Alchemical Thoughts

The Best Books I Read in 2014: An Appendix to My Reading List for 2014

Posted on: February 13, 2015

(Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian. I figured folks here may be interested in this too. This post does include a link to the post “My Reading List for 2014” as well. Feel free to read, check out some of the links. As always, comments are welcome.)

 

The Best Books I Read in 2014: An Appendix to My Reading List for 2014

(Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian.)

As I mentioned in the post “My Reading List for 2014,” I had a lot of books that I felt were excellent and deserved a full five out of five stars rating (I rate on a five star scale). There were so many that I decided to make a separate post just to share the list with my four readers (maybe if I work hard enough, we can increase it to five readers of the blog this year).

The list is in no particular order. Most of these are graphic novels and comics as that is a genre I tend to favor. If I have posted a review, I will provide the link.

Graphic novels and comics

Thanks to NetGalley (and Edelweiss to a small extent), I am reading a lot more graphic novels and comics, including titles that I think many libraries do not see or miss. I personally enjoy this as it adds some diversity to my reading, especially when I read stuff other than the usual. Only sad thing is NetGalley does not have Marvel titles, but I guess you can’t have it all. Anyhow, these are the comics and graphic novels I consider my best readings for the year.

  • Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1. My library recently acquired the five volume set of this. This is the ninja turtles as they are, before Nickelodeon got a hold of them and sanitized them.  Contrary to what most people think, it was not a comic for young kids. It is a great comic overall. I will certainly be reading the rest of the volumes in the set.
  • Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Hot in the City (The New 52). From my review, “Harley gets her own volume and adventures as she tries to move on without her Mr. J in her life and a new inheritance.” If you like the Batman comics, you will probably enjoy this one as well.
  • Geoff Johns, Batman: Earth One. Maybe instead of watching stuff like Gotham, which is basically Batman without Batman, you can read this and get the same vibe, only better.
  • Jeff Parker, et.al., Batman ’66, Vol. 1. This was just good nostalgia fun.
  • Taran Killam, et.al., The Illegitimates. Another one that was fun. This time in the old school James Bond kind of fashion.
  • The American Vampire series continues to be one of the best things out there. This year I read volumes 4 and 6 of the series. It is a series I will continue reading as it keeps getting deeper and developing its story over time well. It also captures the feel of the era a particular volume is in very well. In fact, as of this post, I have volume 7 queued up on my feed reader from NetGalley.
  • Scott Snyder, et.al., The Joker: Death of the Family. This is probably the best way to read this great series from DC’s The New 52. You can find the trades, and I read some of them, but once I found this was available, it made things a lot easier. For me, books like this are a reason why I prefer to read a story once it is compiled. The volume is a great choice for libraries with graphic novels collections.
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Superman: Earth One.
  • The Saga series. Last year I added volume 3 to what I have read. I hear the fourth volume is out, so rest assured I will be reading it. This is certainly one of the best things going on out there. You can tell people are catching on as Saga did make it on various end of year and must read lists.
  • Max Brooks, The Harlem Hellfighters.
  • Karl Bollers, et.al., Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black. For me, this was a great discovery. Sherlock Holmes has enjoyed a bit of a revival with recent shows like Sherlock (which I have watched and enjoyed) and Elementary (which I could not care less about). This graphic novel gives the character a nice, fresh and hip look. It is a lot more than just a new look. It really pays attention to the classic and brings it up to our modern time.
  • Matz, The Killer, Vol. 4: Unfair Competition. Matz’s series is another one I enjoy greatly, the practical assassin trying to make it in the harsh world. Another great series I will keep seeking out.
  • Michael Uslan, The Shadow/Green Hornet, Vol. 1: Dark Nights.
  • Jonathan Hickman, East of West, Volume 1: The Promise.
  • Simon Oliver, FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, Volume 1: The Paradigm Shift. This was an interesting discovery for me, a world where the laws of physics stop working as they normally do, and the federal agency tasked with dealing with it. That is  just the start.
  •  Jai Nitz, Dream Thief, Volume 1.
  • Gail Simone, Red Sonja, Volume 1: Queen of Plagues. Gail Simone is also known for her run of Batgirl in DC Comics. I am not as a big a fan of Batgirl (many other librarians fawn over Barbara Gordon, a character that is a librarian in the comics. Me? Cassandra Cain was more my favorite Batgirl); I read the title now and then. However, I do like Red Sonja, and Gail Simone has done great work with that character.
  • John Lewis, et.al, March, Book One. This is a great one to read for Black History Month, though you can and should read it any time.A great example of how you can teach about history with a graphic novel.
  • Box Brown, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. This is one I recommend to show the good things you can do with a graphic novel. A light but very moving biography of a man who was very generous yet fought in and out of the ring men and his own demons.
  • Stephen Mooney, Half Past Danger. If you like things like Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark, not so much Crystal Skull) and other old school action adventures, this may be for you. Add in the femme fatale and some dinosaurs for a fun mix.
  • Kenny Byerly, et,al., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures, Vol. 1. And this is the ninja turtles for the kids today. It is an all ages comic based on the recent Nickelodeon production of the comic. It is cute, fun, and nice entertainment. Kids will definitely like it.
  • James Stokoe, Wonton Soup.  Think Iron Chef (the original Japanese show, not the American knock off) and space truckers.
Manga
  •  Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf series. It is a five volume series. Though I did not give all volumes five out of five stars, read together this is definitely one of the best reads I did for 2014. It is the story of three Adolfs, one of them being the Fuhrer of Germany, during World War II. Their lives are very connected as we go from Japan to Germany and back. My review of the first volume, Adolf, Volume 1: A Tale of the Twentieth Century is up now. Others will come soon. The series is an award winner too; it won the Kodansha Manga Award.
  • Sean Michael Wilson, Musashi.
  • Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou, Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1.
 Nonfiction
  • Rachel Maddow, Drift: the Unmooring of American Military Power.  This was my one audiobook of the year. It is a book I highly recommend. Though you can read it in print just fine, I think it works better in the audio as she reads the text.
  • Robert Dawson, The Public Library: A Photographic Essay. Of the LIS and related books I read in 2014, this was one of the best. For all the hype stuff some librarians fall for, this simple book is really inspiring and a reminder for many of us why we are proud to be librarians and serve our communities.
  • Donald Nausbaum, Cuba: Portrait of an Island. A nice photo collection. This came before recent news about Cuba and the U.S. possibly opening up relations once more. Still, a very nice book to look at.
  • Daniel Yaffe, Drink More Whiskey!  From my review, “For someone wanting to learn more about whiskey in a casual and accessible style, this is a book for you. There are many books written about alcoholic spirits, but they are often written for hardcore aficionados and alcoholistas (yes, I am coining the term).” This book is more for the casual person seeking some knowledge.
  • Carol Leifer, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying. From my review, “A strength of Leifer’s book is in the lessons for work and life that she presents. She may be writing from her perspective as a comedian, but her advice applies to any career path.”
  • Andrew Knapp, Find Momo. This is one of those books that make you go “aww, how cute!” It is a beautiful book for folks of all ages.
  • Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night.  This is definitely one of the nicest books overall I read this year. For folks who love libraries and books, this is a sure thing to read. From my review, “If you are feeling down from bad news of library closings or not getting enough funding, or are you just sick and tired of the next ‘trend’ in libraries making it sound like libraries are dead fossils, then toss all that away and curl up comfortably with a serving of your favorite beverage and this book.”
  • Jenny M. Jones, The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay. For fans of the film, this is one they will want to read and add to their collections.
Erotica

This includes fiction as well as nonfiction.

Miscellaneous

Other good stuff.

  • Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back.
  • Jeffrey Brown, Goodnight Darth Vader.
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