The Bay Area Book Festival Monthly: WHAT WE’RE READING IN JUNE

The Bay Area Book Festival Monthly: WHAT WE’RE READING IN JUNE

The Bay Area Book Festival was founded on principles of social justice. In light of current
events, we are proud to claim solidarity with everyone speaking up and doing the work to
dismantle a longstanding legacy of racial inequality.

Actions may speak louder than words, but words also have the power to change our hearts and
minds and inform our actions. Books can give us the ability to confront the truth and bear
witness—to our own lives, and to others.  Our June picks address our strange and volatile times
to help invigorate, inform, and transport us:

 

WHAT WE’RE READING  – ADULT BOOKS

Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride

Irish literary superstar McBride burst onto the international scene with her debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which took six months to write and nine years to publish. Once it finally made its way into the world, it became a sensation, winning the Women’s Prize for Fiction and leading Anne Enright to designate McBride as “that old-fashioned thing, a genius.” Strange Hotel, McBride’s third novel, is just as convention-defying, delving deep into the singular consciousness of a woman who lives inside her own head, haunted indelibly by the past and seeking refuge in thought at the expense of emotion. A feat of profound psychological suspense and insight, Strange Hotel is the perfect novel for these decidedly strange and distanced times.

Catch McBride in a riveting Bay Area Book Festival #UNBOUND conversation with Brooke Warner of She Writes Press. 

 

WE KEEP US SAFE: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities by Zach Norris

At a time when the meaning of “community” and collective accountability is a matter of urgent import, and when the role of law enforcement in our cities is under deserved scrutiny, We Keep us Safe offers a compassionate, hopeful re-imagining of what “public safety” really entails. Called “an enormously important contribution in the efforts to advance human rights in this country” by bestselling Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson, this is a blueprint for the kind of community we need to create and sustain, now more than ever.

Catch Norris, the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, with Conor Dougherty, Joe Wilson, and San Francisco Chronicle journalist Heather Knight in an #UNBOUND conversation about homelessness and the housing crisis, “No Place to Shelter: What COVID-19 Reveals About Inequality,” on June 25th at 7 PM.

 

Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry by Nikky Finney

National Book Award winner Finney’s latest collection is subtitled “Poems and Artifacts,” and it’s easy to see why: with its cast of ancestors, witness-stand testimonies, and relics from 400 years of black American life, this book gives new meaning to the term “docu-poetry.”  In a starred review, Publishers Weekly says that “Finney’s skillful, sweeping epic ambitiously connects personal and public history.” This is a gorgeous, sweeping masterwork from one of contemporary poetry’s most original and visceral voices.

In these tumultuous times, we’re finding comfort and inspiration in revisiting this cathartic #UNBOUND conversation between Finney and Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown, in which they talk about the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, the role of identity in poetry, and the profound mission these remarkable poets share: the ability to bear witness through art. 


WHAT WE’RE READING – CHILDREN’S AND YA BOOKS

 

Here Comes Ocean by Meg Fleming, illustrated by Paola Zakimi – Ages 5-8

Award-winning children’s book author Meg Fleming whisked us away on an adventure of shell-collecting, shoreline-exploring, and sand-castle-building. The delightfully exuberant rhymes and the sun-drenched, animal-filled illustrations of this picture book were exactly what we needed at the Bay Area Book Festival to bring us a sense of discovery, rejuvenation, and playfulness to beat the sameness of day-to-day. This book is as invigorating as a sea breeze.

Check out our recent conversation with the author and illustrator and pick up some Spanish along the way from Argentinian illustrator Paola Zakimi.

 

Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw, translated by Laura Watkinson; ages 10-15
On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak; ages 10-15

Two books we read in tandem. Because they are important. Bestselling authors Lois Lowry and Jan Terlouw write about war, heroism and humanity that transcends geography, nationality and time. With On the Horizon, two-time Newberry Award medalist Lowry draws from her own childhood memories of Hawaii and Japan in an honest and empathetic account of lives lost and forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Jan Terlouw’s Winter in Wartime has been in print for almost fifty years, for good reason: this beloved novel, based on Terlouw’s own boyhood in wartime Holland, is a young-adult classic with the suspenseful pacing of a thriller. Heroism, not war, takes center stage in these books: the everyday heroism of young people in extraordinary times. We need these voices, young and old to remind us of universal humanity.

On Saturday, July 11, will be featuring Lois Lowry and Jan Terlouw in conversation with seventh-graders Tej Wong and Quinn Boyd-Roberts in the episode ‘Heroism in the Face of Tragedy.’ Check out our upcoming schedule for details.

 

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall; ages 14 and up

 We were swept away across the high seas in Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s fantasy debut. Tokuda-Hall doesn’t shy away from connecting fantasy to history. In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, protagonist pirate Florian, born Flora, and Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, high-born imperial daughter, cross lines of class and identity to fall in love, cross paths with haunting mythical creatures and double agents along the way to their shared fate.

Want to know more about this riveting debut? Check out ‘Beyond Our World: Shifting Identities and Steady Hearts’ our recent conversation with Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Rebecca Hannover, and Jennifer Leon. 

 

 

The Bay Area Book Festival Monthly: WHAT WE’RE READING IN MAY

The Bay Area Book Festival Monthly: WHAT WE’RE READING IN MAY

Perhaps you caught this recent illuminating KQED story about how California arts nonprofits and individual artists/writers have sprung into action to support people who are isolated, traumatized, and scared in the midst of the pandemic. The Executive Director of Californians for the Arts, Julie Baker, used the term “second responders” to describe the role of the arts in times of crisis:

“A first responder comes in and saves a life. A second responder comes in and helps to rebuild a life.”

That’s what we’re trying to do with our virtual #UNBOUND author conversation series. After our May launch, we’re now looking at an uncertain summer. Our June programming offers a literary lifeline, centered on authors and books that bring you peace of mind, food for thought, and balm for the soul. Here are some of our favorites:

 

WHAT WE’RE READING  – ADULT BOOKS

Rebel Cinderella by Adam Hochschild

Trust bestselling author and historian Adam Hochschild to unearth one of history’s forgotten heroines and give her story the page-turning treatment it deserves. Russian immigrant Rose Pastor Stokes spent her first twelve years in America in a sweatshop, only to skyrocket to the upper class when she married an heir to a massive mining and real estate fortune. It’s a classic Cinderella story: that is, if Cinderella converted her prince to socialism, became an antiwar and labor activist, caused a scandal by promoting birth control access, and was dubbed “one of the most dangerous influences of the country” by a sitting President.
Want more? Check out our virtual conversation with Adam Hochschild on June 2, 7pm.

 

Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke by David Talbot

When Festival Writer & Development Manager Suzanne Rivecca first moved to San Francisco years ago, journalist David Talbot’s history of the city, Season of the Witch, opened her eyes to the political machinations, complex roots, cultural and social and racial intricacies, and utter, wild, unduplicated uniqueness of this topographical and emotional roller-coaster of a town. With Between Heaven and Hell, he once again takes an enormously complicated subject—sickness and recovery—and renders it not only digestible, but relatable and compelling. You might not expect a book about a major medical catastrophe and its aftermath to be uplifting, but this one is—as well as emotionally wise, funny, and raw in its honesty. A lifelong workaholic, Talbot says that his stroke ultimately made him a better person: more present, grateful, and mindful. It certainly hasn’t dampened the wit and rigor of his writing, which is as sharp and insightful as ever.
Want more? Check out our virtual conversation with David Talbot and Sir Michael Moritz on June 11, 7pm.

 

Elderhood by Louise Aronson

Elderhood, a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, is a clear-eyed, empowering, and penetrating look at aging. Aronson brings her professional expertise—she’s a geriatrician and Professor of Medicine at UCSF—and her incisive voice to bear on a subject that’s all too often avoided, sentimentalized, or cloaked in fear.  In a culture and a country that worships youth and averts its eyes from the realities and rewards of growing older, Elderhood is exactly the antidote we need to the misinformation and invisibility that we sometimes project upon the experience of aging. Aronson’s wish is for all of us to “look at the final third of life with the same concern, creativity, and rigor as we view the first two-thirds.”
Want more? Check out our virtual conversation with Louise Aronson and KALW’s Jenee Darden on June 18, 7pm.

WHAT WE’RE READING – CHILDREN’S AND YA BOOKS

Love By Sophia by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail; Ages 5-8

“An art-positive story rich in love, determination, and delightfully big words for brains of all sizes,” is what Kirkus Reviews says in a starred review of this supercalifragilisticexpialidocious third book in Averbeck’s Sophia series, where precocious Sophia and her pet giraffe Noodle learn how to look at life, love, and art. And we, at the Bay Area Book Festival, concur. We’ll let you in on a secret: Our Children’s programmer, Mina Witteman, isn’t American or a native-English speaker, so she jumps at every chance to up her vocabulary. And Sophia’s empowering smarts and big words are just plain beguiling.
Want more? Check out our virtual conversation with Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail on June 27, 10 am.

 

The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth by Ian Lendler; ages 10-15

Dinosaurs existed. That’s a fact that we accept today. But not so long ago, the concept that these giant creatures could have roamed Earth millions of years before humans even existed was unfathomable. People believed that what we now know are dinosaur bones were the bones of giant humans. Or large elephants. Or angels, even. In The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth Ian Lendler takes you on a skull-and-bone and fossil filled journey that will unearth Earth’s greatest mystery.
Want more? Check out our virtual conversation with Ian Lendler and amazing 11 year-old Aria Sindledecker on June 6, 11 am.

 

Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See by Emily Pilloton; ages 14 and up

Girls Garage is the only book you’ll ever need for a lifetime of building and repair. Packed with over 175 illustrated tool guides, 11 how-to projects, 21 essential skills, and 15 inspiring stories from real-world builder girls and women, this 300 page compendium will inspire you to fill up your toolbox and get building! With a background in architecture and construction, Emily Pilloton started the nonprofit Girls Garage to give girls the tools to build the world they want to see. Since 2013, girls ages 9-18 have come to Girls Garage’s workshop eager to use power tools and build real-world projects for their community. The Girls Garage book puts that same power into girls’ hands around the world, inviting them to join a thriving, diverse, and fierce movement of fearless build.

 

 

The Bay Area Book Festival Monthly: WHAT WE’RE READING IN MAY

The Bay Area Book Festival Monthly: WHAT WE’RE READING

Since its inception in 2015, The Bay Area Book Festival  has built a reputation for the quality of its literary programs, its international scope, and its commitment to informed public discourse, empathy, and open-mindedness. Although we’ve had to cancel our in-person Festival (May 2-3), we’ve gone virtual with the Bay Area Book Festival #UNBOUND, launching over the weekend of May 1-3. We’re dedicated to continue sharing the works of great authors, supporting booksellers, and engaging the literary community. During these trying times, books make us feel much less alone, no matter how far from home (or from each other) we are. In this monthly column, we hope to bring you a slice of literary goodness in the form of new books to enjoy, share, and discuss – even if it’s from a distance.

WHAT WE’RE READING – ADULT BOOKS

Godshot By Chelsea Bieker

 To have an assignment, Pastor Vern said, you have to be a woman of blood. Thus begins Chelsea Bieker’s first novel, the tale of a suddenly motherless young woman whose life has been upended by a charismatic cult.  Our Director of Literary Programming, Kisky Holwerda, was enraptured by this debut, which Entertainment Weekly called “fiercely written and endlessly readable…a godsend.” This riveting story of trauma, resilience, and feminist awakening has earned comparisons to works by Margaret Atwood and Emma Cline; but the vision and voice of Godshot is entirely Bieker’s own.  

 

Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America by Conor Dougherty 

 This illuminating exploration of San Francisco’s historic, unparalleled housing crisis, by New York Times economics reporter Dougherty, does justice to the complexity of a situation we Bay Area denizens are all too familiar with. From low-income renters to displaced communities of color to affluent techies, everyone has a stake in this issue—and, as Dougherty shows, the factional voices threaten to drown one another out. The New Yorker recently lauded Golden Gates for shedding light on the counterproductive nature of tribalism and the need for concrete, workable solutions to a crisis that impacts us all.

 

Ledger by Jane Hirshfield 

Since the shelter-in-place order began, our Executive Director, Cherilyn Parsons, has been dipping into Hirshfield’s ninth volume of poetry for a daily dose of transcendence and beauty. Hirshfield’s work is a bracing tonic for troubled times: Ledger‘s first poem, “Let Them Not Say,” was circulated widely, as a source of prescient, bittersweet solace, on the day President Trump was elected in 2016. Fittingly, Publishers Weekly praised the book as “both a paean and a heartbreaking plea.” 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING – CHILDREN’S AND YA BOOKS

Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby; Ages 3-9 

Is there a book that celebrates being outside in a timelier way than Outside In? We don’t think so. This gorgeous picture book by New York Times bestselling author Deborah Underwood is an exquisite celebration of the outdoors. It shows us how outside is inseparably connected to inside and, more importantly, how we can still enjoy the beauty of nature while inside. We see, we hear, we experience nature in its full glory. Might you doubt the book’s power? It garnered not just one, but FIVE starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and other literary trades, and it is bound to become a classic that deserves a place in everyone’s library!

 

Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Priscilla Burris; Ages 3-6 

Most of us are stuck inside now; and we know just how hard that can be: even if we share a native tongue with those we’re sheltering in place with, , it can sometimes feel like we don’t speak the same language. In this adorable picture book, two grandpas, Abuelo and Opa, can’t communicate due to a language barrier. Their grandson’s clever thinking finds a way for everyone to share the day. How? With music! Reading this book with your little ones will make everyone sing and dance together again.

 

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros; Ages 8-13 

 “Honest and tender…a must-read,” says Kirkus Reviews in its starred rave for this middle grade novel by Ernesto Cisneros: a story that tugs at your heartstrings from the first page. Cisneros takes you deep into Efrén’s life with his hard-working but undocumented Mexican parents. When his mother is deported by ICE, Efrén has to step up and care for his younger siblings, juggling schoolwork, caretaking, and intense worry about his mother’s fate, while trying to figure out who’s trustworthy and who’s not. In this exceptional debut, Cisneros shows us the grit, courage, and resilience of our nation’s immigrant communities in a time of widespread injustice and uncertainty. 

 

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay; Ages 14-18 

 “A singular voice in the world of literature,” bestselling YA author Jason Reynolds proclaims on the cover of Randy Ribay’s new YA novel. A National Book Award Finalist and an NPR “Best Book of the Year” (amongst a long list of other distinctions), Ribay’s novel follows Jay Reguero, whose pre-college plans consisted of biding his time and playing video games. Everything changes when his cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines. Jay has no choice but to return to his home country and reckon with  painful truths about his family, himself, and the story behind this tragic loss. Ribay pulls you into Jay’s and Jun’s life stories unflinchingly, without shying away from the emotional and political complexities and dangers of this fraught and riveting terrain. A truly remarkable book.

 

Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

In the mood for a great fantasy but aren’t sure which one to pick? Or maybe you’re eager for a new sci-fi book but haven’t found one that stands out to you yet. Search no more, for here are five new books (and one old favorite) that definitely deserve a place in your TBR pile.

My Beautiful Life
By K. J. Parker
Subterranean Press, $40.00, 112 pages

K. J. Parker’s latest novella, My Beautiful Life, is an exploration of one individual on his deathbed, looking back at his early life, and at his own rise and eventual fall. Newcomers to Parker’s universe and old fans alike will enjoy his familiar dry humor and the conversational tone of the story. My Beautiful Life may be something of a character study, but it is a fascinating one.

BUY

Upon the Flight of the Queen
By Howard Andrew Jones
St. Martin’s Press, $28.99, 464 pages

The second book in the Ring-Sworn Trilogy, Upon the Flight of the Queen is just as thrilling and immersive as the first book. War and espionage, magic and dragons, and compelling characters fill this epic fantasy, which will fully satisfy fans of the first book and leave them eagerly waiting for book three.

Council of Fire (Arcane America)
By Eric Flint
Baen, $25.00, 480 pages

Alternate history is difficult to get right. There’s a delicate balance between writing a compelling story and one that that still feels plausible. Historical science fiction allows writers to get away with more, but it can also require more suspension of disbelief. Council of Fire, part of the Arcane America series, hits that balance just right. When Halley’s Comet splits the Atlantic, separating the Old World from the New, the effects on both sides of the ocean create a fascinating new timeline readers in any world won’t be able to put down.

BUY

Hell Divers VI: Allegiance
By Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Blackstone Publishing, $24.99, 400 pages

The sixth book in the Hell Divers series, Allegiance brings us into a world trying to recover from a bloody war and reaching for peace. Xavier Rodriguez, new king of the islands, but try to manage tensions at home even as across the world, androids attempt to hunt down human survivors. Soon the Hell Divers are in a race against time to keep the human genome from being wiped out entirely.

BUY

Target Rich Environment, Volume 2
By Larry Correia
Baen, $25.00, 352 pages

Larry Correia has given us another collection of his stories, and once again he pulls no punches. Volume 2 of Target Rich Environment is a breathtaking read, filled with giant robots, giant monsters, and great struggles of good versus evil. This is an excellent pick for all fans of action horror.

BUY

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition (Earthsea Cycle)
By Ursula K. Le Guin, Illustrated by Charles Vess
Gallery / Saga Press, $59.99, 1008 pages

Like so many, A Wizard of Earthsea was one of my first fantasy novels. Though I only have vague memories of it now, just looking at the new illustrated editions is enough to fill me with nostalgia for those early books. What else is there to say? This collection is a perfect gift for all fantasy fans, young or old.

 
 
 
 
BUY
Great Books for Kids’ Easter Baskets

Great Books for Kids’ Easter Baskets

It’s nearly Easter! If you find yourself needing a small break from egg hunts (or just needing the kids to settle down for a minute), take a look at these great books to celebrate Easter and Spring. From Biscuit to Fancy Nancy, there’s something for a wide range of ages, with stories about everything from escaping eggs to a tender day between a mother bear and her baby.

Happy Easter, Biscuit!: A Lift-the-Flap Book
By Alyssa Satin Capucilli
HarperFestival, $6.99, 20 pages, Trade Paperback

The lovable puppy gets to go on his first Easter egg hunt in Happy Easter, Biscuit! Full of colorful illustrations, kids will love this adorable book. Toddlers will enjoy lifting the flaps to help Biscuit find all the eggs, and older kids can practice counting skills.

BUY

The Welcome Wagon (A Cubby Hill Tale)
By Cori Doerrfeld
Abrams Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 40 pages, Hard

In Cori Doerrfeld’s The Welcome Wagon, Cooper Cub meets a new family coming to Cubby Hill and immediately gathers his friends to welcome the new arrivals. The book discusses both how intimidating new people can be but also how a community can come together to be welcoming and kind. Full of adorable animals and winsome illustrations, this book is excellent for any child, whether someone new is in their neighborhood yet or not.

BUY

The Good Egg Presents: The Great Eggscape!
By Jory John
HarperCollins, $10.99, 32 pages, Hard

Eggs on the loose! In The Great Eggscape, the Good Egg and his friends hop out of their carton for a fun game of hide-and-seek. At the end of the morning, though, one egg is still missing. The rest will have to pull together to become a full dozen again. This is a perfect book to sit down with either before or after a family egg hunt.

BUY

Hide-and-Seek Ladybugs
By Paul Bright
Tiger Tales, $17.99, 32 pages, Hard

Hide-and-Seek Ladybugs is a fun game between Spots and his ladybug friends and Beepo, a lightning bug who is sure he will be able to find the ladybugs easily because of their bright colors. With sturdy cardboard pages and lots of other bugs to find, this is a great book to get toddlers engaged in pre-reading.

BUY

Disney Junior Fancy Nancy: Easter Bonnet Bug-A-Boo: A Scratch & Sniff Story
By Krista Tucker
HarperFestival, $10.99, 24 pages, Hard

Fancy Nancy is back! In Easter Bonnet Bug-a-Boo, Nancy and Bree are making hats for the Easter parade, but trouble strikes when the hats attract bugs from all around the neighborhood. This book is filled not only with the colors but also the scents of spring, making for a truly engaging read and a fun story for all kids.

BUY

My Love is All Around
By Danielle McLean
Tiger Tales, $17.99, 32 pages, Hard

My Love is All Around is a tender book just right for the softer days of spring. Mama Bear takes Baby Bear all around the forest, showing him that the world they live in is full of love. From playful streams to bird-filled meadows, there will always be reminders of a mother’s love for those who know how to look for it.

BUY

I Am A Bunny
By Richard Scarry
Random House Children’s Books, $7.99, 26 pages, Board Book

In the spring, Nicholas picks flowers and chases butterflies, and in the summer, watches the frogs in the pond. In the autumn, he sees the animals preparing for the winter. When winter comes, Nicholas watches the snow falling from the sky, then curls up in his hollow tree and dreams about spring. In print for well over 50 years, this beautifully illustrated, gentle story has been a favorite Golden Book for generations.

BUY

The Song of Spring
By Hendrik Jonas

Prestel Junior, $12.95, 42 pages, Hard

It’s spring and everywhere birds are calling out to each other. But one bird has forgotten which sound to make. He tries “Woof,” and meets a dog, who encourages him to try “Oink,” with the expected result. Moo, Hee-Haw, Baa, Meow–each successive call adds another animal friend to the page. Will the young bird find another bird friend? As young readers are introduced to each type of animal and their sounds, Hendrik Jonas’s clever illustrations grow increasingly crowded. The result is a beautiful celebration of friendship that will delight young children everywhere.

BUY

Fancy Nancy and the Missing Easter Bunny
By Jane O’Connor | Robin Preiss Glasser
HarperCollins, $4.99, 24 pages, Trade Paperback

Join Fancy Nancy in a fabulous Easter adventure with this 8×8 storybook complete with fancy stickers! Fancy Nancy can’t wait for Easter. And this year, JoJo’s class pet, Nibbles the bunny, is staying at the Clancys’ house for the weekend. But when Bree and Freddy come over to begin an Easter egg hunt, Nibbles goes missing! It’s up to Nancy to find her before anyone notices she’s gone.

BUY

Everything Spring
By Jill Esbaum

National Geographic Kids, $5.95, 16 pages, Trade Paperback

Stunning photography and detailed imagery capture the uplifting spirit of our favorite season. We think of spring and we feel warmer, sunny days, we smell the freshness of nature’s flowers blooming again, and we picture little chicks and furry bunnies. These adorable baby animals are fun to look at and they represent the spirit of renewal and life that is spring. Every young creature finally ventures outside to play as the dreary days of winter fade away and color surround us all. Spring is about being outdoors enjoying all that our wonderful planet has to offer—it’s about living life to the fullest.

In Jill Esbaum’s beautifully photographed picture book, young children can see, hear, and feel the warmth of springtime by reading and learning all about chicks, bunnies, and the other baby animals that come out to play in springtime.

BUY
Spring Graphic Novel Roundup

Spring Graphic Novel Roundup

It’s been raining in Sacramento for the last several days, and we have the COVID-19 quarantine going on. It’s times like this that beg for book lovers to settle in with a hot drink and an exciting new read. If your eyes are begging for something with more than just words, why not give a graphic novel a try? Whether you’re a “traditional” comic book fan, a lover of fantasy worlds, an artist, or even someone who just enjoys a well-written story, this season has some great new ones on offer. Need a recommendation? Check out some of our top picks below.

In these pages you will find fantastic stories told with both words and amazing artwork.

Archaia, 208 pages, $26.99

A chilly winter day just begs for book lovers to settle in with a hot drink and an exciting new read. If your eyes are begging for something with more than just words, why not give a graphic novel a try? Whether you’re a “traditional” comic book fan, a lover of fantasy worlds, an artist, or even someone who just enjoys a well-written story, this season has some great new ones on offer. Need a recommendation? Check out some of our top picks below. In these pages you will find fantastic stories told with both words and amazing artwork.

DC Comics, 224 pages, $24.99

Fans of The Magicians trilogy by acclaimed author Lev Grossman absolutely love the world of magic and secrets that these books introduced them to. Now readers can delight in a new addition to the canon, a graphic novel that offers parts of the story from the perspective of fan-favorite character Alice Quinn. Fantastic artwork by Pius Bak helps really bring to life these selected scenes from the story, and the characters they revolve around, giving readers who may not have seen the television show some amazing visuals. While there is not much added to the actual story readers already know and love, fans will still love this comic.

Image Comics, 528 pages, $49.99

Monstress has been a highly acclaimed comic book series since its debut, and it is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards in the fields of graphic art. Now readers both new and old can celebrate the first eighteen issues of this amazing series with a gorgeous omnibus-style book; while all of these issues have previously been available as single comics, or in three smaller graphic novels, there’s something inherently satisfying about being able to binge a series like this. Readers will love the art deco-style, steampunk feel of the illustrations, and the fast-paced story will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Fantagraphics Books, 332 pages, $29.99

In 17th century Rome, a female painter named Artemisia Gentileschi lived and rose to prominence, despite living in a country and a culture that excelled in keeping women down. Very few people today know her name, outside of art enthusiasts, but Artemisia is getting her story told now in this vivid and breathtaking graphic biography. Author and artist Gina Siciliano gets deep into the details of Artemisia’s life, and many of her most beautiful works of art are reproduced, in a sense, in these pages. This is a story that is sure to remain in readers’ heads long after they’ve finished the book.

First Second, 320 pages, $17.99

Bea has a lot of things to run from, so it’s not surprising that now, finally, she’s on the move. What she wasn’t expecting was to run into Lou. And she definitely wasn’t expecting the amazing journey that this unanticipated encounter would lead to. Together, Bea and Lou explore an increasingly unfamiliar West Texas landscape, befriend a mysterious cat, and try to outrun their own demons. Readers interested in a unique tale of heartbreak, loss, past sexual assault, and, ultimately, human connection will fall in love with this graphic novel written and illustrated by Tillie Walden.

Dynamite Entertainment, 128 pages, $14.99

Seventeen-year-old Nancy Drew thought she had left her hometown behind, and has since been trying to embrace the illusion of a perfectly in-control life. But after she garners media attention for solving a crime, it seems like her hometown isn’t done with her quite yet. When Nancy receives a threatening letter, she knows she has to return to the city she left behind. Reunited with her old friends, Nancy, Bess, George, and the Hardy Boys will encounter a dead body and an unsolved case. Can they follow the clues and solve this mystery before the danger catches up with them? Whether readers grew up with classic Nancy Drew mysteries or are completely new to the teenage sleuth, this story is engaging and action-packed, and a true pleasure to read.

Fantagraphics, 232 pages, $29.99

Who was Maria M.? Fans of author Gilbert Hernandez’s previous work will remember her well, but readers of all stripes will be intrigued by this tale of her twisty, turny life. Maria first came to America in search of a better life, like so many immigrants, but instead found herself married to a mob boss and lost in a world of drugs, sex, and violence. This volume collects the tales of Maria (originally published years ago and now out of print), mother of Luba and a fascinating character in her own right. The gritty black and white illustrations perfectly complement the story.