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.

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2 thoughts on “2013: A year in review”

  1. I think it’s perfectly okay to let life take control of your blog content from time to time, even if it is off course from the chase of literature. :) As a fellow bookworm, I’m floored by how many books you read this year! I put up a very, very sad number of less than 10. I have no excuse for my unacceptable literary behavior in 2013.

    I highly recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed (non-fiction). It’s the author’s account of her solo hike across the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself after the sudden death of her mother. There will be tears. Lots of tears. I found it moving in so many ways.

    Happy reading, and happy new year!

    1. Thanks Ashlee! And don’t be too hard on yourself. At least you’re reading! That’s the important part. :) I personally felt that I didn’t read enough this year! Probably all those comic books, haha. Thanks for the recommendation – it sounds like an interesting book! I’ll look into it.

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