Whether you want to read poignant memoirs or personal stories, take in the basics of economics or philosophy or Daoism, or learn more about the Middle Ages or the Middle East, graphic nonfiction (a.k.a. nonfiction comics) is a great way to go. Often dismissed as being for kids, the reality is that words and pictures, when combined, are a great way for any human being to better understand the world around them. Below we've collected together all the times a book of graphic nonfiction has been recommended by an expert on Five Books, as well as including some of our own favourites.
If you're interested in learning more about how comics work and why they should be taken seriously as a way of conveying information, Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics is a great place to start. He also goes back in time to show how historically important comics have been for conveying information—for example through the Codex Nuttall and the Bayeux Tapestry.
Crossroads: I Live Where I Like
Koni Benson, André & Nathan Trantraal (Illustrators), Ashley Marais (Illustrator)
Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie (illustrator)
All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa
by Richard Conyngham (editor)
Madame Livingstone: The Great War in the Congo
by Barly Baruti (illustrator), Christophe Cassiau-Haurie & Ivanka Hahnenberger (translator)
by Daniel Clarke, Daniel Snaddon & James Clarke
Graphic narratives can be a great way to learn history but they need to be both good history and good comics. That’s a combination that can be hard to find. Trevor Getz, a professor of history at San Francisco State University, picks out his top comic books on African history.
Graphic histories can offer complex and layered insights into the past and are underused as a medium, argue historian Eleanor Janega and illustrator Neil Emmanuel, authors of The Middle Ages: A Graphic History. Here, they recommend five graphic histories that show the power of comics not only for telling moving stories but also transmitting difficult concepts.