Sarah Leavitt

Best Books of the Year: My personal Top 20

2012 Juli Frantje-Haus Selfpic.

(After a popular list last year [Link]…)

…here are the 20 very best books I’ve read in 2012:

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20: JASON SHIGA, “Bookhunter”, Graphic Novel, 2007.
Bookhunter

19: GAYLE FORMAN: “If I stay”, Young Adult Novel, 2009.
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

18: DAVID MARKSON: “The Last Novel”, (postmodern) Novel / Lists / Trivia Collection, 2007.
The Last Novel

17: SHARON M. DRAPER: “Out of my Mind”, Young Adult Novel, 2010.
Out of My Mind

16: OCTAVIA BUTLER: “Kindred”, (Fantasy) Novel, 1971.
Kindred

15: JOHAN HARSTAD: “Buzz Aldrin, what happened to you in all the Confusion?”, Novel (Norway), 2005.
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?

14: KRISTEN D. RANDLE: “The only Alien on the Planet”, Young Adult Novel, 1995.
The Only Alien on the Planet

13: DANIELA KRIEN: “Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen”, Novel (German), 2011.
Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen

12: TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: “A Streetcar named Desire”, Play, 1947. […alternative / runner-up: HENRIK IBSEN: “A Doll’s House”, Play (Norway), 1879.]
A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll's House

11: ARNO GEIGER: “Der alte König in seinem Exil” (Austrian) Alzheimer Memoir, 2011.
Der alte König in seinem Exil

10: SARAH LEAVITT: “Tangles. A Story about Alzheimer’s, my Mother and me”, Graphic Novel, 2010.
Tangles : a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me

09: ARNE BELLSTORF: “Baby’s in Black”, Graphic Novel (German), 2010.
Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles in Hamburg

08: SCOTT SNYDER: “Batman: The Court of Owls”, Graphic Novel (and good start for new “Batman” readers):
Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls

07: STEWART O’NAN: “The Odds. A Love Story”, Novel, 2012.
The Odds: A Love Story

06: JOACHIM HELFER, RASHID al-DAIF: “Die Verschwulung der Welt”, Essay (German / Persian), 2006.
Die Verschwulung der Welt.

05: ALEXIS M. SMITH: “Glaciers”, Novel, 2012.
Glaciers

04: JOE HILL: “Locke & Key” series, Graphic Novels, 2008 to 2013.
Locke and Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

03: MARLEN HAUSHOFER: “The Wall / Die Wand”, Austian novel, 1962.
Die Wand

02: GERBRAND BAKKER: “The Detour / Der Umweg”, Dutch novel, 2010.
Der Umweg

01: RUTH KLÜGER: “Still alive. A Holocaust Girlhood remembered”, Memoir / Essay, 1992.
Weiter leben. Eine Jugend.

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For a complete list of books I’ve read in 2012, please go here [Link].

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In comics, I’ve also enjoyed Guy Delisle’s travelogues / non-fiction graphic novels “Burma Chronicles” [Link], “Pyongyang” [Link] and “Jerusalem” [Link], the “New 52” DC comic books featuring “Wonder Woman” [Link], “Green Lantern” [Link], “Swamp Thing” [Link] and the “Birds of Prey” [Link] – and large parts of Naoki Urasawa’s “Pluto” [Link]

…and “Honey & Clover” [Link], a “Scott Pilgrim”-like, bittersweet / comedic coming-of-age manga series about five friends at an art school.

Here’s a collage of my notable graphic novel discoveries in 2012:

Wordpress Graphic Novels Best-of 2012.

Have a good 2013! More to come!

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Related Posts:

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LGBT Graphic Novels: Recommendations for Teens & Young Adults

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Good Graphic Novels for school libraries, teenagers and a Young Adult audience… with GLBTQ themes?

Over at “DC Women Kicking Ass” (Link), one of my favorite feminist super-hero blogs, author/webmaster Sue opened an interesting discussion:

“A while back, I got a request for a list of LGBQT Young Adult graphic novels for a High School library.

So far I have Young Avengers, Runaways, Pedro and Me, Tough Love, Strangers in Paradise, Skim and Batwoman.

Please let me know your recommendations and I will compile a list and publish it.

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I read lots of “literary”, more serious graphic novels this winter (recommendations here, Link), so for starters, here are some strong, personal recommendations:

Inclusive, serious, engaging titles for a young audience that will work well in a school setting / book club / discussion group:

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1: JUDD WINICK, “Pedro and me”, 192 pages, 2000.

gay main character  |  HIV prevention  | activism  | reality TV  | gay-straight friendship  | Cuban immigrants  |  autobiographical

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2: ALISON BECHDEL, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic”, 232 pages, 2006.

lesbian narrator / main character  |  coming-of-age  | suicide  | identity politics  | family secrets  | living in the closet  |  homosexual parents  | autobiographical

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3: HOWARD CRUSE, “Stuck Rubber Baby”, 216 pages, 1995.

gay narrator / main character  |  journalism / documentary  |  coming-of-age  | civil rights  |  discrimination, politics, activism  |  1960ies small-town USA  |  pre-Stonewall

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4: DAVID SMALL, “Stitches: A Memoir”, 326 pages, 2009.

straight narrator / main character  |  throat cancer  | identity politics  |  coming-of-age | family secrets  | suicide  |  lesbian parent  |  living in the closet  |  autobiographical

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5: DAN PARENT, “Archie Comics presents: Kevin Keller”, 160 pages, 2012.

gay main character  |  middle school audience  |  coming-of-age  |  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell  |  cartoon / slice-of-life / humour  |  harmless / bowdlerized / non-sexualized

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queer-positive YA books with a focus on trauma, loss, bullying or teenage alienation:

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6: DANIEL CLOWES, “Ghost World”, 80 pages, 1998.

friendship between girls  |  alienation  |  dark humour  |  everyday life  |  post-high school career  |  small-town USA  |  hook-up culture  |  loneliness

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7: JOE KELLY, “I kill Giants”, 184 pages, 2009.

middle-school female narrator  |  alienation  |  magical realism  |  everyday life  |  friendship between girls  |  personal trauma  |  cancer  |  anger / abandonment issues

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8: SARAH LEAVITT, “Tangles: A Story about Alzheimers, my Mother and me”, 127 pages, 2010.

lesbian main character / narrator  |  Alzheimer’s  |  family secrets  |  mother-daughter-dynamics  |  loss  |  leaving for College  |  coming-of-age  |  everyday life  |  autobiographical

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9: BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY, “Lost at Sea”, 160 pages, 2003.

teenage, female main character  |  magical realism  |  coming-of-age  |  friendship  |  soul-searching  |  alienation  | road trips  |  acceptance  |  everyday life

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super-hero books with gay and lesbian heroines:

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10: GREG RUCKA, “Gotham Central: Half a Life”, 168 pages, 2005.

lesbian main character  |  police procedural  |  coming out  |  lesbian relationships  |  second-generation Puerto Ricans in the US  |  Batman  |  psychological thriller

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11: GREG RUCKA, “Batwoman: Elegy”, 176 pages, 2010.

lesbian main character  |  Batman  |  magic, monsters, horror  |  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell  |  power fantasy  |  family dynamics  |  military families  |  self-acceptance  |  loss

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in 2011, the – mediocre, crass and often poorly-written – monthly YA super-hero comic series “Teen Titans” (Link) added a gay character, Bunker (Link). I can’t recommend the series, per se. But the character has gained a vocal following, and some media attention:

Notes from Bunker, Link (Tumblr)

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another note-worthy and worthwhile read / discussion is this (Link) letter column / exchange between Marvel writer Christos Gage (Link) and an anti-gay reader unhappy with teenage gay and lesbian characters in the “Avengers Academy” series (Link).

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notable series / titles that I cannot recommend (because the LGBT part is marginal or the overall writing is too weak):

  • “Buffy: Season 8” (Joss Whedon, Link)
  • “Y: The Last Man” (Brian K. Vaughan, Link)
  • “Friends with Ghosts” (Faith Erin Hicks, Link)
  • “Scott Pilgrim” (Bryan Lee O’Malley, Link)

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titles I have not read myself, yet:

  • “Runaways” (Brian K. Vaughan, Marvel Universe, Link)
  • “Young Avengers” (Allan Heinberg, Marvel Universe, Link)
  • “Strangers in Paradise” (Terri Moore, Link)
  • “Revolutionary Girl Utena” (Chiho Saito, Manga, Link)
  • “Wandering Son” (Takako Shimura, Manga, gender-nonconforming, transsexual (?) elementary school kids, Link)

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and finally: five LGBT prose novels / literary fiction for a High School audience that I enjoyed:

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related Posts:

Underdog Literature, February 2012: 15 fresh or artsy, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 graphic novels that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: GREG RUCKA, “Stumptown”, 144 pages, 2011.

02: KEN DAHL, “Monsters”, 200 pages, 2009.

03: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, “Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story”, 136 pages, 2000.

04: ALEX ROBINSON, “Box Office Poison”, 602 pages, 2001.

05: YOSHIHIRO TATSUMI, “A Drifting Life”, 856 pages, 2009.

06: GIPI, “Notes for a War Story”, 128 pages, 2006.

07: SARAH LEAVITT, “Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, my Mother and me”, 127 pages, 2010.

08: ANDERS NILSEN, “Don’t go where I can’t follow”, 244 pages, 2007.

09: EMMANUEL GUIBERT, “The Photographer”, 288 pages, 2003.

10: PAUL HORNSCHEMEIER, “Mother, come home”, 128 pages, 2003.

11: MANU LARCENET, “Ordinary Victories”, 128 pages, 2003.

12: FUMI YOSHINAGA, “Ooku: The Inner Chambers”, 216 pages, 2009.

13: PETER MILLIGAN, “Enigma”, 208 pages, 1995.

14: EROYN FRANKLIN, “Another glorious Day at the Nothing Factory”, 206 pages, 2009.

15: JONATHAN HICKMAN, “The Nightly News”, 154 pages, 2007.

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Here are three books that got great reviews, but left me disappointed:

01: AMIR; KHALIL, “Zahra’s Paradise”, 272 pages, 2011.

02: RAINA TELGEMEIER, “Smile”, 224 pages, 2009.

03: FUMIYO KOUNO, “Town of evening calm, country of cherry blossoms”, 104 pages, 2004.

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…and finally, here are seven books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 4 of 5 stars: JASON SHIGA, “Empire State: A Love Story (or not)”, 144 pages, 2011.

2: 4 of 5 stars: JASON SHIGA, “Bookhunter”, 144 pages, 2007.

3: 4 of 5 stars: JEFFREY BROWN, “Clumsy”, 224 pages, 2003.

4: 4 of 5 stars: JOE KELLY, “I kill Giants”, 184 pages, 2009.

5: 4 of 5 stars: PHILIP GELATT, “Petrograd”, 248 pages, 2011.

6: 4 of 5 stars: RANDALL MUNROE, “xkcd: Volume 0”, 120 pages, 2009..

7: 5 of 5 stars: FÁBIO MOON; GABRIEL BÁ, “Daytripper”, 256 pages, 2011. [best read of 2011, I’ve wrote about it here (German, Link)]

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