It’s the first day of 2012, but I have one last 2011 book post to give you, so here it goes. In December, I finished six books: Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Ormond Aebi’s The Art & Adventure of Beekeeping, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty, and Justin Madson’s graphic novel Breathers. In case you don’t remember, my original goal in 2011 was to finish reading one book a month for pleasure. I read a lot of fiction for work, of course, and I tend to pick up non-fiction on my own time, which is a lot easier to put down halfway through and forget about (sadly). So I’m pleased to say that instead of finishing a mere twelve books this year, I actually got through forty-two. Not too shabby. Click through to the full post to read my thought’s on December’s books.
Understanding Comics — This was really just a matter of finishing the second half of a book I started reading several years ago. My friend Ann wants to make 2012 her year of the comic, and there’s no better place to start than a book called Understanding Comics! When I grabbed it to set it aside for her, I realized I’d never finished reading it myself, so it was a nice afternoon project to finally get to the end. Scott McCloud is generally recognized as an Important Comics Guy who knows a thing or two about the form. And, of course, it’s in comics format!
The Art & Adventure of Beekeeping — I may have referred to this as my new favorite book once or twice. My mom found it at a thrift store up near the cabin, and it was written in 1975 by Ormond Aebi (born in 1916), a pretty ace beekeeper who lived in California. There’s just something about his language and the extremely obvious affection he had for his bees that sets this book apart from modern how-to guides. Even if his recommendations to send away for kits and instructions to places like Sears and Roebuck aren’t, perhaps, all that useful anymore.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? — This was an asked-for birthday present that I was really excited to get. Mindy herself says it’s a two-day read, and that’s about right. She’s a writer for, most notably, The Office (the US version), and she does a pretty killer job in the role of Kelly Kapoor, too. Totally fluffy, but totally awesome and hilarious; it’s the kind of book you annoy other people with by snickering every few seconds while you read.
The World Without Us — I’d been wanting to read this book ever since it came out, but I finally got my hands on it in the Half Price Books clearance section. It’s non-fiction, based on imagining what would happen if humans suddenly disappeared from the Earth. Rob has read this, too, and we agreed that it should probably have just been called How We Messed Up the Planet, because it basically leaves you with a feeling of ‘oh noooo, what have we dooooone?’ At the same time, it doesn’t just feel like a list of terrible ways in which we’ve doomed the ecosystem; Weisman created a very interesting, absorbing book, and I’d highly recommend it.
Breather’s — Ann bought this from Justin Madson himself, when we were at the Minneapolis Indie Expo in November. It’s an interesting graphic novel based in a world where the air has become toxic to humans, meaning that everybody has to wear gas masks (‘breathers’) outside. I read a lot of apocalyptic fiction for work (not that this is apocalyptic, exactly, but it has that same dystopian feel), so it was fun to get a taste of it in graphic-novel format.
The Principles of Uncertainty — One of the first books I finished in 2011 was Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness (which I got for Christmas 2010), so it’s fitting that I finish up with another from her (which I got for Christmas 2011). I love her visual style as well as her thoughts and writing, and the book itself is beautiful, a piece of art in its own right. A good note to end the year on!
I hope you’ve enjoyed following my book-y year! I’ve already got several more books waiting to be read. What should I read in 2012? What are you going to read?