Each year is filled with so many new comic books, movies, and television shows that sometimes it’s easy to forget about actual books. Despite Ant-Man, Star Wars, and plenty of graphic novels to read, I did manage some time for reading a few novels ranging from memoir, to science-fiction, and humor! From authors as diverse as Ronda Rousey, Adam Christopher, and Jesse Eisenberg! With the start of a new year – 2016, it may be time for a quick break in seeing Star Wars for a seventh time and finding a good book to read to hold you over until Gotham returns.
Here’s a list of the top five (positively six) books to consider reading this year.
I. “Made To Kill” by Adam Christopher
Late last year I was introduced to novelist Adam Christopher through Dark Circle Comics’ “The Shield.” It rose to the top of my must read list (issue 1 is out now), and after learning of a Tor Books/Dark Circle Comics event – An Evening With Adam Christopher, which I attended with fellow writer Joe Grodensky, I picked up his latest science-fiction/noir story “Made To Kill.”
“Made To Kill” follows the story of Ray, “the world’s last robot, famed and feared in equal measure.” He’s a detective in Hollywood, California hired to track down a missing starlet. The novel begins with “Tuesday. Just another beautiful morning…” and the connections to great crime novelists such as Raymond Chandler don’t stop there. Adam Christopher’s idea for “Made To Kill” came from the thought of what if Raymond Chandler had written a science-fiction story and the manuscript was only discovered now. *Supposedly Chandler hated science-fiction.
Taking place in 1965, and enjoying the pleasure of being a full, sci-fi tilt of a noir story, “Made To Kill” by Adam Christopher has a definite appeal and charm that shouldn’t be passed on.
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
II. “DC Comics Backstories” by various
E.I.C. Chuck and I attended New Jersey Comic Expo; it was much more than we expected. A nice surprise we found was Scholastic had provided the event with a table of books. Found on the table were “DC Comics Backstories”, 120 plus pages geared towards readers between the ages of 8 – 12, featuring mini biographies of sorts on the various iconic heroes of the DC Universe. The two “DC Comics Backstories” found at New Jersey Comic Expo were “Batman” by Matthew Manning and illustrated by Steven Gordon and “Superman” by Daniel Wallace and illustrated by Patrick Spaziante.
“DC Comics Backstories” Batman and Superman are almost certainly going to be one of the most ordered of titles in schools, especially as kids become excited for this March’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “DC Comics Backstories” by Matthew Manning and Daniel Wallace are very easy to read biographies providing the backstory on Batman and Superman (Wonder Woman is on the way, but wasn’t provided). While they are primarily aimed at ages 8 through 12, they are accessible to just about anyone that loves the DC Comics superheroes.
III. “It’s Superman!” by Tom De Haven
While “It’s Superman!” by Tom De Haven was originally published in 2005, the year Batman Begins released, I only got around to reading it near the end of last year. I’ve had it in my collection for a long time and despite being a Superman fan, for some reason I never got around to reading it. Boy, was I missing out! “It’s Superman!” by Tom De Haven is one of the most incredibly thoughtful of reboots and re-imaginings that deserves a film adaptation if only so it brings more attention to De Haven’s work.
“It’s Superman!”, described as a “coming of age” story is set within Depression Era America and follows Clark Kent as a “quiet boy, a struggling B-student” who eventually leaves Smallville to ride the rails, come to New York City, and go from being a Hollywood stuntman to journalist in the metropolitan city.
Tom De Haven’s “It’s Superman!” truly delighted and excited me as not just a Superman fan, but of someone who enjoys a great story. “It’s Superman!” is deserving of every accolade and praise given to it. It’s my personal hope that more people discover this story in 2016!
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
IV. “Bream Gives Me Hiccups & Other Stories” by Jesse Eisenberg
There are few writers and actors that have the positively Woody Allen-esque sharpness, wit, and intellectual dexterity of Jesse Eisenberg, aside from Woody Allen, of course. Last year while watching an interview with Eisenberg on Jimmy Fallon, if only to hear him mention his role of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman, I was surprised to hear that he’s an accomplished contributing writer to the New Yorker and McSweeney’s.
“Bream Gives Me Hiccups” is a collection of forty-four short stories that explore the various psychologies of its protagonists. Jesse Eisenberg has collected stories, ultimately with no connection to one another, that fall under categories such as “Restaurant Reviews from a Privileged Nine-Year-Old”, “My Roommate Stole My Ramen: Letters from a Frustrated Freshman”, and “Dating.”
“Jesse Eisenberg’s “Bream Gives Me Hiccups” ranges from absurd to poignant remarkably well and in two particularly distinct chapters, he writes one scene – “A Guy On Acid Tries To Pick Up A Woman At A Bar” and another from a different perspective “A Lifelong Teetotaler, Embarrassed By His Own Sobriety, Tries To Pick Up A Woman At A Bar.” Eisenberg’s humor centers more on observations of people and doesn’t concern itself with the crude humor that many appreciate today. I enjoyed it very much and while Jesse Eisenberg’s sense of comedy may not be for everyone, it’s one worth picking up if you’re a fan.
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
V. “The Autobiography of James T. Kirk” by James T. Kirk & “My Fight/Your Fight” by Ronda Rousey
Near the close of 2015, I had read two distinct autobiographies that I greatly enjoyed and have probably not been enjoyed by the same kind of reader. “The Autobiography of James T. Kirk”, published by Titan Books and written from the perspective of “Starfleet’s greatest captain” is edited and ultimately written by David A. Goodman. “The Autobiography of James T. Kirk” is essential reading for anyone that considers themselves a Trekker. The story acknowledges the original timeline and the altered one (JJ Abrams) and perhaps the best thing about Trek when compared to Wars is that cannon has very seldom been disregarded entirely. “The Autobiography of James T. Kirk” follows Kirk’s childhood in Iowa and while it keeps closer to the original timeline, it does acknowledge the U.S.S. Kelvin and Captain Richard Robau. Concluding with Kirk’s death on the U.S.S. Enterprise B, as seen in Star Trek: Generations, the autobiography weaves in and out of the original series, animation, comics, and films.
“My Fight/Your Fight” is an undeniably exciting read, especially when it released last spring during the height of Ronda Rousey fever. Despite her stunning K-O to Holly Holm (Joe and I wrote about Rousey vs. Holm and compared it to Batman v Superman here), we’re still big fans of one of the greatest of UFC athletes.
Her memoir begins with a forward by Dana White, the President of the UFC. He tells us that during the summer at a Little League World Series game, a thirteen-year old boy had listed Ronda Rousey as his favorite athlete. “He could have picked anyone,” White says and it speaks to the amount of people Rousey has inspired in her career. We all love a good story about success and we tend to treat our athletes and celebrities as heroes. Ronda Rousey may very well be one of the closest real life figures whose life, struggles, and accomplishments read like a Marvel comic book hero. If you’re a fan of Ronda Rousey and/or you’re looking to find out more who she is, “My Fight/Your Fight” is the memoir to pick up.
Publisher: Regan Arts.
Have you read any of the listed books? Do you like Star Trek as much as Ronda Rousey? Let us know in the comments below and also be sure to comment on a book or story you feel should be not be missed!