Craig Graziano

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half explores artist Allie Brosh's almighty id with a kind of courageousness usually reserved for walking on hot coals or taunting killer bees. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Brosh's book features anecdotes and musings from her life, complemented by pictures drawn with a basic paint program. 

Sheer audacity is one of Brosh's best assets. Her stories are bold examinations of what she fears most in life and how these anxieties form her identity. 

King Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork by Frank Portman

If King Dork's cover seems vaguely familiar, that's because it looks like a defaced copy of The Catcher in the Rye. The title and its author Frank Portman are scrawled in ballpoint pen with a blatant disregard for the granddaddy of all coming-of-age novels.

This sums up how Tom Henderson feels about Salinger's classic novel. He notices a Catcher cult amongst most adults, who sing the praises of the book changing their lives. Tom thinks all of this is, to borrow a phrase from Holden Caulfield, "phony," but a particular copy of the book is about to turn his world upside down and inside out.

Great Podcasts for Life-Long Learning

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

When I can't get my audio learning fix from our many Modern Scholar courses, I turn to podcasts. Podcasts are audio or video-based shows available for download, streaming, or online subscription. Many of them regularly update in weekly or monthly installments, so there is almost always a new episode to catch up on or many past installments to explore.

On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne and Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne and Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

On a Beam of Light starts with a little boy who barely talked as a child, who got in trouble at school, and who was told he would never amount to anything. That boy was named Albert Einstein.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O'Malley

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

How They Croaked begins with a clear warning: "If you don't have the guts for gore, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK." They are not kidding.

American icon Billy Joel once sang, "Only the good die young," but before modern medicine, almost everyone died young. The only difference was whether it was quick or slow and gruesome. Infections, malaria, gout, and tuberculosis were pretty common ways to go. King Tut, Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, and Edgar Allan Poe were victims of such illnesses.

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges

When a palm reader told Nicole J. Georges that her long-deceased father was very much alive, Nicole's first thought was, "Who does she think she is?" But the psychic was definitely onto something, and Calling Dr. Laura started to take shape.

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman Underground is not the feel-good read of this or any other year, and yet I am completely enchanted with its accuracy of teenage desperation. It fills me with hope to see how author John Barnes has so succinctly summed up the powerlessness and determination of youth.

This Belongs to Me: Cool Ways to Personalize Your Stuff by Anna Wray

This Belongs to Me: Cool Ways to Personalize Your Stuff by Anna Wray

This Belongs to Me is a DIY designer's dream, offering ideas and suggestions to transform your ordinary belongings into unique, personal reflections of you.

Using paints, pens, clay, and more, Anna Wray offers 14 different projects for you. From a barcode t-shirt to customized earbud headphones, Wray gives you the chance to use your imagination and make a statement with your clothes, accessories, and furniture.

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me documents Nathan Rabin's journey into two vastly different but equally mocked musical fan bases. Phish and Insane Clown Posse are about as far away as you can get from each other in terms of sound, lyrics, and subject matter. The one thing that they do have in common is that their fans have very few qualms about conscious-altering substances.

That's how Rabin finds his ticket in. He's been going through some issues lately—actually he's been going through issues his whole life. Lower-class with a foster-home upbringing, Rabin managed to carve a niche for himself in Chicago writing for the A.V. Club, a cultural review publication that belongs to The Onion. Despite that success, it certainly cannot help to be diagnosed bipolar, which is exactly what happened to Rabin on his journey.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

The Vera Dietz of Please Ignore Vera Dietz is smart, hard-working, and haunted by the ghost of her best friend. Well...ex-best friend if you want to know the truth.