What’s a better name for these reviews? Books Musings or Book Roundup?
We’re almost at the halfway point of the year. Can you believe it? I can’t. This is going to be a mega-review with a total of 10.5 books instead of the usual five. It’s quite a graphic novel/comic book heavy. I find that graphic novels can act as a palette cleanser of sorts. They are usually short condensed books that can tell incredible stories as well as contain gorgeous pieces of art and allow you to jump from one story to another in a quick amount of time. My aim this year is to not only read 50 books but to read more diversely as well. And I think I’m doing that.
Here we go!
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanith
When Breath Becomes Air takes the title of ‘the first book to make me cry” this year. This is a memoir, published posthumously, of Paul Kalanith who died of lung cancer at the height of his life. It’s one of the most exquisite books I have read in a long time. The language, the cadence, the emotions, the thoughts and feelings that this book evokes are tremendous for such a small book. You can feel the stages, the thoughts, the fears, the vulnerability that Paul has through his words as the cancer spread through his body. It’s about the fight and acceptance in the face of a heartbreaking diagnosis. I highly recommend this book, whether or not you or someone you know is facing something like this. Do read the last line of this memoir aloud. It’s definitely worth it.
- Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
This book has been on my radar for quite a while and with recent changes in my personal life the subject of this book rose to my consciousness and my to be read pile. Human beings, especially in the Western world, face death as a very wearily. We don’t like to talk about it, we don’t like to tackle it until we absolutely have to and this book addresses those issues and more. It talks about how human beings age and the choices that we face when we do, especially when we reach an age where we can no longer solely care for ourselves whether that is due to aging and/or compounded by diseases like cancer. It’s about choices, it’s about the decisions and discussions that we, as individuals, and our families must make, and the point when modern medicine can do more harm than help. As a child of immigrants, I’ve straddled the lines of East and West all my life, even more so when it comes to health and healing and death. This book allowed me to see those, sometimes opposing views, in a different light and lays a foundation for certain issues that I will more than likely face in the next decade or so. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand aging and death in our modern Western world.
- Curb Stomp Script by Ryan Ferrier, Art by Devaki Neogi
I picked up this graphic novel after meeting the author at a comic event. I was immediately interested in the topic of this novel which centres on the lives of a group of young women in a struggling seaside town who are all in the same gang. All of the characters, all young women, are very individualistic not only in terms of personality but ethnicity as well. All of these characters are all struggling to come to terms with their lot in life that is increasingly becoming harder and harder. This novel does contain graphic violence. It’s non-apologetic and when dealing with such subjects it serves it perfectly. I wasn’t a huge fan of the art in the novel; I enjoyed the story side of the novel a lot more. If you have an unlimited subscription like Comixology’s new one then I suggest giving it a try.
- Monstress, Issues #4-5 Script by Majorie Liu, Art by Sana Takeda
If you have read other posts on my blog before you know how much I adore Monstress and these two issues do not disappoint. The world that Majorie and Sana have built is just absolutely incredible and so imaginative and gorgeous, seriously gorgeous. Each issues takes you into this world and allows you to dive into it and explore it through the eyes of Maika and her companions. I loved these two issues and they just continue this story that I want to keep reading and learning about. We continue on Maika’s journey of discovery and the struggle to contain the monster that resides in her. Monstress is always a highly, HIGHLY, recommend for me. Read it! You won’t be disappointed.
- Black Panther, Issue #1 Script by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Art by Brian Stelfreeze
This is the first issue in Marvel’s new run of Black Panther and it’s written by one of the best writers of this generation in my opinion. Ta-Nehisi brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and credence to Black Panther not only for just this series but the character of T’Challa as well. The first issue blew my mind and I immediately added it to my pull list at my local comic book store. In just this one issue it sets up not one but numerous co-existing storylines that will play out through the series. It’s awesome. I would definitely pick it up if you can. I believe that it has gone into second printing and is the best selling single-issue comic so far this year.
- Alibis by André Aciman
This book is a collection of long essays about the author’s views and experiences in different cities all over the world. It’s about how we see a city, how individualistic it can be, how a view changes or doesn’t with each visit, and how one single scent or sight or memory can determine that view or evoke a memory about that city when you visit it. It’s an incredibly written book and André brings to life the view that he wants you to see through his words. The first chapter of the book is entitled ‘Lavender’ and it’s the perfect title for the chapter. You can feel the brushes of a bush of lavender on you skin and imagine the smell of its bouquet, as you read the chapter. It’s a well-written book and I’ve actually given it as a gift before.
- DC Comics: Bombshell, Issues 37-39 Script by Marguerite Bennet, Art by Pasquale Qualano
I bought and read this three-issue run of the DC Comics: Bombshell series solely on the basis that Felicity Smoak was in them as one the Batgirls. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the short story that was being told. I enjoyed the art. I enjoyed the characters. The one caveat is that the publisher is DC Comics (who has run into a number of issues surrounding its staffing in the past few months.) It’s a good quick read and if you’re a fan of the Batgirls or Felicity Smoak, I would suggest picking it up.
- Silk, Issues 4-6 Script by Robbie Thompson, Art by Tana Ford
I have been a huge fan of Silk ever since it first began its run last year. Not only is Silk the one of the few titles in Marvel comics that has a woman fronting her own series but a woman of colour fronting her own series. I also share the namesake of the title character so it’s so much more fun for me. With these three issues we continue on Cindy’s journey of balancing a life as a double agent for SHIELD as well as trying to balance a full-time job and trying to discover what caused her family’s disappearance and where they could possibly be now. It has action and emotion and everything else you could expect of a comic book from Marvel but it also has this story of a young woman trying to discover who she is, what she is meant to be, and how to handle the life after being locked away in isolation for over a decade. Silk is a must read for me and I highly recommend it to anyone who is getting into or already into comics.
- The Amazing Spider-Man and Silk: The Spider (Fly) Effect, Issues 1-3 Script by Robbie Thompson, Art by Todd Nauck and Geoffo
Silk is one of those characters that I love to the point that I will read anything and everything she is in and this series is one of them. I honestly had no idea that this series was coming out until the owner of my local comic book store threw it into my pull list for me because he knew how much I love Silk. (For someone who was new to comics, finding a local comic book store that welcomed me in, show me the ropes, and has been receptive all my questions was an absolutely incredible.) In this series, Spider-Man and Silk are transported back in time to when both of them were bitten by the same radiated spider that gave them their powers. Spider-Man and Silk now have to figure out a way to get home while fending off Hydra and Peter Parker’s uncle. I enjoyed it and will be reading the rest of the issues in the short run as it comes out.
- Ms. Marvel: Last Days, Volume 4 Script by G.Willow Wilson, Art by Adrian Alphona
This is the last trade in the Ms. Marvel series prior to the reboot that occurred in Marvel that happened last year. Ms. Marvel, aka Kamala Khan, is still trying to discover her powers and her place in the world in the face of the world coming to an end. Captain Marvel makes an appearance and Kamala faces certain emotions and feelings that she has put on the back burner since becoming an Inhuman and using her powers for good. The graphic novel is a highly enjoyable conclusion to the first run in the Ms. Marvel series. I would definitely suggest picking it up if you’re just getting into comics because it’s well written and beautifully illustrated.
- Ms. Marvel, Issues 1-6 (Series 2) Script by G. Willow Wilson, Art by Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, Nico Leon
These six issues follow the near end of the world events that Ms. Marvel faced in the first series. Kamala is now an Avenger and she has become friends with Captain Marvel. She is also still a high school student, dealing with all that comes with being a high school student and a daughter who is of Muslim-Pakistani heritage. You watch as she tries to balance all these different and differing aspects of her life and all the problems that she runs into trying to do that. It is both hilarious and heartfelt, and highly entertaining to read. If you read the first series in the Ms. Marvel run then I would definitely suggest picking up the new series in which these issues are contained.
I’ll be posting these small reviews after every fifth book I read this year. If you’re interested in seeing what I am reading at the moment then check out my Twitter for the latest update.
Currently reading: The Four Books by Yan Lianke