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  • Nov 13 - Words In Beige - Why beige? Isn’t beige boring, un-flavourful and well um … boring?
  • Nov 2 - Little Mosque on the Prairie - Join the creator an evening of humour and storytelling at the Central Library
  • Oct 17 - Books about Obsession - Two mesmerizing novels about that ever dangerous human emotion
  • Oct 7 - Books to Movies - What to read before you watch — or watch before you read
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    Book Club in a Bag

    Words In Beige

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Though there are many graphic novels and books in our collection that bear beige covers I thought I would highlight a few of our gems. Why beige? Isn’t beige boring, un-flavourful and well, um … boring? Well, for the sake of neutrality I will write, you can read; and draw your own conclusions.

    Unspent Love, or Things I wish I told You by Shannon Gerard. Poignant moments of longing, regret, reflection and joy in regards to love illustrated with sparse prose. The images don’t necessarily match the text which gives space for untold ambiguities and contradictions to exist, like they do in life. This technique lends a richness and depth to what in essence are very short clips of lives.

    Let That Bad Air Out - Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade: a Novel In Linocut by Stefan Berg. Would you explain Jazz with words or without?? Well Berg has chosen the silent but strong approach in his Porcupine Quill Publication. PQ press has also publish several beige covered graphic novels done in linocut including George A. Walker’s The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson and Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, which was reviewed in a previous post. They come equipped with short introductions which you can read to enhance your viewing experience, though I find it fun to see what I can glean from just reading the pictures first and then going back and “seeing if I’m right” by reading the introduction last…

    An Invisible Flower by Yoko Ono is a poetry book also covered in beige with very sparse words accompanied by rich, scrawly drawings done in charcoal and chalk pastel. Like a homemade art picture book for adults. Made 10 years before she met John Lennon and discovered and published by their son Sean as his first Chimera Press publication it eerily foreshadows Ono’s and Lennon’s relationship as well as references Yoko’s experiences in a refugee camp in WW2.

    Body of Text by David Ellignsen & Micheal V. Smith is another poetry book that blurs and marries the categories between images and text. And, okay, the cover isn’t beige but it is black and white, hence carrying some level of neutrality so I thought I could sneak it into this post. Smith is a writer, performance artist and occasional clown. In this book he is photographed by the award winning Ellignsen in various poses, distortions and yoga positions to make his body resemble letters. These are placed throughout the pages in numbers one to three making you “read” the characters created by his body as if it was a poem. The effect is mesmerizing and lyrical, enticing much flipping backwards and forwards – of pages that is ;).

    Hall of Best Knowledge: [all ideas, seminal & harmonious, complete & boundless] by Ray Fenwick. Flipping through this book, it can be hard to tell what it is about as Fenwick has geniously invented his own form of storytelling perhaps best quipped as 'typographical comics'. This consists of short one-page frames, each with a different topic humorously detailing what he thinks is best for you to know about each subject and slowly but surely building a narrative that comes together piece by piece. My favourite is the one about libraries which says, "... times have changed... When a guest views your library, the effect should be akin to the speechless awe inspired by the primitive hunter tearing off his animal skin to display glistening, sustenance-providing muscles. If the viewer is not left trembling before your impressive selection of books, then there is work to be done! ". Enjoy!

    Picture Books… for Adults

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Last week I shared five Graphic Novels about unexpected subjects with you in Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics. Here now are five complex, mature, and unexpected… picture books. There's something for everyone.

    Ever heard of book spine poetry? Well, pile up some books, look at the titles on the spine and make a poem.

    Sorted books by Nina Katchadourian has some great book spine poems including highlights such as: "A Short Guide to Writing about Art / Criticizing Photographs / This is Not a Photograph" and "Primitive Art / Just Imagine / Picasso / Raised by Wolves."

     

     

    The Da Vinci Cod : and Other Illustrations for Unwritten Books by Christopher Riddell (a Sunday times cartoon columnist and children’s book illustrator) is wittier than an earful of mice. Each one-pane comic reframes titles from famous literary classics such as “Jane Ear” with hilarious, detailed, one-frame illustrations. Some examples are: "Anglicanism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (featuring a priest riding a motorcycle), "Apes of Wrath" (featuring Apes…), "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe Assistant" (featuring a Queer fashion designer). For further fun check out his website which has three additional sets of illustrations to unwritten books.

     

    The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger (enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife??) is her first (self) published book. Before becoming an author Niffenegger went to art school (the Art Institute of Chicago), and made her first book out of a series of dry-prints (etchings); before deciding to turn them into a story. The resulting book brings together a series of prints she did for her graduating thesis. It’s a Frankenstenian love story involving a captured woman morphing into a moth, having Napoleon as a lover, complete with a creepy yet comforting conclusion to love lost, amongst other things. This is classic Niffenegger and echoes themes explored in The Time Traveller’s Wife. You might also want to check out The Three Incestuous Sisters.

     

    About Love – 3 Stories by Anton Chekhov. Three classic short stories by the Russian author translated by David Helwig. A former poet laureate of Prince Edward Island and an Officer of the Order of Canada, he has written twenty volumes of fiction and fourteen volumes of poetry. Comfily illustrated by Seth the book invites curling up with a loved one and reading it together over a cup of cocoa.

     

    The Dot and the Line - a Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is a great illustrated story that is allegorical and philosophical while remaining quite simple and downright funny.

    There are many other gems embedded in our Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections. Stay tuned for future recommendations!

     

      

    Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Think that comic books are only for teenagers and picture books are only for kids? It might surprise you to see what actually ends up being published as Graphic Novels these days and the complex and mature content that ends up being published as… basically, picture books. Everything from the biology of our DNA to the Bible; from Math Romances to Book Spine Poetry can make it between these pages.

    Here are five subjects you might have never thought would be published as a comic book:

    The Stuff of Life : a Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Schultz, Mark

    Think you’ll never grasp the science behind DNA? Even the basics of genetics can sound utterly alien. So who better than an alien to explain it all? Enter Bloort 183, a scientist from an asexual alien race threatened by disease, who's been charged with researching the fundamentals of human DNA and evolution and laying it all out in clear, simple language so that even his slow-to-grasp-the-point leader can get it.

    Manga Shakespeare by Paul Duffield

    I have found these the fastest way to understand Shakespeare’s plays in a 20-40 minute sitting. Get the context complete with actual quotes from the plays – THEN read the texts and you're sailing. Plus they are illustrated in Manga--did I mention that? Start with Romeo and Juliet and then try The Tempest on for size. (It’s set in a sci-fi future!)

    Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

    Another great graphic novel form that has evolved is the Graphic Memoir, and this is a prime example. Heartbreaking and funny, it details how Marchetto set out and succeeded in “kicking cancer in the butt – in 4 inch killer heels, no less,” managing to keep her optimism, her high end restauranteur fiancé, fashion, humour, support from family and friends, wits AND get married on time in high style to boot.

    Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings by George A. Walker

    Some events are best described wordlessly. George A. Walker certainly felt this when he chose to chronicle a day in the life of the events of 9/11 in Book of Hours. It’s hard to describe what these black and white illustrations impart but should take you approximately 9-11 minutes to flip through the book and get it.

    The Bible: a Japanese Manga Rendition, Translated by Glenn Anderson, edited by Marie Iida

    Whoever thought you could enjoy the bible Manga style? Well, you can.

     

    There are many other gems embedded in the Library's Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections.

    Stay tuned next week for five unexpected… picture books!

    Better in Pairs!

    by Laura C - 3 Comment(s)

    I always find it fun to read stories that are somehow related. Making connections between what I've read can give a new perspective on an old story, or an old perspective on a new story.

    So, let me help you make your some old-new connections with two genres that don't often get read together! I've taken 5 works of "classic" fiction and paired them with 5 graphic novels and comic books that share similar themes and characters.

    Read one or the other, or better yet read them both and see if I got it right!

    Click on the covers to find them in the library catalogue.


    5 Comic Books and Classic Novels to Read in Pairs:

    1. The mystery-solving duo of an eccentric millionaire and his observant sidekick:

    Cover Image: Batman Sundayics Cover Image: Sherlock Holmes selected stories

    2. The war against government-sanctioned media censorship in a distopian world:

    Cover Image: Library Wars v. 1 Cover Image: Fahrenheit 451

    3. The exploits of a mild-mannered doctor with anger-management issues:

    Cover Image: Marvel Knight Hulk Cover Image: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

    4. The slice-of-life tales of a trouble-causing small town boy:

    Cover Image: Best of Archie Comics Cover Image: Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    5. The unusually-clad galactic traveler who can't go home:

    Cover Image: Silver Surfer Rebirth of Thanos Cover Image: Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Graphic Novel Roundup

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    I occasionally pick up a graphic novel, often memoirs or biographical fiction, and I am rarely disappointed! Here's a brief roundup of some newer releases that I've got my eye on, as well as a few older gems that you might enjoy.

    If you liked Persepolis:

    Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

    It didn't take more than looking at the cover to get this title on my reading list, but a few words from the catalogue's summary just make it sound that much more interesting:

    "A mesmerizing, heartbreaking graphic novel of immigrant life on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically and tragically different paths."

    A friend who's just read it raved about the novel, and the characters that were so real that she read up on the author and the novel to learn about their lives (only to confirm that it's fiction).

    Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée

    This latest release by a young Canadian graphic novelist reads like a memoir, intimate and thoughtful. Read the summary (from our catalogue):

    "Geneviève Castrée has long been beloved for her mini-comics, comics, visual art, and music. There is a unique quality to all of her artistic endeavors: quiet, serene, depressing. Castree's keen eye for detail and her fearless ability to probe the depths of her troubled past make Susceptible a stirring portrait of an artist coming into her own.

    Susceptible is the story of Goglu, a daydreamer growing up in Quebec in the '80s and '90s with a single mother. From a skillful artist comes a moving, beautiful story about families, loss, and growing up. Whether she's discussing nature versus nurture or the story of her birth, Castree imbues her storytelling with a quiet power and a confidence in the strength of imagery."

    A slice of life:

    Building Stories by Chris Ware

    This wonderful assortment of pamphlets, mini-comics in paperback form, posters, hardcover graphic novels and other media comes in a big box. Among all the items included in the box, we learn the life stories, woes and preoccupations of the tenants in one apartment building. A truly unique format that enlivens the stories it contains!

    Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet

    I can't wait to read this next installment in the series about Aya. Set in Ivory Coast in the 1970s, the tone is light and easy, telling the stories of the daily lives of Aya and her circle of friends, neighbours and acquaintances. If you're new to this series, you should read them in order: start with Aya, then Aya of Yop City, then Aya: the secrets come out.

    From the catalogue summary:

    "Aya: Love in Yop City comprises the final three chapters of the Aya story, episodes never before seen in English. Aya is a lighthearted story about life in the Ivory Coast during the 1970s, a particularly thriving and wealthy time in the country's history. While the stories found in Aya: Love in Yop City maintain their familiar tone, quick pace, and joyfulness, we see Aya and her friends beginning to make serious decisions about their future.

    This second volume of the complete Aya includes unique appendices & recipes, guides to understanding Ivorian slang, street sketches, and concluding remarks from Marguerite Abouet explaining history and social milieu. Inspired by Abouet's childhood, the series has received praise for offering relief from the disaster-struck focus of most stories set in Africa."


    Fantastical fiction:

    Habibi by Craig Thompson

    This epic story reads like a timeless fairy tale, and the sumptuous visuals will mesmerize and enchant you! I've previously posted a review, here, but since I was so taken with the book, I couldn't resist adding it to this list. For me, this easily takes a place in my "must reads."

    Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

    This author is one of my favourites, although my first encounter with his work was The Arrival, a gorgeous, wordless tale of moving to a new land. Tales from Outer Suburbia, on the other side of the "words-versus-pictures" graphic novel continuum, is more like a collection of quirky, illustrated short stories. The stories and illustrations are charming and eccentric, perfect for a rainy afternoon spent in a cozy spot.

    From our catalogue summary:

    "Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence. He gives us a portrait of modern suburban existence filtered through a wickedly Monty Pythonesque lens. Whether it's discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city's map book, or a family's lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan's deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humor and absurdity of modern life."

    Book Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    Habibi by Craig Thompson

    Whether you're a regular reader of graphic novels or someone who has never picked one up before, Habibi by Craig Thompson will draw you in, and the gorgeous illustrations will stick with you long after putting the book down... I had read a number of good reviews of this title, then placed my hold (at that time it was still on order) and waited. Finally, long after I had forgotten why I wanted to read this and what it was about, it showed up for me, like a surprise gift showing up in the mail. It was worth the wait!

    From the book's description:

    From the internationally acclaimed author of Blankets ("A triumph for the genre." -- Library Journal), a highly anticipated new graphic novel. Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth--and frailty--of their connection. At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

    The graphic novels I enjoy the most are usually memoirs or those that recreate the magic of fairytales and highlight the joy of a beautiful page or a wonderful storyteller. These are a few of my favourites:

    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

    The Arrival by Shaun Tan

    Maus by Art Spiegelman

    Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

    The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar

    Zahra's Paradise by Amir & Khalil

    Best Graphic Novels 2010

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)

    X'ed Out [vol. 1] by Charles Burns

    From the creator of Black Hole comes the first volume of an epic masterpiece of graphic fiction in brilliant color.
    Doug is having a strange night. A weird buzzing noise on the other side of the wall has woken him up, and there, across the room, next to a huge hole torn out of the bricks, sits his beloved cat, Inky. Who died years ago. But who is nonetheless slinking out through the hole, beckoning Doug to follow.

    The Exile : an Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon

    A luscious full-colour graphic novel - written by #1 New York Times bestseller Diana Gabaldon - that offers a completely new look at the originalOutlanderstory. The Exile retells the original Outlander novel from Jamie Fraser's point of view, revealing events never seen in the original story and giving readers a whole new insight into the Jamie-Claire relationship. Jamie's surreptitious arrival in Scotland at the beginning of the tale, his feelings about Claire, and much more - up to the point where Claire faces trial for witchcraft and must choose whether to return to her own time.

    Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin

    Welcome to Burden Hill-a picturesque little town adorned with white picket fences and green, green grass, home to a unique team of paranormal investigators. Beneath this shiny exterior, Burden Hill harbors dark and sinister secrets, and it's up to a heroic gang of dogs-and one cat-to protect the town from the evil forces at work. These are the Beasts of Burden Hill-Pugs, Ace, Jack, Whitey, Red and the Orphan-whose early experiences with the paranormal (including a haunted doghouse, a witches' coven, and a pack of canine zombies) have led them to become members of the Wise Dog Society, official animal agents sworn to protect their town from evil.

    Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka

    A new era begins as Batwoman is unleashed on Gotham City! Marked by the blood-red bat emblem, Kate Kane is a soldier fighting her own private war - one that began years ago and haunts her every waking moment. In this first tale, Batwoman battles a madwoman known only as Alice, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, who sees her life as a fairy tale and everyone around her as expendable extras! Batwoman must stop Alice from unleashing a toxic death cloud over all of Gotham City - but Alice has more up her sleeve than just poison, and Batwoman's life will never ever be the same again.

    Batman: Life After Death by Tony S. Daniel

    Tony Daniel returns to the BATMAN series as the new writer and artist after his best-selling BATTLE FOR THE COWL miniseries! With Batman pounding the pavement in search of a new crime figure calling himself Black Mask and the completion of the new Arkham Asylum looming close, Gotham City has reached a boiling point! But when pandemonium breaks out at the inaugural ceremony of the new Arkham Asylum, the combined forces of Oracle, Huntress and Catwoman aren't enough help for Batman and The Caped Crusader takes on an unlikely ally - The Penguin! Chock full of fan-favorite characters and the debuts of new supporting cast members, this high-speed adventure is sure to hit the spot for Batman fans who like their comics bursting with mystery, action and fun.