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Staff Picks: Great Graphic Memoirs

by nicole

If you're into facts, but don't have the attention span for long nonfiction books, AADL has tons of nonfiction comics to choose from. The perfect blend of words and art, these graphic memoirs will pull you in with their vivid images and deeply personal stories:

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, by Kate Beaton | Request Now

DucksKatie heads out west to take advantage of Alberta's oil rush-part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can't find it in the homeland they love so much. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed. Beaton's natural cartooning prowess is on full display as she draws colossal machinery and mammoth vehicles set against a sublime Albertan backdrop of wildlife, northern lights, and boreal forest. Her first full length graphic narrative, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is an untold story of Canada: a country that prides itself on its egalitarian ethos and natural beauty while simultaneously exploiting both the riches of its land and the humanity of its people. Readers should be aware this story deals with themes of sexual assault.



March, by John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew Aydin | Request Now

MarchMarch is an award-winning, first-hand account of Congressman John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Beautifully-told through Lewis' powerful words and Nate Powell's vivid artwork, this comic is rooted in Lewis' personal story, as he reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Fans of the first book can also find books two and three in AADL's catalog.



They Called us Enemy, by George Takei | Request Now

They Called Us EnemyGeorge Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's -- and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten 'relocation centers', hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?


The Secret to Superhuman Strength, by Alison Bechdel | Request Now

The Secret to Superhuman StrengthAnyone who loves comics has heard of Alison Bechdel, and her newest graphic memoir is perfect for fans of her hilarious and heartfelt art style. This profound comic chronicles Bechdel's lifelong love affair with exercise, set against a hilarious backdrop of fitness fads in our times: from Jack LaLanne in the 60s ("Outlandish jumpsuit! Cantaloupe-sized guns!") to the existential oddness of present-day spin class. But the more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion: the secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined.


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