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Graphic Novels and Plant Jungles during Quarantine, by Gabriella Shriner

Gabriella Shriner cultivates her garden of books.This post is part of 805 Lit + Art’s “My Home Library” blog series that features writers and artists enjoying their home libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic. 805 is proudly published by the Manatee County Public Library System, and we hope this series will help people show off their home libraries, find comfort in books, and feel a connection to the library during this difficult time.


The warm scarlet light of late evening slants into the living room through the blinds. Warm Arizona sunset paints the tall bookshelf of dark brown wood, bathes the pilea, dracaena, chlorophytum, in brightness. I think it’s my favorite in our apartment, for this fleeting light – and for perfectly housing my most urgent TBR, including graphic novels and comics, a collection of which I am proud, and which grows slowly, but surely.

For so many of them, there are stories, and reasons–I only really starting reading comics in earnest a couple years ago, when I started working in teen services at a public library in New Jersey, responsible for the graphic novels collection there. My entire life, I had friends who urged me to read comics and manga, and for some reason that job and the teens I got to know there, meant that it was finally “the right time,” and I started to devour graphic novels, in bits first and then whole series. I reviewed Land of the Sons for a literary magazine, happened upon the next volume of Paper Girls I needed at The Strand’s kiosk outside Central Park before we moved, and others I would pick up while working at the library, intrigued by genres and covers and the eye-catching illustrations inside.


The bookshelf in the other room of our apartment, one we fondly and somewhat ironically refer to as the office, is overshadowed by a variegated pothos. Its structure is decidedly more utilitarian, with books on shelves first by genre, then arranged alphabetically by author’s last name, then by title or series (from the top shelf down):


- Literary, Historical and Surrealist fiction (with some Sci-Fi, including Jeff VanderMeer and ARCs)


- Science Fiction (Star Wars, an extra book pile)


- Mystery, Crime and Thriller (black and white photo of a bar, in a vintage frame)


- Fantasy (some knick-knacks, decorative bottles of mead for effect near those tomes by George R. R. Martin)


- Stephen King, includes collected stories and The Dark Tower series (I’m not kidding, it’s the entire bottom shelf)


As a recent graduate with my Master's in Library and Information Science (MLIS), I love and strive for the organization and display of books, even at home. The thematic connections between genre and items on this shelf satisfies a deep part of me. Still, I drift to the other shelf and that comparative chaos, including comics and graphic novels which entertain, inspire and challenge me. My partner and I buy a lot of books, used and new, from local bookstores, so I am not at all concerned about quantity of reading material at hand.

Plus, I have been working to make a greater habit of listening to some titles on audio, borrowed digitally through the local library. On that digital shelf, I have far more titles bookmarked and on hold than TBR. Lately, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is what I have been listening to while working on my latest knitting project. It can sometimes be so easy to forget how much we enjoy listening to stories told aloud.


I didn’t mention how this first shelf has a long gash on the back-middle shelf—it happened while we were moving from New Jersey, last summer. I also didn’t mention that it contains some of my favorites–The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden and the main protagonist Vasya’s passion and bravery; Papergirls and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, comics so vibrant and moving with tales of time travel, interplanetary war, and love. And all the bright, inviting volumes with spines I’ve yet to crack, their series with characters, ideas, and worlds as yet absorbed, nestled quietly on shelves with barely slivers of spaces, for future books waiting to be discovered.


Gabriella Shriner earned her MLIS degree from Rutgers University. She is from New Jersey but moved to Tucson, AZ last summer. She was an intern at the Pima County Public Library, and hopes to soon be a librarian in a school or public library.


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