The Umbrella Academy, Volumes 1&2, Gerard Way (2007)
Maybe you’ve had enough apocalyptic imagery in real life recently, but if you’re like me and there is always room for more in fiction, The Umbrella Academy, captivating in both story and illustration, is well worth the read. Author Gerard Way creates a world enough like our own to be recognizable, but with dark and fantastic twists and turns. While reading I was reminded of some of the Batman comics I’ve picked up before, but instead of one lovable anti-hero there are at least six– each one dealing with their past traumas and current power (and therefore responsibility) in a uniquely noxious way. Also, add time travel. I began reading the series because I enjoyed the Netflix show so much, but the books and the show create drama in very different ways, and I would recommend to anyone that they watch the show first rather than begin with the source material. Having read the first two volumes, I would recommend these to middle schoolers and up so long as illustrated gore wouldn’t bug them. The show is rated TV-14.
The Joy of Music, Leonard Bernstein (1959)
Leonard Bernstein was an extremely gifted person in many ways. One such gift was his ability to speak, and write, about music in a way that is both highly accessible to the musical beginner, and still highly engaging to the trained musician. While The Joy of Music contains the written scripts form his 1950s television Omnibus series which heavily use the written scores of the music, the majority of those telecasts are in full on YouTube, where those unfamiliar with musical notation can hear the music rather than read it. With that in mind, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in classical music, and any musician looking for a new perspective on topics in music they may already be familiar with. -Kat Wahl, writer