Thursday Thoughts: Two non-kidlit summer reads!
I'm busy this week and next, so today's Thursday Thoughts will be brief and I will not be posting next Thursday at all! (I'll be back Thursday the 29th, and my Monday reviews will be unaffected.)
Today I'd like to briefly touch on two books I've had the chance to read over the past few months. Both have been fun, but neither really qualifies as a kidlit book like those I normally review, so I've been hesitant to post about them. But I figured I'd take a few minutes today to give them the attention they deserve!
Displacement: A Travelogue
Written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley
Lucy Knisley is well-known for her graphic memoirs and travelogues, like Relish: My Life in the Kitchen (which I read and loved last year!), and this book is one of her earlier ones. When Knisley's 90-year-old grandparents (of whom her grandmother is suffering from dementia) decide to go on a cruise with a large group of senior citizens, Knisley decides to go along with them to make sure her grandparents stay safe. As might be expected, things go somewhat disastrously, with the trip showcasing Knisley's somewhat-strained relationship with her grandmother as well as the unpleasantness of seeing those you love grow older. But even as Knisley deals with her grandparents and the general aggravations of traveling, she takes the time to think about and connect with those she loves, and she even reads and excerpts her grandfather's war diary from his time in the Air Force to show how her grandparents are more than just what she sees on this chaotic cruise. Displacement definitely deals with some heavy topics, like dementia and caring for aging relatives, and I was impressed by Knisley's insight into some of these topics. But she also injects quite a bit of levity into the book with entertaining captions, amusing facial expressions, and generally relatable frustration about life and traveling. The book feels a bit more disjointed than Relish because it has a lot of different little cartoons stuck together, rather than comic panels arranged into a full story, and I also felt like things got a bit pedantic at times (not to mention one page that I recall being fatphobic). But overall, Displacement is an immensely relatable story that brings a surprising amount of fun and entertainment to some difficult topics!
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Written and illustrated by Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe, a former roboticist at NASA, puts his smarts and love of cartooning to good use with this mostly-pointless but highly-entertaining book! Over the years, Munroe allowed people to submit ridiculous hypothetical questions for him to answer online, like "What would happen if you were to gather a mole [unit of measurement] of moles [small furry critter] in one place?" Munroe answered these questions scientifically yet humorously, accompanied by his entertaining stick-figure illustrations, and he compiled a selection of his answers into this entertaining book for us all to enjoy! Although some answers are a bit subpar, the vast majority of Munroe's multi-page responses are both hilarious to read and actually informative about some interesting aspects of science! And Munroe can spin even the less-creative questions into some surprisingly interesting answers with just a few creative liberties. I'm kind of blanking on what else to say that wouldn't just be me quoting more of the hypothetical questions, so I'll just say that this fun mix of science and humor is summer fun for pretty much all ages!
So that's what I've got today! As I mentioned, I'll be skipping Thursday Thoughts next week and returning on the 29th, but my Monday reviews will be unaffected. Let me know if either of these books sound fun to you, and stay tuned for more full-bookshelf fun!