What I’m reading
Last week, Dawson asked me what I was reading and suggested I write a blog post about it. So here’s a list of what I’ve read over the past few weeks, and what I’m currently reading. I read some of these books intensely, over a couple of hours. Others I’ve been dipping in and out of for over a year. A few I just skimmed. Some I’ll probably never finish.
I’ve just started ‘Dracula’, which I’ve never read before.
Stephen King’s ’11.22.63′ is a cracking read. He’s a hell of a story teller. (My favourite quote: ‘yeah, but what if you went back in time and killed your own grandfather?’ ‘Why the fuck would you do that?’)
Julian Barnes’s ‘The Sense of an Ending’ is a brief, brilliantly written novel about memory, ageing and regret. And probably more that I’m not smart enough to notice.
I’ve been reading Kelly Link’s ‘Pretty monsters’ on and off for a year. Every now and then I’ll dip in and read one of these weirdly fascinating short stories.
I’m re-reading Dale Carnegie’s ’How to win friends and influence people’, which is always a quick, perky read full of post-Depression, pre-WWII optimism. If only you congratulate people on their fantastic hair sincerely enough then the world is your oyster. Some really good advice in it though.
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s ‘The illusion of life: disney animation’ is a beautiful, heavy, volume about the history of animation in general, and of Disney in particular. I’d always associated Disney with family friendly, safe, fun, so it’s interesting to learn how innovative and driven Walt Disney actually was, and to read how far animation has come since the first animated cartoon was shown less than a century ago.
I’ve dipped into ‘The art of 3d computer animation and effects‘, which is an interesting read about how 3d animations get created. At some point I’m going to learn Maya, and although this book isn’t about specific tools it’s a good general survey.
Jim Collins’s ‘Great by Choice’ is a great business book – his best yet – about why some companies thrive, and some fail, when faced with great uncertainty.
‘Moonshine’ is a book to look at rather than read, but I’m including it anyway. It’s a collection of art that Dreamworks animators produced in their spare time. There are some stunning images in it.
Craig Thompson’s ‘Habibi’ is a beautifully illustrated story. I can’t really do it justice in a sentence, so check out the Amazon page.
The first three volumes of ‘Atomic Robo’ are superb. Great story, well drawn and beautifully coloured. I shall read the rest soon.
It took me longer to get into ‘Powers’, but once I did it was worth it. A thoughtful storyline, and great, dynamic art.
‘Avenging Spiderman’ is less to my taste (the plot, while initially thin, seems to be developing though), although the art work is superb.
History of Art Books
I’m currently reading a bunch of books about Renaissance art. Currently, these include ‘Art in Renaissance Italy’, ‘Northern Renaissance Art‘, ‘Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance painting in the National Gallery’ and ‘Viewing Renaissance Art’.
How-to Art Books
I recently re-read most of Scott McCloud’s ‘Making comics‘. I’ve also read Bridgman’s ‘Drawing from life’, Loomis’s ‘Figure drawing for all it’s worth‘ and Burne Hogarth’s ‘Dynamic figure drawing’. I’ve been skimming a bunch of other reference books, to numerous to mention. I definitely have a tendency to read about things when I should just do them.
The first volume of Walt Stanchfield’s ‘Drawn to life: 20 golden years of disney master classes’ is superb, if a bit repetitive towards the end. This serier of lectures drums home the same three or four (albeit mind-opening) points again and again. Probably something to dip onto, not read from cover to cover in a few hours like I did.
Will Eisner’s three volumes ‘Expressive anatomy for comics and narrative’, ‘Comics and sequential art’ and ‘Graphic storytelling and visual narrative’ are wonderful books, even though I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of Eisner’s work. A little bit too much gurning for me.