Books I Read In 2018 / by J. Logan Carey

Steal Like An Artist is a fantastic book for creatives of all types. This was probably the third time I’ve read it as it’s a really short read and acts as a huge boost to my creativity.

Super highly recommended.

Art & Fear was a phenomenal deep dive into what it means to make art. It had a lot of poignant advice like not comparing yourself to others or being worried about copying other artists as you’re learning when we can’t even copy ourselves. Read the book for that to make sense.

Another idea in the book that resonated was about how your job as an artist is not necessarily to become the best ever or even exactly what you are aiming for, but to make art and understand the art you make and come to appreciate it.

The Worst Hard Time is a National Book Award Winning book about an era of American history that holds a lot of interest for me, the Dust Bowl and Great Depression era. I haven’t read many non-fiction / history books, but I am working on changing that as I get older. I think that’s a popular trend.

The book reads like a novel in a lot of ways, and you really get a feel for the people who lived through it. There are amazing stories of survival, hardship, and loss in here. It also sparked an idea for a graphic novel set in the Dust Bowl. Ugh, so many comic ideas…

H.P. Lovecraft is just simply one of my favorite storytellers of all time. His imagery and gothic sensibilities helped shape the genre of Horror as we know it. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories is one of those excellent Penguin Classics that is a great entry point into the world of Lovecraftian stories. Some of these stories I was rereading, some read for the first time, but I always enjoy them. I could read them over and over and over and do.

It’s been a few years since I’ve read The Fellowship of the Ring and I’m sorry to say I never really took my time with it (it was for a class on Tolkien and we had SO MANY books assigned to read) and I never got past it, something I’m remedying this year.

The Lord of the Rings is a classic and foundational for the Fantasy genre, which is one of my favorites so I decided I definitely had to read these this year. They’re a joy. I always find myself wanting to see what the world of Middle-Earth looked like in it’s zenith. Sometimes I feel like we’re always picking up in a story after practically everything has gone to pot. I guess stories about blissful utopias aren’t page-turners.

Steve Huston is one of the best figure drawing artists alive right now in my opinion so I definitely wanted to read Figure Drawing for Artists.

The ideas behind construction of anatomy are really helpful. I need to spend a lot more time just practicing what he presents in this book.

Hawthorne on Painting was highly recommended by a lot of artists so I figured I would check it out.

It’s less of chapter book then a collection of notes, lectures, and ideas of late artist by his wife. You might think reading a book about painting rather than just painting doesn’t work, but it was actually a great read. It’s more of a philosophy of painting book, but I think it would help a lot of people who are nervous to get into art. I enjoyed it.

I fucking love a good genre fiction anthology and I really love the entire post-apocalyptic genre so I’m pretty much a sucker for any anthology even tangentially related to it. How could I turn down an anthology based around animal tales of the end of the world?! Animals are way better than people.

Some genre anthologies can look intriguing and then the stories actually suck, but Tails of the Apocalypse was probably a better post-apocalyptic anthology then some others I’ve read, notably Wastelands and Wastelands 2 which looked promising, but both were disappointing. Tails was very enjoyable.

FINALLY I read the second book of The Lord of the Rings. I really liked The Two Towers, I love the dark imagery of it, the foreboding. Need to draw some more Gollum.

It has been a while since I kept going on the Dark Tower series. I have no idea what is going on, but they’re written wonderfully. Stephen King is just a master, what else can you say? The Waste Lands was probably my favorite so far. Can’t wait to plow through the next one.

I wanted to enjoy Dies the Fire. An epic post-apocalyptic saga that stretches across numerous books and is set in America? Hell yes. I could not have been more disappointed. I was kind of amazed considering how published the author is, having many novels to his name, but this one was like so fucking hard to get through. I have a hard time not finishing a book so I had to keep plodding.

There was so much nonsense about Wicca in it I could write my own book on it. Also, the End of the World scenario made no sense. Basically everything electronic stops working, which is fine, but then everything like internal combustion engines and gunpowder also stops working which means the basic fundamental rules of the universe changed for no reason. Ugh, just read the reviews on Goodreads to see what I mean.

I have really gotten into gothic stories as I’ve gotten older and realized that so many of the story tropes I love the most are gothic story tropes and I live in the South so picking up this anthology was pretty much a given. I’m not familiar with any of the authors and they look mostly to be self-published (hey, good for you guys), so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Dead Ends was an awesome anthology. Most of the stories were winners which is kind of rare in genre anthologies. Good stuff.

What can I say? Morbid things interest me. Does This Mean You’ll See Me Naked was a fascinating look into the funeral home business. And yeah, it’s kind of fascinating. We all pretend it doesn’t exist, but it’s everywhere. The author’s conservative political perspective crept in every now and again, but all in all it was a really good book.

Spoiler alert from the title: Yes, it does.

Another End of the World anthology. Yesterday’s Gone is a bit different in that the separate stories are all taking place in the same story from different character’s perspectives. It’s written kind of like now how a television show story would be, hence the “Season One” in the title. I didn’t really love it. Which is unfortunate because I bought the rest of the series already. Sigh.

Undead Worlds is a zombie short story anthology. There were some gems in here for fans of zombie fiction.

I almost read Deer Hunting With Jesus just to say that I was reading a book with that title. It cracked me up and is fun to say. It’s a book about a hometown guy come back from living in California most of his life to one of the American South’s many decomposing towns and conservative bulwarks. It’s kind of a guidebook to the thinking in that part of the country from the perspective of an insider. While it was written at the end of the Bush years, it could easily be written for the Trump years as well. I’m just sad the author has passed away, I would love his no bullshit take on what’s going on in the country now.

Hilarious, sad, and highly recommended, especially for more liberal people like myself, to understand the “other side”. Might not be a bad idea for the other side to read it too.

When The Power Is Gone is an end of the world scenario where all electricity gets killed, presumably by a foreign power or something. I really wanted to give it a try because it’s based in my home of Tennessee. I’ll say it was pretty good, for what it is.

What I find kind of odd is the larger genre this book fits into which are books about the collapse of modern society written from a very conservative political perspective where guess what…the conservatives are the ones who make it because they’re all doomsday prepping, nervous about foreign countries, and hoarding guns I guess. They’re kind of like revenge fantasies for conservatives to see themselves as the victors of a world gone to hell. Kind of a strange bar for winning if you ask me. Still, I do like a good doomsday story.

So that’s 17 books in total that I read in 2018. I always wish I read more, but I’m glad I read this much at least. I’ll shoot for more in 2019.