2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge

This is my self-reading challenge for 2017, which I am calling the “the looking all around list.” I based it on a challenge I found online and did in 2015: Another reading challenge for 2015 with the resuts here: 2015 Reading Challenge follow-up.

Credit Jonas Ginter, https://www.bluewin.ch/de/digital/netzreporter/2014/04/360-grad-timelapse-zeitraffer-miit-gopro.html

Credit Jonas Ginter, https://www.bluewin.ch/de/digital/netzreporter/2014/04/360-grad-timelapse-zeitraffer-miit-gopro.html Found via a Google Images search for “360 photo” and non-commercial use.

There are 40 categories on my list and I challenge myself to read books from at least 30 of them.

NB: I will count the same book in more than one category. [One book in 2015 counted for 6 and perhaps even a 7th I could not fully verify. Which is why I removed some of those weirder categories. “An author under 30”? Whatever. Wisdom, insight, and/or beauty can come at (most) any age.]

Books for this challenge are, or will be, on my 2017look shelf in Goodreads.

As I said, I based this on the previous one I did in 2015 but took out some of the more ridiculous, to me, categories and placed in some of my own. I also sent what I had out to two of my book reading, challenge doing, friends, Elizabeth and Angel, and got great replies with suggestions for categories and for books to fill some of them.

I had “A book for post-election understanding [fascism, race, economic disparity, social justice, …]” and Elizabeth suggested I expand that into “A book from an opposing viewpoint, A book by an author of a different race, A book about a different faith or religion,  and A book from a genre you don’t normally read.” I did and left my original as i have some things in mind that fits that but possibly not the expanded ones.

Angel suggested “A book about Puerto Rico, A book about Cuba/Castro, A book of Latin American history or literature, and A microhistory.” I already have several microhistories on my assorted lists so that was an easy one. I also tend to like them, at least the better ones. The Technology of Orgasm is one of my favorite books.

I believe they both may have suggested others but this is what I chose from their wonderful suggestions.

I encourage you all to take any or all of this list or to make your own or some combination and challenge yourself in your reading in 2017. If you read few books but do read other forms of writing then modify as needed.

Without any further ado, here’s my 2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge:

  • A book about the production of a favorite beverage, or one of great interest
  • An ethnography
  • A biography or memoir
  • A work of classic literature
  • A book with more than 500 pages
  • A book published this year (2017)
  • A with a number in the title
  • A book by a female author
  • A book of short stories
  • A book of essays
  • A book set in a different country :
  • A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
  • A book a friend recommended
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  • A book more than 100 years old [1917] {older, yes, 150 is 1867}
  • A book you can finish in a day
  • A graphic novel
  • A book by an author you’ve never read before
  • A book you own but have never read
  • A book that takes place in your home town
  • A translation
  • A book about war or a battle
  • A book about feminism
  • A self-published book
  • A book about the region you live in [Central Oregon]
  • A book of poems or about poetry
  • A book of erotica
  • A book on sex/gender
  • A book about your professional realm [librariana]
  • An ebook
  • A re-read
  • A book for post-election understanding [fascism, race, economic disparity, social justice, …]
  • A book from an opposing viewpoint
  • A book by an author of a different race
  • A book about a different faith or religion
  • A book from a genre you don’t normally read
  • A book about Puerto Rico
  • A book about Cuba/Castro
  • A book of Latin American history or literature
  • A microhistory

Of these 40 categories I challenge myself to read at least 30 of them.

Brubaker & Phillips – Fatale, Book One, Death Chases Me and Book Two, The Devil’s Business

Fatale, Book One, Death Chases Me and Fatale, Book Two, The Devil’s Business by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips; colors by Dave Stewart

Date read: 13 December 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Brubaker & Phillips - Fatale, Book One, Death ChasesCover image of Brubaker & Phillips - Fatale, Book Two, The Devil’s Business

 

Paperback, 1 volume unpaged
Published June 2012 [1st printing] and  December 2012 [1st printing] by Image Comics
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel BRUBAKER ED]

These were OK. I found them a bit confusing and not sure why. Was it the drawings or the noir [not a genre I normally read] or lackadaisical following of characters by me or …?

There are at least 3 more of these, I believe, and the public library has a couple more but I don’t care.

Noir-horror mashup with an interwoven storyline based on a femme fatale. Men love her. Sort of definitional, isn’t it?!

I imagine others who read and enjoy those genres and techniques more will also appreciate and enjoy it more.

Recommended to try.

These are the 51st and 52nd book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

These complete my 2016 Graphic Novel & Manga challenge with 52 for Silver Age.

 

Brown – Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown

Date read: 05 December 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc, 2016nfc

Cover image of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown

Paperback, 240 pages
Published 2014 by First Second
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen Graphic Novel BROWN BOX]

I quite enjoyed it. Very quick read but informative nonetheless. The simple line drawings work well.

I never really got into pro wrestling when a kid or later. I did see some of it on TV when young and it looked so fake; I found roller derby far more exciting and even that seemed pretty hokey. And I could only watch either when the parents weren’t home.

I do remember in late 1986 as we drove into the state of Pennsylvania on our way to my new duty station of Carlisle Barracks, we heard a news report on the radio that the PA state senate had just wrapped up a $10,000 study into whether or not pro wrestling was fake, which I thought was widespread knowledge already. I laughed my ass off at my new state and wondered what that boded for the next couple of years. Turns out it was quite the mixed bag in central PA.

The line drawings really carry the story, showing both action and emotion very well.

Andre the Giant was in many ways larger-than-life but this shows him as one of us, as one more lonely being trying to make it through all of the shit the world throws at him.

Highly recommended.

This is the 50th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 25th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Tsutsumi, et al. – Out of Picture 2

Out of Picture Volume 2: Art from the Outside Looking In by Daisuke Tsutsumi, Michael Knapp, et al.

Date read: 03 December 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Out of Picture 2 by Tsutsumi, et al.

Oversized paperback, 237 pages
Published 2008 by Villard
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic novel OUT OF PICTURE]

Contents:

  • Sub plotter / Jason Sadler
  • The youth of Jimmy / Benoit le Pennec
  • Part 1 / Kyle MacNaughton
  • The antler boy / Jake Parker
  • Are you the right color? / Andrea Blasich
  • Crawdaddyo / Lizette Vega
  • A dream of kyosuke / Daisuke Tsutsumi
  • The carnivore / Vincent Nguyen
  • Plane food / Willie Real
  • The rupture / David Gordon
  • Why bother? A tale of urban relocation / Nash Dunnigan
  • The fun trip / Sang Jun Lee
  • Under pressure : a breakerboy chronicle / Michael Knapp
  • The missive / Peter Nguyen

This is the followup to my last book Out of Picture, a random book I grabbed off the shelves of my local public library a couple weeks ago that caught my eye. It is a collection of 14 non-connected stories by the creative staff of Blue Sky Studios (well, by the time this volume was finished they were mostly elsewhere). This volume also includes a foreword, a development gallery [sketches], artist biographies and acknowledgments.

“”Out of picture” is a film term we use whenever something is cut from a movie—or we say “it’s OOPed.” While it can be frustrating to have to let go of one’s ideas, it’s the pursuit and exploration of those ideas that can be the most fulfilling. We wanted to share some of our personal ideas outside of our film work with you—out of picture ….” (p. 9 of v 1)

I liked the first volume a bit better but this still had some nice moments. My favorite is probably “A dream of kyosuke” by Daisuke Tsutsumi, then “The rupture” by David Gordon. “Crawdaddyo” by Lizette Vega was good fun with a kind of Fantasia vibe.

This is the 49th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

 

Tsutsumi, et al. – Out of Picture

Out of Picture Volume 1: Art from the Outside Looking In by Daisuke Tsutsumi, Vincent Nguyen, et al.

Date read: 30 October 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Tsutsumi, et al. - Out of Picture, volume 1

Oversized paperback, 159 pages
Published 2007 by Villard (originally published by Editions Paquet 2006)
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic novel OUT OF PICTURE]

This is a random book I grabbed off the shelves of my local public library two weeks ago that caught my eye. It is a collection of 11 non-connected stories by the creative staff of Blue Sky Studios. It also includes a foreword by the director of Blue Sky, a development gallery [sketches], artist biographies and acknowledgments.

“”Out of picture” is a film term we use whenever something is cut from a movie—or we say “it’s OOPed.” While it can be frustrating to have to let go of one’s ideas, it’s the pursuit and exploration of those ideas that can be the most fulfilling. We wanted to share some of our personal ideas outside of our film work with you—out of picture ….” (9)

I quite enjoyed this. Some of the stories resonated more with me than others but I did enjoy them all. It seems there is at least one more volume of these out of picture stories by this group. Oooh. The public library has it—just requested.

Recommended. I imagine most anyone can find at least one of these stories that resonates with them. For me, the most resonant was “Newsbreak” by Michael Knapp. It is quite timely but was even moreso for the time it was written; one I remember quite well with my son’s military deployments. Terrifying yet speaks to the power of love and connection to an/other.

This is the 48th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

 

Ellis, et al. – Trees, vol. 1: In shadow

Trees, vol. 1: In shadow by Warren Ellis (writer), Jason Howard (artist), Fonografiks (lettering & design)

Date read: 11 October 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Trees, vol. 1: In shadow by Warren Ellis, Jason Howard, Fonografiks

Paperback, 1 volume unpaged
Published 2015 by Image Comics
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel ELLIS WARREN] Collects issues #1-8.

My wife brought this home several days ago since it had been recommended to her a few times.

I did not like the opening as it was confused and confusing. The reader eventually sorts out what is going on but it takes work and time, which seems to be a recurring trend in Ellis’ storytelling, in my opinion.

To be more accurate, he drops you immediately into some chaotic scene where you can clearly see what’s going on but simply cannot fathom why. Then within a handful or two of pages you radically shift focus to something that (probably) seems like it is not at all connected. Usually by the third or fourth temporal/locational/perspectival (or all three) jump you begin figuring it out. This one wasn’t quite that hard but it had the (in my mind) patented Ellis move of dropping you into something initially disconcerting.

I have read quite a bit of his stuff and that is how his style mostly strikes me. The wife mentioned that she loves his frequent perspectival switches, which I agreed with. There is just something disconcerting for me about the way he dumps you into one of his stories.

It appears that Trees, Vol. 2: Two Forests is also out, collecting issues #9-14. But how many more are there to come and how long will we wait? I am tempted to just skip the rest but this could be excellent in the long run.

Description from back cover/Goodreads:

“Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive.

Trees looks at a near-future world where life goes on in the shadows of the Trees: in China, where a young painter arrives in the “special cultural zone” of a city under a Tree; in Italy, where a young woman under the menacing protection of a fascist gang meets an old man who wants to teach her terrible skills; and in Svalbard, where a research team is discovering, by accident, that the Trees may not be dormant after all, and the awful threat they truly represent.”

The story moves around the world, and back several times, to some of the sites where the “Trees” landed. They have induced radical changes simply by their presence but now stranger things are beginning to happen.

Again, this could be great after all but I am not yet convinced. Highly recommended if you are a fan of Ellis’ work; otherwise, it is on you to decide. Sorry.

This is the 47th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

 

Samanci – Dare to disappoint

Dare to disappoint: growing up in Turkey by Özge Samanci

Date read: 03 October 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc, 2016nfc

Cover image of Dare to disappoint: growing up in Turkey by Özge Samanci

Paperback, 190 pages
Published 2015 by Margaret Ferguson (Farrar Straus Giroux)
Source: Deschutes Public Library (via Jefferson County Library District) [YG Samanci]

This is a memoir and graphic novel of self-discovery, along with being a (very) quick) overview of (recent) Turkish history and society. I quite enjoyed it and learned a good bit.

Summary: “Growing up on the Aegean Coast, Ozge loved the sea and imagined a life of adventure while her parents and society demanded predictability. Her dad expected Ozge, like her sister, to become an engineer. She tried to hear her own voice over his and the religious and militaristic tensions of Turkey and the conflicts between secularism and fundamentalism. Could she be a scuba diver like Jacques Cousteau? A stage actress? Would it be possible to please everyone including herself?

In her unpredictable and funny graphic memoir, Ozge recounts her story using inventive collages, weaving together images of the sea, politics, science, and friendship.”

Contents:

  1. The Other Side
  2. First-Grade Teacher
  3. Ataturk
  4. To Die For
  5. Pink Ruler
  6. Single Channel
  7. Istanbul
  8. Zero
  9. Approval
  10. Broken Radio
  11. Hunting Ground
  12. Potato
  13. Sun Behind the Clouds
  14. In Between
  15. Beginning

The author, who is also the illustrator, uses several different techniques, sometimes mixing them in the same panel, to get the story across. I liked that; gave it a bit of the homemade feel, and also like it was a child/young woman telling the tale.

Recommended for young adults and above.

The author blogs a daily image at http://www.ordinarycomics.com/

This is the 46th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 23rd book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

McCoola & Carroll – Baba Yaga’s Assistant

Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola; illustrated by Emily Carroll

Date read: 23 September 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of McCoola & Carroll's graphic novel Baba Yaga's Assistant

Hardcover, 132 pages
Published 2015 by Candlewick Press
Source: Deschutes Public Library [J Graphic Novel MCCOOLA MARIKA]

Baba Yaga eats children. She is deceitful and wicked. Her sentient house strides around the countryside on giant chicken legs. Stories like these have been told for a long time [based on Slavic folk literature].

There’s always another side to the story.

Our story begins with a help wanted ad:

ASSISTANT WANTED ASAP

Must have skills in hauling, obeying orders, cooking and cleaning. Magical talent a bonus. Must be good with heights. Enter Baba Yaga’s house to apply.

Well, that’s reasonably straightforward as these things go. But this is Baba Yaga. Deceit is the rule.

Masha’s circumstances are dire and she has some family history so off she goes. Are the stories accurate, can she remember them, what exactly are these tests? Can Masha outwit Baba Yaga as her grandmother did?

Find out in this great adaptation of Baba Yaga. The artwork is wonderful and exceedingly colorful, especially for being in many ways a dark story.

How can a story with a sentient house that moves around on two giant chicken legs not be intriguing? The enigmatic witch is just a bonus. Highly recommended.

I heard about this from Unshelved back in April.

This is the 45th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

My Pilot Butte story

Carol Smith asked folks to share their Pilot Butte stories if so inspired. Here’s my still ongoing story:

I don’t have a Pilot Butte story but I do consider myself to be working on one.

After moving to Bend in August 2012 we climbed Pilot Butte but then gave it little thought. On January 1st 2014 we had hiked to the summit with an acquaintance for sunrise in 6°F weather and snow on the ground. We attempted another sunrise hike on January 1st 2015 but our timing was a bit late so we stopped part way up and watched the sunrise from an east-facing bench. We tried to do it this year but a temperature inversion had kept a good bit of pollution in so we (reluctantly) passed.

In mid-2014 I had some fully unexpected health issues arise. After almost 9 months and no real answers from doctors as to what the issue was I decided to try eating healthier and to try to get back to exercising.

In the past I was primarily a runner, even if any extremely fair weather one. Along with being an on-and-off one over the years. I knew my frame was not strong enough for running so decided I could use the butte since it is so handy. We live 0.65 mi from the the backside Lafayette Street park entrance. I tried doing the summit once or twice but that almost completely broke me so I switched to the base trail, which I fell in love with.

I got so good at it that last year my times just kept dropping and dropping. Eventually in later summer, I walked the 3.03 mi, from home to the base trail around and back home, in an average of 12:00 miles. This includes a fair bit of up and down. Yes, the down helps lower the uphill times but there’s still a lot of uphill.

Early this year, after some physical therapy for structural issues last fall, I began summiting. Now most of my hikes include both the base trail and the summit. I have even now worked up to twice around the base trail and once to the summit and back for three laps, and once so far I managed a 2×2 with a base, summit, base, summit hike for endurance.

I have ran/walked the base trail a couple times over last fall and this year so far. A couple weeks ago I ran/walked the summit and earlier today I ran/walked the Pilot Butte Challenge course. It was still far tougher than I would like but I also know I have a long, long way to go to be in good shape.

Clearly I have to do other things than hike to get there but Pilot Butte has been a major instrument in getting me there. It is full of an ever-cycling profusion of wildlife, be it plants or animals. The views are incredible and inspiring, be it the gorgeous Cascades to the west, the hills on the way, Newberry Caldera in the south, the austere beauty of eastern Oregon, or the grandeur of Smith Rock and Mount Hood to the north.

I now have 442 miles in the Pilot Butte Century Club since ~March 2014. Some people summit 4-5 times a day, almost every day. I would like to be able to do that too, although it would only be a once in a while thing for me, I think. If I can do that hike then I would probably prefer to get out and do more of the amazing hikes in and around Bend than I have so far.

I will keep hiking Pilot Butte whether it is the base trail or the base and summit. In the winter I will take the road when I have to.

Maybe Pilot Butte isn’t fully responsible for saving my life but it has been a major factor in my renewal. I am so very thankful that it is as close as it is to us so I can walk to it and back. It is a massive inspiration and I love its trails. The butte is there. Has been and will be for a long, long time. Perhaps it’s that love that has saved me.


My other 10 or so Pilot Butte posts can be found here.

 

Orchard – Bera the One-Headed Troll

Bera the One-Headed Troll by Eric Orchard

Date read: 27 August 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image from Eric Orchard's Bera the One-Headed Troll graphic novel

Hardback, 126 pages
Published 2016 by First Second
Source: Deschutes Public Library [J Graphic Novel ORCHARD ERIC]

“Bera doesn’t ask for much in life. She’s a solitary, humble troll, tending her island pumpkin patch in cheerful isolation. She isn’t looking for any trouble.

But when trouble comes to find her, it comes in spades. A human baby has arrived in the realm of the trolls, and nobody knows where it came from, but Bera seems to be the only person who doesn’t want it dead. There’s nothing to it but to return the adorable little thing to its parents.

Like it or not, Bera’s gone and found herself a quest.” – Inside front jacket flap.

A story of heroes, both renowned and unknown, friendship, responsibility, and cross-species caring. Things do not end up exactly as the blurb above alludes but then that is often the case.

If you are looking for intelligent books for children then you ought look at First Second’s line. Actually, they have great books for all ages. I actually follow First Second in Goodreads and although they effectively recommend many of their own books by reviewing them I do not mind as I believe I have enjoyed every last one, from Feynman to Bera the One-Headed Troll.

Taking a quick look through their line made me make a note to look a lot closer and add some interesting looking things to my to read list.

Highly recommended.

This is the 44th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups