These books feature strong women, young and not young, who change the world in a big way even though people thing they’re ‘just a girl’.
These books have some great things to say about REAL food for your REAL body.
The life of a comic book nerd is not easy. Misunderstood, dismissed, and much maligned, the graphic novel/comic medium is in reality just as complex and varied as is traditional fiction, it just happens to include freakin’ awesome illustrations. If you’re someone who has, in the past, dismissed comics because you thought they were all about superheroes with onomatopoetic sound effects like ‘biff’ or if you’re someone who’s never even considered diving into the rich and wonderful world of the graphic novel, give these books a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Batman, R.I.P.: What it’s about: Batman, obviously. He dies in this one! (Maybe…)
Why you should read it: Batman R.I.P. is pretty much the culmination of Grant Morrison’s (aka, the Leo Tolstoy of graphic novels) work with the Batman character. It’s huge, complex, and challenging. Not your run of the mill superhero comic.
Lucifer: What it’s about: Yes, that Lucifer. In the DC universe, the character of Lucifer appears in many stories, most notably in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which is where the stand alone Lucifer series got its start.
Why you should read it: Sorry, did I not mention the part where it’s about the devil and that the stand alone series is a spin-off from Sandman. Additionally, because re-vamps of the traditional devil character are fascinating. And finally because Lucifer is just an incredibly cool character. He’s got it going on, is what I’m saying.
The Filth: What it’s about: A weird, crazy romp through post-modern interpretations of the status quo!
Why you should read it: Another piece from the genius mind of Grant Morrison, The Filth is one of those things that you just have to see to believe. If you’re into media that looks at the line between appropriate and inappropriate and then promptly obliterates it, The Filth is for you.
John Constantine: Hellblazer: What it’s about: One of DC’s longest running characters, antihero magician, chain-smoker, and pro-level snark factory John Constantine and all his supernatural adventures.
Why you should read it: It’s a fantastic exploration of the humanist antihero. If misanthropes who are committed to doing something good are your thing, look up my man John.
Saga of the Swamp Thing: What it’s about: Pretty self-explanatory, actually. He’s a Thing. That lives in a Swamp. Loves plants and the environment and stuff.
Why you should read it: Self-explanatorability notwithstanding, it’s actually really cool! A global environmentally aware comic book character is a fabulous protagonist. For real.
A Game of Thrones: I don’t need to tell you what it’s about because you’ve probably seen the show. I hope.
Why you should read it: Again, feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but I will say that the graphic novelization of ASOIAF is like a really incredible mash-up of the show and the books, which is baller.
100 Bullets: What it’s about: It’s basically everything fantastic about noir, pulp, and revenge thrillers all rolled into one stylized, metaphor-rich creation.
Why you should read it: See above. It’s like the breakfast burrito of the crime story world.
Full disclosure: As you can tell from the title, I personally have not yet read any of these books. I recommend them to you based purely on the fact that I want to read them (and the great reviews. Obviously.)
The Story-Telling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall: “Like the magnificent storytellers past and present who furnish him here with examples and inspiration, Jonathan Gottschall takes a timely and fascinating but possibly forbidding subject — the new brain science and what it can tell us about the human story-making impulse — and makes of it an extraordinary and absorbing intellectual narrative. The scrupulous synthesis of art and science here is masterful; the real-world stakes high; the rewards for the reader numerous, exhilarating, mind-expanding.” —Terry Castle, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University
“This is a work of popular philosophy and social theory written by an obviously brilliant undergraduate teacher. The gift for the example is everywhere. A punchy line appears on almost every page.” -The San Francisco Chronicle
American Artisanal by Rebecca Gray: “We love this book; we had been parceling it out in chapter-sized bits at bedtime but we raced through at the end. Read this! It’s fascinating and inspiring. Who knows — you may be the next American artisan.” -Faith Durand
“If you’re remotely interested in food — either cooking it or eating it — then American Artisanal ought to be your guide. Anytime Becky Gray gets around cooking, trust me: something magical is going to happen.” -Winston Groom
The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie: First of all, every person should want to read this book based purely on the fact that it was written by contemporary polymath Hugh Laurie. Any foray of his into different genres has piqued my interest. Also: “This is a genuinely witty and sophisticated entertainment.” - Christopher Buckley in the NY Times Book Review
“The Gun Seller is fast, topical, wry, suspenseful, hilarious, witty, surprising, ridiculous, and pretty wonderful.
And you don’t need a permit to buy it…A delightful novel.” — The Washington Post Book Review
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Yes, I’m a little tardy to the party on this one, but I do intend to get to it eventually.
“Green writes books for young adults, but his voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. He writes for youth, rather than to them, and the difference is palpable.” — Rachel Syme, NPR Books
“This is a book that breaks your heart—not by wearing it down, but by making it bigger until it bursts.” —The Atlantic
City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers: I’ll be honest, I mostly just want to read this book because of the title and the fact that the cover art is a structure built of books. But the reviews are good as well.
“Moers’ creative mind is like J. K. Rowling’s on Ecstasy” — Detroit Evening News
“A yarn of drollery, deeper meaning and sheer lunacy” - Rolling Stone
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis: This one I want to read because I love love love the movie. And since books are generally better than movie versions…
“I reread and study Auntie Mame like a hilarious, glamorous bible where, among other wise lessons, one learns that true sophistication and innocence are two halves of the same glittering coin.” –Charles Busch, author of The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
“Auntie Mame is a unique literary achievement a brilliant novel disguised as a lightweight piece of fluff. Every page sparkles with wit, style and though Mame would cringe at the thought high moral purpose. Let’s hope Patrick Dennis is finally recognized for what he is: One of the great comedic writers of the 20th century.” –Robert Plunket, author of Love Junkie
I worried a bit about our last Summer Reading post, since it was slightly discriminatory to psychopaths. It was keeping me up last night, but then I realized that I could address the problem by simply tailoring a post to the specific literary needs of psychopaths! Bravo, me! So without further ado, here are some books you should look into if the non-psycho books aren’t your cup of tea or other preferred beverage. (No one’s saying blood! But, maybe blood.)
Classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the works of Edgar Allan Poe: There was a time, back in the day, when creepy monster stories were all the rage. That time is pretty much all the time, so sure, there are modern tales of monstrous villains and their victims, but Stoker, Shelley, and Poe were some of the seminal writers in this genre. More refined than the gory horror of later days, the tension, uncertainty, and fear are what set these classics apart.
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft: If there’s anything more horrible than Lovecraft’s conviction that humanity would literally be driven insane if forced to acknowledge its own insignificance, I’m not sure what it is. That plus slumbering primeval monsters and jabbering cultists is what I call a good time!
“[The Call of Cthulhu is] a masterpiece, which I am sure will live as one of the highest achievements of literature.… Mr. Lovecraft holds a unique position in the literary world; he has grasped, to all intents, the worlds outside our paltry ken.” -Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan)
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson: Perhaps one of the most disturbing books to come out of the American Noir genre, Thompson’s first person narration forces the reader, in true noir style, to be complicit in the crimes of a sadistic, psychopathic killer.
“Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.” —Stanley Kubrick
Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson: The book that launched the crazy gonzo reporter’s career as a writer, Hell’s Angels is an in-depth, inside look at one of the most famous Motorcycle Clubs in the country and was also his first attempt at writing a “non-fiction novel.”
“Hunter Thompson has presented us with a close view of a world most of us would never dare encounter, yet one with which we should be familiar. He has brought on stage men who have lost all options and are not reconciled to the loss.” — NY Times review by Leo Litwak, 1967
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler: A classic, hardboiled crime story! Chandler introduces his iconic investigator of several stories, Philip Marlowe, and sets a dark tone that pervades the settings and characters of the story.
“As a study in depravity, the story is excellent, with Marlowe standing out as almost the only fundamentally decent person in it.” — NY Times review by Isaac Anderson, 1939
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: Stephen King is one of those authors whose fans always have something to keep them entertained. Last year’s Doctor Sleep is definitely no exception. Long awaited sequel to one of King’s most famous and beloved books, The Shining, Doctor Sleep is a book to pick up if you’re into King’s specific brand of crazy.
“Wild ectoplasmic partly decayed vampire horses would not tear from me the story of what happens next, but let me assure you King is a pro: by the end of this book your fingers will be mere stubs of their former selves, and you will be looking askance at the people in the supermarket line, because if they turn around they might have metallic eyes.” — NY Times review (by Margaret Atwood!), 2013
I think we can all agree that there are some books out there that, if you don’t like them, it’s a good indication that you are an evil alien come to this planet to enslave humanity and turn Earth into one giant human-being-operated battery for your spaceship. Like, seriously. If you don’t like Pride and Prejudice just don’t even talk to me. We aren’t friends and never will be. Here are some other books that you’ll love or your money back.*
Emma by Jane Austen: Austen is one of my favorite authors. Her books are full to the brim of wit and are extremely funny. Her ability to write characters three-dimensionally, especially when her subject matter is pretty restricted to love stories among the landed gentry of Georgian England, is phenomenal. Emma is a great choice of book if you’ve never read any Austen or if you’re already a fan of any of her other books.
Big Fish by Daniel Wallace: Though published in 1998, Big Fish definitely has a place among great literary classics. A fusion of Homer’s Odyssey, Joyce’s Ulysses (another book which borrows extensively from The Odyssey, obviously), and American Tall Tales, Big Fish is a story for the ages. Follow William Bloom as he tries to discover the truth of his father’s strange and fantastical life. If you love the idea of reading Homer but are daunted by the language and the sheer girth of The Odyssey, give this book a try.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Man. This book. It’s a giant. In terms of influence, significance, and importance, this book is almost beyond compare. The seven generations of the Buendia family that populate this epic novel are both more fantastic and more real than real life. Also, naming a character Aureliano Buendia pretty much guarantees success.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Ahead of its time in a variety of ways, Jane Eyre is the book to read if proto-feminism, precursors to modernist prose, or incredibly moving stories of personal growth and love are things you like. Can’ t say it fairer than that.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: This book is a huge time commitment. Though it’s been touted as compulsively readable since it was first published in 1936, there’s no denying that GwtW is not for the faint of heart and/or biceps. Sure, maybe Mitchell’s characterization of Southerners and African Americans is slightly (or more than slightly) controversial, but GwtW is a book that has endured and been popular for almost a century, so she must have done something right. (Also, Vivien Leigh is super pretty. Not a factor in appreciating the novel, I know, but if you cheat and just watch the movie, you’re in for a treat.)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock is particularly great for summer reading for a variety of reasons. First is that the stories are completely riveting and are way too much fun to even consider putting down for an instant once you get into one. Second is that, because the Holmes stories are a collection of short stories, not a single, long novel, it’s easy enough to finish one quickly and be able to take a short beach break or popsicle break or what have you.
Happy reading! And stay tuned for more KU Summer Reading lists coming soon to a computer near you!
*Just kidding. We do not give refunds under any circumstances. Sorry. I will bet you ten bucks that you’ll like any book on this list, though. Come in, buy a copy, and shake on it. You come back and tell me you didn’t like it, I’ll pay up.
The title says it all! Perhaps a common trope in fiction, but no less fun. Children have been losing themselves in make-believe lands since Alice first tumbled into Wonderland, journeying through fairytale forests and fields of poppies, befriending all manner of strange and marvelous creatures, and, perhaps, growing up just a teensy-weensy bit in the process.
(1) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
(2) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
(3) Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
(4) Coraline by Neil Gaiman
(5) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
(6) His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman
(7) The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
(8) Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
(9) The Inkworld Trilogy (Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath) by Cornelia Funke
(10) Reckless, also by Cornelia Funke
(11) The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
(12) A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
(13) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making by Cathrynne M. Valente
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you are anything like me you are watching scary movies and reading scary books. Obviously, scary movies are great, but I find horror books to be much more frightening. Movies have it easy, with makeup and special effects. Demon faces pop up out of nowhere and give you that heart attack feeling, but to me those are cheap thrills. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Horror books don’t leap out at you covered in fake gore. They take your hand and lead your down a dark alley to inevitable doom, allowing you to visualize the details from your own personal set of fears. The slow, creepy progress of a horror book is what keeps me up late at night, reading under the covers with a flashlight. Most of these books have been adapted into movies, which is probably where you know them from. As with most book-based movies, the books are way better.
Here is a list of some of our favorite horror books and hopefully the weeks leading up to Halloween will find you under your own covers with a flashlight, reading wide-eyed all night.
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