Books of 2015

With the year ending in a couple of weeks, I am taking the time to remember some of the books I read or are currently reading over the year. After working on this collage, I realized just how many books I’ve devoured. It’s amazing and I can’t believe I’ve accomplished this much. Good job to me!

Collage

You can check out the reviews by clicking the links as well.

  1. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – not as great as his first novel, The 100 Year old Man Who Climbed out of the Window, but it still has all the quirky and interesting characters and coincidental events Jonas Jonasson is known for.
  2. Ichiro – a wonderful graphic novel on tolerance, respect, and peace using Japanese mythology and history to tell a tale of a boy rediscovering his own roots.
  3. Career of Evil – J.K. Rowling is back in her third followup as Robert Galbraith. Instead of tackling high society, she gets down and dirty exploring the streets of London to find a new would-be Jack the Ripper.
  4. Look Who’s Back – imagine a world where Hitler never died but was instead transported to modern day Germany. The result is a comedic story of Hitler trying to weave his way using modern social media and still believing his thousand year Reich can flourish.
  5. Mythspace Volume 1 – in this locally made graphic novel, local artists recreate Philippine horror mythology as beings from outer space fighting an intergalactic war. Entertaining series of stories to excite readers to explore the local comic scene even more.
  6. Dawa: The Story of a Stray Dog in Bhutan – An insight into the life of a stray dog in Bhutan and how his journey of discovery becomes a journey into Bhutan’s own culture as well.
  7. Ivan Ramen – My love for ramen extends from visiting ramen restaurants here but also to the pages of Japan’s own gaijin run ramen. A wonderful biography, with mouthwatering recipes, of Ivan Orkin and his journey to break into the strict traditions and practices of ramen-craft.
  8. The Last Bookaneer – one of the biggest disappointing books of my year. A story about book piracy set during the dying days of the Victorian Age. It follows the story of infamous book pirate, Pen Davenport and his sidekick, Mr. Fergins as they try to steal Robert Louis Stevenson’s last novella in the heart of the Caribbean.
  9. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – an exciting historical fiction on the rise of comic books and the Golden Age of comics as seen in the eyes of budding artists and writers Joe Kavalier and Samuel Clay.
  10. On the Noodle Road – sequel to Serve the People, this non-fiction book follows Jen Lin-Liu’s journey from China to Rome in search of the origin of the noodle. She samples different regional iterations of pasta from Asia, the middle-east, and Europe while handling cultural differences and attitudes of women’s roles and marriage.
  11. Serve the People – Jen Lin-Liu’s first book and her exploration of Chinese cuisine, specifically the all-important dumpling. She samples many kinds while finding her own roots and breaking into the local food scene.
  12. The Good Luck of Right Now – a story about Bartholomew Neil finding purpose and meaning in his life after the death of his mother. Through his interactions with other people, he discovers that no matter how crappy life is, it goes on, and just focus on the luck of something small.
  13. Showa 1939-1944 – another graphic novel on Japan, this time an autobiographical one of the life and times of Shigeru Mizuki during the start and height of World War II in the Pacific. Beautifully drawn with wonderful details and trivia on Japanese culture during that time.
  14. Harlem Hellfighters – from World War II we move to the World War I with Max Brooks’ retelling of the famous Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black regimen who fought in the front lines and trenches of Europe during “The Great War”. An okay graphic novel but coming from World War Z’s Max Brooks, I felt he could have done better.
  15. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki: And His Years of Pilgrimage – my first Haruki Murakami since 1Q89, the story follows Tsukuru Tazaki and his life after events during his adolescences makes him unable to form lasting friendships. He journeys to the past to learn more about what happened during that event and reconnects with friends who have since moved on.
  16. All the Light We Cannot See – a moving novel about Marie Laurie and Werner, two children and their will to survive against all odds during, before, and after World War II.
  17. The Martian – one of my favorite novels of the year, The Martian follows Mark Watney’s exploits in the planet Mars. He must use his training and his scientific knowledge to outwit and outlast the harsh environment while working to reach another crater to get off the dreaded planet once and for all.
  18. Get Jiro – Anthony Bourdain is known for two things: food and his documentaries. He is not known for writing graphic novels about meat eaters vs. vegetarians. Get  Jiro follows eponymous Japanese sushi chef Jiro and his run-ins with meat eaters and vegetarians who want to exploit his expertise in a quest for world food domination. The story felt weird and half-baked, I am hoping the sequel isn’t worse.
  19. Daredevil: The Man Without Fear – after watching Netflix’s version of Daredevil, I wanted to learn more about Marvel’s Man Without Fear. Taking the stunning team of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., they hash out Daredevil’s story through beautiful art and amazing storytelling.
  20. The Death of Superman – one of the big graphic novels of the 1990’s, it follows Superman and his earth-crushing battle against the ultra powerful and near invincible Doomsday. Story wise not a lot of dialogue, if you’re going to read it, read it for the art and just watch the carnage unfold with each page turn.
  21. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – one of the rare YA novels this year. Leonard Peacock is a misunderstood boy who loves his history classes (all about WWII), watches Humphrey Bogart films with his neighbor, crushes on the deeply devout Christian girl, writes to his future self, and above all plans to kill his friend and himself later that night. Another one of my favorites, easy to read but equally disturbing and insightful at the same time.
  22. Fatherland – my fascination with alternative historical fiction continues with this classic novel exploring the “what if Nazis had won WWII?” scenario. Set in Berlin, this mystery novel explores the life and times of people living under a fascist regime and the impact of Hitler’s domination of the world in stunning detail. A good mystery story with a lot of twists and turns and above all political intrigue.
  23. Silver Linings Playbook – the book that set my Matthew Quick interest, Silver Linings Playbook was a fun read and exposed me to the world of people who have mental problems.
  24. Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight – an entertaining and educational chronicle of NASA’s retirement of the space shuttle. Margaret Lazarus Dean examines the meaning and impact of the space shuttle and looks to the future of space flight. An interesting book for those interested to know what it was like during those last few days.
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