I had a very hard time putting together this list of five books to keep you warm during the holidays. In truth, this was no misfortune: I love books. In fact, it is possible I dallied in writing this post because it provided the finest of excuses to look at so many books and, inevitably, toss a few into a virtual shopping cart. Here are some suggestions to make your holidays a bit brighter, tastier and warmer.
1. Sometimes You Just Need Paper
The premise behind Chris Ware’s Building Stories is clever. It’s a book, or rather a graphic novel, that is presented in a box containing fourteen booklets. Reading Building Stories requires you literally to “construct” the stories of a lonely florist and a former art student with a prosthetic leg who lives on the third floor (that is a story) of an aging Chicago triplex, as well as the travails of the building’s other residents.
All this is somewhat gimmicky but Ware, whose cartoons have appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker, pulls it off. Every detail is carefully attended to, with extra information about the characters depicted on the panels of the box. There is even a bee who happens to get caught inside when a window is shut; he ends up with his own comic strip, “Branford, the Best Bee in the World” in which he (as do so many animals in so many comics, like Snoopy) suffers all the travails of loneliness, love and loss of humans (including those in Building Stories).
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