Friday, February 26, 2016

The Best Books I Read in 2015: An Appendix to my Reading List for 2015

I started this tradition last year where I highlighted the best books I read for 2014. That post got a bit of interest, so I figure I can continue the tradition. This post then lists the best books I read in 2015 based on the books that I rated a full 5 out of 5 stars. This was a pretty good year for reading for me as I rated 21 books with 5 out of 5 stars. However, many others got a 4 out of 5 stars rating, which means they were "very good" and would also make good reading selections. As in previous years, the majority of the books on this list are graphic novels, given it is a genre I favor.

The list is in no particular order. I will provide a bit of commentary, and if I reviewed the book in 2015, I will provide a link to it.

Graphic Novels and Comics

Again, thanks to NetGalley, and Edelweiss to a lesser extent, I get to read a good amount of new and upcoming graphic novels and comics.These tools have helped me diversify my graphic novels and comics reading as I can often find titles that bookstores and comic shops may not carry; they are titles libraries mostly miss, and in some cases, ones that I think they should be ordering. So, here is what I consider was the best I read this year in graphic novels and comics:

  • The American Vampire is a series I continued to enjoy. I read more of it in 2015, but only Volume 5 got a full 5 out of 5 stars. I read other volumes, but they did not pack the quality as the fifth volume did. Still, the series overall is worth reading. 
  • Pancho Villa Takes Zacatecas. This is a blend of history and fiction about a real battle during the Mexican Revolution. The woodcut style art is the highlight here. 
  • The Mask. Before Jim Carrey made him famous in a movie, The Mask was already an unfiltered agent of violence and mayhem.
  • Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet was a nice nostalgia trip for me. If you enjoyed the 1960s Batman series, you will likely enjoy this revival of the series in comic form.
  • I am probably one of the three people left who did not rush out to watch the new Star Wars film. I will get to it eventually, but as long as there are good graphic novels and comics of the Star Wars universe, I feel no need to rush. Darth Vader and the Lost Command captures the days of Vader right after the Empire consolidates power.
  • Batman Earth One, Volume 2 continues the series, which does an excellent job of humanizing Batman and giving us a look at his early days. The first volume is also great. 
  • I continue to enjoy the recent Harley Quinn series. In 2015, I read Harley Quinn, Volume 2: Power Outage.
  • I continued reading John Lewis's story with March: Book Two.
  • Deathstroke, Volume 1 was a new discovery for me. What caught my eye was the intrigue and dark ops tale.
  • I rediscovered pulp heroes with Justice, Inc. The volume features The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Avenger.
  • I also continued to enjoy the greatness of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 2
  • This was one of the best graphic novels I read in terms of bringing back memories of younger days and just overall well written. The book is Punk Rock and Trailer Parks.
  • The Names is good for folks who like conspiracies and action.
  • And I end this segment with another excellent work from Derf, who also wrote Punk Rock and Trailer Parks. This time it's Trashed.


I had a few good nonfiction selections this year. Let's have a look.

  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is an excellent look at death and dying. More people should probably read this book and then have some conversations about it. 
  • I learned about a man who was an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. who was also a gay man. This man is not often mentioned in African American history, or in U.S. history in general, but not only did he advise Dr. King, but he also was a tireless activist. You can read Bayard Rustin's writings in Time on Two Crosses.
  • If you had doubts about how the U.S. handles a lot of its military operations, this will not allay those doubts. I found it amazing that three potheads managed to become big weapons dealers that sold to the U.S. You can read their story in Arms and the Dudes.
  • I do not usually pick one book of the year, since I usually read many good ones. But if you pressed me and asked what is the one book of the year for you, the one book you want to put into the hands of as many people as possible, then I have to pick without hesitation War Against All Puerto Ricans.
  • Another book that I would say is required reading is The Rude Pundit's Almanack. How I wish he would update it for this 2016 election season.

Erotica and/or nonfiction sex writing

That I managed to read in this category last year, let alone find books for this post was a bit of a miracle. For me, reading erotica is very much based on mood. Good moods mean I read more of it. Not so good moods means I read less, and last year was very challenging. Between the Chronic Bronchitis Forced Staycation of 2015 and some grieving for lost people, I did not read as much in this category as I could. Still, I managed to find some good things.

  • Darker Edge of Desire. If you enjoy a blend of gothic supernatural with erotica, this is the book
    for you. 
  • In nonfiction, Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1 is one I highly recommend for anyone wanting to get a sense of the great writing being done in terms of writing about sex and sexuality. I hope the series continues because this is a great way to keep up with this kind of writing. 

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