Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa – A Review

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe Yumi Sakugawa

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa
Nonfiction | Graphic Novel | Spirituality
Published by Adams Media
Released 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

The older I get, the more interested in spirituality I become. I’ve never been much of a religious person, not enjoying the confines of organized religion. However, I have been finding some solace in quiet meditations and pondering on some of life’s big questions.

I found Yumi Sakugawa’s Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe tucked away in my library’s graphic novel section, and it stuck out to me. It’s a very short book at just 160 pages, and the art is done in a very minimalistic style.

This graphic novel is exactly what it sounds like: a cute, illustrated guide to feeling connected with the universe at large. While it definitely has some “woo-woo” moments, overall this book is meant to be a quick meditation on oneness. It won’t be for everyone. In fact, I had a hard time with it.

The art itself isn’t typically something I would enjoy, but I do feel that it worked well for what this book was. It’s all hand-drawn, black and white, simple doodles.

illustrated guide to becoming one w universe.jpg

The content is what I had trouble with. If I had read this book five years ago, I would have hated it. I prided myself on preferring logic and science over religion and spirituality (perhaps some Vulcan-ness rubbing off on me). As I mentioned before, however, I have been growing more open in the past couple of years, and the book spoke to me more than I was expecting. There is some useful information and advice contained in these pages, and reading it was itself a calming experience.

At the same time though, some of the information was far too “out there” for me. For example, there are several suggestions to lie outside at night and explore the cosmos through your mind. For someone who is a verbal thinker rather than a visual one, it was hard for me to picture doing this.

Much of the information in this book is metaphorical or abstract, which is something else that left me feeling unconnected with it. There’s nothing wrong with metaphors! It’s just that in a format such as this one, I’d prefer information that can be taken at face value. An example is a chapter on “planting seeds” of your hopes and dreams and learning more about yourself as they grow. I get it, I really do. It just didn’t speak to me.

I’m glad that this book encourages meditation and peacefulness, traits that, in my mind, are always positive and good for the spirit. Some people will like this graphic novel more than others depending on how you feel about new-age spirituality. I read the entire book in roughly fifteen minutes, so if you’re even remotely interested in, go for it.




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Not My Bag by Sina Grace – A Review

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Not My Bag by Sina Grace
Graphic Novel | Fiction | LGBT
Published by Image Comics
Released October 30, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Working in retail, or any type of customer service, is difficult. You have to deal with the messiest, rudest people imaginable, and the work is rarely fulfilling. I worked in retail for nearly a decade until I transitioned into spas and then insurance, and I still cringe whenever I hear retail horror stories.

Sina Grace’s graphic novel Not My Bag is a story that all retail workers will be able to relate to. It tells the story of a man who hopes to become a comic book artist but finds himself working in high-end retail. You watch as the main character has to navigate the personalities of backstabbing employees while overworking himself to meet the standards of the industry. As time passes, he starts becoming obsessed with getting a promotion and outselling his co-workers, until one day he finally snaps and realizes he’s become obsessed with a job that he doesn’t actually want to do.

I spotted this graphic novel at my local library and was intrigued by the cover. If you look at the cover above, you’ll see that the bag on the left has tentacles emerging from it, and I was hoping for a story with Lovecraftian elements. The synopsis on the back states that the story is “a haunting retail hell story like you’ve never encountered before! A young artist takes a job at a department store in order to make ends meet … little does he know that he may meet his end!” Alas, that’s not what this story was, and I was slightly disappointed due to the expectations I had. The combination of the cover art and the synopsis felt misleading to me.

The art, which is drawn by the author, has a simple, gothic feel to it that I enjoyed. The characters are expressive and distinct. From cover to cover, the entire book is presented in shades of white, black, and gray, and it worked quite well.

The subplot of the story is about the character’s romantic relationships. He’s gay, so there’s some great LBGT representation here, and the relationships are thankfully realistic. He thinks about his exes and considers where things went wrong while also currently being in a new relationship. He refers to his exes and past as his ghosts, which I think all of us can understand.

Since I was able to relate to much of this story through my own frustrations in the retail world, I enjoyed the story, although it didn’t blow me away. I doubt I would ever re-read it, although I would still recommend it to people who want a story about retail or the fashion industry.


If you want more stories like Not My Bag, try these recommendations:

If you have any additional recommendations, let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.