Let’s be honest, nonfiction is not everyone’s cup of tea. But what if you learnt that there was an interesting way to read this genre – in the form of a graphic novel? Nonfiction graphic novels do exist, making hardcore bibliophiles swoon with their beautiful illustrations and story line.

From graphic novels that talk about the authors of the Beat movement to an illustrated book on grammar, here’s a list that will make you rethink your stance on nonfiction. This list includes the graphic memoir of Stan Lee, the artistic endeavours of Vincent Van Gogh, the life of Babasaheb Ambedkar, and so much more.  


Tetris: The Games People Play

Brian “Box” Brown

Tetris is one of the most well-known classic video games, but its history is more complicated and bizarre than one might anticipate. Alexey Pajintov developed this game while creating software for the Soviet government, and it was an instant hit. The game was then smuggled out of Russia, causing a war over its ownership rights. With illustrations in the famous boxy style of the game, Brian “Box” Brown seeks to untangle the complexity of Tetris’ history, and give an insightful view into this beloved video game.

Buy it here.


Fun Home

Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel is popularly known for the Bechdel Test, a test that measures whether a work of fiction features at least two women who have a conversation with each other on a topic other than a man. Fun Home is Bechdel’s graphic memoir that talks about her life growing up in a funeral home in rural Pennsylvania along with her father. Her father, a high school teacher and a distant parent, is also a closeted homosexual, and involved with his male students and the family babysitter. Bechdel tries to make sense of why her father was like that, and her constant attempts to gain his love. Funny and heart-breaking, this graphic novel is a must-read, and has also been adapted into a Tony-winning Broadway musical.

Buy it here.  


Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea

Guy Delisle & Helge Dascher (Tr.)

Guy Delisle, a cartoonist, was allowed to accompany his wife for two months in North Korea’s capital city. Without any camera, or permission to smuggle out photographs, Delisle relied on his artistic skills to capture the reality of North Korea and its people.  In a place permeating with propaganda and a one-party government, Delisle observed the daily occurrences in the country, the many moods of the government, and the various architectural monuments that reflected the political state of the country. The guy who tried to smuggle 1984 into North Korea and the author of the Burma Chronicles and Shenzen: A Travelogue From China, Delisle’s observations are fascinating to view in graphic form.

Buy it here.


The Beats: A Graphic History

Harvey Pekar (Author), Paul Buhle (Ed.) & Ed Piskor (Illus.)

Authors from the Beat movement had an enormous impact on the literary community, with their creativity and their determination to reject materialism. For this, authors like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Mary Joan DeFeo need to have their stories told, and Harvey Pekar does that flawlessly. The Beats: A Graphic History combines biography, criticism and literary readings from the Beat movement, while also bringing the lesser-known Beat authors into the light. Delving into the mental illnesses faced by the authors of the movement, this graphic novel is a keeper.

Buy it here.


The Elements Of Style (Illustrated)

William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White (Authors), Maira Kalman (Illus.)

Every grammar fanatic must have gone through The Elements Of Style at least once, with its practical advice for improving grammar and the basics of the English language. Illustrator Maria Kalman has taken this classic and added in her own whimsical illustrations to add fun to the otherwise simple style guide. A must-have for any collector or editor, The Elements Of Style (Illustrated) is an impressive nonfiction graphic novel.

Buy it here.


Good Talk

Mira Jacob

Good Talk, a graphic memoir inspired by Mira Jacob’s BuzzFeed article, 37 Difficult Questions From My Mixed-Raced Son, is simultaneously funny and heart-breaking. Jacob’s son, a six-year-old half-Jewish half-Indian Michael Jackson fan, asks questions like Is it bad to be brown?’and ‘Are white people afraid of brown people?’, which leads to Jacob pondering what it is like to be brown in America, and the impact it has had on her life. The book consists of conversations she’s had with her son and with her Trump-supporting in-laws about identity, interracial families, sexuality, love and everything in between. Good Talk is bold and vulnerable, and likely to resonate with you.

Buy it here.


Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir

Stan Lee & Peter David (Authors), Colleen Doran (Illus.)

Stan Lee needs no introduction, for the beloved comics creator has dazzled the world with his superheroes. In this graphic memoir, we discover Lee’s life story, from his poor childhood in Manhattan to his early days of writing comics. With beautiful illustrations of the comic master himself, we come to know of his time in the army during World War II, his steady rise in the world of comics, and how Marvel comics gained its fame. Funny, poignant and honest, Lee’s memoir is one every comic book fan should have.

Buy it here.


How To Have Feminist Sex: A Fairly Graphic Guide

Flo Perry

Feminism has been making waves globally, yet the concept of shame remains deeply embedded in most women. Very few women are open about accepting their desires and sex drives, choosing to concentrate more on body image issues. Worrying about bikini lines, tummies and their own insecurities, women sometimes forget what’s more important – being themselves in a world that won’t let them be. In How To have Feminist Sex, Flo Perry talks about everything, from fake orgasms to consent, and from kink to losing your virginity.

Buy it here.



Barbara Stok

Vincent Van Gogh is an enigma to artists all over the world, and an enormous source of inspiration to many. Artist and author Barbara Stok manages to capture Van Gogh’s artistic and personal life in the graphic memoir Vincent. She details Van Gogh’s creative period in Arles, Provence, where he fell in love with the scenery and dreamed of setting up a studio. But that was not meant to be, as his mental illness often left him confused. One famous incident involves Van Gogh cutting off his own ear, as he was saddened by his friend’s refusal to stay at the Yellow House. This, and many other awe-inspiring stories form a part of Vincent, and provide a glimpse into one of the world’s most inspiring artists.

Buy it here.


Trauma Is Really Strange

Steve Haines & Sophie Standing (Illus.)

We know what trauma is, but do we really understand it? Are we aware of exactly how trauma affects our body and mind? Can we comprehend how it can have an adverse effect on us, and how we need to try and power through it? In a scientific and insightful manner, Steve Haines’ graphic novel explains how bodies shut down during trauma. Using cat and mouse metaphors, elegant illustrations and humour, it explains the various techniques used to resolve trauma.

Buy it here.


Bhimayana: Experiences Of Untouchability 

Srividya Natarajan & S. Anand (Authors), Duragbai Vyam & Subhash Vyam (Illus.)

Bhimayana documents the incidents in the life of Bhimrao Ambedkar, a pioneering leader who campaigned against social discrimination and is known as the architect of the Indian constitution. Using the experiences of caste discrimination Ambedkar himself went through, this graphic novel tries to explore the evil of untouchability that India still faces. Using the Pardhan Gond art of patterns and natural imagery, the artists have gone over and beyond in trying to create a graphic novel that pays proper homage to one of India’s most prominent leaders.

Buy it here.

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she’s not sleeping or eating, you’ll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it’s best not to approach her before she’s had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here