Sweet, funny, and poignant. This autobiographical comic tells Liz's story without pandering or over-explaining. This book was so good that I wanted to flip a table and run down the street pumping my arms in victory after I finished it.
Buck by MK Asante (Spiegel & Grau, $15)
I put this on another top five this year, but I don't even care. Buck is so good. It could be set anywhere, but Asante captures the voice of Philly so clearly that you can hear the accent when you're reading it. I'm a total sucker for any story where books rescue the main character from other sources of conflict.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth, $15)
Certainly one of the most beautiful books I've ever read; the setting and the characters leap off the page and into your heart and head. Overall, this is a story of war, a love story, and a story about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Griffin $19)
I love story about two kids from opposite lives who save each other. This book made me feel swoony and weepy and hopeful all at once.
Queer and Trans Artists of Color by Nia King (CreateSpace $22.95)
This is the most important book I read all year. Each one of the interviews has some nugget of wisdom that everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, will relate to. Especially if you make art, like art, or spend any amount of time thinking about your place in the world and what you can do to make it better.
Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer (Zest, $16)
This zine is a collection of comics, illustrated lists, and writings about the author's move from a small rural town to a big city college. A great gift for people who are starting high school or college, or going through any major changes.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead, $16)
This book is just everything. It's the story about Oscar, a romantic Dominican nerd with no game. It's not just about Oscar's life, but about his family and how he is the culmination of many years and people. Junot Diaz could write cereal boxes, and I'd be psyched to read them. He's just that great.
Every Day by David Levithan (Ember, $10)
Super romantic story about a person who wakes up in a different body every day and the challenges that it creates when wooing the object of his/her affection. Really beautifully written.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Broadway, $15)
This book full of loathsome characters will make you gasp with shock. Read the book before you see the movie and see how well it lives up to the hype.
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney (Gotham, $20)
This is a brave, gorgeous comic about Ellen Forney's experience being diagnosed with and treated for bipolar disorder. Regardless of mental health status, it's easy to relate to the author's struggle to balance stability with creative passions.
Sarah Rose, December 2014