The 10 Best Graphic Novels and Memoirs of 2019 (So Far)
When you were young, you were probably told that books with pictures in them were for kids. Well, thanks to a booming graphic novel and memoir industry, that’s no longer true. These graphic novels and memoirs are not only written and illustrated with adult audiences in mind, they’re also written about adult experiences. And, so far, 2019 has been a banner year for the genre. Whether you want to read a Stephen Hawking biography, the story of a real-life freak show performer, or the history of surfing, there’s a page-turner here guaranteed to stimulate your mind and delight your eyes.
Cover Photo: Jovanmandic (Getty Images)
True stories: 6 Graphic Memoirs to Read Right Now
'Hawking' by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
The modern world's most respected scientist, Stephen Hawking, is prime material for a biography, especially a graphic one, which captures all of his idiosyncrasies and quirks in addition to his painful personal life and health struggles.
'In Waves' by AJ Dungo
Surfing isn't just a sport; it's a way of life. That's what graphic artist AJ Dungo learned when, as a teenager, he fell for a surfer named Kristen. She was so drawn to the waves that even bone cancer couldn't keep her away. This book is part tragic memoir and part history lesson about how surfing changes lives, even if it can't save them.
'Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead' by Bill Griffith
Though the details are somewhat hazy, "Schlitzie the Pinhead" was likely sold to the circus as a young boy. Suffering from microcephaly, his face grew but his brain didn't, meaning he was developmentally delayed, had an odd appearance, and needed extensive care. Yet most who knew him remember him as a joyful person who found a sense of community through his freak show and movie appearances. He also inspired Griffith's long-running Zippy the Pinhead comic strip. This is a strange story indeed but it's one you won't soon forget.
'They Called Us Enemy' by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker
Star Trek actor George Takei didn't always live the life of celebrity. As the child of a Japanese father, Takei experienced xenophobia first-hand while growing up in the U.S. during the 1940s. At just 4 years old, he was forced into an internment camp with his family, where he lived as a prisoner for several years. This is his story of survival.
'Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations' by Mira Jacob
This book on racism and identity was inspired by the author's 6-year-old mixed race son and his many questions about race leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Jacob revisits her own experiences with racism as the American-born daughter of East Indian parents in an attempt to give her son the answers he seeks.
'King of King Court' by Travis Dandro
Travis Dandro had a rough childhood. His father was a drug addict, his step-father was an alcoholic, and his mother couldn't seem to choose between them. Dandro survived by escaping into animals, insects, and toys, but the reader can feel the enduring effects of his tumultuous family life through the page.
'Rust Belt' by Sean Knickerbocker
This graphic short story collection examines the lives of people scraping by in the post-industrial Midwest. Knickerbocker's characters struggle with everything from alcoholism to PTSD, but that doesn't stop them from dreaming of a better life. This book is a timely examination of how our country's economic and political policies overlook and devastate Americans on the fringes.
'How I Tried to Be a Good Person' by Ulli Lust
If you love the '90s, love triangles, and anarchy, this is your new favorite book. The Vienna-born, Berlin-based Lust is known for her brutally honest and sexually explicit stories, and this one delivers on both fronts.
'Eileen Gray: A House Under The Sun' by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes
Architecture buffs might recognize Eileen Gray as the genius behind the modernist E-1027 house in France. If you don't, it's probably because the queer Irish designer didn't get as much credit for her accomplishments as her male collaborators did. This book rights that wrong.
'All That You Can Be: Part I' by by Tiger and Frank Pournelle
Street hustler turned U.S. Army Russian interpreter Tiger Pournelle is the subject of this story about the challenges and persecution of soldiers prior to the "Don't Ask, Tell Tell" era in the Army.