2014 Staff Picks: Graphic Novel and Media Favorites

We are featuring our thoughts on our 2014 Staff Picks for the week here at Read More! But, if you have impatient streak (like me!) and want the list immediately, please check our our online list in two parts, 2014 Staff Picks for Adults and 2014 Staff Picks for Children . Or you can visit any of our library locations for a handy paper list!

Here are our favorite graphic novels:

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Can't We Talk About Something More PleasantThis graphic novel memoir is the author’s tale of navigating some pretty tricky and hilarious waters as she attempts to help her aging parents cope with illness and the subsequent upheaval of life as they’ve known it. Although faced with exasperating circumstances, and confusion and sadness abound, author Roz Chast faces the realities of this life transition with humor and gutsy honesty. – Jenni


Seconds by Brian Lee O’Malley

SecondsThis moving, wry graphic novel by the creator of Scott Pilgrim deftly explores the messy, frustrating process of accepting adulthood – whether you want to or not. Vengeful house spirits, good food, dreams deferred, bridges burned, and magic mushrooms abound in this tale about Katie and her quest to avoid what comes next.  This novel resonated with me on several levels – as adult navigating the often-contradictory nature of adulthood, as a friend to those at their own crossroads, and as a Katie that often wishes that I could hold on to my own mythic past.  Plus, the artwork is pretty spectacular. This book is highly recommended to graphic novel aficionados and those that love coming-of-age tales.  – Katie


The Wicked + the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The Wicked + the Divine“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. ” The Wicked and the Divine is Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s (of Phonogram fame) new series about teenage gods who are going to inspire (or destroy) the world with pop music. The gods themselves are part diety, part pure angst, and all rock-and-roll swagger which makes this graphic novel the literary equivalent of three-day rave: you aren’t sure what exactly happened, but you know you had fun. It is also infectious, hip, and whip-smart.   If you love music as much as you love mythology – this the graphic novel is for you. – Katie


And here is our favorite media:

The Dance of Reality (DVD) by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Dance of RealityIn this film, director Alejandro Jodorowsky interprets his own childhood and the life of his father. The Dance of Reality is full of unique images: a young Alejandro stands on the beach and a large wave washes over him, leaving the beach covered in fish and leading to a battle between the local townsfolk and seagulls to grab hold of the beached fish. The film is occasionally a bit meandering in its plot, but the consistently unpredictable images in the film makes it one you will not forget. – Woody

Check back next Monday when we reveal our favorite 2014 teen novels!



Getting Graphic @ Your Library

Watchmen Book CoverGraphic novels, or novels in comic-strip format, have become increasingly popular with adults in the last ten years or so.  This is not surprising considering graphic novels cover all genres, topics, and issues with a lot of skill and great art.  But, with all the available graphic novels out there, where do you get started?  Thankfully, Bellingham Public Library has your back with this handy list: Getting Started on Graphic Novels.  This is a list of essential reads from the best writers and artists in the industry.  Here are some highlights:

Watchmen by Alan Moore 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


There is something on this list for every reader – so check out a graphic novel today!

Staff Picks of 2013: Miscellaneous Favorites

Happy Friday! Thank you all for joining us for our week of 2013 Staff Picks. We hope you enjoyed reading about our picks as much as we enjoyed picking them! As a special Friday treat, here are our favorite movies, music, and graphic novels from 2013:

The East

The East directed by Zal Batmanglij
This movie is equal parts gripping and terrifying.  Watching Sarah infiltrate, and ultimately empathize with, an extreme activist collective is thrilling and makes for a movie that leaves you thinking long after it has ended. – Katie


The Massive

The Massive, Vol 1 by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson
Environmental activists struggling to find meaning in a post environmental crash world. Their sister ship is missing, governments have collapsed, new and old ways of life are the new norm. What does an activist do when they’ve failed in their mission? Expertly researched and written by Brian Wood, one of comics most talented and diverse writers. Smart and relevant. – Kelly



Amour directed by Michael Haneke
This is a deeply moving and beautifully acted film. This film depicts the harsh realities of illness, aloneness, and death for an elderly couple who are deeply in love. – Beth


The Underwater Welder

 The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
All at once a ghost story, on becoming a man, fathers and sons, and finding ones place in a sometimes very bleak and unforgiving world. This haunting tale of an expecting husband who spends his days alone underwater repairing an oil rig of the coast of Nova Scotia will stay with you long after the book is finished. Beautifully written and drawn by Jeff Lemire. One of the best graphic novels of the year. – Kelly


 We The Common

We The Common by Thao
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down  are known for their infectious, rollicking folk melodies that are heavily-tinged with sorrow and longing.  Their new album is no exception — making it the perfect sunny-day album to play on repeat. – Katie


 The Manhattan Projects

The Manhattan Projects, Vol 1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra.
Science. Bad. This romp through an alternate history is all at once intriguing, hilarious, disturbing, and riveting. Join a very angry Einstein, a deranged Oppenheimer, FDR in a jar, and other historical figures shown in quite a different light. This ongoing series is a sciencedelic trip at the dawn of the Atomic Age, told through the eyes of a master story teller at the top of his game. – Kelly


You can get a print out of our full list of 2013 Staff Picks or you can stop by the Central Library to see our display!


Last Days of an Immortal by Gwen Bonneval & Fabien Vehlmann

Last Days of an Immortal book coverFirst Impressions
I love graphic novels.  Adore them, even.   So, it may be safe to say that “Last Days of an Immortal” is one of the most intriguing graphic novels I have pulled off a shelf in a while.Admittedly, some of that appeal has to do with the cover.  Look at it!  That is just good design.

Drive-by Summary
Last Days of an Immortal is a future tale centering on a global philosopher named Elijah. The reader follows Elijah as he negotiates with aliens, solves miscommunication crimes, and deals with the joys and pitfalls of being an immortal. When Elijah is faced with the death of dear friend and an looming war, he must decide the best course of action for the galaxy and, ultimately, his own immortality.

My Favorite Character
Elijah is a joy to read.  He is thoughtful, caring, and relatable—which is important for the reader.  This story is set so far into the future and social mores have changed greatly.  People live hundreds of years with the help of replicated copies, or echoes, of themselves.  They also converse, live, and work with aliens.  This means that their notions of romance, love, duty, and grief are much, much different than our own–which was, initially, very jarring for me.

Elijah is sort of a throwback.  He is measured in his actions, caring with colleagues, friends, and alien contacts, and thoughtful about his replication.  He the reader’s connection to a world that is strange and new.

Words to live by
“Are you afraid?” – Iseult

“A little, yes…but it’s all right.  I am fine.” – Elijah

Recommended For
I highly recommend this book for science fiction fans and people looking to get into graphic novels.  The artwork is spare, but fluid and expressive—prefect for new readers.  The story, which is translated from its original French, is thought provoking.

Final Say
Last Days of an Immortal is a beautifully conceived, and lovingly drawn book that will have you thinking about life, the universe, and methods of communication for weeks after reading it.

Discover Last Days of an Immortal at the Bellingham Public Library today!

— Katie

August Reads

It feels like the librarians’ reading took a turn for the dark (if interesting) this month!

Delirium by Lauren Oliver.  Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.
– Madeline

Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan.  The smash-hit ongoing epic graphic novel continues. Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and alien monstrosities, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters something truly frightening: her grandparents. – Jennifer 

Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes.  A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace– until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.
– Katie

The Last Man by Vince Flynn.  When a CIA black ops master with ties to disreputable figures in Afghanistan goes missing, Mitch Rapp is ordered to track down the missing man at all costs and finds himself enmeshed in a dangerous plot involving the interests of numerous countries. – Diane

Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia. Documents the story of Robert “Papa Pilgrim” Hale and the antiestablishment family settlement in remote Alaska that was exposed as a cult-like prison where Hale brutalized and isolated his wife and fifteen children. – Beth

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.  The comic writes about his life with five children in a 2 bedroom apartment in New York City.  He is lucky to have a terrific wife. – Deborah

Delirium Pilgrim's Wilderness Saga Vol. 2 Shining Girls The Last Man Dad is Fat






NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Books

National Public Radio is great for a variety of reasons: Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me!, StoryCorps, author interviews, free album previews, and Science Friday. They are also excellent at compiling best-of reading lists.  I frequently browse their lists for new reads and reviews on old favorites — especially when I am putting together reading suggestion lists.

Recently, with the help of their listeners, they compiled a “Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Books” list.  It was filled with familiar faces and, happily, a lot of newer titles that I haven’t had time to read yet like Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind.  Needless to say, I will be using this list  a LOT when I recommend sci-fi/fantasy books to library patrons.

Check out the list here.  You can also see score yourself to see how many titles you’ve read.  I got a 46/100 which just tells me I have much more reading to do!


Stranger in a Strange landWatchmenSomething Wicked This Way Comes

Game of thrones

Sandman Lives

Vertigo Sandman Promo ImageThere are good days, great days, and PERFECT days.

Today is a perfect day.  I just found out one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, and one of my favorite comic artists, J.H. Williams III, are reviving one of my favorite graphic novel series,  Sandman, this fall.

From the Vertigo blog, “One of the most popular, groundbreaking, bestselling and award-winning comic books of the last twenty-five years, Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN stands tall as one of the few graphic novel series ever to be on the The NewYork Times Best Seller list and lauded by critics the world over for its transformative storytelling in the comic book industry.”

The first issue hits stands on October 30.


When David Lost His Voice by Judith Vanistendael

First ImpressionsWhen David Lost His Voice book cover
This is a lovely and well-crafted book that is written and drawn by Belgian comic artist and children’s book illustrator, Judith Vanistendael.

The art is fairly a-typical for a graphic novel.  It is flowing, blurry, and not confined to regular comic panels.  This lends it a more lyrical feel and draws the reader deep into the book quickly.

The story is realistic and heart-felt.  It is also, at times, gut-wrenching.  I cried more than I would like to admit while reading this story.

Drive-by Summary
David is diagnosed with throat cancer just minutes after his granddaughter is born.  The story follows David, his wife, and daughters as they deal with the knowledge that David will never recover.

Each chapter is devoted to a member of David’s family and how they confront the reality of losing him and the frustrating fact that David does not want to talk or dwell on his impending end.

My Favorite Character
I loved, loved Tamar, the only daughter of David and his second wife Paula. She is inventive, curious, and strangely practical for a young child.  She, of all the members of the family, seems to understand that David’s death is close—much closer than anyone would like.

Her care and concern for her father is obvious throughout the book. In each chapter you see Tamar and her friend, Max, trying to come up with ways to save David.  Ultimately, and bizarrely, they decide the only way to save him is to mummify him.  This leads to an adorable (yes, adorable) scene of Max and Tamar removing the “organs” of their stuffed animals and prepping them for mummification.

Words to live by
“Before my hands give out on me entirely, I love you… I love you, I love you, I love you.” ~ David

Recommended For
I would recommend this book to people who are ready to jump into graphic novels, but don’t necessarily want to read superhero tales.

Final Say
This book was so unexpectedly beautiful.  I am still telling people about it weeks after I read it.  I am also having a hard time returning it to the library…

You can find When David Lost His Voice at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Katie

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

First Impression
I have been a fan of Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant online comics for a few years (http://harkavagrant.com/). Her quirky comics take a funny, satirical jab at famous authors, books, and historical characters.  No one is safe from mockery.

Her book, Hark! A Vagrant, is a collection of her best comics and it does not disappoint.  She makes literature and history fun for her readers.

Quick Plot Overview
There is no over-arching plot in Hark! A Vagrant as it is just a collection of comic strips.  But the lack of plot does not detract from her well-researched, witty stories about famous authors crushing on each other, famous generals being dense, and literary characters acting outside their written-roles.

My Favorite Character
Beaton’s Wonder Woman is hands down my favorite character in the book.  She is mean, vain, selfish and not really into helping anyone.  It is so unexpected and hilarious and the character perfectly represents Beaton’s sharp wit and unique storytelling style.

Case in point:

Favorite Quote
“The world needs heroes.  America sends its best hunks to save the earth.  Ugly people and other countries may have fought against the Nazis, but we’ll never know for sure.”

Recommended For
I would recommend this book to history and literature geeks.   This book is full of in-jokes for people who love to see intelligent send-ups of their favorite subjects.

I would also recommend this book to adults who haven’t really read graphic novels or online comics because the art work and subject matter are very approachable.

Final Say
This is a great, light read for days when you want to read something short , funny, but also smart.  It had me giggling from cover to cover.