Only two comics made the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014 list, the ubiquitous Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast and Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich. However, the piece did include cute comics style illos by sometime cartoonist Jon McNaught (above). And also, books without pictures can make for good reading. Check out the whole list—you may find something that catches your fancy.

Actually the Ulinich book is an interesting choice—it’s a novel about a woman who ends a 15-year marriage and has to learn about dating again while raising two kids. In other words…it’s literary fiction in comics form. (Ulinich’s previous book was the prose only Petropolis.) These sorts of books when put out by mainstream publishers haven’t found a lot of purchase—but that frontier too is inching forward.


  1. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is actually all-around excellent as comics and (auto)biography, but you’re right that the Times is playing it safe here with picks that come closest to literary texts.

  2. “Lena Finkle’s” was promoted at the recent American Library Association conference in Vegas.

    I remember it, not because of the unsual subject matter, but that it was published by Penguin, a latecomer among major publishers to the world of graphic novels. (Although, they did publish some interesting titles during the Graphic Novel Infection of the late 80s.

    What’s next from InkLit?

  3. It’s great to see the NYT continue the push. There are some great lovers of comics on staff at this paper and others around the country. When one puts a toe into the waters, the rest see the opportunity to support. Granted, there were a TON of more great books this year but these were excellent choices. It is easier for papers like the NYT to pick literary titles and I’m ok with that because it encourages more literary works from the comics creators. Bonus is that it also encourages houses like Penquin to publish more great books.
    All in good time…

  4. Actually, it’s only in the past three or four years that the year-end “best of” lists started to look different from one another. Saying the NYT “picks safe” is another reflection of just how many choices there are and how individual tastes can start to form per reader. Just about everyone is a fan of movies, so it then comes down to what are the type of films you prefer to go see, instead of “here’s the best stuff, go at it.”

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