Check It Out Category: Graphic Novels

MPPL Staff Favorites 2019

Staff Favorites 2019 cover photo

The end of the year is an irresistible time to reflect on all the fabulous art each of us read, watched, played, and listened to in 2019, and many of our staff wanted to celebrate those high points together. Narrowing down to only three favorites each has not been easy, but this grand finale has given us lots to debate — and we hope it offers the same to you!

Picture of JennyFiction: What We Owe
by Golnaz Hashemzadah Bonde
Music: Amidst the Chaos
by Sara Bareilles
Audiobook: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
by Hank Green
Picture of MaryGraphic Novel: New Kid
by Jerry Craft
Fiction: Ninth House
by Leigh Bardugo
Audiobook: On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas
picture of AngelaNonfiction: The Sun Is a Compass
by Caroline Van Hemert
Fiction: The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai
Nonfiction: Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson

 

Picture of MichaelFiction: The House of Broken Angels
by Luis Alberto Urrea
Movie: The Last Suit
Fiction: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
by Anissa Grey
Picture of BrianVideogame: Shadows Die Twice
Fiction: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez
Videogame: Hollow Knight
icon for MichelleAudiobook: Recursion
by Blake Crouch
Fiction: The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai
Fiction: Daisy Jones & the Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

Picture of CaitlinMovie: It: Chapter Two
Book: Angel Mage
by Garth Nix
Music: E-mo-tion
by Carly Rae Jepsen
Audiobook: With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Nonfiction: Born to Fly
by Steve Sheinken
Graphic Memoir: They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei
Picture of JenniferFiction: Since She Went Away
by David Bell
Fiction: The Girl Who Was Taken
by Charlie Donlea
Nonfiction: The Feather Thief
by Kirk Wallace Johnson

 

icon for DevinFiction: Queen of Air and Darkness
by Cassandra Clare
Nonfiction: The Woman Who Smashed Codes
by Jason Fagone
Poetry: Love Her Wild
by Atticus
Picture of AnneFiction: Beartown
by Fredrik Backman
Fiction: Who Slays the Wicked
by C.S. Harris
Nonfiction: The Pioneers
by David McCullough
by K.A. Holt
Nonfiction: The Undefeated
by Kwame Alexander
Audiobook: The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo

 

Picture of Denise
Audiobook: Get A Life, Chloe Brown
by Talia Hibbert
Audiobook: Internment
by Samira Ahmed
Movie: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Picture of JanineFiction: The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai
Graphic Memoir: Good Talk
by Mira Jacob
Fiction: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
Picture of EvaNonfiction: Life Undercover
by Amaryllis Fox
Fiction: Redemption
by David Baldacci
Fiction: All the Beautiful Girls
by Elizabeth J. Church

 

Picture of BeccaTV: Stranger Things
Graphic Memoir: Kid Gloves
by Lucy Knisley
Fiction: Song for a Whale
by Lynne Kelly
icon for KellyFiction: The Flatshare
by Beth O’Leary
Fiction: Would Like to Meet
by Rachel Winters
Fiction: No Judgments
by Meg Cabot
Audiobook: Daisy Jones & the Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Audiobook: The Beastie Boys Book
by Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz
Fiction: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michelle Richardson

 

picture of CatherineFiction: After the Flood
by Kassandra Montag
Music: Dedicated
by Carly Rae Jepsen
Fiction: Get A Life, Chloe Brown
by Talia Hibbert
Audiobook: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow
Fiction: A Kind of Freedom
by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Fiction: Lovely War
by Julie Berry
icon for Anne WNonfiction: Our Women on the Ground
by Zahra Hankir
Nonfiction: Visualizing the Beatles
by John Pring and Rob Thomas
Nonfiction: Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal
by Yuval Taylor

 

Picture of DonnaAudiobook: Whiskey in a Teacup
by Reese Witherspoon
Fiction: The Giver of Stars
by Jojo Moyes
Fiction: The Paris Orphan
by Natasha Lester
Icon for RebecaFiction: On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas
Fiction: My So-Called Bollywood Life
by Nisha Sharma
Nonfiction: A Dream Called Home
by Reyna Grande
Picture of CathleenFiction: The Memory Police
by Yoko Ogawa
TV: Succession
Poetry: Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50
by Lee Ann Roripaugh

 

Al staff photoPoetry: 1919:  Poems
by Eve L. Ewing
Fiction: Friday Black: Stories
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Fiction: The Need
by Helen Phillips
picture of AndreaAudiobook: Nothing To See Here
by Kevin Wilson
Fiction: Fireborne
by Rosaria Munda
Audiobook: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

 


Want more? Take a look at what staff chose in 2018 and 2017 as their favorites.

 If you’re interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions… Ask!

MPPL Staff Favorites of 2018

animated pictureTake a moment to reflect: what did you love this year?

As 2018 is drawing to a close, MPPL staff took time to look back on everything they watched, read, listened to, and played throughout the year in order to choose some of their top favorites. With 32 staff members sharing, you’re bound to find plenty to add to your own reading, listening, and watching lists!

 

Picture of ErinBook: Theft by Finding
by David Sedaris
Book: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
by Michelle McNamara
Book: Peter and Ernesto
by Graham Annable
picture of AndreaBook: The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Book: Moxie
by Jennifer Mathieu
Book: Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertalli
Picture of ClaireBook: The Girl Who Smiled Beads 
by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
Book: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row 
by Anthony Ray Hinton
picture of ChelseaAudiobook: Baby Teeth
by Zoje Stage
Graphic Novel: Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins
by Jeff Lemire
DVD: Legion: Season 1
picture of AngelaBook: Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi
Book: Educated
by Tara Westover
Book: The Hating Game

by Sally Thorne
Picture of JessicaBook: Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of A Latin Queen
by Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez
DVD: Acrimony
Book: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Picture of MaryBook: The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
Book: The Feather Thief
by Kirk Johnson
Book: Astral Weeks
by Ryan H. Walsh
Picture of KeldaBook: The One-in-a-Million Boy
by Monica Wood
DVD: Tulip Fever
Audiobook: Lily and the Octopus
by Steven Rowley
Picture of CaitlinBook: Into the Drowning Deep
by Mira Grant
DVD: Love, Simon
Book: Jane, Unlimited
by Kristin Cashore

 

Picture of ChrisBook: Mortal Engines
by Philip Reeve
DVD: Incredibles 2
Book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss
picture of DanBook: The Necronomicon
by H.P. Lovecraft
Book: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed
by Eric H. Cline
Book: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry 
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
picture of KarenBook: The Woman in the Window
by A. J. Finn
Book: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words
by Bianca Marais
Book: The Fallen
by David Baldacci

 

Picture of CathleenBook: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?
by N.K. Jemisin
Graphic Novel: My Boyfriend Is a Bear
by Pamela Ribon
DVD: Eighth Grade
Picture of FrankBook: All My Sons
by Arthur Miller
Book: The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov
by Andrea Pitzer
Book: The Trial
by Franz Kafka
Book: Front Desk 
by Kelly Yang
Book: One of Us Is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Picture of DeniseBook: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Audiobook: If We Were Villains
by M. L. Rio
Book: One Day in December
by Josie Silver
picture of Mary Jane Book: Walk Until Sunrise
by J. J. Maze
Book: A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles
Book: A Man Called Ove 
by Fredrik Backman

 

Picture of JohnDVD: Leave No Trace
Graphic Novel: Berlin
by Jason Lutes
DVD: The Americans: The Complete Final Season
picture of Jennifer ABook: I Am Princess X
by Cherie Priest
CD: Reputation
by Taylor Swift
Book: Haunted Ground
by Erin Hart
picture of JanineBook: Becoming
by Michelle Obama
Audiobook: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman
Book: Tin Man
by Sarah Winman
Audiobook: The Second Mrs. Hockaday
by Susan Rivers
Book: Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys
Book: Spinning Silver
by Naomi Novik
Picture of DonnaBook: Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue
Book: The Copenhagen Affair
by Amulya Malladi
Book: Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman
picture of CatherineBook: Senlin Ascends 
by Josiah Bancroft
Book: Into the Drowning Deep 
by Mira Grant
Book: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle 
by Stuart Turton
picture of emilyBook: At Home: A Short History of a Private Life
by Bill Bryson
Book: Melmoth
by Sarah Perry
Book: The Mothers
by Brit Bennett
Picture of JoeGraphic Novel: The Black Hammer: Vol. 1, Secret Origins
by Jeff Lemire
Graphic Novel: Hot Dog Taste Test  
by Lisa Hanawalt
Graphic Novel: Royal City: Vol 1, Next of Kin
by Jeff Lemire
Picture of DonnaDVD: Wyeth: The Life of Andrew Wyeth in Bold Strokes
Book: In the Midst of Winter
by Isabel Allende
Book: Identicals
by Elin Hilderbrand

 

picture of MariaBook: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine 
by Gail Honeyman
Book: Hillbilly Elegy 
by J. D. Vance
Book: Mrs. Dalloway
by Virginia Woolf
Mariel photoBook: The Secret History
by Donna Tartt
Book: Circe
by Madeline Miller
Book: The Raven Cycle Series
by Maggie Stiefvater

 

Picture of DaleBook: We Sold Our Souls
by Grady Hendrix
Book: Little Heaven
by Nick Cutter
Book: The Family Plot
by Cherie Priest
Book: The Art of Gathering
by Priya Parker
Book: The Book of Joy

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Book: The Distant Marvels
by Chantel Acevedo

 


Want more? Take a look at what staff chose in 2017 as their favorites.

We would love to hear from you!
Write to us on Facebook or Twitter and share what your own favorites this year were. If you’re interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions… Ask!

Black History Month Spotlight: Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor is not only a Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author, she is also a local talent who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Floosmoor, Illinois. She earned her PhD in English at the University of Illinois, Chicago. This groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy writer is the focus of our fourth Black History Month spotlight (see our first, second, and third authors also featured this month.)

Okorafor’s novels span juvenile, young adult, and adult collections, and are flavored with her Nigerian and American heritage. Her works explore the ramifications of racial and gender inequality, violence, war and environmental abuse. She has now started writing Marvel’s much-heralded Black Panther comic series, taking over from author Ta-Nahesi Coates.

“Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an ‘accelerated woman’–only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7. Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape. But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.” (Penguin Random House)

Black History Month Spotlight: Kyle Baker

Kyle Baker author photoOne of the inspiring opportunities of Black History Month is the chance to be introduced to talents we might otherwise miss without intention. In this second spotlight (see the first here), our gaze turns to artist and graphic novelist Kyle Baker.

Baker’s creations play with different styles and tones, which makes sampling his stories an exploration of the unexpected.  Blending computer-generated art with hand-drawn work, the illustrations often appear animated movie-ready, reminiscent of storyboards, and the unusual touch of captioning below the image rather than having text integrated into the panel emphasizes the power of the art on its own. That impact is heightened by his use of highly saturated colors which make the characters and action pop from the page.

Experience one or more of Baker’s celebrated works for yourself.  Whether you are primed to learn, to laugh, to escape, or to think, you’ll find a match in the Library’s collection. Start with one of these:

Nat Turner book coverNat Turner

The story of Nat Turner’s historic slave rebellion is powerfully realized in this award-winning graphic novel. Dramatic images do most of the talking, only sparingly supplemented with outbursts of text. Intentionally breaking from his reputation for bold colors, Baker depicts the action in muted sepia tones that are no less eye-catching, allowing the haunting images to etch the lives and lessons of history into our understanding.

 

 

Birth of a Nation book coverBirth of a Nation: A Comic Novel
by Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin
illustrated by Kyle Baker

When hundreds of its black citizens are turned away from national polls for suspicious reasons, what is the town of East St. Louis, Illinois to do? Secede and start a separate country, of course!  Baker’s lively illustrations enhance the satire of McGruder and Hudlin’s tale, making us smile even as their social and political points hit the mark.

 

 

King David book coverKing David

David of Israel, this is your life! From precocious lad to powerful but flawed monarch, his story is infused with both action and attitude. Baker effectively holds attention captive even during well-traveled episodes, most especially during the shepherd boy’s confrontation with gargantuan soldier Goliath.

 

 

You Are Here book coverYou Are Here

Billed as “a spectacular, full-color urban romantic comedy about what happens when the things we hide come back to haunt us,” this wisecracking romp illustrates the story of a former criminal, his unaware New Age girlfriend, and a serial killer with a grudge.  Buckle in for an outrageous combination of noir, action, and humor sure to offer the escapism you might need.

 

List: Our Staff’s Favorite Graphic Novels

Whether you are an avid reader of graphic novels or want to try one out for the first time, look no further than this post for a list of 15 of our library staff’s very favorite titles! This eclectic mix offers fiction and nonfiction, science fiction, steampunk, humor and the avant-garde. It is sure to provide more than a few gems for your reading pleasure.

For those of you just starting out with graphic novels, here are four good places to start:

Persepolis book coverBoth Denise T. and Carol M. suggest Persepolis, the graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Carol says, “I remember watching the Iranian Revolution in 1979, but Marjane Satrapi’s story gave me the perspective of someone about my own age who lived through it. The graphic novel format was an inspired way to show how society changed after the Islamic Republic came to power.”

Donna S. recommends the conclusion of U.S. representative John Lewis’s true story of his personal experience of the civil rights movement. Donna says, “I found March Book Three an interesting reminder of the early civil rights movement in America. This is a National Book Award winner.”

Donna C. recommends the YA title, Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino, which uses Thoreau’s own writings to tell the story of his time experimenting with living an unconventional life in the woods. Donna says, “This is a lovely and very accessible way to approach both the writing of Thoreau and the graphic novel medium, for teens and adults alike.”

Anne S. recommends The Gettysburg Address by Jonathan Hennessey. “Hennessey uses text and pictures to illustrate the complexities and beauty in the Gettysburg Address while also giving a clear and concise overview of the driving forces which helped to develop the United States during its first 150 years. P.S. It’s also a great graphic novel for the person who ‘does not read’ graphic novels!”

If you’re looking for something further off the beaten path, try one of these staff suggestions:

Cathleen B. recommends Descender, Book 1, by Jeff Lemire, the sci-fi story of a robot boy whose life is in jeopardy in a universe where androids are forbidden. Cathleen says, “This series start is inventive and suspenseful and sad and sweet, but the gorgeous watercolor art is what truly won my heart.”

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman is a metaphysical tale of mythology and history, following the mistaken capture and imprisonment of Dream, who controls the dream world. Janine S. recommends this, saying, “It’s smart, emotional, and relevant with some of the greatest and most interesting characters I’ve encountered in all of my reading.”

Kelda G. suggests Stitches by David Small. “A best-selling and highly regarded children’s book illustrator comes forward with this unflinching graphic memoir. Remarkable and intensely dramatic, Stitches tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute―a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.”

Joe C. recommends yet another science fiction story, Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn. This is a story about a world in which only two males exist, Yorrick Brown and his pet monkey. Joe says, “It is a brilliant and clever alternate history premise: what would happen if all the men died?”

 

Mary S. suggests Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Anderson. “A very funny portrayal of the everyday occurrences that plague us.”

 

 

Chelsea L. says, “My more recent favorite graphic novel is The Flintstones by Mark Russell. It is remodeled for the 21st century, hysterically funny, and grown-up version of the quirky Flintstones and their town of Bedrock.”

Anthony A. suggests Blankets by Craig Thompson. “At once powerful and tender, this beautifully rendered autobiographical coming-of-age epic graphic novel grapples with the intense emotional transformation of a young man experiencing first love, disillusionment, spiritual awakening, and the growing realization and acceptance of all the things that are beyond his control.”

 

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke is the suggestion of Jenny M. “While there were moments where I could see myself so vividly in Radtke’s memoir and it felt strange to see pieces of me on someone else’s page, this was also an impressionable exercise in peeking into seeing how someone else comprehends and makes sense of life.”

 

Mary D. suggests Grandville by Bryan Talbot, saying, “Grandville is a steampunk, Victorian noir, suspenseful graphic novel full of anthropomorphic characters and beautifully drawn artwork.”

 

Claire B.’s favorite is Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown. Claire says, “I thought this book was beautifully illustrated and a thorough, fascinating explanation of what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.”

 

David Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp follows a middle-aged teacher and architect who relocates from New York City to Midwestern small town. John M. recommends it “because of the elegant way form mirrors theme throughout.”