Monday, 4 January 2016

My Christmas reading list

Urghhhhh! Ehhh! What? Is Christmas over already? Are you bloody sure? Oh crap, is it the New Year NOW. What NOW! Right hang on, hang on. JUST HANG ON. Get dressed, brush your teeth, ignore your greasy hair. Shiiiiiit! Where's all my clean clothes! Oh stuff it....
Right!........ Happy New Year everyone. You must excuse me I have been drunk for two weeks. But now it's January I've promised myself that I'll go on a very strict diet, be tea total and consider something called 'exercise'. This happens every January but usually by March I give it up and my sense of humour returns.
Anyway, I have been so lazy that all I've done since returning from a lovely Christmas in Yorkshire is play games with girly, read graphic novels and do jigsaws. I won't bore you with jigsaw talk (I love a jigsaw) but I did want to tell you about five fabulous graphic novels I've read:

Displacement - a travelogue by Lucy Knisley (published by Fantagraphics. ISBN: 978-1-60699-810-6)

Here by Richard McGuire (published by Hamish Hamilton. ISBN: 978-0-241-14596-8)
Calling Dr Laura - a graphic memoir by Nicole J Georges (published by Mariner books. ISBN: 978-0-547-61559-2)
The Bad Doctor by Ian Williams (published by Medicine. ISBN:978-1-908434-28-9)

Can't We Talk About Something Pleasant by Roz Chast (published by Bloomsbury. ISBN: 978-1-60819-806-1)

Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comic book artist who specialises in confessional comics and travelogues (and also writes a great blog). Displacement is all about the cruise she took with her 90-something-year-old grandparents, who have their own special needs including dementia. This is not a subject often touched upon, especially in graphic novels, so it was fascinating. Plus, she intersperses her own story with the war diary of her grandfather. Loved it! If you have a chance then read French Milk (Touchstone Simon & Schuster 2008), Knisley's travelogue about her trip to France. It is also a great read.

Here by Richard McGuire is one of the most original books I have ever read. Richard McGuire is an illustrator, graphic designer, musician, comic book artist, children's book author and toy designer. His book, Here, took him 15 years to complete and concentrates on one corner of one room. It then takes you through time from the earth's earliest days to its extinction.

His amazing drawings give us snap shots of the lives of the people and animals that have occupied that tiny space - from Native Americans and Colonialists to future generations. It really is original and worth a dozen re-readings. Chris Ware, one of my favourite comic book artists, said, "It's a work of literature and art unlike any seen or read before. A book like this comes along once in a decade if not a century". Just read it people!!!!

Nicole J Georges is another award-winning comic book artist who was born in Kansas. Her book Calling Dr Laura is a graphic memoir about her family. At 23 she discovers that her family have been lying to her about her father's death, and her life hits a bumpy patch. It's not only a good read but also beautifully drawn too. 

The next book on my list is Cant We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast, a cartoonist for the New Yorker. This is a true graphic memoir which includes cartoons, text and photographs to tell the story of an only child helping her elderly parents as they come to the end of their lives. Poignant, touching, scary and real.

It's funny as well, so don't dismiss it as a depressing read. 

The best bits for me where the actual photographs. As she clears out her parents apartment she finds all the things that make up their lives including the 'crazy closet', which is a mish-mash of things no one would ever need. I loved this book.

Then finally I read The Bad Doctor by Ian Williams. Ian Williams is a GP, cyclist, comic book artist and writer based in Brighton. This is his take on his life as a troubled doctor and how he copes with the many responsibilities he has to his patients, while going through his own midlife crisis. This is yet another subject that doesn't really get an airing, and I loved it. It's honest, funny and sad, and definitely worth a read.

So there you go, my Christmas reading list! Now I've finished all that reading and am bored of jigsaws for the time being, I will have to get on with burning boxes. That's if I can get any time in between playing Christmas games with Girly. She is still scared stiff of Busters Bones! Thanks for reading XXX.

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