Top 5 Summer Reads – Massive Slacker Edition

So I haven’t been quite as busy with posting as I hoped I would be during the summer.  Super-sorry.  And because I’m so far behind, I’m going to give you guys a post that you don’t deserve…

Here’s a (sorta) quick Top 5 list of my favorite books that I’ve read (or re-read) so far this summer:

5. The Sandman: King of Dreams by Alisa Kwitney

King of Dreams is one of many books written about Neil Gaiman’s fantastic series Sandman.  Authored by Alisa Kwitney, the book is one of the few volumes on the series that should be required reading alongside the ten trades (or four Absolute volumes, if you’re crazy like me).

While some of the illustrations aren’t new, there are bits of ephemera from various artists (including a really nice collection of early drawings from the pre-Sandman days).  Pick up the Sandman collection, Hy Bender’s Sandman Companion, and this volume and begin waiting for Gaiman’s upcoming Sandman prequel illustrated by JH Williams.  2013 can’t come fast enough.

4. The Waste Land and Other Poems by TS Eliot

The Waste Land and Other Poems has been my favorite collection of poetry since I accidentally stumbled upon TS Eliot as an angst-ridden sixteen year old.  The Wasteland and The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock are two of the finest examples of the genre, and the way Eliot plays with literary allusion in conjunction to his maddeningly complex and layered style will forever be burned into my brain.

And, likely, Prufrock will haunt me to my grave…

3. Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples

What can I say about BKV?  His comics work stands far above that of most mere mortals, and his new series, Saga is no different.  Saga tells the story of two aliens who fall in love… and unfortunately are on differing sides of an intergalactic war.  

Romeo and Juliet is the first comparison, but Vaughan has already brought in bounty hunters, bizarre aliens, and some truly hair-raising scenes that are drawn beautifully by Fiona Staples.

They’re just about ready to release issue 5 (WEDNESDAY!!!), so there’s still time to jump in on this one early!  Y The Last Man and Ex Machina were both fantastic, creative, and high-minded literary comics that are becoming increasingly rare… Check out Saga now before you regret it!

2.5 Dial H by China Mieville and Mateus Santoluoco

OK this is a cheat… but I forgot about this comic until I started writing about Saga.

Dial H is a reboot of an old DC property titled Dial H For Hero.  And that’s the extent of what I know about the original series.  The reboot is part of the New 52 from DC Comics… I could go on about that, but I’ll leave it alone, mainly because Dial H is so damn fantastic.

Our hero is Nelson Jent, an overweight slacker who one day finds himself turned into an oddity named Boy Chimney after attempting to make a phone call from an old pay phone.

Each issue thus far (we’ve reached #4) has been exciting, funny, and well illustrated… not to mention that you actually get a story instead of the crap DC has been mostly shoveling into their other New 52 titles.

Plus, Brian Bolland does the covers.  What’s not to love?

2. A Hologram For The King by Dave Eggers

This was going to by my number one… but it was outvoted by my mind.  We’ll get to that later, though.

Eggers is a true master as storytelling and crafting relatable characters, and Hologram is no different.  Alan is a salesman.  Or was, before all the economic bullshit the world had been thrown into.

Now, Alan is sitting in a hotel in Saudi Arabia, hoping to impress King Abdullah with hologram technology so that when the King’s city is built, all tech will be provided by the company Alan represents.

Alan is an everyman, and a bit of a post-modern Willy Loman.  Divorced, broke, and on the verge of giving up, Alan is on his last chance.  As he adjusts to the customs of a new culture, he also has to deal with family issues, the death of friends, and a general feeling of obsolescence.

The book also pretty much has the best designed cover of just about anything in my collection… so you should definitely buy it just for the gorgeous graphic design work on the cover.

1. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

If you ever need to convince a friend that teen books have value beyond the section they’re shelved in (I’m looking your way, Jonathan Franzen), don’t hand them Hunger Games (I’m begging you!), give them a John Green novel!
I’m not even going to justify this statement with a plot.  Just know that The Fault In Our Stars is not only the best book I’ve read in the last twelve months… it is one of the best books that I’ve read in the last decade.
A bittersweet tale, Green impresses, not only with the way he subverts our expectations as readers, but also with his incredibly subtle literary references and not-so-subtle pop-culture references.  He weaves them together so well with the story he tells that you’ll be stunned.
And also crying.
Not that I did.
 I’ll be back in a few days with a more in-depth discussion of A Hologram For The King and The Fault In Our Stars! I also hope to dig into a few more books in the coming days to talk about!

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