Biography & Memoir Booklists


Graphic Memoirs

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Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
by Alison Bechdel Details
Alison Bechdel's mother was a voracious reader, music lover, and passionate amateur actor. She was also a woman unhappily married to a closeted gay man and whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of her daughter's childhood. Poignantly and hilariously, Alison embarks on a quest for answers concerning their mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic 20th-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Alison's own serially monogamous adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother--to a truce, both fragile and real-time.
Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir
by Nicole J. Georges Details
When Nicole Georges was 2 years old, her family told her that her father was dead. When she was 23 years old, a psychic told her he was alive. Her sister, saddled with guilt, finally admits that the psychic was right and that the whole family has conspired to keep him a secret. Sent into a tailspin about her identity, Nicole turns to radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice. Part coming-of-age and part coming-out story, "Calling Dr. Laura" examines what happens to you when you are raised in a family of secrets, and what happens to your brain (and heart) when you learn the truth from an unlikely source.
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
by Roz Chast Details
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz Chast held to the practices of denial, avoidance and distraction. But when her mother suffers an accident, the tools that had served Chast well through her parents' seventies, eighties and early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies, the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role, aging and unstable parents leaving home for an institution, learning to respond to uncomfortable physical intimacies, managing logistics and hiring strangers to provide the most personal of care.
French Milk
by Lucy Knisley Details
In "French Milk," Lucy Knisley employs drawings, photographs, and musings to document a 6-week trip she and her mother took to Paris when each was facing a milestone birthday. With a quirky flat in the fifth arrondissement as their home base, they set out to explore all the city has to offer, watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve, visiting Oscar Wilde's grave, loafing at caf├ęs, and, of course, drinking delicious French milk. What results is not only a sweet and savory journey through the City of Light but a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel Details
In "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic," Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the "Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
by Allie Brosh Details
Touching, absurd, and darkly comic, Allie Brosh's highly anticipated book showcases her unique voice and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations. This edition features new content as well as classics from her website like, "The God of Cake," "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving," and her astonishing, "Adventures in Depression" and "Depression Part Two," which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written.
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me: A Graphic Memoir
by Ellen Forney Details
Shortly before her 30th birthday, Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose her creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her creativity and artistic passions. Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath.
Maus: A Survivor's Tale
by Art Spiegelman Details
The Pulitzer Prize-winning "Maus" tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. It is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. "Maus" is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors.
Stitches: A Memoir
by David Small Details
One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the 14-year-old boy had not been told that he had throat cancer and was expected to die. In "Stitches," he re-creates his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at age 16 with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist.
The Complete Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi Details
"Persepolis" is the story of Marjane Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large, loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna, facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
by Liz Prince Details
Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys either, as she quickly learned when her Little League baseball coach exiled her to the outfield instead of letting her take the pitcher's mound. Liz was somewhere in the middle. "Tomboy" is the story of her struggle to find the place where she belonged. It is a graphic novel about refusing gender boundaries, yet unwittingly embracing gender stereotypes at the same time, and realizing later in life that you can be just as much of a girl in jeans and a T-shirt as you can in a pink tutu.
Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey
by G. B. Tran Details
Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, GB Tran knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past and focus on their children's futures. It was only in his late twenties that GB began to learn their extraordinary story. When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, GB visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.
Updated 04/16/2015

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