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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Staff Picks 2014: Marcela

Each year the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly staff members post our Top 10 books of the year! I started working at ye ole' Lib. D&Q in January, and have been honoured to work with some of the greatest, kindest, smartest people I've ever met, in one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. I haven't had this much fun reading since I was ten and thought I was Matilda. So A) thanks for existing, Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, and B) let me humbly present my favourite books of 2014.

Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay)

I guess I was living under a rock before September, because I had no idea who Roxane Gay was before I read Bad Feminist. But now it is read, and I am changed. I don't always agree with her, but I will always listen. Accessible and incredible, Bad Feminist is the kind of book you’ll want all your friends to read as soon as possible so you can discuss extensively.

Sculptor's Daughter (Tove Jansson)

Tove100 has made it great to be a Moomin fan, but beyond that, it has provided different shades of Tove Jansson, who was a genius, pure and simple. Her life and work fascinates me to no end, and her memoir, which chronicles melancholic tales from her childhood, is both incredibly written and perfectly structured. I highly recommend reading these aloud; they are magical. 

Syllabus (Lynda Barry)

Syllabus ended up delivering so much more than I ever could have anticipated or hoped for; as with Lynda's whole gerd'damn life, it's an inspiration and an absolute joy. For those of you who are unaware of Barry's stylings, she teaches "a method of writing that focuses on the relationship between the hand, the brain, and spontaneous images, both written and visual." (D&Q) Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor uses the Dear Professor Old Skull's course plans from several of her classes at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and expands upon them with her teaching insights, collages, and assignments.

This One Summer (Mariko & Jillian Tamaki)

I'm not even going to pretend to introduce you guys to this book. It was our June book club pick, it's awesome, you're buying it or you've already bought it. This One Summer is a beautiful, intelligent coming of age story focused on a preteen girl old enough to witness the angst surrounding her, but not quite old enough to be invited in. Mariko Tamaki's slow burning tension and unromantic nostalgia is perfectly matched by Jillian Tamaki's purple ink washes and character-focused illustrations. 

Everywhere Antennas (Julie Delporte)

Everywhere Antennas is Julie’s second book, and first foray into non-autobiographical. It’s the dreamy and thoughtful tale of a woman struggling to balance the demands of technology and human interaction. The anonymous narrator suffers from a severe sensitivity to antennas and electromagnetic fields, and goes on both an emotional and physical exploration to attempt to curb the affliction that’s affecting her life. It’s a beautiful and introspective story, and one that is immensely relevant to the sort of anxiety and sadness that blankets so many young creative people.

Riposte Magazine (ed: Danielle Pender)

Riposte is a relatively new magazine that I feel has made a significant impact in the publishing world. It profiles bold and fascinating women, covering a broad range of issues including: art, design, music, business, innovation, politics, food and travel. I am so happy that this magazine exists, since it has exposed me to so many incredible women in so many different fields. Also, on a bit of a nerdy note: it is designed by the incomparable Shaz Madani, whose work I adore.

Puffin In Bloom Series (Various Authors, illustrated by Anna Bond)

Anna Bond is famous in the stationery world for her company, Rifle Paper Co, so when I found out she'd be doing illustrated covers for the Puffin In Bloom series, I was over the moon. The series includes Little Women, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, and Heidi, all of which I loved as a child, and all of which feature strong female protagonists. Additionally, the production value on these little books is so fantastic: I want all my books to have gold embossed titles, please.

A Work No One Told You About (Olivia Wood)

I feel like the critical and emotional response to Olivia Wood's first book of poetry (published by Metatron) speaks to the immensity of her talent and the power of her personality; it is an incredibly compelling book by an amazing young author. A haunting portrait of grief, A Work No One Told You About lulls you with its calming, lovely use of language before it hits you right in the gut and leaves you breathless.

Flowering Harbour (Seiichi Hayashi)

Breakdown Press has really been killin it this year, releasing a large number of highly praised comics that are almost all riso-printed. None affected me as deeply as Flowering Harbour, a new translation from the incredible Seiichi Hayashi (Red Colored Elegy, Gold Pollen & Other Stories). Heartbreaking yet subdued, bold yet quiet, Hayashi's work is always beautifully contradictory, and leaves you feeling a confusingly wonderful sense of gloom. 

Bleeding Edge (Thomas Pynchon)

Pynchon's ear for dialogue is unparalled, and his spiralling mysteries are almost always worth the trip. I found myself  in love with protagonist Maxine Tarnow, the unbelievably sassy, self-deprecating fraud investigator who helms this bizarre little ship of Pynchon's. With its penchant for (often non-existent) pop culture references and its ludicrous conspiracies, Bleeding Edge leaves you dizzy, in the best possible way.  

Honourable Mentions 
(with as much alliteration as my little brain was capable of)

BONUS: Literary Lovas 

Men Explain Things to Me (Rebeccca Solnit), White Girls PB (Hilton Als), Lila (Marilynne Robinson), Polyamorous Love Song (Jacob Wren)

BONUS: Kids Books I Covet

In Real Life (Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang), Julia, Child (Kyo Maclear & Julie Morstad), Grilled Cheese Magazine (ed: Julien Boisseau), Alpha (Isabelle Arsenault)

BONUS: Graphic Novels With Gusto

Showa: A History of Japan 1944-1953 (Shigeru Mizuki, trans: Zack Davisson), Earthling (Aisha Franz, trans: Helge Dascher), S! 18: Poetry (Kus Comics), Cats in Ukiyo-e (not really a graphic novel but I couldn't resist) (Utagawa Kuniyoshi)  

And don't miss the other Top 10 lists by my well-read colleagues:
Alyssa's picks
Daphné's picks
Jason's picks
Julie's picks
Kate's picks
Kira's picks
Helen's picks
Saelan's picks

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