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Graphic Memoirs and Novels That I’m Excited About Right Now

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Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

I read a lot of comics and TPBs (trade paperbacks), but don’t always keep up with graphic novels and graphic memoirs. In the past few weeks, though, I’ve gotten some in the mail that have really knocked my socks off and reignited my interest in the genre. Some of these are forthcoming and some are recently out, but all of them pack a punch.

Drawn to Berlin book coverDrawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe by Ali Fitzgerald

I just started reading this and it is so good. In Fitzgerald’s graphic memoir, she’s in Berlin and teaching art to displaced people from various countries. She encourages them to start drawing and writing about their homes and journeys. Given the current political climate, this feels like an important book.

BLAME THIS ON THE BOOGIE BY RINA AYUYANGBlame This on the Boogie by Rina Ayuyang

I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did, to be honest. Spanning several decades, it’s a lushly-illustrated book that tells Ayuyang’s story of growing up Filipino American, and then her journey into parenthood and PPD, all set to the backdrop of musicals, and eventually, Dancing With the Stars and its fandom. Her art is absolutely gorgeous, and her writing made me laugh and think, especially about my own parenthood journey. Although the book is nearly 200 pages, when I finished it, I wished it had been even longer.

Minding the Store: A Big Story About a Small Business by Julie Gaines and Ben Lenovitz

This graphic memoir was a delight to read, partly because I was familiar with the store in NYC it centered upon, Fishs Eddy. Gains (along with her son’s illustrations) tells the story of how she and her husband founded the store Fishs Eddy: the ups and downs of opening a small business, the pitfalls along the way, life events knocking things awry, and how to keep going when you don’t feel like it. It was a neat look at something I didn’t know much about, although at times, I did want more of what was going on outside the store.

KID GLOVES: NINE MONTHS OF CAREFUL CHAOS BY LUCY KNISLEYKid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley (2/26/19)

I’ve read all of Knisley’s graphic memoirs and love her Instagram—her son is a month younger than mine, and her comics are a hefty dose of truth-telling about parenting a toddler. I was super excited to get this in the mail, and have just started it, because I want to savor it. This is her story about the journey to getting pregnant, her pregnancy, and the birth of her son—along with tons of fun facts about our bodies and pregnancy.

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal

I read this in one sitting because it was so amusing. Set in a world where a birth defect eradicates all men, Woman World is the result. Funny, true, observant, with an underlying level of seriousness, this book offers witty commentary on female relationships and societal expectations.

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Harper Lee and Fred Fordham

TKAM has always been one of my all-time favorites, if not my very favorite novel. I was very wary of the graphic novel adaptation of it, because it had the potential to go very wrong, in my opinion. I was relieved to see that this does justice to Lee’s work. Although I prefer the original novel, this was a monumental task done really well, and I’d highly recommend this to people who either might not pick up the novel itself, or those who love the novel and want a new way of looking at it.

What are your favorite graphic memoirs and novels?