Posts tagged graphic novels
Summer Reading | 7 Graphic Novels for Literary Snobs

We’ve found that graphic novels are a vastly under appreciated genre amongst fiction lovers, and while we ourselves are relatively new to the party, having just begun really getting into these magical books a year-ish ago, we can’t imagine our reading lives without them now. If graphic novels seem odd or frivolous to you, or you imagine that they couldn’t possibly hold as much weight and drama and characterization as a traditional novel, we have a few recommendations to change your mind. Each of these are so unique, and carry meaty stories with gorgeous artwork, unforgettable characters, and amazingly crafted narratives.

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The Best We Could Do

The first graphic novels to make me cry (and I am decidedly not a crier), this is a memoir where the focus is on one family's immigration story from Vietnam, but it manages to wrap in so much history and culture and personal stories and relationship drama. The way this novel builds its layers and characters manages to bee so elegant and impactful in a way I rarely see done, even in regular fiction let alone a graphic novel, plus I learned a ton about the history of Vietnam in the ‘70’s and the art is stunning.


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This One Summer

One of those rare books that captures the indefinable, and with perfect balance between words and illustration. The story focuses on the friendship of two girls at their annual summer vacation spot as they come of age, and mixes in family drama, the awkwardness of being on the cusp of the teenage years, friendship, growing pains, and the complexity of inner life. Some panels are heart-stopping in their elegant blending of text and art to create something meaningful. I especially love how the concept of memory was handled, but it captured so many hard to define emotions so, so beautifully. It also embodies my favorite moods of bittersweet and nostalgia, and I rarely see this level of layering in a graphic novel, which makes it extra special. We even did a literary dinner party for this one!


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Spinning

Another graphic memoir, this time about the competitive world of ice skating, combined with a coming of age narrative. The tone of this is a little more straightforward and realistic, less dreamy and complex than This One Summer, but it is beautifully illustrated and her story is compelling and real. Plus you’ll learn a lot about competitive ice skating, which is actually super interesting, and if you did any sports as a kid/teen you will absolutely relate.

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Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Tamaki excels at writing graphic novels that feel so, so intimately human, and Valero-O’Connell created art that says as much or more than Tamaki’s words, bringing life and personality to the entire story. I LOVED this one and sincerely hope they do another book together. It explores toxic relationships, friendships, and general growing up kind of stuff in a way that feels so nuanced and personal somehow, but with a good dose of plot. The atmosphere in this is just beautiful, and the story will give fiction lovers all the characters and drama and depth they could ever want.


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Relish

This was such a detailed, and fun, story of Lucy growing up with foodie parents. Then comes the divorce, and she illustrates how her world is changed by the vastly different directions her parents take (still centered around food and culture). Lucy had a fascinating childhood, incredible travel adventures, and an array of experiences that make you want to reach out to be her friend.


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Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

Reminiscent of The Best We Could Do, Dare to Disappoint shows a young girl as she tries in vain to follow in the cultural and societal driven requirements of growing up in Turkey. Try as she might, she just can’t do what her big sister does and is constantly the dreamer. As the story goes, you see the internal and external struggles she faces, trying so hard to please her parents, and ultimately, has to find what works for her. This is such a fantastic and relatable story, regardless of geography, that you truly feel for the characters in this story, as they all seem to fight through their own battles.

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Americus

This is such a great YA graphic novel that shows the immense effect of censorship from parents who refuse to, or simply can’t understand their teenagers. The power, then, of standing together, speaking up, and the book community, was raw and exciting to follow in this story. You also get to see snippets of the Harry Potter-esque story that is fought over to ban, which also holds a powerful story of morality. This made me think A LOT about my own mom in relation to her dislike of books we were given to read in school (without having read them herself), along with now being a parent and how I handle the relationship between myself and my children and literature. Loved this one so much.


Do you have a favorite graphic novel??

All The Graphic Novels in October
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So I admit I hadn't really read many graphic novels at all before this past month, but I was completely sucked into this unique genre. I felt really slumpy this month when it came to reading, I was just having a hard time focusing on anything and ended up watching way more TV than I usually do, but graphic novels were the perfect thing for my mood.

I often need to switch genres when I feel like I'm in a reading slump, or I need to pick up something short that I can finish in an evening, and graphic novels fully delivered on both counts. First off, I can read one of these in about an hour tops, and secondly, they are such a different reading experience from traditional novels. The visual base makes them feel almost cinematic, and much of the nuance in the story is portrayed through the drawings rather than descriptions, so you get a lot of information at a glance. It's just a very different way of processing story from regular novels or from tv, and I loved it! I was shocked at how much poignance and humor and emotion got packed into these, honestly.

I can't pretend to have a sophisticated palate when it comes to graphic novels, but I can tell you a little about why I liked or didn't like the ones that I read this past month. 

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This One Summer | Mariko Tamaki- Man am I glad I picked this up, I really really really loved this one. It captured so many complex and hard to define emotions just perfectly and was absolutely beautifully executed. I especially loved how memory was handled through illustration. 

Drama | Raina Telgemeier- THIS WAS SO CUTE! It conjured up all the good feels about being a young teen and depicted a group of friends trying to figure out dynamics and love interests all set against the backdrop of them putting on the school play. While I would have liked it to be a little more fleshed out, it was just too cute and warm and fuzzy to resist. I feel like so much of YA wants to be epic, and edgy, and extra, and this one was just so delightfully normal. 

Ghosts | Raina Telgemeier- I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Drama, but it was still so cute and fun. I liked the fantastical edge to it and the story was fresh. Telgemeier clearly excels at warm fuzzy novels that have some depth to them.

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Skim | Mariko Tamaki- I didn't love this one as much as This One Summer....it lacked the same emotional depth and poignancy, but it was still a layered story with a lot going on. Reading Skim's point of view is intentionally a little painful, and I felt like a few of the plot lines were left a bit too open ended, but the art was lovely.

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Americus | M.K. Reed- Such an interesting look at why books get banned, and the interweaving of the book in question was really well done. I enjoyed the insight of this novel, but I didn't like the artwork as much as some others.

Through the Woods | Emily Carroll- Seasonally on point, and filled with original, creepy stories, it was a lot of fun. What stood out the most to be was the artwork, it was so stylized and beautiful. I really enjoyed this as an October read!

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Daytripper | Fabio Moon + Gabriel Bá- Easily the most gorgeous of the graphic novels I read this month, and the most profound. It's hard to describe without ruining it, but it's a look at a life, and what-if's, and the myriad paths that we take or don't take. I loved loved loved this one. 

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The Encyclopedia of Early Earth | Isabel Greenberg- I'm still finishing this one up, but it is such an interesting and unique premise. It's a lot of smaller stories wrapped up in a bigger ones, about inhabitants of early earth. Lovers who can't touch, lots of mythology and biblical references, muted colors, and cosmic games abound. It's also been surprisingly funny!

Anya's Ghost | Vera Brosgol- Again with the seasonally appropriate theme. Anya is a great main character and her ghost/mystery/hilarity is pretty perfectly blended. This one was a great fun read. 

Do you guys have any suggestions on what graphic novels I should look into next? I'm on the hunt for more good ones and would love to hear!