New Books & Novel Discoveries (January 2020)

This has been one of those really weird months where I could swear I bought way more books than I did. Every time I think about it, I can only recall the one physical book I purchased, but it doesn’t feel right. I guess it’s because I could have purchased more, but didn’t. Maybe I really am learning self-control. I didn’t get any gift cards for Christmas either though, while I did last year, so maybe my brain is just confused or something.

Enough rambling, on to the books!Read More »

WWW Wednesday – January 29, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Year of the FloodI’m just over halfway through The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, and I’m happy to report that my misgivings from last week have been quelled. The world before the pandemic is still horribly bleak, but I feel I know enough about all of the supporting characters that I’m not dreading the worst from all of them. I’m also really enjoying the distinct perspective each protagonist brings, one having been a child/teen before the Flood, and the other an adult. The lives of the lower classes, less seen in the first novel, are much more fleshed out in this book too. Despite living among them, there’s something quaint about this eco-relgious group that lives in squalor but have richer lives. I’m looking forward to seeing how they might play a role, if any, in how the pandemic starts.


Recently Finished

No Longer HumanOver the weekend I finished reading No Longer Human by Junji Ito, and posted a full review of it last night. I think this manga is one of those stories where you acknowledge that it’s conveying something meaningful or important, but actively engaging with it is a disconcerting or unpleasant experience. It deals with a lot of heavy subject matter that in some cases is executed upon really effectively, and in others muddied by borderline supernatural elements that I speculate are Ito’s additions to the tale. I think this manga is good, but its character has a repellent quality that gives me mixed feelings. I feel really motivated to check out Osamu Dazai’s original novel now, though, so I can see the clay Ito is molding with.

I also read Jenny Finn by Troy Nixey & Mike Mignola, et al. Haven’t much to say about it. The art was good, and it had some interesting visuals and ideas, but the story felt half-baked. Didn’t really care about any of the characters or what was happening. First two-star rating I’ve given on Goodreads in a while.


Reading Next

Here (away from it all)For starters, I’d really like to read The Case of Charles Dexter Ward graphic novel adapted by I. N. J. Culbard soon, since I’m really interested in checking out how he adapts Lovecraft’s work. I should probably do this before I go out and buy more of them. Other than that, I think I will deviate from my 2020 to-read list to check out Here (away from it all) by Polly Hope, one of the books that caught my eye in The Book of Forgotten Authors. I’ve mentioned it before, but to refresh it’s been described as Lord of the Flies with adults, which is what originally piqued my interest. I expect society to devolve and disappoint me in compelling ways.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

Comic Book Review – No Longer Human by Junji Ito

No Longer Human

No Longer Human is the most recent book by manga creator Junji Ito to be translated and published in English. It adapts the famous novel of the same name originally authored by Osamu Dazai. The literal translation of the Japanese title is “Disqualified from Being Human.” Set in Pre-WWII Japan, the story follows the life of Yozo Oba, the son of a prominent family who deals with existential anxiety and a deep disconnection with what seems to make other people happy. He deals with this problem from a young age, playing the clown to keep his anxieties hidden from other people. Suffering abuses at home and worried that a classmate has discovered his charade, his life begins a gradual spiral out of control, succumbing to substance abuse, debauchery, and his own declining sanity as he gets older.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – January 22, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Year of the FloodI’m a good 100 pages into The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood now, and I’m getting a much better sense of the characters. The plot is jumping between two characters surviving after “the Flood” pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, and their time before the Flood as members of God’s Gardeners, an eco-focused religious group. The most striking thing about getting back into this trilogy is being reminded just how bleak this world is. There’s actually an odd purity to the world after the pandemic. Prior to it, corporations run everything and the worst crimes against humanity are rampant. I like the focus characters well enough so far, but I wish I didn’t expect the worst from nearly everyone else.

No Longer HumanI started reading No Longer Human by Junji Ito over the weekend, which is adapting the Osamu Dazai novel of the same name. I’m having some mixed feelings about it so far. It’s not an unenjoyable read, but I guess I just don’t feel completely hooked yet, despite having read five chapters now. It’s primarily concerned with the misadventures of a young man, Oda, who feels intrinsically disconnected from other people, using buffoonery as a child to escape this by constantly keeping others entertained by his antics. Tonally, it’s a decidedly dismal story thus far. I like how Ito’s art informs us of the character’s perspective, though. He uses a lot of his usual foreboding style, but I see it as more reflective of how Oda sees other people than actual reality.


Recently Finished

The Book of Forgotten AuthorsOver the weekend I finally finished The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler. You can check out my full review here. I say finally, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but just that I was particular about getting it done. I really liked this book and would definitely pick up a follow-up if Fowler was inclined to write one. I’d likely read that more as a supplemental book though, so I can take my time and enjoy it more slowly. I was ultimately able to restrain myself from adding more and more books to my TBR while reading this book, which is probably for the best. That figurative shelf is crowded as it is without a bunch of books that will be difficult to find.


Reading Next

Jenny Finn HCI’ve not decided on a novel I’d like to read next, but to keep the graphic novel train going I’ll likely crack open Jenny Finn by Mike Mignola et al. Though a Lovecraftian tale by the author—not outside his wheelhouse—it seems different from his usual pulpy style of uncanny lead characters like Hellboy or the Amazing Screw-On Head. I don’t know much more about it than that; with Mignola’s name on a horror graphic novel I’m pretty much sold every time.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

Book Review – The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

The Book of Forgotten Authors

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler is a nonfiction collection of 99 authors (with a 100th added to this paperback edition) whether fairly obscure, decently successful, or prolific in their time, who have since become almost completely forgotten by the reading public. In each author’s respective section Fowler discusses some of their most notable works and their writing career, while also offering a glimpse into their personal lives and insight into why they disappeared from the public eye. Peppered throughout are 12 short essays about broader subjects, such as contemporary characters who competed with the likes of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, now forgotten, or authors who drifted from memory by writing too little—or too much.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – January 15, 2020

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Book of Forgotten AuthorsI’m about 65% of the way through The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler. The book continues to be really fascinating, as well as a source of new books for my TBR.  Fowler has a nice, distinct voice that stops this book from just being informational, making it more fun to read. A particular book that I added that has me quite intrigued is described as “Lord of the Flies with adults.” There’s a Kindle edition of it too, so it’ll be easy to check it out. Since last week I encountered another author I’d heard of before too. Though I haven’t read any of his books yet, I’ve had one on my TBR for years. Maybe it’s weird, but I take a small amount of pride in having heard of a couple of these “forgotten” authors.

I started The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood last night, though I’ve only just scratched the surface. I’ve met two of the main characters and learned how and where they’ve survived “the Flood,” but I don’t know too much about them as characters yet.


Recently Finished

Nothing so far, sadly. I really thought I’d be able to finish The Book of Forgotten Authors over the weekend, but for some reason I couldn’t push through it. I guess I haven’t gotten completely back into the swing of things after my little break from reading.


Reading Next

No Longer HumanLike I said last week, I intend to read No Longer Human by Junji Ito very soon. I only haven’t yet because I wanted to put all my energy into finishing what I’ve already started. In addition to this, I’ve got a graphic novel adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward that I really want to check out soon. The story is by H. P. Lovecraft and adapted by I. N. J. Culbard. I actually didn’t like this story very much when I read it as prose, but the prospect of reading it in this medium has my interest piqued. I feel some of his stories might really benefit from a visual element. It’s looking like the latter half of the month is going to be back-loaded with books, compared to the sparse beginning of the year.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

Book Review – Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett is the 14th novel in the Discworld series, and the fourth in the “Witches” subseries. Unlike most other Discworld novels, this book begins with a note from the author suggesting you read some of the previous “Witches” novels before starting this one. This novel begins right where the last one, Witches Abroad, left off, and also continues plot threads from Wyrd Sisters, the novel before that.

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick have returned home to the small kingdom of Lancre after their journey abroad, only to find trouble afoot before they can even settle back in at home. Magrat finds that her potential husband-to-be Verence II, the former Fool made King, has fast-tracked a lot of their wedding arrangements without her input. Meanwhile, crop circles are appearing all across the kingdom; it seems somebody has been dancing around some stone circles, inviting the return of the elves. While remembered fondly in the minds of people, their return only spells trouble for everybody living on the Disc.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – January 8, 2020

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Book of Forgotten AuthorsThough I’ve been taking a little break from reading more intently, hence the absence of a post last week, I did end up starting a book anyway: The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler. Each entry for an author is usually no more than 3-4 pages long, which makes this a perfect book for reading in short bursts. A funny bit of happenstance while reading it, I’ve actually heard of one of the authors included so far, and I’ve read one of her books. Not all that forgotten, after all. So far, learning all these nuggets of literary history has been really enjoyable. A double-edged side effect is I’ve started adding books to my to-read shelf, so I’m likely going to come away from this with a laundry list of old books that will inflate my TBR pile and be difficult to find. Marvelous.


Recently Finished

Lords and LadiesJust before the end of 2019 I finished reading Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, the 14th Discworld novel. I should have a full review posted soon. In a few ways this book seemed to work toward tying up loose ends from Witches Abroad. There was a lot of emphasis in that novel on the youngest witch Magrat being a “wet hen,” but it didn’t do much to help her grow past that as a character. In this book she finds herself being suddenly swept up into her wedding with King Verence II (a loose end from two novels prior), which pushes her to stand up for herself and work toward carving out her own destiny. It’s always a delight to read more of the exploits of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg as well, the former having an appreciable amount of her personal history explored too.


Reading Next

The Year of the FloodIn terms of novels, I’m going to make myself finally read The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. It’s been on yearly to-read lists for years now, and I’m fed up with my own procrastination with it. It’s been nearly a decade since I even read Oryx and Crake, for goodness sake. I also want to start reading some of the new graphic novels I got over the last month, starting with No Longer Human by Junji Ito, which I’m most excited to finally check out. It’s unique, in that it’s not an original work of the author’s, but a manga adaptation of a well-known Japanese novel. I only have a vague understanding of what it’s about, so I’m really eager to get started on it.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

Looking Back at 2019 & New Challenges for 2020

Though we’re about a week into 2020 now, me taking my little reprieve before throwing myself back into reading more intently, I wanted to take a little look back on my reading from 2019, as well as introduce my new reading challenges for 2020. It’s been an interesting year, to say the least, and has me rethinking my priorities a little bit going into the future.Read More »