Gotham is Batman

To be honest, I’ve been putting off this post. Partly because around the same time that I was planning on writing it, Sasha had written a couple of AMAZING posts (here and here—oh, and here too) on her experience with the Batman comic books, and I had no idea how I was going to blather on about my Bat feels in their wake. Also, I felt … well, “unqualified,” being so new to the Batman canon, and the whole comic book thing in general. Which, now in hindsight, sounds ridiculous because since when did someone have to clock in a certain number of fan hours, or know x amount of canon knowledge in order for her opinions on a particular title to be valid?  Never, of course, but  all the same I felt insecure, inadequate, very much an outsider in an exclusive club. Which, I’ve long realized, is a bizarre feeling to have, because I have never been put down by anyone for expressing interest in comic books. I’ve never been called a poser, or a loser, or experienced the sort of gender-based hostility that Noelle and so many other female readers have received from male fans. But yet there it is. And honestly, I still find myself battling with it. Even now, I’m finding myself wanting to qualify my opinions on the comic books that I’ve read so far. “I’m a noob.” “I haven’t read too much.” “Forgive me for any errors I may make.” Which, I think, is the heart of my utterly self-imposed insecurities. I’m scared of saying the wrong thing. I’m scared of looking uncool. I’m worried about sounding like a complete idiot. That and, again, feeling like an outsider. Lots of people in the comics niche/subculture/whatever got into comics at an early age. I was the same with books, which is probably why I never felt apologetic about my literary opinions … and why I feel so unsure about my opinions on comics. There’s something about being in something from the beginning that makes one feel rightfully included, or rightfully excluded.

Anyway, this preamble has gotten way too long. Basically, this post has been a while in coming. And yes, if I’m being honest, I’m still battling with insecurity. But I’m fighting it. And I’ll get over it eventually. So without further ado, let’s talk about Batman.

My first encounter with Batman comics was in September of last year. I was over at a friend’s place, and during the course of the evening conversation turned to comics and our beloved caped crusader. Her husband, when he heard my expressing interest in the comics, immediately withdrew into the study and came back out with a couple titles for me to browse. That evening, on their couch, I was introduced to Batman as the comic book hero—first, as the aging legend in The Dark Knight Returns, and then the endearing greenhorn in Year One. To my disappointment, I didn’t like them as much as I thought I would. The Batman in those colored, glossy pages wasn’t much like the Batman I had come to know through the animated series and the various movie adaptations. I didn’t like the origin story of Year One—specifically That Scene where a bat comes crashing through the mansion window and Bruce goes, “Okay, got it Dad. I’ll be Batman.” I mean, yes, it’s a cool concept, but OKAY SO SHOOT ME I LIKED NOLAN’S ORIGIN STORY MUCH BETTER. And The Dark Knight Returns was so bittersweet, so painful. I can’t handle seeing beloved icons age. I just can’t. Not because I have an aversion to wrinkles or anything—they’re quite attractive, in my opinion—but because it’s the idea of something great falling prey to mortality; of something revered being forgotten.

Also, I’m quite particular about artwork. And unfortunately, the artwork in both titles didn’t appeal to me. At all.

But obviously, something happened that night. Something about those stories, about Batman in those stories, stuck with me. And rather than fade away, it persisted—like a stubborn burr, it clung to me and rubbed away at me. In the months following, I began researching. I started adding more titles to my to-reads list. Soon, comics were the only things that I was saving on GoodReads.

I bought my first Batman title a month later, on Black Friday.

The Court of Owls—I couldn’t put it down. While the artwork wasn’t entirely to my liking, Snyder’s writing hooked me in. For all my conflicted feelings towards the concept of the Court—I’ll talk about it later—I liked them for being such a satisfying adversary. I liked how they were more legend than truth, how they have an army of freakishly good knife-throwing assassins at their beck and call, how they really got me wondering if Batman was going to make it out of their labyrinth alive. Continuing with The City of Owls—I liked how Snyder brought in the parallel of owls being natural predators of bats, how he also referenced the above-mentioned bat-crashing-through-window epiphany scene and segued into this awesome narratorial monologue on death and rebirth and fate and self-will. The ending is not … neat. It doesn’t offer firm closure. And then the epiloguey shorts that follow … man, I did not like. I just don’t like how it questions everything we know to be true about Gotham, about the Wayne family, about Batman. That’s also why I don’t like about the Court. Their very existence, the claim that they’ve infiltrated Gotham, shaped it from the very beginning, flips our understanding of Gotham topsy-turvy. Gotham was always Batman‘s city, his turf, the one sacred thing that cannot be taken from him … and yet it was.

But maybe that’s the point that Snyder makes. (Or am I just grasping at straws?) Batman isn’t Batman because of Gotham, because of Alfred, because of Bruce’s tragic past … although they’re all formulative to the legend. Batman, when it comes down to it, is Batman because he does what he does—fights the criminals who threaten his beloved city, and lives to see another day. And as long as he keeps on doing that, Batman will always be Batman. Gotham will always be Batman.

Of grapes and oranges

Pardon the photobombing by my new Arya figurine. She arrived from Westeros yesterday and is still acclimatizing to our world. Yes Arya, this is a phone. Yes Arya, I am taking a picture with my phone. Yes Arya, there’s a camera IN my phone. OKAY OKAY I’LL LET YOU PLAY WITH IT LATER JUST LET ME TAKE A PHOTO OF THESE BOOKS FIRST.

+ +

Huzzah, I’ve finished two books! But alas, I’m writing on them briefly because  I have several more posts queuing in my drafts folder, and I want to get them out by next week, so without further ado, let’s get cracking.

Five Quarters of the Orange and I got off to a good start. Harris’ prose was fantastic—lean, descriptive, and oh so lyrical. And the premise seemed interesting, the reading experience promising. Young Framboise, with all her wild tomboyish ways, was an easy drop in the bucket. I love spirited heroines, and I warmed up to ‘Boise perhaps all the more quickly for having a stubborn, difficult, embittered mother who was as frustrating as she was tragic. I enjoyed her romps through the countryside, the frankness with which she, now as an old woman, looks back at her escapades. Children are cruel, she admits, and I nodded in agreement, thinking back to my own childhood and the stuff we did. But about halfway through the book, my patience began thinning exponentially. There was no growth in the characters, little variety in the message that old Boise wanted to get across. I get that Boise had a difficult mother, that her mother had chronic migraines and a hatred for oranges that bordered on paranoia. But dang it Boise, DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO GO ON ABOUT IT I GOT IT LIKE A HUNDRED PAGES AGO. Last night, I ended up skimming the last few chapters—the chapters that I wish Harris had fleshed out because dang it, it was interesting. Way more interesting than the repetitive flashbacks we were saddled with. (Also, who doesn’t like a revenge tale between elderly underdogs and douchebaggy relatives?) But to its credit, Five Quarters made me ponder—about my own childhood, my own complicated relationship with my mother, about children and mothers in general, and how the past has a tendency to repeat itself.

The Grapes of Wrath reminded me of The Jungle—a family of honest, hardworking folk trying to make ends meet in a barrage of unfortunate events inflicted upon them by a force outside of their control. But unlike Jurgis and his family, whom I felt were unnecessarily victimized by their author, the Joads are strong characters who met each disappointment and trial with dignity and perseverance. No matter what happened they pushed forward, not allowing themselves to wallow in self-pity. I wouldn’t say this book is inspirational—it was intended to be a scathing critique of corporate greed, of the economic inequality in American society. But I do admire that family. And I love Steinbeck. I loved the prose in Grapes, how it’s so matter-of-fact, yet lyrical. The first chapter, when the narrator describes the condition of the parched land and the hard-pressed farmers, rings of epic poetry like The Iliad and Beowulf. I also appreciate Steinbeck’s frankness in his depiction of the harsh realities of the time. What happened to those tenant farmers was terrible: the banks seizing their land, kicking them off. Doesn’t matter that they lived and died on that land, worked the land, raised families on that land. With the foreclosures that happened only a few years ago, it makes me wonder if things haven’t really changed.

The buoying lift of their numbers

Once submerged, a diver is not easily seen. Given all the fish in the water—naturally as many healthy fish are raised as possible—she is a mere shadow among them, trained to do her tasks quickly and unobtrusively. This is why she uses no special breathing apparatus aside from a snorkel, compressed gases causing too much of a disturbance. Fearful fish are not happy fish. The diver is not “one of them” but is part of the waterscape from the time they are hatchlings, and they see her customary form and the repeated cadence of her movements and the gentle motor of her flippered feet that must come to them like a motherly lullaby. A dream-song of refuge, right up to the moment of harvest. The diver is there at harvest, of course, and sees to it that the very last of them finds its way into the chute. And it is only then, for the span of the few hours while the tank is being cleaned and filtered before the next generation of hatchlings is released, that the water is clear of activity, that the diver is alone.

How somber a period that must be. The constant light from the grow bulbs filtering through the canopy of vegetables and herbs and ornamental flowers suspended above the tanks throws blue-green glints about the facility walls, this cool Amazonian hue that suggests and fecundity primordial and unceasing. The diver inspects each aquarium, which is roughly the dimension of a badminton court, and by the end she is exhausted not by the work or holding her breath but instead from the strange exertion of pushing against the emptiness. For she is accustomed to the buoying lift of their numbers, how sometimes the fish seem to gird her and bear her along the tank walls like a living scaffold, or perhaps lead her to one of their dead by swarming about its upended corpse, or even playfully school themselves into just her shape and become her mirror in the water. At the pellet drop they are simply fish again and thrash upward, mouths agape, the vibrato of the water chattering and electric, as if bees were madly attempting to pass through her suit. And wouldn’t it be the truth enough to speak of those bristling hundreds are not only being cared for by the diver but as serving to shepherd her, too, through the march of days?

I find myself returning again and again to this passage from Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such A Full Sea. I’m enamored with the mood of it, the tranquility that these divers experiences while swimming with their fish—a tranquility that, I’ve realized, doesn’t stem from an absence of danger. They know that their work as divers isn’t immune to accidents. They know that some among them have died during their routine submersions. The tranquility, rather, comes from an acceptance of their place amongst their fish—swimming with them, feeling almost as if they are of them. And it seems the fish feel the same way. It’s an interesting relationship, a sort of symbiosis I think. As much as the divers take care of the fish, the fish also take care of their divers, if not in physical nurturing then emotional. There’s a reassurance in numbers, a sense of safety and belonging that taps into what makes us innately human.

Inevitable fangirling over Cress and The Lunar Chronicles

This is one of my bloggery problems: I don’t like to write about a book if I haven’t first written about its serial predecessors. It’s a continuity thing, I guess. And also, it’s a tricky balance providing enough information about the previous books for the current book to make sense, but not giving away too much as to spoil said previous books. But I’m willing to make an exception for Cress; partly because it was such a fun, action-movie-of-a-book; partly because I want to blog more.

So. Cress. It’s the newest and penultimate installment in Marissa Meyer’s entertaining series, The Lunar Chronicles. The series is set in the future, where after two World Wars Earth has consolidated into six political conglomerates. The moon has also been settled—and rechristened Luna—and is ruled independently of the Earthen Union under an absolute monarchy, headed by the conniving Queen Levana. Although Earth has experienced a long stretch of peace since the fourth World War, political tensions are mounting. A terrible plague has ravaged Earth for decades, and scientists have still to discover a cure for it. On top of that, Levana has been pushing for an alliance with the Eastern Commonwealth, a move that its crown prince Kaito is all too wary of, knowing the lunar monarch’s hunger for power.

And from there, stuff happens. (Trying to avoid spoilers, heh.) Basically, our leading lady Cinder—cyborg and gifted mechanic, also mutual love interest of the dashing Prince Kai—realizes her true identity, and sets off on a mission to stop Queen Levana from taking over Earth. Along the way, she befriends Cadet Captain Carswell Thorne—your typical scoundrel-of-a-space-captain with a heart of gold—spirited pilot Scarlet Benoit; ex-street fighter Wolf; and compassionate Dr. Erland, who knows more than he lets on.

Cress picks up shortly after the dramatic conclusion of its predecessor Scarlet. Team Cinder has barely escaped the clutches of Queen Levana, stalling for the present in neutral orbit above Earth, aboard Thorne’s beloved—and very much stolen—Rampion ship. After the events of Scarlet, Team Cinder is now certain of Levana’s true intentions: taking over Earth, using an alliance with the Eastern Commonwealth as a strategic foothold. With Kai’s hands tied up in politics, it is up to Cinder and her friends to stop Levana and avoid all-out war with technologically-superior Luna. Assistance comes in the form of Cress, a young but genius hacker imprisoned aboard a satellite. In her possession are recordings that could expose Levana’s schemes. Eager to escape her prison and help Team Cinder, Cress offers to come onboard the Rampion to hand over the evidence. But her jailbreak goes horribly wrong, and Team Cinder scatters.

And from there, stuff happens.

A lot of bloggers have raved that Cress is the best book in the series so far. And after finishing the book last week, I have to agree. Meyer’s writing has gotten much tighter. And I’m impressed by how she was able to introduce and flesh out Cress’ story arc while balancing those of the other characters. It’s no easy feat, juggling four plotlines. In ways, Cress reminds me of a slick, edge-of-your-seat action/espionage film: lots of adrenaline-pumping scenes, lots of high-risk plans gone wrong, lots of unexpected setbacks.  There’s plenty of humor too. And man, there’s so much worth fangirling over. I LOVED Iko’s new development. And OMG, Cress being … well, you know. Did any of you guys see it coming?? Cress/Thorne is my new OTP. (Sorry Cinder/Kai. I’m still rooting for you guys, but Cress/Thorne have so much more character development. And their relationship is so sweet, I luff it.) AND PRINCESS WINTER AAAAHHH. I am SO looking forward to reading more about her in the next book. She’s such an interesting character! Meyer wrote her SO well. I love how she’s so innocent and yet unsettling and kind of creepy. (That menagerie scene you guys, AMIRIGHT? And there being blood on the palace walls??) I’m curious as to how she’s going to fit into the overall story arc. And I want to know more about her story—how she got those scars, why she is the way she is, why Jacin is so loyal to her.

I don’t think I’ve said this before, but I highly recommend The Lunar Chronicle series. I’ll be frank, I actually didn’t expect too much from it when I first heard about it a couple of years ago. All the other Nanowrimo novels that have made it big in the market hadn’t appealed to me, or else got such mediocre reviews that I didn’t bother reading it. The Lunar Chronicles, I’m happy to say, well exceeded my expectations. Meyer is a genuinely good writer. She entertains her readers without compromising quality. And unlike a lot of YA novels I’ve encountered, she takes an intriguing story idea and delivers it well. If you like fairytales with a twist, or YA sci-fi, give these books a go. I double dog dare you to not like them.

On failing #LARMonth and reuniting with Murakami

So. #LARMonth. All I have to say is a big, fat LOL. Why I ever thought I was going to finish not one, but THREE full-sized books, in the space of a month is beyond me. But as frustrating as it is, not meeting my goal, I guess it’s better that I shoot high and land lower than aim low in the first place and … end up not reading at all? Or maybe I just need to stop being so dang ambitious and just accept the reality that I, however much I wish otherwise, just don’t have the sort of time to read more than a novel or two every month. Or maybe I just need to crack down on my time management and actually READ instead of mindlessly drifting through the web, window-shopping for clothes I don’t actually need.

But anyway, no more crying over spilled milk. I did at least complete ONE book last month: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. This is my first Murakami in a while, and to be honest I wasn’t sure how well I was going to receive it. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know about my love-hate relationship with Murakami. (The books, not the author.) Even after all these years, I still regarded Murakami with a wary eye. For all my frustrations with his style, my biggest gripe has been with his protagonists—his tortured, angst-ridden protagonists with their fistfuls of insecurities. While I’m not at all against characters with inner struggles and turmoils, I can only take so much before I feel the overwhelming urge to reach into the pages of the book, grab the protagonist squarely by the shoulders, and violently shake them out of their pity party. But to my great surprise—and, frankly, relief—the protagonist of Wind-Up Bird had none of the emotional hang-ups I was expecting. He has his faults, certainly, but Toru is even-keeled. Bland at times, I’ll admit, and perhaps deluded. But … normal. And normal is a good thing every now and then. Refreshing too, when Murakami is concerned.

I’m still not sure if I like the book or not. The story itself was interesting, what with all the bizarre encounters with bizarre characters, all the excursions into a parallel dream world, all the philosophical musings on the nature of relationships, life and death, etc. One scene in particular stuck with me. It’s a flashback of Toru’s first date with his girlfriend—now wife—Kumiko. While at the aquarium, Toru suffers a panic attack in the jellyfish exhibit, and they leave. While Toru calms himself down outside, Kumiko reflects:

What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get into the habit of thinking, This is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is in a much darker and deeper place than this, and most of it is occupied by jellyfish and things. We just happen to forget all that. Two-thirds of the earth’s surface is ocean, and all we can see of it with the naked eye is the surface: the skin. We hardly know anything about what’s underneath the skin.

I think Kumiko was reflecting on life, and how we often forget how much of life is actually full of things that scare and confuse us, but I couldn’t help but also see this as a reflection on human nature. (Or rather, on being human. Or being human with other humans.) When we meet someone, and bond with someone, we think over time that we’ve figured them out, that we know them completely. But in reality, that’s not the case. We don’t really know them, not as intimately as we think. All we know about them is what we’ve been able to observe through our senses. We don’t actually know what goes on figuratively beneath their skin.

Emotionally, however, the book left me wanting. I thought at first that it might have been the lack of closure at the end, but looking back I think it’s because I couldn’t find anything to care about. I didn’t care about the characters—save for Toru’s pet cat, and weirdly enough the titular wind-up bird—didn’t care about what was going on in their lives, didn’t really relate to any of them. I was actually relieved when I finished the book, not because of any conflicts resolved, but because I WAS FINALLY DONE WITH THE DANG BOOK OMG.

All in all, Wind-Up Bird was an all-right reunion with Murakami. I did enjoy it more than most of his other books, but I think this will be my last Murakami for a while. Maybe ever. (I should just stop with this book, right? I clearly don’t enjoy his work. I honestly don’t know why I keep on insisting on trying one more book, one more book. NO 1Q84 I WILL NOT READ YOU STOP TAUNTING ME FROM MY READING LIST ALL ONE THOUSAND PAGES OF YOU MY GOSH ONE THOUSAND PAGES THAT’S REASON ENOUGH TO NOT READ YOU.)

Actually, I think I will stop reading Murakami from now on. Someone please hold me to that. Please? MY FUTURE SELF THANKS YOU IN ADVANCE.

Okay, sleep deprivation kicking in liek whoa. I’ll end this while I’m still lucid. Somewhat.

Good night.

In which we kick off the new year with some questionably feasible ambitions of the literary persuasion

So, I’ve set my GoodReads Reading Challenge at 40 books. Quite the jump up from last year’s goal of 25. (Which I technically met, but I feel like I didn’t because a good chunk of the tallies were comic books. Ha.) But I’m feeling hopeful, and I’m feeling ambitious. Also, life is short and there are way too many books that I want to read.

Speaking of books that I want to read, I’ve decided this morning that I’m participating in LARMonth, or Long-Awaited Reads Month. After hearing about it from Sasha and Carina, I thought it would be a good way to kickstart the year, and get cracking at my ambitious 40 books. Here is the line-up. I’m pretty nervous, to be honest.

  • Originally, I wanted to tackle Murakami’s 1Q84. But when I thought about it—really thought about it—I realized that 1,000+ pages is definitely not feasible this month, what with the other novels that I’m planning on reading. So I opted instead for a shorter—and older—Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It’s still quite thick—600+ pages, lest I’m mistaken—but much more doable than 1Q84. Plus, I’ve been wanting to read this for far longer. Only fair, right?
  • Elizabeth Elliot’s A Chance to Die has been a stop-and-go read for years. Picked it up way back in 2007, picked it up again in 2012. Both times, I was unsuccessful at finishing it. But third time’s the charm, right? I look forward to returning to Amy Carmichael. She was such a character, and so passionate for the Lord and His work. I seriously wish I could have met her and, you know, been friends. There’s always heaven, right?
  • Finally, finally will be finishing Descartes’ Meditations.

On top of these, I’ll continue on with Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath—really enjoying it so far—and I’ll maybe even throw in a comic book or two. (City of Owls heeeeeeey.)

It’s going to be a good month.

2013: A year in review

Finished:

  • I am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
  • Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer
  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carré
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Bookseller of Kabul, by Åsne Seierstad
  • The Defining Decade, by Meg Jay
  • After Visiting Friends, by Michael Hainey
  • Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  • Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
  • A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin
  • Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • 1776, by David McCullough
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, Part 1, by by Gene Luen Yang
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, Part 2, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, Part 3, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Part 1, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Part 2, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
  • American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Boxers, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Saints, by Gene Luen Yang
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  • Batman: Year One, by Frank Miller
  • Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
  • The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin
  • Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Part 3, by Gene Luen Yang
  • If You Bite & Devour One Another, by Alexander Strauch
  • Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, by Prudence Shen
  • Journey of Heroes : the Story of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, by Stacey T. Hayashi
  • John Adams, by David McCullough

Abandoned:

  • The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

Still reading:

  • Walkable City, by Jeff Speck
  • Meditations on First Philosophy, by René Descartes
  • Batman: The Court of Owls, by Scott Snyder
  • Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood, by Brian Azzarello

I’m feeling extra nostalgic tonight. I finished John Adams yesterday with a rather heavy sigh—because this awesome man whom I’ve gotten to know over the span of some 600 detailed pages has died; because this book which I’ve slowly read over the course of a year and a half is finally, reluctantly, done—and tonight I’m getting ready for my upcoming holiday travels. I’m also thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve, of the excitement it brings for the coming new year, as well as the sadness that always comes with saying farewell. Needless to say, many feels are being had tonight.

And then there is this post, where I’ve put together all the books that I’ve finished, abandoned, or (sadly) am still chugging through. Looking over the titles, I have to say this year has been a strange one. There have been some heavylifting with Anna Karenina and Descartes; some delightful tromps through YA territory with The Lunar Chronicles and The Fault in Our Stars; and a very surprising yet very delightful introduction to the world of … comics. Till this year, I’ve never ever touched a single comic book in my life. Manga, yes. Saturday morning cartoon strips, yes. But never comic books. I just never had an interest for them. The artwork always put me off. (Something about the harsh colors and the gritty overall quality.) And then there was my prejudice and snobbery, which believed that comics were nothing in comparison to the profound themes, beautiful narratives, and stimulating discourses on the human condition that I found time and time again in my beloved novels and high-brow classics*. It wasn’t until I was introduced by my friend to the amazing work of Gene Luen Yang that I came to my senses softened up considerably. Yang’s work showed me that comics can be visually beautiful AND intellectually stimulating—something that Yang talks about more in his very interesting Charlotte Zolotow lecture—not to mention, FUN. And if Yang himself, whom I quickly came to respect as a creative, likes comic books then surely they can’t be all that bad. Needless to say, the rest is history. I’ve since gobbled up some Batman, the majority of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, and even started on the new Wonder Woman comics. (Not entirely happy with what they did to Diana’s origin story, but that’s stuff for another entry.  And anyway, the artwork is pretty.) I’ve also read some contemporary original stuff, like Anya’s Ghost—loved the artwork—and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong—EEEEEE FAITH ERIN HICKS. Slowly getting into O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim too. The number of comic books in my to-read list keep on growing, and I don’t have any plans of it slacking. I’d love recommendations, so please throw them my way!

(Seriously. Throw them my way. DON’T KEEP A GIRL WAITING.)

There were some excellent pieces of non-fiction that I read, like Half the Sky. It was a major eye-opener, and I had hoped to write about it after I read it this summer. It shook me, with anger as well as great sadness, to learn of the horrid injustices that are actually taking place in the world right now: sex trafficking, forced prostitution, FGM, the like. It also made me feel incredibly helpless in the face of all this evil. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not skilled in any way that could enable me to be in Cambodia busting pimps and brothel owners, or help survivors rehabilitate. I’m just an office-working bookworm who may or may not be addicted to Twitter. But I suppose that even the small things we contribute in assistance can amount to something. So here goes: If you haven’t already, please read the book, or watch the documentary by the same name. Learn more about these issues. Pray. Give financially should you feel compelled. Spread the word. Talk to people about these things. Do what you can to help.

I haven’t formally put together my literary goals for 2014. I just know that I want more non-fiction, more history, more comics, more challenging stuff. And okay, some YA stuff too if they’re well-written. Pretty much the same as every year. We’ll see. Feel free to throw recommendations my way. I feel like I don’t really know what’s out there in the world of novels anymore.

Must get to packing, so I’ll end this entry here. Thanks again, friends, for sticking through another year on this blog, complete with spastic posting schedules and entries that had absolutely nothing to do with books! I promise you I’ll try very hard to write solely on literature, although fair warning that I’ll throw in an entry or two on movies. I can’t limit myself to just books, I’ve realized. I love stories in all its forms: books, plays, movies, poetry… and yes, comics too.

Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, and productive new year to you all!

<3 Jen

* How I thought this, when I grew up watching—and LOVING—the cartoon adaptations of X-Men and Batman, amongst other wonderful shows like Gargoyles and Darkwing Duck, is beyond me.