2022 Novelist Reading Challenge: “Maus” by Art Spiegelman

For the second year in a row, NoveList has created a year long reading challenge to help people stretch their reading comfort zones. The challenge gives 24 prompts for readers: 12 for beginners and 12 for aficionados. My goal is to complete all 24 prompts this year. I’ll be making my way through the list and writing reviews about the books I really like. You can find the full reading challenge here.

First up is prompt #17: Read a graphic novel with black and white illustrations. I don’t typically read graphic novels so I was planning on putting this prompt off until later in the year. Then I saw some new articles about controversy over the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus by Art Spiegelman. It was removed from the 8th grade curriculum by a Tennessee school board for its “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide.” There is nothing I love more than challenged books, so I knew I needed to read it.

Maus follows the strained relationship between author Art Spiegelman and his aging father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor. The novel begins in 1978 with a visit between Art and Vladek. It moves between two timelines, intertwining their visits in present day with Vladek’s stories of his life during the Holocaust. We follow Vladek all the way through the war: from his time as a POW, his time in a ghetto, his multiple hiding spots in between, and finally to his time in Auschwitz and Dachau. He tells of the people and family members he met and lost along the way, and the horrors he faced during those six years. The novel ends after Vladek tells the story of his return to his hometown at the end of the war and his reunion with his wife Anya, Art’s mother. The last panel is an image of Anya’s and Vladek’s tombstone. Anya died by suicide in 1968 and Vladek of congestive heart failure in 1982 before the book was completed.

This book was intense, and it took me a while to get through it. I picked it up and read the first part in one sitting. I usually read books in about 2-4 days, but I had to let this one sit for about a week before I could continue. Maus does not gloss over gruesome details of the Holocaust. Vladek tells stories about murder, violence, torture, starvation, medical experimentation, sickness, and suicide. Maus is one of the best books I’ve read in my adult life. It was difficult, but it was a necessary reminder of a terrible part of the world’s history. Spiegelman said it best, “This is disturbing imagery, but you know what? It’s disturbing history.” I highly recommend this book, even if you’ve read other Holocaust stories in the past. The graphic novel format makes the amazing storytelling that much more impactful.

Check Out All the Books I’ve Read for This Challenge

         

Best of 2021

Our patrons checked around 40,000 books, eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, and DVDs in 2021! That’s a lot of reading, watching, and listening! Here are the items people checked out the most in 2021!

CD

The CD section includes both Adult Fiction and Nonfiction Audiobooks. Our patrons checked these items out around 300 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 Stone Cold by Cj Box

#2 Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger

#3 The Pursuit of Pearls by Jane Thynne

DVD

The DVD section includes both films and tv series. Our patrons checked these items out around 4,000 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 News of the World

#2 The Croods: A New Age

#3 Honest Thief

E

The E section includes easy picture books. It does not include board books, easy chapter books, or ABC books. Our patrons checked these items out over 6,000 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 The Big Island Race by Meredith Rusu

#2 Click, Clack, Good Night by Doreen Cronin

#3 Bear Can’t Wait by Karma Wilson

FIC

The FIC section includes both paperback and hardback Adult Fiction books. Our patrons checked these items out over 6,500 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 Neighbors by Danielle Steel

#2 Deadly Cross by James Patterson

#3 Dark Sky by C.J. Box

JFIC

The JFIC section include both paperback and hardback Juvenile Fiction books. These items were checked out over 2,500 times. The most popular items were:

#1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

#2 Mothering Heights by Dav Pilkey

#3 Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey

LP

The LP section includes Large Print Fiction and Nonfiction books. These items were checked out over 1,500 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown

#2 The Dirty South by John Connolly

#3 A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber

MAG

The Mag sections includes all Magazines. These items were checked out over 1,000 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 People

#2 Taste of Home

#3 Time

NF

The NF section includes all Adult Nonfiction books including Oversized and Biographies. These items were checked out over 1,500 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 Till Murder Do Us Part by James Patterson

#2 ADHD 2.0 by Edward M. Hallowell

#3 Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta

TFIC

The TFIC section includes both paperback and hardcover Teen Fiction books and Graphic Novels. These items were checked out over 900 times. The most popular titles were:

#1 This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

#2 Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

#3 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

There you have it! The most popular items of 2021! Have you read these titles yet? You can place a hold* on these items by clicking on the link, selecting “Place Hold,” and signing in with your library card number and pin. You can also call us at 812-926-0646 (Aurora) or 812-954-4151 (Dillsboro) and we will place a hold for you!

*Holds cannot be placed on DVDs.


 

Non-Fiction for Teens

The Shadow of the Fallen Towers by Don Brown

We’ve been working to make it easier for our teen readers to find the non-fiction books they enjoy! Now, at both the Aurora and the Dillsboro Public Libraries, there are special collections of non-fiction books written especially for a teen audience. You’ll find a wide variety of topics in these collections – history, crafts, biographies, poetry, social issues, science, and much more. Teen non-fiction even includes some books written in a graphic novel format!

We’ll be adding more books to these areas, so make sure you let us know about your reading preferences. Or, if you want to let us know anonymously, look for the paper surveys in the Teen areas.

Here are a few selections in some of the categories.

History

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Crafts

The DIY Guide to Tie Dye Style by Welker and Spendlove Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt Rip It by Elissa Meyrich

Science

Phieas Gage by John Fleischman  The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose  The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain

Social Issues

Teen Guide to Student Activism by Stuart Kallen  Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson  Parkland Speaks edited by Sarah Lerner

Of course, these books are great for adults, too! I’ve found them to be very readable, and they often provide me with just the right amount of information on a subject.

Happy Reading!