Sep 08

More love for Wonder, our BOTNS Bingo results, and two books we can’t wait for you to read.



Michael’s son, a reluctant reader, has fallen in love with Wonder by RJ Palacio. This is a book that we think everyone should read, but the fact that reluctant readers are also loving it makes it even more special. Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, a new book that features perspectives on Auggie and the events of Wonder from 3 different characters, is newly out. Wonder is the perfect book for “All School Reads” and “One Book, One Community” reading programs. It’s also a great read for adults, so don’t pass Wonder by just because you think it’s for kids. It really is for everyone.

 audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:01)

A Window Opens

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan, narrated by Julia Whelan, is my pick for this week’s Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand, and thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for permission to include an excerpt of this audiobook on this week’s podcast. allows you to listen to over 60,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to


Bingo? Not! (13:17):

Labor Day marks the official end of Books on the Nightstand Bingo (but you can keep playing). Truthfully, it was something of a failure for us both. Michael came very close (and I did not). Regardless, we both had a good time playing, and realize that because we have more requirements placed on our reading than many people do. I do love that so many of you enjoyed it, though, and we are definitely going to do it next year.

Michael was very successful in his “free square” experiment: reading all 13 stories listed in “Thirteen Short Stories that Will Blow Your Mind.” A few stories Michael really liked: “The Most Dangerous Game,” by Richard Connell and “Zombie” by Chuck Palahniuk.

Michael also had the square “Manga,” and enjoyed pushing his boundaries with Buddha by Osamu Tezuka. This discussion led to a discussion of Manga vs. Graphic Novels, and Michael mentioned that this was discussed on an episode of the Good Job Brain podcast. So check that out if you want more information.

(Also in this discussion: a tease about Gillian Flynn’s new novel, coming later this fall).


Two books we can’t wait for you to read (27:45):


Out on the Wire   Everything Everything


Michael recommends Out on the Wire: Uncovering the Secrets of Radio’s New Masters of Story with Ira Glass by Jessica Abel, which Michael describes as “graphic novel journalism.” It’s about radio now, and narrative journalism like you would hear on the podcast This American Life, Planet Money, The Moth, etc. Abel had access to behind the scenes of many of those shows to learn how the shows are created. Abel is also starting a podcast, which you might want to check out.

I recommend Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It’s a young adult novel that I really loved. I don’t want to say too much about it, because you really should go into this book without knowing too much about it. All I’ll say is that the main character is a teenage girl who suffers from debilitating allergies that require her to stay inside of her home. Do read it, and if you have teens, definitely put it into their hands!




  • Carol Kubala

    Thank you for posting and mentioning the audio of A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan, narrated by Julia Whelan. This book is on my radar but I don’t think I would have considered audio if I hadn’t heard the sample. Excellent.

    Though I hate to admit it, Bingo, not, here also. I did enjoy the trying however.

  • Anonymous

    Michael, I’m glad you took the plunge on a manga series! There are differences among different types of graphic novels, but I don’t think you would separate them as “graphic novels” and “manga.” Rather, I’d argue that within the broad form of “comics” there are graphic novels, superhero comics, the Franco-Belgian bande-dessinée style, manga, manhwa (which are Korean), and so forth. I’m simplifying immensely; even within, say, manga you have genre distinctions and demographic distinctions (e.g. shounen, seinen, shoujo, josei, gekigak etc.) You can often identify influences in different forms. For instance, Hayao Miyazaki’s (of Studio Ghibli fame) magnum opus is a manga series called Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which is heavily influenced by the Franco-Belgian bande-dessinée style, particularly Moebius, who is also influential in Western superhero comics.

    You mentioned Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and he actually identifies one of the biggest stylistic differences between Western comics – whether superhero comics or graphic novels – in the proportion of panels dedicated to different kinds of panel-to-panel transitions. In particular, he notes that manga uses vastly more aspect-to-aspect transitions, which is attributable to how manga is produced, and tends to give manga stronger sense of “place.” This is because manga is able to spend panels showing the same moment in time from multiple angles, which wouldn’t necessarily be possible in the more compressed space of other forms. Another difference is that manga generally reads right-to-left, though in the case of a few creators (including, notably, Tezuka), the panels are flipped to read left-to-right. I would also hasten to point out that there isn’t exactly a manga “style”; Timothy Lehmann’s Manga: Masters of the Art is an excellent introduction to some of the best artists working in manga and gives a sense of the artistic variety that is available.

    One of the biggest barriers to entry with getting into manga is the sheer length of different series. It is difficult to justify, sight unseen, starting to buy a 15 volume series in which every volume might cost $10 – $15. Fortunately, there are quite a few excellent manga series with adult appeal. So, because I’m feeling evangelistic right now, here are some manga series that I’m unfamiliar with, and won’t hurt anyone’s wallet too badly:

    Nijigahara Holograph, by Inio Asano (1 Volume)
    Solanin, by Inio Asano (1 Volume)
    What A Wonderful World, by Inio Asano (2 Volumes)
    Children of the Sea, by Daisuke Igarashi (5 Volumes)
    Uzumaki, by Junji Ito (1 Volume)
    Oishinbo, a la carte, by Tetsuya Kariya (7 Volumes)
    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki (7 Volume, though the 1 Volume Deluxe edition at ~$36 is both the cheapest and highest-quality option)
    Showa: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (4 Volumes)
    A Bride’s Story, by Kaoru Mori (7 Volumes)
    Pluto, by Urasawa Naoki (8 Volumes)
    Monster, by Urasawa Naoki (18 Volumes originally; currently being rereleased in two-in-one volumes; will be 9 volumes when it finishes coming out)
    The Walking Man, by Jiro Taniguchi (1 Volume)
    A Distant Neighborhood (2 Volumes; 1 Volume edition in December)
    The Ice Wanderer and Other Stories, by Jiro Taniguchi (1 Volume)
    The Times of Botchan, by Jiro Taniguchi (10 Volumes)
    The Summit of the Gods, by Jiro Taniguch (5 Volumes)
    Abandon the Old in Tokyo, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (1 Volume)
    A Drifting Life, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (1 Volume)
    MW, by Osamu Tezuka (1 Volume)
    Phoenix, by Osamu Tezuka (12 Volumes; don’t bother if you don’t want to read on a Kindle, as they are out of print otherwise and incredibly ($60+) expensive now)
    Thermae Romae, by Mari Yamazaki (3 Volumes)
    Ooku: The Inner Chambers, by Fumi Yoshinaga (10 Volumes)
    Planetes, by Makoto Yukimura (4 Volumes; out of print but being released in two omnibus volumes this December / March)

    These run the gamut from personal biographies to adaptions of classic works of Japanese literature to idyllic stories of a man walking about town to mountaineering to nature-inspired short stories to history books to time-warped horror stories to complex European-set psychological dramas taking place across decades to modern and mature updates on classic manga stories to surrealist, numinous fantasy stories. If anyone has thought about manga but hasn’t been able to muddle through all of the ninjas and pirates and fighting space aliens, try looking at those. You’ll probably find something that grabs you. I’ve tried to focus on series that are in print and available, but I apologize if I’m mistaken on that point.

    • mkindness

      Wow, thank you Anonymous! I’ve printed out your list to check out in the future!

      • Anonymous

        Yay. I was hoping anyone would see, but I’m particularly glad you saw it. I wanted to give an example of that sort of establishing shot / sense of place I was talking about, and this page in Pluto is a good example:

        You can see how it starts with the most expansive view, and then over a series of several panels focuses in until it takes you inside a particular house. This is really common; you also see this done in other ways, such as being done to show small changes in facial expression to see someone react to a scene. This isn’t exclusive to manga, of course, but the decompression common to the style means that you just see more of it. Even in really expansive comic book series like Sandman (~2000 pages), the individual issues are written and drawn with the idea of telling a story within that particular issue as well as within the larger narrative continuity. When manga is published, it first comes out in telephone book-sized collections of dozens of other single issues of different manga, which are then collected into volumes that can be purchased.

        (I have to say it feels odd being referred to as Anonymous. Sure, I know it’s my display name but… now that it’s happened I’m almost tempted to change it to something somewhat more … name-y.)

        Anyway, I hope you find something you like. I’ve read Ghettoside, We the Animals, Blind Descent, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Outlander (though this one I didn’t like!), The Sparrow & Children of God, You’re An Animal, Viskovitz!, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Night Circus since starting to listen to this podcast this year, so I feel like I owe you a good suggestion. <3


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