Finding comfort in books during dark times

Andrew Aydin co-wrote “March,” the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The trilogy, illustrated by Nate Powell, chronicles the life of Aydin’s cowriter and boss, Representative John Lewis, the longtime Georgia congressman and civil-rights movement pioneer. Aydin, an Atlanta native and Lewis’s digital director and policy adviser, will speak at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Boston Public Library.

BOOKS: What are you reading currently?

AYDIN: Every day I have to read all kinds of news publications for my job. I’m also a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the young adult category so I’ve been reading tons of that. I can’t say which ones, but they are all so full of angst. I skipped over YA because my mother gave me adult books to read.


BOOKS: Before the contest what were your most recent best reads?

AYDIN: One of my favorites was Denise Kiernan’s “The Last Castle.” It’s the history of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville[, N.C.] and how Edith Vanderbilt kept it running after her husband died. I’m a sucker for heroines who take care of their families.

BOOKS: Are you drawn to books about the South?

AYDIN: One of the books that had the most profound effect on me was Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again.” I am attracted to Southern writers who confront the fallibility of the culture.

BOOKS: How would you describe yourself as a reader?

AYDIN: I enjoyed Peter Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads,” a history of the world from a nonwestern perspective. I also enjoyed the Thrawn series by Timothy Zahn, which is total “Star Wars’’ nerd escapism, which I could use because Congress is in a dark place.

BOOKS: What did you read for “March” that you would recommend?


AYDIN: The highlights were “The Children” by David Halberstam, “Carry Me Home” by Diane McWhorter, all the Taylor Branch books, such as “Parting the Waters.”

BOOKS: What are some of your favorite graphic novels?

AYDIN: I love Eddie Campell’s early stuff, such as “Bacchus,” because its so personal. With respect to the more modern stuff, I love Alex Robinson’s “Box Office Poison.” I keep a signed copy on my office bookshelf.

BOOKS: Has your taste in graphic novels and comics changed over time?

AYDIN: Growing up in the early ’90s, I read “X-Men,” and then as I got older “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen.” Then I fell into the indie comic world with Paul Chadwick’s “Concrete,” which is about a former White House speechwriter who becomes a giant made of concrete.

BOOKS: What else did you read while you were growing up in Atlanta?

AYDIN: My mom — who raised me by herself — was a voracious reader and through my childhood she had this stack of books by her bed. Some of them were smart and lofty, and there was a lot of John Grisham too. The pile was where you got inspiration for whatever you needed inspiration for. That to-read stack had a huge impact on me. When my mom passed I could tell how long she’d been really sick because there was this big stack of unread books.


BOOKS: Did you read those books?

AYDIN: I’ve read books that my mom and I liked, totally cheesy ones, like Janet Evanovich’s mysteries. My mom, dad, grandmother, and great uncle all died within 20 months. I was trying to find comfort in books. They fill that quiet time that can kill you when you start to get dark and think about things. You pick up a book, and you can go to a different place.

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Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @GlobeBiblio. Amy Sutherland is the author, most recently, of “Rescuing Penny Jane’’ and she can be reached at