Tag Archives: book lists

Summer Reading!

The summer solstice, which for those of us in Pittsburgh occurs tomorrow morning at 6:51 a.m., is the official kickoff of my favorite season. I love just about everything summer related. It can never be too hot or steamy for my tastes — maybe because I was born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the snake – once the temperatures climb above 70 degrees, I immediately crawl out from under the dark and cold of winter and spring, and head out to bask upon my summer rock — preferably with a good book.

For me, summer means fresh fruit, popsicles, sunshine, an explosion of vegetables in the garden, trips to a local watering hole (pool or pond or Great Lake), but mostly the leisure to read in a lounge chair in the sun of the backyard or the shade of the front porch. Summer reading has always been a big part of my life, ever since I was a young girl participating in the various summer reading programs at the (now closed) Caledonia branch of the East Cleveland Public Library. I would race to the new book display every time I visited that library, grabbing hungrily at as many of the fresh titles I could carry and hurrying to the circulation desk with cardboard library card in hand. I can still sense the cool and quiet of that library on a summer day, and I can even still smell those books that I used to bring home. Nancy Drew, Henry Huggins, The Great Brain, Betsy, Tacy & Tib, Harriet the Spy, and Lois Lenski’s cast of characters — all became my new found friends during those lazy days of my childhood summers.

Caledonia Library Circulation Clerk, Ms. Debrah Smith, c1978

Caledonia Library Circulation Clerk, Ms. Debrah Smith, c1978, courtesy of the  East Cleveland Public Library

From those early days of beloved chapter books, to the later years in which I had summer reading lists to attack for high school and college, to having my own children participate in our suburban Pittsburgh summer reading programs — libraries and summers have always gone hand in hand for me,  just like kick-the-can and ice-cream trucks.

In the world of books and reading, summertime also means that there’s no end to the “summer reading guides” on just about every website, in every magazine, newspaper and blog post — those lists that suggest “good beach reads” or your favorite author’s summer vacation reading choices. Thus, I feel it my duty as a librarian and bibliophile that I add to those lists, because as is the mantra in our house, you can never have, nor read, too many books! So I thought I’d share with you the “Maria J.’s Family” summer reading list. You might see some old favorites or discover new loves from this list. It’s not meant to be exceptional in any way — it’s just what’s happening in our household this summer, reading-wise. So, get out to your favorite neighborhood library, grab a few titles and pull up your favorite rock or lounge chair to enjoy your summer reads!



W.J. – age 13 — Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murder’s, and Murder on the Orient Express; Anthony Horowitz’s Stormbreaker.


A.J. — age 17 — Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring; Laura Hillebrand’s Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption; Robert Dallek’s Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy Whitehouse.


Mr. J. — Jack Kerouac’s On the Road; Page duBois’ A Million and One Gods: the Persistence of Polytheism; Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue ; Roger Housden’s Ten Poems to Change Your Life.


Maria J. — Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England; Dan Barber’s The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food; Jane Goodall’s Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants.



– Maria J.


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100 best graphic novels

As part of a project to expand CLP’s graphic novel collections, some other librarians and I were asked to compose lists of the 100 graphic novels we recommend as essential to adult collections.  Turns out, it also makes a great reading list. 

The list includes titles that range from biography to horror; quintissential comics creators like Alan Moore, Lynda Barry to prose crossover writers like Stephen King, Howard Zinn and Michael Chabon.   Titles range in style from superhero Jack Kirby creations to indie masterpieces by Paul Hornschemeier to classsic alternative creators like Kim Deitch.  I could go on…

The selections aren’t just my own two cents, either.  I referred to several books, a blogTime Magazine‘s list,  other articles I found through a magazine database search, the infinite wisdom of my knowledegable colleagues, and the experience I’ve gained from what patrons like about the existing Graphic Novel collection (a sample) here at Main.  Why am I rolling the credits for you?  Because these are all also great resources to go to when you’re looking for a good book to read.

There’s another reason, too.  I’ve published the list as a Google Document, which means that anyone can edit it.  (At the moment, you may actually need a Google account to do so, but I’m working on it.)  This way, the list can exist as an evolving resource accessible to anyone and built from collective knowledge of those enthusiastic enough to participate.  Free to the people, indeed.  Check out the 100 Best Graphic Novels for Adults in the chart below or right………………..here!  Happy reading and happy sharing!


author title publisher
Abel, Jessica La Perdida Pantheon
Azzarello, Brian 100 bullets DC Comics
B., David Epileptic Pantheon
Baker, Kyle Nat Turner Abrams
Barry, Lynda One Hundred Demons Sasquatch Books
Barry, Lynda What It Is Drawn & Quarterly
Barry, Lynda, ed. The Best American Comics 2008 Houghton Mifflin Company
Bechdel, Alison Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Houghton Mifflin Company
Bendis, Brian Michael Powers Image Comics
Brown, Chester Louis Riel: A Comic-strip Biography Drawn and Quarterly
Brown, Jeffrey Clumsy Top Shelf Productions
Burns, Charles Black Hole Pantheon
Carey, Mike Lucifer DC/Vertigo
Chabon, Michael

and Will Eisner

The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Dark Horse Books
Chaykin, Howard V American Flagg! Dynamite Entertainment
Claremont, Chris X-Men. Dark Phoenix Saga Marvel
Clowes, Daniel David Boring Pantheon
Cooke, Darwyn DC : the new frontier. DC Comics
Crumb, Robert The Complete Crumb Fantagraphics
Deitch, Kim The Boulevard of Broken Dreams Pantheon
Delano, Jamie; Ennis, Garth; Carey, Mike; Ellis, Warren; Azzarello, Brian; and others John Constantine, Hellblazer DC/Vertigo
Eisner, Will Contract with God Trilogy W.W. Norton and Company
Eisner, Will Spirit DC Comics
Ellis, Warren Transmetropolitan DC/Vertigo
Ennis, Garth Preacher DC Comics
Gaiman, Neil Sandman DC/Vertigo
Hernandez, Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez Love and Rockets Fantagraphics
Hornschemeier, Paul Mother, Come Home Dark Horse Books
Hornschemeier, Paul Three Paradoxes Fantagraphics
Jacobson, Sidney. The 9/11 report : a graphic adaptation Hill and Wang
Jason multiple titles. “Hey wait” for ex. Fantagraphics
Johns, Geoff and Judd Winick Green Lantern DC Comics
Johns, Geoff and others JSA: Justice Society of America DC Comics
Kane, Bob Greatest Batman stories ever told Warner
King, Stephen The Dark Tower Marvel
Kirby, Jack Fourth World Omnibus DC Comics
Kirkman, Robert Walking Dead Image Comics
Kouno, Fumiyo Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms Last Gasp
Kubert, Joe SGT. Rock DC Comics
Laird, Roland Owen Still I rise : a cartoon history of African Americans W.W. Norton
Lee, Stan Amazing Spiderman Marvel
Lee, Stan and Jack Kirby Essential Avengers Marvel
Lee, Stan and Jack Kirby Essential Fantastic Four Marvel
Lee, Stan and Jack Kirby Essential Hulk Marvel
Lee, Stan and Steve Ditko Essential Spider Man Marvel
Lethem, Jonathan Omega: The Unknown Marvel
Lutes, Jason Berlin. City of stones Drawn and Quarterly
Lutes, Jason Jar of Fools Black Eye Productions
Martin, Alan Tank Girl Titan Books
McCloud, Scott Understanding Comics Harper Perennial
Michelinie, David and Bob Layton Iron Man. Demon in a Bottle Marvel
Mignola, Mike Hellboy Dark Horse Books
Mignola, Mike B.P.R.D. Dark Horse Books
Millar, Mark Wanted Top Cow Productions
Miller, Frank Daredevil Marvel
Miller, Frank The Dark Knight Returns DC Comics
Miller, Frank Sin City Dark Horse Books
Miyazaki, Hayao Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind VIZ
Modan, Rutu Exit Wounds Drawn and Quarterly
Moore, Alan Watchmen DC Comics
Moore, Alan League of Extraordinary Gentlemen America’s Best Comics
Moore, Alan Promethea America’s Best Comics
Moore, Alan Batman. The Killing Joke DC Comics
Moore, Terry Strangers in Paradise Abstract Studio
Morrison, Grant Invisibles DC Comics
Morrison, Grant JLA: Justice League of America DC Comics
Morrison, Grant Animal Man DC/Vertigo
Morrison, Grant Batman: Arkham Asylum DC Comics
Niles, Steve 30 Days of Night IDW Publishing
Niles, Steve Richard Matheson’s I am legend IDW Publishing
Nilsen, Anders Dogs and water Drawn and Quarterly
Pekar, Harvey American Splendor various
Pekar, Harvey, ed. The Best American Comics 2006 Houghton Mifflin Co
Pini, Wendy Masque of the Red Death Go Comi
Rabagliati, Michel Paul Has a Summer Job Drawn and Quarterly
Sacco, Joe Palestine Fantagraphics
Satrapi, Marjane Persepolis Pantheon
Seth It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken Drawn and Quarterly
Simmonds, Posy Gemma Bovery Pantheon
Spiegelman, Art Maus: A Survivor’s Tale Pantheon
Takaki, Saiko Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D Digital Manga Pub
Taniguchi, Jirō The Walking Man FanFare
Tezuka, Osamu Buddha Vertical
Thompson, Craig Blankets: An Illustrated Novel Top Shelf Productions
Tomine, Adrian Sleepwalk: And Other Stories Drawn and Quarterly
various Buffy the Vampire Slayer Dark Horse Books
various Swamp Thing DC Comics
various X-Men. Age of Apocalypse, the Complete Epic Marvel
various The Chronicles of Conan Dark Horse Books
various Showcase Presents: Justice League of America DC Comics
various Showcase Presents: Batman DC Comics


various Showcase Presents: Superman DC Comics


various Showcase Presents: The Flash DC Comics


Vaughan, Brian K. Ex Machina Wildstorm Productions


Vaughan, Brian K. Y: The Last Man DC/Vertigo


Ware, Chris Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Pantheon


Ware, Chris, ed. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Houghton Mifflin Co


Willingham, Bill Fables DC/Vertigo
Willingham, Bill Jack of Fables DC/Vertigo


Winick, Judd and others Green Arrow DC Comics


Wolfman, Marv Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comics
Zinn, Howard A People’s History of American Empire: A Graphic Adaptation Metropolitan Books


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