Read a F*cking Book: Reading Rainbow Fall Book Preview 2009

Crisp leaves always make me wanna read a book. You too? We have so much in common already. So get your pea coat on and take a look in a book of Reading Rainbow with Autostraddle. But first … a handy guide to the icons you’ll see displayed with each NEW FALL BOOK:


See, our taste is pretty damn eclectic, so we’re hoping this key will help you easily locate your particular brand of literary awesome. Also, you’ll notice the book titles link out via our Amazon Associates Account, which  means we’ll get five cents or so if you do buy via Autostraddle.

We’re hoping to switch our associate advertising over to the more independent-bookstore-friendly IndieBound, but first we must reach our minimum payout threshold on amazon and thus cash in. Keep that in mind if you’re gonna buy anything, little consumer bunnies!

This will help too:

Jump To:
The Others by Seba Al-Herz
A Gate At the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Ash by Malinda Lo
Graph Out Loud by
Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin
The Original of Laura by Vladmir Nabokov
The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
Girl Studies by Eileen Lipkin
My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman
Love Warriors by Davina Katolski
Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Nona Willis Aronowitz & Emma Bee Bernstein
Other Books to Look Out For & Calls for Submissions from Microcosm Press & SheDate.
Actual review of Shoplifting from American Apparel, by Tao Lin


the others

The Others

by Seba Al-Herz

Sep 1, 2009

Seven Stories Press


This could be the most controversial novel to emerge in our times, not just from Saudi Arabia, but from the whole of the Arab world. —Al-Hayat
I think this looks good for Autostraddle Book Club. Thoughts?
What: A total scandal/best-seller in Arabic, this ‘literary tour de force’ is the story of a nameless teenager at a girls’ school in the heavily Shi’ite Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive societies in the world who, like her classmates, has no contact with men outside her family. So what happens? SMOKING HOT LESBIAN AFFAIR. “When the glamorous Dai tries to seduce her, her feelings of guilt are overcome by an overwhelming desire for sexual and emotional intimacy. Dai introduces her to a secret world of lesbian parties, online flirtations, and hotel liaisons—a world in which the thrill of infatuation and the shame of obsession are deeply intertwined.”



A Gate at the Stairs

by Lorrie Moore

September 1, 2009


Now What? This is Lorrie Moore’s first book since 1998’s Birds of America: Stories, which is one of Moore’s three stunning short story collections you should have read by now (Self-Help. Like Life). Moore’s unique iconic style has made her one of the most revered writers of her generation, but regardless of what everyone else thinks, we think she perfectly articulates the cockeyed, cynical, defensively vulnerable and hopeful worldview of girls like us. Her piercingly intelligent, lonely and accidentally witty protagonists are like some Angela Chase + Virginia Woolf + Woody Allen mashup. A Gate at the Stairs, we’re assuming, will be well worth the wait.
What’s it About Though?: “Brittly witty and lurkingly dark, the portrait of a Midwest college town through the eyes of Tassie Keltjin, a student from the country whose mind has been lit up by learning but who spends nearly all this story out of class, as a nanny for a couple who have adopted a toddler.”




by Malinda Lo

September 1st, 2009

Little, Brown Young Readers


Something Familiar About All This …: It’s former AfterEllen Editor and current AfterEllen columnist Malinda Lo’s debut YA novel! With endorsements from genre queens like Meg Cabot, Ash’s “lesbian re-telling of Cinderella” is probs good for all ages. (Also, we love YA books at AS.) StuntDouble writes; “There is no prince, no birds to help her dress as she Bibbidi-Bobbidi -Boos around her cottage. But there are fairies, one in particular who wishes to steal Ash away from human life. Ash almost decides to give into him, but then she meets Kaisa, a female Huntress of the King. She’s beautiful, strong, independent — and best of all, she treats Ash as her equal. I can’t tell you the rest, except to say that as the story progresses, Ash is forced to choose between fairy tales and abiding love.”



Graph Out Loud


Oct 16th, 2009.
Gotham Trade Paperback


What: You love, right? Well, now you can enjoy it without risking the health of your retinas. Founded in February 2008 with one mission (“to rescue pie charts, Venn diagrams, decision trees, and other graphs from the terminal boredom of the office”), this book will probs make web-geeks, hipster graphic designers and eccentric statisticians cream in their pants.



Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

by Kathy Griffin

Sep 8, 2009.
Ballantine Books.


Who? Dear friend of the gays Kathy Griffin is unplugged, uncesnsored, and “unafraid to dish” in her new book Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin. She’s also kinda unscesnored and unafraid to dish on the teevee too, but you should know by now that good girls are rewarded for reading so there must be lots of fun juicy things in there. She also reveals “intimate details about her life,” like about her dysfunctional family, plastic surgery disasters and messy divorce with that dopey looking guy on the first season of My Life on The D-List. Then she talks about how this divorce inspired her to go lesbian. Also, she had a lesbian assistant once, Jessica, though I don’t know if that’s in the book. Are you there, Kathy? It’s us, Autostraddle!



The Original of Laura,

by Vladimir Nabokov (with Dimitri Nabokov)

November 17th, 2009


The Drama: When Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the 138 handwritten index cards that made up the rough draft of his final and unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. Howevs, his wife couldn’t bear to destroy the manuscript, thus leading to 2008’s widely publicized drama over Dmitri Nabokov’s (Vladmir’s 75-year-old son and only surviving heir) right to publish his father’s last piece of writing. The Original of Laura promises to be a “fragmented narrative—dark yet playful, preoccupied with mortality” which will “afford us one last experience of Nabokov’s magnificent creativity, the quintessence of his unparalleled body of work.
The Question: Is it possible to enjoy a book that you know the author never wanted you to read, or will you feel guilty like you’re reading your girlfriend’s diary? Judging by Amazon’s pre-order ranking for this baby, we’re thinking the “last surviving masterpiece” thing is overriding the “I told you not to look” thing.


bicycle diaries

Bicycle Diaries,

by David Byrne

Sep 17, 2009.
Viking Adult


Who? David Byrne of The Talking Heads and incredible cult film True Stories. YEAH THAT DAVID BYRNE.
Where? Byrne takes a worldwide tour of fascinating cities like Sydney, Australia; Manila, Philippines and New York City with his “trusty fold-up bicycle” while offering his views on urban planning, art, and postmodern civilization in general.


girl studies

Girls’ Studies: Seal Studies

by Elline Lipkin

Oct 1, 2009.

Seal Press


WE JUST WANNA TALK ABOUT GENDER THEORY FOREVER: Welcome to the new world of “girls’ studies” — “the socialization of girls versus the socialization of boys. You know we love this shit.”
“Professors and students alike are beginning to analyze the impact of media, pop culture, messaging, and more on America’s girls. Girls’ Studies tackles socialization and gender expectations, body image, and media impact, and gives insight into girl empowerment and how to equip our girls for a brighter future.”



My Invented Life

by Lauren Bjorkman

Sep 29, 2009.



Wha…? Oddly the Amazon listing for My Invented Life blithely skirts one of the main reasons you might be interested in reading this fun YA debut novel: it’s so queer!  Your best clue is that “readers who liked this book” also enjoyed “Annie on my Mind & Dare Truth or Promise.”

So: let’s check out one of our fave queer YA book blogs, who reports the following plot anchors: Roz suspects Eva might be gay, although Eva has a boyfriend, who keeps flirting with Roz. Roz flirts with Jonathan who turns out to be gay. Roz pretends to be gay to find out if Eva is, and then has to deal with how to find a boyfriend despite pretending to like girls, and then has to deal with the possibility that she does indeed like girls. There’s a motley crew of other sexuality-confused friends, a cross-dressing production of As You Like It, and well, so much more.


Really? Yeah! That title fills us with optimism, joy and social activist energy! We’re gonna win you guys! This “first ever marriage equality primer” promises to show why gay marriage will become law and how to win equality rights fastest, via never-released interviews of marriage equality leaders.
Who? Dr. Davina Kotulski is the author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage and an Advisory Board Member for Marriage Equality USA. She lives with all the other genius-dykes in the San Francisco Bay Area and is therefore an uber-expert. Everyone should listen to her. Also it’s easier to argue with your grandparents when you’ve got the facts on lockdown.


What/When/Where/How? Nona Willis Aronowitz & Emma Bee Bernstein had a lot of questions for a lot of people, including well-known feminists like Kathleen Hanna, Erica Jong, Michele Wallace and Starhawk as well as women who don’t relate to feminism at all. In probs the most awesome road trip of all time, the two girls crossed the country to track a conversation about “the current state of feminism and its many definitions … the past and the present … glimmers on the future … the promise of the open road … how young women grapple with the concepts of freedom, equality, joy, ambition, sex, and love –whether they call it “feminism” or not.”
Who? Aronowitz is a successful writer and cultural critic who did her Wesleyan thesis on 70s porn and its influence on the feminist movement and total cutie Emma Bee Bernstein, Aronowitz’s feminist roadtrip partner-in crime, was an accomplished photographer & essayist. (Check out the Girldrive Blog).gd-author-photo-smlI was already daydreaming about how it would be so cute to interview Nona & Emma together for Autostraddle and have Robin photograph Emma and Emma photograph Robin when I got to the part Emma’s bio which reads: “Emma Bee Bernstein died in Venice, Italy, in December 2008 at the age of 23.” Now I’ve been sort of crying at my keyboard, reading eulogies and looking at photographs for the past hour.+

From Feministing: “Emma ended her own life. It’s almost impossible for me conceive of someone that alive now being dead. But I have to believe that she needed release in some profound way that even her beautiful family and friends, that even her relationship to art and feminism, couldn’t provide. It’s not romantic. It’s unacceptable. It’s also a reminder that life is a fragile, fragile thing, a choice that we each make every single day. When Emma was alive, she made the choice fiercely and with her whole being. I thank her for the lesson.”

Get the book, y’hear? And we’ll start stalking Nona for an interview on what’s sure to be an epic book for our generation of eager feminist weirdos.


Other Fall Books To Look Out For:


Lawrence Hill Books: Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining Our Future, by Barbara J. Berg, Ph.D. September 1st, 2009.matthewshep

Penguin:The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed, by Judy Shepard. September 3rd, 2009

Clies Press: In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales, edited by Mitzi Szereto. September 8th, 2009.

Simon and Schuster: Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves. by Crystal Renn with Marjorie Ingall. September 8th, 2009

Penguin Classics: The Yellow Wall-Paper, Herland, and Selected Writings, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Author), Denise D. Knight (Editor, Contributor). New edition & packaging & editing of the classic feminist writer’s work. September 29th 2009.


crumbW.W. Norton: The Book of Genesis Illustrated, by R. Crumb. October 19, 2009.

St. Martin’s Press: Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves, edited by Jason Bitner. October 27, 2009.


Audiobook! Parker Posey reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Must-hear! November 15, 2009.

NYU Press: Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, by Alison Piepmeier (Introduction by Andi Zeisler). November 19, 2009.

From Indie ‘zine & book publisher Microcosm, out now:

rainbow_connectionWhat We Leave Behind, by Derick Jensen, is a piercing, impassioned guide to living a truly responsible life on earth.

The Rainbow Connection: Richard Hunt: Gay Muppeteer by Jessica Max Stien: A heap of information about the life of Richard Hunt, a Muppet puppeteer who worked on Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and a myriad of other Henson projects.

My Brain Hurts #2: Liz Baillie crafts a Degrassi-style teenage soap opera about queer punks in New York City!dotted-divider2

Calls for Submissions

Future Fuck All

Deadline Nov 1

closets_libraries“Hello friends, I am putting out a call for writing, art, comics, photographs, on the practical and philosophical aspects of gender, sexuality, bodies, and queerness. Personal experiences (good, bad, and other), philosophies, rants, funny stories, observations, interviews, dreams of the future. Ultimately, I want to put a zine out that is a positive fuck yeah for queerness, transgenderisms, bodies, sexualityies, and ultra wave inclusive feminism. A recognition that all oppressions are interconnected, and the time is now to share our stories and deconstruct the dead ends.” Coming Out Stories

Deadline September 30

SHEGROUP is a company made entirely up of members from the lesbian community. They are all passionate about who they are, what they stand for, and how they can contribute to the acceptance of the community. In an attempt to bring the lesbian community closer together, their first initiative is in launching an all lesbian dating site, SheDate, which asks you to share your coming out story to win $1,200 in SheAvenue prizes!


Because I actually read Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin I thought I could put it on its own page, like a real book review. Then, all alone on its own page, it took over the page. I am excited for the Autostraddle redesign when we can have more little things all over. That’s NEXT! –>


Shoplifting from American Apparel

By Tao Lin

Melville House
Sept 15


Actual Review of Shoplifting From American Apparel by Marie “Riese” Lyn Bernard

I just finished reading all 102 pages of Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin. Other books I’ve read by Tao Lin include his poetry you are a little bit happier than i am (which I reviewed on my blog Autowin) and the first 10-15 pages of his novel Eeeee Eee Eeee. I was at page 115 of his short story collection Bed, which I think is really good, when I got Shoplifting From American Apparel in the mail and decided to read it.

What happened in this book? The description in Shoplifting From American Apparel‘s press packet avoids nailing down plot points. Instead, it names settings (Atlantic City, NYC, Gainsville, Florida and the post-post-modern “location” of Gmail Chat) and specific locations (‘VIP rooms in hip Clubs,’ the NYU Library, central booking in Chinatown); identifies themes (the “unidirectional nature of time rendering everything beautiful and sad,” “class, culture and the arts”) and attitudes (‘funny, journalistic, ‘existentially-minded’); and quotes Tao Lin’s own evaluation of the book as, “2 parts shoplifting arrest, 5 parts vague relationship issues.” It’s about a guy named ‘Sam’ who is clearly ‘Tao Lin.’

I’m gonna talk about myself (Riese) right now for a second

Once I was ‘arguing’ with Autostradle COO Brooke about the “added value” of publishing a “Lady Gaga-Related Dress of Guns Conspiracy Theory” short story that I’d written in collaboration with Internicaine Katrina Casino, Intern Hot Laura and Intern Emily Choo on Autostraddle as a ‘Daily Fix’ between the hours of 3 AM and 6 AM and then taking it down and somehow I chose to cite Tao Lin’s declaration on Bookslut that he was writing a novel called Statutory Rape starring Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning* as evidence of the ‘acceptability’ of using Real Celebs in short stories and the ‘added value’ of ‘internet stunts’ in general** and she told me I’m not allowed to cite Tao Lin anymore as evidence of why I should do anything. I let Alex read the Lady Gaga story in an early incarnation and she said it was really bad and had been funnier when I’d explained it to her on the phone. I told my therapist about the story and she asked me if I was stoned.

[* according to HTML GIANT, when publishing pieces of the novel in lit-mag NOON, “NOON’s lawyer made [Tao] change [the names “Haley Joel Osment” and “Dakota Fanning”]–they were worried.”]

[** I also mentioned the works of Miranda July & Lydia Davis, who Brooke did not object to or seem interested in]

Nevertheless, I trekked from my room (where I am alone) to the living room (where Alex & Brooke are) to whine about this book review.

Me: I am so bad at writing book reviews, or writing movie reviewstheater reviews, art reviews, music reviews … I’m done with the book post except this book review.

Brooke: You know what, I think you spend too long on everything anyhow.

Me: I know

Alex: This is like that style post where you said you were so bad at writing about fashion & you didn’t know how and then it was like, completely awesome.

Me: That’s because I copied down 100 adjectives from fashion magazines while I was getting a pedicure because I think the problem is I don’t know enough adjectives, I need to have more adjectives at the front of my brain ready to be utilized.

Brooke: How do you do that?

Me: I don’t know, a workbook or something

[I forget some stuff we said here]

Me: … and then I read all these other book reviews online, which are mostly ‘negative’, and thought about how good all these book reviewers are, and how I’m jealous of their goodness and wished they worked for me, and how I think I am a ‘good writer’ but am bad at reviewing

Brooke: All the reviews are negative?

Me: Well I mean, ‘mostly’, like not negative but like, skeptical, anyhow I don’t think he cares, that’s not the point, I mean I think that’s what pisses critics off, that he genuinely believes all publicity is good publicity, he’s like really honest or something, or unashamed, like he’s fucking with you, which as you know is something I love like haha literary critics I made you read a 110 page book about thoughts I had in my head where nothing really ‘happens’ or haha I made you sit through a reading where I read “Tonight we ate a whale” over & over 40,000 times*, you know, like it’s a commentary on culture [I point at the three Andy Warhol posters on the wall in the living room], like Andy Warhol photocopied a bunch of soup cans and people bought it, Andy Warhol changed the world, like a commentary on pop culture, and Tao Lin is making a commentary on hipster culture/cyberculture, which I am obsessed with and therefore always impressed by his stunts/actions and then the books as secondary material**

[*exaggeration/misrepresentation to make Tao Lin seem ‘cooler’, in truth he read “the next night we ate whale” only 4,000 times]

[** His short story book, which’s more traditional format-wise, is amazingly solid however and I imagine critically ‘positively’ received. My ex-girlfriend also likes his short stories and she’s very tough to please, she only likes Elif Bautman and James Joyce.]

Brooke: But how successful can he be if doesn’t make any money, didn’t you say he had to sell his drawings on ebay?

Me: I thought that was cool that he did that

Brooke: I know you did, we can’t talk about this

Me: Well, he’s only 25 and he’s published four books, he’s really smart, and really good I think he makes  money maybe he’s not ‘good a money management’* but you know, he started his own publishing house, MuuMuu House. He owns that. And has a ‘sponsorship deal’ with Hipster Runoff.**

[* I don’t know why I said this]

[**I don’t remember where I got this info from or if it was true or what it means]

… and has a lot of interns

Brooke: So do you

Alex: Well, I know you think he’s like part of this ‘movement,’ and you can argue with me like about Rothko [nobody puts Rothko in a corner so i can’t transcribe the rest]…

Me: All I’ve written so far is, “my girlfriend would hate this book.”

Alex: Yeah, I think Tao Lin is a smartass asshole prick!

Me: I think you would read four pages and throw it against the wall and yell something

Alex: Yeah, I would

Brooke: Well did you like it?

Me: Of course I loved every minute of it, because I am also a young hipster-ish overeducated ‘up-and-coming’ writer — like, not one-tenth as successful as Tao Lin at all but anyhow — anyhow like Tao Lin I’m also a lonely, ostensibly socially awkward, internet-addled semi-hipster living in New York City with a college degree from a ‘good school’ but ‘unstable employment situations’ who thinks more than everyone else thinks and feels detached from social situations and feels the internet is weird and should be made fun of and I also have suffered from serious depression and less-serious alienation despite the fact that the circumstances of my life have not been ridiculously depressing and also for some reason I think other people want to hear all the thoughts from my head on twitter so it was like reading my thoughts but by a much better writer, I underlined a lot of things, I felt it had a lot of insights, for me it was like porn. Shoplifting From American Apparel was like porn for my ‘feelings’ & my little baby mind

Brooke: You should write that then, write what you just said to us

Me: Ok

‘Everyone’ ‘should’ read Shoplifting from American Apparel, it’s short and tasty like a snack

Pages: 1 2 3See entire article on one page

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.


  1. I devoured Kathy G’s book in 2 days and it is hands totes down the most entertaining celeb memoir I’ve read (and I own Out of Sync and both of Rosie’s books).

  2. greatest book review i’ve ever read.

    i’d also like to point out that we may or may not have been stoned while coming up with the lady gaga theory and therefore your therapist may or may not be right.

  3. I really want to read the AS Lady Gaga story. Like now.

    Also… My Invented Life, Shoplifting From American Apparel, and Girls’ Studies are at the top of my list for reading this fall. You guys have an awesome track record for book recommendations (I still feel indebted to Riese for introducing me to Stephen Dunn).

    • i feel the same way re: stephen dunn, dawn. i accidentally typed “damn” first. probably because i feel that passionately about him.
      i want to read so many of these books!
      i am apparently v. illiterate today because i thought riese said she needed a “wordbook” instead of a “workbook.” but now i really like the idea of having my own little dictionary of words to use in the future.

  4. ‘everyone should read shoplifting from american apparel, it’s short and tasty like a snack!’

    Do you include people over 40? Do you honestly think anyone over 40, or maybe 35, or maybe even 30, who is an adult should read this book?

    Can you imagine anyone 40 or over like it?

    I mean, there are young writers people of any age can read. Tao Lin isn’t one of them, is he? Would anyone you know over a certain age actually appreciate Lin? Why? You’ve based your liking your book on your own situation being like the author’s. What about people who are totally unlike him?

    • I think if you read the rest of the review, you’d understand that statement in context as facetious. For starters, I compare it to a snack, and books are clearly not snacks. For finishers, the rest of the review points out that I don’t know who will be into it.

    • wait are these real questions or are they rhetorical questions? it seems rhetorical
      ’cause you sound upset at me, but if you are actually asking them, i can try and answer, though I think it’s always dangerous to divide people into different mentalities by age.

  5. My GF got me Kathy Griffin’s book for my birthday. It came over the weekend. I haven’t started it yet because it has been implied that I must finish reading the library books I’ve had for weeks BEFORE reading any new books or else my relationship will suffer. But I did sneak a peek at the first page. I LOL’d at the first sentence!

    Two observations from the book review:
    1) It’s a good thing Brooke is COO and
    2) You’re really good at book reviews. Don’t compare yours to other book reviews. They’re boring…you’re not.

  6. AHhhh I wanna read ’em all! I feel so Sylvia Plath: “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”

  7. this is a great book for all ages
    its small so children can easily hold it as they read
    its short so old people can finish it before they die

  8. Thanks for the Girldrive shoutout. I know I’m superlate on this, but can you please correct my name? It’s “Nona Willis Aronowitz” not “Norma Willis-Arnowitz.” I’d really appreciate it, thanks!

  9. Has anyone heard of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy -The girl with the dragon tattoo, The girl who played with fire, and the latest one is coming out in the states 2 years later than the rest of the world, in October 31st, The girl who kicked the hornets nest.

    I started reading the first book in when I left Sydney, and finished it 15 hours later in Java, my eyes hated me for it, but I could not put it down.

    The heroine, Lisbeth Salander is possibly the hottest, most bad ass-est, girl in the history of girls who likes girls.

    Anyways …. jsyk.

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