his style.

@ Jayme Art: Thanks. You know what? I actually haven't. And it is one I've been meaning to read.

@ karaed: having been home-schooled for most of my years (and having had unnecessarily stringent guidelines on what I was 'supposed' to read), I missed a lot of the classics (and a lot of everything else for that matter). I'll probably be reading quite a few of those (since most of them are short).

I'm gonna read Grapes of Wrath first; if it gels well, I'll definitely check out East of Eden.

I'm exited for Middlesex now. I've heard good things. I'll do more research on some of these before I go ahead with them. White Teeth may or may not make the cut, but I'll definitely see about The Ice Storm/The Corrections.

Also, there isn't really a Stephen King book/story that I've read that I didn't enjoy (at least in some part); that being said, I'm relatively new to King and have not read much of this work. Apart from (what I consider) the 'annoying' presence of constant product-placement, I enjoy his prose, sentence construction, and his (often implemented) duel-timeline-narrative technique. He's one of the main influences for my (eventual) writing career. Some of my favorites include (but are not limited to): - The Gingerbread Girl (short story) - The Dark Tower series (of which I have read only two) - Duma Key (which melds artistic tropes with the supernatural) - Carrie (which I just finished today)

L-M-N-O-P
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Bump for evening crowd.

The Paper Crane
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Thinking about other great books I have read to recommend (If not read already):

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter

Manupix

Some of my all-time faves:

  • Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright
  • Doris Lessing's Marriages Between Zones 3, 4 and 5 (best title ever)
  • Ursula Le Guin's classics: The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, the Earthsea trilogy.
karaed
karaed profile pic Staff

Last year I read a Doris Lessing book that I really didn't like (The Cleft), and the day I finished it she died. So creepy.

Manupix

^ I only read her Canopus in Argo 'sci-fi' 5 book series. They range from excellent (the above, also The Making of the Representative for Planet 8) to pretty bad IMO with some good in between.

L-M-N-O-P
L-M-N-O-P profile pic Alumni

Bump for more suggestions/favorites.

WednesdayCat

I suggest "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly"

lxromero
lxromero profile pic Staff
  • The Graveyard book
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  • Either of the Dirk Gently books
  • The Ocean At The End of The Lane
  • Stardust
  • American Gods
  • Anansi Boys
  • Good Omens
Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni

Orwell is great; glad you got to read that.

Also love Pancakes. It is such a great introduction, as you said.

One more suggestion would be something by Hemmingway. I would suggest For Whom the Bell Tolls or The Sun Also Rises; in either case you will have a greater respect for Spain.

L-M-N-O-P
L-M-N-O-P profile pic Alumni

Musarter said:

...One more suggestion would be something by Hemmingway...

</blockquote

Picked up The Old Man and the Sea from the library the other day. Figured I'd start small.

@ lxromero: I totally forgot about putting some Gaiman on the list. The only thing of his that I've read is Coraline (which I was really impressed with), but I've been recommended American Gods and Stardust before.

Pez Banana

2014, okay, this year so far i've read:

  • Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)
  • Vols 1 & 2 of SAGA (Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples) [Vol 3 is on its way]
  • Currently reading "Brave New Worlds", an anthology of dystopian stories edited by John Joseph Adams.

After this i might read Fun Home (Alison Bechdel), though i just found an unread Science Fiction issue of The New Yorker... The one thing stopping me from discarding all those old New Yorkers are the awesome stories they contain! I much prefer stories to novels and have many anthologies that i've bought but haven't read...

Oh if books were like food, in that you must consume them quickly upon purchase, lest they go bad and make you sick!

L-M-N-O-P
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Slightly updated.

karaed
karaed profile pic Staff

I'm just finishing up #18 for the year, which is slightly ahead of my goal. I would feel awesome about that, but I have a friend who reads ridiculously fast and set a goal of 200 books this year. She's well over halfway there even though she just had a baby! And she has a toddler! It's inhuman.

Wharton
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I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Thoroughly compelling and a book that suits/ mirrors my own political, sociological and personal views but renders them beautifully and soulfully.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London is another fantastic book I read recently.

Anything by Haruki Murakami or Hemingway too.

L-M-N-O-P
L-M-N-O-P profile pic Alumni
karaed said:

I'm just finishing up #18 for the year, which is slightly ahead of my goal. I would feel awesome about that, but I have a friend who reads ridiculously fast and set a goal of 200 books this year. She's well over halfway there even though she just had a baby! And she has a toddler! It's inhuman.

200 in a year is indeed inspiring, especially with young children to attend to, among other things. I doubt I'd be able retain that much, let alone read fast enough to finish a book in less than two days. That's insane.

Wharton said:

I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Thoroughly compelling and a book that suits/ mirrors my own political, sociological and personal views but renders them beautifully and soulfully.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London is another fantastic book I read recently.

Anything by Haruki Murakami or Hemingway too.

I'm still on the fence about London. I fairly certain I tried to read The Call of the Wild when I was younger and it didn't interest me. Then again, I remember being enthralled by his short story To Build a Fire, mostly for its strong imagery and urgency for survival. I think, in the future, I'm willing to give him another go.

dsds

Cloud Atlas is not exactly sci-fi, but absolutely amazing book. I also highly recommend Catch-22, possibly the best book I ever read, even though I hate reading anything related to WWII. Also The Good Omens is uber-fantastic.

karaed
karaed profile pic Staff
Wharton said:

I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Thoroughly compelling and a book that suits/ mirrors my own political, sociological and personal views but renders them beautifully and soulfully.

I love reading Steinbeck in the summer. It just seems so perfect.

BlancaJP
BlancaJP profile pic Alumni

yes to reading lots - great list

I'd have to think a little for advice, but from newer writers I enjoy Alastair Reynolds.

Wharton
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karaed said:
Wharton said:

I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Thoroughly compelling and a book that suits/ mirrors my own political, sociological and personal views but renders them beautifully and soulfully.

I love reading Steinbeck in the summer. It just seems so perfect.

This is actually the first Steinbeck I've read. Its wonderfully written and you're right it has an arid dusty summer feel to it.

taz-pie

yes to so many of these.

karaed
karaed profile pic Staff
Wharton said:
karaed said:
Wharton said:

I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Thoroughly compelling and a book that suits/ mirrors my own political, sociological and personal views but renders them beautifully and soulfully.

I love reading Steinbeck in the summer. It just seems so perfect.

This is actually the first Steinbeck I've read. Its wonderfully written and you're right it has an arid dusty summer feel to it.

East of Eden is my favorite. I'm waiting till I have an actual summer vacation to reread it.

taz-pie

i ABSOLUTELY ADORED A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Wharton
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karaed said:
Wharton said:
karaed said:
Wharton said:

I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Thoroughly compelling and a book that suits/ mirrors my own political, sociological and personal views but renders them beautifully and soulfully.

I love reading Steinbeck in the summer. It just seems so perfect.

This is actually the first Steinbeck I've read. Its wonderfully written and you're right it has an arid dusty summer feel to it.

East of Eden is my favorite. I'm waiting till I have an actual summer vacation to reread it.

I'll check that one out too.

L-M-N-O-P
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Reviews slightly updated.

L-M-N-O-P
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Bump for the day crowd.

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