Comics/Graphic Novels

5 Illustrated Guides to Being a Grown-Up

Melody Schreiber

Staff Writer

Melody Schreiber is at work on a nonfiction anthology of premature birth. As a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C., she has reported from nearly every continent. Her articles, essays, and reviews have been published by The Washington Post, Wired, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, NPR, The Toast, Catapult, and others. She received her bachelor’s in English and linguistics at Georgetown University and her master’s in writing at the Johns Hopkins University. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @m_scribe.

It turns out, Mom and Dad weren’t kidding. Adulting is hard, y’all. But while there may not be a manual for mastering this whole grown-up thing, there are a few helpful guides! With illustrations, wise words, and very healthy doses of humor, these authors are here to get you through each day.

Artist in the OfficeThe Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week by Summer Pierre
I never used to call myself a writer. Sure, I wrote things—sometimes, a lot of things!—but it wasn’t my day job. It wasn’t, for a long time, what I got paid to do. And it’s still not my full-time gig. Does that make me any less of a writer? No! As Pierre points out, Walt Whitman, Georgia O’Keeffe, William C. Williams, and Charles Bukowski—among many others—all held down day jobs. These steady gigs, Pierre shows us, make it possible for us to feel secure enough to explore our art. The pep talk in the introduction alone is worth buying the book. And the playful illustrations about how to keep our perspective on work, how to stay inspired and motivated, and how to incorporate art and into daily life are worth revisiting again and again. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, these practices will put a little extra shine on each day.

Make Your PlaceMake Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs

This petite little book is chock-full of advice for homemade cures, cleaning tips, and gardening how-tos. Although she provides some health-related potions, she always advises seeing a medical professional for serious injuries and illnesses, which I appreciate. Will I ever make an herbal poultice for aching muscles or a tea infusion to soothe a raging cold? It’s unlikely! But even trying one of these DIY recipes is guaranteed to make you feel SO adult. And the best news is, most of these recipes are surprisingly easy. My favorite homemade recipes include shampoo, bath scrubs, and laundry soaps. I can’t wait to tackle the section on gardening next! And those ants in my kitchen next spring better watch out.

Worriers Guide to LifeThe Worrier’s Guide to Life by Gemma Correll
Being an adult can be so stressful. Firefox keeps crashing, and this coffee doesn’t seem to have any caffeine in it, and wait a second is my loan payment late? And that’s not even counting potential future problems! What if your firstborn unwittingly shares a name with Brangelina’s next kid? What if your tombstone is written in Comic Sans?! It’s a worrisome world out there, but Correll leavens all these fears with a sharp wit and lighthearted jokes. She sees your Sharknado fears, and she raises you a Sealnami, a Crabalanche, and a Light but Relentless Drizzle of Anchovies. Her recommendation to make stickers for regular adult tasks has my full backing. Yes, I Voted! And I Also Flossed! The world can be a scary place, and the everyday anxieties of being an adult can sometimes threaten to overwhelm us. But the key is to incorporate a little fun even (especially) in these stressful moments.

How to Be InterestingHow to Be Interesting (in 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy

Imagine if your yoga instructor put together a book of her favorite mantras—and then organized them with Venn diagrams and graphs. This book is a fun, quirky mix of free-spirited advice and chart-making. It’s an excellent gift for many people in your life: recent graduates, people who love Venn diagrams, boring people. With sections like “go exploring,” “embrace your weirdness,” and “have a cause,” the book repeats every mom’s favorite words of advice in swooping script and unexpected illustrations. It’s a great little book to flip through when you need inspiration—both in terms of creativity and motivation.

Ink for Beginners: A Comic Guide to Getting Tattooed
by Kate Leth

Just because you’re an adult now doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun! In fact, that’s the best part of being a grown-up—you can do whatever you want. Just make sure to do it responsibly. I’ve gushed about Kate Leth’s gorgeous illustrations and helpful tips on getting a tattoo before, but it’s worth mentioning again. For those seeking ink, Leth offers practical advice based on personal experience, from finding a reputable artist (as in, not some dude’s garage who will do it super cheap for the practice), to picking the perfect placement, to caring for the body art once it’s in place. Tattoo safely, my friends!