Graphic Novels to Look for in Late 2015

May 28, 2015 lists 0

2015 Graphic Novels

I didn’t officially hop in on Armchair BEA this year, but noticing that one of the topics focused on graphic novels and comics made me realize I hadn’t been mixing them into my reading much lately. Since so much of the fun of BEA is discovering new books, I thought I’d take to Edelweiss and check out what’s on the horizon for graphic novels. Here are eight that caught my eye.

Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton – September 15, 2015

“Ida B. Wells, the Black Prince, and Benito Juárez burst off the pages of Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, armed with modern-sounding quips and amusingly on-point repartee. Kate Beaton’s second D+Q book brings her hysterically funny gaze to bear on these and even more historical, literary, and contemporary figures. Irreverently funny and carefully researched, no target is safe from Beaton’s incisive wit in these satirical strips.”

The Book Of Hope by Tommi Musturi – September 19, 2015

“In a way that only the medium of comics can, The Book of Hope slows the reader down to the rhythms of the silent life of a retired couple living in a rural countryside. Behind the static, routine moments of everyday life something bigger takes shape. A flash of encroaching death starts to consume the husband, leading to visions and questions. This graphic novel from cartoonist Tommi Musturi is a thoughtful exploration of the human condition, and the series of mostly quotidian moments that make up most of our lives.”

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine – October 6, 2015

“‘Amber Sweet‘ shows the disastrous impact of mistaken identity in a hyper-connected world; ‘A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture‘ details the invention and destruction of a vital new art form in short comic strips; ‘Translated, from the Japanese‘ is a lush, full-color display of storytelling through still images; the title story, ‘Killing and Dying‘, centers on parenthood, mortality, and stand-up comedy. In six interconnected, darkly funny stories, Tomine forms a quietly moving portrait of contemporary life.”

You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler – October 16, 2015

“In the wake of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Art Spiegelman’s Maus comes cartoonist Carol Tyler’s multigenerational graphic memoir, You’ll Never Know. The author chronicles her fraught relationship with her father, Charles, a WWII veteran, and how the war affected their lives through both childhood and adulthood. You’ll Never Know is also a tribute to servicemen and women, dramatizing the trauma of the war on the Greatest Generation and those who followed.”

Two Brothers by Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon – October 27, 2015

“Twin brothers Omar and Yaqub may share the same features, but they could not be more different from one another. And the possessive love of their mother, Zana, stirs the troubled waters between them even more. After a brutally violent exchange between the young boys, Yaqub, “the good son,” is sent from his home in Brazil to live with relatives in Lebanon, only to return five years later as a virtual stranger to the parents who bore him, his tensions with Omar unchanged.”

Trashed by Derf Backderf – November 3, 2015

Trashed, Derf Backderf’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed, award-winning international bestseller My Friend Dahmer, is an ode to the crap job of all crap jobs—garbage collector. Anyone who has ever been trapped in a soul-sucking gig will relate to this tale. Trashed follows the raucous escapades of three 20-something friends as they clean the streets of pile after pile of stinking garbage, while battling annoying small-town bureaucrats, bizarre townfolk, sweltering summer heat, and frigid winter storms.”

Class Photo by Robert Triptow – November 7, 2015

“Robert Triptow stumbled across a real-life class photo of an anonymous 1937 public school under a pile of garbage and his imagination took off. Several years later, the result is the utterly charming, completely original graphic novella Class Photo. Using the photo as a springboard, each student’s fictionalized life is depicted in one-page installments. Triptow weaves these imagined lives in and out like so many dedications in a yearbook, mixing in social satire, elegant cartooning, occasionally disgusting hilarity, and plenty of good, clean fun.”

Becoming Unbecoming by Una – December 1, 2015

“A serial murderer is at large in West Yorkshire and the police—despite spending more than two million man-hours hunting the killer and interviewing the man himself no less than nine times—are struggling to solve the case. As this national news story unfolds around her, Una finds herself on the receiving end of a series of violent acts for which she feels she is to blame. Unbecoming explores gender violence, blame, shame, and social responsibility. Through image and text Una asks what it means to grow up in a culture where male violence goes unpunished and unquestioned.”

Are there any upcoming graphic novels or comics you’re looking forward to?


Dietland by Sarai Walker

May 26, 2015 reviews 17

Dietland by Sarai WalkerDietland by Sarai Walker
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 26th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


Though her job answering advice letters for a popular teen magazine is one many would envy, Plum Kettle is living her life for the future. At three hundred pounds, she does her best to stay invisible and counts the days until a weight-loss surgery will allow her real life to begin. But just before Plum’s day arrives, she meets a group of women who begin to change her perspective and show her just how restrictive her ideal body could be.

“We’re told not to go out by ourselves late at night, not to dress a certain way, not to talk to male strangers, not to lead men on. We take self-defense classes, keep our doors locked, carry pepper spray and rape whistles. The fear of men is ingrained in us from girlhood. Isn’t that a form of terrorism?”

A character who learns to accept who she is, even though she isn’t thin? Feminists who refuse to follow the expectations set by mainstream culture and a vigilante group aimed at justice for women? This is a novel meant to stir up much needed conversation, though it will certainly be polarizing. You can almost hear a refrain of “she was asking for it” in these comments on NPR, proving nearly every point Dietland aims to make: women can only exist in a pre-defined space.

Though the last quarter of the novel feels a little untidy, in that several possible endpoints seem to take away from the impact of the final scenes, Dietland is absolutely worth reading. Sarai Walker turns conventions on their head, which throw the reader completely off mark in amazing ways, while also getting to the honest truth of what it means to be a woman under the gaze of modern society.


It’s Monday, May 25th. What Are You Reading?

May 25, 2015 reading 20


This weekend caught me feeling in a funk, so I kind of holed myself up and had a little mini-readathon on my own. I grabbed a bunch of short books from my shelves, arranged some snacks and camped out on the couch for a good while. That Thing You Do With Your Mouth by Samantha Matthews and David Shields was super quick, so it acted as a good spark to get me going on Haints Stay by Colin Winnette and The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard. Hanging out at home alone and generally avoiding the internet helped me breeze through those and even get a good start on reading Pamela Newkirk’s Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

Here’s hoping things look up a little this week so I can enjoy the nice weather and holiday.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Nonfiction Titles to Get Your Book Club Talking

May 21, 2015 lists 48

Nonfiction Book Club

I’ve mentioned it here before, but I strongly believe that nonfiction titles can be great for book club discussions. Sadly, they tend to get overlooked when clubs are picking out their reads. I get it. Nonfiction can be a tough sell, especially for those who rarely pick it up, but these books are sure to get your group talking!


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This teeny, tiny little essay is a great place to start. It’s small but mighty and you’ll have plenty to talk about when you’re done reading.

Galileo’s Middle Finger by Alice Dreger

A bit of memoir, a dash of investigation and dozens of questions are tossed together in Alice Dreger’s book about the intersection of social justice and research.

The Birth of the Pill by Jonathan Eig

Your book club will be spouting facts for months. This book is just filled to the brim with great bits of information that will make almost anyone thankful for modern medicine.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Sheri Fink’s book on the state of a hospital in post-Katrina New Orleans isn’t a light or easy read, but it’s an important one that will raise a ton of moral questions for your group.

Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear

It’s great to be grossed out with a group of friends, isn’t it? Everyone will be desperate to share the (numerous) moments that made them cringe while reading Anything That Moves.

The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

It might sound dry and boring, but the history of Monopoly is actually quite fascinating. Be sure to have a board on hand because you’ll definitely get the itch to play!

Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

The ins and outs of our social media lives, told through our data. It’s absolutely fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Written after the deaths of five men in her life, Ward’s memoir is heartbreaking, but also an incredibly honest and important look at racism and poverty.

Master of the Mountain by Henry Wiencek

This one is a little more academic, so I wouldn’t recommended it for a first rodeo, but it would be totally eye-opening for a group that has some experience with nonfiction and loves a good controversy.

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

If you saw the HBO documentary based on this book, you’ve only seen about half of the crazybananapants you’ll uncover while reading.


Does your book club read nonfiction? Do you have a title that would be perfect for groups to read?


The Shore by Sara Taylor

May 19, 2015 reviews 37

The Shore by Sara TaylorThe Shore by Sara Taylor
Published by Crown Publishing Group on May 26th, 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


The world of Southern Gothic literature was once well populated with women; Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, and Dorothy Allison are regularly mentioned alongside William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams. But in recent years, the genre has shifted away from its ghostly Gothic roots toward new Grit Lit sensibilities—and it’s overwhelmingly male.

Enter Sara Taylor. Don’t be fooled by the beachy scene on The Shore‘s cover—the islands off the coast of Virginia are beautiful, but their stories are grim. Taylor’s characters encounter drugs, extreme physical and sexual violence, and murder of the kind that’s common to Grit Lit, but here they’re braced by the feminism and sense of magic realism the genre has been lacking.

“Maybe one day you’ll learn to read his moods better, learn to sense when he’s running out of patience, learn to stop pushing him until the storm comes. There will be bruises, on your arms and other not so visible places, in the morning, and neither Stella nor Ellie nor any of the people you see throughout the day will say a word about them, the way you never say a word when Ellie’s skin blooms purple-green. Even so, you know they’ll see and wonder what you said, what you did, and how you failed to keep it together this time.”

The Shore works as both a novel and heavily connected short stories. Starting in 1885, the book follows a community on the Shore for over 200 years, dropping hints and names along the way; a minor background character in one chapter could be central to the plot in another, sometimes 100 pages or 100 years later. While this will certainly be frustrating for some readers, thinking and theorizing can sometimes make a book a reading experience instead of just a story.

An absolutely immersive experience, at that. In many ways, pulling apart the layers of The Shore calls back to close examination of classic work—both challenging and rewarding. At just 24, Sara Taylor has blended the best elements of Grit Lit and Southern Gothic with a completely original spin and left her first, powerful mark on the literary world.


If you’ve read or plan to read The Shore, we’ll be discussing it (spoilers and all!) next month over at The Socratic Salon.

It’s Monday, May 18th. What Are You Reading?

May 18, 2015 reading 18


Much like I expected it would, the weather here went from somewhat chilly Spring to “Woah, it’s almost 90!” in the span of about a week. While it made for good reading and romping time in the backyard with the pup, we were somewhat limited by our ability to withstand the heat. My husband worked all weekend and I knocked out a bunch of the things I had to do (primarily groceries and yardwork) pretty quick, which left me with some time to tackle long overdue, tedious blog tasks. Broken links, tags, things I keep trying to pretend don’t exist. I’m nowhere near done, but I did get a good start.

I’m still reading The Improbability of Love (it’s a long one!), but started and finished So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson for my book club. There’s a ton to turn over with that one. I don’t agree with him on everything, but the book definitely had me going back and forth with a few of the situations. I’ve also just started Sarai Walker’s Dietland, which is wickedly smart and strange so far. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Appropriately enough, its cover is a bit of a play on the typical chick lit cover, no? We’re discussing that term, what we think it means and how we feel about its use over at The Socratic Salon if you’d like to join in.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?