June is Pride Month, celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community! Throughout June, we’ll explore different books and themes, all about Pride. To start things off, let’s read some graphic novels!
Its fourth volume recently published in 2021, Heartstopper (by Alice Oseman) is a graphic novel series depicting a budding romance between Nick and Charlie at their UK high school. Nick, Charlie, and their friends are navigating high school, while dealing with homophobic peers and family, and the pressure of trying to be in control. Heartstopper offers a heartwarming look into some teenagers’ experiences being gay, lesbian, and transgender in the modern world.
And before you ask, yes, the series was picked up by Netflix and the entirety of the first season is available to stream now!
The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes is a memoir in graphic novel form. Crewes examines her coming out journey and how she came to terms with her sexuality. She reminds us that coming out is a process, needing to come out over and over again to family, friends, and even to oneself. Funny, relatable, and a little meandering, Crewes tells a story that many will identify with and hopefully find solace in.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is another memoir graphic novel exploring the author’s sexual identity. Bechdel chose to write Fun Home to try to better understand her relationship with her father, a closeted gay man, and to analyze their life trajectories. Fun Home has won numerous awards, including the Stonewall Book Award for non-fiction and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book.
These are just a few of the many graphic novels with an LGBTQIA+ focus. Book Riot has a great list to check out if you’re curious for more!
I love Jason Reynolds. His books are always powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful, and his newest offering, produced with his best friend, does not disappoint. In fact, it is so stunning that after enjoying a library copy I immediately purchased a copy for my personal collection.
Reynolds penned three long sentences. Griffin filled 300 pocket-sized moleskin pages of art. Together they capture the feelings of fear and uncertainty most of us felt during 2020. Around the world and in our own communities people were isolate, separated. By Covid. By politics. But also, people took to the streets to protest. All the while, we sat glued to the news. Mostly bad news. It was a long, dark year. But not entirely without hope.
This book is almost 400 pages long and weighs almost 2 pounds, but you can read it in 15 minutes. Or linger over each drawing. Or revisit favorite pages. It’s a treasure.
These are a few pages that stuck out to me and I think they are excellent examples of the wide range of feelings expressed throughout the book. The next time someone says they don’t like poetry, hand them this and see if you win them over!
The MCU’s latest streaming series, Moon Knight, premiered just last week on Disney+ and has been met with generally great critical reviews. If you are asking yourself “Who is Moon Knight?”, there are plenty of comics and graphic novels that can help answer your questions before you dive into this new show. Just hop on over to hoopla where you can check out a great assortment of Moon Knight comics to read before you watch!
Spring is in the air, the sun is making it’s slow but triumphant return to Northeast Ohio, and there are great new graphic novels being published! We’ve got some stellar new fiction and non-fiction titles making their way to our graphic novels shelves. Below you’ll find five new graphic novels or soon to be published books that you should add to your to-be-read pile ASAP.
The Me You Love in the Dark by Scottie Young
Writer Skottie Young, author of the fantastic I Hate Fairyland series, and artist Jorge Corona, follow up their critically acclaimed series Middlewest with a haunting new tale. An artist named Ro retreats from the grind of the city to an old house in a small town, hoping to find solace and inspiration—only to realize that the muse she finds within may not be what she expected. Fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman will enjoy this beautiful, dark, and disturbing story of discovery, love, and terror.
For fans of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Meg-John Barker’s Queer, Fine is an essential graphic memoir about the intricacies of gender identity and expression. As Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in their quiet Midwest town, where they anxiously approached both friends and strangers for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, their project has exploded into a fantastical and informative portrait of a surprisingly vast community spread across the country.
Spanish writer and artist Guillem March, best known for his work on Batman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, takes up his pen for a cutting-edge story about a highly unconventional angel named Karmen and the young woman she takes under her wing when heartbreak strikes too hard. Packed with intriguing twists and metaphysical musings, this gorgeously drawn series brings tenderness, heart, and humor to the delicate and difficult matters of life and death that we all face.
Karmen is set to be published early in May, so keep your eyes peeled for this title.
Crushing by Sophie Burrows
This quiet, wordless book is artist and author Burrows’ graphic-novel debut. A young woman, pale and rosy-cheeked with a straight black bob, lives alone in London—except for her cat. One night she runs down to the local kebab and pizza shop in her pajamas and encounters a young man, pale and freckled with floppy red hair, also wearing pajamas. Unfortunately, they don’t notice each other surreptitiously noticing each other and head their separate ways. The story conveys life as a series of small indignities, slight misses, and minor connections but ends on a hopeful note. The backmatter includes mental health organizations and crisis lines and a note from Burrows referencing inspiration from missed connections columns and pandemic isolation.
Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic by Didier Fassin and Frederic Debomy; Translated by Rachel Gomme
Adapted from the landmark essay Enforcing Order, this striking graphic novel offers an accessible inside look at policing and how it leads to discrimination and violence. What we know about the forces of law and order often comes from tragic episodes that make the headlines, or from sensationalized versions for film and television. Around the time of the 2005 French riots, anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin spent fifteen months observing up close the daily life of an anticrime squad in one of the largest precincts in the Paris region. This ethno-graphic is chilling in the parallels that can be seen in the struggles of Black people in the United States, exemplified by the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Fairy tales are a staple of childhood-damsels in distress, magic, and happy endings, right? Wrong. Grimm’s tales were the things of nightmares and author and artist Karly West is here to tell the REAL stories. If you are a fan of dark history, dark humor, and the macabre in general, pay attention, this post is for you!
The Scholarly Banana (check out those glasses) is your tour guide on a journey into the real, gruesome, and down right bonkers origin of both well known and lesser known Grimm’s fairy tales. Fitcher’s Birdwas one of the latter for me. It involves a kidnapping/murderous wizard, village girls whose curiosity leads to their downfall, and a girl dipped in honey and covered in feathers who saves the day. Seriously. The Juniper Tree stars an insanely evil stepmother who turns her murdered stepson into a lawn ornament AND a human stew. Seriously. Dark. Stuff. And yet, the claymation figures are adorable! Everything about these tales are delightfully macabre and charming and the storytelling with commentary is snarky and droll.
In conclusion, “THINK FAIRY TALES MEETS CLIFFS NOTES MEETS ADULT SWIM CLAYMATION…MEETS A BANANA!” ~Karly West
Want to learn MORE? You know you do! Karly West will be joining us in person to talk more about the dark history of fairytales while we make our own grim characters. Join us on Saturday, March 26, 10:00am-12:00pm for Sculpting Stories: The Grim History of Fairy Tales with Karly West. This program is part of our new Intergenerational series for teens and their favorite adult! Registration is required, polymer clay will be provided, and participants will be entered into a raffle to win copies of Karly’s books.
Evelyn is the leading scientist on genetic cloning. When she discovers a clone of herself at her ex-husband’s house, she realizes that he has stolen her research to make the perfect wife. Somehow, the husband ends up dead on the kitchen floor, and Evelyn and her clone have to cover up the murder in this science fiction-flavored domestic thriller. Shannon
I just picked up this new novel that snagged a starred review in Booklist and am really excited to dig in. Described as a literary horror tragedy, this thought-provoking book looks at marginalization and systemic oppression through a classic haunted house story, with some contemporary twists. The haunted house in this tale is actually a full-contact escape room attraction, and a team of contestants must stay in the house to win thousands of dollars. That can’t end well, right? After each interlude of court documents or descriptions of that evening, the story moves to longer, more character-driven chapters, where readers get to know the key people in the large cast, including Kendra, a Black teenager new to Nebraska and Jaidee, a gay Thai college student. Nicole
I’m currently reading a YA book with a lot of crossover appeal. Noble Blood fans rejoice! Dana Schwartz, host of the chart-topping podcast about history’s most infamous and ill-fated royals, has written a gothic mystery filled with grave robbers, dark magic, and 19th century science. Hazel Sinnett wants to be surgeon more than a wife, dressing in men’s clothes to attend courses at the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society. When she’s discovered, she makes a deal: Pass the medical exam independently, and the University will permit her to officially enroll. The only problem? Hazel needs bodies to study. While she’s made the acquaintance of resurrection man Jack, Jack is trying to solve the mystery behind his missing friends and several graveyard secrets. Oh, and stay alive during a plague. Anatomy: A Love Story is the latest pick for Reese Witherspoon’s YA Book Club. Two additional titles that I love: The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. (So exceptionally good, and a debut, and impossible for me to write an adequate blog review so I’m glad it can be shown off in some way), Real Life by Brandon Taylor. Thanks! Kari
The story centers around the Henry Clay Frick family in 1919 and later his mansion/collections/museum which were given to the city of New York. Two models decades apart are drawn to the Frick family. I’m not sure how the novel will end but am enjoying the plot. This is a book for fans of historical fiction, art history and landmarks of New York. Emma
Paul Tremblay’s story of a televised exorcism and its aftermath does one of the things that I love about the horror genre; instill the reader with a sense of doubt. A Head Full of Ghosts gives multiple (and temporally varied) perspectives on a family’s experience having their lives turned into a paranormal investigation show when it is suspected that their eldest daughter is possessed. Tremblay gives the reader no certainty on what’s “really” going on and holds a tread of tension that I am unsure is ever broken. Greg
This was a delightful novel about two brothers, Charley Sutherland, a college English professor who has a concealed magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world, and his somewhat estranged brother Rob, who is left to reluctantly help clean up Charley’s messes. The real trouble begins when they discover there is another person with this summoning ability, and they are NOT using it for good. As the fictional world begins to threaten the real world, the brothers must unite to try and put things in order. I thought the ending was a little unrealistic at first, but then remembered that the whole book is about fictional literary characters living in the modern world, so I guess anything goes! Sara
Gornichec takes a largely overlooked member of Norse mythology, Angrboda, and tells her story, including her relationship with Loki. A relationship that directly results in the events that would induce Ragnarok and the end of the world. The Witch’s Heart takes a well-known pantheon and builds upon it an entirely new story that provides depth to characters both unknown and prominent in popular culture. Trent
A multi-generational story about the Lyons family and their neighborhood, the Briar Patch. A short novel written with the most beautiful and haunting prose; it explores poverty, racism, ghosts, and otherworldly beings. Horror comes in many forms. Christine
It’s Banned Books Week again, and now more than ever, it is important to talk to about censorship and the right to read. We as librarians stand against censorship and banning books, and in fact, some of my favorite books are on the list of the most frequently challenged books.
In honor of this important week, here are some of my favorite books from the list:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A powerful, moving story ripped straight from the headlines, of a Black girl who was the only witness to her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer; this book is number 30 of the 100 most challenged books of the decade.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
An excellent graphic memoir that details the author’s childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution; I read this in college and it changed my perspective on regular people living in the Middle East. Number 40.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
I read this dystopian classic in grade school, and it has remained one of my favorite books. It truly helped me see the world differently. This one is number 61.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
A beloved series of science fiction space opera graphic novels, Saga is often challenged in libraries due to violence and sexual content. This series come in at number 76 on the list of most challenged books of the decade.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds Number two on the list of most challenged books of 2020, this important book teaches racism to children of a new generation.
These are my favorite banned books, but plenty of books are challenged in libraries every day. To participate in Banned Books Week yourself, check out the Banned Books Week website for challenges, activities, interviews with authors, and more.
Are you in need of a good laugh? I’m sure most of us are seeking humor more than usual during this difficult time and one of my favorite ways to be heartened is cozying up with a hilarious book. I just finished Shit, Actually by Lindy West, a collection of scathing and laugh out loud funny reviews of popular films, which was exactly what I needed this past week.
If you are interested in women’s comedy, which has long been a prime spot for women to talk back and break taboos in mainstream popular culture, join us tonight on Zoom for Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics at 7 pm Eastern. This sure to be engaging virtual program with Linda Mizejewski, Ph.D, Distinguished Professor in Ohio State University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Department, is an overview of women’s comedy beginning with Mae West and ending with the new generation of women comedians such as Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres who flout the pretty-versus-funny dynamic, targeting glamour and in some cases making it clear that in popular culture, “pretty” almost always means “white.” Click here to register!
There are a plethora of fabulous titles out there by my favorite funny women, and I’ve selected ten of my top choices for you below.