2020 Reading Challenge: Read a Nonfiction Graphic Novel

In 2020, OPL invites patrons to take part in the reading challenge! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to read or listen to. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, opens a new window, Instagram, opens a new window or Facebook, opens a new window to let us know which read you picked up this month!

From Sunnydale to Wakanda, the Garden of Forking Ways to Themyscira, the worlds graphic novels take us to are a big part of their appeal. Though frequently used for fantasy and sci-fi, authors and illustrators also employ the format to explore our own reality. OPL challenges readers to explore our vibrant world by picking up a Nonfiction Graphic Novel in 2020. 

Memoirs and autobiographies dominate this subgenre, and for good reason. “Flawed, opens a new window” by Andrea Dorfman, about the author’s relationship to plastic surgery, and “Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos, opens a new window” by Lucy Knisley, detailing the author’s pregnancy, exemplify the format’s capacity to foster intimate, subjective storytelling. In “Palimpsest: Documents from A Korean Adoption, opens a new window” by Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom, “Drawing Power: Women's Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival: A Comics Anthology, opens a new window” edited by Diane Noomin, and “They Called Us Enemy, opens a new window” by George Takei, images illuminate experiences that readers might otherwise find unimaginable.

Graphic novels are an exciting way to tell others’ stories as well as one's own. The high-contrast illustrations of “Billie Holiday", opens a new window by Carlos Sampayo reflect the style Holiday was frequently photographed in, and emphasize the extremes of her experiences, while the intricacy of “The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, opens a new window” by Andrea Wulf brings the scientist’s voyage through South America to life. Academic and author Zora Neale Hurston’s larger-than-life persona and ambitions are vividly depicted in “Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story, opens a new window” by Peter Bagge, and both visual and literary references construct layers of satisfaction for “The Twilight Zone” fans in The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television, opens a new window” by Koren Shadmi.

But there’s so much to explore beyond biographies! Illustrated versions of “Live Oak, With Moss, opens a new window” by Walt Whitman, and “The Analects, opens a new window” by Zhizhong Cai re-interpret classic nonfiction for audiences new and old. “Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America, opens a new window” by Box Brown, “Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, opens a new window” by Bryan Douglas Caplan and A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities, opens a new window” by Mady G provide dynamic ways to learn about contemporary topics.

If you’ve got the time, stop by your local OPL branch and browse its nonfiction graphic novel collection. There’s a wide variety of both subject matter and illustration style, and an in-person visit may lead you down any number of beautiful and unexpected paths. You can also check out this, opens a new window list that features the titles mentioned here as well as more ideas for what to read. You’re always welcome to request a custom reading list, opens a new window online as well. Happy reading!

Starting April 1, 2020, once you complete the 2020 Reading Challenge, enter your reading log online or turn in your completed tracking sheet at your nearest OPL branch and pick up your button prize for completion. All submissions will be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed merchandise! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2020, to be entered into the prize drawing.