After seeing Argo last week, I was inspired to reread the fantastic graphic novel Persepolis, which tells the story of the author’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Her neighbors’ homes are bombed, and her relatives are imprisoned. Her father considers fleeing to America, but then asks his wife, “I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?” As she grows up, the girl’s rebellious streak endangers her life. Her personal story is gripping, heartbreaking and surprisingly funny. I devoured it in three days, and now I’m really looking forward to reading the authors’ other two books, Persepolis 2 (the sequel) and Embroideries (about her female relatives’ sex lives!).

Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to get your recommendations…

P.S. Four other great graphic novels.

  1. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card is my favorite book of all time (It is not related to the Disney movie). I read it at least once a year. We just moved to England so my husband can get his PhD and it was the only book I took with me, that’s how much I love it. If you are a fan of fairy tales it should be one that you like. Orson Scott Card puts so much research into his work, it gives the story so much depth.

  2. I don’t know if it is necessarily in the same vein, but The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson is a really interesting read that delves into the culture of psychopathy and how it is treated in the US. Also really informative and mind-blowing is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which looks at the system of mass incarceration as a new version of the racial caste system. It is beautifully written and very relevant to current events such as stop and frisk.


  3. I just love this story! Have you seen the movie?You are done absolutely awesome work, I watch it again and again.
    The Equation

  4. I would add a vote for Behind the Beautiful Forevers. I’m halfway through it right now and it is not only amazing to read, but also such an insight to a life far beyond anything I’ll probably ever experience.

    Also, since you live in Brooklyn I’d add A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (if you haven’t already read it). I had a friend come to visit me in NY and she brought it as a gift for me. It was a great piece of historic fiction from an older age of New York.

  5. I read this,,,, This is such a nice book… I also recomend the books The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup at Infibeam.

  6. I’m LOVING this book The Round House but I’m not done with it yet. Wonder was a middle grade book that BLEW ME AWAY in 2012. I also loved The Art of Fielding, My Berlin Kitchen, Seating Arrangements and Where’d You Go Bernadette!

  7. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

  8. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

  9. If you like graphic novels, you should read Fun Home by Allison Bechdel.

  10. If you are interested in graphic novels about interesting times in interesting countries, check out Guy Delisle’s Burma, Pyongyang and Jerusalem.

  11. “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson made me laugh so loud, I had to read in private. Hehe! Enjoy!

  12. George Saunders “The Tenth of December ” – short stories – brilliant writer! Just published, amazing reviews.

  13. I loved Persepolis! You should watch the movie sometime too. I read a ton and I would recommend Little Bee, Gone Girl and Beautiful Ruins. They literally could not be more different from each other, but I enjoyed all of them over the last year.

  14. You must see the movie. It’s just brilliant!
    xo TJ

  15. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. Beautiful beautiful story.

  16. I love Persepolis!
    I read it in first year university and we spent a whole class dedicated to discussing the cover! The shapes look like penises and the large geometric shape in the middle looks like a vagina!

    On another note, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood is excellent!

  17. I love Persepolis!
    I read it in first year university and we spent a whole class dedicated to discussing the cover! The shapes look like penises and the large geometric shape in the middle looks like a vagina!

    On another note, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood is excellent!

  18. I love Persepolis!
    I read it in first year university and we spent a whole class dedicated to discussing the cover! The shapes look like penises and the large geometric shape in the middle looks like a vagina!

    On another note, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood is excellent!

  19. N says...

    Reading “How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz. Gorgeous writing!

  20. I just read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and loved it. I’m recommending it to everyone.

  21. I just finished Wolf Hall (the sequel, Bringing Up the Bodies, is everywhere right now) and loved reading about Henry VIII’s court from Cromwell’s perspective.

  22. Les Miserables! It’s intimidatingly long, but so worth it, especially if you’re the kind of person who likes to know every detail of a story. Get the Julie Rose translation, it incorporates some more modern language (which some people feel is cheating, but I think it just turns it back into the page-turner that it was when it was first written!)

  23. SO many great suggestions in the comments so far but I didn’t see my all-time favorite book- “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is both romantic, and suspenseful. Full of history and love and written in the most beautiful way. Adore it!

  24. I’m reading Fortune’s Rock. It’s a 1900’s lolita story. very interesting

  25. I am totally using these comments for suggests for our next book club book! thanks

  26. Good Eggs by Phoebe Potts is a wonderful graphic novel memoir by a woman dealing with infertility. It’s brilliant!

  27. I just finished “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani. I LOVED it. Such amazing character development and beautiful description of place. Touching and empowering. Highly recommend.

  28. I have so many books on my iPad…I have to stop downloading! I highly recommend What Alice Forgot – thoroughly enjoyed it!

    And it’s funny – I have Gone Girl, and was slogging through it…I finally got about halfway through and figured there must be something wrong, since I read so many glowing reviews of it, but I could never get into it, so I asked a group of friends if they had read it. I was so relieved to know I wasn’t the only one – so I stopped reading it. I really didn’t like it at all – didn’t like the characters, didn’t care about them, and it’s SO drawn out! But…obviously, many don’t agree!

  29. I just started listening to books because I love knitting and it’s a great way to catch up on some ‘reading’ while finishing a sweater. You have to pick and choose your books a bit more carefully because they aren’t all narrated that well, but I just listened to The Fault in our Stars by John Green and loved it. The narration was brilliant and the story was incredible. Now I’m trying to find my next audiobook…

  30. I recently read The Kitchen House and it was fabulous.

    Everyone I recommed it to has the same reaction – abosolutely loves the book.

  31. The Language of Flowers – by Vanessa Diffenbaugh… Best book I’ve read in quite a while. I couldn’t put it down – and that’s tough to do with a 3 month old baby.

  32. I just finished — Daughter of Empire by Pamela Hicks… what a great story!

  33. I think I need to read Gone Girl after seeing all these recommendations! Have you read any of Barbara Kingsolver’s books? I have read a few and got the latest one for Christmas which I would absolutely recommend. I made the mistake of starting to read Game of Thrones a couple of weeks ago and am completely hooked now!

  34. You must read the Psychopath Test. It’s a book about what makes someone a pyschopath as well as mental health diagnosis in general. So so so fascinating and entertaining.

  35. Ly says...

    Thanks for this blog post! I’ve recently become re-obsessed with books and have been devouring them on my commute. Your lovely readers have lots of great suggestions which I’ve promptly added to my book list!

  36. ‘I Remember? by Joe Brainard. It’s one of the most fantastic books I’ve read. It seems simple and so easy to write like he did but at the same time it is so personal and sincere. Amazing book!

  37. ‘I Remember’ by Joe Brainard. One of the most fantastic books I’ve ever read and I love the fact that you can revisit it once in a while.

  38. If you have not read The Glass Castle yet by Jeannette Walls you need to. I am not normally into non fiction but it is fascinating. I guarantee if you read the prologue you will finish it in two days or less :)

  39. Dear Joanna,
    The graphic novel indeed looks wonderful and interesting.
    I am currently reading Zadie Smith’s NW, which is a great book written by a very talented woman. I also enjoy reading poetry, for example the poems of Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson. All are worth reading!

  40. Dear Joanna,
    The graphic novel indeed looks wonderful and interesting.
    I am currently reading Zadie Smith’s NW, which according to me is a great book written by a very talented woman!

  41. And of course, The help by Katryn Stockett (it’s a must) and the lovely, precious and wonderful The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
    Enjoy :))

  42. No et moi, Delpine de Vigan

  43. Hey.. very interesting website…just came across while browsing through the new.. Do visit my portal too and leave a comment if you like anything on it…

  44. Oh man, this recommendation is totally buried in the comments, so you may not see it, but ‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home’ was the best book I read in 2012. Girl, coming of age, New York City, sisters and families, the 1980s, the AIDs epidemic; it was such a breathtaking novel!

  45. Just finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Brunt and absolutely loved it – love and grief set in the 80s AND NYC.

    • Wow, I JUST commented after you recommending the SAME book! Crazy! It was so amazing, wasn’t it? I read it over 6 months ago, and still think about it.

    • sooo good. i was weeping in quite a few parts.

  46. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. The World According to Garp. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Kabul Beauty school. Book with a great story.

  48. Going with the Persepolis theme, I would recommend with much enthusiasm A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached, a lovely young Lebanese writer and artist whose graphic novel is based on her childhood growing up in a nation torn apart by civil war… uplifting, beautiful, loved it.

  49. i’ve read all the books by Satrapi – Persepolis 1 & 2, Chicken with Plums and Embroideries… i must say Persepolis 2 and Chicken with Plums are the best of the four…
    i must also recommend a good book ‘Tiger Hills’ by an Indian author, Sarita Mandanna, although it is a very long novel and not a graphic one…

  50. “All That Is Bitter and Sweet” by Ashley Judd

  51. Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart – Joyce Carol Oates (heart wrenching, cathartic, beautifully wrought)
    Among the Missing – Dan Chaon (lovely shorts)
    Snow Falling On Cedars – David Guterson (beautiful, wintery, mysterious)
    The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes (read the whole thing then reread the first chapter)
    Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls – Alisa Nutting (hysterical shorts but also touching)

  52. I just finished (30 minutes ago!) ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’. It is witty, charming and utterly delightful. One of the best books i’ve read in a while.

  53. I did not read the book but I watched the persepolis movie and it was great!

  54. hello,I want to make an cooperation with you .Please contact me as soon as if you are interested in it .Email:

  55. I’m reading Destiny of the republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. I’m only in 100 pages but already I’m hooked. It’s about the attempted assassination of President Garfield, how Alexander Graham Bell tried to help and ultimately Garfield’s death at the hand of doctors. Amazing!

  56. PLEASE read the the book Daughter of Persia. It changed my life. As a daughter of Iranian Jewish immigrants, I never truly understood Iran until I read this book. I also met the author and she is still, at ninety-something, a force. I beg you to read this!

  57. I always love reading everyone’s comments in these sorts of posts! I just finished “Speak” by Laura Halse Anderson. It’s a YA novel from the late 90’s, that really delves into the pain of being an adolescent when things are going seriously awry. Very smart. Very interesting.

    I post about all the books I read on my blog, if you’d be interested!

  58. I loooooved Persepolis and Persepolis II. I didn’t realize she had a third book, I’ll have to check it out!


    Kristina does the Internets

  59. Recently finished “You’re Not That Great” by Dr. Daniel Crosby and loved it! Great thing to read at the start of a new year.

    “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is another current favorite!

  60. Interesting. I came over to this blog while listening to the Public Image Limited song “This is Not A Love Song” which is featured in the movie version of Persepolis and also the first place I heard it.

  61. I just read “You’re Not That Great” by Dr. Daniel Crosby and loved it! It was a great thing to read at the start of a new year.

    Also, I finished “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” a couple weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it.

  62. Jugganath. It’s a Swedish collection of short stories, it’s magical, it’s a little dark and strange and wonderfully familiar. Plus Npr loved it…and so did I. Devoured in a day.

  63. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and Luka and the Fire of Life are two favorites. Both are by Salman Rushdie. I’m so glad you wrote about Persepolis! I’ve read it three times.

  64. I just finished Beyond The Beautiful Forevers and I felt it was an important read. Made me so thankful for EVERYTHING in my life. I’m now halfway through Anna Quindlen’s memoir “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake”. Amazing, of course….it IS Anna after all!

  65. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. May only be available in UK, but maybe find on Amazon? Hysterical autobiography…..

  66. Just finished “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. Very good book about twin brothers spanning their lives in Ethiopia and New York.

  67. Amazing YA novel, “Wonder” by RJ Palcio. i think everyone with kids should read it and all kids should as well, when they are old enough. Super fast read.

  68. I was on a huge Haruki Murakami kick this past summer, and I just finished 1Q84, book 3 (the final installment) a few weeks back. A little long, but an absolutely gripping read by all accounts!!!! Would also recommend “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith and anything by Jhumpa Lahiri.

  69. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”…..sweet and lovely and simple and touching and a bit sad at times but so uplifting and quite clever……..wonderful wonderful wonderful.

  70. Small Island by Andrea Levy is lovely–it’s about Jamaican immigrants in England. I also love the BBC miniseries!

  71. I read Persepolis in my freshman college english class and absolutely loved it!!! Right now I’m reading Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, I love love love it! I’m really into reading food based books right now!!!!

  72. “The Shadow of the Wind” (Zafon) is a favorite of mine. Recently I read “The Forgotten Garden” (Morton) and loved it. I’m not through “The Rules of Civility” (Towles) just yet, but I’m enjoying it!

  73. “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul”, “The Book Thief” & “I remember nothing”

  74. if you want to continue your Iranian revolution/hostage crisis kick, I thought “Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis” by Mark Bowden was great…

  75. Um, frankly… I am just reading the comments to get good suggestions! :)

  76. Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas is also excellent if you’re on a Persian culture kick!

  77. I am in the middle of “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is so unique, I love it so far. Very witty, poetic, and captivating.

  78. I just devoured “Where’d you Go, Bernadette? By Marie Semple in 2 days. I couldn’t put it down! It is a fun and light, yet smart read.

  79. If you’re looking for some other outstanding graphic novels, I’d suggest “Fun Home” and “Swallow Me Whole.” In “Fun Home,” the author looks back on her tense relationship with your late father. “Swallow Me Whole” is a surreal story about adolescent stepsiblings and struggles with schizophrenia.

  80. Please read Gone Girl, Jo, I would love to know what you think! It’s actually kind of funny and I can see Jennifer Anitston and Vince Vaughn playing the couple, if it become a movie!

  81. Native Son by Richard Wright. amazing. And because it seems like you’re into graphic novels, Watchmen. Easy to dismiss if you’re not into superheroes and the very commercial movie- but honestly way more complex than that. Times named it one of the 100 best novels of all time. Native Son is also on that list. Or Out by Natsuo Kirino- so crazy and awesome.

  82. H says...

    Joanna, I highly recommend “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. It’s very insightful into Patti Smith’s life before she became a famous singer/songwriter/poet.

  83. The Quest by Daniel Yergin. It’s about how energy and oil in particular have shaped the global politics in the modern era. I also have a couple of other books ( except for a few technical ones, the rest I recommend to everyone who enjoys non-fiction (this is the list of my new library, I had a larger one which I donated to the city library last year).

  84. I highly recommend the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson – it’s a beautiful story of first love and all the bitter sweetness that comes along with it.

    xx S.

  85. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. The movie adaptation is coming out pretty soon, so I wanted to read the book before seeing it. I finished it in one day, I couldn’t put it down! It’s basically Romeo and Juliet set after the zombie apocalypse. Not the best selling point I know, but it’s beautifully written and thought-provoking. Highly recommend it.

  86. Samarkand by Amin Maalouf. Like persepolis it was orginially written in French. A fantastic fiction revolving around real life event around the time of Omar Khayyam. A must read for anyone interested in Persian culture.

  87. a thousand splendid suns is really good. not funny like persepolis, but so interesting to read about afghans.

  88. Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi.

    It’s about a 18 year old girl who’s dad offers her a college education or a sailboat to sail around the world. She sail’s around the world by herself and with her cat. She became the first woman and youngest person to sail around the world alone. It’s such a good story! (It’s a bibliography, recounting her voyage years later).

  89. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. Joanna, it’s hilarious. Stick it out through the first chapter. You will laugh out loud. If you like Girls, and you liked Tina Fey’s Bossypants, you can’t not love this.

  90. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. My long-time friend commented, “of all the advice on love, career and general life ‘read Lonesome Dove’ might be the best”. Cattle-drives aren’t just for boys.

  91. This book gives me the love to read

  92. I just finished What Alice Forgot and would recommend it. It was an entertaining, easy read. Now I’m starting Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio and its much more sad so far, but keeps your interest.

    • I read Blackberry Winter and it is so great! I also liked The Violets of March and The Bungalow by Sarah Jio. So far, The Bungalow is my favorite book by her. They are page turners!

  93. The Dovekeepers By Alice Hoffman. A book that completely transports you. Its about 4 different women during Biblical times, and how their lives intertwine.

  94. How fortuitous! I left a comment yesterday because Im in the middle of a great book by Nora Ephron. Its an easy read, nice before bedtime. It’s called “Heartburn” – about a food critic whose seven months pregnant when her husband cheats on her. Its not a tragedy though, its a comedy, as only Nora can spin it. Recipes and satire ensue…

    let me know if you get into it! I think you’d really love it.

  95. It’s by no means a new book, but I just read “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury. It’s (mainly) about a young boy’s summer in his small town (not sci-fi at all, despite being by Ray Bradbury). The prose is lovely, and I found the book really touching and beautiful.