February 18, 2009

Book Talk: Book Snobbery (or Are Graphic Novels Really Novels?)

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , at 8:00 pm by The Word Jar

I’ll admit it. I was a book snob. For so long I looked down my oh-so-refined literary nose at *those* things. You know what I’m talking about. Those books with all the cartoons in them. That’s right, graphic novels.

I couldn’t possibly understand how a novel could consist of so few words, and quite frankly, I thought I’d outgrown picture books in elementary school. I figured graphic novels were all “Pow” and “Zounds” like the superheroes or lame humor like Archie. Oh, how wrong I was.

I had my mind changed about graphic novels when I became a faithful reader of Pop Candy. I initially found this blog while searching for a good Lost discussion, but I stuck around for all the other worthwhile pop culture tidbits wonderful Whitney brings to my attention. As a big fan of graphic novels, she compiled an extensive list of graphic novels that would be good for first-timers to read. She even included a “For Fans Of” reference for each book, so you can see which graphic novel would suit you according to your other pop culture interests.

I started with The Complete Persepolis. I was interested in the story about the girl who grew up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. I love history, but sometimes I just can’t slog my way through history books, try as I might. It was my hope that the graphic novel format would hold my attention better than a traditional book on this subject. So far, so good.

To my surprise, I quickly grew attached to the narrator who is growing up in a new world she doesn’t fully understand (Why does she suddenly have to wear a veil to school? Why does the family have to keep their curtains drawn?) but desperately tries to. I feel I have the same emotional attachment to her that I would if this were a traditional book, if not stronger. And I guess that’s what it comes down to for me. As long as the format can provide storytelling that gets me emotionally involved in the characters, that’s enough for me.

And when you can blow through the pages so quickly, that doesn’t hurt either.

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