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Summer Reading Recommendations: Graphic Novel Edition

By Jillian Sandy

In case someone has already checked out that Leisure Reading Collection book you’ve had your eye on, SearchOhio is an alternative you can use to request and check out books from libraries all across the state of Ohio while skipping the long wait lists. With this service, you can have all of your summer reads sent directly to campus before you hit the beach (or your lunch break).

Some of my favorite SearchOhio requests are graphic novels, which exist in the happy space where visual art and the written word meet and mingle. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed lately that you can request too.

Imagine Wanting Only This is Kristen Radtke’s graphic novel debut centering around family relationships and things that remain unspoken in them. Radtke writes and illustrates this memoir about navigating her 20s on an artistic and personal level, primarily by understanding and accepting the existence of a genetic heart condition that ended her uncle’s life early and may affect others within her family. Meanwhile, she is attempting to recover after a failed relationship and a restless feeling that demands she move on to new places even as she yearns for the comfort and familiarity of being at home. Artistically, she is drawn to ruined and abandoned landscapes, which lead her to think about existential questions surrounding her life and the creation of art. Radtke’s art uses a fairly minimalist black and white style, mirroring her search for essential truth, while allowing the reflective and poetic text to lead the narrative.

Shutter, an ongoing series by Joe Keatinge, centers on the fictional Christopher family, full of adventurers with buried secrets and connections to underground societies. Kate grew up globetrotting with her famous explorer father, and kept company with a cursed undead butler and a talking cat alarm clock. Her close relationship with her father is destroyed when he dies suddenly, leaving a myriad of enemies, secret societies, and gangs tracking Kate down as she unravels the family secrets. Fact-paced and wildly imaginative, this is a fun series with lots of humor, action, and dramatic reversals. You may find yourself growing overly attached to Kate’s unnamed cat alarm clock, whose upbeat personality and enthusiasm for reading suddenly take a darkly humorous turn in book 2. The art is lively and mixes things up with different styles as the series goes on.  Before you get too invested in the series, be aware that the last 2 volumes haven’t been published yet.

Mind MGMT is the latest completed series by Matt Kindt, whose other works occupy a significant amount of my bookshelf space at home (Super Spy is another great work of his, featuring WWII short stories that resist the Bond-style glamorization of espionage). In Mind MGMT, Kindt gives us his own sinister spin on X-Men, as gifted children are raised and trained as part of a secret international organization to manipulate the truth and (spoiler alert) control the minds of the people. At the center of the conspiracy is Meru, a journalist and writer who is more closely connected to Mind MGMT than she knows. Meru is an engaging protagonist whose toughness and determination is balanced out with realistic levels of skepticism and confusion. The writing and art is all by Kindt, who contrasts the tension and paranoia of the tale with some especially striking watercolor landscapes.  Since all issues of the series have been collected and published in 6 volumes, you won’t have to wait in suspense as the story unfolds.

You can find out more about requesting books (and CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks) using SearchOhio here. Happy reading!

- Jillian Sandy, research services assistant
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