Don't Worry, I'm Sure We're All Reading...

*NOTE: This post was written for Monkey Reads a Book, and thus refers to other people who wrote on that blog.

Yeah, so NO ONE has been updating the book site this month. Bob's off writing about Irish mythological heroes, I've haven't heard from Jason so I assume he's off saving the world again from insect invasions, and I've...well, I've been reading bits and pieces here and there but house, family, and work duties have combined to annihilate my attention span.

By the way, in the preceding paragraph I originally wrote "but house" as "buthouse". These are the things that give me no end of pleasure.

Anyway, I have been reading. Lots, as it turns out. I'm about 200 pages into Anthony Robbins' Awaken the Giant Within, which I'm using to motivate myself in work, diet, and exercise matters. It basically doesn't tell you anything you couldn't figure out on your own, but the worthiness of the book comes from how he tells it to you, in a way that makes you realize you're not wrong for never realizing your potential, and it's not too late to change your entire life with a few very quick decisions. More when I actually finish it.

I don't usually like to just read a nonfiction book (especially a self help book) without a little fiction to make things go down easier. So last night I picked up The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks after watching the frightening [REC] (it's kinda sorta maybe loosely about zombies the same way a film like 28 DAYS LATER is). Pretty funny book - I'm about 75 pages into it (easy to read, too) and should have it finished by the end of the week.

If you count comics (and I do), then I've read a lot over the past few weeks. Tons of single issue comics and a handful of trades. I'm back to my LCS (Local Comic Shop) every Wednesday and/or Thursday, and have been following the major summer crossover series at both DC and Marvel. as well as a few other titles. But the main draw lately has been a series of ridiculously good independent comic series covering topics as vast as English espionage, U.S. Marshals in Antarctica, and guns, girls, and love in all its many forms. So here are three non-superhero comics I've been catching up on in trades.

(Eventually I'll finish my enormous post about comics in general, as well as my current favorite things to read. Coinsider these three selections a taste of that much larger post)

1. Strangers in Paradise - You can't spend more than a half hour researching the state of comics today without coming across dozens of references to Terry Moore and his magnum opus Strangers in Paradise. 90 issues spanning 6 wonderful pocket-sized edition, it's the story of Katchoo, a woman on the run from her past, living with Francine, the love of her life. It's also about David, who loves Katchoo but realizes she loves Francine. I know - it doesn;t sound like anything you haven't seen in a late 90's romantic dramedy, but I haven;t even begun to speak about Katchoo's past involvement with the mafia, prostitution, or her penchant to literally shoot, drown, or smash her alarm clock every morning. It's funny, sweet, sad, and full of all the things that make relationships real and special. I was initially very hesitant to try this series out, but after 20 pages I was hooked.

2. Whiteout - Some of the best comics out there right now are coming from Oni Press. Scott Pilgrim is a series best left to it's own post (it's that good, and is tied for my favorite comis of the past decade) but there's mighty fuine stuff to be had courtesy of Greg Rucka. First up is Whiteout, a planned three-volume series (1 and 2 are currently out) about Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshal assigned to investigate a murder in McMurdo Station, the largest research facility in Antarctica. The art by Steve Lieber is reminiscent of Frank Miller in Sin City - not specifically for it's character design but for how the use of black & white work so well in the environment. Each volume works as a separate mystery/thriller, and work great in the comic medium.

3. Queen and Country - Of much larger scope is Rucka's Queen & Country, a dense comic version of Norman Mailer's Harlot's Ghost, if it dealt with MI6 instead of the CIA and had a sexy female lead and a lot more action mixed with it's drama. The draw here is the mix of realistic bureaucracy and life for operative Tara Chace as she engages is various missions for her country (and Queen). The art is again great, focusing on grit and dirt and more naturalistic lines rather than anything found mainstream. And as an added bonus, it's probably one of the best looking books (cover, size, shape) I've seen. You have great Tim Sale covers, and a host of different artists (including a brief stint by Scott Pilgrim's Bryan Lee O'Malley, so there's that reference) to flesh out an epic spy story.

So, uh...there you go. No real reviews, but I felt bad that this site been neglected for a few weeks.

Jason? Bob?