Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for their Rights

If you’re looking for a graphic history (aka “comic book style”) book that explains the fight for women’s rights, Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists by Mikki Kendall and illustrated by A D’Amico, is the book. 

The plot entails a class of young women, who disagree with what the women’s movement is, receiving a tour through history from a purple artificial intelligence. 

They cover historical figures from multiple countries, as well as an outline of different systems of rights in different places and times. 

They cover suffrage, equal rights, and how women’s rights movements intersect with minority rights, the labor movement, white supremacy, child labor laws, eugenics, misogyny, the civil rights movement, LGTBQIA rights movements, and many other important points in history. 

I think Fredrick Douglass might be the only man mentioned by name. 

They also cover historical activist figures you may not hear about elsewhere — especially Black, Native American, and Indian folks. I learned more names in this book than I did in 12 years of education. (Admittedly, that education was in the 80s and 90s. Hopefully we’ve come a ways since.)

Because it’s a survey more than a textbook, most of what you get is a name and maybe two paragraphs about a person or an event. It’s enough to pique interest and send the reader back to the library. (It’s also probably a good “pick one person from the book to do a report on” resource for teachers.)

I see this book making a place for itself on bookshelves for historians young and old, women who want to know they’re not fighting alone, and the home of anyone who wants to better understand how women fit into the history of the human race.

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher is a young-adult-ish or maybe middle-reader book about a minor mage, a fair amount of murder and gristly stuff, and a sarcastic armadillo. 

I love it. 

The author is worried it is not a children’s book but it’s exactly the kind of horror fantasy I devoured and tried to write in my preteen years. And I turned out all right as far as I can tell. 

Plus cloud sheep. 

Worth the read.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

If you’re a botanist, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben is probably going to simplify things in irritating ways. It may anthropomorphize trees more than you’re comfortable with. It refers to trees “thinking”, which some botanists are going to agree with and others are going to be uncomfortable with because the term “thinking” makes it to easy for our primate brains to think that the experience of being a tree is closer to the experience of being a primate than it actually is. If you are determined to see faults in the writing here, as with all science writing, you’re going to find them.

On the other hand, if you’re the non-biologist who thinks trees are things that grow in the yard and fall on the house, well, this book is likely to very much change your view on trees. It certainly changed my view of trees, forests, sustainability, trees’ impacts on climate change, and a whole bunch of other misconceptions that I had.

Trees are social plants. They communicate. They protect and feed their young. Their lives are long, but also fragile. They get thirsty, they get hungry, they get sleep deprivation. (Now I know why my potted trees always died!) They rely deeply on the microorganisms that live in good soil, and they can’t just be dumped anyplace and expected to grow. They’ll rebuild both the soil and the air if given the opportunity, but they do both of those tasks best when they’re allowed to live in communities of their own creation.

This book made me want to live a thousand years so I’d have the opportunity to buy a plot of land and start a forest. It made me want to go outside and apologize to the ash tree I’ve been pruning violently for years. It made me want to plant more trees, walk in the forest, and think about life from a non-mammal point of view, however narrow and inaccurate my perception of that point of view might be.

Pop Culture: Building a Better Tomorrow by Avoiding Today by Dave Kellett

The Sheldon series of comics features a young boy who accidentally became a millionaire with a dot-com. He lives with his grandfather, a talking duck, a squeeing lizard, and a farty pug.

He, like the author Dave Kellett, is a total nerd.

We know they’re nerds because Pop Culture! is 237 pages long and is wholly made up of comics about pop culture nerdery — as many as 3 per page. It contains sections like “Star Trek”, “Star Wars”, “Superheroes”, and “Nerdery of all types”.

Now, as I am also a total nerd, I enjoyed every single bit of this book — but be forewarned, it is not like the standard Sheldon collections where you get story arc after story arc merging together. It is more like Pugs: God’s Little Weirdos in that it collects all of the comics on this particular topic and puts them together.

So this book is light on the story arcs. (Pugs was, surprisingly, not as light.)

But you’ll still laugh your tail off.

And if you’re new to the comic, or just want some light humor without lots of plot, this is a great read.

Herding Cats: A Sarah’s Scribbles collection by Sarah Andersen

The first half of Herding Cats, A Sarah’s Scribbles collection is filled with Sarah’s comics and they’re so good I’m already threatening to send it to a friend.

The second half I didn’t expect at all: it’s a well-written explanation of what it’s like to be an artist on the internet in 2019 and how crazy-ass and required the internet is. (Said explanation has comics illustrating the main points, which is awesome.)

I’m definitely not a millennial, but I’ve seen everything that Sarah talks about on the web and it’s all true. If you want to give good advice to someone young who wants to be an artist (or writer or maker of any sort) and also wants to occasionally put those things somewhere that other people can see them, you can’t do much better than this primer on what to expect.