"at your library" column in the north island eagle: let your reading take you someplace new

Let Your Reading Take You Someplace New

Many of you already appreciate the joys of reading.

Reading transports us to other worlds and lets us vicariously experience other lives.

Reading helps us feel less alone, knowing there are other people who struggle with the same issues we do.

Reading helps us explore questions of ethics, morality, spirituality, politics, and culture.

It's been shown that people who read have more empathy and compassion than people who don't. That makes sense, because when we read, we are putting ourselves in others' shoes, which is literally the definition of empathy.

If you love to read, why not challenge yourself to read something different? This year, I encourage you to try reading read three books that are outside your usual comfort zone. In the next few "At Your Library" columns, I will suggest a few tips on taking your reading in a different direction.

Thousands of words in every picture

Many adults have not yet discovered the joys of graphic novels. Graphic novels – books that look like comics – are a unique art form. In graphic novels, the pictures don't only illustrate a story – they help move the story forward. The images in graphic novels convey characters' emotions and inner thoughts. The best graphic novels offer a richer reading experience, by combining words and images.

If you've never read graphic fiction, perhaps start with a graphic adaptation of a book you're already familiar with. You might try the excellent graphic versions of A Wrinkle in Time, The Handmaid's Tale, or To Kill a Mockingbird.

Or you could choose a graphic version of a famous piece of literature that you've never read, or read a long time ago. Moby-Dick, Hamlet, and Wuthering Heights are a few of the dozens to you can choose from.

I really enjoy reading graphic nonfiction. I recently read the graphic version of Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl. Although I've read the original more than once, the illustrated version was still so powerful. The illustrations captured Anne's voice when it was playful, sarcastic, sorrowful, yearning, frightened. The book was true to the original, and yet more than the original. It was truly an enhanced reading experience.

Your Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) has some amazing graphic nonfiction. Some titles I recently saw include Dawn of Time: Creation Myths Around the World by Nel Yomtov, Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, a memoir by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and They Called Us the Enemy by George Takei, about the experience of Canadians and Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

If you do read a graphic novel for the first time, I'd love to hear what you thought.

In my next column, I'll tell you about one of my favourite art forms: narrative nonfiction.

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