It does not come as a shock that I am going to continue logging what I read, though now it will be interspersed with what I’m reading for classes, too. Here goes, starting from #1 all over again!
- MY LIFE ON THE ROAD by Gloria Steinem (2015)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: feminism, travel, Ms. magazine, India, Indian Country, organizing, father-daughter relationships, journalism, writing, the ’70s
ALSO READ: Throughout this book, in the chillest way, Steinem frequently mentions excursions with two of her best friends/two of the baddest bitches of feminist organizing in recent history, Alice Walker (writer of The Color Purple (!), among other works) and Wilma Mankiller (first woman Cherokee chief and also author of many things.) Read their books!
2. WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES by Susin Nielsen (2015)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: stepfamilies, broadcast journalists, when your dad comes out, gifted children, friendship, teen drinking, being the school mascot, death of a parent, Schrodinger’s cat, what character arcs!
ALSO READ: This book (middle grade? YA?) blew me away. It’s pretty unlikely you’ve read this, so just read it! My second idea is to ask your youngest friend for a recommendation on their favorite book. My wonderful 1o-year-old pal Scarlett recommended this one to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pinkalicious (my friend’s 5-year-old’s current fave) or if your youngest friend is 30! They’re still probably reading different books from you.
3. I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson (2014)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: twins, superstitions, old wives’ tales, sculpting, painting, closeted queer love, astronomy, recovering alcoholics, modeling, boycotting boys, death of a parent
ALSO READ: This book was wild. The alternating chronology and perspectives made it a fascinating web to untangle. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan has a similar puzzle of narration, but Egan’s isn’t meant to be tied up neatly; Nelson’s book is.
4. RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by Rita Mae Brown (1973)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: lesbians, poor white people, Florida, sex, so much sex, homelessness, moving abruptly to NYC, college, oppression of queer folks, bluntness
ALSO READ: I’m taking a class about queer young adult books, so a lot of books about queer youth are coming your way! Rubyfruit‘s narrator, Molly, is very blunt and matter-of-fact about her sexuality, despite the fact that no one in her life or community is even vaguely open to questioning their sexual orientation, and Annie, in Annie on my Mind, takes a similar view; she knows what she is (although she’s quieter about it than Molly Bolt!)
5. ANNIE ON MY MIND by Nancy Garden (1982)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: lesbians!, teachers, private school, opera, first love, contraband ear piercing, New York City, Italians, socioeconomic class, art, the Cloisters
ALSO READ: This is the beginning of the #lesbianlife books I’m reading for my queer YA class! Rubyfruit (#4) and I’ll Get There… (#7) are both other NYC queer books.
6. WE WERE LIARS* by E. Lockhart (2014)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: Martha’s Vineyard, private islands, cousins, love, when your mom and her sisters (all super-rich) are fighting for the family’s estate, PTSD, migraines, golden retrievers, amnesia, thrillers
ALSO READ: This book has QUITE the ending, which I keep hearing compared to Gone Girl. I’ve never read Gone Girl, and I’m almost certain you have, but that’s still my rec.
7. I’LL GET THERE. IT BETTER BE WORTH THE TRIP. by John Donovan (1969)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: divorced parents, death of a parental figure, a daschund named Fred, NYC, alcoholic guardians, Episcopalian private school?, the late ’60s, new friends, queerness, kind of
ALSO READ: So, this is like the first LGBT YA book, apparently, which is sort of cool, but it barely mentions queerness/queer identity ’til near the end, but the kid is 13, keeps saying “I’m not a queer!,” and it takes place in the 1960s, so I guess we’ve gotta cut it a break. For another early LGBT YA book that involves major NYC sightseeing, read Annie on my Mind (above)!
8. PARROTFISH* by Ellen Wittlinger (2007)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: trans, ftm, new friends, nerds, Christmas pageants, gender roles, school TV crew, bullies, homeschooling
ALSO READ: My friend John knows all about this crew of books, and one he recommended is Beyond Magenta, a narrative and photo book profiling trans youth’s experience.
9. LUNA by Julie Ann Peters (2004)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: trans characters, sisters, lifelong BFFs, computer geniuses, having chemistry with chemistry lab partners, babysitting foibles
ALSO READ: I used to really love the book Define Normal by her and it’s probably still really awesome! Read that!
10. RAINBOW BOYS by Alex Sanchez (2001)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: swimmers, unprotected sex, biracial identity, abusive parents, little sisters, starting a gay-straight alliance, LGBTQ support groups, having a crush on your BFF, undiagnosed eating disorders, being unsure if you should keep dating your girlfriend, supportive moms, unsupportive dads, supportive dads
ALSO READ: This book really runs the gambit of Shitty Things That Can Happen to Teen Boys While They Are Also Struggling with Coming Out. I would recommend the beautiful LGBTQ YA anthology Am I Blue? if you’re interested in coming out stories!
11. PANTOMIME by Laura Lam (2015)
PROMINENT ASPECTS: circuses, acrobats, intersex identity, transition, running away from your noble family, older brothers, corrupt leaders, probably being descended from the gods
ALSO READ: Ok, the concept of this book is so cool — intersex character runs away from being a princess in royalty and joins the circus — but I honestly did not like the execution of the book very much at all. Intersex people deserve way better YA lit representation. For books about circuses, however, I’ve heard The Night Circus is amazing.
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*= I’ve read this book before
Image by Ezra Jack Keats via Amazon. (This is my all-time favorite winter book, and it’s probably some of yours too!)