Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!). I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year so this list was difficult to make, but it reminded me of just how many amazing books I’ve come across recently!

10.) Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

This is a truly nerdy book, and the fact that it takes place in the area where I live and grew up made this book a really fun read for me!

9.) The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno  

This one was recommended by my friend Silly Little Ravenclaw for its excellent Dissociative Identity Disorder rep, and it did not disappoint!

8.) Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

A fantastic biography of an excellent comics artist, this book was probably the best nonfiction book I’ve read in quite a while.

7.) American Panda by Gloria Chao

Funny, relatable, and absolutely charming, this book hit on so many early adulthood notes that felt so true to me.

6.) Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

I came to this book for the cats, and I stayed for the mental illness rep. This comic was so relatable and funny, and I definitely read it at the right time.

5.) Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Talk about a gut-punch. This book hurts to read, but it’s cathartic at the same time, and it’s well worth it.

4.) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon 

This is another one of those books that hurts to read, and it is so, so worth it. The sibling and family relationships in this book make it truly something special.

3.) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I was on the waitlist at the library for this book for nearly half a year because of how many good things I’d heard about it, and it was worth the wait. Wow. Just wow.

2.) Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

This book felt personal to me for a number of reasons, from the characters to the writing. This is one of the books I most frequently recommend to others, for sure.

1.) Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

I have a thing for books that hurt me, apparently. This book hurts. It hurts BAD. And it’s just perfect.

What are some of your favorite reads of 2018 so far? Does your list overlap with mine at all? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Krazy: The Black and White World of George Herriman by Michael Tisserand

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Krazy: The Black and White World of George Herriman

Author: Michael Tisserand

Category: Adult Nonfiction — Biography

Publisher/Date: Harper/6 December 2016

Edition: Hardcover

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29099896-krazy

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Krazy-George-Herriman-Black-White/dp/0061732990/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/krazy-michael-tisserand/1123749348?ean=9780061732997

In the tradition of Schulz and Peanuts, an epic and revelatory biography of Krazy Kat creator George Herriman that explores the turbulent time and place from which he emerged—and the deep secret he explored through his art.

The creator of the greatest comic strip in history finally gets his due—in an eye-opening biography that lays bare the truth about his art, his heritage, and his life on America’s color line. A native of nineteenth-century New Orleans, George Herriman came of age as an illustrator, journalist, and cartoonist in the boomtown of Los Angeles and the wild metropolis of New York. Appearing in the biggest newspapers of the early twentieth century—including those owned by William Randolph Hearst—Herriman’s Krazy Kat cartoons quickly propelled him to fame. Although fitfully popular with readers of the period, his work has been widely credited with elevating cartoons from daily amusements to anarchic art.

Herriman used his work to explore the human condition, creating a modernist fantasia that was inspired by the landscapes he discovered in his travels—from chaotic urban life to the Beckett-like desert vistas of the Southwest. Yet underlying his own life—and often emerging from the contours of his very public art—was a very private secret: known as “the Greek” for his swarthy complexion and curly hair, Herriman was actually African American, born to a prominent Creole family that hid its racial identity in the dangerous days of Reconstruction.

Drawing on exhaustive original research into Herriman’s family history, interviews with surviving friends and family, and deep analysis of the artist’s work and surviving written records, Michael Tisserand brings this little-understood figure to vivid life, paying homage to a visionary artist who helped shape modern culture. 

I first heard about George Herriman during my introduction to comics studies class during undergrad, and I immediately fell in love with Krazy Kat. It was a simple premise — the mouse threw bricks at the cat, the cat was in love with the mouse and viewed the bricks as a sign of affection, and the police dog was in love with the cat and kept going after the mouse because the mouse was hurting the cat. Such a simple story, and yet so many complexities. Race is a theme touched upon in many of the Krazy Kat strips, and gender within the comic is fascinating because Krazy’s gender isn’t static; in most strips Krazy’s gender is unspecified, and in a few “he” or “she” pronouns are used, and it’s never really implied that one is “more correct” than another, bringing into question both gender and sexuality of the characters. This book takes these and other themes found in the strip and Herriman’s other works and delves into how they relate to Herriman himself.

Herriman is a complex person who in many respects was very private about himself, and Tisserand did an excellent job of exploring Herriman’s life using what was available. Krazy Kat is Herriman’s most well-known work, so I appreciated the time that was spent covering his background and his other works that preceded Krazy Kat that hadn’t gotten so much attention. Some people seem to have found that this made the book too long for their taste, but I really liked this because it really shows how an artist of Herriman’s caliber got started in his career and centered him in his story rather than his work. I know Krazy Kat and I knew a little about Herriman already from my studies, and this book supplemented what I already knew with a rich story of Herriman’s life.

The writing in this book was also very smooth; while the book is a bit on the longer side for a biography, it flows well and is an easy and engaging read. I really enjoyed this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in biographies about artists, comics, and complex human beings. Well worth reading.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars

January 2018 Wrap-up!

So, I just want to start off this post with a few stats:

  • Number of posts in January: 20 (including this one)
  • Number of review posts in January: 7
  • Number of non-review posts in January: 13 (including this one)
  • Number of non-review posts in January that have an exclamation point in the title: 8 (including this one…)

I may need to cool it on the exclamation points just a BIT.

Anyways, this was a big blogging month for me. For a large part of the month before school hit me hard, I was posting daily, and even after that I managed to post at least twice a week. Considering how sparsely I’d been posting through all of 2017 despite starting this blog in January of last year, I feel like I’ve done a great job of getting myself in more of a routine with blogging. I still need to work on that, but it’s a start. In January 2018 alone, I almost doubled both the number of posts I’ve written AND how many page views I’ve gotten on the blog — doubling my stats from the entirety of last year. My blog is still really small, but that felt like a huge accomplishment.

Reads for January

This was a big reading month for me, too! Here’s all I read in January:

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp — 3.5 of 5 stars — review here!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson — 4 of 5 stars — For class, so one of my only permitted rereads. Review here!

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes — 5 of 5 stars — an excellent poetry collection I read for class.

Hillary Rodham Clinton by Karen Blumenthal — 5 of 5 stars — a great biography with really nice writing.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy — 4.5 of 5 stars — review here!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — 5 of 5 stars — I was fortunate enough to have been assigned this book for class, so I got to bypass my “no rereads” policy to read it again. One of my favorites.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed — 5 of 5 stars — one of my favorites of the month. Don’t pass this one up. Review forthcoming!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth — 4 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Down In The Belly Of The Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles (ARC) — 1 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

See All The Stars by Kit Frick (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids by Joanne Mattern (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci — 2 of 5 stars — library book that fell flat for me. It was weird and I don’t even want to review it because I don’t care enough.

Krazy: George Herriman, A Life In Black And White by Michael Tisserand — 5 of 5 stars — wonderful biography of one of my favorite comics creators. Review forthcoming!

Queerly Loving #2 edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — a wonderful anthology of queer stories. Review forthcoming!

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 20
  • Number of books read during the 24 in 48 Readathon: 10
  • Number of nonfiction books: 3
  • Number of ARCs: 6
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~13
  • Number of books read for class: 6
  • Number of library books: 5

It’s worth noting that almost all of the books I read that weren’t by marginalized authors were either ARCs I received or books I read for class. I really like supporting marginalized authors, so I’m happy with that number.

I clearly have a lot of reviews I need to write still! This is largely because all of those books were either read during or right before the 24 in 48 Readathon, and if I’d been reviewing as I went during the readathon there was no way I could have finished it. It’s okay, though — you’ll see those reviews in the coming months!

On The Personal Side…

January was a pretty okay month for me. I took a few risks that were at least worth taking even if they don’t pay off, and I have some great ideas for new projects. I want to write a cute YA romance between two enbies, one who is very secure with who they are and one who is questioning her gender, and I also want to design an independent study course for the final term of my master’s degree on library resources for comics studies. I really hope that works out!

I am just a few short months away from graduating with my master’s, which is weird. This is my 20th consecutive academic year since I first started going to preschool in fall of ’98, and since I don’t currently have plans to get another degree after I finish this one, I’m looking at an actual break from academia for the first time in two decades starting in June. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. On the one hand, school is stressful, but on the other I don’t really know anything else.

February is the month where I hope that I can fine-tune my new plans for an actual blog post calendar, and the month where I hope to do more of my own writing. I want it to be a great month!

How was your January? Did you read anything you just adored? Do you have any cool February goals or plans?

#24in48 Readathon Wrap-Up!

As I mentioned last week, the #24in48 Readathon was this past weekend! I managed to read the whole 24 hours, and I even won a book during hour 42. It’s not my only motivation for doing the readathon by any means, but during the previous one I’d won a hardcover of How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake, and I believe I won a galley of an intriguing thriller this time, and winning books is just fun. Here’s an overview of my weekend!

Stats:

Time spent reading: 24 hours 10 minutes 34 seconds

Pages read: 3,145

Books read: 10

Library books read: 2

Books read for class: 2

eARCs read: 6

Fiction books read: 8

Nonfiction books read: 2

Hours I spent doing homework instead of reading: ~5

Number of times I realized that I had an assignment due a week earlier than I thought it was originally due and had to scramble to finish it 22 minutes before the deadline: 1

Books Read:

  1. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth — 4 of 5 stars
  2. The Girl With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke — 5 of 5 stars
  3. Down In The Belly Of The Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles (ARC) — 1 of 5 stars
  4. See All The Stars by Kit Frick (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars
  5. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars
  6. The Summer of Jordi Perez (And The Best Burger In Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars
  7. The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids by Joanne Mattern (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars
  8. My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci — 2 of 5 stars
  9. Krazy: George Herriman, A Life In Black And White by Michael Tisserand — 5 of 5 stars
  10. Queerly Loving #2 edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz (ARC) –5 of 5 stars

While I clearly read some books that I didn’t think were that great, I loved a lot of the books I read! That also got me all caught up on my Netgalley ARCs, though I still need to actually write the reviews for them now. Speaking of which, reviews for many of these books are forthcoming — stay tuned!

Did you participate in #24in48 this weekend? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments!