The Five Best Books I Read This Year

Johnny “Is this milk still good?!!”
The victim “Huh?! *sip* Uh…yeah.”
Johnny “THIS LETTUCE! HOW CRISP IS IT? HOW CRISP GODDAMMIT?!
The victim “It’s Fine!”
Johnny “THESE FUDGE-POPS! FREEZER BURN?! FREEZER BURN?!”
The Victim “umm..”

Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors (Squee!)

by Jhonen Vásquez

About

From the publisher, “Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors collects together the four issues of the Squee comic book series from SLG Publishing. It also contains reprints from the popular Jhonny the Homicidal Maniac series that didn’t appear in the JTHM: Director’s Cut book.”

My Thoughts

My God! My brain my brain. My poor abused brain. I feel like I should have a few hours of cat pictures after reading this book. I don’t think this is my brand of humor which I normally go for. Mine is more along the line of, “Blacks Books,”  This is more Ren and Stimpy? I am having a problem finding something to compare this book too. Very dark satire. It also might be that I need to be in a proper frame of mind to read this, and I wasn’t. It was terrible and abusive and I kept thinking, “that poor kid needs a hug that is not going to turn into molestation or aliens sticking something up his butt.” It is horrific, but not in a horror movie sort of way. More like, “I can’t believe I am reading this. That poor kid. No wonder he neurotic. I would be neurotic too if I had aliens chasing me to do anal probes and giant dust mites waking me up in my sleep.” All the while, nightmares. But it is awesome. The dark humor is still hopeful and you can’t help but cheer Squee on the whole time. 

For me the highlight of this book was Pepito. I could get a print of the strip of Pepito being introduced to his class and melting the other kids in the class with his mind when they were jerks. Kinda cathartic I think. I too have wanted to melt classmates in middle school and elementary.

Johnny “Is this milk still good?!!”
The victim “Huh?! *sip* Uh…yeah.”
Johnny “THIS LETTUCE! HOW CRISP IS IT? HOW CRISP GODDAMMIT?!
The victim “It’s Fine!”
Johnny “THESE FUDGE-POPS! FREEZER BURN?! FREEZER BURN?!”
The Victim “umm..”
Johnny “EAT THE FUCKIN’ WEENIE!!!”
The Victim “mmph… It tastes okay.”
Johnny “Whew! Thanks. I haven’t cleaned my fridge out in a while, and well… You know.


Daytripper

by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Craig Thompson (Introduction), Dave Stewart (Colours), Sean Konot (Lettering)

About

From the publisher, “What are the most important days of your life? Meet Brás de Oliva Domingos. The miracle child of a world-famous Brazilian writer, Brás spends his days penning other people’s obituaries and his nights dreaming of becoming a successful author himself—writing the end of other people’s stories, while his own has barely begun. But on the day that life begins, would he even notice? Does it start at 21 when he meets the girl of his dreams? Or at 11, when he has his first kiss? Is it later in his life when his first son is born? Or earlier when he might have found his voice as a writer? Each day in Brás’s life is like a page from a book. Each one reveals the people and things who have made him who he is: his mother and father, his child and his best friend, his first love and the love of his life. And like all great stories, each day has a twist he’ll never see coming… In Daytripper, the Eisner Award-winning twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá tell a magical, mysterious and moving story about life itself—a hauntingly lyrical journey that uses the quiet moments to ask the big questions.”

My Thoughts

What if you thought about life as just a series of profound moments interspersed with filler? How would you live your life then? Would you look for the moments? Or would you wait for those moments to happen to you? Death is very much a part of life, and you have to die, so you know that you lived. The authors, Fábio Moon, and Gabriel Bá explore these ideas in the form of a spectacular and beautiful graphic novel.

This is one of the most profound and well-written comics I have read in years, maybe my whole life. Cliche I know, but so right. The authors took each of these great moments that the main character, bras, experiences and turns the end of each chapter into a crossroads. Bras dies at the end of each chapter (each moment), but in the next section, he lived. So he dies and lives in each subsequent episode. As a reader, you know what is coming at the end of every chapter, but you want to know what is going to happen. How is Bras going to handle this moment? I know it is a seems a little confusing, but when you are amidst Bras life, it is anything but.

Why the hell did I wait this long to read this? Daytripper is a must read. Not only does it stand tall among it’s peers in graphic novels. It absolutely holds its own in fiction in general.

It is breathtaking, moving and beautiful…


I Killed Adolf Hitler

by Jason, Kim Thompson

About

From the publisher, “In this full-color graphic novel, Jason posits a strange, violent world in which contract killers can be hired to rub out pests, be they dysfunctional relatives, abusive co-workers, loud neighbors, or just annoyances in general — and as you might imagine, their services are in heavy demand. One such killer is given the unique job of traveling back in time to kill Adolf Hitler in 1939… but things go spectacularly wrong. Hitler overpowers the would-be assassin and sends himself to the present, leaving the killer stranded in the past. The killer eventually finds his way back to the present by simply waiting the decades out as he ages, and teams up with his now much-younger girlfriend to track down the missing fascist dictator… at which point the book veers further into Jason territory, as the cartoonist’s minimalist, wickedly dry sense of humor slows down the story to a crawl: for long patches absolutely nothing happens, but nobody can make nothing happening as riotously entertaining as Jason does… and finally, when the reader isn’t paying attention, he brings it together with a shocking, perfectly logical and yet completely unexpected climax which also solves a mystery from the very beginning of the book the reader had forgotten about. As always, I Killed Adolf Hitler is rendered in Jason’s crisp deadpan neo-clear-line style, once again augmented by lovely, understated coloring.”

My Thoughts

Spoiler alert, Adolph Hitler dies… Big shocker I know.  The title is very much in the writing style of the novel: minimalist, terse, and concise. No need for grand allusions or literary whatnot; Jason writes indeed very well and does not need to be wordy. The writing could almost come off as cold, but it isn’t really. It is just succinct. Why write a paragraph, when one word will work. Using this terse writing style he explores themes of love, loss, moving on, and assassination and morality in equal measures throughout the book.

You would think that with a plot like the assassination of Adolph Hitler through time travel via a for-hire assassin, it would be difficult to add in a romance element to it. But Jason makes it work rather well. Again the romance is bare bones, but the emotions are subtle, raw, and very thoughtful.

Read it, it will take you an hour at most. Jason comics are among the best graphic novels have to offer right now. They are profound without being egotistical and pompous. Jason gets you thinking about things without it clouding over your day. They are perfect.


Lake Silence

(The Others #6)

by Anne Bishop

About

From the publisher, “In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy, set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, Vicki DeVine and her lodger, the shapeshifter Aggie Crowe, stumble onto a dead body . . . and find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.”


Habibi

by Craig Thompson

About

From the publisher, “From the From the internationally acclaimed author of Blankets (“A triumph for the genre.”Library Journal), a highly anticipated new graphic novel.

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.”

My Thoughts

“You’re more than a story.”
― Craig Thompson, Habibi

When trying to make an argument about why graphic novels are richer, deeper, and more complex than the spandex-clad superhero saving the day; this is the book I hand you. A tome that is nearly 700 pages long. It is filled to the brim with an intricately woven tapestry of middle eastern lore, myth, and culture. It isn’t perfect, but it is incredible.

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It revolves around Dodola and Zam. Two individuals who at the beginning of the story are eking out an existence on a ship buried in the sand that is stranded in the desert. Oddly enough. Dodola prostitutes herself out to traveling caravans to bring food to their home. While zam is said to have the power to find water. His job is to bring water home to them. Both jobs equally necessary and symbolic in keeping them alive. Like two halves of a coin, this duality is present in much of the book. Armstrong deftly jumps from character to character creating this universe that they live by switching back and forth chapter by chapter. As the story progresses Dodola and Zam are parted after Zam witnesses Dodola get raped. Zam does not understand what he has seen so he tears himself apart psychologically trying to repress his feelings. The culmination of which is him becoming a eunuch and attempting to cut that part out of his psyche.

By the end of this book, I guarantee it will be like nothing that you have read before. Whether classifying it as a love story, religious text, or historical doctrine; the story will resonate.  Just know what you are in for. You will be rung out by the end of it.

5 thoughts on “The Five Best Books I Read This Year”

  1. These seem like an interesting mix of books; I’m always looking for new books to add to my reading list – one day I’ll get on it again haha!
    I’m a particular lover of Graphic Novels, I’ve read so many over the years, so I’ll definitely be taking particular interest in Habibi.
    Great post, thank you!

    Chelsea | twoofamind.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Habibi is such a glorious book. The graphics and story are so well done. If you like Thompson’s book, he wrote another one called Blankets that is equally as good. Thank you for reading this post. I very much appreciate it. 🙂

      Like

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