15 of 15: “Asterios Polyp” by David Mazuchelli

I did it! I finished 15 books in 15 days! Woot! And for those of you attempting this folly with me, thank you. For those of you reading along, thank you. For my family, who were even more neglected than usual, thank you.

I encourage everyone who participated in this project to comment. By everyone, I mean those who read 15, those who tried, those who considered it, and those who just read the reviews. What was your favorite, or least favorite? How many books did you move off your TBR shelves? What’s the biggest insight you take away?

And now, last but definitely not least, #15: Asterios Polyp. David Mazzuchelli was the artist/collaborator with Frank Miller on two of my favorite superhero graphic novels, Daredevil: Born Again, and Batman: Year One. Both are classics, and good examples of superhero books for those who dismiss superheroes. Asterios Polyp is Mazzuchelli’s first solo work, and it’s a masterful one. Having just finished it, I look forward to reading it again. It also made me want to read The Odyssey; few books have that power.

Asterios of the title is an Updike-ish architect. Recently divorced, his apartment building is struck by lightning. He grabs three items and his wallet, and takes a bus to the middle of nowhere. The story alternates between the present, where he works as a mechanic in a small town, and the past, his marriage to the artist Hana. Throughout, the art and story focus on duality, yet together they achieve something that transcends either/or.

The art is highly stylized (formalistic, the reviews call it) as is the use of color, playing with variations on cyan, magenta and yellow. Each character has their own font, as well as their own art style. The many layers of artistic variation are dizzying but exhilarating.

Asterios Polyp was just awarded the first-ever LA Times Book Prize for Graphic Novels. For more reviews, check out those from

New York Times
Scott McCloud
Entertainment Weekly
The Comics Journal

And, to sum up my 15/15/15 reading: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders; Shakespeare Wrote for Money; Eats, Shoots and Leaves; Mercury; Chocolate War; Unwritten; Ex Machina: Dirty Tricks; Buffy: Retreat; This is Water; Desperate Characters; Borrowed Finery; The Slave Dancer; Stitches; The Catnappers; Asterios Polyp.

favorite book read: can’t pick just one! Asterios Polyp, Stitches, Catnappers, Slave Dancer, Chocolate War
least favorite books read: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat and Ex Machina: Dirty Tricks
# of books out of 15 moved off TPR shelves: 14, 5 of which had been there over a year
lesson learned: do this in winter next time–late December or early January
next book: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
book on deck: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
next book project: Baroque Summer

8 Responses to “15 of 15: “Asterios Polyp” by David Mazuchelli”

  1. Farheen Says:

    I did make the crazy attempt of reading Dostoyevsky and it was fun! This project has been such great fun. I have managed to read some books which had been lying on my shelves since so many months. Not only that, I re-discovered my reading skills. Thank you for this project! :-)


  2. Amy Says:

    Congrats to you! I finished too: http://www.newcenturyreading.com/2010/05/the-151515-projectday-15.html

    Do you own Asterios? May I borrow it? :-)

    Lessons learned…take advantage of weekends to read ahead. Don’t pick books that require slow reading, even if they’re short. Read a lot of different formats.

    Favorite that I read…Twelve Days in Persia, I think, maybe tied with Blankets. Least favorite: The Comfort of Strangers.

  3. Inquirer Says:

    Congrats to everyone! I finished. I loved it.

    15 of 15 … The Little Prince. And I carefully chose this one. I wanted a book i could read in a day that I had never read before. I wanted a book that mattered.


    favorite: The Little Prince
    least favorite: The Emperor’s Code
    # of books off the TBR pile: 5
    # of books added to the TBR pile: too many to count
    something I learned: graphic novels may be good? I’ve never read one. I have one on hold at the library - on the Beat Generation. I’ll try.
    next book: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
    on deck:Henry V (graphic retelling for J., full text for me, movie for everyone)
    next project: Ulysses (this summer)

  4. MFS Says:

    Thanks for coming up with the challenge!

    Book One: Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year (Laura Brodie)

    Book Two: An Abundance of Katherines (John Green)

    Book Three: Rules of the Road

    Book Four: The New Global Student (Maya Frost)

    Book Five: Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes; an abridgement)

    Book Six: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Philip Pullman)

    Book Seven: As You Like It (William Shakespeare)

    Book Eight: I Am Not a Serial Killer

    Book Nine: The Other Family (Joanna Trollope)

    When I first signed on –


    – I said that seven books seemed like a good goal for me, so completing nine felt good, *very* good. I’ll have another link-back to your site tomorrow, BTW, because my reading life review post for April notes which books I completed during the challenge.

    I liked your idea about a Baroque summer and may “cheat” a bit by getting a few pages a day in during May. We’ll see. Count me in, if you decide to host that challenge.

    Best regards.


  5. girldetective Says:

    Amy, Farheen, Inquirer, Melissa, (and Jessica and Christine and Sherry, who haven’t checked in yet) thank you for reading along with me. I really enjoyed this, and hearing from you about your books, most of which, I’d say, I’d never heard of.

    I LOVED that two of you read Carry On Jeeves independent of one another. I also liked hearing from a few others what I found, too: that there’s no way to tell a dud from a gem without reading it, sometimes.

    I count 69 books read from those who’ve commented. Brava, everyone.

  6. tulip Says:

    This was so fun! I really enjoyed reading some classics that I hadn’t read before. I was surprised I only got through 9 books! I really wanted to hit that fifteen. :)
    Here are mine:

    anne of green gables lucy m. montgomery
    anne of avonlea lucy m. montgomery
    anne of the island lucy m. montgomery
    sense & sensibility jane austen
    darklight leslie livingston
    the weed that strings the hangman’s bag alan bradley
    splendor falls rosemary clement moore
    splendor anna godberson
    the chocolate war robert cormier

    I enjoyed all of my books even the silly one (splendor - gossip girls from the 1890s!) I recommend them all to anyone who has a need for a little escape. Except the Cormier. He’s pretty dark and sad but a great read nonetheless. Thanks again!

  7. Jessica Snell Says:

    Sorry I hadn’t checked in yet; I was out of the house all day!

    Here’s my last:

    I loved this challenge. It’s encouraged me to go ahead and read all those books that look hard, because this has reminded me that hard often equals rewarding. My favorite would probably be a toss-up between “Carry On, Jeeves” and Aristotle’s “Ethics”, though I really enjoyed “Manalive” and “Rapture Ready!” and Wollenstonecraft’s “Vindication”. Least favorite was, sorry, Dillard. But at least I know she has other stuff that I do like.

    11 off my TBR shelf, which makes me very happy. I loved seeing another book on the stairs everyday, waiting to go up and be shelved. I don’t even know how many have been added to the TBR list though. I know I’ll have a pile waiting on the hold shelf at the library when I go in next week.

    Thanks for hosting this; it was great!

  8. Farheen Says:

    Hey! It was great to be a part of this and I am sort of missing reading and blogging!