Discover rich stories & creative artwork in graphic novels

Graphic novels are one of the hidden gems of the library. This format may be unfamiliar to a lot of readers – I must confess, it’s not one I read often. However, there are a lot of richly told stories in graphic novels. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

First of all, let’s define graphic novels. They are not the short, magazine-like comic books we read when we were kids. Graphic novels are longer narratives that are fiction or nonfiction. They are told with a blend of graphic artwork and words, which gives authors space to be incredibly creative. Readers enjoy fantastic visual images as they read.

“There are still some people out there who believe comic books are nothing more than, well, comic books. But the true cognoscenti know graphic novels are – at their best – an amazing blend of art literature and the theater of the mind.” – John Ridley, screenwriter and author

All genres can be told using the graphic novel format. You may think of superhero stories, but you’ll find so much more in our graphic novel section! There are a biographies, mysteries, true crime, fantasy and history graphic novels – to name a few. A good way to explore this format is to pick up a graphic novel in a genre you already enjoy.

Here are some great graphic novel suggestions from our library family to get you started:

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March by John Lewis

A graphic novel based on the life of civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

If you like books about WWII history and the holocaust, this Pulitzer Prize winner is one you won’t want to miss.

Chi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami

One reader new to graphic novels said about this cute Manga series, “I went looking for something simple and not so graphic. I found Chi’s Sweet Home. Chi is a kitten lost from her Momma who finds a new home.” If you like this one, you might also try the Yotsuba&! series.

The Road to Perdition by Max Allen Collins

Many graphic novels have been adapted as movies. This book is the basis for The Road to Perdition film starring Tom Hanks. Fans of the movie should enjoy the graphic novel, which is available as an ebook on Hoopla. Check out other graphic novel/movie combos.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a wise, funny and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is an eye opening look at daily life in Iran. This book has gained widespread critical acclaim as an emotional engaging read you will not forget.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This stunning graphic memoir recounts actor and activist George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American internment camps during World War II.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Read the story of a family who escaped war-torn Vietnam in the 1970s. Bui tells the story from the perspective of a child adjusting to life in a new country. She watches her parents struggle to recover, adapt and survive. “It’s beautiful and touching and unforgettable,” said our readers’ librarian Miranda Ericsson.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This award-winning memoir recounts the author’s childhood in the 1980s. “Going to school and making new friends can be tough,” said Bell. “But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers!”

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

All Vera wants to do is fit in―but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range―Russian summer camp. Nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Graphic novel adaptations are a way to experience your favorite stories in a fresh new way. Some adaptations include Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald,  Kindred by Octavia Butler and Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken.

For more reading suggestions, head over to our Top City Reads Facebook group where local readers love to share recommendations. Happy reading!

Some of my many roles at the library include: tax form guru, collectibles promoter, inspirational fiction evangelist, adult literacy promoter, Book Group in a Bag cheerleader, So Many Books book discussion group leader and reader's advisor.