Today I will share with you some of the books I've been reading recently.
I just finished two graphic memoirs. I have a love-hate relationship with graphic novels - not the least of which is what do you call graphic non-fiction? When the Japanese manga books first started to rise in popularity at the library, I HATED them. Still do. I hate the art, and pretty much everything else about them. I used to say that manga was the way that the Japanese were going to take over America. They would dumb down the populace with books devoid of words, and the next thing you know...
But then there started to be more and more in the way of non-manga graphic novels. Not comic books - they're not to be confused with the Marvel superheroes or the classic comic books one can get. And a lot of them are non-fiction, thus my issue with the term "graphic novel." I've read graphics about science, true crime, memoirs... and fiction. They're smart, funny, and often very touching. Most recently I've read two memoirs.
"Drinking at the Movies" is the story of comic artist Julia Wertz's first years living in New York after moving there from San Francisco. Crappy jobs, crappy apartments, and a bit too much drinking fill her not so happy time as she tries to find her place in the Big Apple. I liked all of it, but particularly the tales of her runaway wallet... You'll just have to read the book to find out what happens - does she find her bliss?
Next up we have "Marbles" by Ellen Forney, another comic artist who happens to live in Seattle (I liked the local touch, especially her little map of traveling to Doe Bay and the commentary about how long it took! Haha). This book is the story of Ellen's diagnosis with Bipolar disorder, and the years it took to both come to grips with it and find a workable combination of medication to bring her life into uneasy harmony. I personally have very little experience with anybody suffering from bipolar disorder, so I found it to be quite fascinating and educational. I say I have very little experience, but reading Ellen's book I realized that I probably deal with many bipolar people at the library. It's just not something one advertises about themselves. I felt that the graphic format worked especially well to convey her experience - the weeks spent wrapped in blankets, barely unable to get out of bed, or the manic periods when the world was her oyster and nothing, NOTHING was impossible! I hope if nothing else Ellen's book helps break the stigma of mental disorders and helps people have understanding and compassion. I also deduced that Ellen and I share the same birthday, though I'm three years older!
Should you read these books? Hell yes.
I'm reading something completely different now, a teen novel. I need to finish it before I write about it. But I have plenty of thoughts already...