Fiction: Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
In the city that boasts its own comic book month, Portland’s annual Stumptown Comics Fest offers an array of comics books, graphic novels, and art books made by local and national artists. One of recent years’ standout titles is the graphic novel, Bookhunter by Jason Shiga, a book written with a wink and nod to all book and library lovers. Set in 1972, the book begins with Special Agent Bay and his Library Police/SWAT team on an undercover mission to find the culprits behind the theft of several rare books. It is not long before we find the extremes Agent Bay is willing to go to recover a stolen book – risking even his own life to ensure books are returned to their rightful owners. The book is a sepia-toned gem, written with librarians in mind. Cataloguers will appreciate Shiga’s use of Dewey digits and cutters, and terms such as incunabula, bone folder, hinge strips, and Caxton will make rare book enthusiasts, archivists, and book binders giddy with joy.
Fans of Bookhunter‘s creative action scenes, including high-speed book cart chases and battle sequences involving card catalogues and books as weapons may also enjoy Hideyuki Kurata’s Read or Die. This popular manga tells the story of Yomiko Readman, a superhuman library agent who has the ability to control and shape paper into weapons and other objects. Both books are fast-paced reads that will have readers looking at libraries in a thrilling new light!
Nonfiction: The Lost City of Z by David Grann
In 1925, acclaimed British explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett led a highly publicized expedition into the Brazilian Amazon in search of the remnants of a lost city simply known as Z, said to have held riches on par with the kingdom of El Dorado. Along with him he took his 22 year old son Jack and Jack’s long time friend Raleigh Rimmell. After a month of traveling Fawcett sent word back to his wife that he was about to enter into unexplored territory. It was to be the last communication ever sent by Fawcett who, along with Jack and Raleigh, was never heard from again.
David Grann’s The Lost City of Z gives a riveting account of Fawcett the fearless explorer, his rivals, and those who set out to discover the mystery behind his disappearance, including author Grann himself. Filled with mystery and mysticism, danger and international intrigue (really!), it is no wonder that Fawcett’s South American exploits have been the inspiration for the setting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as well as the popular Indiana Jones character. For further exploration on Percy Fawcett and the Lost City of Z see PBS’s Secrets of the Dead: Lost in the Amazon. Or for another harrowing tale of real-life adventure set in the Antarctic be sure check out Alfred Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.