All genres have classics! Just as Hamlet, Moby Dick, and The Great Gatsby are considered influential, so too are Maus, Fun Home, Persepolis, and more.
No matter your preferences, librarians can help you find graphic titles to try – here are 14 classic non-fiction graphic novels, with some bonus titles by important authors!
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (2006)
A memoir that details the author’s relationship with her father – a funeral home director, high school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.
Fun Home can be put on hold here.
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, the 2012 sequel to Fun Home, can be requested here.
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, a 2008 selection of Alison Bechdel’s comic strips, can be put on hold here.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (2017)
The autobiographical story of a family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the difficulties faced building new lives in the United States.
The Best We Could Do can be put on hold here.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (2014)
A memoir celebrating the final years of Chast’s aging parents’ lives through cartoons, photos, and documents reflecting her struggles with caregiving.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? can be put on hold here.
Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York, Chast’s 2017 tribute to Manhattan and reflection of the culture clash between her rural-raised children and self, can be put on hold here.
What I Hate: From A to Z, Chast’s 2011 cartoon alphabet of aversions, can be put on hold here.
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney (2012)
An artist describes her bipolar disorder diagnosis and her struggles with mental stability while discussing other creative people throughout history who were also labeled as “crazy,” including van Gogh, O’Keeffe, and Plath.
Marbles can be put on hold here.
The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre, and Frédéric Lemercier (2009)
In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union. This graphic photo-journal is a record of one reporter’s arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders.
The Photographer can be put on hold here.
Alan’s War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope, Emmanuel Guibert’s 2008 graphic biography of Alan Cope, an American World War II veteran, can be put on hold here.
Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart and Leela Corman (2015)
The cartoonist’s memoir exploring themes of grief, despair, and hope as he and his wife struggle with the sudden death of their young daughter Rosalie.
Rosalie Lightning can be put on hold here.
March: Book One by John Lewis (2013)
A first-hand account of the author’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement.
March can be put on hold here.
March: Book Two (2015) can be put on hold here.
March: Book Three (2016) can be put on hold here.
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (1993)
A comic book about comic books – explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.
Understanding Comics can be put on hold here.
Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels, McCloud’s 2006 book on the storytelling aspects of creating comics, can be requested here.
The Sculptor is McCloud’s 2015 graphic novel about a young sculptor able sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands – with only 200 days to live. Put it on hold here.
Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa (2004)
In this graphic depiction of nuclear devastation, three survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima face rejection, hunger, and humiliation in their search for a place to live.
Barefoot Gen can be put on hold here.
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld (2009)
The telling of seven extraordinary true stories of survival in the days leading up to and following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A.D. can be put on hold here.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000)
The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in a country plagued by political upheaval.
Persepolis can be put on hold here.
Persepolis 2: The Story of A Return, the 2004 sequel to Persepolis, can be put on hold here.
Embroideries, Satrapi’s 2005 story about an afternoon of conversation with her Iranian grandmother, mother, aunt, and friends, can be requested here.
Persepolis, the 2007 film adaptation of the book, can be put on hold here.
Stitches by David Small (2009)
A memoir of the author’s troubled childhood with a radiologist father who subjected him to repeated x-rays and a withholding and tormented mother.
Stitches can be put on hold here.
Home After Dark, Small’s dark 2018 graphic novel about a thirteen-year old loner forced to fend for himself against a ring of bullies in 1950s Marshfield, California, can be put on hold here.
Maus I, A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman (1990)
The author-illustrator traces his father’s imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp through a series of unusual cartoons arranged as a novel.
Maus I can be put on hold here.
Maus II, A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began (1991) can be requested here.
MetaMaus, a 2011 omnibus, can be put on hold here.
Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers, a 2004 graphic memoir about the attack on the World Trade Center, can be put on hold here.
A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn (2008)
Adapted from the critically acclaimed chronicle of U.S. history, this study of American expansionism around the world provides an analysis of important events from Wounded Knee to Iraq.
A People’s History of American Empire can be put on hold here.