“Graphic novel” may sound like a fancy name for a long comic book, but thanks to recent graphic memoir artists, this book category is growing up and moving on from super heroes and childish cartoon characters without losing any of its entertainment value. Below are five nonfiction graphic novels to help you revitalize your reading life without sucking away all your free time.
Maus, by Art Spiegelman
Don’t be fooled by the mice and cats on the cover – this is very much a story for a mature audience. Art Spiegelman uses this relationship of the animal kingdom to tell the story of his relationship with his father, a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, and their mutual struggle to reconcile with the truth of endurance beyond tragedy.
Relish, by Lucy Knisley
One part cookbook, one part personal narrative, this story tells of Knisley’s lifelong romance with food. You’ll love it for its comic-styled recipes from around the world, for Knisley’s beautifully drawn portrayals of herself and those around her, and for the sharing of universal feel-good food love that we’ve all felt in our lives.
Blankets, by Craig Thompson
Arguably one of the longest graphic novels I’ve ever picked up (592 pages!), I promise it’s still worth the read. You will fall in love with Thompson’s portrayal of the Wisconsin landscape in winter and his unflinching record of growing up with his brother, questioning his Christian upbringing, and falling in love for the first time.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel
Known originally for her web comic Dykes to Watch Out For, this graphic novel is Alison Bechdel at her finest. You as a reader will not be disappointed, as you follow Bechdel through a non-linear narrative about her relationship with her father, their mutual struggle with being gay in small Pennsylvania town, and the family “fun home” funeral business.
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
This graphic novel tells the story of a young boy growing up in America with two Chinese native parents. Cultural disparities and racial stereotypes quickly leave Yang as a misfit of two worlds and unlikely to ever be given the choice of where he’d like to belong. The novel’s visual journey will take you through the geography of creating an identity for yourself in America.