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Monday, 7 December 2015

Staff Picks 2015: Alyssa


It's time again to try to narrow down the enormous list of amazing books that came out this year and pick a top ten. It's not an easy task, and 2015's offerings really went above and beyond. I ended up with a lot of graphic novels (there really was a tremendous selection), and a couple anthologies and poetry collections thrown in to spice things up:


We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
I'm pretty sure everyone I know is going to be getting this little essay in their stocking this year. It's very good. Adichie, author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, uses words sparingly, forcefully, beautifully. Her message is simple, that feminism leads to a "world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves," and since Beyoncé sampled the original speech in her most recent album, you know it must be true.

Bluetiful (Daphné B.)
Fellow store staffer Daphné published a fantastic collection of French poetry this year, and the result is a whirlwind of love, dep wine, post-party garbage, melancholy, and afternoons spent googling imaginary illnesses. There's real, relatable sentiment in her streamlined words, and the little book is a perfect way to spend an overcast Sunday morning.

Step Aside, Pops (Kate Beaton)
Kate Beaton's back with more amazing Hark! A Vagrant strips! I don't think anyone's better at riffing on literature and history, finding the humour in Julius Caesar, The Lady of Shalott, Ida B. Wells, and film noir femmes fatales in equal measure. And I've definitely been known to sit by myself, cackling quietly over the misadventures of fat pony.

Home (Carson Ellis)
Carson Ellis has previously illustrated for Lemony Snicket, the Wildwood series, and the Decemberists, and with her first solo book she's created something a little magical. With art both clean and full of detail, it's difficult to know who the book is for. Children who'll enjoy the whimsy of the drawings? Adults who'll want this as an art book? The answer, of course, is that this story of the cabins, palaces, and space stations we call home is for everyone.

Octavia's Brood (ed. adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha)
We got really lucky this year with several anthologies of social justice movement-driven science fiction, but Octavia's Brood, the spiritual successor to Octavia Butler's explorations of identity and imagination, is among the best. There are stories for every taste within its pages, and Star Trek/Reading Rainbow fans should look out for a story contributed by LeVar Burton!


Satanic Panic (ed. Kier-La Janisse and Paul Corupe)
There's something fascinating about the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, when a conservative backlash against the occultism and alternative religions of the 70s turned into a full-blown hysteria. Everything, from Saturday morning cartoons to tabletop role playing games, teen suicide to child abuse cases, was branded as Satanism, and Satanic Panic manages to chart the course of this ridiculous, intriguing, and sometimes dangerous mania with an admirable thoroughness.

Showa 1953-1989 (Shigeru Mizuki)
The final instalment of the late Mizuki's sweeping historical and autobiographical epic hit shelves recently, and it really is a conclusion worthy of a fantastic series. Chronicling the post-war restoration and a nation searching for identity, 1953-1989 takes on the Korean War, Japan's transformation into an economic powerhouse, and more with Mizuki's usual wit and beautiful art.

Melody (Sylvie Rancourt)
Cult classic Mélody finally got the English translation it deserved, and the autobiographical story of a girl from rural northern Quebec stripping in Montreal in the 1980s is just as refreshingly funny and fully realized in English as it is in French. With inventive, idiosyncratic drawings and a cheerful and unabashed heroine, Melody takes on deadbeat boyfriends and seedy bosses with enthusiasm and good humour.

I Wanted to be the Knife (Sarah Sutterlin)
My second poetry selection comes from Metatron, whose books I'm always more than likely to enjoy. I Wanted to be the Knife, by Montreal's Sarah Sutterlin, beautifully dissects modern romance, with all its ugliness, tenderness, pitfalls, and sweetness. The poems are brief and brutal—and feel very familiar.

SuperMutant Magic Academy (Jillian Tamaki)
Jillian Tamaki is best known for her graphic novels This One Summer and Skim, and for good reason, she does the coming of age story very, very well. In SuperMutant Magic Academy, a compilation of her very popular webcomic of the same name, the kids of the academy juggle magic and homework, broomstick sports and bake sales with a wry humour that I never get tired of. Hearts get broken, high school tropes subverted, and prom, as usual, takes a turn for the dramatic.

Bonus! Books I will read as soon as my school term ends:


Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates); I'll Never Write My Memoirs (Grace Jones); The Argonauts (Maggie Nelson); Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers (ed. Hazel Newlevant).

And make sure to check out the other staff picks!

Helen // Kate // Daphné // Saelan // Chantale // Kira // Julie

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