Comics are a Medium, Not a Genre

I hear it on occasion at the library, parents telling their children, comics in hand, “you need to choose a real book,” or, “I don’t want you only getting superhero stories.”  After the infamous campaign against reading comics in the middle of the 1950s by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham and the resulting self-censorship by the Comics Code Authority, the previously diverse storytelling platform of comics became dominated by the superhero stories of publishers DC and Marvel, and were considered by most an immature pastime.

Although comic book publishers have abandoned the Comics Code Authority over the last decade and a half, and comics are becoming a more diverse and effective storytelling mode, the stubborn idea persists that the comic book medium equals the superhero genre, and that the superhero genre is exclusively for children or immature adults.

However, just as films are a medium, not limited to the financially lucrative action genre; and books are a medium, not only embodied by the popular mystery genre; so too are comic books another unique storytelling medium, not exclusively represented by the highly visible superhero genre.

Below is a list of a dozen recent non-superhero genre comic books that are available at The Seattle Public Library. Branch out, and discover something new!


Southern Horror – Harrow County by Cullen Bunn

Adventure Fable – Over the Garden Wall by Pat McHale

Murder Mystery – Dept H by Matt Kindt

Fantasy Adventure – The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Visual Fable – In the Sounds and Seas by Marnie Galloway

Magical Girl – Bee and Puppycat by Natasha Allegri

Crime Noir – The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker

Historical Memoir – March by John Lewis

Satirical Exploitation – Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Sci-Fi Fantasy – Mirror: The Mountain by Emma Rios

Dark Music Fantasy – Phonogram by Kieron Gillen

Erotic Historical Fantasy – Letters for Lucardo

~ posted by Mychal L.

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Seattle Rep’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Beyond the Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE adapted by Kate Hamill from September 29 to October 29, 2017. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books, CDs and films to enhance your experience of the show: Seattle Rep’s PRIDE & PREJUDICE: Beyond the Theatre.

Seattle Rep presents Austen’s beloved classic this month, adapted by Kate Hamill. As per Seattle Rep,  “Kate Hamill imbues new life to this classic love story with a decidedly progressive take on the trials and travails of Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and, of course the delightful Bennet clan. But not to worry, empire waists and lavish Regency-era attire still abound in this familiar yet surprisingly modern premier adaptation.”

In anticipation of this sure-to-charming debut, we here at The Seattle Public Library have compiled a few reading suggestions for all the Austen fans out there:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
From the best-selling author of Prep comes a modern retelling of a classic. Liz may be a magazine writer and Darcy a neurosurgeon, but Sittenfeld still captures Austen’s humor and social criticism.

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley
Written in the style of a play (with each act set in a different Austen residence), this well-researched biography provides an engaging commentary on Austen’s life and writings.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
Six years after the events of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s happy lives are plunged into upheaval by Wickham’s murder.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn
Two near-future, time-traveling researchers are sent to 1815 to retrieve an unfinished Austen novel and determine the cause of her death. Unexpected romance and intrigue complicates their mission.

And of course, the original novel itself.

~ posted by Elizabeth W.

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The Vietnam War: Essential Accounts

There is no single story of the Vietnam War. In our second of four lists commemorating the premiere of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s ten part documentary series on the Vietnam War, we feature twenty-five memoirs and personal accounts of the War and its aftermath, representing a wide array of experiences and voices. Here are some highlights.

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Patches of Fire: A Story of War and Redemption, by Albert French. In intense, vivid prose, African-American veteran French relates his horrific and surreal experiences as a young Marine entering Vietnam in 1965, watching his friends die, and almost dying himself. A blistering account of an unforgettable passage through the underworld.

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, by Le Ly Hayslip. The author relates her ordeal as a child soldier, victim of rape and torture, and her dangerous odyssey to Saigon, Danang, and the United States, and finally her painful return to what was left of her home. A harrowing account of one woman’s suffering, resilience, and ultimate commitment to healing old wounds.

Dispatches, by Michael Herr. Published shortly after the fall of Saigon, this classic day-by-day account relates with searing immediacy the “psychotic vaudeville” of war as experienced by soldiers on the ground, in the air, and in the indelible memories of those who carried the war home with them in their memories, and nightmares.

The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars, by Andrew X. Pham. In this brilliant, heartfelt account Pham relates the life story of his father, and in so doing the tempestuous fate of Vietnam from French Colonialism through the Second World War, the Indochinese War, and the Vietnam War. A deeply personal window on decades of upheaval and destruction.

Walking Point: From the Ashes of the Vietnam War, by Perry Ulander. By the time 19-year-old Ulander arrived for his tour of duty in 1969, young soldiers in Vietnam were engaged in active resistance to a degree that would be surprising to the protestors back home, undermining their commanders, dulling their suffering with marijuana and becoming cynical old men and a very young age. Ulander takes us through a one year tour of duty that would change his life and views forever.

Visit our catalog to find our full list of 25 memoirs and oral histories about the Vietnam War from a wide array of viewpoints in Vietnam and back here at home.

     – Posted by David W.

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Join us for the 4th Annual Banned! Books in Drag

In September, libraries put up their Banned Books Week displays that highlight the freedom to read, because every year books are challenged and banned due to their content. Books that explore themes of race, sexuality and gender are often the most challenged books in libraries across the country. So, it makes perfect sense to celebrate the freedom to read and the tenets of intellectual freedom with a free drag show, our fourth annual Banned! Books in Drag.

This year’s drag show will once again feature books that are challenged and banned with performances inspired by titles such as Alan Ginsburg’s Howl, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. At Neighbours night club on Saturday, September 23rd, doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the performances will start at 7:30 p.m. This event is 21+, so bring your I.D. and get there early as the lines can be ghastly long!

This year Banned! Books in Drag is being co-presented with The King County Library System, Gay City, PrideAsia and U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle. The Seattle Public Library Foundation has made this program possible.

Who is in the line-up, you ask? Your guide through the evening will be the Gay Uncle Jeffrey Robert explaining it all to us with his usually naughty wit and humor!

As for our drag performers, here is a sneak peek:

We’re so excited to welcome Cookie Couture, Seattle’s premier drag mom cheeseball, as both a performer and DJ for this year’s Banned! Books in Drag!

Come see why all of Seattle adores LaSaveona Hunt as she serves up a masterclass in drag!

Beauty, brains and 100% pure love—it’s Atasha Manila! She will leave you gagging for more at Banned! Books in Drag.

Whatever. Just some slacker realness from the dancing drag king stud Chico Johnson. Chico destroyed last year with his Thriller number. What’s in store this time?

And if you are coming for the books as well as the drag–and we hope you will love both!–then check out these two lists: LGBTQ: Banned and Challenged and QTPOC.

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The Vietnam War: Essential History

As our city and our nation tunes in to the premiere presentation of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s ten part documentary series on the Vietnam War, interest is spiking in books and films that explore the War and the era from all angles. In the first of a four part series featuring lists including one hundred works of history, memoir, fiction and film, we suggest some of the best historical overviews of the Vietnam War.

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American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, by Christian G. Appy. It has been said that the Vietnam War as a watershed moment in our history, opening a rift that still runs deep to this day. Drawing rhetoric and reportage as well as popular culture, Appy argues that the War “shattered the central tenet of American  national identity—the broad faith that the United States is a unique force for good in the world, superior not only in its military and economic power, but in the quality of its government and institutions, the character and morality of its people, and its way of life.”

Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam, by Frances FitzGerald. Drawing on the author’s research and travels in Vietnam in the 1960s, this Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning exploration of the War’s effects on a broad spectrum of Vietnamese and Americans remains a landmark of scholarship on the War, 45 years after its original publication.

We Were Soldiers Once – and Young, by Harold G. Moore. This harrowing, detailed account of the four day battle of la Drang, the first major engagement of the Vietnam War, remains a powerful testament to the bravery and humanity of the men who fought and died on both sides, as well as a key account of how the military strategies of the U.S. and the North Vietnamese took shape.

The Vietnam War, 1945 – 1975, from the New York Historical Society. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this slim, heavily illustrated volume provides a more eloquent account of the War than many longer books, offering an chronological exhibit of artifacts and images, with brief explanatory text. A crash course in this epic conflict, from its earliest sources.

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. The author of the brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, Nguyen here offers a scholarly exploration of the War’s long shadow, and how what we choose to remember – and to forget – shapes our sense of self, often in self-deceptive ways. An important and eye-opening account of how profoundly our narratives define our place in the world.

Visit our catalog to find our full list of 25 classic and recent history titles about the Vietnam War. And stay tuned for follow up lists of memoir, fiction and film.

     – Posted by David W.

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The summer of 10,000 books: #BookBingoNW2017!

Wow, Seattle readers! Those of you who submitted your Book Bingo cards this year read a whopping 10,870 books during our adult summer reading program! We had 668 official entries, and 323 of those were total blackouts.

While 668 may not sound like a huge number, I suspect there are a lot (a LOT!) of readers who may have had a bingo, but were having so much fun with the reading challenges that they’re keeping their Book Bingo card on the fridge and continuing on. When you consider all the conversations about books that Book Bingo inspired at the library, at work, in book stores, with your friends and on social media, it all totals an estimated 5 million Book Bingo conversations in Seattle this summer.

Some interesting trends emerged, too. The most popular category was “Biography/Memoir,” followed by “recommended by a librarian” (YAY!) and “fiction.” Apparently “Published the year one of your parents was born” and “re-read a book you read in school” were among the more challenging squares. Surprisingly, “banned” books — a square that is intended to raise awareness of banned and challenged books — was itself quite a challenge (it had the lowest submission rate).

True Book Bingo love is a

The prize drawing was held on Sept. 13, and gift cards to independent book stores are on their way to Becky, Elizabeth, Amy, Ele, Joanna, Beverly, Colleen, Suzie, Brenda and Alexa. The independent book store gift cards include: Ada’s Technical Books, Elliott Bay Book Co., Magnolia’s Book Store, Open Books, Phinney Books, Queen Anne Book Co., Ravenna Third Place Books, Secret Garden Bookshop, Seward Park Third Place Books, and University Bookstore.  The #BookBingoNW2017 grand prize winner is Sara, who now is the proud owner of a pair of tickets to the entire Seattle Arts & Lectures 2017-2018 series.

Thank you to our fabulous Book Bingo partner Seattle Arts & Lectures, and the generous support of The Seattle Times. Most of all, THANK YOU, Seattle readers! You’re the best.

~ Linda J.

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New books from Washington authors: September 2017

We are thrilled to share some of the latest books published by authors in Washington state! First up, three novels for adults, beginning with one from a former SPL librarian:

George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl: From “America’s librarian” and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl comes an emotionally riveting debut novel about an unlikely marriage at a crossroads. Pearl formerly served as the executive director for the Washington Center for the Book.

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper: This debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott — Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right. Hooper lives and teaches in Seattle.

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford: From the bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet comes a powerful novel, inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle’s epic 1909 World’s Fair. Ford grew up in Seattle and now lives in Montana, but we still count him as a Washington author.

New books for children and teens from Washington authors include two picture books and two young adult novels:

I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas by Kevan Atteberry: Picture book. A little monster and his papa are on a skink chase in a stinky swamp.

Love, Santa by Martha Brockenbrough: Picture book. A young girl writes to Santa year after year, until one season she writes to her mother: “Mom, are you Santa?” This book is inspired by No Longer Believing in Santa, a column Brockenbrough wrote for the New York Times.

Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough: Young adult nonfiction. Complex, passionate, brilliant, flawed? Alexander Hamilton comes alive in this YA biography, which is an essential read for teen fans of Hamilton the musical.

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones:  Young adult fiction. A funny Regency-era mystery about a determined young woman with a magical trick up her sleeve.

Washington Center for the Book, a partnership of The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library, is working to raise awareness of Washington authors. If you have a book coming out soon, please let us know in the comments here or by emailing with the book title, author name and a link to the book in a library catalog. The Washington Center for the Book is an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.

~ posted by Linda J.

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