Booking Through Thursday: Getting graphic

booking_through_thursLet’s go Booking Through Thursday, shall we?

Last Saturday (May 2nd) is Free Comic Book Day! In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions:

• Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?
• How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?
• Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical.”

Funny I should see this question today . . . mostly because my ex-boyfriend has been trying to “convert” me into a graphic novel reader for years! Most recently, earlier this week — and I steadfastly ignored his requests.

Well, sort of.

mausI have read a few graphic novels — all at his request. And I enjoyed them! Art Spiegelman’s Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History is most notable — definitely an incredible work . . . and I never thought I could cry while reading a graphic novel. Maus is the story of the Spiegelman family — Vladek and Anja, survivors of the Holocaust, and their son Art. The novel takes us through Vladek and Anja’s lives and their ultimate arrival at Auschwitz, but it’s also the story of Art’s relationship with his dad and his mother, before she committed suicide. Certainly heavy subject material — and much heavier than I anticipated a graphic novel could be (I’m prejudiced, I know).

In Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, the Jews are drawn as mice and the Nazis portrayed as cats. Art frequently interjects the unraveling story of World War II with his conversations with his father, often irritated and full of miscommunication. Art’s relationship with his father was extraordinarily strained, even though both may have wished it otherwise. And the graphic novel seemed to be a superb vehicle for juxtaposing the horrors of the past with the quiet, mundane nature of the present in New York City. I don’t know that this story, as a traditional novel, could ever have worked . . . the images are so striking and so powerful, it’s as if they’re burned on your retinas. You forget that we’re dealing with “cats” and “mice” here — you know they’re people. You know they’re people others loved dearly.

So I can’t say I don’t like graphic novels . . . I gave Maus a resounding 5-stars on LibraryThing, and I’m going to grab the next installment soon! But I can say that as a whole, I’m just not into graphic novels / comics (and I couldn’t really tell you the difference between them, other than the length of the story). What I really love about reading is my ability to create worlds inside my head — my ability to actually “see” the characters, the setting, the storyline playing out. I love letting the words surround me and getting lost in them, searching for more or less than what’s there. I don’t contest that you can’t be really moved by a graphic novel — I was — but I don’t think that the emotional impact on me is the same. And it’s not so easy looking for allusions and subtext in a graphic novel, is it?

Maybe I’m just being close-minded about the whole. Palmer would argue that’s the case! He’s passed many graphic novels along to me, and most of them are still stacked up by my bed. Maybe for the upcoming plane ride! We should all strive to expand our literary horizons, I think.

write meg!’s 2008 reading honors

write meg!
2008 reading honors


Another fabulous reading year has come and gone, and it’s always great to reflect on times past and present! I found some great new authors this year, spent a ton of time with Edward Cullen and Bella Swann, discovered the simultaneous awesomeness and craziness of BookMooch and LibraryThing, started my little book/life blog and have stayed up way too late wrapping up novel after novel.

And in honor of the overall bookishness that was 2008, I now present the write meg! 2008 honors! Yes, I know — incredibly exciting! I should have made some little graphics or something, but unfortunately time has been scarce. Perhaps for 2009?


Fastest Read

Cracked Up To Be, Courtney Summers

A fast-paced, surprising and poignant young adult read, I finished this one in a matter of hours.

Runner-up: The Solomon Sisters Wise Up, Melissa Senate

This chick lit book had me captivated from day one: three sisters, a lifetime of distance and a few weeks to make up for it. Great read.

Funniest Read

Marley & Me, John Grogan

Grogan’s story of the wily, “worst dog” in the country and his tender family had me laughing — and crying — the whole time.

Longest Read

Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

The fourth tome in Meyer’s Twilight series packed in the plot — and page count. It totaled nearly 700 pages but had me running through it like water.

Brain-Hurting Read

Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, Ann Herendeen

This historical romance couldn’t keep my brain from going into overdrive — the language was antiquated, the plot quite disorienting. I wanted to like it — and tried valiantly to — but couldn’t quiet my headache long enough to really enjoy it.

Most Poignant Read

The Longest Trip Home, John Grogan

Any child will relate to Grogan’s story of rebellion and redemption — and the ultimate power and grace of family. Grogan appears on my list twice — lucky man!

Best Read Outside My Comfort Zone

Maus, Art Spiegelman

Spiegelman’s classic graphic novel following his parents’ experience and ultimate escape from the Nazi regime was spell-binding. As a total graphic novel newbie dating a graphic novel expert, I was hesitant to try this one — but was very pleasantly surprised.

Most Addictive Book Series

The Twilight Series, Stephenie Meyer

Okay, no real surprise here. They might not be the most eloquent, well-written books around (yeah, they’re not), but the story of a difficult, brooding vampire and his mortal lady love had me carrying the books around in my beach bag nonstop. Great books to get lost in — and continue to enjoy discussing after the fact. My sister’s on Eclipse right now!

Biggest Disappointment

Remember Me?, Sophie Kinsella

After enjoying Kinsella’s Shopaholic series and other works, I expected something more than the trite and unappealing Remember Me? Good thing it was an ARC.

And, finally . . .

write meg!’s Top Read of 2009

Belong To Me, Marisa de los Santos

An absolute master of language, De los Santos penned two fabulous books in Love Walked In and Belong To Me. I actually enjoyed this sequel more than the original, though Belong To Me can certainly be enjoyed on its own. Boiling over with beautiful imagery and caricatures as well as love, grief and ultimately hope, I had a difficult time putting this one down — and never wanted it to end.