Reading round-up November 2018

Photo of a woman with a book and umbrella
CC0 Evelyn from Pexels

How are we this far through the year already? Time has flown and I have done very little of anything. But after October’s abysmal attempts, I did do better on the reading front. I decided to kickstart my reading brain by starting with some comics. Not that all comics are easy reading – Sandman definitely isn’t – but some of them are, and they were just what I needed. Tim started me off with some old Avengers comics in the Marvel app, and then I picked some trade paperbacks off my TBR. It was a good strategy.

Books read

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 9: Teenage Wasteland by G Willow Wilson and Nico Leon
This volume of Kamala Khan’s adventures features her friends more than it features her, because she has disappeared. But her friends are now well established characters so it’s good to spent time getting to know them better.

Giant Days, Vol. 8 by John Allison et al.
Housemates Susan, Daisy and Esther are approaching the end of their second year at university. They need to figure out their love lives, their housing situation and maybe even do some studying. This continues to be a lovely series, though this wasn’t my favourite instalment.

Giant Days: Extra Credit by John Allison et al.
This is a collection of one-shots that were not included in the trade paperbacks, including two Christmas specials. They include a little more of the wacky randomness typical of John Allison’s online comics than Giant Days has featured before now, and some characters I know from Scary Go Round who would be annoying if they became regulars, but are fun for brief periods.

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota
This indie comic follows Penny, whose life has fallen apart, as she tries to piece it back together. It’s a sweet, simple story well told. But it’s also philosophical about life and what you make of it.

Brave New Actic: the Untold Story of the Melting North by Mark C Serreze
Climate scientist Serreze explains how over his career the evidence of global warming has become real and alarming. He gives a lot of scientific detail – from ice depth and coverage, to ocean temperatures at different depths, to air currents, to animal and plant life – a little too much detail for my non-scientist brain to follow. But if you’re looking for an insight into how science progresses, or the details of how we know climate change is happening, this is the book to read. I reviewed this for work, and that review will be published next week.

Brother in Ice by Alicia Kopf
translated from Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem
Still on the Arctic theme, this is an odd combination of research notes and fictional diary. It appealed to me because the loose theme tying it all together is ice – polar expeditions, polar science, but also ice as a metaphor for human relationships, human behaviour. And I do love me a tale of Arctic or Antarctic exploration.

Jessica Jones vol. 3: Return of the Purple Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
This is the last volume of Jessica Jones to be written and drawn by Bendis and Gaydos, and they certainly left on a high note. The return of supervillain Killgrave is truly scary. I highly recommend this.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang
translated from Korean by Deborah Smith
This is a very strange story, which could be taken at face value or could be metaphorical. Yeong-hye has always been a dutiful, if dull, wife – until the day she stops eating meat. This angers her husband family far more than it seems to merit, and they question her mental health. Where the story goes from there either means being vegetarian in Korea is a seriously radical act, or that Yeong-hye’s decision is a symptom of something else – whether it’s marriage problems or indeed her mental health. I’m still a little uncertain how I feel about this book but it certainly provoked feelings! I’ll review it in full soon.

A Girl on the Shore by Inio Asano
translated from Japanese by Jocelyne Allen
This manga is beautiful, exquisitely beautiful, but it’s also sexually explicit and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Not that I’m a prude, and in prose I think I would very much enjoy this honest tale of teenagers discovering sex, but I did have a problem with graphic depictions of 14-year-olds because it seemed…prurient, I guess? I will probably review this in more detail.

Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics by Tanya Bub and Jeffrey Bub
For work I have to read a lot of scientific articles that I don’t always fully understand, so it’s always useful for me to find accessible introductions to physics concepts. This comic does a pretty good job of explaining the near-unexplainable topic that is quantum mechanics, but I must admit that the conceit it’s based around (physicist father Jeffrey explaining the subject to artist daughter Tanya) was an unnecessary extra step for me, and also an annoying one.

So…happy December!