Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Are You Reading? March 2017 Edition

Comics and Graphic Novels
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power  Ryan North, Erica Henderson
Showa, 1939-1944: A History of Japan  Shigeru Mizuki
March: Book One (March, #1)  John Robert Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
Mooncop  Tom Gauld
Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Aya: Life in Yop City (Aya #1-3)   Marguerite Abouet
Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness  Reinhard Kleist
Aya: Love in Yop City (Aya #4-6) Marguerite Abouet
The Shepherd's Tale (Serenity, #3)  Joss Whedon, Zach Whedon, Chris Samnee
Cairo   G. Willow Wilson, M. K. Perker
Better Days (Serenity, #2.1) Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad
Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue and Gray   Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale
Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost Joe Keatinge, Leila del Duca, Owen Gieni, Ed Brisson
Prince of Cats Ron Wimberly,
Alex + Ada, Vol. 3   Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn
Alex + Ada, Vol. 2  Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn
The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan  Bryan Doerries
Those Left Behind (Serenity, #1)  Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad
Ody-C: Cycle One  Matt Fraction, Christian Ward
The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984  Riad Sattouf
Civil War: A Marvel Comics Event  Mark Millar, Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, Morry Hollowell
Out on the Wire: Uncovering the Secrets of Radio's New Masters of Story   Jessica Abel
The Best of the Spirit Will Eisner
The Underwater Welder   Jeff Lemire
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths Shigeru Mizuki
Sorako     Takayuki Fujimura
Something Under the Bed is Drooling: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection  Bill Watterson

One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God   Ashley mae Hoiland
The Longitude Prize  Joan Dash
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor    Mark Schatzker
Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College  Mark C. Carnes
Letters to a Young Muslim   Omar Saif Ghobash

Before the Awakening  Greg Rucka
Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence, #5)  Max Gladstone

Picture Books
Pickles to Pittsburgh Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3: Planet of the Pies  Judi Barrett, Isidre Monés
Zoom Istvan Banyai
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing  Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett
The Skunk  Mac Barnett, Patrick McDonnell
At Night  Helga Bansch
On Christmas Eve   Peter Collington
A Small Miracle  Peter Collington

Visual Work
Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World  Ian Phillips

Quick Takes
Ashmae Hoiland's One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly is without a doubt the most revelatory book I've read on modern Mormonism. Part memoir, part poetry, part devotional, it examines the web of relationships to family, friends, converts and non-believers that have helped Hoiland find her way in faith and in the world. Rather than treading the same ground as so many other spiritual memoirs or books on the place of religion in our current life, Hoiland examines how a totality of lived experience is bound up in her religion. A truly luminous book.

Aya also visits ground you won't often see in other work. It's the coming-of-age journey of a woman in 1980's Cote D'Ivoire, a soap opera with a heroine straight out of Jane Austen. A biting comedy of manners that looks sharply at sexism in modern Africa (hint: it's not that much different from everywhere else), and a perspective on the Ivory Coast you are unlikely to see elsewhere.

Romeo and Juliet may be the first YA novel. That's an audacious claim, since it's not a novel and predates the development of YA lit as a genre by at least 300 years, but follow me here: it's the earliest literary work I know that focuses on the lives of adolescents, and sets up the future of the genre with its disastrous account of hormones and adrenaline wreaking havoc. Prince of Cats taps strongly into that as an adaptation with a twist-- it follows the plot of the Bard's classic teen love tragedy through the perspective of Tybalt, Juliet's angry cousin who seems to live to fight in his family's feud. It amps up the youth culture aspect of the tale to 11 by setting it in a anime-punk '80's NYC where graffiti and katana duels are the pathway to fame and glory. Channeling the Bard, all the text is in iambic pentameter and is studded with slang and neologisms. It's a stunning tour-de-force from an artist worth watching.

The style of Jeff Lemire's art is unmistakeable, and seems naturally suited to the stories of mystery and loss he tends to tell in his indie work. The Underwater Welder is no exception. It's a masterfully formed tale of a man stuck in his own past, and drowning under the weight of his memories, who somehow manages to surface for air.

Will Eisner is legendary-- there's a reason that US comics main awards are named for him. The Best of the Spirit highlights his talents as an artist and storyteller. I enjoyed this more than any other Eisner book I've read.

Mooncop is a beautiful, absurd little story about the loneliness of modern life. It follows the daily activities of the only cop on the moon after the moon has been surpassed by other, more exciting destinations for space colonization. It manages to be whimsical and wistful at the same time. To get a sense of Gauld's style (and to spend a few hours giggling at your computer) check out his tumblr here.

My introduction to Joan Dash was A Dangerous Engine, her masterful biography of Ben Franklin as scientist, statesman and international celebrity. The Longitude Prize is just an entrancing, tracing the little-known but highly influential story of the first successful nautical chronometer. It's a scientific tale of high drama that pit a self-taught genius against the most highly credentialed academics of his day.

I've been fascinated by the Reacting movement for a few years now, after reading an article about it and then finding out that one of my good friends was in a class that was role-playing the French Revolution. With a pedagogical method based on role-playing, Reacting reminds me of my own powerful educational experience in Mock Trial, Model United Nations, and theatre. Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College is the movement's manifesto, written by the professor who first started using role-palying as a central feature of his classroom. Through studies and the experience of numerous Reacting alumni from across the nation, he recounts how participation becomes a transformative experience that brings history to life and gives new meaning to education.

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