Favorites of 2013: Short Stories & Comics

Favorites of 2013: Short Stories and Comics

This is my last Favorites of 2013 list, and one of my goals for 2014 is to read more books in each category because I love them both dearly. There are so many good books out there that I’m dying to read! Like the other posts, everything is listed in alphabetical order by title.

Short Story Collections

Battleborn: Stories by Claire Vaye Watkins

She’s not even 30 yet, but Watkins writes about the desolate American West like an old pro.Ghost towns, Las Vegas brothels, and miners in the California gold rush are just a few of the topics she tackles head on. From my review: “Battleborn is intimate and fierce; Watkins’s gaze at the American West is unflinching. I will read anything else she writes in the future, no questions asked.”

The Color Master: Stories by Aimee Bender

In these fifteen stories, ranging from three pages to a few dozen pages, Bender puts her signature twists on reimaginings of fairy tales and myths. From my review: “Psychological and fanciful, with her trademark elements of magical realism and a heavier-than-usual dose of fairy tale sensibilities, The Color Master was well worth the wait.”

News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories by Jennifer Haigh

News from Heaven picks up decades after Haigh’s second novel, Baker Towers, left off. Following the slow and inevitable death of Bakerton’s main industry, coal mining, the town is struggling to survive. One doesn’t need to have read Baker Towers to read News from Heaven; though some of the stories come back to the main characters of Baker Towers, most of the stories are told from the perspectives of different people around town. From my review: “It’s a beautiful collection, and as always, Haigh continues to impress me with her ability create these amazing character-driven plots.”

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

Vampires discover they don’t need blood to survive. A masseuse discovers that she can manipulate a client’s tattoo to rewrite his history and prevent his PTSD. US presidents are dismayed to find out where they go after they die. If you like short stories with a strange twist, this is the book for you! I don’t have a review for this one yet because it’s the last book I read in 2013, but I’ll get to it soon!


Big Questions by Anders Nilsen

A group of birds is going about its daily routine when a huge metal egg drops from the sky and kills some of their crew. Some of the birds are convinced that the end it near, while others believe they should sit with the egg until it hatches since they can hear ticking inside. From my review: “Once the initial chain of events is set into motion, the birds will bear witness to violence, death, the afterlife, and life’s small wonders…I found it positively marvelous.”

Building Stories by Chris Ware

I read this one early in 2013 and I really regret that I never reviewed it because, as you can see, I loved it. Building Stories isn’t a book, or even a graphic novel. It’s an experience. The “book” comes in a box that looks a lot like a board game, and it’s split into lots of different pieces that all tell different parts of the story. It’s so great (see the Super Graphic link for Tim Leong’s Chris Ware shout out).

Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

At what age does life really begin? The main character in this book keeps waiting for his life to start; he sees himself a successful writer, but he’s stuck in a dead-end job. From my review: “The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. And the story itself is philosophical in nature…it’s that age-old story of waiting for life to happen, even though it’s been happening and is already passing you by.”

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong

This is the “ish” part of my “Comics” header. Though it’s about comics, Super Graphic itself isn’t exactly a comic (the book is made up of diagrams and other various infographs). It’s everything you probably ever wanted to know about comics. From my review: “I freaking loved this book. It’s genius. Kind of obsessive and definitely geeky, but genius.”

5 thoughts on “Favorites of 2013: Short Stories & Comics

  1. I’m pleased to see that you liked and admired Jennifer Haigh’s News from Heaven as much as I did. It didn’t get much attention in a year dominated by the collections of Saunders, Diaz, and Russell, but it is a terrific unified collection that ends up feeling like a cross between a story collection and a novel. Other masters of the short story who deserve more attention are Ron Rash (Nothing Gold Can Stay), Joan Wickersham (The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story), Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories), and Katey Schultz (Flashes of War), all published in 2013. This is a new golden era of short stories!

  2. I have been so uninterested in Vampires in the Lemon Grove until your blurb here! You make it sound so good! Why have I been avoiding it?

    Also, I see you’re reading or you’re going to read On Such a Full Sea. Have you started yet?

    1. I was the same with Vampires, actually! I think I checked it out of the library twice earlier this year and just kept putting it off. I’m glad I came back to it.

      I haven’t started On Such a Full Sea yet, but I can’t wait to start. It looks so good!

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