August Week 1 Wrap-Up #GrayeBeardChallenge

Like I said in the previous post. I’m participating in a month-long reading challenge to determine what I should read through a game of chance. So far I’ve only read 2 titles, but my time is pretty precious at the moment, I don’t actually have that much free time right now. I think I’m still on the right track. Plus, I picked up a title that I’ve been putting off for years:

Number 1 : GoGo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto

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This is seriously one of the most beautiful manga publications in my collection. It has a full color cardboard sleeve, a full color wrap-around image, and the page edges are painted red with further designs. It’s gorgeous. And, for that alone, I think it’s worth collecting.

But, then you have the story… and “my god!” my brain feels like it’s melting. (that’s a good thing) Like most of Matsumoto’s works the protagonists are children working out their reality/trying to figure out their place in the world. It primarily surrounds two boys.

The first has been going to this school for a long time. He’s a loner. And has been ostracized by the entire class because of his strange behaviour and talk of the supernatural. His only friend is the school caretaker who listens quietly and intently in his stories, but rarely comments or encourages the behaviour. Throughout the story the boy begins to get agitated as the voices he’s been relying on have started to go quiet.

The second boy is new to the school. And as much as he’s been warned to stay away from the first boy, he finds his behaviour intriguing, if not bewildering, and makes friends with him. He also asks questions and listens to the stories, but is of course doubtful as to their validity.

DGRmue-UQAELy4yThe whole thing feels like a metaphor for growing up. There is constant concern over the other side, of adulthood, of breaking the rules, of death… all of these discussions between the characters seem to be markers of that pivotal moment in a child’s life when they’re no longer a child. They take a step into a limbo where they’re still children, but not children at the same time.

It’s a brilliant reading experience – delving deep into the psyche of children. But, I think is best understood intrinsically. I think if you’re trying to figure out what is going on during every panel, you’ll only wind yourself into knots.

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Number 2 : Descending Stories, volume 1 by Haruko Kumota

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The second thing I read was the first volume of Descending Stories. I’ve been pretty hyped to read this after hearing so many great things about the anime; many people touting this story as a “masterpiece”.

I’m less enthused after reading it than I was expecting. It has one major flaw in my eyes and that is it is written by a yaoi author. i.e. she brings with it a lack of character development. Because most yaoi series tend to be on the shorter side (at least what has been released here) authors have to develop their characters quickly. And they can do this because they are working with stock characters. The uke and seme are the most common character types complete with defining relationship roles, personality (both private and public), and even artistic design. If you’re a regular reader of the genre, you will instantly pick out which character belongs to which static character type and can enjoy the quick-ride which is the story.

But this is not yaoi (it might have some gay characters, but that doesn’t define the genre). So, it’s quick character development isn’t enough to engender an emotional response from readers. It falls flat. And this is my primary issue with this story.

It could make a recovery though. The way the story is structured could indicate that the two male character’s will get more focus throughout the story as Kumota unveils their intentions and feelings. But other characters, like the lead female character doesn’t have much left to give. Her character has been laid bare, and her intentions/motivations clear.

But the story! The story! The story could save this for me. It is one of the most unique subjects I’ve read about. It’s about a young man recently released from prison. While he was in prison he heard the comedic storytelling (rakugo) of the legendary master Yakumo Yurakutei and decided to become his apprentice. He persuades Yakumo to take him on, and is eager to get started to learn the art of rakugo.

This is the first time I’ve read anything about rakugo. I’ve had a little exposure to it through watching Japanese television. But, this purely Japanese art-form is fascinating to me to read about.

Now all Kumota needs is to develop her characters a bit more and this will be a great manga…I’ll wait!

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More Readathons?

I was invited to join another “readathon”. This one calls itself a “challenge” and lasts over the entire month. The point is to get through you TBR — but the strategy is to choose the titles with a game of chance: assign a number to each book and then roll the dice to see what you’ll read next.

I was going to read these titles anyways, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Basically the only different thing I’m doing is reading them in a specified order:

Booktube-a-thon 2017

Ah. So I was convinced to join in booktube-a-thon again this year. I was debating whether I should and then a fellow youtuber said “you should do it” and apparently that was enough to convince me. I’m very suggestible.

I’m currently hosting a readathon myself (ending in 12 hours) called the manga readathon where we’re reading as much manga as we possibly can. And 2 days later I’m joining the booktube-a-thon where we’re reading as much whatever as we possibly can. I don’t know why I like to torture myself… 2 weeks of reading as much as I possibly can is going to be a bit of a challenge. I’m already feeling pretty worn-out from all this manga!

I’ve decided that instead of picking manga for this readathon, I would instead pick other types of books and reading. I do like to read other things besides manga (sometimes)… and I thought at least I would take this opportunity to try.

I’m not participating in the video challenges… I just don’t have time to make daily videos. But, I’ll probably attempt a few Instagram challenges. So, if you’re interested in checking out my pictures, my instagram is “Mangahoarder”

Here’s what I’m planning to read next week:

FEBRUARY MANGA CHALLENGE | + March TBR

Fellow Youtubers, Yuri in Real Life, hosted a challenge in February to read a manga every day. Here’s how I did… I failed.

But, I did read a lot in the month, and this started me on a new way of wrapping up my reading every month.

Stay tuned to the end to see what titles I’ll be reading in March.

Books mentioned in this video:

  • Gakuen Polizi by Milk Morinaga
  • Demon Love Spell by Mayu Shinjo
  • QQ Sweeper by Kyousuke Motomi
  • Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina
  • Dragon Voice by Yuriko Nishiyama
  • Popcorn Romance by Tomoko Taniguchi
  • The Heiress and the Chauffeur by Keiko Ishihara
  • Real by Takehiko Inoue
  • Tetris by Box Brown
  • Cat vs. Human by Yasmine Surovec
  • The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
  • Cosplayers by Dash Shaw
  • Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan

 

Another Manga Tag Video!

If you watch manga-tubers on YouTube you’ll know that there are a lot of TAG videos going around. Basically these are video memes…and you can tag other manga-tubers to also make the same video…

This one was created by AloofDragons a few weeks ago where I answer the questions:

  1. What are you reading right now?
  2. What is your guilty pleasure manga?
  3. Have you ever cried reading a manga? Do you remember which volume?
  4. What is a manga you like in a genre you don’t normally ever read?
  5. Pick. Seinen, shoujo or shounen?
  6. What is your favorite manga world? Why?
  7. Most underrated series that you own.
  8. What is a series that you don’t own but want the most in your collection/want to start collecting?
  9. Do you have a manga with a favorite spine aesthetic?
  10. Unread series on your shelf that you’re most looking forward to reading.

#DIVERSEATHON wrap-up

Oops. A bit late to wrap-up… you put it off one day and all of a sudden it’s a week later. So, anyways.

I participated in #Diverseathon. This was a challenge to read as much own voices literature from diverse authors. As you may know, I decided to pick graphic novels written by Indigenous authors born in Canada.

I’m not sure I learned too much. Maybe because there are several Indigenous groups that live very closely… or, because so much of my degree was focused on the history and culture of these groups. It was pretty much as expected.

What seemed unfortunate is that the titles each had a heavy-handed focus on reclaiming the “old ways”. I take this to be because they were written for the group that they were written about, and because most of them were supported with grants from the Government of Canada… so of course would have a particular agenda. It’s not a bad position, just that 1. it is incredibly disheartening that a group needs to have this message repeated over-and-over in their own literature and 2. the repetition gets a little tiring.

I placed holds on a number of titles, but these are the ones that arrived in time, which I read during the readathon.

☆☆☆/5 Ak Skim Aan (Hunter) / Marshall Leigh George was probably the most unique comic in the pile. It was a very short story of an Indigenous Father in a dystopian future who can’t provide for his family until…he discovers the “old ways”. It was essentially posed photographs with a textured overlay to give it a science fiction feel. I personally was surprised with how much I enjoyed this short story. Plus, it was a bilingual comic in Blackfoot with English subtitles which is such a unique thing to read.

☆☆/5 A Blanket of Butterflies / Richard van Camp again is a very short story. This one was nominated for an Eisner award in 2016. It wasn’t “that” awesome unfortunately. I think the nomination made me have higher expectations. This was about a Japanese man who came to Canada to reclaim his family sword that was being held hostage by an out-of-control Indigenous man until he rediscovers the “old ways”. I didn’t find this one as meaningful. There was an emotional finale, but the connection between characters was awkward. It was just much much too short.

There was an interesting attempt at connecting the Denne culture with Japanese culture that was hinted at… I would love to see that explored more in a future comic.

☆☆☆☆/5 Moonshot: The Indigenous Collection this is a beautiful and professional production of short stories by Indigenous authors edited by Hope Nicholson. This title is worth picking up if only for the first short graphic novel/brilliant work of art “Vision Quest: Echo / David Mack” about a deaf Cherokee girl and the love of her father. Visually stunning, and beautifully moving. YES!! This story!! If I could buy pages of this to hang on my walls I would…

I wasn’t terribly interested in the rest of the compilation. But, the first title…

☆☆☆/5 The Outside Circle / Patti Laboucane-Benson is a story of a young Indigenous man surround by gangs, drugs and violence is sent to prison after fighting with his mother’s boyfriend and eventually finding his way to healing through an Indigenous rehabilitation program.

Again, a heavy-handed approach to rediscovering the “old ways” — but I think actually done to the best effect. In the end, this was thought-provoking, but also incredibly depressing. At the end one man finds reclamation but is just one man in a seeming never-ending cycle of destruction.

There is so much hurt in these cultures that it can’t help but being reflected in their literature. It’s a bit overwhelming to read over-and-over, but it is a reflection of something significant, complex, and seemingly insurmountable.  Compared to the experience of just reading about it, how much more overwhelming to live with?!

February Manga TBR

I’ve decided to participate in a new YouTuber’s channel, YuriInRealLife‘s, challenge of reading 1 manga a day for the month of February. The quantity isn’t difficult, but I’m actually struggling right now to make time every day for reading manga… This is just the challenge I needed right now to get my reading back on track!

I’m incorporating this challenge into my personal challenge/TBR jar challenge. I made 6 colour categories for manga and will be choosing books from each category every month to hopefully read and review that same month… although maybe the reviews will be postponed to the following month. I hope that this will help me to make it through some of my back log.

The 6 colour categories:

Pink: Read a longer series of 11+ volumes that you’ve read less than half of. I’m going to be drawing 2 from this category every month — hopefully this will help me get through my massive backlog.

Yellow: Read a new 2016 release that you purchased, but didn’t read in 2016.

Green: TBA

Orange: Read your bookshelves. I numbered the papers 1 t0 54 to correspond to my primary manga book shelves and will draw one number every month. I will read at least 1 series from the bookshelf to feature in an upcoming review.

Blue: Read Osamu Tezuka. I will read 1 title/series that I own by Tezuka every month… again, for an upcoming review.

This is going to be an interesting experiment — but, I’m very happy for my first month’s selections.

#Diverseathon the TBR

The #Diverseathon is a read-a-thon that runs from Jan 22-29 (Sunday to Sunday). It’s basic focus is to read “Diverse” books. That is, to read books whose authors or characters belong to a marginalized or disenfranchised group. Of course many books may be written by or include characters that belong into these groups, but this particular read-a-thon tries to focus on titles belonging to #ownvoices (titles about characters by someone who identifies as that marginalized group).

I do think that it’s important to read diversely: If only to give you compassion in your interactions with other people, and to give you a broader world view. These are things I’m always interested in developing in myself (And I hope you are too).

Obviously, I have decided to participate. And, as this read-a-thon is about stretching your perspectives and reading tastes… I don’t think manga will qualify for me.  I mean, I read ALL the manga without bias of creators or content… well, some bias, but certainly not regarding “Diversity”… I hope.

This read-a-thon also works really well with one of my 2017 reading goals. And that is to read titles by Indigenous authors from Canada. Or, authors of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit descent from Canadian lands.

The Canadian government has made it a priority to recognize the atrocities that were exacted on the Indigenous population of Canada through the recent passing of the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Act’. This is an important step for Canada that I hope a lot of Canadians will also want to be involved. And, is the reason why I’ve made reading Indigenous authors part of my resolutions for this year.

I’ve placed holds/requests on all of these books at my local library, so hopefully they will arrive before the read-a-thon next week. As far as I can tell, these are all #ownvoices graphic novels from Indigenous Peoples in Canada. I won’t be joining with the “group-read”.

My current TBR looks like this:

  • Red : A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
  • Ak Skim Aan : Hunter and Niisoo (not depicted above) by Marshall Leigh George
  • A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard van Camp
  • Moonshot : the Indigenous Comics Collection, volume 1 edited by Hope Nicholson
  • Outside Circle : the Graphic Novel by Patti Laboucane-Benson
  • Sugarfalls : a Residential School Story by David Alexander Robertson

If you’re also interested in participating, find out more information:

My 2017 Reading Goals!

I have an ambitious goal of reading 750 books in the year 2017! Yes, that’s right, 750!

Now, that might seem crazy, but let’s just say my best reading year ever was 1420 books… Does that bring you comfort, or do I seem even a bit more crazy?

 

The Plan:

  • Read 750 books. A book is anything with an ISBN, or anything written in sequence contained between 2 covers. I will count 10 page novellas, or 2000 page omnibus as 1 book.
    • 50% have to be first time reads. I’m a furious re-reader. And if I don’t push myself to read new things, I could spend the year only re-reading.
    • 24+ must be prose (anything that doesn’t use sequential graphics to tell the story). Might include poetry or non-fiction works as well.
    • 12+ must be graphic novels from other countries. This includes Korea even though the form is very similar in Korea to Japan.

I have some additional criteria that I’m going to attempt to read. First of all, I’m creating a TBR jar. So that every month I am going to pick out 4 things that I have to read:

  • A classic novel/manga duo. I’ve chosen 12 books that I think will pair with manga and make the dual-reading experience more interesting.
  • A long(ish) manga series that I own most of, but have read less than 50% of. I’ve chosen 12 series that aren’t high priority reads for me. Because I know I wouldn’t normally pick them up to read, I want to make them a higher priority.
  • A work by Osamu Tezuka. I have a lot of Tezuka in my collection. Many of the titles I’ve read, but more I haven’t. It would be a shame as a manga hoarder to let the god of manga down by only owning his books.
  • A work that I haven’t read before from a specific bookshelf. This may seem cryptic, but I am going to number my bookshelves, and put the numbers into the TBR jar. Every month I will draw a number and read a book/series that I haven’t read before off of the corresponding shelf. I suspect there’s at least something on every shelf that I haven’t read yet.  If I’ve read everything on the shelf, I’ll read the title that I haven’t read in the longest time.

I also have some quarterly goals:

  • I have chosen 4 authors that I want to get to know better. I’m going to focus 3 months on reading all of the works that I own, and possibly purchasing the works that are available and reading them in each quarter of the year.

 

I have lots more reading goals and other types of personal goals for 2017. I like to make goals, and find that the beginning of the year is the best time to decide what you want to do with your time.

I know what I’ll be doing with my time… How about you? Any reading goals for 2017?