Best Books and Comics of 2015
I read some truly excellent books this year. They didn’t all necessarily come out in 2015, but that’s when I read em’.
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Oh, Jeeze. If you aren’t reading Staples and Vaughn’s sprawling intergalactic Romeo and Juliet, you’re missing out on the best comic coming out right now. I would recommend this to anyone. You don’t have to like science fiction, romance or beautiful space monsters to love this book, though it only helps if you do. The book is exciting, heart-breaking and full of great dirty jokes.
- The Godfather by Mario Puzo
I wouldn’t have read this if I didn’t love the movies so much. It’s not my favorite genre and it came out 20 years before I was born, all that said, I’m glad I did. The book is excellent. It has scale without being slow. It’s a book you can’t put down (is that a review cliché? Don’t care. It’s true). The brutal moments feel real and earned. The book deserves its status as a classic.
The Godfather is also interesting to look at in relation to the movie. The parts of this book that didn’t make the screen aren’t terrible, but they’re absolutely a distraction. The story of the singer (Johnny Fontane) from the movie is much improved from the way it was told in the book and the part about plastic surgery? That is almost completely removed (the less said about that the better).
- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
If the Game of Thrones series changed how we saw The Lord of the Rings, stripping away some of the clichés and critiquing the conventions it created, then The Magicians series is the doing the same for Narnia and the Potter series. I reviewed the first book a couple years ago and I still think all those things I said are true.
- Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and Various artists (David AJA)
Fraction did a fine job writing this book but it doesn’t matter. This book would be on the list if every speech bubble were gibberish. It’s that beautiful.
- Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
People who say there’s nothing left to do in superhero comics, are usually older white men. This is a fun comic book that’s deeply accessible. This is my go-to piece to recommend in kids books.
- Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven
This book is a trifle, but it’s a damn fine trifle. I read Ringworld this year, as well, which is supposed to be Niven’s masterpiece, but I would read this book again, before I picked up the next Ringworld book. It’s just faster and more fun.
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
This book scared the crap out of me. VanderMeer’s book on writing is great too.
- Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
I read this and The Rosie Project, because Bill Gates recommended them, and I liked both a lot. Brosh has a singular mind and the way she talks about ambition, depression and life in the internet era is unique. Her prose and comics are strange, funny and powerful. It’s a book that makes you happy for the author, because you feel that you know her after you’ve read it.
- Mo’meta Blues by Questlove
Worth reading just for the album reviews – very uneven – good enough that I’d read it again.
- Daredevil (Mark Waid and Chris Samnee run)
By changing the tone, Waid zagged on a character that has been zigging for about 40 years. Samnee’s art is fantastic and perfect for the sunny disposition of the story (Paolo Rivera is no slouch either).
- Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
No one explains social science better than Pinker. The arguments are completely compelling.
Books I didn’t get into for whatever reason: Red Shirts by John Scalzi and Authority by Jeff VanderMeer. If somebody loves those and wants to talk me into them, I’m down to be converted.