book reviews, books, children's lit, LGBT, Uncategorized, ya

Books You Should Read, A to Z: A Response to Rookie’s May 9 “Dear Diary.”

This week, for the “Dear Diary” series on Rookie Mag, Ananda listed her “Books You Should Read, A to Z.” It seemed so fun I wanted to do it too! I didn’t think much about these, so, they aren’t all-time faves or anything. It was mostly the first book that came to mind or, if it was a tough letter, scrolling through some titles on Goodreads. Hope you enjoy!


A is for the Alice… series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, with more than two dozen books following our protagonist Alice from fourth grade through college.


B is for So B. It by Sarah Weeks, a beautiful story taking on tough topics in an elementary-level chapter book.


C is for Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and also for creepy, which is what this book is.


D is for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, about two Latino boys discovering their sexualities.


E is for Everything on a Waffle, a really cute book by Polly Horvath that is literally about many objects on a waffle.


F is for Firefox by Joyce Carol Oates, about girl gangs but not in a trendy way like in a terrifying way, and is not appropriate for reading in conjunction with Everything on a Waffle.


G is for American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a straight-up mythological mystery-epic.


H is for How My Personal Private Journal Became a Bestseller by Julia DeVillers, which was later made into the 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie Read it and Weep starring Kay and Danielle Panabaker.


I is for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its companion books, written by Laura Numeroff with illustrations by Felicia Bond, spouting some serious life lessons.


J is for Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles, which provides a uniquely empathetic view toward teen pregnancy.


K is for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which is filled with so many wise quotes, including this one: “Finding out the truth is only half of it. It’s what you do with it that matters.”

L is for Lord of the Flies by William Goldman, which I like a lot solely because of the context in which I experienced reading it. I don’t think I would have liked it at all otherwise.


M is for Matilda by Roald Dahl. If you haven’t read Matilda, go do that right now. It probably will not take you long.


N is for A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, which is mad confusing but also my fave, probably because I have performed in three versions of it as four different characters.


O is for Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, where a psychologist working with teen girls realized a lot of consistent ways they were fucked up, and also for Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler, editing an anthology by teen girls struggling with the things Pipher wrote about who wanted to articulate in their own voice instead of being talked about by someone else.


P is for Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin, which I first read years ago, have included in three papers I’ve written in college, and probably remains my favorite piece of narrative journalism. (Following everything by Joan Didion — Didion comes first.)


Q is for A Circle of Quiet, a sorta-true memoir by Madeleine L’Engle which is super-introspective and wise the whole way through. There’s a lot to underline.


R is for Ratgirl by Kristin Hersh, a really rad memoir about music and mental illness and growth.


S is for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a truly hallmark young adult book. Also, based on her internet presence and the one time my friend Maddy L. and I very briefly met her, Anderson seems to be like the nicest person ever.


T is for Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, a book that was so spooky in how it set its scenes in the forest that I was afraid to play outside alone for almost a month after finishing it as a kid.


U is for Unbearable Lightness, the memoir by Portia DeRossi (Lindsay on Arrested Development and Ellen DeGeneres’s wife) and not the Milan Kundera novel. It’s about her struggle with anorexia and she meets Ellen near the end and there’s some really lovely resolution.


V is for everything by Virginia Woolf but I’ll highlight Between the Acts, which was published posthumously and takes place around the framing of this huge community production and has some weird animal symbolism. (Like,  a lot of snakes!)


W is for A Wind in the Door also by Madeleine L’Engle, my personal favorite book in the Time Quintet which beautifully and unusually reveals the spirituality and magic of our insides.


X is for The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, which honestly I haven’t read but my mom did, and I love a lot of other books by Alice Hoffman, so I bet it is great! (X is tough.)


Y is for I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which Amanda gave me for my birthday (thanks girl!) and explores art, death, and twin-ness in a really beautiful way.

Z is for A to Z by Sandra Boynton! Is that cheating? Probably.


book reviews, books, children's lit, LGBT, Uncategorized, ya

“I’d Like To Sing, I’d Like to Shout: It’s Spring! It’s Spring! It’s Spring!”

Why stop now?

This bunny and I appear to feel exactly the same way about spring.

Also, I’ve got to read more this spring! Since this semester started, I’ve only read books for either work or class, which I guess is to be expected… but I know I can do better.

1.BOYS DON’T KNIT (IN PUBLIC) by T.S. Easton (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: knitting, toxic masculinity, having juvenile delinquent friends, anxiety, being in love with your teacher, when your mom’s a professional magician

ALSO READ: The narrator of this book is so beyond endearing. He reminded me a little bit of Stewart from We Are All Made of Molecules (see: winter reading.) If you want more books about knitting, I haven’t read it in years but I really enjoyed Chicks with Sticks by Elizabeth Lenhard when I was in middle school. (Also, while looking for the title of this book, I came across The Broken Circle: Yarns of the Knitting Witches—probably my favorite subheading of all time—and in that book, the author lists the knitting patterns of what the characters are wearing, which is low-key amazing.)

2. SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin (2016)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: genderfluid identity, Congress, mental health, nice therapists, new friends, suicide, blogging, bullying, courage

ALSO READ: This book is so important and unique in the fact that there is a nonbinary character (aka, not a clear cisgender girl or guy) whose birth sex is NEVER mentioned: we get to see this character as they see themselves, in all their complexity. It’s different, but Simon (#3 on the list) is equally sweet and also equally exposes the struggles of anonymous Tumblrs in today’s high school landscape.

3. SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: emailing, school plays, sisters, close families, secrets, when your best friends have unreciprocated feelings for each other, coming out as gay, when that one cool English classroom at your school has a couch

ALSO READ: This book is adorable AND important. Read the above book too.


PROMINENT ASPECTS: injuries, Texas, new friends, poetry, Mexican-American identity, prison, family secrets, violence against LGBT youth, when a dog is a boy’s literal best friend, fathers

ALSO READ: Other books that tenderly interweave family, culture, and sexuality. Most of these LGBT YA books don’t mention race at all, and if so, in passing; the characters are white by default. That’s not the case in this novel, featuring two Latino teen boys. For more YA books that include characters of color, check this great list by Malinda Lo.


PROMINENT ASPECTS: the panopticon, boyfriends, secret societies, alpha males, pranks, old boys clubs, private boarding school, being Jewish, cool roomies who love horses, emails, the Jersey Shore

ALSO READ: This book is the shit. Read about the panopticon, read We Were Liars by Lockhart for an even MORE supenseful storyline, and listen to this Jenny Lewis tune; I think that Frankie would have felt a strong connection to it.

6. BRAIN ON FIRE ~ almost done ~

7. EVERYTHING EVERYTHING ~ almost done ~

     *        *      *      *     *     *

Summer reading list here, autumn list here, winter reading list here! 

*= I’ve read this book before

PS: Whenever I think about spring, a poem that I learned in, I believe, first grade echoes through my head. I just found it online, in one specific preschool spring lesson planning PDF! It’s on page 7. It comes along with activities, if you’re interested.

Image via Samantha Berger/Scholastic

book reviews, books, children's lit, Uncategorized

Winter Reading!

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!


  1. 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.

     *        *      *      *     *     *

Summer reading list here, autumn list here, winter reading list here! 

*= 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!)


book reviews, books, children's lit, ya

…Autumn Reading?

I’m full-force back into reading all the time, so I’m going to try to continue logging what I read! The list remains fairly random, based on assignment, recommendations, and whatever’s around.


PROMINENT ASPECTS: immigrants, mongooses (mongeese?), the Dominican Republic, magical realism, geekiness, comic books, sci-fi, romance, cancer, family, prostitution, dictator Rafael Trujillo, fuku, zafa

ALSO READ: I did not get this book. I liked it, but did not love it at all. Its exploration of the supernatural-esque believe of a fuku, or a curse, set by the reign of real-life dictator Rafael Trujillo is eerie and intriguing. You can learn more about it on this questionable website. This book also taught me about the incredibly daring story of the Mirabal sisters, who were amazing and I highly recommend reading more about! Julia Alvarez’s In the TIme of the Butterflies is a novelization of their story, and I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my to-read list.

20. THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: invalids, bratty girls who come around, nature, Magic, British imperialism in India, blatant racism tbh, secrets, gardens, Yorkshire accents

ALSO READ: Another book I was not a huge fan of. It was racist and dull and I do not care if a book is a classic if it is so racist. Here is a list, compiled by the Atlanta BlackStar staff, of seven more racist kids’ books, including this one. What Culture provides another compilation. Stay alert, folks.

21. YOU DESERVE A DRINK by Mamrie Hart (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: bartending, drunkenness, alcohol, friendship, rutabaga, YouTube, summer camp, airplanes, North Carolina, constipation, embarrassing stories, poison ivy, hilarity

ALSO READ: So, as you probably know, Mamrie Hart is a pretty famous YouTuber, known for her show You Deserve a Drink, where she concocts elaborate alcoholic beverages (knowledge from her bartending days) for figures in the media. She’s also known for her collabs and friendships with fellow vloggers Hannah Hart (no relation) and Grace Helbig. I am not into YouTube at all and I knew next to nothing about these women, but my friend Maddy (a former struggling vlogger herself– she vlogged for 103 days straight last summer!) LOVES them, and this book was laugh-out-loud hilarious and I am SO glad I read it! I’d recommending checking out those funny lady channels instead of reading another book, mostly because alcohol-based-memoirs-by-YouTubers is a genre with only Mamrie in it.

22. RAT GIRL by Kristin Hersh (2007)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: punk, music, bipolar disorder, songwriting, college, intergenerational friendship, hippie parents, a band that gets along like really well, stepsisters, divorce, Providence, Boston, fish, swimming, psychiatry

ALSO READ: This was such an awesome rockin’ music memoir, and it really got you into the author’s head. I’ll recommend two books: my current fave memoir, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and the music memoir that’ll be released in October but I know will be amazing, Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. Both Brownstein’s and Hersh’s memoirs specifically explore mental health and being in girl-dominated bands, making them especially rad.

23. THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt (1992)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: psychological thrillers, Greek, Vermont, Classics (the major in college), cult-like behavior, friendship, incest?, hidden homosexuality, twins, so much drinking, also cocaine, the winter, deer, murder, bacchanal, homework, remorse

ALSO READ: This book was so gripping, even when I was baffled by the characters’ motivations, which were shrouded in layers of mystery. I haven’t read Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner The Goldfinch, but I’ve heard it’s even better than this one, so that’s my recommendation!

24. THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL by Veera Hiranandani (2012)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: biracial identity, India, Jewish, unemployment, depression, cheerleading, Spin the Bottle, nontraditional schooling, race, class, little sisters, jealousy, middle-grade, identity

ALSO READ: I LOVED THIS BOOK, and highly recommend it to readers of all ages, but especially those in late elementary/middle school. The protagonist has a Jewish mom and a dad from India, and she struggles with labeling herself for the whole novel. Race and class are explored without at all being dumbed down for young readers. Another book about discovering identity that I adore is Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah– if you loved Hiranandani’s book, definitely check out this one! (I’m also so pumped to know Veera i.r.l. since we both work at the amazing Writopia Lab!)

25. ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: graphic novels, roller derby, girls, hair dyeing, friendship, middle school, single moms, empowerment, mentorship, Hugh Jackman, trying and failing and trying again

ALSO READ: So, for a girl who can’t roller skate at all, I have a pretty weird obsession with roller derby. I thought that a graphic novel was a beautiful, visceral approach for the protagonist (and the reader’s) intro to derby. Also read Whip It by Shauna Cross, which was adapted into the super-rad movie starring my girl Ellen Page!


PROMINENT ASPECTS: science, primates, sisterhood, siblings who leave, getting arrested, ventriloquist dummies, losing something(s) very important, moving, searching, finding

ALSO READ: This NPR story– and many others- about real-life family’s like Rosie and Fern’s in the novel. It’s fascinating!

27. PIE by Sarah Weeks (2013)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: pie, jealousy, family, cats, mystery, competition, death, promises

ALSO READ: The movie Waitress (2007) also has a strong thematic use of pie, and it is also a precious and moving and lovely film. There’s also, for pie-loving history buffs, a book called Pie: A Global History by Janet Clarkson. I haven’t read it myself, but it looks very comprehensive!

28. DOUBLE DOG DARE by Lisa Graff (2013)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: media club, competition, hair dyeing, divorce, little sisters, peanut allergies, guinea pigs, moving, friendship, loyalty, mommy-and-me yoga, double dog dares

ALSO READ: A fantastic kids’ series about competition, which is what this novel’s plot thrives on, is about two warring families of siblings by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. The first book is called The Boys Start the War; the next is The Girls Get Even, and it continues in kind.

29. ABSOLUTELY ALMOST by Lisa Graff (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: donuts, babysitters, reality TV, parents who ignore their kids, biracial identity, New York City, having trouble with math, stuttering, spelling tests

ALSO READ: First of all, this book was so precious. My friend Scarlett, who recommended this middle-grade novel for me, said she cried when she read it; I didn’t, but I see how she did. The narrator in this book reminded me a little bit of the girl in Where I’d Like to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell, which was one of my favorite books growing up. Both books are about smart, strong narrators who deserve much better grown-ups in their lives than they get sometimes.

30. WICKED by Gregory Maguire (1995)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West, sibling jealousy, disability, unfit parenting, affairs, human rights, Animal rights, activism, terrorism, sorcery, evil, the existence of souls

ALSO READ: First of all, if you’re a diehard fan of the musical like me, the backstory of these characters is very welcome, but also very sad. Things don’t work out as pleasantly for them as they do in the stage show, that’s for sure. Although it is MUCH less dark because it’s for kids, another relatable modernization of established fairytales is The Sisters Grimm series (written for a middle grade audience) by Michael Buckley.

31. FOXFIRE* by Joyce Carol Oates (1993)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: girl gangs, upstate New York, never saying sorry, poverty, racism, tw: child sexual assault, tw: rape, Communism, juvenile detention centers, sisterhood, queerness, outer space, men are the enemy

ALSO READ: When searching for similar books, the internet suggested one of the many brilliant other novels by this prolific author. Another one suggested is An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, which I haven’t read, but is probably amazing because she is amazing.

32. GIRL IN A BAND by Kim Gordon (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Jenny Holzer, Kurt Cobain, William Burroughs, did I mention namedropping?, New York City, Los Angeles, punk, Sonic Youth, art, NYC in the ’80s, Madonna, Warhol, music, guitar, memoir

ALSO READ: I didn’t like this book very much, mostly because I think Gordon wrote it when she wasn’t in the greatest place. The last music memoir I read was Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh, which I strongly recommend, and the next one I’m planning to read is Carrie Brownstein’s, which I recommend without reading it yet (I’ll keep you posted.)

33. CORALINE by Neil Gaiman (2002)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: parents who ignore kids, Other Mother, button eyes, little girls, aging stage actresses, mice who sing and dance, cats who are your allies, stolen souls of little children, England, tea parties

ALSO READ: This book would be genuinely psychologically scary for a child. At the same time, I loved that because it shows the writer has true respect for their reader. I’d also read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne Valente or Matilda by Roald Dahl (which you’ve probably already read. 🙂 )

34. THE LIGHT PRINCESS by George MacDonald (1969)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: gravity (physical & emotional), princesses, swimming, curses, selfishness, selflessness, Scottish fairytales, the importance of crying

ALSO READ: Ok, so I found out about this book because Tori Amos just adapted the original Scottish tale and turned it into a musical. This story is for people who don’t want to take up space, who don’t want to be weighed down by their own solemnity, who can’t find any value in their own gravity. Honestly, the only book I can think of is Horton Hears a Who because of the whole “a-person’s-a-person” thing, but I think that’s just fine. It’s a good book!

35. THE STONE GIRL by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (2013)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: unrequited love, EDNOS, private school, NYC, marijuana, NYC, Columbia University, weighing 111 pounds, mental health, eating disorders, tw: ed, new friends, single moms who are lawyers

ALSO READ: This book serves such a vital space in YA lit about eating disorders. There are many books that either feature or skate around this topic, and I’ve read a ton of of them. The reason this book is important is because Sethie, the protagonist, doesn’t have diagnosable anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder; if she were to be treated for her obsessions with food, her body, and weight loss, she’d probably be diagnosed with EDNOS, or “eating disorder not otherwise specified,” which was recently added to the DSM V. Although- or because- EDNOS is not taken as seriously, it has the highest fatality rate of any eating disorder. Other than the books I linked to above (tw: ed for most of them!) I’d recommend the nonfic Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin, a personal and journalistic account about girls Sethie’s age in the same mental health situation.

36. HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL by Carrie Brownstein (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: guitar, queer identity, feminism, Sleater-Kinney, Seattle in the ’90s, Portland, celebrity, anxiety, shingles, friendship, animal shelters, songwriting

ALSO READ: UGH this was just as good as I hoped it’d be! Go back to Rat Girl (#22) if you still haven’t read that one. This one is a more traditional music memoir, and it is so incredibly well-written. I think Rat Girl is much less traditional, but still absolutely brilliant and telling the story of another woman musician around the same time as Brownstein.

37. AFTER ALICE by Gregory Maguire (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: deceased mothers, big sisters, governesses, baby brothers, religion, Charles Darwin, abolition, marmalade, corsets, the White Rabbit, imagination

ALSO READ: This book was very rad, and displayed astounding vocabulary, but I also know a lot of it went right over my head. If you love Alice as much as I do and want more of her story, I’d recommend a trilogy I haven’t read yet but a friend loves: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.


PROMINENT ASPECTS: best friends, divorce, self-love, when fame goes to one’s head, crushing on the wrong boy, body image, unrealistic media expectations, that feeling when your bff accidentally hands in your online diary to your English teacher…

ALSO READ: This book was transformed into an iconic Disney Channel movie called Read it and Weep starring Kay and Danielle Panabaker; if you’re around my age and a girl, it’s very likely both the film and that sister acting team are familiar to you. But honestly, I’d recommend the book itself. It says some incredible things about self-love and feminism and empowerment that the Disney version simply glosses over. (I also had the pleasure of reading this book to my favorite ten-year-old this time around, which made the journey so much more rewarding.)

39. BITCH PLANET by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: graphic novels, feminist sci fi, non-conforming women, fight clubs, nsfw, lesbians, race/class/gender/sexuality/size are all factors in identity, unlikely friendships, satire

ALSO READ: I’ve never read a book like this, a collection of the first 5 issues of the Bitch Planet comic book and serving altogether as a graphic novel. It was an astounding and incendiary piece of feminist work. Anyone have any suggestions?!

Summer reading list here!

Winter list will be added soon! 

Adorable image via A Girl and All Her Books