RSS Feed

Staff Picks: Books


Jeff Smith's classic fantasy comic Bone first came out in 1995. As I was only a toddler at the time (sorry if I just made anyone feel old), I am reading the entire complete series now for the first time. It's an obvious choice for comic lovers of all ages; hopefully this post will allow more new readers to discover it. Bone is about three...well...bones who are on the run from their angry fellow villagers of Boneville. Their names are Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone. Lost in the desert, they find a map that leads them into a seemingly idyllic valley. The book leads them on various adventures from there.

Bone is great because it incorporates the hallmarks of fantasy (dragons, royalty, monsters) with interesting characters, a clever sense of humor, and a satisfying pace. You can read the entire thing as one big volume (1,332 pages) or check out the smaller in-color volumes. They read as chapters that can be savored in one sitting, or a few days for younger readers. The first part of the story is called Bone: Out of Boneville. This is an excellent book to add to your fundamental comics education, especially if you seek non-superhero material. Enjoy!

Bitch Planet

Bitch Planet is an ongoing comic series published by Image Comics (Walking Dead, Saga). Currently, there are 2 volumes out. Volume 1, which I'm going to talk about today, is called Extraordinary Machine and contains issues #1-4. Volume 2 is called President Bitch, and contains issues #6-10. 

The first thing I want to say about this book, is that I read it in one sitting and loved it. It takes place in a dystopian future where patriarchy and government are one and the same (reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale). Non-compliant women are sent to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, a prison on another planet commonly referred to as Bitch Planet. What kinds of crimes earn a sentence on Bitch Planet? Seduction, emotional manipulation, disrespect, and being a "bad mother" go hand in hand with murder and assault. Former athlete Kamau Kogo also finds herself there. She accepts an offer from management to form a duemila, or megaton, team. The fictional sport combines football, boxing, wrestling, and favoritism from the judges. Her team of inmates will play against the guards; those on Earth will see it broadcast over The Feed. 

Meanwhile, readers observe the sexist and racist nightmare that is Earth, and the scheming of those in power to keep society that way. The two stories weave together to form something utterly sinister. As a bonus, at the end of each issue, you'll find a page of fictional advertisements-make sure to read them!

This fantastic book showcases a diverse array of women, who vary in skin color, body type, and sexuality, a welcome quality in any book. It also features plenty of nudity, language, and violence, so it's rated M for Mature. 

Find both volumes of Bitch Planet digitally on Hoopla. If you prefer print, request from MelCat or check in with your local comic book store if you would like to own it.



I was talking to my coworker Anastasia about my new year's resolution to reduce my output of household garbage, and she recommended Trashed by Derf Backderf to me. His real name is actually John, and he also wrote My Friend Dahmer, which was recently made into a movie. Published in 2015, Trashed is a graphic novel that blends the fictional narrative of a garbageman with plenty of research and statistics about the history of waste management, and its present practices and problems. The story part of the book included some great humor and laugh-out-loud moments; the facts alongside it surprised and fascinated me. This book may inspire you to think differently about your everyday habits and the products you use. If you need some ideas on how to lessen the amount of trash you produce, type in "zero waste" in KPL's catalog or look into some of the online blogs of zero wasters. The zero waste lifestyle may seem extreme, but we can all take ideas from it to try to do our own part to address this environmental issue.

The Sandwich Swap

I grabbed The Sandwich Swap, by Queen Rania Al Abdullah, off of the shelf for a patron hold, and couldn't resist reading it myself when I saw it was about food. It is a simple yet inspiring story about learning to respect each other's cultural and lifestyle differences. Friends Lily and Salma eat lunch together every day, and can't help but be curious about what the other girl has brought from home. When they verbalize that curiosity, it tests their friendship, but ultimately, they discover a kinder approach that affects the entire school. Whoever put that book on hold, thanks-it's a fantastic story!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, takes place in 19th century China and tells the story of two women, Lily and Snow Flower. The girls, as decided by their parents and a matchmaker, become laotong when they are children. Laotong are more than best friends. They are sisters united by similarities such as birthday, foot size, number of siblings, and other factors, and promise to maintain a deep, loving relationship throughout all stages of life. They even write and sign their own laotong contract. Lily narrates hers and Snow Flower’s lives, describing their foot binding, marriages, children, and other significant events that they experience and that test their loyalty to each other and the contract they signed. The two women communicate to each other by writing in nu shu, the secret women’s language, on a fan they pass back and forth. This book illuminates historical Chinese culture and the way women lived during that time while also encompassing complex, universal themes. At times, the novel was not easy to read, due to the injustices against females that I perceived as a modern Western woman. However, I enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan quite a lot. Those with an interest in other cultures and historical periods should add this one to their reading lists.