cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Total for the year was 127 books and somewhere over 100 volumes of manga (erratic list-keeping, but have definitely read all of those - 104 - listed plus probable others). 18 for the [community profile] 50books_poc community, 6 others in translation (books, not manga), 23 re-reads, 10 non-fiction, 4 by people whose fanfic I've read, and 2 unpublished novels for critique.

The most impressive thing I've read all year is Akimi Yoshida's Banana Fish, which was just brilliant – amazing, inventive, unpredictable but deeply satisfactory plotting, great characters, art which definitely grew on me (I agree the first few volumes are a bit wooden) and just an all-round fantastic experience. Highly detailed recaps for my own obsessive purposes at this tag (all contain massive spoilers) – have not yet done the last volume. Less spoilerish description here at Shaenon Garrity's Overlooked Manga Festival post.

None of the books I read were as good as either this or other books from previous years (e.g. Robert Graves' Goodbye to all that, Jan Morris' Last letters from Hav). Close, but just quite not there, were Queen of the South and The Count of Monte Cristo, When the Hipchicks Went to War, Native Speaker and Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which all serve to reinforce my intention to read more books in translation.

In manga, after Banana Fish there are a number of consistently excellent ongoing series - Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys (brilliant use of multiple time-lines, great characters, strangely reminiscent of Stephen King's It while being about world destruction and giant robots) and Pluto (Atom/Astro Boy rewritte), for starters, but also Real (wheelchair basketball) and the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (slackers with psychic powers). I also finished After School Nightmare and Monster (also Urasawa), and both have a lot of very good stuff in them but wobble - After School Nightmare in resolving its central premise but undermining its characters, and Monster just doesn't really pull off the ending. Hikaru no Go is only not on here because I have read it about three times already in previous years. And, for manga once-offs, A Drifting Life (autobiography of a manga artist who started working post-WWII, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and was behind gekiga) was absolutely fascinating and I could have kept reading it for another 840 pages.

Books read, 2009. )
Manga read, 2009. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Total for the year was 127 books and somewhere over 100 volumes of manga (erratic list-keeping, but have definitely read all of those - 104 - listed plus probable others). 18 for the [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc community, 6 others in translation (books, not manga), 23 re-reads, 10 non-fiction, 4 by people whose fanfic I've read, and 2 unpublished novels for critique.

The most impressive thing I've read all year is Akimi Yoshida's Banana Fish, which was just brilliant – amazing, inventive, unpredictable but deeply satisfactory plotting, great characters, art which definitely grew on me (I agree the first few volumes are a bit wooden) and just an all-round fantastic experience. Highly detailed recaps for my own obsessive purposes at this tag (all contain massive spoilers) – have not yet done the last volume. Less spoilerish description here at Shaenon Garrity's Overlooked Manga Festival post.

None of the books I read were as good as either this or other books from previous years (e.g. Robert Graves' Goodbye to all that, Jan Morris' Last letters from Hav). Close, but just quite not there, were Queen of the South and The Count of Monte Cristo, When the Hipchicks Went to War, Native Speaker and Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which all serve to reinforce my intention to read more books in translation.

In manga, after Banana Fish there are a number of consistently excellent ongoing series - Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys (brilliant use of multiple time-lines, great characters, strangely reminiscent of Stephen King's It while being about world destruction and giant robots) and Pluto (Atom/Astro Boy rewritte), for starters, but also Real (wheelchair basketball) and the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (slackers with psychic powers). I also finished After School Nightmare and Monster (also Urasawa), and both have a lot of very good stuff in them but wobble - After School Nightmare in resolving its central premise but undermining its characters, and Monster just doesn't really pull off the ending. Hikaru no Go is only not on here because I have read it about three times already in previous years. And, for manga once-offs, A Drifting Life (autobiography of a manga artist who started working post-WWII, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and was behind gekiga) was absolutely fascinating and I could have kept reading it for another 840 pages.

Books read, 2009. )
Manga read, 2009. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I was overseas and in a manga shop, and mentioned that I was eagerly awaiting v5 of Pluto.

Counter guy: Oh. That came in yesterday morning.
Me (turning to look at shelves expectantly): Ooh.
Counter guy: And sold out by the end of the day. It’s our most popular title.
Me (exhibiting a broad and deep vocabulary): Oh, man.
Counter guy (quite possibly just toying with me): Would you like to buy the volume I read once lightly on the train home last night?
Me (not actually lunging): Yes please.

And it was very good.

Pluto, Naoki Urasawa, v3-5. )

20th Century Boys, Naoki Urasawa, v3-4. )

Ooku: the inner chamber, Fumi Yoshinaga, v1. )

My current main sources of manga are on-line ordering and attending international conferences (at the most recent one, my hotel was two blocks away from the manga shop, which was also having a 25% off sale). The latter is certainly effective but leads to moments of panic when I show up at the airport with 17 more books (volumes, whatever) than I left with, and have to put my suitcase on the scales. This time I was 400g under, thus demonstrating my remarkable restraint... and the fact that the manga shop was out of volumes 1-4 of Oishinbo.

(I did pick up v5. It was good.)
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
I keep sending care packages of manga to my deprived friend in another city and forgetting to take notes on them first. So, just to cover these, brief notes with probably an unhelpful lack of detail...

Pluto, Naoki Urasawa, v1-2. )

20th Century Boys, Naoki Urasawa, v1-2. )

Silver Diamond, Shiho Sugiura, v1-2. )

With the light: raising an autistic child, Keiko Tobe, v1-2. )

Anyway, I'm enjoying all of these, for different reasons, and the recipient of the care packages is bribing me with the next volume of 20th century boys, amongst others. I'd recommend all of them, although not necessarily to the same people. I am also toying with the first volumes of Vagabond (because I love Real), Kaze Hikaru (because I am trying to read more shoujo, and this has fight scenes) and Rurouni Kenshin, which should generate vast amounts of historical confusion if I combine them all. And I've finished Banana Fish, which was outstandingly brilliant, but it's taking me a while to write up the last two volumes.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
I was reading this at lunch in a cafe when one of the staff came up to make sure my meal was all right; she saw that I was reading manga, ducked down to check the title and then went, "Banana Fish! My favourite!" with appropriate enthusiasm (she turned out to be from Osaka). She was most interested in finding out where I'd gotten it from and if I liked it, while I was a) thrilled to encounter someone else who'd heard of it and b) terrified that she'd tell me what happened, so I ended up asking whether she knew if the mangaka had done other series (yes, apparently, although nothing that she liked as much). The food was also very nice (vaguely Spanish), as well as meeting my important criterion of being able to be eaten mostly with one handed cutlery while reading with the other...

A rabbit and a lynx can simply never be friends. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
I am finally in a house large enough to unpack all my books for the first time since 2004, during which interval I have acquired just a few more books (and rather a lot of manga). It was not entirely surprising when I ran out of shelf space, although I was hoping to get just a little further through the alphabet; judicious use of every possible shelf, including the kitset bookcase I put together this morning, and a rigorous cull policy (I'll post about this later, but I now have a massive cull pile consisting predominantly of fantasy trilogies I cannot be bothered with, books by authors who've annoyed me, books that have annoyed me books about vampires and the occasional duplicate, roughly in that order of quantity) means that I am now shelved up to Ryman. S through Z are going to have to wait for more shelves. Also, some sort of explanation as to why I have apparently found it necessary to acquire everything by Rafael Sabatini and SP Somtow/Somtow Sucharitkul at some stage in the distant past would be nice. Among many, many others, but I just don't remember buying quite this many books for either author.

Anyway. Back to the manga, which I have managed to shelve...

"Hospital regulations require the infirm be handcuffed? If only the AMA knew, I'm sure they'd issue a strongly worded statement."

Banana Fish, volume 10. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
"And then, of course, second, the heirloom Yongzheng bowl he smashed over the previous valet's head."

Volume 9. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
“I also find out you are supposed to put out your non-combustible garbage on Wednesdays and Saturdays!”

This is my favourite volume of Banana Fish so far - the final action sequence is amazing, and before that there is entertaining banter and a very nice plot revelation sequence, plus by this stage I like a lot of the characters more than I did in volume 2 (previous favourite) - and I wrote a lovingly detailed summary of it by hand on a small piece of paper due to battery issues, which I have either left in a book or in the wrong city or both. Writing another summary seemed like my best chance for having it show up again...

Volume 8. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
“The crap the NYPD is passing off as a pot of coffee is not potable without sugar.”

Banana Fish, volume 7. )

And more

Mar. 23rd, 2009 10:19 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
I've written up to volume 8 (and read to volume 14), but a) my notes, even when typed, are not that coherent and require time for further polishing, b) I am sampling the rarified atmosphere of regular posting and c) I am still procrastinating on finishing reviewing all the 2008 books, and at least this particular strategy gives me some sense of accomplishment.

Banana Fish, volume 5. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (FMA)
I have just discovered how to put .doc and .pdf files onto my iPod touch Stanza e-reader program, which I'm thrilled about for many reasons (I have a post lurking somewhere about Stanza, but basically I've found it practical, usable and massively convenient, especially during travel, and that's just with reading a bunch of stuff off Project Gutenberg), including the fact that I can now stick stuff for critiquing on it and look at it on the bus and during down time at work. My previous approach has been to carry stuff round on a USB stick, which a) still requires a computer and b) does not allow for the not entirely hypothetical situation wherein I am attempting to critique a story whose author has chosen to give it the working title of "Pornography"(yes, I can retitle it, but not if I haven't downloaded it yet), which is not something I'm going to be opening on anyone else's computer regardless of actual content...

Anyway. The cut/paste app is apparently coming soon, which will make the iPod touch much more workable for typing on, and I presume soon they will come up with an iPod Touch manga reader that I can use to catch up on all my backlog and they will have to chisel the thing out of my hand with a crowbar. Until then I'll stick with the hard copies.

Banana Fish, volume 2. )

Volume 3. )

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