Books + Comics

Booooooks

Spooky reads.

A selection of books, comics, and zines, new and old, about secrets and other scary stuff.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Agatha Christie
1926, William Collins & Sons; published today by HarperCollins

Maybe you think Agatha Christie is for old ladies, or for 12-year-olds, and she might be. But Agatha Christie is also a genius. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first book I ever read with an unreliable narrator, and the effect was like having someone rip the book out of my hands and turn the pages into a thousand origami cranes, all of which suddenly came to life and began flying around the room—I was amazed. The book is a mystery, of course, but the real secret is that it subverts your expectations of what a mystery should be. Make yourself a cup of tea, get under the covers (preferably with a cat snoring nearby), and devour the whole thing in one sitting. —Emma S.

Persepolis
Marjane Satrapi
2000, Pantheon

Persepolis is Satrapi’s graphic memoir of growing up in Iran under the Islamic Revolution. She takes us through her childhood in beautifully imaginative black-and-white comic-strip images—recounting how, as a child, she secretly believed herself to be the last prophet and decreed to her grandmother that no old person should ever suffer (“it will simply be forbidden”); how her Marxist parents demonstrated on the streets every day and how a young, eager Marjane begged them to take her along; how she finally meets her uncle Anoosh after he’s released from prison, only to experience heartbreak when he’s arrested and executed for being a political dissenter; how she stands up to her fundamentalist teachers and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Satrapi shows us that the tiny minutiae of everyday life—parties, boys, friends, music, makeup, clothes—are just as important and meaningful as the big stuff—war, revolution, political repression—and in fact, all these things are inextricably entwined. Like when Marjane explains that exposing even one single strand of hair from her veil can be an act of rebellion. Or the black curtains her parents install in the living room to hide their secret parties from the neighbors and police. Or when her parents go on vacation to Turkey and smuggle strictly forbidden Iron Maiden and Kim Wilde posters into Iran for Marjane by sewing them into the lining of her father’s coat, and suddenly, it becomes obvious that love, the hugest of all emotions, can often be found in the smallest of gestures. —Jenny

Shade
Jeri Smith-Ready
2010, Simon Pulse

Sixteen year-old Aura’s world is a lot like ours…except for a mysterious event called the Shift. Anyone born after this point, including Aura, can see and communicate with ghosts—people who have either died suddenly or with unresolved business. Aura’s ghostly experiences have always been annoying, so she’d love to figure out what caused the Shift and reverse it—but then her rock-star boyfriend, Logan, dies and her gift becomes her only link to him. Add to the mix Aura’s new friend, Zachary, who has a gorgeous Scottish accent and a lot of secrets about the Shift, and you’ve got an incredibly tense blend of paranormal mystery, masterful world-building, romance, rock and roll, and a very honest depiction of grief that will keep you turning pages and running out to get Shift, the next book in the trilogy. —Stephanie

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
1999, MTV Books

happy 2 b sad
Natalya Lobanova and friends

The Ouija Interviews
Sarah Becan

You can buy happy 2 b sad at happy2bsad.tumblr.com, and The Ouija Interviews at Shortpants Press. (You can buy The Perks of Being a Wallflower pretty much anywhere.)

The Shock Doctrine
Naomi Klein
2007, Metropolitan; 2008, Picador

I’m not gonna lie—this 700-page paperback is no walk in the park, but most rewarding things in life aren’t (except walks in the park). It’s really readable for a book that’s about one of the most confusing topics known to humankind: the world economy. Backed by meticulous research, Klein explains how America has imposed “free market” policies in countries around the world, and the results? Multinational corporations and politicians make out like bandits, and the rest of us have to deal with shittier wages, shittier jobs, shittier costs of living, shittier benefits (healthcare isn’t a right, right?)—basically shittier everything. The Shock Doctrine claims that these policies are implemented after countries have been “shocked” by a major upheaval, like say war, or a terror attack, or a natural disaster. Once these countries are disoriented and vulnerable, corporations and politicians swoop in and pass radical capitalist economic reforms. An example: Remember the tsunami that struck Sri Lanka in 2004? When the waves receded, guess which international investor or foreign lender wanted to rebuild the fishing villages that had been destroyed by the tsunami? None! Instead the land was auctioned off to corporations, who swiftly built hideous beachfront resorts for tourists. And the money that these hotels make—how much of it do you think goes to the Sri Lankan people, to the fishermen who were forced out of their homes and their jobs? You probably already know the answer, but there are still more questions to be asked, and Naomi Klein is seriously asking all of them. (P.S. It’s only 589 pages if you ignore the endnotes! I did!) —Jenny

Imaginary Girls
Nova Ren Suma
2011, Dutton Juvenile

I’ve always wanted a big sister, particularly one like Chloe’s half-sister, Ruby, who is beautiful and brave and seems to have the entire world—or at least Olive, her small New York town—wrapped around her finger. Ruby, who practically raised Chloe because of their mother’s drinking problem, has always made Chloe feel safe and capable of doing anything—like diving deep into a town reservoir for a souvenir. Instead she finds the dead body of a classmate. A classmate who then comes back to life. What unfolds is a story of sisterhood and secrecy set in a nightmarish New England version of Weetzie Bat’s Los Angeles, full of delicious food, gorgeous imagery, and a very blurry line between reality and magic. —Stephanie

Epileptic
David B.
2005, Pantheon

Not to throw the word around lightly, but this graphic novel is GENIUS. Brilliantly translated from the French, David B.’s memoir opens in 1964, when he was a five-year-old boy named Pierre-François Beauchard living in a small town in France, and his older brother, Jean-Christophe, was first diagnosed with epilepsy. We follow his family as they search for a miracle cure for Jean-Christophe’s seizures. They try alternative medicine, macrobiotic communes, magnetic therapy, acupuncture. They encounter charlatans posing as mystics, losers pretending to be divine prophets, and divine poseurs who perform useless exorcisms, but nothing works and Jean-Christophe’s condition only worsens. David B.’s inner world is claustrophobic, obsessive, and magical. He visualizes his brother’s seizures as a dragon-like alligator (or an alligator-like dragon?) that wraps its infinitely long body around Jean-Christophe like a parasite. An ineffective macrobiotic guru is drawn as a striped cat. His own loneliness takes the form of twisted ghosts who follow him into the forest behind his house. This book is brave for laying bare the ugly emotions that we are all capable of feeling—like the moments of pure hatred we can summon for the people we love the most, or when loneliness takes up occupancy inside you for so long that it turns you callous, and eventually you wonder if you’ll ever let anyone in again? —Jenny

57 Comments

  • Marie October 13th, 2011 11:11 PM

    BEST VID EVER

    Perks used to be my FAVE FAVE book in my early 20′s. I’ve probably bought at least 5-10 copies in my life to give out to friends. I hope the movie doesn’t suck balls!

  • renata October 13th, 2011 11:17 PM

    For some reason, reading what you guys write makes me think you’re all really cool 30 year olds. Or something, even that would make zero sense. So listening to Tavi talk was werid/rewarding/relatable/made me feel better about my own ability to form a sentence without a backspace button, I don’t know.

    tl;dr: I like this.

  • Thepunkrocker October 13th, 2011 11:17 PM

    I like the videos better :) note to self: when tavi is lazy, she gets really funny. Wait. I guess she is always funny.

  • CariStereo October 13th, 2011 11:19 PM

    “The Secret History” is one of my all-time favorite books. I LOVE Donna Tartt’s writing style, and the story just draws you in immediately. Highly recommend!

  • Ali Fran October 13th, 2011 11:20 PM

    Because I’ve always wanted to know about Tavi’s mini wheat burps.

  • rebecca October 13th, 2011 11:25 PM

    Sort of disappointed that I couldn’t actually hear your parents conversing… How will I ever know if you’re really the “average teenage girl” you claim to be, Tavi?
    Also, I just read The Postman Always Rings Twice by James Cain (1934) and it was super dark and creepy and secret-y and awesome. It’s also short. Highly recommend.

    • Tavi October 14th, 2011 12:08 AM

      Recommendation taken! Sorry about the parents thing. I’ll have my personal assistant Lester write you up a memo on my customized stationary that confirms that I am, in fact, the Average Teenage Girl.

  • Chloe.Enthusiast October 13th, 2011 11:36 PM

    I love to read!!! Thanks for this :)
    p.s. Tavi, you are becoming really pretty nowadays & love the vid!

  • puffytoad October 14th, 2011 12:01 AM

    I read The Shock Doctrine! …uh, most of it.

  • Louise October 14th, 2011 12:02 AM

    A friend and I bought The Ouija Interviews together, very cool. Love, love, love Persepolis. I’ll have to check a few of these out on my next library trip.

    • Jenny October 14th, 2011 12:18 AM

      Ooh! If you love Persepolis, I feel like you will really love Epileptic! David B. was Marjane Satrapi’s mentor and teacher!

  • Tavi October 14th, 2011 12:12 AM

    wow, i totally pronounced stephen chboifsdfdjkfghkdfjy’s name wrong.

  • emilyelizabeth October 14th, 2011 12:26 AM

    i LOVED the perks of being a wallflower. i seriously just sat in my bed a cried for 5 minutes straight after i finished reading it.
    and The Secret History is one of my absolute favorites! it really draws you in and the ending was totally unexpected!!

  • Tessa October 14th, 2011 12:40 AM

    YES YES YES & YES. I LOVE me some ‘Perks’.
    I read it in English class my Junior Year of high school, re-read it years ago, and now it’s time to pick it up again (as soon as I’m done with Dorian Gray).

    I do a little tribute to its greatness;

    http://teafortessa.blogspot.com/2011/05/and-in-that-moment-i-swear-we-were.html

  • anastasia October 14th, 2011 12:56 AM

    Oh! Oh! Another book that’s about secrets and spookiness and weird friendships and, if it were a movie, would totally be something featured on Rookie (I hope, anyway): Bliss by Lauren Myracle!! It’s even set in the late 1960s~

  • Lil October 14th, 2011 12:56 AM

    Aw, I got rejected from the Happy 2 B Sad zine, but Natalya’s pretty great.

  • martina October 14th, 2011 12:59 AM

    book lists are my favorite things ♡♡
    The Secret History is so wonderful and enthralling, i love it a lot. also if you haven’t read it, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is really perfectly creepy, i highly recommend it.

  • October 14th, 2011 1:21 AM

    I don’t think I could have gotten through secondary school without Agatha Christie.

    Actually, I was thinking about throwing out the ones I own – but your review has rekindled my interest! So thanks, Emma S :-)

  • October 14th, 2011 1:33 AM

    P.S My response to the reviewer with the gastro-intestinal problem is in tweet form.

  • StreetLegalSpaceship October 14th, 2011 2:22 AM

    Everyone should also check out ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole. The imagery alone make it one of my favorite novels of all time. There is dark and interesting story behind it also. Toole completed it and tried to get it published several times, and after several rejections, he committed suicide. A decade later his mother was able to get it published, and it won the Pulitzer in 1981. It is an easy read, and totally worth the time.

  • Terry October 14th, 2011 2:40 AM

    “The Secret History” is an amazing novel, definitely on top of my “creepy yet fascinating” books. I would also add something I’ve recently read (and I’ve decided to choose as summer reading for my students) which deals with real mysteries and the process of growing up: “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman. Stereotypical, maybe, but such a deep and meaningful story.

  • littleDani October 14th, 2011 3:00 AM

    It’s weird, this is the first time I’ve watched a video with Tavi in it, and that’s exactly how I imagined her voice to sound but at the same time not really. I’m for sure going to check out some of these books, I really only read Graphic Novels(Persepolis ftw!) and Star Wars Extended Universe books ;D

  • oriana October 14th, 2011 3:10 AM

    hahah tavi you’re cute, and i agree about the perks of being a wallflower. i read it freshman year and i liked it a lot since i hated school and i myself am a wallflower (that sounds so dramatic but it was really just quite boring)

  • noodles. October 14th, 2011 4:41 AM

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is fantastic. Love these reviews :)

  • Marguerite October 14th, 2011 5:49 AM

    “Theres a cat! Oh my God!” -ur the best Tavi

  • Naomi October 14th, 2011 5:51 AM

    my favourite agatha christie is the abc murders. SO good. highly recommended.

  • I.ila October 14th, 2011 7:12 AM

    Roger Ackroyd is genius. Read it!!!!

  • giov October 14th, 2011 7:41 AM

    I am really into graphic novels (hate the term though) and Epileptic is an absolute masterpiece. If you’re into that kind of style Blankets by Craig Thompson is fucking amazing as well. And so many others.

  • glitterzombie October 14th, 2011 8:01 AM

    I want read all of them…!
    Do you know Tim Burton? He is awesome!

  • girlontap October 14th, 2011 8:09 AM

    The Secret History is my favourite book of all time: if you read it and like it, try Bret Easton Ellis’s books (Less Than Zero is his first and, in my opinion, greatest) because he definitely influenced Tartt’s style. Also Bret Easton Ellis is the master of 80s pop culture/disillusionment fiction.

  • lindsaysc October 14th, 2011 9:48 AM

    loved loved LOVED The Secret History & Imaginary Girls & Perks & Persepolis. For an eerie new graphic novel about a teen who has a secret ghost friend/enemy, read ANYA’S GHOST. Check out a review here: http://boingboing.net/2011/04/06/anyas-ghost-sweet-an.html

  • oriGINAlity95 October 14th, 2011 9:55 AM

    I just finished reading an Agatha Christie book. LOVE THEM! I’m also not a 12-year-old or a grandma.

  • ahinoam October 14th, 2011 10:49 AM

    The perks of being a wallflower!

  • Anna F. October 14th, 2011 1:51 PM

    If you want a spooky read, might I recommend House of Leaves? It’s a bit gimmicky at times but it WILL get in your head.

  • katrina October 14th, 2011 1:56 PM

    literally laughed out loud when you said you didn’t enjoy 8th grade or middle school besides when you were sleeping.

    Also, I’ve been meaning to read Persepolis since I happened upon it in my textbook for one of my cool college classes~*~ so thank you for bringing it to my attention again! It’s now on my list to check out from the library asap

  • Cosmo Beatrix October 14th, 2011 4:08 PM

    Tavi you should totally get BABY BANGS! please, and high ponytails you will be everything i cannot get away with and be totally cool with it!

  • Besu October 14th, 2011 4:20 PM

    Reading this I was so excited I can’t wait to read all of these books YEAH!!!!

  • Nomi October 14th, 2011 4:21 PM

    AGATHA
    CHRISTIE
    OML
    I LOVE HER SO MUCH
    I HAVE LIKE 20 OF HER BOOKS
    the one you recommended is VERY GOOD but evidently its one of her more controversial twist endings if you read it you’ll see why!

  • Maialuna October 14th, 2011 4:56 PM

    Persepolis, Maus, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and The Sandman are the BEST GRAPHIC NOVELS EVER. Epileptic sounds amazing.

  • Whatsername October 14th, 2011 5:16 PM

    I’m a MAAAJOR Agatha Christie fanatic. I love the fact that she has so many books out I feel like I’ll never run out. I have this, like, unhealthy obsession with murder mysteries, it’s weird.

  • Maddy October 14th, 2011 5:23 PM

    Also for Agatha Christie And Then There Were None. But Roger Ackroyd is better. I will read Persepolis and Epileptic!

  • Elizabeth October 14th, 2011 6:22 PM

    PERKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That’s a basic summation of my thoughts whenever it’s mentioned. Exclamation points galore.

  • Elizabeth October 14th, 2011 6:23 PM

    Also, Looking For Alaska is beautiful and I recommend it as a great coming-of-age book dealing with pranks and loss and love and awkward blow jobs and secrets and labyrinths and Great Perhapses and terrible wine and boarding school and friends and evil swans.

  • orangedesperado October 14th, 2011 8:08 PM

    I highly recommend “Foxfire” by Joyce Carol Oates about a 50′s girl gang that enacts vigilante justice. The movie Foxfire is shocking horrible, so avoid it, however.

    • Anaheed October 14th, 2011 8:13 PM

      I love that horrible movie! Angelina Jolie! Jenny Shimizu! Jenny Lewis! I actually own it on DVD and I highly recommend it for when you’re sick or alone or on your period or other times when you crave dumb and satisfying entertainment.

  • Amber Dawn October 14th, 2011 9:01 PM

    Persepolis is one of the best books in the world ever. I saw Satrapi speak in Portland a few years ago and she was so funny and smart.. just totally awesome. Ok, fangirl moment over.

  • Maddy October 14th, 2011 9:08 PM

    Also I thought you might want to know that even though this is tagged as books and comics, the category sidebar doesn’t come up with anything.

  • madpie October 15th, 2011 12:17 PM

    I live in Pittsburgh and the writer has said Perks was set at my high school. However when they came to film the arse-hats that are our administration (lots of “r”s!) vetoed the filming since theres sex and drugs in the book (none of which occur in my high school. ever)

    just a fun fact

  • Yanna October 16th, 2011 7:14 AM

    Oh Tavi, I just fell in love with you a little more. Usually hearing someones voice makes me dislike them a little, because most of the people I “know” from the Internet say stupid things and have strange voices, so I hesitated but then decided to watch your video anyway. And look, your voice sounds amazing and you say pretty cool things! So yeah, I’m gonna keep creepin’ around, ’cause I like you even more now and this site is really awesome.

  • indigosunday October 16th, 2011 2:15 PM

    I really want to read the Perks of Being a Wallflower and Imaginary Girls

    indigosunday.blogspot.com

  • junebuglove October 16th, 2011 2:21 PM

    My eight grade year was the exact same way, and I am going to read Perks.

  • SammyBrrr October 16th, 2011 5:35 PM

    Am I the only person on this entire planet that didn’t enjoy The Perks of Being a Wallflower?! That book thoroughly pissed me off! Maybe I need to read it again, but seriously? I can’t be the only person who doesn’t like it.

  • natasha October 16th, 2011 7:25 PM

    I’m too lazy to read a lot of the times I actually plan to read stuff. So I prefer having people talk at me, and, um, basically I didn’t read anything here, but I watched the video. I appreciate videos, especially this one, I like Tavi :)

  • kelsey October 16th, 2011 11:37 PM

    Dude! I WORSHIP Agatha Christie. I have an Agatha Christie (/Dorothy Sayers) shrine in my room. *Smirky, pedantic nod* You guys chose a good one.

  • hallecat October 17th, 2011 5:17 PM

    LITTLE STRANGER is seriously the creepiest book I’ve read in years. READ IT READ IT.

  • tremulously October 23rd, 2011 12:57 AM

    I recently went to Lev Grossman’s reading and signing of The Magician King (sequel to the Magicians). Both are wonderful books, but the point is is that he really loves Donna Tartt’s Secret History and I’m so excited to read it and I’m glad it was reviewed here. I didn’t actually read the review because I’m deathly afraid of spoilers, but I’m still glad about it. PS I think Lev thought I suffered from sort of disorder because I just panicked and ogled him from behind my hair and looked terrified as he signed my book. :( Also, read The Magicians, but ESPECIALLY read The Magician King. It stars my favorite teen witch of all time, and she plays the oboe.

  • mydeadhamster October 23rd, 2011 6:01 PM

    I recommend Freaky Green Eyes by Carol Joyce Oates.