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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
I’ve been a big classics reader since high school, and over the years I’ve noticed an unsettling trend: men in classic lit often treat women like trash. Just to be clear, I love these books. I’d just like to avoid modeling any relationships on them. And so, for your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled a list of the very worst boyfriends in classic literature. Be aware that my ordering is completely subjective and based solely on how angry the respective characters make me.
Warning: major spoilers ahead, if you can really consider them spoilers when the books have been around for 80 years or more.
10) Willoughby, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Willoughby is handsome and affectionate, and at first he seems like the perfect fit for Marianne. I mean, the guy loves poetry. Everything’s going great until his aunt disinherits him over a scandal (the secret love child – a favorite 19th century plot device). As soon as that happens, he’s out of Marianne’s life faster than you can say boo. I honestly believe Willoughby loved Marianne, but he loved cash a lot more. It’s all about the money, money, money.
9) Romeo, ROMEO AND JULIET
People view Romeo and Juliet as one of the greatest love stories of all time, but if you think about it, Romeo’s kind of a punk. He’s impulsive, he’s melodramatic, he’s violent (I don’t know about you, but killing your beloved’s cousin strikes me as a bad idea), and he’s more than a little flaky. At the beginning of the play, he’s busy sulking over breaking up with Rosaline. Twenty seconds later he’s ready to live and die for Juliet because she’s pretty. Ugh.
8) Ashley Wilkes, GONE WITH THE WIND
In my opinion, Ashley Wilkes = namby pamby foo foo garbage (to borrow a favorite phrase from one of my high school teachers). Melanie is goodness incarnate, and Ashley doesn’t deserve her. Scarlett is a terrible human being (but a fascinating one!) and Ashley doesn’t deserve her either.
7) George Wickham, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Wickham is gorgeous. He’s charming. He has a spiffy army uniform. But he’s also a liar, a gambler, and a terrible flirt. Even more problematically, he has penchant for seducing naïve teenage girls. To quote now-disbanded girl group G.R.L.: “It’s such a pity, a boy so pretty with an ugly heart.”
6) Edward Rochester, JANE EYRE
I love Jane Eyre as much as the next girl, but now that I’m not a swooning fourteen year old, I realize that Rochester is objectively pretty awful. First, he locks up his mentally ill wife in the attic and pretends she doesn’t exist. Then, he manipulates Jane by acting like he wants to marry Blanche Ingram. Remember that part where he dresses up like a gypsy so that Jane will confess her love? Not okay. Finally, he attempts to illegally marry Jane without ever mentioning the whole I-have-a-secret-crazy-wife-who-I-keep-hidden-in-the-attic thing to her. At the moment of his proposal, lightning nearly strikes him. Even God thinks Rochester is a bad boyfriend.
Next week we'll delve even further into the depths of male-lameness in part 2 of this list! Until then, who do you think I missed? Call out classic lit's worst boyfriends in the comments!
Our children’s section is filled with books beloved by both children and their parents, but exploring our collection can be a daunting prospect. Most of our highest-circulating titles are parts in larger series, some of which extend to seven, ten, or even more books! This is simply a reality of the current literary landscape – it’s far easier to maintain readership with long-running series.
But while many of our patrons love reading series, they often seek out a standalone title to read between installments their other favorites. A common misconception is that those standalone titles are only “classics,” or that publishers aren’t releasing great single stories anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you’re eager to check out a children’s book but don’t want a series-length commitment, we have many, many options.
A great place to start are our Parent/Child Book Clubs, held on the fourth Tuesday and Wednesday of every month. We often showcase great standalone books in these clubs, like HONEY, EL DEAFO, and CIRCUS MIRANDUS – all of which are recently published. Registration for our final book clubs before summer reading begins on April 1 at provolibrary.com.
Even you can’t make it to one of our book clubs, fear not: the Library has a huge supply of standalone stories. One of this librarian’s favorites from 2015 is HOODOO by Ronald Smith. HOODOO is set in the Deep South during the Great Depression, and features a young boy who belongs to a long tradition of practicing magic, but struggles with spells himself. He and his family face down a strange, evil visitor who threatens their town and entire way of life. This is a truly spooky story that is rich in period detail. And while it, like many great standalone titles, hints at a potential sequel, it more than holds its own as an independent piece.
Series are a huge part of our Library, and a big reason our patrons love to keep visiting, but there’s a big world of single-volume stories waiting for readers. Come visit one of our children’s librarians for even more recommendations!