I didn’t grow up reading comic books or comic strips in the Sunday paper, but when I picked up my first graphic novel a few years ago I was hooked! I like that graphic novels tell a story through words and images – similar to comic books – but I love that the stories are contained to one publication rather than multiple issues. Within the graphic novel genre, I’ve found that I particularly enjoy graphic memoirs. It is so interesting to read about an author’s life, and to see their emotions in a way that words sometimes just can’t match. So whether you’re just getting into the graphic novel genre, you’ve read them all your life, or you just like good books about fascinating people here is a list of my five favorite graphic memoirs!
by Art Spiegelman
MAUS was one of the first graphic novels I read, and I absolutely loved it! Art Spigelman tells his father’s story of imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp. At the same time, Spiegelman tells his own life story which bears the marks of his father’s emotion burdens. This Pulitzer Prize winning graphic memoir was one of the first of its kind, and it is an absolute must read!
THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS
by Marjane Satrapi
In PERSEPOLIS, Marjane Satrapi describes growing up in Tehran in the 1980s during the Islamic Revolution. While Satrapi describes the upheaval of living in a war torn country, she also tells her own coming of age story through universal challenges that girls from any country can relate to. I think this is such a great book because Satrapi gives readers a unique and intimate look at life in a region that most know little about.
VIETNAMERICA: A FAMILY’S JOURNEY
by G. B. Tran
Tran is the son of Vietnamese immigrants who came to America during the fall of Saigon. Tran’s memoir focuses on his family’s trip back to Vietnam many years later and all that he learns about his parents, his ancestors, and the effects of the Vietnam War. If I ever wrote a memoir, I’d want it to be something like this! I love Tran’s story; it is fascinating and the art is beautiful!
RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN
by Lucy Kinsley
Most of the books on my list deal with heavy topics, but Kinsley’s RELISH is just pure fun. Raised by a chef, food has always been important to Kinsley, and in her memoir she shares stories from her adolescence that have a significant tie to food. This is a great book, and I especially enjoyed the illustrated recipes included at the end of each chapter. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is fantastic!
by Alissa Torres
Eddie Torres started working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 10th, 2001. The next morning he and three thousand others were killed in a terrorist attack. At the time, Eddie’s wife, Alissa, was 7 1/2 months pregnant. In this beautiful book, Alissa tells and shows her struggle to cope with this unimaginable tragedy. AMERICAN WIDOW is available as a library book club set, so if you’re part of a book club or thinking about starting one, check it out!