We’ve expanded the regular AVQ&A discussion prompts to ask several of our regular contributors (and you) a simple question: What have you read in the past month, or what are you currently reading? This time, books editor Andrea Battleground and digital manager David Anthony share their favorite books read in November or December 2014. If you have suggestions for future AVQ&A questions, big or small, email them to us here.
I really wish Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin’s graphic novel Birth Of A Nation could have followed its original plan and been made into a movie—or a one-season-only television show so that it didn’t suffer the zombified resurrection that tried its damnedest to ruin The Boondocks. (Yeah, I’ve still got some anger behind that.) McGruder and Hudlin’s Bush-era satire knocks it out of the park. No one in this just barely fictionalized presidential administration escapes the creators’ razor-sharp dissection in this tale of what happens when East St. Louis, Illinois secedes from the union due to mass voter disenfranchisement. Of course I could just be partial to the book because of all those sneaky Outkast references.
I’ve been reading Jill Lepore’s The Secret History Of Wonder Woman for more than a month now, dipping in and out of it whenever the mood strikes me. Lepore is a Harvard University professor of American history, and it shows in her well-researched, heavily footnoted account about the origins of the most famous female superhero in comics history. I expected the book to present Wonder Woman for the feminist symbol that she is, but what is unexpected (at least for me) is all the information Lepore provides about the creator of the character, William Moulton Marston. Marston lived an interesting, unconventional life, and many elements from that life found their way into the Wonder Woman mythology—including her indestructible bracelets and lasso of truth. Not just for serious comics historians, The Secret History Of Wonder Woman is also a must-read for anyone interested in feminist or utopian literature.
As I’m usually late to the game on new releases, I’ve spent most of my reading time this month tearing through George Saunders’ short-story collection Tenth Of December. I was privy to all the praise heaved its way upon release and, more than a year later, it proves all of those kind words were warranted. Though a couple stories still remain, I’ve been impressed by the collection’s ability to shift between thematic styles while still feeling united thanks to Saunders’ astute explorations of the human psyche throughout. At around the midpoint of my reading of December I picked up the debut graphic-novel memoir from Liz Prince, Tomboy, which served as welcome break from Saunders’ headier offerings. In Tomboy, Prince’s crude drawing style reflects her grappling with the concept of gender roles as a child. It’s a breeze of a read–I blew through it in an afternoon–but Prince’s transparency in detailing the most intimate moments of her life make Tomboy resonate for far longer than I could have expected.
Notable November/December book releases
The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson (out 11/4)
A Map Of Betrayal by Ha Jin (out 11/4)
New York 1, Tel Aviv o by Shelly Oria (out 11/4)
Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter (out 11/4)
Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg (out 11/4)
Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford (out 11/4)
GB84 by David Peace (out 11/4)
Revival by Stephen King (out 11/11)
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Xiu (out 11/11)
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (out 11/18)
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (out 12/2)
King Dork Approximately by Frank Portman (out 12/9)
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (out 12/9)
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (out 12/30)
Fifty Mice by Daniel Pyne (out 12/30)
So Anyway… by John Cleese (out 11/4)
I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short (out 11/4)
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life by Sophia Loren (out 11/4)
The Art Of Asking: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Let People Help by Amanda Palmer (out 11/11)
Loitering: New And Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio (out 11/11)
Watch Me: A Memoir by Anjelica Huston (out 11/11)
The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by Boris Johnson (out 11/13)
Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free by Cory Doctorow (out 11/18)
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion by Meghan Daum (out 11/18)
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys: A Memoir by Viv Albertine (out 11/25)
God’ll Cut You Down by John Safran (out 11/28)
Becoming Richard Pryor by Scott Saul (out 12/9)