Books We’re Looking Forward To January – June 2016



Human Punk by John King (PM Press)

King’s novels deal in the more rebellious elements of English culture. Human Punk, originally published in 2000, tells the story of a group of boys who leave school in 1977 and get caught up in the emerging punk movement. Top of my reading list for this year! (It was hard to pick between this and King’s other reissue this month: The Football Factory)  – SW

Couple Mechanics by Nelly Alard, translated by Adriana Hunter (Other Press)

Basically all I want in any fiction is a torturous drama between two life partners that shatters all of your comfort in and perception of the world. The steps a person chooses to take after a betrayal are endlessly fascinating and I’m dying to see how the cheated woman in this novel attempts to restructure her life after her husband’s confession of an affair. – HK

Excellent Daughters by Katherine Zoepf (Penguin Press)

The proof I’d kept for myself got nabbed by some pesky journalist and since then I’ve watched Anna James champion it all over the place. Very much looking forward to furthering my attempts to get my head around realities of life in the Arab world, and what changes feminists there are trying to bring about – this New York Times review suggests they won’t turn out to be the stereotypical freedoms white feminists would impose on them. – HK

Why We Write About Ourselves by Meredith Maran (Plume)

Essays about essays are like getting seconds of a dessert, and personal essays are the cherry on top. Sugary analogies aside, writing about myself is something I’d like to have more openness and confidence in so this collection looks right up my alley. – HK

Girl Crazy by Gilbert Hernandez (Dark Horse)

Because I started Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar stories recently and will never tire of either Hernandez brother’s hulking girls tearing shit up. In this standalone story, three girls head to Tijuana to bust their BFFL out of jail, and end up taking on the entire city to do so. – HK

Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 4 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos (Marvel)

I never knew how much I needed to see a woman kick slimy men’s butts until Jessica Jones came into my life via Netflix. Now I’m saving my pennies to buy all of these comics to keep at hand whenever I feel a patriarchy-induced rage coming on. – HK



Mort(E) by Robert Repino (Soho Press)

‘Like Animal Farm written by Cormac McCarthy’, you say? Well, I’m in. Mort(E) looks set to find the sweet spot between post-apocalyptic sci-fi and, well, cat books by featuring an army of ant-modified felines (stay with me now) who have been bred to overthrow their human masters. In the war between humans and creatures, there can only be one winner, but the cost is heavy on both sides… This mind-frazzling, hugely original take on the dystopian novel has already caught the eye of many Stateside reviewers. – TC

Streetwalkers by Scot Sothern (powerHouse Books)

I’m interested in sex workers’ representation of themselves, in a sea of opinions and attacks from parties outside that industry and outside those experiences. Though they haven’t been behind the camera in this collection of photographs, Streetwalkers makes a welcome change from street-level shots of a woman’s legs in leather boots that are invariably attached to mainstream media about sex work. – HK

Bernie by Ted Rall (Seven Stories Press)

Because he seems like such a little cutie and everything I’ve seen about him appeals to me, but I am 100% confident I’d never actually finish reading a 600 page biography of the dude. Ted Rall’s illustration style makes Sanders look like a delightful Simpsons character, so this book of graphic journalism seems like a very pleasant way to learn about the presidential candidate. – HK



13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (Penguin Books)

I picked this up late last year and it turned out to be one of the best books I read. The story of a fat teenager who loses weight but still feel like a fat girl, it’s harrowing, devastating, but also surprisingly funny. And Mona Awad writes like a one night stand between Mary Gaitskill and Lorrie Moore. – JT

A Few Days in the Country by Elizabeth Harrower (Text Publishing)

Elizabeth Harrower’s extraordinary novels are now rightly being recognised as masterpieces. In her incisive and clinical dissection of society, Harrower recalls Elizabeth Bowen and Flannery O’Connor at their respective heights. Her In Certain Circles was a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime in 2015, and A Few Days in the Country will provide new Harrower fans with more to savour. These perfectly-formed tales only serve to further enhance her reputation as a modern master. Absolutely essential. – TC

The Poser p/b by Jacob Rubin (Penguin Books)

I tend towards realism but have been a little bored by some of the “greats” in contemporary realist fiction recently, so I’m tricking myself here by picking something that seems like it’s out of my comfort zone and full of magic and surrealism, but really is about identity and all the things I always look for in books. A master impressionist must come to terms with the one persona he’s never been able to fully control: his own. – HK

Nichijou Volume 1 by Keiichi Arawi (Vertical)

Nichijou is far from the ‘ordinary life’ manga that it claims to be (the title literally translates as ‘everyday’). Revolver-toting schoolgirls, deer wandering into scenes unannounced before they are wrestled to the ground, androids, magic… you get the idea. Guillermo del Toro has already selected this as one of his favourite comics of recent times, admiring the way it ‘twists daily life into a surreal gag’. Keep an eye out for this one, as it looks set to make the leap into the mainstream later this year, with volumes two and three following swiftly afterwards. – TC

Deceptive Desserts by Christine McConnell (Regan Arts)

Deceptive Desserts is painfully cool. Combine a Stepford Wife with a heaping spoonful of Tim Burton and a generous dash of Alfred Hitchcock, and you’ll get an idea for the feel for McConnell’s aesthetic. It’s pretty, it’s creepy, it’s pretty-creepy. Check out her similarly pretty-creepy Instagram. – SW

Deskbound by Kelly Starrett (Victory Belt)

I’m getting older, and I know this because I feel achy all the time. The amazingly-titled Becoming a Supple Leopard was actually super helpful for me, in terms of considering my posture and how I move (disclaimer: I am hardly ‘into fitness’). But it seems the real core of my aches and pains comes from sitting in a damn chair at a damn computer all day. The media have been on this quite a bit in the past couple of years (and the NHS as well), but the uproar is only just becoming loud enough for people to start paying attention. Here, Dr Starrett shows you all the evidence for why a sedentary lifestyle is totally bad for you and provides some creative solutions to help you get off yer bum, even if your workplace isn’t uber-modern with treadmill desks and hammocks and the rest! – SW

It’s All One Case: The Illustrated Ross Macdonald Archives by Paul Nelson & Kevin Avery (Fantagraphics)

After Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler had laid the foundation stones for American hardboiled fiction, Ross Macdonald continued to develop the genre with his Lew Archer series. This comprehensive new biography uncovers archive photographs, scans of his manuscripts and original artwork, along with rarely-seen and unpublished material. Simply a must for anyone who enjoys hanging around dark alleys in a fedora. – TC

Miss Fortune by Lauren Weedman (Plume)

I loved Looking’s Doris with all my heart and wanted her to be my best friend, sister and mother all at once, and I figure you don’t pull off acting as somebody so endearing and kind and cool without being a pretty decent human IRL. In Miss Fortune she writes about terrible things that went wrong in a life that seemed obviously right, and I have no doubt Weedman will teach me a life lesson or two. – HK



The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (Melville House)

I read a proof of this book last weekend with a vat of coffee. I had plans, which immediately fell by the wayside. It’s tricky to put into a couple of sentences what The Argonauts ended up meaning to me, but here goes. It’s a memoir from academic and poet Maggie Nelson, a love letter to her partner; genderqueer artist Harry Dodge, who identifies as a ‘Butch on T.’ It’s about motherhood, relationships, identity and binaries. It’s the most refreshingly queer book I’ve ever read, and it’s vital, considering how few books are even published from a queer perspective. As a queer person in a non-binary relationship myself, I found the book incredibly discerning and relatable.  But one of its successes is that it far transcends the queer community. It’s perhaps relatable to everyone, no matter your identity. It concentrates often on the boundaries enforced on identity, how you ‘have’ to be one thing or another to be acceptable, but how this is completely untenable for so many humans. When Nelson talks about gender and identity, she talks about ‘that mess in the middle.’ She asks how do you explain that to people who have no experience of it, or who can’t understand it? And this is just one theme running through the book; the sections on birth and motherhood are incredible, as are the descriptions of love and bodies and sex. Nelson uses a lot of references, from academics to philosophers to writers and queer icons like Eileen Myles. The book switches from sometimes-complex theory to light-hearted descriptions of sitting on a beach or playing games with a kid. It really is an awesome reading experience all round. I’ll be reading it again for sure, and likely be giving it to everyone I know forever. – JT

Sekret Machines by Tom DeLonge & AJ Hartley (To the Stars)

Sekret Machines Book 1: Chasing Shadows is the newest trans-media project by former-Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge (published by his dedicated media house To the Stars… Inc), along with English author A.J. Hartley. Star power aside, this thriller contends that the truth is out there, it might want to destroy us, and it is definitely being covered up by the military industrial complex. Is it fiction? Is it real? Is it aliens? (It’s probably aliens.) – SW

The Street Kids by Pier Paolo Pasolini, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions)

Europa have so many great books coming out this year, but I’m particularly looking forward to Passolini’s Street Kids. When the book came out in 1955 it caused such public outrage that he was charged with obscenity, and subsequently the book was banned. It’s the story of a group of teenagers in a poor neighbourhood of post-war Rome, who live hand-to-mouth as the rest of Italy goes through a period of economic growth. – JT

We Go Around in the Night Around and are Consumed by Fire by Jules Grant (Myriad Editions)

That title is reason enough, but this debut features an all-female gang who exact revenge on the dirtbag who shot down one of their members – yes please. – HK

The Complete Wimmen’s Comix by Trina Robbins (Fantagraphics)

I don’t really know what else to say about this other than I CAN’T WAIT to get hold of a copy. It collects the first and longest-running all-women comics anthology that started back in the 70s and introduced us to comic icons like Roberta Gregory and Melina Gebbie. Edited by Trina Robbins, it’s full of lesbianism, sex, murderesses and feminism. And it’s a spectacular looking object too. – JT

East London Food by Helen Cathcart & Rosie Birkett (Hoxton Mini Press)

If your expeditions into London’s fabled culinary heartland, the East End, have resulted only in you forcing down a mediocre balti in the window of one of Brick Lane’s GREATEST CURRY HOUSES IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE 2012, then this book may prove helpful. Picking out some of the area’s most exciting new restaurants, cafés and small businesses, East London Food has already drawn praise from Nigel Slater (‘joyous… inspirational’), and will set your tastebuds a-dancing with its sumptuous photography too. – TC

Bowie by Steve Schapiro (powerHouse Books)

There has been A LOT written about DB in the last few weeks, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet. This new collection collects some of fabled rock photographer Steve Schapiro’s images of David Bowie in 1974, at the height of his Aladdin Sane-era pomp. As a portrait of the artist, and of the man, they are an indispensable addition to an unsurpassable legacy. – TC



Realm of the Damned by Alec Worley and Simon PYE Parr (Werewolf Press)

Realm of the Damned is the heavy metal horror graphic novel your mother warned you about! Imagine a world where the monsters have won – there is no Hellboy, no Mulder and Scully, no Men in Black – the heroes are dead, and only the damned remain. The first instalment, Tenebris Deos, receives simultaneous p/b and h/b publication in May, and is being serialised in 2000AD magazine as we speak. – SW

Boy’s Club by Matt Furie (Fantagraphics)

Though I’m not a frequent deployer of memes, I’ve always respected Sad Frog and Smug Frog. Learning that their origin source is actually an anthropomorphic stoner frog rocked my world. Though I’m not usually one for that strange subgenre of hallucinogenic indie comics, I can’t resist going back for more of Pepe’s bemused froggy face. – HK

When You Were Small by Sara O’Leary & Julie Morstad (Simply Read)

The sparse illustrations and restrained use of text in this one make it the perfect restful read. I turn to picturebooks like this in order to force myself to slow down – when a page only has five or six elements to consider, you better give them the time they deserve. – HK

John’s Secret Dreams by Doreen Rappaport & Bryan Collier (Disney-Hyperion)

I watched a review of this and saw it’s got a page in which Lennon’s grimacing face is playfully represented as an egg , and that’s all the reasons anyone should ever need to own this book. It looks beautiful and trippy in that child-friendly sort of way, and who doesn’t love revisiting The Beatles. – HK

Mama Tried by Cecilia Granata (Microcosm)

I’m not vegan, nor am I a very good cook. I don’t even enjoy cooking. BUT I am a vegetarian with a love of tattoos, and I’m a big fan of Microcosm Publishing, which is enough to make me excited about Mama Tried. It’s an Italian vegan cookbook, authored and illustrated by tattoo artist Cecilia Granata. The recipes look delicious and the art is really great. I’ll just have to get someone to make the recipes for me. – JT

The Mercy of the Sky by Holly Bailey (Penguin Books)

In 2013 a tornado ripped through tornado alley and hit the small town of Moore, Oklahoma, where Journalist Holly Bailey was raised. Bailey happens to be the youngest ever White House Correspondent, having travelled to war zones with Obama. But seeing the devastation wreaked by the hurricane, she travels back home to report on the story. The result is this book. I have always been completely obsessed with extreme weather. Storm chaser was my first career goal. So I am really looking forward to this work of long-form journalism. – JT



Super Extra Grande by Yoss, translated by David Frye (Restless Books)

2015 saw the majorly successful English translation of Yoss’ A Planet for Rent, a critique of 1990s Cuba that draws parallels with a possible Earth of the not-so-distant future. Super Extra Grande is a richly parodic (think Douglas Adams) spade opera of intergalactic proportions. Also, THAT COVER THO. – SW

The Insides by Jeremy Bushnell (Melville House)

I loved Bushnell’s 2014 debut The Weirdness (I got myself a Maneki-neko after feeling inspired by the cover art), and I feel compelled to read just about anything of his on that merit alone. Bushnell has a way of combining weird, inter-dimensional stories with a Gen X / cynical-millennial style of prose and a helluva lot of humour… it just totally gets me, man. – SW

Undivided Rights by Jael Sillman, Loretta Ross, Elena Gutierrez & Marlene Gerber (Haymarket Books)

I have so much love for Haymarket putting this bold, DIY-style cover on a text that could have been passed over as just another academic tome on women’s rights – this outline of a “holistic” approach to reproductive freedom by and for women of colour is anything but. Until I moved to London I lived with the knowledge that I’d have to pay crippling fees and travel cruel distances abroad to access abortion, because my home country forces women to endure pregnancy no matter what, so the issues in Undivided Rights are close to my heart. – HK

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré and Alana Yu-lan Price (Haymarket Books)

It’s impossible to not be horrified and petrified by the constant reports of police killing black men and women – and children – from the US, and the responses from within afflicted communities have made up some of the best journalism I’ve read over the last year. Who Do You Serve is a collection of essays that cover this topic and other police brutalities, uncovering the essential reality of policing in the US. – HK

Threadbare by Anne Elizabeth Moore (Microcosm)

I try to minimise the harm I cause the world in lots of small ways but will admit to being totally useless at looking for sustainable, sweatshop-free clothing. Microcosm’s zine-style guides are always super accessible, and this collection of comics goes further than the usual exposés of the high street to explore the second-hand clothing trade and how sex work and human trafficking interlink with the garment trade. – HK

Spanking for Lovers by Janet W. Hardy & Barbara O’Toole (SCB Distributed)

An illustrated guide to spanking – with that cover is my ideal coffee table book, and I want to give my money to the people who put the perfectly sappy yet slightly creepy “Lovers” in the title. – HK

The Outlaw Bible of American Art by Alan Kaufman (Last Gasp)

This total beast of a book is a ‘who’s who alternative canon’ of marginalized and radical American artists.  It goes through every movement from the Post-War years to the present, and includes manifestos, interviews, essays and biographies, and loads of photos. It features, among many others: Allen Ginsberg, Gertrude Stein, Tom Wolf, Hunter S. Thompson, Robert Crumb, Annie Sprinkle, and Molly Crabapple. And it looks awesome. – JT

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