My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris
Read by Christy Admiraal
Emil Ferris won the best writer/artist Eisner for My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, and while that’s delightful, it’s in no way surprising. Monsters manages to be several things at once; it’s a record of mid-century German history, a snapshot of ’60s Chicago, and, perhaps most importantly, the diary of a 10-year-old girl whose obsession with B horror threatens to overwhelm the rest of her personality. The artwork—portraits, comic covers, and street scenes, all crosshatched in ballpoint pen—is just as stunning as the writing, and it almost feels unfair that Ferris is sublime at both. It’s not just the best graphic novel I’ve read. It’s one of the best books, period.
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat
Read by Kyle Anderson
Steven Moffat adapted his own script for the 50th anniversary Doctor Who special “The Day of the Doctor” and basically gave us the most on-brand prose version of what he did for six seasons on television. Each chapter is told from a different perspective—often the Doctor, but which Doctor, eh?—and he plays with the novel convention in a way few would have. Most impressive is this is a story that features every version of the Doctor in some form or another, and whenever possible—especially for the Smith, Tennant, and Hurt interpretations—they truly feel like different personalities of the same person.
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Read by Mica Arbeiter
Though The Golden Notebook turned 56 this year, the sands of time have levied little toll on author Doris Lessing’s tenacious and whip-smart dialogue. The book opens amid a conversation between two friends that sets the stage for an array of vibrant, funny, and all-too-familiarly-painful relationships and heartbreaks. If you spend too much time stuck in your head and crave the company of someone who gets you, let aspiring (and occasionally un-aspiring) writer Anna Wulf be your friend.
Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about the King of the Monsters Book by Brian Solomon
Read by Benjamin Bailey
I’m currently in the middle of Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King of the Monsters, which is a history of cinema’s greatest monster. Author Brian Solomon does a great job of covering all facets of Kaiju history, from the original Toho films to the less than stellar track record of American adaptations. It even breaks down the key actors, the directors and producers, the international releases, and overall performance of the films. It’s filled with gorgeous visuals, too. A total must-read for any Kaiju fan.
Room to Dream by David Lynch
Read by Eric Diaz
Director David Lynch has never been a conventional filmmaker, and it turns out his biography/autobiography Room to Dream isn’t either. The book was written together with Kristine McKenna, who interviewed dozens of friends, family and former wives of Lynch’s to create a comprehensive narrative of Lynch’s life and art. Then, after each chapter, Lynch himself recounts his own recollection of the memories those closet to him and gives his own version (which is sometimes contradictory!). His biography is both as wholesome and yet still weird as the man himself, and it makes for a pretty fascinating read.
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Read by Rachel Heine
If you watch Alpha Book Club, then you know that when I’m not reading something for the show, I’m reading a mystery. Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing is one of the best that I’ve read in quite some time, with a twisty narrative, multiple unreliable narrators, and a haunting prose style that even non-genre fans will appreciate. Don’t read too much about it; all you need to know is that it draws its inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, then takes a sharp left turn into a languid, psychological thriller that will keep you in suspense until the very end.
Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi
Read by Rosie Knight
Rumiko Takahashi is easily one of my favorite creators of all time. Arguably her best known work Inuyasha is a vibrant and wonderful contemporary fairytale that is set in Feudal Japan. Telling the story of a young girl called Kagome who falls down a magical well and ends up in the past. This magical story sees our heroine team up with a half-dog demon named Inuyasha and travel across the country trying to find the shards of a magical jewel before an evil demon does. Takahashi is a master at creating fantastic female characters and I love this series with my life.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Read by Kelly Knox
You might think you know all about Thor, Loki, and Asgard after catching a Marvel movie or two, but the endlessly talented Neil Gaiman tells you what really happened in Norse Mythology, and in his own voice. I’ve been listening to the Norse Mythology audiobook, narrated by Gaiman himself, and it’s like having an incredible bedtime story told to you night after night. There’s no superheroes here; the characters of Norse mythology are just as flawed and full of themselves as humans are. My favorite tale so far has to be “Freya’s Unusual Wedding,” in which Thor goes to astonishing lengths to retrieve his hammer, Mjölnir. He loves his hammer.
Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
Read by Amy Ratcliffe
“This is the twilight of the Jedi. The end starts now.” Within a single page, Matthew Stover’s Revenge of the Sith novelization had my complete attention. It does more than add details to the Star Wars film; it brings a depth of emotion and intensity that changes how I react to scenes like Palpatine luring Anakin to the dark side. Stover’s prose is by turns sharp, elegant, and utterly heartbreaking. His words make Anakin and Obi-Wan’s friendship so much more real and Palpatine’s long planned manipulations so much clearer and more painful. Every character from the movie shines in a new way.
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Read by Lindsey Romain
I’m always on the hunt for books with complicated, dark female characters, a trope I’m preternaturally drawn to, like moth to lamp. I was recommended Moshfegh’s well-regarded novel Eileen several weeks ago and wasted no time ordering it. I’m only about a quarter of the way through, but so far I’m loving the sparse, evocative prose, and Moshfegh’s keen eye for cruel detail. Her eponymous protagonist is a disturbed 24-year-old woman, who lives with her alcoholic father, and who seems the world as something decidedly not for her. The back of the book describes the novel as being “in the tradition to Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov,” which, if you’re like me, puts it automatically on your radar.
The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson
Read by Michael Walsh
The first time I heard about artist Damien Hirst’s stuffed shark, titled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” I didn’t get it. Why is this art, but other taxidermy isn’t? And why would someone pay millions for it? Fortunately Don Thompson’s inside-look at the absurd world of high-end contemporary art explains how it’s really a business of marketing, brand building, and manipulating egotistical billionaires to part with large sums of money for things many of us wouldn’t call art. I still don’t get “it,” but now I understand what “it” is.
Thinking about checking out any of our recommendations? What are you reading these days? Let us know!
Featured image: hagengraf/Flickr
Images: Fantagraphics Books, BBC Books, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, Random House, William Morrow, Shogakukan, Bloomsbury, Arrow Books, Penguin, St. Martin’s Griffin