The 5th Annual Aaron Book Awards

31 12 2016

Has it already been half a decade since I’ve been doing this?! Wowzers.

Like the Academy Awards, I’ve changed some of the rules and categories this year. I’ve cut the category of Best Non-Fiction Book because it was too difficult to compare, say, a book about the history of Vancouver, to a book on exercise.

Although Classic has been a category for the past couple years, I’ve added all the titles with the rest of the fiction books (or plays if I elected to read a Shakespeare play as a Classic). This year, I’m going to put them in their own category.

Also, I decided a book is only eligible for the category that I had chosen it for. So for example, Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, is both a Children’s Book as well as a Graphic Novel. In past years, I allowed books to be entered in multiple genres if they were multi-genre works, but decided that this was unfair to other books that were, say, simply novels. In addition, some categories had more nominees than others. So Sisters will only be in the running for Best Graphic Novel since that is the category for which I had chosen it.

With that out of the way, let’s start the show!

Total number of books read in 2016: 42 (a new record! Although some books I didn’t actually read all the way through, so maybe not)

Best Fiction Book/Novel

Winner: Sharp Teeth — Toby Barlow

I feel like I should pick Roadside Picnic because it is considered to be an important work in the sci-fi genre, and yes, it is an intriguing story, but I still have to go with Sharp Teeth because it hooked me right off the bat and was one of the most visceral books I’ve ever read, not to mention the experimental way its written is pretty damn awesome.

Nominees:

Sharp Teeth — Toby Barlow
One Man’s Trash — Ivan E. Coyote
Roadside Picnic — Arkadiĭ and Boris Strugat͡skiĭ
The Slow Fix — Ivan E. Coyote

Best Memoir

Winner: The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls

A very well-written memoir about a family. Not much else to say except that everyone should read it.

Nominees:

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) — Jenny Lawson
Humans of New York — Brandon Stanton
Paper Shadows — Wayson Choy
Deep Too — Stan Dragland
The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls

Best Play

Winner: Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett

I said it in my review for the book, and I’ll say it again. Man, this was a depressing play about feeling stagnant and stuck. I didn’t think I’d be able to relate so much to an absurdist play like this.

Nominees:

Death of a Salesman — Arthur Miller
The Laramie Project — Moisés Kaufman
The Glass Menagerie — Tennessee Williams
Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett
Othello — William Shakespeare

Best Children’s Book

Winner: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — J.K. Rowling

I had no idea all I read this year was Harry Potter. Jeez. Honestly, it’s difficult to pick one of the HP books (Up and Down, although cute, just can’t compete with books about kids dying), I ultimately picked The Goblet of Fire because it was a turning point in the series for me. The first three books laid the foundation for the series, and near the end of Goblet of Fire, there was a sense that the stakes had been raised quite dramatically with the genuinely shocking death of Cedric Diggory. More horrified I was that Cedric’s death happened in front of a freakin’ teenager who was bound to be traumatized after. Goblet of Fire was the book that finally stepped into mature themes, creating foreboding that permeated throughout the rest of the series. No one was safe anymore.

Nominees:

Up and Down — Oliver Jeffers
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — J.K. Rowling

Best Gay/Queer Book

Winner: The Riddle of the Sands — Geoffrey Knight

Yeah, it’s campy, sexy fun, but I gotta say, it’s well-paced and there’s more (and better) plot than all of the Bourne movies. Plus the sexy guys having gay sex. Woot.

Nominees:

The Hardest Thing — James Lear
Strip — Andrew Binks
The Riddle of the Sands — Geoffrey Knight
The Cross of Sins — Geoffrey Knight

Best Graphic Novel

Winner: The Arrival — Shaun Tan

Extra props for being able to create different atmospheres using only pictures. Truly awesome. As in leaves me in awe.

Nominees:

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets — Hubert
The Shadow Hero — Gene Luen Yang
Bone, Vol. 1 — Jeff Smith
The Arrival — Shaun Tan
Angel Catbird, Vol. 1 — Margaret Atwood
Sisters — Raina Telgemeier

Best YA Novel

Winner: Ghost World — Daniel Clowes

Although none of the nominees really blew me away, at least Ghost World‘s crushing ending was nice.

Nominees:

Ghost World — Daniel Clowes
Gone, Gone, Gone — Hannah Moskowitz
Way to Go — Tom Ryan
You Know Me Well — David Levithan and Nina LaCour
Whatever. — S.J. Goslee

Best Classic Book

Winner: The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

The Kite Runner — Khaled Hosseini
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — Robert Louis Stevenson
Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur GoldenThe Legacy/A Town Called Alice — Nevil Shute
The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

Best Book of 2016

Nominees:

Sharp Teeth — Toby Barlow
The Glass Castle — Jeannette Walls
Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — J.K. Rowling
The Riddle of the Sands — Geoffrey Knight
The Arrival — Shaun Tan
Ghost World — Daniel Clowes
The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

Winner: Waiting for Godot — Samuel Beckett

This was the most difficult pick I’ve made since I started compiling these lists. Even I’m not sure I chose the “best” one, since all these books were great in their own different ways. I do think that Waiting for Godot managed to convey so many themes in such subtle ways, and of course it was depressing as hell, which I’m always a sucker for.

Congrats to all the winners! What will I read next year?

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Waiting for Godot

26 09 2016

Though I could’ve read a Shakespeare play to brush up on the classics of theatre/drama, I instead opted for something more modern. I’m sure most people have heard of Waiting for Godot and have gotten the references — two men waiting for another who never shows up — but reading it turned out to be a much deeper, philosophical experience than I thought. The play calls itself a tragicomic, which surprised me even before reading (how could this play be tragic?).

I underestimated Mr. Beckett: that ending was depressing as hell. To be fair, I’ve really been considering moving to another city for a while now but haven’t really looked into it so that likely had something to do with it. Although I think the play is deceptively simple, it’s one of those that can definitely be interpreted in numerous ways. In my case, I felt it was about existentialism.

Ugh. Now I’m depressed thinking about it again.

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The Glass Menagerie

27 06 2016

Is it wrong to be disappointed when something isn’t as depressing as you thought it would be? I thought this play would be sad and there are certainly layers of sadness but not an overwhelming sadness that I expected.

Also I like this shirt. And of course the awesome Gravity Falls cap that is slightly too big for my tiny head.

Didn’t I say I was going to post every day again? Whatever happened to that? Hmm…

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The Laramie Project

14 04 2016

This is a fantastic play that everyone should read. That is all.

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Death of a Salesman

30 01 2016

Everyone considers this to be a classic play, and that is depressing as hell, which basically sold it for me. Maybe because I was prepared for depression, I wasn’t really all that depressed by it. Sure, the ending is devastating on different levels and I’m a fan of Miller’s criticism of the American dream, but some of the scenes seem to run too long and too repetitive. Still a decent read though.

I thought I’d take a picture of me in normal clothes for once. (Much to the relief of many, I’m sure)

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The 4th Annual Aaron Book Awards

1 01 2016

Ah, it’s that time again already? A whole year’s gone by so quickly? Jeez. I don’t know what to say. Except that my mother is cleaning my bathroom right now because I haven’t cleaned it in a while and it annoys me because I specifically told her not to wash my bathroom because she uses gross chemicals. Note to self: clean bathroom more often next year.

At the end of last year, I wanted to try and even out the different genres of material I was reading, since I found that I read very few plays and much more novels and YA books. For the most part, it worked quite well, though I found that sometimes the order got messed up whenever a book abruptly came in for me that I had request a while back and then I’d have to put down whatever I was reading in favour of it). I read or attempted to read total of 41 books, which is up from last year (although I did count a number of picture books that took all of a minute to read).

And now… let’s begin!

Best Non-fiction Book

Winner: No Logo — Naomi Klein

An infuriating and depressing look at the state of the world. I don’t remember feeling so angry while reading something in a really long time. And the saddest thing is, sweatshops and brands still have a ton of power except these days, no one cares anymore.

Nominees:
No Logo — Naomi Klein
Library Architecture + Design
— Manuela Roth
The Ethical Slut — Dossie Easton
Business Affairs

Best Play

Winner: King Lear — William Shakespeare

I feel like it’s unfair to have Shakespeare in this category and I almost decided not to include him simply because, well, he’s Shakespeare. But I realized Dickens, Rushdie, L.M. Montgomery are all still competing against modern authors, so it didn’t seem fair to only exclude Shakespeare.

I do feel like I have to give big props to Christopher Durang for writing two brilliant and hilarious plays. Laughing Wild would’ve won if not for the Bard.

Baby with the Bathwater — Christopher Durang
Laughing Wild
— Christopher Durang
King Lear — William Shakespeare
Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde — Moisés Kaufman
The Comedy of Errors — William Shakespeare

Best Graphic Novel

Winner: Maus — Art Spiegelman

No contest here.

American Born Chinese — Gene Yuen
Shirtlifter — Steve MacIsaac
Fun Home — Alison Bechdel
The Book of Boy Trouble
Maus — Art Spiegelman

Best Children’s Book

Winner: Anne of Green Gables — L.M. Montgomery

Surprised? I am too. Not to say that Anne of Green Gables is bad, but the best kid’s book I read this year? Yeah. I guess so.

Cat Champions — Rob Laidlaw
Swallows and Amazons — Arthur Ransome
What Will Fat Cat Sit On? –Jan Thomas
Anne of Green Gables — L.M. Montgomery
How to Speak Cat — Sarah Whitehead
Cats Meow — Pam Scheunemann
A Christmas Carol — Charles Dickens
A Castle Full of Cats — Ruth Sanderson
The Wind in the Willows — Kenneth Grahame

Best Gay/Queer Book

Winner: Business Affairs

It certainly is the gayest.

Also, I’m not sure about having this category or not.

The Geography of Pluto — Christopher DiRaddo
Fun Home — Alison Bechdel
Shirtlifter — Steve MacIsaac
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe — Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Business Affairs

Best Memoir/Autobiography

Winner: Shaking It Rough — Andreas Schroeder

Yes, I know I’m biased because Andreas used to be my teacher. But also, this is a really good book with some great writing. And also I’m biased.

Tiger Mother Son of a Bitch (Only to be stated here because I attempted to read it and gave up because it was godawful)
Yes Please — Amy Poehler
Fun Home — Alison Bechdel
Shaking It Rough — Andreas Schroeder
Maus — Art Spiegelman

Best YA Novel

Winner: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen — Susin Neilsen

I’m a sucker for sadness. And Canadian authors!

American Born Chinese — Gene Yuen
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen — Susin Neilsen
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story — David Levithan
The Porcupine of Truth — Bill Konigsberg
How I Live Now — Meg Rosoff
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe — Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Another Day — David Levithan

Best Fiction book/Novel

Winner: The Road — Cormac McCarthy

I almost chose The Bone Clocks but then I saw that I had rated The Road five stars and The Bone Clocks only four. It’s hard to pick The Road when it was one the first books I read last year and I don’t remember it as well as The Bone Clocks, which I read more recently. But like David Mitchell, I love McCarthy’s writing style. Also his bleakness is always appreciated.

The Road — Cormac McCarthy
The Bone Clocks — David Mitchell
Midnight’s Children — Salman Rushdie
Tenth of December — George Saunders
Slade House — David Mitchell
The Geography of Pluto — Christopher DiRaddo

Best Book of 2015

Winner: Maus — Art Spiegelman

Apparently I’ve chosen memoirs several years in a row now. It just goes to show you what a unique and impacting kind of experience it is to read them (ie. everyone should read more!).

Congrats to all the winners and hope to read some fantastic stuff this year!

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The Comedy of Errors

31 12 2015

After the devastation of Maus, I needed to read something lighter and more cheerful. The next genre on my reading list was Classic. I was about to pick a book when I realized that I always pick a book for Classic while Shakespeare’s plays continue to be unread. So I chose The Comedy of Errors because, well, I wanted a comedy. Sure, it might not have been the easiest read because if the language, but nonetheless it was enjoyable and clever.

Also, check out my new shirt from one of my favourite books! 🙂

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