Hop Picks for September 2018

Hello Friends! I am so excited about this post!

I have been traveling down a rabbit hole and spending  a ton of time reading  GRAPHIC NOVELS!!!! 

A graphic novel is a novel or non fiction piece presented in comic book form. Comics are not just for kids any more and there are SO MANY fantastic graphic novels aimed for a more mature (insert your own definition of what that means, I am still trying to figure it out) audience. If you are looking for something to read but don't have a ton of time I HIGHLY suggest you pick up a graphic novel. They are a quick and incredible experience.

If you  are hesitant about this genre please take a look at some that I have experienced, LOVED and actually, haven't quite recovered from.

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Here by Richard McGuire is a superb novel that tells the story of a living room. Okay, that sentence may sound silly but with minimal written narrative, this book chronicles the history of a single corner. It explores the history of all the events that happened in this particular space over hundreds of years. It illustrates what the space looked like a thousand years ago, before the settlers came, in 1800, 1950 and so on. The illustrations are a unique and simplified style that forces you to ponder every page. 

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This novel documents the human experience throughout the ages  and with that, there is incredible violence, tragedy and tender moments of joy. 

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The layout of this book is stunning. Like visiting a breath taking art exhibit, I was actually moved to tears. While pouring over this book, I began contemplating the meaning of time, my place in history and how we treat the littlest moments in our lives. Powerful stuff. 

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Hostage by Guy Delisle is the harrowing account of Christopher Andre, who in 1997 was kidnapped while working as a humanitarian in Nazran (Russia). The stark and shadowed illustrations fuel the tension as Andre waits, and waits, and waits to be rescued. He is chained to a radiator while his captors decide what to do with him. This novel is a nail-biter and a unique depiction of true events. I didn't know much about Russia during the 1990's and I learned quite a bit through this novel.

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Graphic Novels are also an excellent way to quickly learn about foreign affairs or political tension.

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The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui is the memoir of Bui's family's emigration from Vietnam to the United States. Her family became refugees shortly after the Vietnam war ended and this book is an incredibly heartfelt example of the power of illustration and memoir. 

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The illustrations, with sweeping strokes of black and trails of rusty red give the novel an "old world" feel while the narration handles the complex issues of war, displacement and identity.  Bui's illustrations fold her parent's past in Vietnam with their life in the US in an incredibly raw way.

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Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples is a riveting series of fantasy/science fiction, which I usually don't read. Saga is the story of Alana and Marko, who are in love but their worlds are at war. They choose to be together and run away, and have a child named Hazel who occasionally narrates the story. To many societies Hazel is considered an abomination, and that is where the saga begins. This magical family is running from monsters, fighting constant bigotry and often facing an evil that simulates the pure evil and ignorance that we can experience in our world.

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Whenever I think about these novels my heart skips a beat. The side stories and minor characters are just as powerful as the protagonists and I am always surprised by the artwork. I have yet to find their equal in creativity, sociological commentary, political commentary and illustrative genius.

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This series is STUNNING and so bad a**!!!

That being said, I also feel the need to mention that Saga puts the GRAPHIC in graphic novel. They are extremely violent and full of nudity. I don't know why I feel the need to write such a disclaimer because if these novels didn't have the visual aspect I wouldn't even mention it but the artwork may be shocking to some.

Here are a few things I have learned from my new found appreciation for graphic novels:

1. There are hundreds of graphic novels written for adults. These books hold all the themes and drama of a typical novel but with GORGEOUS Illustrations. 
2. Graphic Novels are a terrific way to learn about a time in history without dedicating hours reading a novel or biography. I don't think the writing is simpler, I think every word is more deliberate. 
3. Great illustrations can actually help a story! Reading in the comic form took some getting used to but once I was comfortable I could dedicate an hour to an incredible story and feel like I learned so much. 
4. Graphic Novels are an experience. In this fast paced world who has time to read 1,000 pages? If you like to read but can't find the time... seriously, try a graphic novel. 

If you have tried a graphic novel, what was your experience? What are some of your favorites?

Thanks for checking in.

"Let's Loiter and Learn Something"