This is something new I’ll be trying out. On any given week I’m reading a handful of things; novels and comics, historical non-fiction, and various essays and articles as research for sundry projects. So I am going to post what I read or am in the process of reading on a weekly basis in an attempt to:

a) share what I’m reading in case anyone is interested and would perhaps like to read it as well,
b) catalog this for my own purposes just in case I want to return to them at some point for other projects,
c) maybe spark others to share what they are reading or give me suggestions based on what I’m reading.

Sometimes this list will be long and detailed, sometimes it will be just a couple of items with a bland paragraph, it all depends on how much I have going on any particular week. Also, occasionally I may elaborate on individual items and give them their own article so I can flesh out my thoughts on them if I feel so inclined. If I do I will note that in the description with either a link or a head’s up as to my intention to do so.

So that’s it. If you want to share what you’re reading or give me suggestions please leave a comment or tweet at me: @DaddyElk

Okay, enough intro, here’s the list for the week of 1/17 thru 1/23 2021:

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunru Suzuki

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a collection of talks given by Shunru Suzuki on zen meditation practice. It is the text most people read to start to understand Zen. And this was the case for me. I first read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind in college and I’ll be honest much of the nuance of it slipped past me. Oh, I gleaned some great lessons from it for sure, but reading it now 30 years on I find that there is so much more to enjoy and learn from these shot essays/talks. I’m going to attempt to do a longer take on this in an upcoming post but for now, I just want to point out the basic idea being expressed and the is the Beginner’s Mind. We tend to get caught up with our preconceived notions of things. All of our knowledge, experience, and yes prejudices get tangled up with everything we do. But Suzuki reminds us that once upon a time we did something for the first time, we experienced things for the first time and we didn’t have any idea of what it would be like. We just let that experience happen, we experienced it for what it was not what we thought it should be. He asks us to return to that “Beginner’s Mind” and attempt to live as if we are doing things again for the first time. This is of course an oversimplification of his ideas, but it is a lesson I want to learn and am striving to actively engage in. Anyway, I recommend this.

Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Silence is zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle reminder that we – human beings – need silence from time to time. That may seem a simple thing to point out, and it is, but it is something that is we tend to forget. I know from my own experience that I am constantly surrounded by noise. Be it music, podcasts, TV, etc. there always seems to be something playing in the background, and most of the time I don’t even notice. But Thich Nhat Hanh points out that we need to be quiet from time to time. To be alone with our thoughts, to be present in the moment with ourselves. The idea of this can be scary for some. It feels weird to be silent. It feels like we are missing something. But actually, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that what we are laking, what we are missing is us, our thoughts, our breath, our being. He writes in a simple, uncomplicated way that eloquently expresses through personal stories, Buddhist parables, and common sense advice that we should just stop from time to time and just be quiet. Silence it turns out is truly golden.

Red Mother #12 by Jeremy Haun and Danny Luckert

This is the finale to the 12-issues series that I’ve been going on and on about for a year to anyone who’d listen. I have enjoyed this comic immensely. It was meticulous horror that built its world slowly with beautiful, creepy art and an intricate plot. And it finally came to a much-anticipated close with this issue and it was…rather underwhelming actually. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, it’s just that after a long slow build up the final reveal and conclusion seemed a bit rushed. After the slow burn to the reveal of the titular Red Mother, we finally meet her in all her glory and she is quickly dispatched and the story ends with all the details wrapped up in a tidy little package wrapped in a bow. Again, it’s not bad, just rushed. I would have loved to see this pushed to a couple more issues to give the ending a little more room to breathe. All that being said I still loved this comic. The art as always was stellar and despite the rushed ending I still feel satisfied with the series as a whole. I will be doing a longer review of the complete series on the Collected Edition site in the near future.

Star Wars: The High Republic #1 by Cavan Scott and Ario Anindito

This was okay! It’s hard to judge a comic by a first issue because it is typically a means to set-up the premise, introduce the characters, and simply set the stage for the story to come. And this issue does all that quite nicely. Set in a new era of the Star Wars universe (and by new I mean old. This is a “golden age” of the Jedi previously not written about so it’s “new”) and we are introduced to the main character Keeve Trennis as she trains with her master. Then as the story progresses we find that there is an unknown threat to the peace and harmony of the Republic that Keeve and the Jedi must face! Dunn, Dunn, Dunn!!! It’s good. The art has a golden tinge to it that feels “old” and nostalgic while still conveying newness. And I think that’s what I’m most excited about, newness. The High Republic is a “new” era that most of the new stories – novels and games as well as comics – will be told in and that is really engaging for me as a Star Wars fan. Getting out of the Skywalker saga and getting to know new characters, new enemies, new everything. A fresh take on Star Wars, this is refreshing.

Doctor Who: the 13th Doctor: A New Beginning by Jody Houser and Rachel Stott

This is the first collected edition of the 13th Doctor adventures from Titan Comics. Now, it’s safe to say that Jodie Whittaker’s tenure as the Doctor has been…contentious. Not exactly because of her as an actor exactly – but rather the material she has been given to work with from showrunner Chris Chibnall. If only the 13th could be given a good story with a good script we could get to see her in a new light. sadly Chibnall isn’t going to do that in live-action – so we have to go to the comics. Titan has been producing excellent stories from all the incarnations of the Doctor for years now and has a knack for getting the tone and mannerisms of each performance just right. No exception here for Jodie Whittaker’s 13th – even the companions are fleshed out and have something to do. I’m going to be doing a longer, more in-depth review of this soon here, but suffice to say I really enjoyed this collection and am impressed at how Titan continues to treat Doctor Who with care. If I have one negative criticism it’s that the art seems off at times. The faces of the Doctor and the companions – in an attempt to look like the real actors – comes across at times in a contorted, uncanny valley sort of way. But if you can get past that a real fun read.