ALBUQUERQUE — Opened in June 2017, Red Planet Books and Comics is the only Native American comic shop in the world and only one of six Native-owned bookstores in the US. Our mission has always been to curate and recommend the most dynamic and authentic Native-centric books, graphic novels, comics, games, and toys to a wide audience. We recognize that representation matters and that there is always room for more stories, especially Indigenous ones, so here is a list of eight great reads for those who want to jump into some of the best literary work Native America has to offer.

Book recommendations from Red Planet Books and Comics (photo Nancy Zastudil/Hyperallergic)

A Howl edited by Elizabeth LaPensée (Native Realities Press, 2022)

Featuring the work of more than 30 Native and Indigenous artists, writers, and illustrators, A Howl brings together more than a dozen stories of Indigenous wolves, werewolves, and rougarou. Edited by Elizabeth LaPensée and published by Indigenerd! Entertainment, this anthology received overwhelming support during its Kickstarter launch and will be available for distribution May 2022.

The People Shall Continue by Acoma Pueblo (Lee and Low, 2017)

A classic in Native children’s literature, this incredible narrative by Acoma Pueblo poet and scholar Simon Ortiz is an incisive and dynamic telling of the history of Native peoples of North America. Illustrated by Native artist Sharol Graves, this book is a must for every youth library and bookshelf.

Page spread from We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know, Charlesbridge, 2021 (photo Nancy Zastudil/Hyperallergic)

We Are Still Here! Native America Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell (Charlesbridge, 2021)

With close to 10 original works and numerous awards, Native children’s author Traci Sorell has been a leader and an inspiration for Native children’s literature. We Are Still Here is a brilliant work that discusses historical and contemporary Native issues through the eyes of Native youth. The vibrant illustrations by Frane Lesac and powerful writing helps Native and non-Native students alike understand the complexities of Native history, community, resilience, and healing.

Healer of the Water Monster by Bryant Young (Harper Collins, 2021)

Bryant Young left the world of acting and took up young adult writing and, boy, has that turned out to be an excellent path for him. His debut novel, winner of the AILA Middle Grades Reader, tells the story of an ordinary Navajo boy who must heal a water monster and in the process learns that he may be more than ordinary, he may just be a hero. Young’s novel is one of the original publications from Heartdrum Press, the Native American imprint of HarperCollins, and points to a bright future for Young and his next works.

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido, 2021)

What happens when a Lipan girl from this world meets a Cottonmouth kid from the monster world? That’s what Newbery Honoree Darcie Little Badger explores in her new book. Little Badger has long been at the cutting edge of Indigenous Futurisms writing for young adults and this book, once again, does not disappoint. If you want a tale of monsters, magic, and family all centered around Indigenous Texas, this is the book for you.

Page spread from Memorial Ride, Red Planet Books and Comics and the University of New Mexico Press, 2021 (photo Nancy Zastudil/Hyperallergic)

Memorial Ride by Stephen Graham Jones (University of New Mexico Press, 2021)

From master horror writer Stephen Graham Jones, Memorial Ride is a gunslinging, motorcycle riding graphic novel that tells the story of Cooper Town who only has three days of leave from the Army to settle his dead father’s affairs. Illustrated by Marvel cover artist Maria Wolf, the graphic is an adrenaline ride from start to finish. 

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Eco Press, 2021)

Looking for some good old fashioned Native noir? Look no further than the award winning debut novel by David Heska Wanbli Weiden. Set in and around the Rosebud Sioux reservation, the action follows Virgil Wounded Horse as he seeks justice in a world where that doesn’t often happen for Native people. Weiden’s book has won all the awards … seriously, it has been listed for more than 20 awards and for good reason. This is a crime fiction tour-de-force and one of the best reads of this decade.

Hunting by Stars by Cherie Dimaline (Harry N. Abrams, 2021)

Cherie Dimaline is at it again with a continuation of the story she began in Marrow Thieves. A 2022 AILA Young Adult Honor Book, Hunting by Stars takes up where Marrow Thieves left off with a new cast of characters and a new desperate adventure that will take readers on a dystopic journey.

Interior view of Red Planet Books and Comics (photo Nancy Zastudil/Hyperallergic)

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Lee Francis

Dr. Lee Francis IV (Pueblo of Laguna) is the Head Indigenerd and CEO of Red Planet Books and Comics, the only Native and Indigenous pop culture company in the United States with the hope to change the...

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