Gateway to Manga | T5W

Today’s T5W is my favourite topic so far, but it’s also my hardest one to put together. The topic is “Your Top 5 Gateway Books to Your Favourite Genre”. OBVIOUSLY, I’m going to recommend some good “starter manga”, but actually I don’t consider “manga” as a genre.

But, that’s a discussion for another post.

Here are my suggestions for 5 great “starter” or “gateway” manga. If you’re interested in trying some manga, you might want to give some of these a try. Or, if you want some personal recommendations, send me a message describing your favourite book and/or what you look for in a book and I’ll recommend you some good manga titles to try!

 

93371AKIRA / by Katsuhiro Otomo

For the American comic book reader, I would recommend Akira. I’m sure you’ve already picked this up, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Akira features a fast-paced, intense, post-apocalyptic, political, cyberpunk story featuring children with psychic powers. It’s a brilliant series. Plus the art in it is fantastic; more reminiscent of “American-style” comics and graphic novel work than modern manga.

It is one of the first published in English, and probably has remained published in English the longest. And it has remained in the “English” left-to-right reading orientation, which means my American comic book reading friends won’t be disoriented from the “Japanese” right-to-left orientation.

[Kodansha has announced an upcoming reprint with a reverse back to the Japanese reading direction. But all previous editions should be in the English “flopped” reading direction.]

 

511240YOTSUBA&! / by Kiyohiko Azuma

For the “comic strip” reader, I would recommend Yotsuba&. Though it is technically not a comic strip, it is written by someone versed in writing comic strips: a pattern of scenario/punch line stories. Kiyohiko Azuma is more famous for his 4-koma/panel comic strip series called “Azumanga Diaoh”. Now, I don’t recommend that you pick that series as a first timer, since gag-comedy doesn’t always translate very well, but his other series Yotsuba& is the perfect title for any first-time manga reader. And, especially for people who are fans of reading comic strips.

It is a genuinely funny slice-of-life comedy series about a young pre-schooler named Yotsuba, & her father, and their friends. It is incredibly easy to get into, features short stories that don’t necessarily need to be read in order, and is gentle enough that it appeals from children-to-adult readers.  I highly recommend it!

 

25667474ORANGE / by Ichigo Takano

This is a fairly new series, and really easy to find in stores at the moment. And, a great gateway into manga. It’s about a teenage girl who receives a letter from her future self asking her teenage self to do some things to prevent a tragedy from happening to a new student.

It’s a great series, that I think would really appeal to contemporary YA readers. Features wonderful characters, important hard topics, a great friendship, and a bit of magical realism. It’s also quite short at 2 omnibus in English (5 volumes in Japanese) so not a terribly big commitment for a first-timer.

 

969275DRAGON BALL / by Akira Toriyama

This might not initially appeal to you, but I recommend you read 3 volumes, and then see if you can put it down.

Akira Toriyama writes great characters, has created a fun world, and has a great sense of humor. This probably would appeal to a slightly younger audience who likes to read adventure stories, but there is enough in it to even entertain adults.

It is inspired by the Chinese folklore story of the monkey king. About Goku, a young monkey boy who meets a girl named Bulma who is searching for the 7 dragon balls. When she collects them all, a dragon will appear to grant her a wish. He joins her on her quest, and they meet many friends, and have lots of adventures.

This is also a good representation of what you can expect from a HUGE percentage of manga; particularly battle, fantasy, or sports series. It’s a foundational series, and an incredibly engaging, and fun read. I’ve read it many many times, and my love of it never wavers! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

626339NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND / by Hayao Miyazaki

If you’re even remotely interested in picking up manga, I’m assuming you’ve already dipped your toe into Studio Ghibli (pronounced GEE-buh-REE) movies, including the adaptation of this classic manga series by Hayao Miyazaki.

It’s the title that launched me into being a manga reader, and it is absolute perfection! About a poisonous post-apocalyptic world that is on the verge destroying humanity. It features Nausicaa, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a strong young woman who has a strange and wonderful connection to the natural world. It has all of the themes that Miyazaki likes to deal with in his series: a young woman coming-of-age, flying machines, war, and environmentalism.

It’s an epic series that is beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, incredibly engaging, exciting, heart-breaking, and hopeful. I can’t recommend this enough. I think you owe it to yourself to read this series… and yes, the movie adaptation is great! but no, it isn’t nearly as great as the manga. Please read this manga!

 


This post was written in response to T5W (Top 5 Wednesday). T5W is a group on Goodreads that hosts weekly book list memes. Interested in joining?  Click here.

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5 Books I Will Never Read | T5W

This week’s T5W is sure to ruffle some feathers. The question is to list 5 books you will never read for any particular reason. This could be a book that you don’t think you’ll like, a book you’ve been spoiled for or, even a book that promotes ideas you don’t agree with…  There are as many reasons not to read a book as there are to read a book.

But, even with all of these reasons, I can’t say with confidence that I’ll never read any particular book. I can say however, that at this time, there are a number of titles that I really really don’t want to read; and that it will take a lot of convincing to change my mind.

So, here’s my top 5 lists of the most popular books I really really don’t want to read… Let the negativity begin!

 


1.Harry Potter (all the sequels) / by J.K. Rowling

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Now, before you organize a lynching… just know that Harry Potter came out the summer I had graduated from high school. I was essentially a “non-reader” at the time and the thought of reading children’s literature was particularly repulsive.

I don’t have that childhood nostalgia that most fans can claim.

Also, I don’t hate Harry Potter, I’m just not interested in reading it.

I’ve read the first novel after prodding from a friend/Potter-head who claimed it was essential to my education. I’ve also seen the movies. Again, at the request of yet another friend/Potter-head.

That was enough.

No, I’m still NOT interested.

I think it’s just a natural aversion to anything that’s popular. I don’t care about Harry Potter. I agree the series has done great things — it’s raised an entire generation of readers, but I just wasn’t one of them.

 

2. 50 Shades of Grey / By E. L. James

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I try not to be too influenced by people. But, I’ve just not heard anything good about this. Not. One. Thing. And, I can’t imagine that everyone I know hating a series would translate into me loving it.

 

3. The Hunger Games / By Suzanne Collins

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I’ve been told to read this series many times. Adding to the claim that the controversial element of children killing each other is an apparently new concept in YA literature. (It’s not, by the way!)

By the time this came out, the concept was already old-hat. Particularly if you were already a fan of the Battle Royale Franchise.

Why would I read something when there’s obviously already something far superior in the market? (I’m assuming)

 

4.  Lord of the Rings / By J. R. R. Tolkien

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Another popular and beloved series. I was aware of Tolkien back in the early 1990s when I was given an animated version of The Hobbit for a birthday present. As a 10 year old, I hated that movie. No, I really really hated it.

When we studied The Hobbit in 7th grade English I remember miming hanging myself during class. A bit obnoxious…but, you know…everyone’s obnoxious in grade 7. Right?!

I have since learned that it’s not just Tolkien that I don’t care for. It’s actually high fantasy in general that I have the aversion to. And since Tolkien is the basis for much of the genre…

I don’t get it. And, frankly, I don’t want to.

 

5.  The Book Thief / by Markus Zusak

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This title is the one I’m least familiar with. I’ve only been aware of it since I started watching Booktube videos about a year ago. And, on Booktube it is well loved. But, despite the wide love of this title it sounds like a somewhat ‘serious’ (i.e. not a comedy) title set during the 2nd world war. I like to read serious titles, and I don’t mind books set during war… but, serious titles set during a recent named war are an automatic red-flag for me.

I didn’t live that particular war (obviously). But, I haven’t forgotten it. Not when I’ve been witness to what experiencing the war did to some of my favourite relatives. I don’t need any extra reminders of the serious-nature of war.

 


This post was written in response to T5W (Top 5 Wednesday). T5W is a group on Goodreads that hosts weekly book list memes. Interested in joining?  Click here.

5 Manga I Must Read before 2017 | T5W

This week’s challenge is to list your top 5 books that you want to read before the end of the year. I have been sorely behind in my goodreads reading challenge. At this moment I am 6 books behind schedule — when I’m usually 30 ahead…Ugh!

I’m not too concerned with reading novels at this point. I’ve got a few tasks at work that are allowing for a lot of audio books… so, the numbers are taking care of themselves.

Right now, I really want to get back to reading manga.

 


1. Galaxy Express 999 / by Leiji Matsumoto

71P0Q841E5LI MUST read this space-opera manga series before the end of the year! This has been published in English since the late 90s — and it’s about time I finally get into it. I recently completed buying the manga volumes in preparation of L. Matsumoto’s newly translated series “Queen Emeraldas”. I just don’t think it would be right if I dove into that without reading this series first.

 

 

 


2. Vinland Saga / by Makoto Yukimura

51hFz0KS9bL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ I can’t promise that I’ll buy the series before year end, but I do really want to read it. Plus, this is one series that I’ve probably been recommended the most often since starting my channel. I’ve been hesitant to pick it up because I actually find the quality of the publishing to be on the low-end for a hardcover book. And the cover illustration really doesn’t appeal to me. But, I did end up bringing the first volume to a doctor’s appointment — and those few chapters that I happened to get to preview were pretty great! I’m hooked. And, I can’t wait to read the rest!

 

 


3. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure / by Hirohiko Araki

51D0Qg+jXzL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_ This, like the previous title is something I’ve been dragging my feet to read. The cover art, the title just is not appealing to me. I can’t help it. It feels circus-y. And I frankly, have never liked the circus.

I suspect that it’s not really about the circus. But, it’s just always been my impression. It doesn’t help that I’ve seen tons of videos of people saying how great the series is, without ever actually saying what it is about! What the heck is this about?

I guess I’m about to find out!

 


4. ALL the works by Inio Asano.

Inio Asano is a brilliant author and illustrator. And despite owning all of Asano’s works in English, I’ve regretfully only actually read 1 “what a wonderful world”. I’ve flipped through the others, but never sat down to actually read them.

I really would like to take a month and just plow through all 5 series. They’re short apart from Goodnight PunPun which is being released in several volumes. I should be able to get through these.

 


5. Naruto / by Masashi Kishimoto

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Yup. This epic finished publishing with 72 volumes + a 1-shot sequel at the end of 2015. I’ve only ever read the first half.

This was intentional, as there was a period in time when I just couldn’t buy manga. I’ve now caught up to the series, and can finally take the time and read through it. And, I know just the time I’m going to do it… (hint: it’s happening in October).

I’m a bit concerned that I won’t enjoy the read. It’s been a while since I read the early volumes of this series, so my tastes could have changed — plus, many fans are saying that the second half of the series basically sucks. I hope they’re wrong!

 


This post was written in response to T5W (Top 5 Wednesday). T5W is a group on Goodreads that hosts weekly book list memes. Interested in joining?  Click here.

5 Favourite First Sentences | T5W

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is favourite first sentences. I really like this topic. Sometimes it only takes 1 sentence to make me interested in a book, or set the scene for the entire novel.

I’m generally a graphic novel reader, but first sentences rarely carry the weight in graphic works as they do prose works.

Here is my list of favourite first sentences:

1. Tale of Two Cities / by Charles Dickens

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

2.  Pride and Prejudice / by Jane Austen

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

3. Leo the African / by Amin Maalouf

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“I, Hasan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I, Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road, my country is the caravan, my life the most unexpected of voyages.”

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / by Lewis Carroll

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“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’

5. A Christmas Carol / by Charles Dickens

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“Marley was dead, to begin with.”

 

 

This post was written in response to T5W (Top 5 Wednesday). T5W is a group on Goodreads that hosts weekly book list memes. Interested in joining?  Click here.

5 Favourite Books Outside My Comfort Zone

It’s a bit late to do a T5W, especially to post it to youtube. So, you lucky few people will have the luck to read it here. Except it’s Saturday… and I’m writing it, not speaking it. Yup.

The topic for last Wednesday was “Top 5 Books outside your comfort zone” or, “outside your regular genre”. It’s obvious that my favourite “genre” is manga. Although whether manga should be considered a genre is another thing in itself.

Here are 5 favourite books from 5 alternate genres than comicbooks or graphic novels.

 

  1.  Klee Wyck by Emily Carr

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You might not know this about me, but I studied art history in University. There’s something about Emily Carr that struck a chord with me. She’s definitely my favourite Canadian artist… and I might even say my favourite Canadian writer. Plus, the cartoons that she drew are a scream. This particular book of hers remind me so much of how I imagine my grandmother lived. Maybe Emily Carr just feels like family. But, at any rate, I love this book and recommend you give it a try.

 

2.  The Wheel on the School, by Meindert deJong

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I can’t tell you how much I love this children’s book. It features a small Dutch fishing village and a group of students who want to get storks to come and nest there once more. So, they scour the village looking for something the stork’s could use to nest on.

This is beyond charming. Plus, it has the added bonus of the nostalgia due to being one of my mother’s favourite bedtime reads.

 

3.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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I do love a good gothic novel, and this is still the best I’ve read. The charm is in the injurious lead-up to the action. More than half of the book is taken up by developing Jane’s character through childhood. It’s the brilliance of this introduction that leads to such a rich story and romance. You know exactly how she’ll respond to everything before you’re told… and you know why she reacts the way she does. It’s personally some of the best writing I’ve ever read.

 

4.  Trickster’s Choice (and Trickster’s Queen) by Tamora Pierce

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I didn’t actually get into YA novels until I was well into my 20s. But, of the titles I read, this is my favourite. It’s actually a duology (which apparently isn’t a real word) – which just means there are two books in the series.

This follows the daughter of the Lioness, Tamora Pierce’s famous gender-bending fan favourite heroine. Alianne takes on all of the traits of her parents, and thanks to her childhood and education is brilliant at the craft of spying. But, she is kidnapped by pirates and by design of the “Trickster god” is sold as a slave to a family who just happen to have ties to the royal line of the Copper Isles.

This is a brilliantly crafted and constructed novel. Every action explained, every secret revealed through a twist and turn of events. It keeps you guessing, but is still an intelligent and thoughtful read containing a considerable conversation about race relations and the impacts of slavery.

 

5. Popular Hits of the Showa Era by Ryu Murakami

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A dark comedy about rivalling gangs. One consisting of obaasan, and the other of  hikkikomori. Basically middle aged aunties versus 20 year old male shut-ins. It’s weird and dark…but I can’t help but love it. Especially the one-upmanship that happens throughout.

 

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