2019 reading

In 2018, I decided to keep track of my reading in order to avoid falling back into the bottomless rut that is Marvel Unlimited. Sharing my 2018 reading list turned out to be a pretty good way of keeping myself honest, so I decided to repeat it for 2019.

I didn't count any ongoing serialized comics, journal articles, or other short-form works. Nor did I count any books I read strictly for work; technically that category should include the George Pérez books and Panther's Rage, but I can't pretend I wasn't also reading them for me. Here's what I read in 2019:

Red Plenty (Paperback): Francis Spufford


Francis Spufford, Red Plenty
Howard Chaykin, The Shadow: Blood and Judgment
Eric Nolen-Weathington, Modern Masters vol. 2: George Pérez
Jonathan Abrams, All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of the Wire
Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark, Gotham Central vol. 1
Laurent Binet, HHhH
Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon, The Winter Men


Hartley Lin, Young Frances
Don McGregor and Billy Graham, Panther’s Rage
George RR Martin, ed., Wild Cards: Mississippi Roll
Adrian Tomine, Killing and Dying


Marlon James, Black Leopard Red Wolf
Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark, Gotham Central vol. 2

Image result for young frances


Dean Motter and Michael Lark, Batman: Nine Lives
Sophie Goldstein, House of Women
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl


Howard Chaykin, Time2: The Epiphany
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Jonathan Coe, Expo 58


Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue
Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, Astro City (2013)

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Francis Spufford, Golden Hill
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
Don McGregor and Gene Colan, Panther’s Quest
Cole Pauls, Dakwäkãda Warriors


Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, Crisis on Infinite Earths
Jacques Tardi, The Arctic Marauder
Christopher Lawrence, George Pérez: Storyteller
Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle, The Wrong Earth

Image result for eleanor davis the hard tomorrow


Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Olivier Coipel, and Chris Batista, Legion Lost/Legion Worlds/The Legion
Eleanor Davis, The Hard Tomorrow
Emil Friis Ernst, Dr. Murder and the Island of Death
Ed Piskor, Hip Hop Family Tree vol. 3
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies


Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum
Naoki Urasawa, Pluto vol. 7
Sarah Glidden, Rolling Blackouts


Naoki Urasawa, Pluto vol. 8
Terry Pratchett, The Truth
Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie
Jaime Hernandez, Is This How You See Me?
Howard Chaykin, Power and Glory
Christian Bök, Eunoia

Image result for christian bok eunoia

No, you didn't miss October. After a couple of false starts I realized it had been nearly three months since I'd read any prose fiction, so I promptly dropped all the comics and started Foucault's Pendulum, which I finished in November. I went back and finished one of the comics (Rolling Blackouts); I've yet to pick up the others. (I don't know if Ed Piskor has lost all interest in Hip Hop Family Tree, but I'm afraid I have.)

This year saw some real disappointments. I've written here before about how the Wild Cards relaunch rekindled my interest in the franchise, but Mississippi Roll pretty much killed my enthusiasm for it. The books have shifted from yearly or biennial releases focused around tightly plotted storylines to more-than-once-a-year anthologies rushing to capitalize on a market that's eager for anything with George R.R. Martin's name on it, and it shows. This one ended up in a little free library and I still feel slightly bad about that.

Black Leopard Red Wolf was released to much fanfare from reviewers who seemed to think that the novelty of an epic fantasy in an African setting was enough. But Marlon James doesn't do much else that's new with the fantasy conventions, and that--along with his inability or lack of inclination to look past the misogyny and racism of his characters--made this the biggest letdown of the year. I checked this one out of the library, and I'm glad; James is not an author whose work I will be supporting again.

Fortunately, I also read plenty of wonderful books. Red Plenty was the first novel I finished this year, and I began to worry that I wouldn't find another one as good. But it had some stiff competition from HHhH, Young Frances, Killing and Dying, Golden Hill, The Name of the Rose, The Hard Tomorrow, Is This How You See Me?, and Eunoia, which ended the year on a note almost as strong as the one that began it. Gotham Central, Panther's Quest, and Patricia Highsmith were all long overdue, and I'm glad I finally finished Pluto.

Among the books I reread, I began to appreciate Panther's Rage a lot more after teaching it for a class on diversity in superhero comics; Don McGregor and Billy Graham not only improved on their predecessors by leaps and bounds, they also surpassed many of their successors. The Winter Men and the 2013-2018 Astro City were pleasures to revisit, and the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Legion holds up really well. Crisis on Infinite Earths will always call out to my inner twelve-year-old, although I must admit that silencing that kid is the whole point of this exercise.

So yeah, there was some backsliding. Still, I didn't rejoin Marvel Unlimited or subscribe to DC Universe, and I found some great books. I'll let you know how 2020 turns out.

Marc Singer teaches English at Howard University in Washington, DC. He is the author of Breaking the Frames: Populism and Prestige in Comics Studies and Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics.
2019 reading 2019 reading Reviewed by Marc Singer on Thursday, January 02, 2020 Rating: 5
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