Graphic Novels and Memoirs

Chopsticks
There are almost NO WORDS in this book, it's an extremely unique graphic work that uses photographs/short letters/found-item collages to tell a sort of romeo-and-juliet romance between two teens who come from very different home lives. It is compulsively "readable", you basically HAVE to read it in one sitting because you are constructing the meat of the story in your imagination. It's like the narrative hovers above the pages, invisible, and you get to pick up new clues and puzzle pieces from the photos as you tell the story to yourself. --Brenna
Buy from Amazon
You know the story. But newcomers will be delighted with this classic tale of spirited Anne and her surprise arrival at Green Gables,, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert have decide to adopt an orphan to can help manage Green Gables, but no one was expecting a girl, let alone Anne’s stormy emotions, neighborhood gossip, and thrilling romance with Gilbert Blythe. Brian Selznick says, "The spirit of Anne is alive and well in Mariah Marsden's crisp adaptation, and it's a thrill to watch as the beloved orphan rushes headlong through Brenna Thummler's heavenly landscapes. Together Marsden and Thummler conjure all the magic and beauty of Green Gables. Like Anne herself, you won't want to leave."
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
This is a retelling of Arabian Nights, set in a world almost-ours but not-quite-ours, and it is a love letter to women's relationships with each other. Sisters, mothers, elders, friends, lovers, WOMEN. It manages to somehow be a novel, a short story collection, and a nonfiction social commentary all at once. It is funny, and sharp, and deep, and magical, and lovely, and intensely relevant in a way that is kind of hard to describe. --Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Bonhoeffer is having a moment. From a massive bestselling biography a few years ago to a legacy that is at times used on both sides of the political aisle, this theologian and member of the German resistance is the subject of a graphic novel from John Hendrix, whose signature style of art with text tells the true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, struggling to reconcile the Nazi Party’s agenda which has outlawed the church and his faith, escapes and comes to the decision that Hitler must be stopped. The philosophical ramifications are complicated, putting Bonhoeffer's very life on the line.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
This is straight-up fantasy, but I think it miiight just be palatable for you because it has fluff and humor to it and the illustrations/colors are VERY cute. The main character is a touchy shapeshifting troublemaker who becomes the sidekick to a supervillain, Ballister Blackheart, who is out to defeat his ex-best-friend, the local hero Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. There's a coy little romance subplot if you watch for it, and it's overall just... a silly joy of a fantasy novel with a heart and a purpose. It was also a National Book Award finalist! --Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
Brian Selznick combines forms -- drawings, pictures, graphic novel elements, and film (so cinematic, it was adapted to a film called Hugo starring Ben Kingsley, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Jude Law). His main character Hugo is an orphan who secretly lives in a Paris train station, keeping the clocks running and observing life in the station. When he discovers a mystery in a notebook once belonging to his father, it sends him on a search to uncover a new passion and new friends.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
I highly, highly recommend this. The story is about a little girl who is dealing with some serious emotional upheaval (which we slowly piece together the cause of), and her coping strategy is inventing a fantasy world around her -- she sees herself as the protector of the town from "giants", and develops complex rituals and roleplays that weave through her whole life to keep her safe from the thing she fears. It is a deeply moving book about childhood mourning and mental health. It has won a bunch of awards, for a reason. Plus there is a SPECTACULAR movie adaptation available on Amazon Prime. IMO the best book-to-movie-adaptation I've ever seen. --Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
From the publisher: "Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between 'crazy' and 'creative' in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder. Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to 'cure' an otherwise brilliant mind. Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney shares her own story through bold black-and-white images."
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
A gorgeous little middle grade book about discovering your strengths and finding where you fit - even if it's not what’s expected of you. The magical/fantasy culture of the main character snuggles up against modern day at the same time, which was fun and not what I expected going into it. --Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
Manga is a popular style of Japanese comics that specifically appeal to adults as well as children. From the publisher: "When Hana falls in love with a young interloper she encounters in her college class, the last thing she expects to learn is that he is part wolf. Instead of rejecting her lover upon learning his secret, she accepts him with open arms. Soon, the couple is expecting their first child, and a cozy picture of family life unfolds. But after what seems like a mere moment of bliss to Hana, the father of her children is tragically taken from her. Life as a single mother is hard in any situation, but when your children walk a fine line between man and beast, the rules of parenting all but go out the window. With no one to turn to, how will Hana survive?"
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
Rose and Windy's families have side-by-side houses in a beach town that they visit only in the summers. They do things that 12-year old girls do--spend the night, eat pizza, and watch horror movies. But the real story is people around them they're observing -- a teen girl who is pregnant, parents fighting, one mother's depression. Podcast guest Leigh Collazo described it as a "slice of life" story (hear her speak about it on WSIRN episode 50).
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
Part time-travel tale, part slave narrative. From the publisher: "More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers. Octavia E. Butler's bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, adapted in graphic novel format. Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, and adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him."
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
A graphic memoir that will be really relatable to anyone who had a childhood passion that ended up getting a little ruined for them. It’s about Tillie Walden’s childhood and teen years as a figure skater, discovering her identity, and hiding from the desire to become an artist. It’s one of those graphic novels that just flows easily along and no matter how long it was I could just read it forever. It could be an encyclopedia length account of her entire life from birth to death, and I’d be engaged the whole way. All of Tillie’s work is great, but this is her longest book. —Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Bookshop
From the publisher: "An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home."
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
This is a translated French graphic novel about two men - one a wine maker, and one (the author) a comic artist, who decide to immerse themselves in each other's worlds for a year. The author works within the vineyard, learns about aging wine, learns to taste, etc. His friend comes with him to a book printing shop, and begrudgingly reads classic French graphic novels to try to understand where the author's passion comes from. It is a very French book. Leisurely, ponderous, minimalist art, in touch with the seasons and the land. It’s very beautiful but probably not for everyone... I think a certain introspective subset of MMD readers would love it. --Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
In her graphic memoir, Cece Bell tells the story of her own childhood, when a case of meningitis at age 4 left her unable to hear. She was promptly fitted with a hearing aid, the Phonic Ear, which allows her to hear her teacher, even when her teacher is in another part of the school. The other kids think it's pretty cool. It's like a superpower, even (just call her El Deafo). But as Cece puts it, "Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone." A wonderful, touching story (that many readers assume to be a novel). Don't miss the afterword from the author.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Bookshop
We've already mentioned Relish on the podcast and on the blog, which is a GREAT introduction to her, but all of her travelogues and graphic journals are wonderful. I give her book Something New as a gift any time a friend of mine gets engaged, because it is very meditative and expectation-setting during that time of life. She tells the story of her engagement-through-wedding’s-end and all the stress of that season, rearranging her priorities and realizing when she's making decisions based on what's expected by her family vs what she and her fiance want her day to be like, etc. --Brenna
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Bookshop
A classic for a reason. From the publisher: "The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors."
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
From the publisher: "For native Brooklynite Roz Chast, adjusting to life in the suburbs (where people own trees!?) was surreal. But she recognized that for her kids, the reverse was true. On trips into town, they would marvel at the strange world of Manhattan: its gum-wad-dotted sidewalks, honey-combed streets, and "those West Side Story-things" (fire escapes). Their wonder inspired Going into Town, part playful guide, part New York stories, and part love letter to the city, told through Chast's laugh-out-loud, touching, and true cartoons. From the #1 NYT bestselling author of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast's new graphic memoir--a hilarious illustrated ode/guide/thank-you note to Manhattan as only she could write it."
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
<em>USA Today</em> calls this "the story of a true American superhero." From the publisher: "Before he became a respected Congressman, John Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. He marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King as the youngest leader of the Civil Rights Movement that would change a nation forever. Now, experience John Lewis' incredible story first-hand, brought to life in a stunning graphic novel. With co-writer Andrew Aydin and Eisner Award-winning artist Nate Powell, John Lewis' March tells the story of how a poor sharecropper's son helped transform America, from a segregated schoolhouse to the 1963 March on Washington and beyond."
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
Marjane Satrapi, in her graphic memoir, tells her bittersweet tale woven together with the history of Iran. The clash between her life in public and her home life comes as a perplexing change to childhood as she had known it. Persepolis introduces us to the cost of the Islamic Revolution through her own eyes.
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
From the publisher: "Tailored from the adored Jane Austen classic, two-time Rita Award-Winner Nancy Butler and fan-favorite Hugo Petrus faithfully adapt the whimsical tale of Lizzy Bennet and her loveable-if-eccentric family, as they navigate through tricky British social circles. Will Lizzy's father manage to marry off his five daughters, despite his wife's incessant nagging? And will Lizzy's beautiful sister Jane marry the handsome, wealthy Mr. Bingley, or will his brooding friend Mr. Darcy stand between their happiness?"
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
In the hours after Halloween, four newspaper delivery girls uncover "the most important story of all time." The publisher calls this "suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this critically acclaimed story about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood." Brian K. Vaughan is one of the classic graphic artist of this time. You might recognize him from his Y The Last Man series or Saga series.
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound