Book Haul… whoo

A colleague of mine discovered that there was a big book sale being held just a few minute drive from our office, so we decided to venture over after work one day this week. It was one of those big “library sale” type charity sales with tons of tables, thousands of books, and just about as many readers looking for a deal. Unfortunately I wasn’t savvy enough to remember to take pictures or video of the experience. But, I should at least be able to show you the spoils!

I went, of course, in hopes that I’d find some manga. I didn’t. That was disappointing. But, I did find 1 graphic novel:

“The Sculptor” by Scott McCleod. I hate to say that the only graphic novel I’ve read by this creator is still his non-fiction title about comic books and graphic novels “Understanding Comics”. I’ve been wanting to read anything else of his since… and that was probably over a decade ago. This is one I’ve heard great things about, and it was in perfect condition. Plus, I only paid about $2 for it which, frankly, is a steal! I couldn’t pass it up!

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I’m participating in a graphic novel readathon, called PanelAThon, at the end of the month which this is a good candidate for. Although, now that I think about it… I might also have about 50 holds at the library for other graphic novels I’m currently interested in reading…

Did I mention that I’m in the mood to read right now?? This is a phenomena I haven’t experienced in a few years. I really don’t feel like doing anything else. I just want to read. I want to read everything. And, I want to read it all right now. I think this is the form that my mid-life crisis is going to be taking… I guess it could be worse!

I did get a handful of Japanese art and language books as well. They aren’t the most current books (At least the art books aren’t), but they are actually all really intriguing… at least, if you’re an art nerd like me.

I broke up a nice looking “Art of the World” series that had several books focusing on different cultures for this one on Japan. There’s quite a lot of colour plates in this book, and there seems to actually be a decent amount of text, so I’m hopeful to learn something new.

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“Japanese Art” and “Oriental Lacquer” both feature a lot of full colour plates, which is very gratifying. There’s a lot less text in the Lacquer book, and it focuses more generally on East Asia, particularly Chinese lacquer. I think if neither have enough good information in them, they’ll still be pretty nice to cut up and use in paper crafts…

The Japanese language book “Jazz Up Your Japanese with Onomatopoeia” by Hiroki Fukuda is actually a book I’ve been wanting to own, but I believe the last time I looked on amazon, it was out of print. This particular series of Kodansha language books are my absolute favourite English-to-Japanese language resources.

Lastly, I bought three, kind of, wild cards: “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. I have read MOST of “East of Eden” and have been hoping to read more by this author. Actually, I had no idea that this book was as long as it is. It, like “The Sculptor” is in perfect condition. It doesn’t look like it’s been read, and it hasn’t yellowed at all, so I figured it would do alright on my shelves.

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“The Cosy Tea Shop in the Castle” by Caroline Roberts is probably the most outside my wheelhouse in this haul. I just wanted something random, and silly… and the plot of this sounds like just that. A girl opens a tea shop in a castle which has a very grumpy owner/Lord… who she will sweeten up by the charm of her cupcakes (not a euphemism). Haha. I can’t even. It sounds so corny. I love it. I expect I’ll give it a quick read before it gets a new home.

The last is the most unique title “What We  See When We Read” by Peter Mendelsund. It is a mix of text and illustrations, and appears to be an examination of the reading experience. How do people read? What influences their experience reading? Why does someone see different things in books? If it’s as good as I hope, then it will be a fascinating experience. Sometimes these more “philosophical” examinations of experience are just a bunch of gibberish. I’m crossing my fingers for this one!

So, that’s it. It only cost me about $25 (Canadian), which is fantastic! Especially considering that May is often my most expensive month.

I’m actually expecting to go to another similar sale next week and am expecting many more comics. I’ve also got an order in at Book Outlet for more books…not manga.

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I’m excited about all this new reading I’m going to be doing.

So, of course I can’t end this without a little question:

What is the last book (not manga) that you bought and are really excited to read?

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Manga Reading Wrap-Up | Feb 2018

Here’s everything I read in the month of February… with commentary!


★★★★ 5 Star Reads:

Dolis by Maki Kusumoto. Multilayered. Complicated. Twisted. Beautiful. Compelling. Begs to be Re-read.

The Park Bench by Chabouté. Wordless and wonderful! The poignant story of an object, illustrated in stark black/white contrast. Gorgeous book! Continue reading

Review: The Tipping Point / by Naoki Urasawa (and others)

The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point

by Naoki Urasawa et. al.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a mixed bag for me, but that makes a lot of sense considering how many artists were involved in the creation of the work. I’m not going to go too into detail of each story, just that I enjoyed the art in about 80% of the stories… and I enjoyed the stories (or at least appreciated) the stories in about 40% of the works.

I didn’t do any research into this work before I bought it. None. So, I was a bit surprised to find that it wasn’t a single work by Naoki Urasawa. Unfortunately, his was not the strongest work in the compilation. So, I guess it’s good that there were other creators involved.

By far my favourite titles were:
Hanako’s Fart / Taiyo Matsumoto
The Awakening / Emmanuel LePage
The Child / Bastien Vives
Fish / Keiichi Koike

The production though, was very beautiful. Thick glossy pages. Large trim size.

It’s strange to me to read Japanese works in the English left to right orientation, but that’s the nature of compilations. I’m glad to see a work like this that takes creators from all over the world and puts them next to each other. I don’t know too many other publications that do the same.

Graphic Novel Review: 750 Years in Paris / By Vincent Mahé

750 Years in Paris750 Years in Paris

by Vincent Mahé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gorgeous bold contrasting colour palette, that reminds me of vintage Eastern European Children’s book illustration. Who doesn’t love teals and orange together?!

This title follows 1 piece of infrastructure in Paris over the period of 750 years – following a seemingly accurate depiction of architectural history. It is essentially wordless, with a very brief timeline summary on the final page.

I enjoyed the colour and illustration — but, being a plotless and textless novel, I suspect is not something I’d pick up very often. Maybe would be good as a coffee-table book to flip through and enjoy at random.

You’ll probably enjoy this title if you also like: “Tokyo Sanpo”/”Tokyo on Foot” by Florent Chavouet or, “Here” by Richard McGuire.

Review: Alice in Wonderland / by Rod Espinosa

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland

by Rod Espinosa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Recommended for younger readers, who might be unfamiliar with the story.

As a child, I loved Alice in Wonderland. I recalled enjoying Espinosa’s courageous princess years ago and thought I’d try this. It wasn’t my favorite. I know the Alice story too well, seeing as it was a favourite growing up. And also, I don’t see myself as the demographic for this title.

Personally, Espinosa took some of the famous scenes from the story and hurriedly smushed them together in a fast narrative. He forgot to add the “wonder” to his story. Alice barely has a chance to catch her breath before she’s already onto something new. Espinosa is relying too heavily on the reader knowing the story… And, on Alice being incredibly adaptable.

The art is 50/50. Scenes are well expressed. Some of the character design is interesting, if a little over-simplified. But, Alice is a poor attempt at a manga style. Ineffective, expressionless, and distinctly uninspired-“fan” work. It doesn’t look like Espinosa has bothered to meld his own style… It’s just a poor rehashing.

I might be overly harsh on this comic.
Espinosa is treading into too many territories where I have strong opinions on.
Maybe if this was a retelling of a story I didn’t know… in a style of comic that I didn’t read daily… I wouldn’t be so annoyed by it.

Graphic Novel Review: Sweater Weather & Other Stores / by Sara Varon

Sweaterweather: & Other Short StoriesSweaterweather: & Other Short Stories

by Sara Varon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed several of the VERY short stories. And I think her colour palette is divine.

But I don’t think it’s a particularly good curation of stories. You’ll be hard to classify the reader for this work. The pacing generally makes each story feel geared to early readers–with lots of wordless stories. but then are mixed with a handful of text-heavy stories dealing with more adult topics. Not “adult”, just ‘adult’ (if you catch my meaning). But, I’m not sure how many grade schoolers are interested in pages from the author’s journal, or her worries about quitting her job. Certainly, an adult would appreciate this book more on the whole than a child would.

Generally a fun quick read… But I couldn’t see myself reaching for this more than once.

Graphic Novel Review: Just So Happens / by Fumio Obata

Just So HappensJust So Happens

by Fumio Obata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this comic, but I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. It’s quiet, melancholic and introspective… The art is beautiful and delicate, and colour is applied with purpose (which is something I always appreciate). The story is relatively without, and I guess you could say, incomplete, but this isn’t about a story, or solving problems — this comic is about opening up conversation on important topics.

What do you feel when you don’t belong home anymore? — returning to a place where you’ve rejected the cultural ideals and expectations that everyone has of you? — living in a new place where you’re in the minority, rather than the majority?

Plus, it always helps to add all of these familiar settings: I’ve attended a Buddhist Funeral in Japan, I’ve watched Noh theatre, I’ve sat in that exact place where Yumiko and her mother have tea… I always love to be able to point at pictures and say, “I’ve been there”. So, even if I don’t quite understand what Yumiko is going through — at least I can understand where she is.

Overall, I really enjoyed this comic.