Hobby Hole: 2013 Books in Review

Last year's entry sparked some great conversations when I posted it (though, sadly, not within the article's comments), so I figured I would write up some thoughts on all the books I read this year.

While there aren't as many as in previous years due to the restricted break time (and securing most of December for my own book), there were some great additions to my reading pile—including far too many classics until now ignored.

Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

Sequel to Damned, Doomed reads much the same way as the previous volume, but while finely detailed and built around the mind of a prepubescent child, the plot was much slower than the original, and, in ways, less interesting.

Lost Cat by Jason

This may be one of my favorite works by Jason, in that it's a storyline that actually makes sense. Not that it lacks any sort of headscratching; on the contrary, the ending is nothing short of shocking and is only heightened by the writer's simplistic art.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This book was assigned reading back in fifth grade so needless to say I never read it. I was a fool. The book is as full, if not more rich, than modern fantasy books, which owe Tolkien a great deal, and reminds me of the imaginative simplicity of the very first Harry Potter series.

Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard

Inspired to read one of the last author's titles shortly after his death, Mr. Paradise was the first I found on my shelf. Unfortunately, it's not his best, as the plot is altogether quite simple and the characterization fairly flat. That most of the book offers little to no plot movement further degraded its enjoyment.



Absolute All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

My second pass at the book thanks to the late IGN Assemble! Podcast, I enjoyed All-Star a little less this time, mostly because I've become more drawn into the DCU in the years since and have found little enjoyment in the Superman line of titles. This book doesn't exactly serve as an introduction to Superman, nor is it reflective of his current status quo. Still, it's fun, and although not my favorite Morrison book, Quitely draws the hell out of everything he touches here.

Game Over: Press Start to Continue by David Sheff and Andy Eddy

I bought this book in Game Stop many years ago, but never managed to get more than halfway through. While it still offers some great information, particularly on the early years of Nintendo and the company's dominance of the videogame market, I can't help but wish the book was more up-to-date, as that Nintendo has seemingly come and gone.

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

My father's been a SCUBA diver since long before I was born, so I was immediately drawn to this book, though it wasn't until my birthday that I was granted a copy. While it actually has very little to do with SCUBA, it's a fantastic read and one of the best books I read all year. If the upcoming Twilight Zone series is anything like this, it will be the best thing to happen to comics in years.

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

Reading this book, I kept wondering why they hadn't made it into a film. Turns out, they had, except it wasn't any good. Which is a damned shame because, overlooking some of the overly technical aspects of the book (it seems that was a requirement in Tom Clancy-inspired fiction), Flight of the Intruder is damned fun and well written. I can see why Coonts, along with his main protagonist, returned for more in the years to come.

The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu

When people say I know a great deal about comics, this book is typically the reason. My second time reading through this fantastically informative tome, I found it no less magical. This will be one I'll revisit time and time again as I hesitantly recall the horrors that led to a massive government scare and the absolute collapse of the comic industry as it was known.

Athos in America by Jason

As most of Jason's books do, Athos in America offered some moments of absolute perfection that were nearly smothered by inane, vague cutaways and an ending that seemingly came out of nowhere. However, his work is one that benefits from multiple reads and I'm certain, given how quickly such a read continues to be, that I'll revisit it in the future and gain even more insight into the author's works.

Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

One of the late author's final titles, Micro suffers from the same fate On Stranger Tides did in that it feels like an epic that was left incomplete, almost as an extended outline. I'm sure Preston did his best to fill the cracks, but the book lacks that Crichton touch, even if it was extremely bloody and a great journey into the unknown.

The Walking Dead Omnibus, Vol. 4 by Robert Kirkman, et al.

The last of the (currently published) omnibuses, this volume seemed much slower than those previous, but from what I can tell of the ongoing storyline, the next should be nothing but non-stop action. This was the build up, yes, but while slow, it made for some great characterization too usually lacking in comics.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

You've got to hand it to Sanderson, who took an already amazing series and made it his own, finishing it in grand fashion. Unlike the unflattering conclusion to Dune, this finish will go down with the rest of the series as some of the best fantasy ever written. And although this is indeed the end of this saga, I'm hopeful we'll see more from Sanderson and the Jordan estate in the future.

Astonishing X-Men Omnibus by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Another read for the IGN Assemble! Podcast, this marked my third reading of this phenomenal series to date, and it has yet to be uninspiring. I'd wager this is my favorite X-Men story to date, even surpassing the Morrison New X-Men it spawned from, as it takes what had up-to-then been convoluted and hard to digest and made it simpler, almost as if it were a television show.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I'd never read A Clockwork Orange before, and it's been years since I've seen the movie, but this book is a classic for a reason. It's solid characterization in a world unlike any we've seen, and the psychological manipulation the protagonist endures is nothing short of relentless. The final chapter, one not adapted in the film, twisted the plot entirely, but I'm still uncertain whether or not that's a good thing.

Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young

This book took me forever to read, and is one of the main reasons I read so few this year. The rambling, incoherent and repetitive nature of the story left me completely disinterested and there were days, nearly weeks, when I wouldn't pick it up. I'd never have finished it if my dad didn't ask me to, and even then, it was a major disappointment.

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

This works serves as a great prequel to the comic series, as well as the television show, as though it is based entirely within the black and white world of the comics, much of the information was adapted for the Governor's backstory.Worth the read whether or not you've picked up the series or not.

Hellboy Library Edition, Vol. 2 by Mike Mignola and John Byrne

I was recently gifted, by my amazing sister-in-law, the sixth volume in this series and although I've yet to read more beyond the second book, I can easily say the format masterfully presents the older Hellboy stories, which continue to thrive with vigorous imagination, with vivid color and clarity. They look damn nice on a shelf, too.

So which books have you read this year?