Summer Reading 2011

It was a decent summer of reading this time partially due to a number of work relocations and wedding planning (I got married on October 15th!). All of this should also explain my 3(or so)-month absence here. It takes two sentences to explain, but took practically 24 hours of my attention; I’m mostly referring to the matrimonial responsibilities here. But let’s dally no further, summer goes from June 21st to September 23rd this year which is approximately 14 weeks. During that time, I read 25 books. That equals around 1.8 books per week, not bad. That number is, of course, artificially boosted by all of the graphic novels I’ve read this season; graphic novels are typically much faster reads than straight prose meaning which usually translates to me finishing them in a sitting or three.

Water Street (au) by Patricia Reilly Giff
Neat coming-of-age story set in 1875 New York. Many of the same appeals as Reilly Giff’s House of Tailors.

Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser
A prescient long-form articulation of the short-term effects and long-term consequences of algorithmically-personalized web services.

Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman
Probably the best coverage of Scientology from outside the religion to date. A dense tome, but a must-read for anyone interested in the topic.

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
The first volume of the endless Warriors series in which wild forest cat clans duke it out for control of the forest. I didn’t dislike this one.

Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter
By number two of the series, the plots begin becoming so taut that I have trouble with the drama.

All the King’s Men (au) by Robert Penn Warren
A heavy book that exhibits a fictionalized, but very real, world of Louisiana politics and southern culture. Possibly featuring one of the most understated and yet memorable narrator-protagonists in fiction.

Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter
Ugh. By the time I got to this one I was sick of the series. Thing is, I had to read it to find out what happened! But getting to the end, I was met with the fact that the third one is not the end of the cycle. No more for me, thank you.

Vive La Paris (au) by Esmé Raji Codell
A smug and interesting protagonist with a cool family. Madame Esmé has a tween winner here. The audiobook version I listened to is a winner as well.

It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Cheney Neville
A soft coming-of-age story that’s slightly out-of-date but still charming.

Seek (au) by Paul Fleischman
An audio-mosaic in which a boy searches for his radio announcer father. I love the atmosphere of this book and the boy’s intellectual family.

Marching Men by Sherwood Anderson
One of Sherwood Anderson’s early books. I read this in order to write its Wikipedia article. Let’s just say I won’t be reading it again.

Chiggers by Hope Larson
A girl’s camp graphic novel that featuring teen friendships, angst, and all. The art style is quite enjoyable. A short read, too.

Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes
One scene in the life of Houdini. For a graphic novel with so many possibilities, this one is just too short.

Airborn (au) by Kenneth Oppel
A delightful steampunk adventure with a wonderful audio production. Highly recommended! Probably one of my favorite books of the year.

Watchmen by Alan Moore
Not a perfect plot, characters, or pacing in places, but the mood overshadows all and makes this alt-history Cold War era graphic novel the classic it is.

2024: A Graphic Novel by Tad Rell
An underwhelming graphic novel take on 1984.

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Coming-of-age graphic novel with an effective(and affective) realistic romance and amazing art. This is a seminal work in the graphic novel genre.

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year by Esmé Raji Codell
A smooth and funny diary of a unique teacher’s first year. A quick read.

Cages by Dave McKean
This is what avant-garde graphic novels look like. The sort-of plot with its strange trajectory will appeal to readers who are comfortable with the graphic story form and enjoy poetry.

On the Wings of Heaven (au) by Richard Peck
An episodic home-front story. Solid, if not memorable, storytelling. Probably not Richard Peck’s best work.

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
Good local color and fine art. If only there was a plot to speak of.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
From my Goodreads review: “I enjoyed the realistic artistic style here and how it melded with the fairly sober, epiphany-filled childhood of the author who, in discovering her own sexuality reflects on her fathers parallel track as a gay man (though this was never actually confirmed).”

Leviathan (au) by Scott Westerfeld
Steampunk adventure in alt-WW Europe lags in places but good parts raise it above flavor-of-the-month.

BodyWorld by Dash Shaw
Another experimental graphic novel. Drugs, depravity, and all-around weirdness. This one is definitely not for everybody.

Giving (au) by Bill Clinton
Clinton explores different ways of giving, through monetary means or simply time. In a large part a list, but also with some insights on how the NGO world works.

Since my Fall reading has already started (and almost concluded). I’ll just wait till I post that list in order to talk about future reading. I did finish Grapes of Wrath which was on my American authors list and it was excellent – a true classic. I’ve also read some other good stuff. More on that later.

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