Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fantasy Sports Volume One

Written by: Sam Bosma

First line: You…are late.

Why you should read this book: I have to admit to not really understanding anything that’s going on here: a brutish fighter and an impish magician, paired up, against their will, by the local thieves’ guild, are sent to loot some sort of ancient temple. Despite their poor attempts at partnership, Mug and Wiz manage to defeat the low-level guardians and challenge the boss, who is a magical mummy with a basketball jones. It all comes down to an epic, deadly, magical, violent, winner-take-all, one-on-one hoops shootout for a single treasure chest.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: It’s completely ridiculous.

The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw

Written by: Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey

First line: Here’s what you need to know about us—we were good and gentle creatures

Why you should read this book: Action packed and innovative, this volume introduces a society of anthropomorphic animals, some of whom are powerful magicians, concerned that the magic that holds their civilization together is fading. To this richly imagined world, they summon a mythic hero, without fur, fangs, or claws, who is nothing like what they expected. Seen through the eyes of a young dog with a front seat to all the action, Autumnlands introduces a vivid and convoluted world of shifting alliances, political machinations, war stratagems, and massive upheavals of civilization.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You can't overcome your prejudice against furries.  

Lord of Light

Written by: Roger Zelazny

First line: It is said that fifty-three years after his liberation, he returned from the golden cloud to take up once again the gauntlet of heaven, to oppose the Order of Life and the gods who ordained it so.

Why you should read this book: This Hugo winner from the 1960s more or less stands the test of time, telling the story of Sam, an unassuming but determined figure who places himself in opposition to Heaven itself. In the distant future, on a distant planet, human technology has advanced to the point that some people claim for themselves not on the powers, but also the identities of gods: the gods of the Hindu pantheon, to be specific. With devices so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic, they rule over their world, until Sam rises again to offer men and woman another way, and to wage war against those who would hold back progress from the masses.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: As with much of Zelazny’s work, some of his experimental writing techniques can make the story difficult to follow; characters constantly change names, bodies, and genders; scenes begin in media res with minimal identifiers to situate the reader; and a foundation in Vedic mythology is necessary to tease out Zelazny’s source from his invention, little of which is explicitly defined in the text.

To Drink from the Silver Cup: From Faith through Exile and Beyond

Written by: Anna Redsand

First line: I left before the church could excommunicate me.

Why you should read this book: Born to Dutch reform missionary parents and raised on the Navajo reservation, Anna Redsand was a devout follower of her family’s Christian beliefs until the day that she heard her mother condemn a lesbian couple and Redsand began to realize that her faith community would never make room for her sexuality. Thus began her own journey through forty years of exile, engagement with Judaism and Buddhism, civil rights activism and personal introspection, questioning and seeking a home that could accommodate her as a complete person. Redsand’s story, powerful and personal, offers something for all of us searching for home.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You should totally read this book, and not just because I’m personally thanked by name in the acknowledgments. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Becoming Unbecoming

Written by: Una

First line: My name is Una.

Why you should read this book: Stark, powerful, and unique, this graphic novel recreates the evolution of the author's understanding of sexual violence, beginning at the age of ten, weaving together the story of a serial killer terrorizing her region and the story of the repeated sexual assaults perpetrated upon the author by older men. While sexism and incompetence bungle the police investigation and keep the killer on the streets years after he might have been caught, Una's experience causes her community to slut-shame and ostracize her, so that her further victimization creeps into every aspect of her life. As she grows into an artist, she comes to learn the truth about sexual violence, both as it affected her own adolescence as well as it impacts the planet at large.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Trigger warning for an entire book about sexism and sexual violence.

The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker

Written by: Eric Liberge and Arnaude Delaland

First line: Who am I?

Why you should read this book: Framed by the knowledge of his suicide and colored with the theme of the poisoned apple, this book tells the life story of genius code breaker and computing machine inventor Alan Turing, whose work breaking the German's Enigma helped bring World War II to a close. Intelligent, unusual, and well aware of his queer identity from a young age, Turing lived by his own rules and made great leaps in technology while hiding his sexuality from Britain's draconian laws against same sex relations. This lovely book treats its subject with compassion and honesty.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You always root for the Nazis. 

Batman Arkham Scarecrow

Edited by: Whitney Ellsworth et al. 

First line: Across the Batman's horizon moves a new and terrible figure--a fantastic figure of burlap and straw with a brain--cunning and distorted!

Why you should read this book: This retrospective volume collects a dozen comics spanning the past eight decades, all featuring the protagonist Scarecrow, a demented supervillain obsessed with fear. Motivated primarily by money, which he wants to buy more books and persuade others to stop picking on him, the Scarecrow is a psychology professor with, apparently, a strong background in chemistry, who uses drugs to induce fear in his victims (and, in one story, to completely eradicate their fear). Batman, the man who has mastered fear and counts it among his arsenal, defeats him again and again, in a variety of stories and styles that highlight the development of the character and medium over the years.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Some of that Comic Code era storytelling is pretty castrated.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Family Secret

Written by: Anne Frank House

First line: Jeroen only has a few days left to gather up some old things for the Queen's Day flea market.

Why you should read this book: This plot-heavy piece of historical fiction uses a modern day frame and a graphic format to tell the interlinking stories of several young people's experiences in the Netherlands during World War II. Jeroen finds an old scrapbook in his grandmother's attic, and his grandmother tells him about her childhood best friend, her brothers, her own work for the resistance, and the effect the Nazi invasion had on the people of the Netherlands. Jeroen comes away with a new understanding of what Memorial Days means for people of his grandmother's generation and manages to bring unimaginable joy to the lives of two elderly women.

Why you should read this book: You haven't yet read the Diary of Anne Frank.

Dr. Oblivion's Guide to Teenage Dating Volume 1

Written by: Jeff Pina

First line: Being a single father these days isn't an easy task.

Why you should read this book: Dr. Oblivion is an evil supervillain, intent on taking over the world, because he knows that he can make it a better place for her his teenage daughter, Callie, who is not wildly enthusiastic about his work, or his plans to bioengineer a genetically perfect man for her eighteenth birthday present. Instead. Callie falls for a guy she meets at school, who just happens to have an alter-ego: he's Dr. Oblivion's newest nemesis. Dr. Oblivion finds he must toe the line between his daughter's love and his own hatred, with comical result.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're just keeping your teenage daughter locked in a closet where she can't look at handsome boys.

The Kidney Hypothetical or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days

Written by: Lisa Yee

First line: It was supposed to be the best week of my life, but then everything went terribly wrong.

Why you should read this book: On the surface, Higgs Boson Bing has a perfect life--perfect family,  perfect friends, perfect girlfriend, perfect grades, perfect college prospects--but a week before his high school graduation, he says the wrong thing, and suddenly, everything starts to unravel. Someone is obviously out to get him, and all the good fortune he thought he had begins to slip from his grasp. There's a campaign going on to ruin his life, and he needs to get to the bottom of it before his perfect future disappears, too.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't know you're actually a jerk.