They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if that’s true, your book club meeting might go into overtime discussing these captivating graphic memoirs. Take a look at these five books that harness the power of both words and art to tell their stories. If your group is meeting online until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, check out our tips for holding virtual meetings.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
In this memoir, the birth of Thi Bui’s first child inspires her to reflect on her relationship with her parents. Weaving in the history of Vietnam, Bui shares her parents’ childhood memories and her own recollections on their move to America after the fall of South Vietnam. In looking at how her parents’ experiences shaped the people they became, Bui also considers how their parenting will help to mold the mother she will be. This is a profound and moving exploration of identity, family, and belonging.
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
Lucy Knisley has written many incredible graphic memoirs that explore everything from her passion for food to the challenges of wedding planning. Her latest work chronicles the fertility problems she and her husband encountered while attempting to conceive. Kid Gloves takes an honest look at the stress of pregnancy, the emotional toll of miscarriages, and the highs and lows that mark every step of the way from conception to delivery. In a book that feels both personal and universal, Knisley shares her tears, laughter, grief, and joy with readers in a story they won’t soon forget.
March by John Lewis
If your book club enjoys reading about notable figures throughout history, there’s no better graphic novel series to pick than this trilogy. The March series chronicles the early life of Congressman John Lewis and his work as a civil rights leader. Beginning in rural Alabama, readers will follow along as Lewis grows from a young boy preaching to chickens on a farm to partnering with Martin Luther King, Jr. in nonviolent protests.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
This affecting memoir explores Alison Bechdel’s relationship with her late father, an English teacher and the director of the family’s funeral home. Bechdel’s relationship with her father was distant for most of her childhood, and as she got older, she began to wonder if he might be gay. After coming out to her parents as a lesbian, Bechdel attempted to have a conversation with her father about sexuality, but it stalled out. He died shortly thereafter under circumstances that could have pointed to an accident or suicide. This left Bechdel to grapple with complex feelings about their relationship, which she does beautifully in this classic graphic memoir.
Stitches by David Small
David Small’s memoir transports readers back in time to 1950s America. Small grew up chronically ill, something his physician father believed could be cured with intense doses of radiation. When 14-year-old Small developed a lump on his neck, he underwent surgery to remove it. What his parents failed to tell him was that the lump was a cancerous tumor and that the surgery was to remove one of his vocal cords. This powerful book explores both the emotional and physical scars Small carries from the surgery and his parents’ silence.