Tag Archives: Ed Brubaker

On Reading 100 Books (Actually, more like 50)

On January 21, 2014, I shared this picture on social media with the accompanying caption positing that I would attempt to read one hundred books during the year.


I’m so artsty it makes me sick.

Almost as soon as my fingers pounded out the goal, I realized that reading one hundred books was out of the question; it was already practically February.  So instead I said that reading fifty would be more likely.  I don’t have a calculator in front of me, but that’s like one every week or something.

As of writing this, I’ve read fifty-one books and am on my way toward finishing number fifty-two.

Now, I realize that this isn’t a great accomplishment by any means.  Still, I was impressed with myself for setting a goal and achieving it.  While I’ve always enjoyed reading–I do work at a public library after all–there was something almost stifling about knowing that I had to finish this goal.  In fact, almost as soon as I posted the picture, one of my friends commented that it’s better to keep the goals that you set to yourself because announcing the goals tricks your mind into thinking they have already been completed.

There were many times when I started reading a book and just couldn’t get into it, and wanted to stop.  For instance, I started reading The King in Yellow after watching True Detective over the summer, but I didn’t finish it until early December.  That’s outrageous! The book is only 256 pages.  I should have been able to knock that out in a weekend.  So I set it aside and read other books.  All the while I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that the time I put into reading those hundred or so pages would be worthless unless I finished the book in its entirety.

So I pressed on toward my goal’s end.  I knew I had to, but it wasn’t just because I’d already put it out there on the Internet. I had to do it because if I don’t finish a book, I feel like I’m disrespecting the author.

When I first take a book in my hands, open the cover and feel the paper, crisp and dry between my fingers, I’m entering into an agreement with that author and into a relationship with that book.  For however many pages, I belong to that book and it belongs to me. When I put it down, even for a few days, I feel like we’ve abandoned each other. By not being interesting or not grabbing my attention, the book has recanted its agreement with me.

A recent study showed that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, such as when you read fiction, improves your ability to show compassion.  Maybe that’s why I have trouble abandoning those books—because I know inside those pages, I’m someone else, maybe even someone better, if only for 300 or so pages.

Please save your psychoanalyses until the end, thankyouverymuch.

I’ve listed the fifty-one books on the next three pages, broken into three categories:  Good, Godawful and Great (because I like alliteration. If I liked assonance, I’d call them All Right, Awful and Amazing).  I briefly thought about ranking them, but then I realized that my rankings would do nothing to sway you if you’d already read a particular book and loved it and vice versa.  All I can say is that I highly recommend all the ones that I’ve put in the Great category.


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Public Image (Comics) Limited

Today’s post is the first from our newest blogger, Kelly, who works in the Customer Services department of Main Library. You’ll be reading Kelly’s take on life, the universe and everything at least once a month going forward. To learn more, visit the About Us page to read her bio.

Do you like comics?

If you answered yes, keep reading. If you answered no, keep reading.

Image Comics is an independent publisher of (primarily) creator-owned comic books and graphic novels. The writers and artists who put out books through Image each month don’t have to worry about pleasing any corporate bosses. They own their characters, and they can let those characters take them where they will. This leads to awesome stuff.

If you haven’t tried a comic book lately, or if you’ve been stuck in the same DC vs. Marvel superhero rut, try one of these excellent books from Image.

Saga, Volume I and Volume 2, Brian K. Vaughan.

No one thought it was possible for a native of Landfall and a native of Wreath to have a child together. No one imagined that sagaindividuals of the two species would want to. But Alana and Marko did, and now everyone in the galaxy wants them and their daughter either dead or captured.

sagatwoIn Saga, Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples haven’t just put a space opera spin on Romeo and JulietVaughan deftly avoids every potential cliché by using wonderfully quirky details for both the world and its characters: robots with televisions for heads, the use of secrets as ingredients for spells, a cat that can detect lies. Staples uses bold lines and rich colors to make the world shine, and she adds her own details too (like adorable seal and walrus people).

What I love most about this series is how much diversity Vaughan and Staples work into the cast. Character skin tones run from light to dark. There are what we would consider traditional relationships, and then there’s one character’s relationship with an eight-legged spider woman. There are gay characters. There are ghosts, who are red instead of the tired blue or green. And there’s everything in between.

Fatale, Ed Brubaker. Book 1: Death Chases Me, Book 2: The Devil’s Business, Book 3: West of Hell.

In this aptly-named noir detective series, Nicolas Lash meets Josephine at his godfather’s funeral, and quickly realizes the story fatale1she spins about her grandmother being an old friend of the deceased doesn’t add up. She is the woman in the old photo she shows him. And she hasn’t aged.

fatale2Lash’s godfather and Josephine had some kind of connection to a weird cult/mafia group. Lash lets his curiosity get the best of him, and is drawn into a world of crooked cops, mobsters with monster heads, and Cthulhu-esque tentacles. Josephine and her supernatural power to enthrall men unsurprisingly sit at the center of everything.

Although Brubaker uses Lash (and sometimes other men that Josephine meets) as a frame for the narrative, they are also tools forfatale3 exploring Josephine’s history and character. These men feel either an overwhelming need to kill or protect Josephine, but she proves that she’s capable of taking care of herself, without being the kind of leather-clad black-belt-super-markswoman-type character we see so much of these days.

Artist Sean Phillips uses dark shades and lots of shadow to create the noir horror effect. His panel layouts are simple and effective. I like that he doesn’t rely on gimmicks, just solid artwork. It helps ground the reader when Brubaker lets the plot get complicated.

Lazarus, Volume I: Family, Greg Rucka.

Forever Carlyle protects her family and its resources above all. And as the Carlyle Lazarus–a person genetically engineered to be an essentially un-killable and excellent fighter–Forever has little trouble fulfilling her duty.

lazarusThe future Forever and her family inhabit is bleak. A few powerful families control all the resources, including food. Peace between the families is tentative, and when someone attacks the Carlyles’ seed storage facility, a war between Carlyle and Morray seems inevitable. But was it truly Morray who orchestrated the attack? As Forever investigates, she begins to question her job and discover some uncomfortable truths about herself.

Author Rucka’s writing zips the plot along, and Michael Lark’s artwork makes a bleak and scary future look gorgeous. I love that Rucka has thought of how this future would come about, and that it’s something that I could imagine happening. That makes the story feel real, and rather terrifying.



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