The Oxford Project
photographs by Peter Feldstein, text by Stephen G. Bloom
(Welcome, $50)

“People don’t get much more real” than the 250 residents of tiny Oxford, Iowa, whose portraits appear in this moving book, said Hank Stuever in The Washington Post. Photographer Peter Feldstein captured them once in 1984, and again 21 years later. Sparse text brings their stories to life, and “there’s a heartbreaking, forensic pleasure” in staring at the paired images, assessing “the thousands of ways in which the years change each of us.”

The Way We Work
by David Macaulay
(Houghton Mifflin, $35)
A semi-whimsical illustrated tour of the human body may sound too much like a Saturday morning children’s cartoon, said Cecilia Goodnow in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. But Macaulay, an artist who’s made a career of deconstructing cathedrals and can openers, isn’t fooling around. He kicks off this ambitious book with “a primer on life at the molecular level.” It’s not “easy sledding,” but packs in a lot of knowledge.

by Jules Feiffer
(Fantagraphics, $29)

This collection of Jules Feiffer’s mordantly funny comic strips captures “the birth and development of a whole new approach to cartooning,” said David Kamp in The New York Times. The artist’s often verbose work first appeared in 1956, and at times the early gags in this collection speak more to that “postwar Age of Anxiety” than our own. But Feiffer’s main scheme has always been showing how people “talk and talk but never connect,” and the humor in that is timeless.

The Alcoholic
by Jonathan Ames, illustrations by Dean Haspiel
(Vertigo, $20)

Jonathan Ames’ first graphic novel “possesses a rare honesty,” said Michael Miller in Time Out New York. A semiautobiographical tale about a writer who starts drinking heavily in his teens and returns to the bottle years later, after a girlfriend dumps him, it evokes the “soul-scraped-out feeling of a hangover.” Fortunately, Ames finds wry humor in various coming-of-age travails, and discerns at least a glimmer of hope in every struggle.