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5 Graphic Novels and Memoirs for People Who Say They Don’t Like Graphic Novels and Memoirs

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Katherine Willoughby

Staff Writer

Katherine Willoughby lives is Richmond, Virginia and teaches Junior Kindergarten at the same school where she discovered her love of reading. When she is not in the classroom, Katherine enjoys building wooden train layouts with her three-year-old son, playing board games while drinking IPA’s with her husband, and taking part in pub trivia. Read Across America Day is her favorite holiday!

When my husband, Aaron, and I were first dating, he talked me into going to see the midnight premier of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. We were at that stage in our relationship where we tried new things just to show the other person how much we wanted to be with him/her. I told him that graphic novels just weren’t “my genre.” The sold-out show was packed with graphic novel nerds. Little did I know that I would soon be converted to one as well. The movie started and I quickly understood why Scott Pilgrim has such a large fanbase.

A few months later, Aaron gave me all six Scott Pilgrim books for my birthday. I tore through the half dozen books and then found myself seeking out more graphic novels at the public library. I approached this previously unexplored corner of the library and found a cache of graphic novel jewels. Now, whenever I visit the library, I find at least two or three new ones to add to my library tote. They are perfect books to read when I am between books, bogged down by a particularly long read, or just need a Sunday afternoon book to pair with a cup of tea.

Take a look at this list of graphic novels and memoirs for people who think they don’t like graphic novels and memoirs.

5 graphic novels and memoirs for readers who haven't yet tried comics or who are new to the format. book lists | graphic novels | memoirs | graphic memoirs | comics | comics to read | comics for new readers

Graphic Novels and Memoirs for People Who are New to the Genre

Jane book cover1. Jane by Aline McKenna and Ramón K. Pérez

Jane is a modern-day retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. In this version, Jane is an orphan from a small New England town. She moves to New York City to attend art school and nannies for the mysterious Mr. Rochester and his daughter, Adele. Instead of the windswept moors, Jane navigates the gritty New York streets and the social scene of the elite. After a fire threatens Mr. Rochester’s penthouse, Jane discovers more of her employer’s secrets.

Our Cats are More Famous than Us book cover2. Our Cats are More Famous Than Us: A Johnny Wander Collection by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota

As I was perusing the graphic novel section at the library, the neon cover of this book made it irresistible. This is a collection of autobiographical comics about the creators. Hirsh and Ota chronicle their lives as they “wing it” through adulthood. First apartments in geriatric houses, cereal for breakfast, moving a mattress up five flights of stairs, and friends who revel in doing the dishes are some of the situations and people recorded in this chunky, highlighter colored omnibus. Also cats. Read this if you like watching cat videos on Youtube. I finished reading it on a Sunday night and started rereading it on Monday.

Exquisite Corpse book cover3. Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu

Zoe lives in Paris and works as a car-model. In the evening, she goes home to her weed-smoking, worthless boyfriend. When she runs into world-famous writer Thomas Rocher, she begins a relationship with the reclusive writer whom the rest of the world thinks is dead. This is a slim, little book with a huge plot twist that I personally did not see coming.

Relish book cover4. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish is a graphic memoir about Knisley’s unique relationship with her family and food. Knisley writes about growing up with “foodie” parents who served her poached salmon in cream when most parents served pureed sweet potatoes or applesauce pouches. As the memoir continues, Lucy writes about food in different parts of her life, from eating cherry tomatoes from her mom’s garden to rebelling against her father while eating McDonald’s cheeseburgers in Rome. Recipes for such dishes as chocolate chip cookies, pesto, and carbonara (this particular recipe sparked a debate in our house of whether or not to add peas to carbonara) are included and illustrated.

Something New book cover5. Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

In this memoir, Knisley chronicles her wedding planning from engagement through the wedding night. She writes and draws about picking out a ceremony location, choosing food for the big day, and how a friend made each bridesmaid a dress in a shade of her choosing. I will admit, I did not love this one as much as Relish, but still enjoyed her adorable drawings of her wedding dress hunt, bachelorette weekend, and tidbits about the history of wedding traditions. I have the next Knisley memoir, Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos, on hold at the library and am ready to read about Knisley’s pregnancy whenever my name reaches the top of the list!

So now, maybe you too are hooked on graphic novels and ready for more. This post about another rioter’s most recent graphic novel picks and this one about Oni Press are must reads for any graphic novel novice or expert!