Monday, December 14, 2009

challenge heaven

Okay, despite the fact that I have emphatically declared myself "not a book blogger," I am, of course, still a reader. And being a reader, I am obviously still allowed to participate in reading challenges, right? Of course, I'm right! See, the thing is most of the coolest reading challenges out there are hosted by friends anyway. Since they are the coolest people, it just goes to follow that they would have the coolest challenges, doesn't it? :D Eva is co-hosting the Women Unbound Challenge, Amanda is hosting the GLBT Challenge, Carl will be hosting the Sci Fi Experience, Once Upon a Time, and RIP Challenges again, hopefully Trish will be hosting the Non-Fiction Five again, and now Ana and Chris are hosting the Graphic Novels Challenge! I tell you, life does not get any better than this!!!! I am sooooooo excited about this one! In fact, I think that all five of us here in the Stevens household shall be participating. :D

And just look at this awesomely cool button:

Heck, that's reason enough to join. :D

I can't believe that it's only been two years since I started reading graphic novels. And at this point, I don't think I could live without them. It is a medium of storytelling that I find so satisfying in so many ways. And to think, that if not for blogging, I may never have picked one up. Dewey, and Ana, and Chris, and Carl...these are the people who really introduced me to the world of comics...and no "thank you" could ever be big enough for that.

The challenge has various levels of participation...the lowest being just three books (hence, I think even reluctant reader Max can handle this one). But I'm shooting for the highest, which, at ten books, shouldn't pose a problem even for me. (If I counted correctly, I've read 40 even so far this year...that's more than I'd even realized.)

We don't have to make a list ahead of time, but I just can't resist making a list for anything, so here's some that I will likely read (this list is chosen merely because they happen to be in our house at the moment...I've a feeling blogger would kick me out for using too much space if I tried to post a list of all the graphic novels I WANT to read).

Currently out from the library:
*The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
*Life Sucks by Jessica Abel and Gabe Soria and Warren Pleece
*A Distant Soil: The Gathering by Colleen Doran
*A Distant Soil II: The Ascendant by Colleen Doran
*Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda by Jean-Philippe Stassen
*Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
*Notes for a War Story by Gipi

Already on my shelves:
*Black Hole by Charles Burns
*Mijeong by Buyn Byung-Jun
*The Dreaming (vols. 1 and 2) by Queenie Chan
*Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
*Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
*A Midnight Opera (vols. 1-3) by Hans Steinbach
*Nightmares & Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time... by Serena Valentino
*The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess
*Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days) by Bill Willingham
*Fables: Wolves by Billingham
*Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
*The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
*Palestine by Joe Sacco
*The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, and Frederic Lemercier

To borrow from Rich:
*Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller
*Dracula adapted by Michael Mucci, Ben Caldwell, and Bill Halliar
*The Vietnam War: A Graphic History by Dwight Jon Zimmerman and Wayne Vansant

 To borrow from Annie:
*Fruits Basket (vols. 1-3) by Natsuki Takaya
*Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne by Arina Tanemura

To borrow from Gray:
*Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen
*Redwall: The Graphic Novel by Brian Jacques

It hasn't been a very big reading month for me so far...only four books so far (and one of them shouldn't really count as a book). This makes me so sad. :(  And it's not that everyone else seems to get so much more read than I do. It's more that I get to thinking about how finite life is...and oh my, so many books are going to go left unread. *sigh*

My first read of December would make an excellent choice for the Graphic Novels Challenge! Blankets by Craig Thompson. I picked it up from the library simply because Dewey had mentioned how much she loved it. (That's a good enough reason to read any book, if you ask me.) Oh my god, I loved this book! Sort of a story of first love. Of a painful childhood. Of questioning one's religious beliefs. Seriously, it was just such a wonderful read.

Next, I finished Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture by Katha Pollitt. Great book for the Women Unbound Challenge, btw. Great book, period. (But I should say straight out that it's likely not a book everyone would enjoy, especially if your worldview differs from hers...she is decidedly liberal.) This book is a collection of her essays from The Nation, covering the second half of the 1990s. But despite the fact that these essays are often about events long past, so often the ideas are still extremely relevant in today's world. Pollitt has a wonderfully strong voice--she definitely doesn't hold back. She is a master of sarcasm, and at times had me laughing out loud. A few times, she had me in tears as well. Mostly, she had me feeling outraged at the injustice in the world. Intelligent, compassionate, and not afraid to call 'em as she sees 'em. Thanks again, Ana, for introducing me to her! (Ana's reviews of Reasonable Creatures and Virginity or Death! can be found here and here, respectively.)

Next up was The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfar. Another graphic novel. And I have Amanda to thank for this one, because this review left me utterly intrigued. So, did I enjoy this book? Yeah, I can honestly say that I did. Though I found it utterly odd! But what did I expect from a book about a young woman who falls in love with Imhotep IV, who at the time of the novel has been a mummy for thousands of years. My biggest complaint is that it just seemed to end too abruptly. Oh, and I did very much love the art in this one! A sample:

And my most recent read--And All Through the House by Ed McBain. This was a mini-book--it wasn't a novel, or even a novella, but more of a short story in book form. It was a total impulse grab from the library. Thought a nice little Christmas story might be fun. And while it wasn't completely terrible or anything, I really could have lived without it. Just totally forgettable, if you know what I mean. Despite the fact that it was only forty short pages, I really wish I'd spent the time on something else.


  1. and I'm hosting the John Cusack Reading Challenge!!
    I have yet to commit to the Graphics NOvel one but I will. I bet I will. SURE, I will...

  2. I knew you'd love Pollitt! And Blankets sounds so wonderful...I've been dropping hints left and right, so hopefully either Mother and Father Santa or Boyfriend Santa will have it covered...they can work it out among themselves as they usually do ;) And oh, I love the art for The Professor's Daughter! Like I told Amanda, I'd been on the fence about that one for ages, but I think I DO want to read it.

    Last but not least, welcome to the challenge :D I love your list, and I'm so excited you have Ghost World out from the library! It's a favourite of mine, and it was one of Dewey's too.

    PS: Care: Yes, you WILL >:(

  3. Care,
    Oh my gosh, I forgot about your John Cusack Challenge...SHAME ON ME!!! Because you, Ms. Care, DEFINITELY fit the category of "coolest people"!

    You were definitely right about Pollitt! I now must see if I can ILL her other books as our library doesn't have them. One of those Santas better come through! If not, consider Blankets yours anyway...I will DEFINITELY buy it for you if not, because I want you to read it soooo much! I'm just so sure you'll love it!
    Sheesh...don't I feel like an idiot...I didn't even realize you and Dewey loved Ghost World. But :D :D :D because now I KNOW I'll surely love it, too!

  4. We're all addicted to reading challenges, and the more the merrier! Er...not finishing them is another matter though, but what most important is we read and we've fun! :D

  5. So many things I want to say! First, I'm so happy you'll still be participating in the challenges even if you're not book bloggin! Second, yay for graphic novels! I only started reading them this year and never would have known about them had it not been for blogging. You have so many good selections on your list! Third, I just added Blankets to my TBR the other day! I saw Darren's review and fell in love. Fourth, I felt the exact same way about The Professor's Daughter. It was so weird but beautiful at the same time. Okay. I'll go now. :D

  6. I'm definitely participating in this one this year, and a handful of others as well. I am saving the "official announcement" for my New Years Day post where, among other things, I plan on listing out all the challenges I am going to try to tackle this next year.

  7. ahhh yep, it's a cryin' shame you don't read any books to report about Debi.. yep a real shame... heh.

  8. I've only read a few graphic novels at all, and haven't caught the bug yet, but with so many lovely people giving suggestions, I'll have to try some more this year :). So many smarties get so much out of them, I just figure I must be missing something...

  9. Guess I'm going to have to host a challenge to join the "cool kids" club!!

    This is my first year of reading graphic novels. And yes, it's because of all the wonderful bloggers. Although my brother is now completely entrenched in GN's, so I have a feeling I would be sucked in eventually. He has a way of doing that to me.

    This will be my first Graphic Novels challenge. I'm so excited!!

  10. You've read some great stuff!! I too loved Blankets! I want to read Mouse Guard and I will for the challenge. Another great one is Pride...that one made me really sad. It's about the lions that escaped from the zoo in Baghdad after the invasion and what became of them.

  11. I have Blankets, which I bought when I saw it mentioned on Nymeth's blog -- I'm saving it for the GN challenge. I'm really looking forward to that one.