Biography/Memoir, Comics, Reviews

Funny Like Sunday Morning

I don’t remember a time when I did love Charles Schulz’s brilliant comic strip Peanuts, first encountering Charlie Brown and friends through their holiday TV specials – it isn’t Halloween until you’ve sat in that pumpkin patch with Linus anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumpkin, and you know it is Christmas when the gang starts singing around the once sad, lonely little tree.  Once I learned to read, one of my favorite things was poring over the Sunday funnies.  The simplicity of those three or four panels makes comic strips appealing to young readers.  I’ve never lost that joy.

December 23, 1952

It wasn’t until I re-read some of my favorites, particularly Peanuts, that I realized that they aren’t written for children.  As a child, I thought that the funny page was a section specifically for children but there are ideas and jokes in the comics that you only understand with age.  So now, while I still read the daily comics, I also go back to the books of comic strip collections I’ve been collecting since childhood and get more out of them than ever.  Peanuts, in particular, has more to offer as the reader experiences more of life.

The latest addition to my collection is The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 1:  1950-1952PeanutsThese earliest strips are not the Peanuts I know and love but it is fascinating to watch the strip evolve from its somewhat meanspirited beginnings to something more recognizable as Schulz added characters and they came into their own. What is really great about this particular collection, is the biography and the lengthy interview with Schulz that appears at the end of the book.  These sections are entertaining and informative about the great cartoonist and the art of comic strip creation.

While Peanuts is considered to be the gold standard of modern comics, here are a few of my other favorites:  

Garfield by Jim Davis (mostly for nostalgic reasons)

For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston (the chronological story is like watching a soap opera but with better writing and a better sense of humor)

The Far Side by Gary Larson (that twisted sense of humor)

Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott (Hammie is a direct descendant of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes and if I had a daughter, I feel like she would be a lot like Zoe)

Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson (it’s almost like the creators have cameras on my parents)

 Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (in my opinion this is the pinnacle of comic strip artistry and humor).  

For the Love of Books, Year in Review

Shelly’s Year in Books | 2017

It’s that time again!  Time to review my reading for 2017.  All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for me – bookwise at least – with far fewer low points than high points.  I won’t dwell on any low points as I didn’t read anything so unbearable that I felt compelled to give it only one star or even a generous two.  So I’ll mention some of the high points.  I read so many great books this year that I’m finding it very difficult to narrow it down to just one favorite.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • My first exposure to Liane Moriarty could not have gone better.  Big Little Lies is both impulsively entertaining and thought-provoking.  I can’t wait to read more of her work.
  • The first book in Amy Stewart’s wonderful Kopp Sisters series, Girl Waits with Gun was my top read of 2016 and the third book in the series, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, which came out this fall, did not disappoint.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is not in the running for top-read since this was my second reading of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster series, but it was still a high point in my 2017 reading.  It’s always nice to visit an old friend.
  • Not only did I enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life but so did many others as it was one of the finalists for’s books of the year.
  • BBXX: Baby Blues:  The First Two Decades became a welcome addition to my collection of comics anthology.  Not only did I laugh out loud at Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott’s hilarious comic strips but I learned quite a bit about the behind-the-scenes of comic strip creation.
  • Abbi Waxman’s debut novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings was one of the most hilarious and heartfelt novels I’d read in a long time.  I loved it so much that I told all my reader friends that they had to read it.  I don’t often do that.
  • Kelly Harms’s The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is The Garden of Small Beginnings main competition for top-read this year.  They each had a wonderful sense of humor, a whole lot of heart, and lovable characters.

In the end, though, I think I’ll give the honor of top-read to The Garden of Small Beginnings simply because I want to spread the word about this delightful novel about a widow raising to precious and precocious little girls even further.  Waxman’s second novel is coming out in 2018 and I hope that I’ll be sharing another wonderful review for her in the coming year.

For a comprehensive look back at all 50 of the books I read in 2017, click here:

Check out My 2017 Year in Books on Goodreads!  And I wish you all happy reading in 2018.  Happy New Year!

Source: Shelly’s Year in Books | Goodreads