Another month has come and gone, and with it more reading! As you know, I am always consuming books, whether they’re physical, digital or audio. Every month, I like to share a breakdown of everything I read, including the books I abandoned. I do this because it gives me an opportunity to introduce you to books you might not have had an opportunity to read while practicing the art of writing concise book reviews.
In May, I read (and listened to) 11 books to completion, and started a couple of others that I almost finished (but not quite). Here’s what I read:
- The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
- Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor’s Revenge by Tim Seeley
- Batman, Volume 5: Rules of Engagement by Tom King
- The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen
- Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle between Marvel and DC by Reed Tucker
- The Last Archer by S.D. Smith
- The Flash, Volume 2: Speed of Darkness by Joshua Williamson
- The Flash, Volume 3: Rogues Reloaded by Joshua Williamson
- The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company by Stephen Drotter James Noel Ram Charan
- Cops and Robbers: The History of the British Police Car by Ant Anstead
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
Books with pictures: the road to a Bat-marriage, back to the future (and 1970s fashion sense), and running really fast
I’ve written fairly extensively about Tom King’s Batman run, and at this point I’m not sure there’s more I can say. Batman: Rules of Engagement is continues his strong run as it leads up to the upcoming wedding of Batman and Catwoman.1 Joelle Jones’ art on this storyline is lovely, as is the work by Clay Mann and Lee Weeks (a longtime favorite).
I discussed The Flash last month, and have been playing catching (and technically re-reading since I missed recording these on my Goodreads list previously). Some of the uneven bits of Williamson’s storytelling are less noticeable on a re-read, which is a great thing. Looking forward to seeing how he eventually wraps up the big story he’s building toward. On that note, Nightwing vol. 5 brings Tim Seeley’s run on the title to a close, wrapping up the Blockbuster and Raptor storylines that have been a part of the book from the beginning. Seeley’s had a great run on the character over the last four years (a chunk of which was co-written with King), and while I enjoyed this volume, I think it lacked some of the oomph of the preceding storylines.
And then there’s The Great Darkness Saga. This is a classic storyline from the early 1980s—and it’s both aged incredibly well and terribly. Well in that the storytelling itself is engaging. There’s a reason this story is remembered fondly, because it’s a terrific use of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters. But my goodness, it is definitely a product of its era. Writing styles have changed drastically in comics since this was written, so there’s a fun nostalgia to reading such an exposition heavy book, but it does hobble the pacing a bit. Then there’s the costumes, which are so terrible. So. Terrible. By the middle of the book, characters are reverting to less 70s-ish looks, but… yeah. All that to say, this was a book I enjoyed reading, but you’ve got to be in a certain mood for it.
Business, publishing, cars and assorted essays
The Leadership Pipeline was a work-read that I didn’t expect to actually find all that helpful. That is probably because I’m a pessimist. It could definitely have been shorter, but it was extremely helpful, especially as the authors describe the dangers of skipping a step in the different phases of leadership (starting with the move from leading yourself to leading others, and moving up to leading an enterprise). One key takeaway: when you don’t make the transition between each phase correctly, you risk falling back on your natural strengths—the ones that got you the job you have—but are actually inappropriate for the responsibilities you have now, which in turn leads to frustration from your direct reports. (This is something I’m watching in myself.)
I enjoyed Slugfest more than I probably should have. For the majority of people, it’s not that interesting—it’s the history of the war between the big two comic book publishers across multiple mediums. That probably sounds terribly dull, but it’s actually really engaging (and if you want a taste, go listen to the Marvel vs DC series on the Business Wars podcast). Cops and Robbers was a stretch book for me in that it is about cars. Specifically British police cars. I am not a car guy. I do not live in England. I could not tell you most of what is in the book. But I did find it fascinating nevertheless, especially as the author digs into the legislation and tensions that shaped purchasing decisions. Also, learning that automobiles used to be classified as trains is fascinating.
Last in this section is Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. This is a collection of humorous essays covering a range of topics from journaling to dating and socialized dentistry, with frequent asides related to his partner, Hugh. I enjoyed this book in part because Sedaris is a terrific writer. To pull off a book of essays, you kind of have to be. But more than style, books like this allow me to get a glimpse into the way someone totally different than me sees the world, even if it’s masked in humor.
Rabbits with bows and another Long War
The Long War is a sci-fi book co-authored by Terry Pratchett, and the first of four sequels to The Long Earth, which I read in April. It was okay. It didn’t really grab me in a way that made me feel as though I need to read another one, so I think I’m done with this series.
Finally, S.D. Smith tells great stories. I love that he is creating a larger world with his Green Ember series, and that he is exploring various side stories, all of which wind up connecting to the main plot. This time he does it with The Last Archer, following Jo Shanks, a supporting character in the core books. If you’re a fan of this series, you’re going to enjoy this book. If you’re a fan of good storytelling, you’ll also be a fan of this book. If you’re a fan of character development you’ll really be a fan of this book. So just go read it. It’ll take an hour.
That’s it for this month’s round-up. Do you find these posts helpful? Do you have a suggestion for a book for me or someone else to read or want to share what you’ve read? Connect with me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!
Here’s a look at what I read in:
- For real. ↵