Me vs Motion Sickness: A Win For My Reading List

Thanks to a few more shifts at my part time job and my constant battle against diminishing my motion sickness on the bus, I got through a lot more books in March than I did in January and February combined. I’m still not at the point where I can read a book during my 1.5 hour bus ride to my allergy doctor once a month, but I’m gaining an extra 30 minutes or so of reading time on the days when I commute to and from work. My goal is to eventually be able to read on the bus on allergy shot days, but for now the next goal is to simply keep up the good momentum I’ve got going on now.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe

After reading The Ten Cent Plague by David Hajdu for a research paper in my undergrad, I started to add books on the history of comics to my collection. True to form, I’m only just getting around to reading those books (almost 10 years later). Unfortunately, Howe’s history of Marvel comics was not nearly as interesting to me as The Ten Cent Plague. I liked it at first because I genuinely enjoy learning about behind the scenes moments like the ones in this book. When I started to notice my interest waning, I wondered if it was the writing style that wasn’t working for me. I was almost half-way through the book when I realized that I wasn’t enjoying reading it because it was just a string of “here’s what went wrong” stories over, and over, and over again. I got to be too much doom and gloom.

Plus, the book did not end the way I was expecting. Given that this was published the same year the first Avengers film was released to theatres, and so much focus was put on Stan Lee’s dreams of getting Marvel to the big screen, I really expected to be more about the MCU in those final chapters. The Avengers (2012) was a pretty big moment for comic book movie history and I really expected that there would be some sort of significant focus on this aspect of Marvel’s success. Overall, I found this book disappointing.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an absolute master. I’ve read a number of his works in different genres and age ranges, and I am always impressed. His children’s lit in particular is impressive because I find that even his novels that are geared towards younger readers are still enjoyable to adults. My dad read this book years before me and gave me his copy because he said he really liked it and thought I would too. And when I read it, not only did I fall in love with the characters and the story, but at no point did I feel like I was reading something that was too juvenile. I think that part of what makes this particular story appealing to adult readers is that the narrative is framed by an adult main character looking back on his childhood. Just based on the structure alone, this is a story that works for different age ranges. And as an adult, I found the ending to be incredibly moving (no spoilers – you should read this one for yourself).

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Back when I was a T.A. during my Master’s degree, one of the novels my students studied was Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. I enjoyed reading it, I enjoyed teaching it, and I went out and bought a DVD copy of the movie and enjoyed that too. Needless to say, I was looking forward to reading more from this author. However, it was clear early on that Never Let Me Go was going to remain my favourite Ishiguro novel. It’s not that The Remains of the Day isn’t good, it’s just that I enjoy the unsettling elements and moral ambiguity of Never Let Me Go more.

And with this particular novel, yes, there are moments that really make you think about Stevens’ morals and how those are formed and/or affected by his employment, but there’s little room for grey areas. Today, in 2022, we know the Nazis are the bad guys. There’s no ambiguity in the scene where the Jewish servants are dismissed – we know it’s wrong, even though Stevens won’t admit it yet. In fact, the most moving scenes for me were the ones that involved his relationship with his father. It was heartbreaking to watch him try to balance his loyalty towards his employer with his love for his father. Even though I did not love The Remains of the Day as much as Never Let Me Go, I still plan on watching the movie – I recently discovered it’s on Netflix!

Sharkasaurus by Spencer Estabrooks and Jethro Morales

If you know me, then the fact that I have something like this in my comic collection should not surprise you. Actually, credit goes to Mark for finding this and gifting it to me a few years ago. Yes, it took me too long to get around to reading this one too. But obviously I loved it. The story is a ridiculous debate between science and religion that features a sharky abomination wreaking havoc on a Christian mini-golf course. If it sounds like the plot of a bad shark movie… We’ll there just so happens to be two short films based on this comic which I have now added to my “to watch” list. It’s a fun, stupid shark story – do you seriously expect me to say anything bad about this one?

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

If you remember how I read The Only Good Indians in only one day, then it should not surprise you that My Heart is a Chainsaw ended up on this year’s reading list. Early in the year, I received an Amazon gift card for participating in a study and knew exactly which eBook to spend it on. Jones’ knowledge and love of the slasher genre is what will keep me coming back to his books. Although I preferred The Only Good Indians in terms of the plot, My Heart is a Chainsaw has a much stronger Final Girl as this is a more character driven novel. Her own personal horror story is perfectly intertwined into the larger slasher narrative. I adore Jade, and I need to get my hands on a copy of the sequel ASAP so that I can learn what happens to her. Especially after that powerful final chapter.

And boy am I glad I’ve been watching more and more horror movies recently because I had no trouble picking up on the copious references to slasher films that Jones scattered throughout the text. (You bet I cheered whenever Jaws was mentioned). Thanks to this book, I’ve also added even more horror movies to my “to watch” list – there were a handful of films mentioned that I have not yet seen, so clearly I’m going to need to fix that.

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