Great Reads

Just a Thought...Classics Meet Graphics

The phrase “comic book” still conjure visions of Batman and Archie for many people. But comic books have grown up and spawned a whole new generation for readers to enjoy. Normally known as “graphic novels” to distinguish them from the comic books of our youth, they are not a static genre but a format which, like regular “word only” books, comprises a wide variety of genres and content.  A good starting place for someone interested in giving these grown-up comics a try would be one of the many graphic novel adaptations of classic literature.  The visual illustrated content provides these familiar stories with an extra level of depth and interest that many find very engaging! Frequently, these classics are shelved under the name of the artist or writer who produced the adaptation, so for your reference, the original author will be included in parentheses in our list.

 

Appignanesi, Richard.   Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)

Butler, Nancy.   Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

Chwast, Seymour.   Dante’s Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri)

Edginton, Ian.  The Sign of the Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Hamilton, Tim.  Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

Hinds, Gareth.  The Odyssey (Homer)

Kuper, Peter.  The Jungle (Upston Sinclair)

Mairowitz, David.  The Trial (Franz Kafka)

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Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

So you've read Tina Fey's Bossypants...now what? Feed your appetite for another humorous read with Mindy Kaling's honest memoir. The Emmy-nominated writer and actress on The Office tackles everything from growing up chubby to her unabashed love of chest hair. The randomness of  the amusing topics covered is anchored by the important eras in her life as well as her friends, family and evolution of her career.

Kaling doesn't hold back on exploring her faults, her ego (which she is always trying to keep under control) and the million other things that make her human. Her smart and witty prose will make you laugh-out-loud more than a few times.

Benjamin, Melanie. Alice I Have Been.

You may have heard that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was based on a real life Alice who, while taking a boat ride on a lazy summer day, asked Carroll to tell her a story which then became the iconic children's tale. The daughter of the Dean of Oxford University, Alice lived both a charmed and restrained life next door to Dodgson, a.k.a Carroll, who was a mathematics professor at the university and a close family friend of the Liddells. Melanie Benjamin removes the idyllic lens that covers this myth and reveals the more complicated nature of the relationship between Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson, one which was speculated to be darker than it appeared.

The book follows Alice from childhood to old age as she struggles against the confines of Victorian culture and her family, naively navigating her strange relationship with Dodgson and the impact it has on the rest of her life; the strained connection she has with her competitive older sister and mother, as well as the opportunities and misfortunes she experiences in the realms of love and family.

If you are looking for a charming tale, you will not find it here. Rather, Benjamin paints a picture of a girl who became entwined in something far more damaging than she imagined; a memory that would come to haunt her for the rest of her life. For historical fiction fans, this is a gem. Benjamin is a wonderful storyteller who balances fact with human feeling very well. Prepare to have your perspective of this children's classic changed forever. Make sure to pick up Benjamin's latest novel, Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Atkinson, Kate. Case Histories.

This beautifully crafted story opens with Atkinson introducing the reader to three seemingly unrelated crimes: a missing child from thirty years ago, a murderous office rampage, and a new mother who kills her husband after a mental breakdown. Private investigator Jackson Brodie has been hired to solve the cases by the loved ones left behind who desperately need closure. While the investigations have been cold for years, Brodie slowly begins to weave together the details of each one until all three have startling revelations.

While the book contains a good mystery, Atkinson also delves into the lives of the family members who hired Brodie, touching upon the deep emotional impact of the missing and the murdered along with the power of suspicion and doubt. In all three cases, the resolution was closer than any wished to see. Readers will enjoy both Brodie's struggle to unearth long-forgotten evidence, connect with his clients as well as his attempts to resolve his own disappointments, both past and present. Those looking for a refreshing and different mystery will enjoy Atkinson. Make sure to check out the rest of the Jackson Brodie mysteries, including the latest, Started Early, Took My Dog.

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Bohjalian, Chris. The Night Strangers

Pilot Chip Linton is plagued by the guilt he feels after an unsuccessful water landing claimed the lives of 39 of his passengers and crew.  He and his wife Emily and their 10-year-old twin daughters decide to start over and move to a rambling old Victorian house in a small town in New Hampshire.  But Chip, suffering from PTSD, phantom pains, and depression, does not find rest and respite in their new home. He quickly becomes obsessed with a strange door in the basement—a door bolted shut with exactly 39 heavy-duty carriage bolts.  When Chip’s phantom pains increase, he begins to understand that what he’s feeling are the fatal injuries sustained by three crash victims—a young woman, and a father and daughter. The three begin appearing to Chip and the dead father attempts to convince Chip to kill his own daughters to provide playmates for the dead girl.  Meanwhile, Emily is being befriended by a group of women in the town, all of whom are named for plants, all of whom have greenhouses filled with strange and exotic herbs and flowers, and all of whom have a very unusual and sinister interest in the Linton twins.

The Night Strangers is slow-starting,  with a gradual and inexorable build-up to the truly creepy ending.  However, many readers may wish Bohjalian had focused more on either the ghost story or the herbalists’s plot, the two stories being so unrelated outside of their cast that at times it feels one is reading two different books at once.

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