Take Another Piece of My Heart | Book Review of “Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home” by Nicole J. Georges

So many people I know who love graphic novels describe being able to finish them in one sitting as part of their appeal. I like that feature, too, which is why I regularly recommend graphic novels and comics as good choices for readathons, quickly adding some “Read” books to your Goodreads Challenge, and overcoming a reading slump. Certainly it’s true for some graphic novels, but not all. Some should be savored, like Nicole J. Georges’ Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home (2017).You know what is going to happen to Beija, the idiosyncratic and high maintenance but absolutely loyal canine companion of Nicole J. Georges, a cartoonist (Calling Dr. Laura) and professor. You know she will have passed on to pet heaven by the end of the memoir. To read Georges’ graphic memoir is to commit to confronting devastating loss. But it is also a celebration of how pets help us find a purpose to live anyway, to stare down the existential crisis where the one certainty is an ending—because first, you get a beginning, with an animal companion, a furry familiar. This book review of “Fetch” will explore Georges’ relationship with Beija through the lens of my experiences as...

The Enduring American Dream | Book Review of “The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui

There is a moment during my family’s Thanksgiving dinner where we go around the table and identify something we are grateful for in our lives. However hokey, however contrived this little tradition might seem, I appreciate that it helps us remember the root of this most American holiday: gratitude for sanctuary. Hundreds of years ago, people sailed across the ocean and risked their lives to come here. It’s not a cliche. They tossed their dead children who didn’t survive the journey overboard in makeshift coffins. They drank dirty water for weeks. They exposed themselves to the elements, to disease, with no guarantee but the land they walked on when they dropped anchor. And they walked on the some of the same ground I walk on, here in Pennsylvania. Some of the trees I see in my town’s arboretum of a college campus might be those that earlier Americans saw, too. I walk through the streets of Philadelphia, my city, and I can almost imagine the pages of my AP US prep book flipping back and back further still to the beginning. The black-and-white footage falls away as past and present blur into one. I see the Liberty Bell, walk past...

Book Review of “Joe Gould’s Teeth” by Jill Lepore

I have never really been a nonfiction person. Part of it is, I just love fiction. I’m fascinated by storytelling, dramatic structure, conflict, tension, and the hero’s journey. Real life, it’s always seemed, just isn’t full of that stuff. How can you manipulate reality—facts, data, artifacts, things that are evidence of what really happened—into a compelling story that is just as riveting as something written by Donna Tartt or Stephen King or Zadie Smith? Devouring Jill Lepore’s  one night in one sitting is pushing me on the path of nonfiction. In this book review of Jill Lepore’s , I’ll tell you all about how this slim book-length essay dug into the facts and crafted a suspenseful, moving, and dramatic narrative exploring medical ethics and the literary world in general. Premise In the 1940s, infamous New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell wrote a profile in the magazine about a man named Joe Gould. A writer, a sociologist, an historian, Joe Gould brushed elbows with some of the most renowned authors and artists of the Modernist movement. He counted Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Millen Brand, and more as his friends. Most notably, Gould called himself an oral historian because he was working on his magnum...

Horror & Hormones | Book Review of Charles Burns’ “Black Hole”

It seems impossible to write a book review of Charles Burns’ Black Hole, a graphic novel compendium of a comics series from 1995-2005. While I was reading the novel, I fluctuated between  so many emotions—wonder, boredom, disgust, fascination, repulsion, transcendence. This is partially because Burns’ novel, now considered a landmark classic in the history of modern-day graphic novels and comics, truly defies categorization. It is almost a Rorschach ink blot where it means different things to everyone. Yet it is absolutely a must-read litmus test for your opinions on sexuality, medicine, infectious disease, love, and the suburban teen experience. Let me back up and try to give you a passable summary. Essentially, Black Hole is about a group of teens in the Seattle suburbs during the mid-1970s. The teens notice an outbreak of strange medical phenomena. For example, they pass out and hallucinate that they are falling into a black hole. Or they meet someone with a tail and don’t really see it as that unusual. People develop tiny mouths on their neck, feet, and back. Other teens have their facial features transformed into furry creature faces. At the same time, the comics focus on a small and select group of these...

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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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