Drama by Raina Telgemeier
A middle-grade story in graphic novel form about theater and drama and making friends and losing at love while succeeding at love. And I love Telgemeier's art. Her drawing is just the right side of cartoonish for me (in a Scott McCloud metric kind of way) that illustrates a world I'd love to live in. She also manages to create really well-fleshed out characters from just a single appearance, so that everyone you meet is a real character, not a ventriloquist's dummy or the same actor with a different mask.
That's something I feel I always struggle with, especially in longer works (Oh hai, novels!), i.e., how to make each character real and true so that they live as much off the page as on it.
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët
This is a French graphic novel about a young girl's corpse slowly rotting away to bare bones. It is also about a bunch of people who live inside her and escape when she dies. It is also about how everything goes wrong, no matter how hard you try to make it right. It is also beautiful and depressing and glorious and dark. It is also something you should infect your imagination with.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Everyone should read this. Most women will probably identify right away with what Solnit is talking about, though what she's talking about is not just how some men automatically disregard women's ideas (and even the idea that women can have ideas, some of which they even create ON THEIR OWN), but about the sickness that is misogyny in our society, both that of the United States (and other Western countries) and the world. A lot is covered in the essays in this book, and covered well and thoroughly.
My only nitpick is that, since it's a collection of essays written over a number of years about related topics, there's some repetition of argument. But sometimes an argument needs to be a hammer, and your skull the nail.
The Whisper by Aaron Starmer
This YA novel (second in a trilogy) continues to demonstrate that Aaron Starmer writes the kind of books I wish I'd written, only darker. More magical and whimsical, to boot. Don't boot. Reboot.
This YA novel (second in a trilogy) continues to follow Alistair Cleary's quest for the truth behind Fiona Loomis, who she is, why she's so strange, and where's she's gone to. Actually, he knows where. The Riverman took her. So where does that leave you? (A: Reading this trilogy)
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
If you haven't read Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, you should, if you like epic fantasy with a personal twist. Part of that personal twist is what you'll find in The Slow Regard of Silent Things, an in-depth focus on one side-ish character in Rothfuss' main series. It's beautifully written and endlessly strange.
M. pointed out that I might find the author's afterword especially interesting, and she was right. In it, Rothfuss talks about writing something that doesn't fit, that breaks the "rules" for writing, and which, therefore, is going to result in a story that no one wants to read. I never would've considered this book that sort of book except for that afterword. Is it strange? Yes. Does it approach narrative differently? Yes. But I'm excited by those things, both in reading and writing. On of my stories (in this mini-collection here) goes into long side-thoughts on philosophy and the way the world works, and several reviewers have found that distracting/uninteresting.
Which I understand, I suppose, though I'm overjoyed when I can figure out how to get a story to do something new, to turn against itself, to eat its own tail, to promise to lead you one place and take you somewhere completely different instead. I don't know if that's ever what I'm doing with my writing, but I'm trying. Dear lord, I'm trying.