I can't make you a list of Best Books that have been published in 2018 because I haven't read all of the books published in 2018. What I can do is reflect on the books I have read this year and let you know which of them has stayed with me — which books I'm still, weeks or months later, thinking about. To me, a book's longevity is its most important quality. I can read the most beautiful sentence in the world, but if that sentence doesn't set some chain reaction off in my mind, it's basically worthless. This week, I'm going to examine the books that really made a mark on me in one way or another — the books that changed me, the books that still live with me, the books that affect the way that I interact with the world. Perhaps you disagree, or perhaps you think some other book is way better than my selection. That's fine; send me an email or tweet at me and we can talk.
It's been another banner year for comics in Seattle. This year has seen the publication of books from two local cartooning legends Rock Steady by Ellen Forney and Poochytown by Jim Woodring and a great new comic by Mita Mahato that serves as a eulogy to the orcas who dominated Seattle's imagination in the summer of this year. We also saw a Seattle-set comic called Pervert by Michelle Perez and Remy Boy that focused on a part of the city that's rarely seen in fiction: Aurora Ave and its culture of sex work.
Probably the biggest and most impressive comics publication of the year is the gigantic collected edition of Berlin, by former Seattle cartoonist Jason Lutes. The story of life in Germany under the rise of the Nazis took decades to write and draw, but it's even more timely on its release in Donald Trump's America than it was when Lutes began the endeavor.
Blame This on the Boogie, a memoir by Rina Ayuyang,, is the most fun and imaginative comic I read all year — a glorious movie musical about the lasting power of family and the hope of coming to America in pursuit of the American dream.
One other memoir, All the Answers by Michael Kupperman, helped recast one of the funniest cartoonist in comics as a more complex figure. Kupperman mines the complicated relationship with his father, a childhood "quiz kid" who was one of the earliest sensations on television. The level of craft in Answers is evident — Kupperman's choice to depict his own eyes as emotionless circles is a daring one that pays off on many levels — and the story is a unique one that somehow manages to feel universal, like the best comics.