2012: The Year of the Graphic Novel

What's On the Bookshelf?

In looking back at the books I’ve read this year, they’ve been dominated by a genre.

Graphic novels.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well. I’ve always enjoyed a graphic novel or comic between the massive classic tome, but this year I found myself reading graphic novels almost exclusively.

It’s been awesome.

I started this summer, reading Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. This trend continued through the autumn, where I read some fantastic books like Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Grant Morrison’s dystopian epic The Invisibles.


The thing I love about graphic novels is the art works so well with the story, especially in books like Maus and Blankets. The books have additional levels to them, and being a bookworm and art fanatic like myself, they are wonderful.

The stories are helped by the art, rather than hindered, making them more poignant and memorable. And I love them for it.

I can’t wait to start up my own graphic novel library. I’ve decided it will have Blankets, Maus and The Invisibles to start. What else?

Book Challenge: Scotland, Scotland, Freddie Mercury

What's On the Bookshelf?

At the end of it all! I like this. Much quicker.

Twenty-eight: Last book you read

The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith. I reread the entire 44 Scotland Street series this summer, in between the massive tomes about and by T. E. Lawrence.

I’m quite fond of the series, as you’ve probably gathered. I like McCall Smith’s books because they are fun to read, but also intelligent and hold up on rereads. I’m not much of a book buyer, as I’m constrained with space and love to visit libraries for the treasures hidden in the shelves, which is how I found this series.

These books focus on relationships, on friendships, and on the good of humanity. Very refreshing, particularly after reading the newspaper any given day of the week. The book was easy to read, yet not dumbed down, as is often the case. The thinking person’s popcorn read.
Twenty-nine: Book you’re currently reading

How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman. I’m moving to Scotland in less than a week. I saw this book at the library, and figured I should read it. At the very least, it would give me an overview of the Scottish philosophers and the development of Scottish culture. Which is what its doing. I am learning quite a bit, and am thoroughly looking forward to the chapter on scientific contributions.

I have about three chapters left. A good read, now I’m deciding which philosopher I’m going to tackle while in Scotland. When I travel for long periods, I try to read at least one great thinker of the country I’m in. In Italy, I read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince. The debate is either to read David Hume or Adam Smith. I’m leaning towards Smith.
Thirty: Favorite coffee table book

This is an easy one. It’s Classic Queen by Mick Rock. Filled with his photographs of Queen in the 1970s, including the very very famous one, the cover of Queen II. I love flipping through this book and looking at the photos. Well designed, lovely to look at, and a book that, when I have a coffee table, will be proudly displayed.

Book Challenge: Pirates, Paratroopers, and me

What's On the Bookshelf?

Nearly done! Finally. So glad that I’m just answering these three at a time.

Twenty-five: Favorite book you read in school

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read this in the seventh grade. It was the book that made me love Stevenson’s work, and search out more of it (I’ve read most of his novels now, I think I’ve just ignored the Master of Ballantrae, which I own, I just haven’t read yet, and one or two others).

Part of what made this a great in school read was my teacher’s plan to get us to learn. He passed out print outs of a ship’s interior, so we could understand what Stevenson was writing about.

Also, Long John Silver is just a great character. One of my favorites.
Twenty-six: Favorite nonfiction book

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. I encourage all of my friends to read it, particularly those who have seen the miniseries. Well written, researched…I want to reread it now that I think more about it…

Twenty-seven: Favorite fiction book

You can’t do this to me. Besides, I don’t have a favorite book. I think I’ve already mentioned this a fair few times. Particularly answering question one.

Book Challenge: Traitors, Inferno, Favoritism

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day 22: Book you plan to read next

I’m going to reread Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre! I don’t think I’ll get the biography on Gertrude Bell read before I leave. Tinker, Tailor is going to be my plane read. I’m hoping to reread most of it before I see the movie.

I really like my copy of the book. It’s a beat up, well loved tie in edition from the Alec Guinness mini-series (which I haven’t seen). I picked it up for 50 cents, even better for me!
Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished)

Dante’s Divine Comedy. I don’t think I’ve explicitly said that I’ve read it, but I allude to it, quote it, etc. But I haven’t finished. I haven’t even finished Inferno. That’s a constant work in progress. I have trouble reading poetry. More accurately, I have trouble concentrating when I read poetry. I once read one of Tolkien’s epic poems. Wow.
Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I love the scene where Fred and George decide to leave Hogwarts. Its funny. There’s much mayhem. Fred and George. Love it.

Book Challenge: Rule Britannia, Numerous, Illustrations

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day 19: Book that turned you on

I like books that force me to read other things, be it to get a better understanding of the setting, or just because I’m interested. I have a small library of books about Nelson’s navy, purchased and acquired because of my interest in that time period, spurred on by Patrick O’Brian and CS Forester.
Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times

To be honest, I have no idea. I’ve read the Harry Potter books scores of times. Lord of the Rings, same thing. Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander…all of these books I’ve read at least seven times.

Probably the first Harry Potter book, though. I think I’ve read that one twenty times at least. I’m not sure. I’ve lost count.
Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood

I loved Jan Brett’s books, like The Trouble with Trolls. Her illustrations are beautiful. Lively, energetic and funny, what more does a children’s book need?

That, of course, is a secondary storyline often featuring a hedgehog. This storyline is illustration only, and takes place in the margins of the book. So adorable. I still love looking at the books, reading them, and admiring the paintings.

Book Challenge: Bricks, Melville, Shamelessness

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Day 16: Longest book you’ve read

I’m actually not sure what the longest book I’ve read is. Its either one of the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time books (I’ve only read the first three or four) or Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables.

I read an unabridged translation of Les Miserables back in December/January. It took me six days (that’s a LOT of reading). I started a reread (different unabridged translation) back in May. I’m still reading it on and off, but as you can see, I’ve read a lot this year.

Let me just say, this book weighs a ton. When I bought my paperback copy, the cashier asked if I wanted a truck to bring it home in. I replied that mortar would be all I needed–I was going to use it as the cornerstone to my house.
Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read

A children’s book, probably. I’m sure I read some 24 pagers in my childhood, but I can’t recall any of them. So, shortest adult book that I’ve read? Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. I hated every minute of it, and was extremely happy it was only 90 pages long.
Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like

I have no shame whatsoever in books I read. Roald Dahl’s children’s books? Love them. Harry Potter? My generation, baby. Tolkien? Lewis? Lloyd Alexander? No shame.

I take great pride in making the librarians look shiftily at the books I check out. The more atypical, the better. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Les Miserables, Band of Brothers? I relish in the shocked expressions. Clearly I look like the sort of girl who would be reading scores of chick lit and other, more typical young woman sorts.