Reading update, March 2016

If you want to plow through your reading challenge, read comic books!

I read 18 books in one weekend thanks to Lumberjanes. I read another 8 one evening, thanks to Giant Days. These are all comics (the short kind, not longer compilations or graphic novels). While I’m not adjusting my Goodread’s challenge target, I did make a mental note to aim for reading 50 books plus however many comics I read, because comics are quite short and I still want to challenge myself to read longer things.

Here’s what I read this past month:

Decorate Workshop: This is a pretty good book with some good ideas, but the thing that sets it apart from many of the other décor books I’ve read is that the author spends a lot of time talking about budgeting. It’s a nice addition, because so many others focus only on the pretty part of decorating a space.

The Little Paris Bookshop: I listened to the audiobook version of this, which I’m sure added to the magic and beauty of the story. The accents and interspersed French made it feel more authentic. It’s a lovely story full of love, loss, friendship, loneliness, and healing. I adored the French setting and culture.

One Painting a Day: While I didn’t do the daily exercises (and skimmed over much of the portraiture section), I think that this would be a fun art challenge. The author talks about the prompts, but also provides some good bits of advice. The best part is that, for a lot of the prompts, he defines not only what he did, but also what key features to look for if the specific prompt isn’t going to work for you (for example, one day is a painting in a bar, but suggests that any dimly lit space would work). This gives the reader a lot of freedom, but also helps to define the specific aspects of a space that he wants us to study (for example, contrast in light). I suspect that I will return to this when I have time to do the paintings.

Lumberjanes (issues 1-18): These are fun adventure stories with girls (and the occasional boy). Best of all, each girl has her own personality ranging from brainy to girly to adorably hyper. I love that the authors make all this happen without making a big deal about it or making the characters excessively stereotypical (for example, the girly girl doesn’t only wear pink and happens to be physically very strong). I’m very tempted to start buying these, if only because I have a niece who might enjoy them when she’d old enough.

Seeds of Hope: I don’t know why I was surprised to find a book about plants by Jane Goodall. She clearly loves all nature. This book covers everything: personal memories relating to plants, the science of plants, plant use and abuse, and even how people are used and abused to grow/harvest plants. She seems to have adopted some spiritual beliefs (plant related spirituality that some of the indigenous people she’s encountered believe) and they felt a bit out of place with all the other more factual information. And, some of the sections talking about pollution, deforestation, slavery, etc. were a bit depressing. Despite this, I enjoyed the book.

Wild: I read this because I felt like it could be a good “woman going solo” book and love anything dealing with being outside. While I couldn’t relate to the author (she is far more social and trusting than I am), I could relate to some of the feelings she had while on the trail (both the fears and the joys). I liked how she peppered her trail story with memories of her past. Though, I did feel that it ended a bit abruptly and I was disappointed that she didn’t talk much about how the hike affected her life. Did she reconnect with people she’d drifted away from? How did this endeavour change her perspective and shape the rest of her life? All we get is a brief summary (she gets married, has kids, etc.).

Art 101: I’m pretty sure the only reason for this book’s existence is to sell more books in the “101” series. It had some decent introductory information, but it didn’t have many pictures (which is odd in an art book). Also, it wasn’t organized in any logical way (chronologically or grouped by artists, movements, etc.), which made it hard to get a good grasp on the many inter-related people and concepts. My advice? Ignore the book and hit Wikipedia.

Giant Days (issues 1-8): After the fun of reading Lumberjanes, I decided to check out some more comics. This is about friends in university and their nutty adventures/dramas. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed them as it’s not the kind of thing I typically read.

A Matter of Life: You know the adorable “Darth Vader and Son” book? This is an illustrated autobiography of that author. I’m always intrigued by biographies but rarely have the patience to sit through reading long ones, so I like books like this.

The Road to Little Dribbling (dnf): I didn’t make it very far into this book before I quit. I was looking forward to it, as I’ve enjoyed Bryson’d wit in some of his other books. But, I found this one to be condescending and negative (everyone was stupid, everything was ugly).

Show Your Work!: This is a marketing book for artists by the guy who wrote Steal like an Artist. I’m not trying to market myself or my work, but I liked his previous book, so I read it out of interest. It did have some good general tips, so it might be worth reading if your an artist.

One Drawing a Day: I fully expected this to be as good as One Painting a Day, but I was very disappointed. I expected a drawing a day (subject prompts; ideas for exploring types of drawings, like blind contour; etc.). But, mostly it was an exploration of mixed media, which would have been fine, but the author presumed that we’d all want to head out to buy a couple dozen different types of media and tools and offered no alternatives. There were a few good ideas, but mostly this book was useless to me.

Adulthood is a Myth: A compilation of the online comics by Sarah Andersen, who did my all time favourite book related comic. Her comics are a lot of fun.

Through the Woods: CREEPY! This is a compilation of beautifully illustrated, creepy stories by Emily Carroll. If you like creepy stuff, read this. If, like me, you avoid creepy stuff, you should still read this.

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, volume 1): Well, I was already reading a tonne of comics and this kept popping up in my “recommended” lists. It looks like an interesting premise, but I’ll reserve my judgement for when I can get my hands on a few more volumes.


I moved The Creative License back to my tbr (to be read) list because I decided that I liked it enough to buy it and actually do some of the exercises he suggests.

I’m still working on The Mask Game, but it’s long and I’m mostly only reading it at work on my lunch break, so it’s slow going.

I’ve finally picked Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell back up (this time as an audiobook) and I’m enjoying it. But, it’s long and I’m not listening to it was much as I was earlier this month (I used it as my commute book to distract me from traffic noise, but it’s now light enough to hit the trails in the morning and I’d rather listen to the symphony of bird song). I’ll have to work on it during chores, I guess.

I started to read The Yellow House, which is about the nine weeks Van Gogh and Gauguin lived in the yellow house in Arles, but I haven’t made much progress as I’ve been distracted various other art related books.

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2 Responses to Reading update, March 2016

  1. Geen Geenie says:

    Good to see you reading and recommending comics! ;-) That’s always something I like to see as an erstwhile creator and friend to the industry , lol. Lots of these books look interesting, Through the Woods particularly. And I’d been considering picking up the Austin Kleon follow up, but as I’m not really in the business of showing my work anymore it seemed less urgent. I agree Art books without examples/illustrations are very annoying, I read a digital book recently about art but without the image files and it really wrecked my head (even though i could just look stuff up online, that’s just not how books should be)! I should probably stop admiring your reading list and get back to my own, those books aint gonna read themselves! ;-) b.x


    • I do not like scary stories. I have been known to leave a light on for weeks or months after watching a creepy movie trailer (yeah, not even the whole movie). But, I loved Through the Woods. It was creepy, but it was too beautiful to put down. I really loved the art and how she told the stories.

      The one thing I will say about me and comics is that I have a really hard time seeing past the art. If I don’t like it, I have a hard time sticking with the comics, even if it’s really well written or a really fabulous premise. Not to say that it has to be beautiful in the traditional sense. A lot of people seem to find Jeff Lemire’s art “too scratchy” or rough, but I love it and I feel that it really suits his stories. Meanwhile, I have a hard time taking comics that are drawn like traditional superhero stories seriously, even though I recognize that the art if often really incredible. I just really hate the soap-opera of scantily clad super hero comics, and I keep expecting similar looking comics to become a soap-opera. It’s something I need to get over!!

      Liked by 1 person

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