Sunday, April 10, 2011

My March reading recap

I didn't end up reading as much as I'd wanted to in March. There's one big reason for this, and some other things got in the way as well. I'm hoping a lighter schedule this quarter will let me read more on my own. Of course, this month's all ready a third gone, so I'd better get on that right away. But if you want to see what I read for fun, it's after the jump.

The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1The Ultimates and The Ultimates 2
You'd think that with all time I devote to superhero movies, I'd read a lot more comics than I actually do. These two books were just amazing. I loved Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns but it's one of the only other comic books I read and I wasn't thrilled by the art. These images are beautiful. Rumors hint Joss Whedon's film will follow along these lines. And I know Whedon read The Ultimates, because he wrote the introduction back in 2004. I was impressed by the mature storytelling of these books. They definitely weren't comics for kids. The abusive relationship between Hank Pym and Wasp, and the portrayal of Bruce Banner were great examples of this. Plus, all classic heroes were given their time to shine, with an alcoholic Tony Stark Iron Man, a hippie version of Thor, and the old-fashioned Captain America. I hope the upcoming Avengers movie takes plenty of queues from these books. Of course, casting Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury was the first step in the right direction. I highly recommend these books as stand-alone stories for anyone who likes superheroes or is looking for a place to find out about the Avengers.

Unseen Academicals
Unseen Academicals (Discworld)It was time for me to catch up another edition of Terry Pratchett goodness. He's easily one of my favorite authors, though I don't plan on trying to imitate his writing. His offbeat sense of humor and satire is something I doubt I could ever achieve. In previous Discworld books, he's dealt with the media, post office, and banking. In Unseen Academicals, it's time for his take on sports. But when Pratchett combines wizards and sports, he doesn't get Quidditch. Instead he provides a meta-commentary on college and professional sports, asking--but also illustrating--why we care about them so much.

Yes. I bought comic books this month. Nothing eases the anguish of dense school reading like some nice pictures. Earth One is a reboot of sorts for the Superman character. In fact, the Earth One line is DC's answer to Marvel's Ultimate series, which launched with the titles above. Both reboot classic characters so they can be accessed by readers who hasn't read every title over the past fifty years and memorized every hero's alternate identities and strange love triangles. As a writer, I appreciate these as contained stories more since they feature such classic elements as beginnings, middles, and endings. This book picks up with a young Clark Kent moving to the city, and shows him deciding to be Superman, meeting Lois Lane, and deciding to work for the Daily Planet, along the way answering the question of why a superpowered alien would want to be a newspaper reporter instead of a football star. It still didn't manage to solve my primary problem with Superman, which just how ultimately powerful he is, but it came close and that's a fault of the character's history, not of this book. 

FeedM.T. Anderson's Feed was one of those books I kept hearing I should read. It's a Young Adult science fiction novel where the people basically have the internet streamed directly into their brains. It's a pretty classical sci-fi story, extrapolating off a real world issue and taking it beyond the extremes. Sometimes I got the sense the author was trying to make me fear my Blackberry/Facebook/Twitter setup. Ultimately, the story was fairly depressing, and I found the slang of the first person narrator to be distracting. I'm well aware it's one of the best literary qualities of the book, but I didn't personally enjoy it.

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