book recommendations

Best Books of the Year: My personal Top 20

stefan mesch best books 2014

(After a popular list last year [Link] and earlier in 2012 [Link] and 2011 [Link]…)

…here are the 20 very best books I’ve read in 2014:


20: HEIDE KOEHNE, „Der Buchladen“, German novel, 2011.
Der Buchladen

19: BRIAN WOOD, „The Massive“, Books 1 to 5, Graphic Novels, 2013 and 2014.
The Massive, Vol. 1: Black Pacific The Massive, Vol. 2: Subcontinental The Massive, Vol. 3: Longship The Massive, Vol. 4: Sahara The Massive, Vol 5: Ragnarok (The Massive #25-30)

18: TIM WISE, „White like me. Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son“, Nonfiction / Memoir, 2004.
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

17: HARUKI MURAKAMI, „Von Männern, die keine Frauen haben“, Japanese Short Stories, 2014. (I liked his most recent novel, too.)
Von Männern, die keine Frauen haben

16: STEWART O’NAN, „Der Zirkusbrand“, Nonfiction, 2000.
Der Zirkusbrand

15: CHRISTIANE FROHMANN, „Tausend Tode Schreiben“, German anthology, 2014: 135+ personal texts about dying and loss […more here].
Tausend Tode schreiben

14: GREG RUCKA, “Lazarus”, Books 1 and 2. Graphic Novels, 2014.
Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family Lazarus, Vol. 2: Lift

13: ED BRUBAKER, “Velvet”, Book 1. Graphic Novel, 2014.
Velvet, Vol. 1: Before the Living End

12: MARTIN HATZIUS, „Alles fragen, nichts fürchten“, book-length interview with my favorite German living writer, Dietmar Dath, 2011.
Dietmar Dath: Alles fragen, nichts fürchten

11: SIGRID NUNEZ, „A Feather on the Breath of God“, Memoir, 1995.
A Feather on the Breath of God: A Novel

10: ARTHUR MILLER, „Focus“, Novel, 1945.

09: MEIKE WINNEMUTH, „Das große Los“, German Travelogue, 2012.
Das große Los

08: JAN BAUER, „Der salzige Fluss“. German Graphic Novel Travelogue, 2014.
Der salzige Fluss

07: NORA WICKE, „Vierstromland“, German novel, 2014.

06: G. WILLOW WILSON, „Ms. Marvel“, Book 1. Graphic Novel, 2014.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal

05: TSUGUMI OHBA, „Bakuman“, Books 2 to 20. Manga series, 2009 to 2012.
Bakuman, Volume 2: Chocolate and Akamaru (Bakuman, #2) Bakuman, Volume 3: Debüt und Ungeduld Bakuman, Volume 4: Phone Call and the Night Before (Bakuman, #4) Bakuman, Volume 5: Yearbook and Photobook Bakuman, Volume 6: Recklessness and Guts

04: ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA, „Afterlife with Archie“, Book 1. Graphic Novel, 2014.
Afterlife with Archie Book 1: Escape from Riverdale

03: VALERIAN TORNIUS, „Zwischen Hell und Dunkel“, German novel, 1932.
Zwischen Hell und Dunkel. Ein Rembrandt-Roman

02: LIANE DIRKS, „Vier Arten meinen Vater zu beerdingen“, German novel, 2002.
Vier Arten meinen Vater zu beerdigen

01: ÁGOTA KRISTÓF, „The Notebook“, „The Proof“, „The Third Lie“, Hungarian Trilogy, 1986 to 1991.
The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels


For a complete list of books I’ve read in 2014, please go here [Link].


In comics, I’ve also enjoyed book 3 and 4 of Brian K. Vaughan’s „Saga“ space opera [Link], Year 1 and (to a lesser degree) Year 2 of Tim Taylor’s „Injustice: Gods among us“ [Link], Bryan Q. Miller’s still solid „Smallville“ [Link], the Marvel books „She-Hulk“ [Charles Soule, Link] and „Hawkeye“ [Matt Fraction, Link].

I enjoyed the first six „New 52“ DC comic books featuring Wonder Woman [Link] and started reading lesser-known series like „Promethea“ [Link], „Nailbiter“ [Link], „Rat Queens“ [Link], „Mind MGMT“ [Link] and „The Private Eye“ [Link]. I’ve also enjoyed Daniel Clowes‘ „David Boring“ [Link].

Mark Millar’s „Jupiter’s Legacy“ had a great start – but I will have to wait until 2015. [Link]

Here’s a big collage of the graphic novels I’ve discovered in 2014:

graphic novels stefan mesch 2015
Have a great 2015! More to come!


Related Posts:


and, earlier:


Best Graphic Novels 2014

underdog literature october 2014

Here are 20 monthly comic book series that caught my interest lately.

Off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention…

all published and / or collected in trade paperback collections in 2014.



01: RICK REMENDER (writer): „Deadly Class“

ongoing high school thriller / mystery series, Image Comics

Deadly Class, Vol. 1: Reagan Youth

02: MARK MILLAR (writer): „Jupiter’s Legacy“

10-issue ongoing mini-series about the children of super-heroes, Image Comics

Jupiter's Legacy Volume 1

03: CLAUDIO SANCHEZ (writer): „Translucid“

philosophical and experimental super-hero tale, Evil Ink Comics


04: KEL SYMONS (writer), „The Mercenary Sea“

adventure and espionage, set in 1938, Image Comics

The Mercenary Sea Volume 1

05: KELLY SUE DeCONNICK, „Pretty Deadly“

ongoing horror / fantasy western, Image Comics

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike

06: LARIME TAYLOR (writer), „A Voice in the Dark“

ongoing horror / serial killer drama, Image Comics

A Voice in the Dark, Volume 1

07: ALES KOT (writer), „Zero“

ongoing spy thriller, Image Comics

Zero, Vol. 1 An Emergency

08: KYLE HIGGINS (writer), „C.O.W.L.“

ongoing period drama about Chicago’s super-hero labor union, Image Comics

C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power

09: JOSHUA WILLIAMSON (writer), „Nailbiter“

ongoing horror / serial killer small town drama, Image Comics

Nailbiter Volume 1: There Will Be Blood

10: J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI (writer), „Ten Grant“

ongoing supernatural demon-hunter urban fantasy drama, Image Comics

Ten Grand Volume 1

11: JIM ZUB (writer), „Disney Kingdoms: Figment“

limited all ages fantasy mini-series about theme park Disney characters, Marvel Comics

Disney Kingdoms: Figment #1

12: ED BRUBAKER (writer), „The Fade Out“

ongoing noir crime drama set in Hollywood in 1948, Image Comics

The Fade Out #1

13: CHRIS MISKIEWICZ, „Thomas Alsop“

ongoing superatural urban fantasy drama – might be whimsical and melancholic. BOOM! Studios

Thomas Alsop #1

14: SIMON SPURRIER (writer), „Six Gun Gorilla“

ongoing sci-fi western action comedy (?), BOOM! Studios

Six-Gun Gorilla

15: CHARLES SOULE (writer), „Letter 44“

ongoing science fiction thriller about astronauts making first contact, Oni Press

Letter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity

16: RICK REMENDER, „Black Science“

ongoing crazy sci-fi adventure, Image Comics

Black Science, Vol.1: How to Fall Forever

17: MARK MILLAR (writer), „Starlight“

ongoing (?) golden-age style space opera, Image Comics

Starlight #1

18: GREG RUCKA (writer), „Veil“

Urban Fantasy / horror ongoing, Dark Horse Comics


19: KIERON GILLEN (writer), „The Wicked + The Divine“

ongoing supernatural drama about deities, reborn as hipsters, Image Comics

The Wicked + the Divine Volume 1

20: JOE KEATINGE, „Shutter“

ongoing Young Adult science fiction adventure, Image Comics

Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost


I’m shocked that so many Image Comics titles made the cut: Image has launched a lot of new series, and reviews / reception has been great for most.

I’m also curious about Brian Michael Bendis‘ mob drama „The United States of Murder“ and Jason Aaron’s „Southern Bastards“.


5 ongoing older (but still recent) series that I want to read soon:

Revival, Vol. 1: You're Among Friends Bedlam, Vol. 1 The Black Beetle in No Way Out Nowhere Men, Vol. 1: Fates Worse Than Death Storm Dogs Vol. 1 TP

…and all recent ongoing series that I read and enjoy:

Velvet, Vol. 1: Before the Living End Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family High Crimes The Massive, Vol. 1: Black Pacific Saga #1

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale MIND MGMT, Vol. 1: The Manager Alex + Ada, Volume 1 Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal The Private Eye, Volume One

She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Law and Disorder Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 1 Smallville Season 11, Volume 1: Guardian Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood

I’m also curious about Geoff John’s „Superman“, Cameron Stewart’s „Batgirl“ and Becky Cloonan’s „Gotham Academy“.


related Posts:


Best Books published by NYRB: New York Review of Books

underdog literature september 2014


Here are 20 books that had my interest for a while:

all (re-)published by the New York Review of Books (Link).

you can find a reader-ranked list of 360+ NYRB Classic books here (Link).

see also:

for a list of cool upcoming titles… click here [Link]


01: BARBARA COMYNS, „The Vet’s Daughter“, 133 pages, 1959.

The Vet's Daughter

02: DOROTHY B. HUGHES, „The expendable Man“, 264 pages, 1963.

The Expendable Man

03: NATSUME SOSEKI, „The Gate“, 256 pages, 1910. [Japan]

The Gate

04: G.B. EDWARDS, „The Book of Ebenezer Le Page“, 394 pages, 1981.

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page

05: CAROLINE BLACKWOOD, „Corrigan“, 319 pages, 1984.


06: CURZIO MALAPRTE, „The Skin“, 343 pages, 1949.

The Skin

07: REBECCA WEST, „The Fountain overflows“, 408 pages, 1956.

The Fountain Overflows

08: BOLESLAW PRUS, „The Doll“, 704 pages, 1890. [Poland]

The Doll

09: GEOFFREY HOUSEHOLD, „Rogue Male“, 200 pages, 1939.

Rogue Male

10: PATRICK HAMILTON, „The Slaves of Solitude“, 256 pages, 1947.

The Slaves of Solitude

11: JOYCE CARY, „Herself Suprised“, 300 pages, 1941.

Herself Surprised

12: HELEN KELLER, „The World I live in“, 192 pages, 1908.

The World I Live In

13: PENELOPE MORTIMER, „The Pumpkin Eater“, 224 pages, 1962.

The Pumpkin Eater

14: DWIGHT MACDONALD, „Masscult and Midcult: Essays against the American Grain“, 289 pages, 2011. [Cultural Studies]

Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain

15: J.R. ACKERLEY, „My Father and myself“, 283 pages, 1968.

My Father and Myself

16: TAYEB SALIH, „Season of Migreation to the North“, 139 pages, 1966. [Sudan]

Season of Migration to the North

17: ANDREI PLATONOV, „The Foundation Pit“, 208 pages, 1969.

The Foundation Pit

18: WILLIAM McPHERSON, „Testing the Current“, 352 pages, 1984.

Testing the Current

19: VICTOR SERGE, „Memoirs of a Revolutionary“, 576 pages, 1951. [Russia]

Memoirs of a Revolutionary

20: ANTAL SZERB, „Journey by Moonlight“, 320 pages, 1937. [Hungary]

Journey by Moonlight


Bonus: 3 NYRB books that I’ve read… and that were really good:

5 of 5 stars: TOVE JANSSON, „The Summer Book“, 184 pages, 1972. [Finland]

The Summer Book

4 of 5 stars: ROBERT WALSER, „Jakob von Gunten“, 176 pages, 1908. [Austria]

Jakob von Gunten

4 of 5 stars: MARIA DERMOUT, „The Ten Thousand Things“, 208 pages, 1955. [Indonesia]

The Ten Thousand Things



related Posts:


Best Books of the 1980s

underdog literature 2014 08 august.

Here are 20 books that caught my interest lately.

Off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention…

all published in the 1980s.

see also:

for a list of cool upcoming titles… click here [Link]


01: BARRY HANNAH, „Ray“, 128 pages, 1980.


02: RICARDO PIGLIA, „Artificial Respiration“, 240 pages, 1980. [Argentina]

Artificial Respiration

03: ALAN PATON, „Ah, but your Land is beautiful“, 292 pages, 1981. [South Africa]

Ah But Your Land Is Beautiful (Vintage Classics)

04: AARTO PAASILINNA, „The Howling Miller“, 284 pages, 1981. [Finland]

The Howling Miller

05: BOHUMIL HRABAL, „Harlequin’s Millions“, 312 pages, 1981. [Czech Republic]

Harlequin's Millions: A Novel

06: TOBY OLSON, „Seaview“, 250 pages, 1982.


07: HELEN HOOVEN SANTMYER, „And the Ladies of the Club“, 1176 pages, 1982.

...And Ladies of the Club

08: KERU MIYAMOTO, „Kinshu: Autumn Brocade“, 208 pages, 1982. [Japan]

Kinshu: Autumn Brocade

09: BILLY LEE BRAMMER, „The Gay Place“, 560 pages, 1983.

The Gay Place

10: BARRY HUGHART, „Bridge of Birds“, 271 pages, 1984. [Fantasy]

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was

11: FERROL SAMS, „The Whisper of the River“, 544 pages, 1984.

The Whisper of the River

12: PRAMOEDYA ANANTA TOER, „Footsteps“, 480 pages, 1985. [Indonesia]


13: JUAN JOSÉ SAER, „The Sixty-Five Years of Washington“, 220 pages, 1985. [Argentina]

The Sixty-Five Years of Washington

14: JOAN SLONCZEWSKI, „A Door into Ocean“, 403 pages, 1986. [Sci-Fi]

A Door Into Ocean

15: JON HASSLER, „Grand Opening“, 336 pages, 1987.

Grand Opening

16: LANFORD WILSON, „Burn This“, 98 pages, 1987. [Drama / Stage]

Burn This

17: PENELOPE LIVELY, „Moon Tiger“, 224 pages, 1987.

Moon Tiger

18: JACKIE KAY, „Trumpet“, 278 pages, 1988.


19: GIACONDA BELLI, „The inhabited Woman“, 374 pages, 1988. [Nicaragua]

Bewohnte Frau

20: WALTER SATTERTHWAIT, „Miss Lizzie“, 332 pages, 1989.

Miss Lizzie



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