Thursday, December 31, 2009

What I Should've Read in 2009

With the new year just a few hours away, I thought this would be a prime time to reflect on what I should have read this year. While so many folks have churned out their "best of" lists for 2009 (myself included), there are a lot of great books I missed this year (and, in hindsight, would have proven themselves worthier than what I did end up reading).

In between work and graduate school, I somehow still found the time to read a lot of manga and start this blog. Unfortunately, due to limits of time and money, there were some series that I couldn't get to. Without further ado, here are the manga I should have read in 2009 (and will most likely be getting to first-thing in the new year!):

More josei: Sure, I read the first volume of Fumi Yoshinaga's new narrative-heavy historical drama, Ooku: The Inner Chambers, and the newest mature addition to Shojo Beat, Butterflies, Flowers, but I didn't have time to get to all the new volumes of continuing series that came out this year, like those for Ooku, Flower of Life, With the Light or NANA, nor series like Nodame Cantabile or Minima!. Thankfully, this will be easily rectified thanks to the Borders gift card that's currently burning a hole in my pocket!

Oishinbo: I love food and I love comics, so Oishinbo seems like a perfect read for me, right? Unfortunately, my "I'll grab it next time" mentality at the bookstore always results in me either forgetting or the series being out of stock the next time I end up at a bricks-and-mortar store. We'll see if I can get my act together in '10.

More Osamu Tezuka: While I haven't gotten to Swallowing the Earth, published by Digital Manga earlier this year, I also missed out on new volumes of Black Jack from Vertical. Alas, I won't even get started on the pile of all eight volumes of Buddha that I've been meaning to get to! I suppose it's no surprise that reading more by the "godfather of manga" is at the top of my manga-related list of New Year's resolutions. And while it wasn't written by the godfather himself, the Astro Boy-inspired Pluto by Naoki Urasawa is high on the to-read list, too.

IKKI titles in printed format: I've read a lot of great online seinen manga on Viz's Sig IKKI website, but I haven't taken the time to track down print copies of the lushly illustrated and mysteriously captivating Children of the Sea. But, with Natsume Ono's House of Five Leaves and not simple going to print in the first half of 2010, I just might break this shameful streak.

A Drifting Life: While I've only dipped my toe into the gekiga genre, there's no doubt in my mind that this title is worth the hours I'll have to dedicate to reading it. It's appeared on numerous "best of" lists, and Drawn & Quarterly and Adrian Tomine, the tome's editor, undoubtedly did right by Yoshihiro Tatsumi and his expansive illustrated memoir.

Worthy second volumes: I had the opportunity to read both the first volumes of OEL graphic novels, Nightschool and Yokaiden, but haven't had the chance to dig into the second volumes (for shame!). I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to what the ever-talented Svetlana Chmakova and Nina Matsumoto have come up with in the second volumes of their equally intriguing fantasy series!

More Yotsuba&!: Thanks to my local library, I've been able to immerse myself in the first few volumes of this endearingly cute series featuring the world's goofiest 6-year-old. And thanks to the fabulous folks at Yen Press who picked up this lapsed license, there were even more wacky adventures afoot in '09. Understandably, I can't wait to see what fun Yotsuba gets herself into next!

Give the little guys some love: While I made the time at San Diego Comic-Con International to stop by the booths hosted by Fanfare/Ponent Mon and Drawn & Quarterly (as recommended by this article), I had a hard time finding the time to read all of their amazing manga and graphic novel releases this year (see: A Drifting Life). Alas, these publishers put out consistently high quality work and, if what I've seen from D&Q so far is any indication, I need to get reading stat!


  1. I think most of your list is pretty similar to my to-read list. I do most of my manga reading from the library (until I know I want to re-read a series) so I am usually pretty far behind.

  2. @Rob I'm really careful about what I buy, too, so the library is my go-to spot for manga. Thankfully, one of our library systems is pretty good about getting new volumes out on the shelves quickly! Thankfully, I've also found cheap ways to purchase new and used manga, too!