Bryan Caplan  

Great Graphic Novels I've Been Reading

If You Want Peace, Work for ??... Uncle Jonathan Wants You...
  • Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, two autobiographical books by Guy Delisle. Pyongyang will blow you away - especially when you realize that this is the most visual story about North Korea that a human being can tell and survive.

  • Clyde Fans by Seth (author of Wimbledon Green). Curious about the economic history of the Canadian electric fan industry? You will be while you're reading this book. On a superficial reading, this is a standard literary bemoaning of the creative destruction of the market - air conditioning destroys the electric fan industry. But its first-person perspective on the life of a travelling salesman suggests a different lesson to me: over time, the market has not only come to provide more satisfying products, but also more satisfying occupations.

  • A bundle of loaners from Tim Kane, including the excellent Solstice and Next Men.

  • How's this for geeky? Confessions of a Blabbermouth, a graphic novel about a blogger.

P.S. Tyler Cowen recently asked me, "What's so great about graphic novels?" My main answer: They give me a lot more content per hour than "real" novels. Tolstoy really does have stories that require hundreds of hours to tell. But as far as I'm concerned, most novels take dozens of hours to tell two-hour stories. The writers of graphic novels have a higher level of self-awareness, so they keep it short and sweet.

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COMMENTS (7 to date)
john jansen writes:

I read Tolstoy's War and Peace several years ago and it was phenomenal.I can not reccomend it highly enough. i am a history junkie and without my knowledge i subscribed to the Great Man theory of history. Tolstoy points out the fallacy in that theory and shows that we are all caught up in history's grand arc.
The book is also a wonderful cultural and social history of Russia in the Napoleonic era. Yes,it is quite long but the prose and detail which he offers are moving and necessary.
The energy and discpline that you expend reading this will pay huge dividends.

dearieme writes:

A/C may be just the thing for very hot, humid summers, but in my experience fans are fine in hot, dry summers (Mediterranean climate) and British summers (the climate they have in heaven).

planetheidi writes:

Yay for graphic novels. Now about web-based graphic novels?

Kat writes:

Hm. Interesting that you think graphic novels give you more content per hour -- I think they give less, which is why I don't like them as much. For the same reason, I generally only watch movies or TV as part of a social outing. I like standard novels (though I would agree many are twice as long as they ought to be). And my favorite comic is all stick figures. I suppose I don't care for visual storytelling very much!

Chris writes:

I am currently living in Shenzhen and Delisle's book cannot be more inaccurate.

It's not that smoggy, the people aren't that backward, and the authoritarian government not all that noticeable. I don't see how someone can be so lonely during their time in Shenzhen; as a Westerner people are always friendly and want to talk to you. But then again, maybe that's a function of the fact that some people spend months in a place, pen a novel describing it, but don't bother learning the local language.

John Fast writes:

Where do roleplaying games fit on this scale?

Zubon writes:

I fully support rating books by benefit-cost analysis of the time they take. If you write 1000 pages, you better need 1000 pages.

I can't say that I had much use for Confessions of a Blabbermouth.

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