This year, we asked Shank readers and contributors what their favorites of 2015 were without the whole rigmarole of creating a list. We also asked them to give a few sentences what made it their favorite. These are the results.
FAVORITE BOOK(S) (FICTION): SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS TIE!!!
GET A GRIP BY KATHY FLANN
LOVE AND OTHER WOUNDS: STORIES BY JORDAN HARPER
GUTSHOT: STORIES BY AMELIA GRAY
BENN RAY: I've always loved the short story format. Over the years, I've moved away from short story collections, but this year I was pleasantly surprised to find the three books of fiction I enjoyed the most were short story collections. Kathy's book is smartly observant, wryly funny and very human. Love And Other Stories is a collection of really entertaining crime stores. And Gray's Gutshot is a series of dark, grotesque and sometimes funny stories.
FAVORITE BOOK (FICTION): GET A GRIP BY KATHY FLANN
HOWARD YANG: I'm a little biased here, it's my wife's short story collection.
FAVORITE BOOK (FICTION): SECONDHAND SOULS BY CHRISTOPHER MOORE
STEVE ASHBY: Not his best work, but it’s the only fiction book I read that was published in 2015.
FAVORITE BOOK (FICTION): WELCOME TO BRAGGSVILLE BY T. GERONIMO JOHNSON
JAMIE WATSON: no reason given.
FAVORITE BOOK (NON-FICTION): COMEDIANS: DRUNKS, THIEVES, SCOUNDRELS, AND THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN COMEDY BY KLIPH NESTEROFF
BENN RAY: The most readable and comprehensive history of American comedy I've ever come across. Informative, fascinating, and you'll find yourself looking up clips of old comedians on Youtube.
FAVORITE BOOK (NON-FICTION): HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL BY CARRIE BROWNSTEIN
STEVE ASHBY: I’m usually not a fan of auto-biography, but this was a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read.
FAVORITE BOOK (NON-FICTION): NYHC: NEW YORK HARDCORE 1980-1990 BY TONY RETTMAN
JONATHAN SUPER: (Technically this came out 12/30/14, but whatevs.) I dug the insight about what the scene was like, but I also got the feeling that they’d punch me a lot, so I’ll stick with listening from afar.
FAVORITE BOOK (NON-FICTION): INSIDE THE DREAM PALACE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEW YORK'S LEGENDARY CHELSEA HOTEL BY SHERRIL TIPPINS
DON CLARK: [Technically, this is a 2013/2014 release, but the years do roll by. -ed.] I've walked past it a hundred times. Slept in one of its rooms four times. I never had, until this book arrived, dug into the hotel's history at great length. Worth the long read.
FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL (NON-FICTION): NOT FUNNY HA-HA BY LEAH HAYES
BENN RAY: Leah Hayes' book is simply astounding! This abortion handbook should be a staple in every sex ed class throughout the country. But what's most remarkable is Hayes' non-political, commonsense, and compassionate approach to abortion. By removing the politics from her book, some will most certainly interpret this book as political (yeah, go figure). Regardless, it's human, humane, and full of information that every person should have and many try to deny people from having. This is the rare book that is bigger than the sum of its parts. Give a copy to your local school's library.
FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL (REPRINT COLLECTION): BACCHUS OMNIBUS VOLUME 1 BY EDDIE CAMPBELL
BENN RAY: I feel like I've been waiting for this omnibus collection for years. Bacchus is comics legend Eddie Campbell's master work. I often call it "The Best Comic You've Never Read" because I can count on one hand the number of people I know who have actually read the series. But everyone who reads it, loves it. While Greece's economy might be dead, their old gods are very much alive in modern times in this comic series. It's an epic story of ancient gods, fantasy, mystery, melodrama and lots of drinking. Oh yeah, don't forget The Eyeball Kid - the character so odd Tom Waits even wrote a song about him.
FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL (COMEDY COLLECTION): MOX NOX BY JOAN CORNELLA
BENN RAY: This book poses a perfect opportunity to test your friends or would-be friends. Have them read Cornella's disturbingly artful and hilarious comics. If they don't appreciate the humor, they are not someone you need to know. This book, however, is something you need to read. The elaborate things at play in Mox Nox feel, at times, like a surreal Spy Vs. Spy strip.
FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL (FICTION): FANTE BUKOWSKI BY NOAH VAN SCIVER
BENN RAY: There's so much to love about Van Sciver's new comics novella. First, publisher Fantagraphics has designed the book in an excellent, vintage pulp paperback format (something fairly uncommon in comics, but it really works). Then you have Van Sciver's Fante Bukowski character - an untalented bore who wants to be a famous writer and instead of fame experiences one humiliation after another. Fante Bukowski is quintessential Van Sciver.
FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL: THIS ONE SUMMER BY JILLIAN TAMAKI / MARIKO TAMAKI
PATRICK STORCK: I've fallen behind and have a stack of recommended GNs to get to. Of what I did get to read, THIS ONE SUMMER had a nice pace and style reminiscent of BLANKETS, though the story matter is completely different. It's nostalgic, feels real and honest, though like many childhood memories leaves things somewhat thin and unresolved in the end.
FAVORITE COMIC SERIES: TIE!!!
BITCH PLANET BY KELLY SUE DECONNICK / VALENTINE DE LANDRO
DESCENDER BY JEFF LEMIRE / DUSTIN NGUYEN
HEAD LOPPER BY ANDREW MACLEAN
THE HUMANS BY TOM NEELY / KEENAN MARSHALL KELLER
PAPER GIRLS BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN / CLIFF CHIANG
PROVIDENCE BY ALAN MOORE / JACEN BURROWS
REVENGER BY CHARLES FORSMAN
RUMBLE BY JOHN ARCUDI / JAMES HARREN
SOUTHERN BASTARDS BY JASON AARON / JASON LATOUR
THEY'RE NOT LIKE US BY ERIC STEPHENSON / SIMONE GANE
TREES BY WARREN ELLIS / JASON HOWARD
WYTCHES BY SCOTT SNYDER / JOCK
BENN: There are so many comics series that are worth reading now - these are the ones I tend to read as soon as they come out. If you're looking for a fun comic series to read, you'll do well with any of these.
FAVORITE COMIC: ODY-C BY MATT FRACTION / CHRISTIAN WARD
JONATHAN SUPER: Anything that gender-bends the fuck out of a canonical text is rad to me.
FAVORITE COMIC: PHONOGRAM BY KIERON GILLEN / JAMIE MCKELVIE
ADRIENNE KINSEY: A comic that perfectly combines my love of pop music with magic in comic form. Many have tried incorporating music/80's nostalgia in comics but failed miserably.
FAVORITE COMIC: MANIFEST DESTINY BY CHRIS DINGESS / MATTHEW ROBERTS
PATRICK STORCK: I'm late to discovering this one, but loving it. The Lewis & Clark expedition by way of classic monster movies, it's survival horror historical fiction in a cool and unexpected mix.
FAVORITE HAND-CRAFTED BOOK: HOW TO HAVE A DAY BY MEGAN MCSHEA (Ink Press Productions)
LAURIE ROLLINS ANDERSON: Cool, clear prose poetry packed into a tiny jewel of a book that fits in the palm of your hand.
FAVORITE ILLUSTRATION AND GRAPHIC DESIGN: KATIE FEILD'S DESIGN FOR LAND BEAST BY KATE WYER
LAURIE ROLLINS ANDERSON: The graphic design is married to the form of the story, told from the points of view of endangered animals. It is a true collaboration by author and artist.
FAVORITE PUBLISHING TREND: ADULT COLORING BOOKS
LAURIE ROLLINS ANDERSON: Combining one the joyous sensory experiences of childhood and some of the relaxation benefits of meditation/mindfulness practices while giving us some benefits of something stimulating or amusing to color. It's nice that there's something out there besides Dover, e.g. goth rocker Monica Richards' "The Goddess" coloring book.
FAVORITE TWITTER: @dragonflyjonez
JAMIE WATSON: I have no idea how I watched sports or experienced pop culture before I got to do it through his filter. He's just a guy who works in an office in Richmond who has a massive twitter following of the famous and the non-famous