Nothing to Be Frightened Of, by Julian Barnes
Two weeks later and I'm still in love with this book. Funny and honest and loquacious and constantly alluding to other parts of itself and to writers the author has strong feelings about. Foisted 'er off on a retired religion prof as soon as I was done with 'er. Also it's kind of about death and kind of about religion and mostly about Julian Barnes. If you were wondering.
How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, by Pierre Bayard
Ironically enough, I guessed most of what I'd dislike about this book before I read it, but what I couldn't have guessed was all the stuff I would find delightful. So, uh, read it (or not-read it) for yourselves, I guess. Approached with a light heart, it's quite charming.
Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming, by Rachel Hartman
What a marvelous little storybook this was. The only way I could've enjoyed it more is if I had found it 15 years earlier. Worth seeking out! I'm really looking forward to borrowing the previous six issues. (This volume collects 7-12 of a 12-issue run.)
Willoughby and the Lion and Willoughby and the Moon, by Greg Foley
The stories for these are fine as kids' books go, but the illustrations are superb. Each book had at least one two-page spread that sent me into trilling runs of appreciation.
Northlanders, volume 1: Sven, the Returned, by Brian Wood and Davide Gianfelice; Northlanders, volume 2: The Cross and the Hammer, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
Both artists did a bangup job on these stories, and the stories themselves were entirely satisfying. The first one tasted strongly of Preacher and the second of Bigby's arcs in Fables, but in the good way, not the bad way. I dig.
God of the Hive, by Laurie R. King
I was *waiting* and *waiting* for this book because the last one in the series ended on a cliffhanger. All the story-bits were good, but I found the sideplot about the Green Man far more compelling than the actual story... I think the actual story just took too long to keep my interest. I enjoyed it, but I had hoped for something more like O Jerusalem or even the first half of THIS story which was much more about people and less about plot. I still tore through it though. And I always love King's writing on a paragraph-by-paragraph level.
Just Kids, by Patti Smith
This was a fun book. And it led me off in all sorts of other musical and thinky-thought directions, which is always a nifty thing. Patti Smith remains awesome. Robert Mapplethorpe, I am reminded, was complicated and sometimes lovely.
Best American Comics 2009, edited by Charles Burns, series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
I think my favorite years of this are the ones where I absolutely hate some of the stuff included. So this would be one of those years. Some really neat stuff, too, and I'm always really glad they excerpt books as well as using shorter stuff...
Skim, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Exhibit A as to why I'm glad BAC excerpts books ... this was already on my reading list, but the chunk in BAC 2009 skipped it up to the top. Elegant, deceptively simple art and pitch-perfect storytelling. The kind that leaves you feeling like you knew that girl once. Or maybe that you wished you did.
Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
Read this for my book club. I spent the first half of the book thoroughly enjoying the Burnham/Olmsted/fairmaking parts and sighing every time I got to a chunk about Holmes (a serial killer). I eventually came to terms with why it made sense to tell the serial murderer story too, and ended up quite liking the overall effect of the book even though the style occasionally irritated me. But, you know, still don't so much like thinking about real-life serial killers. As that kind of book goes, it's top-flight. Mostly it made me really want to read the copy of A Clearing In The Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century that's been sitting on my bookshelf since 2003. Which is a good thing, I suspect.