It’s that time of year again! Read on for the best and worst of 2014. Accolades are given to A.M. Homes, George Saunders, Tim Kreider, Sheri Fink, Joe Ollmann, Gabrielle Bell, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson. Stern talking-tos are given to Scott Bradfield, Jonathan Miles, David Sedaris, Mark Singer, Jesse Reklaw, Jeff Smith, and Wes Anderson. Apologies for any typos; I’ve been working on this all day and I can’t stand looking at it anymore.
My recommendations are marked with stars (★) because god forbid I use the same system two years in a row.
Over the course of 2015 I intend to switch to a new format in which I review things throughout the year and drop this annual post format, which has gotten to be unmanageably large. Check back every now and then for more reviews, and we’ll meet here next January to sort out the winners.
Here is the third annual summation of all that I read/watched/played this year. Titles appear in the order that they were read/watched/played. Unreserved recommendations are in bold. Mini-reviews, where applicable, appear in italics. So, read on and perhaps you’ll find something you might like. Satisfaction is not guaranteed, however.
Welcome all to the second annual end-of-year roundup of various media I consumed this year. This year I kept a list, so this is guaranteed to be comprehensive. Instead of alphabetical order, entries are listed in the order read (within each category). As in last year, recommendations are in bold. Mini-reviews provided below entries, as applicable. Starred entries I only read part of, usually books of short stories. Note: also includes movies!
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Unfortunately I didn’t keep track of books as I read them, so I had to assemble this list in retrospect. As such, it may be revised as I remember other things. Unreserved recommendations are in bold, but should not be interpreted as slights against other books. As you’ll see, if I’d followed through on my illustration project, I’d have a lot of illustrations now. Maybe next year?
Alexie, Sherman. Indian Killer.
Atwood, Margaret. The Edible Woman.
Banks, Russel. Lost Memory of Skin.
Carver, Raymond. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (part)
Davidson, Lionel. Under Plum Lake.
Coupland, Douglas. Player One.
Eggers, Dave. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Evans, Nicholas. The Brave.
Franzen, Jonathan. Freedom.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Handler, Daniel. Adverbs. (part)
Jin, Ha. Waiting.
Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth.
Knowles, John. A Separate Peace.
Mamet, David. Oleanna.
Mamet, David. The Old Religion.
Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore.
Murakami, Haruki. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
Powers, Richard. Galatea 2.2
Russo, Richard. Empire Falls.
Russo, Richard. That Old Cape Magic.
Scott, Joanna. Make Believe.
Shakespeare, William “The Bard.” King Lear.
Snicket, Lemony. The Bad Beginning.
Wolff, Tobias. Our Story Begins. (part)
Yu, Charles. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
Favorite fiction book this year: Empire Falls. This book will keep influencing my work for a long time, I think. Strong sense of place and good character interaction.
Least favorite fiction book this year: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I can’t begin listing the myriad problems with this book. I still can’t believe I read the whole thing. Read Victor Lodato’s Mathilda Savitch instead.
Atwood, Margaret. In Other Worlds. (part)
Brunetti, Ivan. Cartooning.
Berlioz, Hector. Evenings with the Orchestra. (part)
Decker, Kevin S. et al. Star Trek and Philosophy. (part)
Ehrman, Bart. Misquoting Jesus.
Mauro, James. Twilight at the World of Tomorrow.
Ross, Alex. Listen to This. (part)
Schumacher, Michael. Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics.
Steinberg, Avi. Running the Books.
Favorite non-fiction this year: Twilight at the World of Tomorrow is full of entertaining characters and enthusiasm drawn from the historic 1939 World’s Fair. I really enjoyed it.
Least favorite non-fiction this year: Hector Berlioz’s diatribes against Chinese music in Evenings with the Orchestra. Debussy, a few years later, would find much inspiration in the same stuff Berlioz dismissed out-of-hand. (The book isn’t bad overall though.)
Brunetti, Ivan (ed.). Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories v. 2.
Clowes, Daniel. Ice Haven.
Clowes, Daniel. Wilson.
Cotter, Joshua W. Skyscrapers of the Midwest.
Eisner, Will. The Contract With God Trilogy.
Herge. Tintin and the Picaros. (read before)
Herge. Tintin: Castafiore Emerald, The. (read before)
Herge. Tintin: Flight 714. (read before)
Herge. Tintin in Tibet. (read before)
Hines, Adam. Duncan the Wonder Dog v. 1.
Karasik, Paul et al. City of Glass.
Mazzuchelli, David. Asterios Polyp. (read before)
Novgorodoff, Danica. Slow Storm.
Ottaviani, Jim et al. Feynman.
Powell, Nate. Any Empire.
Powell, Nate. Swallow Me Whole.
Shaw, Dash. Bottomless Belly Button.
Sikoryak, R. Masterpiece Comics.
Tardi, Jacques. Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec v. 1.
Thompson, Craig. Blankets.
Thompson, Craig. Habibi.
Thompson, Richard. Cul de Sac Treasury.
Ward, Lynd. Six Novels in Woodcuts v. 1
Ware, Chris. Acme Novelty Library #20 (“Lint”).
Favorite comics this year: Swallow Me Whole. Beautiful art and a haunting story of two children with schizophrenia.
Least favorite comics this year: Slow Storm. Not bad exactly, but the art’s a little muddy and the story kind of disjointed. It’s a debut, though, and Ms. Novgorodoff certainly has potential. Also frustrating: Craig Thompson’s ill-advised epic Habibi.