Years ago, I used to review every book I read on the Split Lip blog. It was fun, but I just don’t have the time to do it anymore. You get into a relationship, buy a house, go from a freelancer with a totally flexible schedule to a full-time job plus freelance, and your free time really diminishes.
Still, I miss keeping track of that kind of stuff. I know there are a lot of critics—especially of movies and books—who keep lists of everything they read or watch every year and how they rated it. I like the idea of creating that kind of historical record of one’s responses to art. Thus this post.
This post will track every book and comic I read in 2017 and which of them I thought were particularly noteworthy. They won’t have real reviews, but it will at least allow me to look back over my thoughts about books and comics and, maybe, help you discover some great new works. I’ll be doing the same thing in another post about movies.
I’ll update this list periodically.
Media Diet 2017: Books and Comics
- The Platinum Age of Television, by David Bianculli
- Universal Harvester, by John Darnielle—Not as strong as his last novel, Wolf in White Van, but satisfying if you don’t think of it as a horror novel.
- Mooncop, by Tom Gauld (comic)
- Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: The Crucible, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack (comic)
- Ill Will, by Dan Chaon—Far and away the best fiction I’ve read so far this year. Chaon is my favorite fiction writer in short stories or novels. This is a terrific story about serial killers, unstable memory, disintegrating families, tragedy, drugs, Northeast Ohio, and much more. The plot is great, of course, but it separates itself books treading similar thematic territory through Chaon’s masterful prose skills and nuanced, holistic characters. Buy Ill Will at Amazon
- Escapo, by Paul Pope (comic)
- Nijigahara Holograph, by Inio Asano (comic)—Without question the best comic I’ve read this year. It’s hard to explain this story without both giving away the plot and dramatically underselling the effect that the formal presentation of the story has on the reader. This is a horror comic that reads like a drama, a story of progressively more complex and horrific revelations, and disorienting jumps through time (though not time travel). For standalone comics that punch an almost unbearably strong punch, this is up there with Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library #20. Buy Nijigahara Holograph at Amazon
- Kill Your Boyfriend/Vimanarama, by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond (comic)
- Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire, by Neil Gaiman and Shane Oakley (comic)
- Dissolving Classroom, by Junji Ito (comic)—More Ito is an unqualified good. It’s heartening to see him back making horror.
- A Girl on the Shore, by Inio Asano (comic)
- His Bloody Project, by Graeme Macrae Burnet
- Experimental Film, by Gemma Files
- The 37th Parallel, by Ben Mezrich—The worst book of the year to date. Not so much a book as an extended treatment for a movie, which it seems to have sold to be made into before the book was even published.
- I Am a Hero, Vol. 1, by Kengo Hanazawa (comic)
- Mirror Mirror II, ed. by Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrorer (comic)—Will there be a better horror anthology this year (or next year or the year after)? I doubt it.
- I Am a Hero, Vol. 2, by Kengo Hanazawa (comic)
- Windeye, by Brian Evenson
- Father of Lies, by Brian Evenson
- Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
- H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound and Other Stories, by Gou Tanabe (comic)
- Honky, by Dalton Conley
- Gerald’s Game, Stephen King
- Nas’ Illmatic, by Michael Gasteier
- Broken River, by J Robert Lennon—Amazingly gripping and suspenseful quasi-supernatural thriller. Super entertaining and surprisingly emotionally powerful. Put me in the mind of The Haunting of Hill House, No Country for Old Men, and makes a surprisingly similar pair with Chaon’s Ill Will (mentioned above). Check this one out.
- Paperbacks From Hell, by Grady Hendrix—What great fun. Can’t imagine reading all of those books in order to write this, though.
- Goodnight Punpun, vol. 1, by Inio Asano (comic)
- What Does This Button Do, by Bruce Dickinson
- Golden Days, by Jack McCallum—A must for basketball fans. What a shame that Wilt Chamberlain died when he did. The stories about him here are exquisite treats.
- Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living, by Paul Collins—Collins is an unbelievably good researcher. Every single one of his books is packed with small, specific, details that bring his subjects and their worlds to life. He writes impressively good sentences, too.
- Strange Weather, by Joe Hill
- Love Nest, by Charles Burns