As with the film lists, these aren’t meant to be a best-of, just books I enjoyed this year and that stuck with me in some way.
Something Wicked This Way Comes: Ray Bradbury
Illustrated Man: Ray Bradbury
There is an exuberance and positivity in Bradbury that I admire, but rarely seem to find as much in myself—or at least it feels that way. Bradbury’s love of poetry comes out in his prose and these two titles may be my favorites of his, though I do like a lot of his work.
Secret Agent: Joseph Conrad
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Philip K. Dick
This was the third time I had started this one and I was finally able to finish it. It made me want to go back and watch Blade Runner again and allowed me to appreciate both pieces for what they are. PKD is becoming one of my favorites.
Notes from the Underground: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Sanctuary: William Faulkner
English Patient: Michael Ondaatje
V: Thomas Pynchon
Treasure Island: Robert Louis Stevenson
I hadn’t read this in decades and I was blown away by how much fun it was to read again.
War and Peace: Leo Tolstoy
Illuminations: Essays and Reflections: Walter Benjamin
Stockhausen Serves Imperialism: Cornelius Cardew
This was my introduction to a musical figure I knew by name only. If anything, I enjoy Cardew’s passion and ideas (he may have been murdered because of them), even if I still like the avant-garde of Cage and Stockhausen. The book also introduced me to several other musical figures like Frederic Rzewski.
The Art of Fiction: John Gardner
Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method: Gerard Genette
Dense read that attempts to dissect the complexities of written narrative. It’s a book that is fascinating and one could spend a lot of time working through everything Genette does here. Like labeling parts of speech in a sentence, Genette gives ways of labeling functions of narrative within prose.
Silver Screen Fiend: Patton Oswalt
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema: Anne Helen Petersen
As much as I love Kenneth Anger and Hollywood Babylon, this is a sobering look at many of the Hollywood myths and stories those of us interested in Classic Hollywood have heard for years. The analysis of the ideologies of the star and studio systems are fascinating, if disturbing at times. One of the more awful details here is the fact that studios were giving uppers and downers to child stars like Judy Garland in order for them to meet performance schedules. Disgusting. The book doesn’t revel in the details, but serves as more of a critical analysis.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: Robert Pursig
The Social Contract: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Me Talk Pretty One Day: David Sedaris
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief: Lawrence Wright
Apocrypha: KJV Text
The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden
Rameau’s Nephew: Denis Diderot
D’Alambert’s Dream: Denis Diderot
The Case of the Flying Saucers: Manly P. Hall
Art / Comics
1450-1950: Bob Brown
One of the most inspiring works I’ve read this year. Wonderfully done.
River Dead of Minneapolis Scavenged by Teenagers: Mark Ehling
Ehling’s one of those guys you want to hate because he’s good at everything. And he’s a nice guy, too. The nerve of some people.
Monsters in the Movies: John Landis
Large coffee table book of movie monsters, stills, and poster art. Fantastic. Many of the films I’ve never heard of and I’ve been watching horror and monster movies since the age of four or five. It’s hard to compete with Landis though, who obviously has a deep love for these films and has lived almost his whole life in or near Hollywood.
In the Night Kitchen: Maurice Sendak
Mr. Wuffles: David Weisner
All-Star Superman: Morrison and Quitely
Hellboy Volume Ten: The Crooked Man and Others
The Humans, Volume One
Saga of the Swamp Thing Books Three and Four
Transformers vs. GI Joe Volume One
Vampirella Archives: Volume One
The Walking Dead Volumes One and Two
Collected Poems: Theodore Roethke
Ashagalomancy: Abraham Smith
My favorite book of his so far. In theory, a book of creation myth poems, but so much more.
White Egrets: Derek Walcott
Ghosts: Henrik Ibsen
Rhinoceros: Eugene Ionesco