FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Witches Like Books

feature image via shutterstock

Welcome to this week’s Friday Open Thread, the digital rendezvous point for our coven to converge. This week we gather under the last quarter moon to discuss how to curb the profusion of elfin construction, swap tips for keeping mildew out of our newly-constructed moss bath mats, find out whether Nikki bought that tie, and ponder Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius.

Also: I’m dying to hear about your Staycation plans/dinner menus/latest crushes/every glorious detail of your lives.

coven witches turn their head

All eyes on you, babe.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about YA Lit. Growing up, I was deeply invested in series such as Goosebumps, Baby-Sitters Club, The Dark Is Rising, Animorphs and Wayside School. Plop me in front of a Harry Potter, Fearless, A Wrinkle In Time or Sweet Valley [Anything] book, and I’d be engrossed for hours at a time, days, weeks and years on end. This all took place before the internet existed, mind you, and I didn’t have cable TV, so there were definitely fewer things competing for attention. But still. There’s something about young adult genre that demands full commitment, total immersion.

As a still-young-but-not-categorized-in-the-“young”-demographic adult, I continue to seek out YA stories. Since my girlfriend also has excellent taste, we often read these books together. When the Hunger Games series came out, we devoured those books whole. Not long after, we read the Divergent series together. I couldn’t get her to read Twilight with me, but we did watch all the movies, which was actually more than enough. (I think she would like those hours of her life back, but I maintain that we were taking part in an important cultural moment.)

sidibe coven dance

How I feel about YA lit.

Most recently, I lent her my childhood copies of the His Dark Materials books. I loved those books as a kid, but my girlfriend is pretty lukewarm about them as a woman in her mid-20s. I’m considering re-reading them, but I’m afraid they won’t hold up to my fond memories. I recently re-read Sirens of Titan for the first time in a decade, and man. I just cannot get behind that book the way I did before I knew about feminism.

What should I do? And also, what else should I read? And what do you like to read? What did you love in the past? Where are you going in the future? What are you doing this weekend? Would you consider yourself more of a Rory or a Paris? What’s your story?

baddest witch in town coven

You, probs.

Talk to me!

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. Oh Laura, may the stars shape themselves to give you your heart’s desire for bestowing a YA FOT upon us. YA is my favorite thing in the cosmiverse after my incredimazing wife.

    Some current loves – anything by David Levithan, but esp. “every day”: an individual wakes up in a different body every day. “Going bovine”, by Libba Bray: a Viking gnome/punk angel/ CJD roadtrip. “If you could be mine”, by Sara Farizan: girl-on-girl Iranian love story. “The green glass sea” & “White sands, red menace” by Ellen Klages: I DARE you not to LOVE the main characters, and we need all the stories we can get that have girls who love science and/or art, and plus bonus nicho-making scenes!

    And and and all Cynthia Voigt books – big favorites are “A solitary blue” & “Come a stranger” – because her characters are so damn alive, and I identified more with those two main characters growing up than any others ( although I’m sure that Dicey Tillerman is more likely to strike a chord with many here…).

    Ok I will try to restrain myself and stop here, but I cannot WAIT to see everyone’s suggestions. Especially if anyone has any YA authors of color to recommend!

    Hope everyone’s week has gone swimmingly, and I send you all the incredible, heady scent of spring flowers that has spring to me on opening the front door…

    • n.b. please read YA Lit for YA in the above – this is what happens when I am jumping out of my pyjamas in over-excitement.

    • Ooh ooh! I haven’t read any of these yet! Thank you!

      YA authors of color — have you read any Malinda Lo? I enjoyed Ash and Huntress (Cinderella-y fantasy novels). Adaptation (sci fi) fell a little flat for me, but I’m still going to read the sequel. They all have bisexual female protags, which <3 <3 <3.

      • I almost included Malinda Lo on my list! Thank you – I was going to reserve judgment on Adaptation until I read the sequel.

        I’m excited that you haven’t read the others – happy reading!

  2. Hello everyone! Today is Friday the 13th and tomorrow is Pi day!

    It’s spring! There are cherry trees and daffodils everywhere (and also seasonal allergies… but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make). And next week my younger brother is having spring break and visiting from college, so I’ll probably spend some time hanging out with him. :D I feel like we’ve grown closer after we grew from kids into adults – the six-year age span between us became less significant, we had a few years of distance between us after I moved away to live on my own, and suddenly, it seemed like we became different people, in a good way. More mature, less naïve, more open-minded.

    Books! I’ve been really getting into non-fiction stuff lately. I’ve been enjoying reading some of Brian Green’s stuff – and I’d recommend it to anyone science-inclined. He’s the type of person I think I’d want to have as a professor – he takes the most mind-blowing concepts in physics and quantum mechanics and presents them in a way that is understandable (and absolutely fascinating).

    And also, Oliver Sacks! I really liked Mudicophilia. I love learning about things related to the human brain. And the universe.

    Other nonfiction I’ve enjoyed:
    “Botany of Desire”
    “Moonwalking with Einstein”
    “My Stroke of Insight ”
    “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

    Does anyone have any other good non-fiction recommendations?

    Springtime photos! Experimentation with different filters –

    Cherry blossoms:

    Mt. Rainier:

    • Those cherry blossoms are lovely. I can’t wait for Spring to arrive here.

      Age gaps definitely matter less the older you get. Have fun with your brother!

    • No flowers where I live yet, but the weather is getting warmer, so spring seems to be coming. Those pictures are gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing them. Especially the cherry blossoms. It’s beautiful to know that things are growing somewhere. Waking up. I look forward to seeing skies that blue once again.

      • Thanks! Wishing you sunny spring days! I love the flowering trees. There’s a big arboretum/park by my apartment, and I love watching the trees change from season to season.

    • Thought of more!
      “A short history of nearly everything” – a Bill Bryson book on science history – haven’t finished yet, just started last week.
      “The Optimism Bias” – a book on the human brain’s innate propensity to optimism.
      “Stiff” – a fascinating(albeit slightly morbid) book on cadavers.
      “Wednesday is indigo blue” – on synesthesia (especially interesting to me since I have a form of grapheme synesthesia.)

      Ive been devouring audiobooks from the library lately after downloading the “OneDrive” app on my phone. Now I can “read” while driving or hiking or working or cleaning… I love it!

      • Yeah I missed it when I moved away to Indiana for a couple years too! Glad to be back in the PNW!

  3. My favorite YA lit of the past year has been The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1). I mean, you’ve got young versions of Ada Lovelace and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley being brilliant and resourceful. What’s not to like?

    My kid recently received as a gift The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. If she doesn’t get to work on it soon, I’m tempted to borrow it from her.

    The big excitement around our house today is that it’s Prom Night. I’ve got about 10 times more social anxiety on her behalf than she’s exhibiting on her own. I’m sure she’ll have a lovely time, and that I’ll muddle through my own feelings all right, too.

  4. I feel like this is the perfect time to mention Terry Pratchett. His Discworld books definitely have a feminist and social justice message in them (yay!) and are also the rare combination of very funny and full of wisdom. I imagine a lot of people noticed the outpouring of love for him as he passed yesterday; you don’t become that beloved for nothing.

    There’s a lot of good starting points, but my favorite is the Tiffany Aching books, starting with The Wee Free Men. Some of the characters from the larger series show up but not in any way that you need to have read their books first, and they’re delightful.

    Or if you want less YA and read the funniest book ever about the Apocalypse, read his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens. It’s remarkable.

    • A thousand seconds to this.
      The Tiffany books are his YA books, the rest are probably what society would consider ‘inappropriate’ for anyone say 14 or under. (So naturally I read them at 12.)

      I’m going to go snuffle into my coffee at the reminder he’s taken his walk with Death.

    • Terry Pratchett was marvelous. The Tiffany Aching branch of the Discworld novels are my new go-to gift for any teen girl in my life.

    • oh my gosh, Good Omens is absolutely wonderful, and just… yes times a million to anything by Neil Gaiman!!

    • Aw Terry Pratchett.

      Good Omens was definitely my favorite book in 8th and 9th grade. So funny and wonderful.

    • So glad I didn’t have to scroll far to see Sir Terry mentioned. I’ve read his books throughout my life, and cannot agree more, the Tiffany Aching books came out after I was a grown up and I love them, in some ways they are darker than his early adult work. Cried like a baby on Thursday when I heard. He gave me so many brilliant female heroes growing up. What a legend.

  5. Ive actually been desperately trying to find a good, non young adult haunting/ghost novel. Not that I have anything against young adult lit, I still re-read my Redwall books, I just want something longer and much more terrifying. As of yet I haven’t found anything. I’m reading Rebecca which is a ghost-ish novel that really isnt that frightening- but it is good. Im also reading Good Girls Dont Die which is young adult lit. I havent read enough of it yet to say if it is good or not- but Im still reading it so that is something :)

    If anyone has any recommendations for a read that will really leave me afraid of the dark before bed please shoot them my way!


    Vulva Art by Jessica Marie

    • The protagonist of Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp is on the youngish side, and the book is not very long, but it’s nice and creepy in an old-fashioned way. Worth a library run, anyway. (I’m actually in the market for some good, not-too-gorey ghost stories myself.)

    • Hm, I don’t read a lot of scary books…

      Well, I wouldn’t really call The Lovely Bones “terrifying” but I *would* describe it as “haunting.” It definitely elicited an emotional reaction from me, in that I cried at at least three points.

      This is probably not helpful. Sorry.

      Nice vulva art.

    • I read it when I was a teenager, so not sure how effective it would be now as an adult, but Elaine Mercado’s “true” haunting story, Grave’s End, scared me to death. It gave me nightmares and everything. It was awesome.

    • Shout out to fellow Redwall readers woop! God I wanted to eat all the food they described when I was a kid.

    • ‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James; ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Both WAY creepy and the ‘Yellow Wallpaper’ is also a seminal feminist text, woop woop!

  6. I read a lot of non-fiction (almost anything I can get my hands on. I’m an atheist who just finished a book about the Arian/Nicene squabble in the early church for example.)

    I also read a lot of Sci-Fi/Fantasy which I frankly love and adore even while I recognize the inherent flaws in some of it.

    Which is kind of a problem. Because the more I read AS and similar queer women sites the more I feel like I should be feeling oppressed or rage at their imperfections or get all up in arms about the fact that Sci-Fi, like most western lit, is full of white male privilege and stupid sterotypes and such. And then I feel bad I don’t, even as I feel annoyed I feel bad about reading something that provides me with an entertaining couple of hours. That I’m somehow letting the world down because, for my escapism, I tend to want to read about space fantasy fiction people that are totally not real. Meh.

    • Hey Nemo – just wondering if you’ve read The Sparrow (Maria Doria Russel)? I busting to find someone else who has read it to discuss it – its been a few months since I finished it but I was quite intrigued. I’ve not read sci-fi before & a friend put me on to it.

      • Not yet! But now its on the list!

        I tend towards space opera and military sci fi (David Weber, Simon R. Green, etc) but this looks like a good solid ‘classic’ sci-fi story like the Asminov and Clarke that got me into the genre as a young impressionable child.

        • Oh oh also, seeing as you like military sci-fi… did you read Ancillary Justice? I thought it was an interesting.

        • Well if you do read it, and you feel like sharing your thoughts, I’d be happy to join a conversation. As I (think I) said, I’ve not read any other Sci-Fi, and the sciencey aspect of the book was not really the point of it (as far as I could tell) – I was much more engaged by the references to religion and what I saw as the commentary on dominant social practices … but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    • It’s true, sci-fi is an imperfect world for ladies and queers. I have hope that the genre is slowly (ever so slowly) improving. Have you heard about the Ladies and Queers Destroy Sci-Fi projects? If no, it’s worth checking out for some guilt-free reading. ;)

    • Ooh, have you tried Octavia Butler and/or N.K. Jemisin? Both Black women with amazing talent and rich worlds who did/do work in SFF.

      • I second the Octavia Butler recommendation.

        Also, I try to think about issue-laden media in the same way that Anita Sarkeesian thinks about video games: it’s okay to enjoy things while also recognizing that there are problematic elements. (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist.)

        • I’m in that weird stage where I’m finally paying serious attention to such things (as other than being queer I’ve benefited from heaps of white privilege) but haven’t quite gotten to Sarkeesian’s stage. I’m still in too much “Oh my god, what the fuck is wrong with people?! Why must we be such assholes?” shock.

          But with a multitude of recommends for Octavia Butler I shall go out when I run errands and pick her up to enjoy some good guilt free readings. :)

      • I haven’t but since I’ve got the time (and a gift card) to hit a bookstore, I believe I shall pick them up today. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Definitely check out Octavia Butler. Bloodchild is a great collection of short stories and a wonderful introduction to her work.

    • Did you get your hair cut? :) (We were talking barbers in a previous FOT.)

      I love Ursula Le Guin for feminist and also some of the most progressive sci-fi re: gender flexibility and also racial awareness; I’m blanking on whether she has any YA material in her published works.

      • I did get my haircut though in irony at my usual barber as I ended up across town for unrelated reasons.

        And as for Ms LeGuin, I read her books first in something like 6th grade. I did read above my grade level but if I recall correctly her books were shelved in a way to encourage us to read ’em around then.

  7. I second the Terry Pratchett recommendation. I’ve been reading Mort en memoriam, but the Tiffany Aching books are really good. Monstrous Regiment is also hilarious and lady-centered.

    My absolute favorite YA author is Robin McKinley. Spindle’s End is such a gentle, rich retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a primary cast of female characters and awesome friendships. It’s my go-to comfort read. Chalice is similar, but shorter and with a different universe. Sunshine is awesome and about vampires. Outlaws of Sherwood is basically my favorite Robin Hood retelling ever. Don’t read Pegasus because it is like the second time ever that McKinley has written a novel where there will be a sequel and it’s been five years and the sequel still isn’t out, sooooo wait for the sequel to be a real thing THEN read Pegasus.

    When I was younger, Tamora Pierce’s books were my favorite. I still have soft spots for The Protector of the Small novels and the original four Circle books (I also loved The Will of the Empress). Go for the Tortall universe if you want swords and sorcery; go for the Circle books if you want more everyday magic.

    In terms of non-YA stuff I love:

    Tanya Huff – omg, she’s so funny and super gay and lots of her books have cats in them. I really like The Keeper’s Chronicles, The Enchantment Emporium, and her books about Torin Kerr.

    Laurie R. King – okay, so these aren’t fantasy, but her Mary Russell books are so absurd that they almost might as well be. I say that with a lot of love. I read The Beekeeeper’s Apprentice when I was in middle school or high school and have been hooked ever since. The premise is that Sherlock Holmes has retired to becoming a beekeeper and takes Mary on as an apprentice. Hijinx follow.


        because, Alanna and Kel. My heart. They were the protagonists 12-year-old me desperately needed.

    • I just read “Chalice” this week and thoroughly enjoyed it! My favorite aspect was the way it focused so much on her work-life – her strategies, growth therein etc, and how it seemed like it was given more weight than the romance, which was almost incidental.

      I’ll have to check out your other recommends!

    • Monstrous Regiment is amazing and also a good one for folk who are maybe not that into Terry Pratchett to begin with as it can easily stand alone. One of my favourites. Such complex topics picked apart beautifully and yet leaving you to interpret and question things yourself.

  8. I can’t explain the joy I felt when I realized I was part of the introduction for Friday Open Thread! Well, Laura, I did not buy the tie yet. I am going to do it tomorrow, I think I get paid today? Maybe?

    Uh. Laura I’m also a fan of Young Adult books too! Like, I don’t like it to be a known fact but sometimes I just want to sit down with a beer and a young adult book. You know? Like just get lost in a world of fantasy and magic.

    I don’t really have suggestions for you. The last few I read were the Divergent and of course Hunger Games series.

    It is really nice out here today. I can’t remember the last time it was so nice out. I am getting ready to go for a run/walk because I really need some vitamin D.

    • Oh, I don’t mean to pressure you into buying the tie! But yay for payday.

      Beer + YA books = doing adulthood right.

      • Oh no. Not pressure! I have been thinking of that tie all week. Like that is a tie I need. It is a tie that will make me go, this is a great tie.

  9. I recommend NOT re-reading the Anne McCaffrey books if you were into them as a teen. Let me say, they do not hold up for an adult with even a vaguely feminist eye….

    • Actually… I still enjoy them.
      I view them as brain ginger – a totally without redeeming value brain palatte cleanser for when I want a story that’s decent enough if you ignore the 60’s gender role vibes and isn’t going to require much thought process.

    • I have a such complex feelings about Anne McCaffrey and especially the Pern books. I think she was ahead of her time, but behind ours.

      I loved the Pern books when I read them as a girl, then I read one when I was 20 and the misogyny and sexism made me hulk smash ragey. I felt so betrayed. I did a memorial reread of the first 6 Pern books after she died, when I in my early 40s, and I had a more balanced reaction. I could appreciate the stories but there is definitely a lot of underlying sexism and homophobia (against men, apparently there were no lady loving women on Pern) and some weird, weird attitudes about sex.

      I thought that Dragon Singer and Dragon Song held up the best.

      • Ahhhh nooooo now I’m nervous to read them again!!! I loved them as a kid and I don’t want to dislike themmmmm. D:

  10. My little sister (17) recommended “Unremembered” to me. (She is a secret reader, and likes to pretend that she doesn’t like to read, but her Kindle is as full as mine). I downloaded it, but haven’t started it yet. It’s a YA trilogy that might fit what you’re looking for.

    For a YA quick read (could finish in a couple hours), I enjoyed “Dating Sarah Cooper” (and enjoyed it probably way too much for something that started as “Faking It” fan fic, but I’m unashamed).

    I also like anything by Malinda Lo, if you haven’t already read her books. “Adaptation” kind of has that YA sci-fi vibe.

    For non-YA, I just started “The Book of Unknown Americans” and I’m really looking forward to finishing it over the weekend!

    So many books! :)

  11. At the recommendation of a very cool and cultured friend, I just started reading The Wicked and the Divine and I 100% recommend it. I’m a couple of chapters in and so far the lead character is a mixed-race teenage girl from southeast London, the main person she’s met is a VERY cool, snarky, rad queer woman who blows people’s heads off when she clicks her fingers, pretty much everyone else seems to be a woman too and…. there’s this gang of magical gods.
    So pretty good! Definitely recommend it!!

  12. I have a box of books (they’re in a box because I moved over 6 months ago and have yet to fully unpack), which I just opened last night because I was looking for a book to read, but it was 11:30 pm, and I couldn’t exactly go to a library or bookstore. I found “Agorafabulous”, which I had read a while back. There was a bookmark about 3/4 through the book, so I decided to start there. It’s a memoir by comedienne/writer Sara Benincasa about her experience with agoraphobia. I read a lot of scripts (plays & musicals), so it’s nice to read a memoir or novel once in a while. I’m big on memoirs; something about real life experience draws me in. The next memoir I plan on reading is called “It Was Me All Along” by Andie Mitchell, which chronicles her weight loss journey. I’m trying to become more body positive and healthy at the same time, so I’ve been interested in reading about all the feels that go with overcoming food addiction and the issues at the core.

    Speaking of health, I’m trying to put my life together. I graduated from grad school with my MFA in May, which I’m painfully realizing was almost a year ago. I’ve been underemployed since May, and I’ve been dealing with a quarter-life crisis of what I want to do with my life, and the first thing I want to do is be healthy. That means not waking up in the middle of the afternoon, eating real food (green things!), being outside more (I’ve been taking long walks with my dog), and getting active (I joined a gym!). I’m trying to do this while still being a body-positive feminist and not fat-shaming anyone (especially myself). I had a fitness consultation thing at the gym last night, and the trainer was not fat shaming at all. He was so wonderful, and he made a potentially terrifying appointment fun.

    I’m also trying to get a day job. I work nights & weekends, but I think I would benefit from the stability of a 9-5. 2014 was about taking risks. 2015 is about being the best me I can be. :)

    • I’ve been there with the quarter life crisis after graduating. It’s kind of like a rite of passage, but it does get better.

    • I’m glad you were able to find a body-positive trainer! It seems like a tricky thing to navigate.

      I agree with Al, btw. I’ve watched most of my friends go through this as almost a rite of passage following graduation. It does get better with time.

    • Hey you, I just really wanted to applaud you!
      I started doing the Paleo thing a month back (I needed that strict set of rules), because I was eating like a trash can and my health started deteriorating something rapidly last year (Asthma, ugh).
      Now, I’m really limiting eating out and am buying and treating myself to nice, organic things and self made food and plenty of water, and I feel like I’m kind of seeing my body as this extra entity that I need to be kind and grateful and loving to, instead of a means to getting around and cooperating or not.
      It’s also nice to just feel myself in my skin, during exercise.
      I’m usually more of a head person.
      So what I’m saying is, that I hope you get to fall in love with yourself a little bit.
      You know, not as fat or female,blond or brown, but as the sum, of your muscles moving, your lungs breathing, your heart beating.
      Be good to yourself and remember that things take time.
      Take Care!

  13. I have officially been living in Vancouver for one week now and I can happily say that I am loving it! I have been at my new job for a week as well and I am loving it and yesterday was my birthday and even though I celebrated it without my friends and family my co-works and landlord made me feel like I didn’t just pack up my stuff and move 1,100 Km away from my past life. I am super excited that all of my furniture will be arriving on Monday and that I will actually have a bed to sleep in and not an air mattress.

  14. There so many good looking recommendations here!!! I need to update my to-read list asap.

    I recently had a conversation with a friend about how much I enjoy the YA genre, though I can’t really say what draws me to it. I mostly read sci-fi and fantasy, all my recs fall into those genres. My favorite YA book is Sabriel by Garth Nix. I love Diana Wynne Jones works, especially Howl’s Moving Castle. If you like Regency romance novels, Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot is delightful. I’ll throw in a vote for Discworld too, they are so much fun to read.

    • I actually wasn’t super into Sabriel; the writing style just didn’t connect with me. But I hold an eternal flame in my heart for Diana Wynne Jones. And I was pleasantly surprised by how well they adapted Howl’s Moving Castle movie. It seemed like such an impossible task, but I love it almost as much as the book!

      • Okay, so this is where I feel comfortable to own up to DWJ being my favourite author of all time, with “Hexwood” being one of my go-to books when I’m feeling down.

        Her magic is the most gloriously constructed – Ysabeau Wilce is the current author whom I’m most interested to see if she will take over in my esteem, and who I feel is severely underrated! Her characters are just as wonderfully willful too.

    • Sabriel/the Abhorsen trilogy are some of my favorite favorite favorites!! I really need to get my hands on Clariel.

      • they are some of my favorite books too!! I had no idea there was even a fourth book, that’s awesome

  15. My staycation plans involve trying not to burn the house down while I attempt to bake a pie in honor of pi day. Other than that it’ll probably mostly be rehearsing for juries and homework. Maybe for a break I’ll treat myself to a jar of nutella and some books/fanfic to catch up on. I live the exciting life.

    Books! I’ve been so busy lately I almost don’t have time to read for fun. I’m hoping to finish Sapphistries by Leila J. Rupp before it’s due back. I discovered the queer/feminist section of one of the campus libraries near my house and I’ve never been the same. In terms of YA I’ve heard The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is good, so I’m starting the first book of that soon. And Malinda Lo’s books are fantastic, if you haven’t already read them. I think Adaptation is my favorite. Yay for YA urban sci-fi with awesome bi lady protagonists!

    I have the best mini-crush going on one of the seniors in my theater class. She’s got fantastic hair and the sass to match. I want to talk to her but I haven’t since like freshman year and I was a very different person then. Also, I’m shy.

    Other than all that, not much going on in the world of me right now. How’s everyone’s day going?

    • My day is going pretty well, thanks for asking! It’s chilly here, but we just got a new cafe in our building that I’m going to check out in a bit. Supposedly the baristas has served Martha Stewart, and Martha approved. Haha.

      What kind of pie are you making?

      • I haven’t decided yet. I don’t want to do anything too complicated because my skills in the kitchen are severely limited at best. I might go for a standard apple pie type deal. Once I had a s’more pie which was like graham cracker and marshmallow cream and different kinds of chocolate and it was divine, but I doubt I’d be able to find a gluten-free substitute and it might be too complicated.

        • Yeah, I’m not sure how gluten free graham cracker would work. Maybe an almond substitute of some kind? I agree, sounds complicated.

          Smitten Kitchen posted this pie with a note about thinking pi day is silly, so I kiiiind of want to make that. Out of spite. Also because it looks good.

  16. I got to meet Lois Lowry and Khaled Hosseini last week so I’m currently re-reading the Giver and the Kite Runner. Gimme all those angsty feels.

    • That’s awesome!

      I got to hang out with Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter. They were both fantastic.

  17. I must confess to an everlasting love of Sarah Dessen. Lock & Key being my undisputed favorite, and I will fight anyone who says they aren’t feminist enough.
    In other news, I’m currently on my way home from an adult sleepover with a lovely straddler I met at one of the holigay meetups. So my weekend is off to a maaarvelous start!

  18. I just want to take this opportunity to gush about how I’ve recently started volunteering at a bookstore that used to be a women’s bookstore and still has a ton of queer and feminist books and I am utterly in love with it!

    I am reading Chimamanda Adichie and some Norwegian non-fiction but I really, really want to continue with the Divergent series because YA is the only thing my fried brain can focus on long enough to finish it in one gulp, like before I mastered in literature.

    • How far are you in Divergent?

      I feel like it started strong and just sort of petered out… I expect the movies of the sequels to be a lot better. (Even though the movie of the first one was not that great.)

  19. I use to read Goosebumps as a kid. Remember the TV show they had Saturday mornings on Fox? It was good, but I kind of felt like it was a bit of a rip off of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which was really good as a kid. I still have most of my Goosebumps books, including that choose your own story line one. Side note, I had two of those choose your own story books, but in 5th grade a bully who regularly took my Goosebumps books and would return them two days later, lost that book. Oh well. Right now I am more of a fan of short stories, personal stories(specially from the trans & genderqueer/non-binary community), and science articles(if that counts).

    I am still having problems with my father respecting not gendering me and it really bums me out. I told him this, and he pretty much told me stop acting childish. I also told him I’m partially a food addict, which is why I don’t have money sometimes, because it’s being spent on food(or the infrequent times I go out drinking with friends). He called me out saying that bs. It does give me some solace that the rest of his family act in a similar way sometimes.

    On a more positive note, this adorable Jewish queer lady who I never met in person(was suppose like back in August, but life happens), invited me to her bday next week. I am 85% I want to go, but also nervous, because it’s the unfamiliar. I am not even sure what to get her. I was thinking maybe a bottle of vegan alcohol(something quirky but fancy, like a French liqueur) and vegan food, but not sure. She’s trans positive and has her own like feminist podcast with her friends. I think I will be listening to it during the weekend.

    I have no nature photos, as last Saturday I went out with friends, so I had put off building a media pc until Sunday so that gave me no time to go hiking. Side note, it’s pretty sweet system, it’s just that I need to better setup the interface to not be small on a tv. I spent about hour and half last night watching live Sleater Kinney videos on youtube. So, instead I leave you with these images.

    This is from last Saturday outside my work. They were peacefully marching and chanting Black live and Latino lives matter. I wish they also chanted trans lives matter too, but step by step, I guess.

    I took this on my walk back from the bank. It’s too warm outside right now(almost 90 degrees).

      • I got a new Intel NUC. It’s pretty much the same specs as the newest MacBook Air(base model) that came out this week. I’m still playing around with what storage options I want, but right now ordered a 128gb SSD, and plan to return the current drive in there for possibly a 2TB drive in the next few weeks.

    • I do remember that series! I always liked Are You Afraid Of The Dark better. We used to watch it at sleepovers.

      • That show did have young Elisha Cuthbert, Emanuelle Chriqui, and if I remember it right Ryan Gosling too.

        • Hahaha well I’ve never dry roasted a turkey, so I don’t know how much sweat that would be, but the image is pretty amusing.

          A queer Jewish lady, eh? Is she practicing? Do you know her ethnic/cultural background? Does she eat kosher? My sister converted, maybe I can throw ideas your way??

          • I am a Queer Jew myself so I am very familiar, and in recently discovered some queer and ace(asexual, demi and so forth) tumblrs that are teaching me how to be queer and Jew(though it’s more of a cultural thing for me). She is vegan so I may bring a vegan meal along with a wine. Maybe one of the brands run by females, and is vegan friendly(cause these days you never know). But, thank you!

  20. Don’t worry about His Dark Materials not holding up. I read them first when I was in middle school and I still adore them as an adult. (“adult”)

      • i’ll also note that i didn’t read the series *until* i was an adult (i know! i mourn the loss of that experience for my younger self, too), and i loved it with all my heart as a sorta-discerning 20-something. i don’t understand your gf feeling lukewarm about these books. that’s honestly just so perplexing to me.

    • Yesss they totally hold up!! I’ve been rereading them every few years since I first read them when they came out when I was little, and they’re so so wonderful. I feel like I get something new out of them every time.

  21. Hello straddlers!

    Reads of the past couple of months, give or take:

    I’ve read How to Grow Up three times in a row and each time I can’t figure out whether it’s enthralling or exasperating but, given how much I’ve highlighted, let’s go with “I really enjoyed the ride even when it drove me nuts.”

    Just finished Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver and I think it’s a very solid first effort! I wish the pacing was a little more even/the editing was tighter, but there’s fascinating worldbuilding and an emphasis on care of the self and others which usually goes totally out the window in dystopian novels

    Before that I read To Stand in the Light, which is a really cute novella about queer superheros in 1980s New York City

    On New Year's Day I drunk-bought a copy of Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it for real changed my daily routines. It’s very anamistic, so it may not be your jam if you’re not a little into woo.

    • I totally bought it on a trip, read it, and it did not bring me sufficient joy for it to come home with me ;-). It was a faintly amusing light read (particularly the section about books. I re-read them! My books bring me joy. All of them! Really! Oh wait, I’m an academic and therefore at the end of the normal curve…) Nonetheless, I might just work on eliminating things that do not bring me deep visceral joy.

  22. I’m absolutely totally in love with the fact that book and author recommendations are happening here! I’m making a list of authors to check out while I’m on spring break next week so I’m super duper excited about this :D
    I doubt it counts as YA, but the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series has been so much fun to read. The first book is probably the best, but all of them are a crazy quick read. I also love anything and everything my Neil Gaiman, there’s just something so wonderfully enchanting about his writing, I can’t seem to get enough of it! I’ve been kinda roaming away from YA to read a wider range of stuff, but after all the analyzing of Romantic and Victorian literature I’ve had to do for my literature class, I’m ready to have something fun and easy to read again.
    In life news, this lesbian couple that I’ve known since high school FINALLY got engaged. I’ve basically been in love with how in love they are and I practically squealed in the middle of the library when I saw their facebook post about it. They’ve been through so much and have this insane long distance relationship so I’m just super happy to see them happy.
    I personally am drowning in midterms and am in desperate need of a long, long, 12-24 hour nap to try and get my body to catch up with all this life insanity. I’m also enjoying this crazy heat wave of an astonishing 50 degrees for the first time in 4 or 5 months. I can see the grass! It’s amazing!
    Hope you guys are having an awesome Friday!

    • Ahh yes I love HG2G and Neil Gaiman as well. Also I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who lives in a place where 50 degrees in March is definitely a heat wave.

    • I feel you on that 12-hour nap need. Good luck with your midterms! I also love Neil Gaiman. He does a lot of talks in NYC, and I always go with my girlfriend. He never disappoints.

      • ooh I’m so jealous!!! I’d love to see Neil Gaiman speak, but I live pretty far out of the way from where anyone would want to give a talk :P

  23. Hey guys!! How is everyone! Can’t believe it’s already Friday!! I still have work til Sunday! yay! boo…

    I love Animorphs!!!! A few years back I borrowed all the books from the library in batches of 10 to read. I still have my Andalite and Hork Bajir chronicles at home. Visser three! lol. Goosebumps was pretty cool, I sorta wished they all were connected instead of several different stories. Harry Potter is a no brainer. I mean it’s only my whole life you know? My wife had me watch all 3 LOTR movies and man are they fricking long. I did this thing where I would shout ‘Dumbledore!!!’ every time Gandalf saved the day. Needless to say it drove my wife insane. I haven’t watched The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies yet. -.-

    Currently waiting for my new system as well. Fry’s electronics is going to make it for me and stuff. Don’t remember all the specs but I know I’m going to be running on AMD now and I still don’t have a monitor. Hahaha. Just anything decent you know but IDK if I can’t decide. I should’ve brought this question up at the Ask Us Anything thread. LOL.

    You guys after I completed another Metal Earth!! The Warthog from Halo!!

    It was a pretty good/hardish build. Not bad for being out of practice for a month.

    Here are our cats! lol.
    This is Jessy finding a ‘bed’

    This is Jessy sleeping in said bed (box)

    This is our Andy finding out what a window is and what birds are. Still a furbaby.

    • Such a adorable cats as always. And yes the LOTR movies are long, specially so the directors cut(saw the Two Towers directors cut and it was like 20 minutes longer). But, at the same time the movies, at least for my friends and I, did a good job of marketing/making zeself want to go to New Zealand.

    • Hahaha those movies are really long. The LOTR books are even longer, but I slogged through them. I think I prefer LOTR fanfic to the real thing, honestly.

      The warthog was my favorite vehicle in multiplayer! Still zippy, but easier to control than the ghosts.

    • Working til Sunday solidarity! Also adorable cats and cool warthog, I’ve added some metal earth stuff to my wish list :) excited to someday build an AT-AT.

    • I have a confession – I occasionally save your cute cat pics and send them to my friend to cheer her up, because they are so damn cute!

  24. Redwall series!! Love it so much, there are so many to chose from. Plenty of which have Female warrior protagonists.

    I miss Brian Jacques so much.

    His descriptions are wonderful because I believe he started his tales for this school for children with vision impairments.

    • Yes, those descriptions! Especially of the food. I still think about those feast scenes, and it has been *years* since I read those books.

      • My mum read almost all of them aloud to my sister and I, too!
        Punishment at the time was not being able to sit in on nightly book-reading time. Happened to me twice, both times I cried. Good times.

  25. The last young adult book I read (I think it is a YA book?) was Code Name Verity, which I rather enjoyed and would probably recommend to people who enjoy historical fiction. It is not explicitly queer but I couldn’t help reading the two main characters as queer whether that was the intention or not. Bonus points for one of the heroes being a languages geek, which is something I don’t feel like I see often in fiction.

    The other one I’ve read recently-ish was Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, which I read on a plane back from the US and which I think was generally good but I have mixed feelings about some of the things in it. Might have to reread to sort out my opinion properly.

    Recently most of my reading has been teaching-diploma-related, and while it’s all super interesting stuff I do wish I had more time for leisure reading. I’m going to have to peruse the recommendations on this thread to get some new books for my ‘to read’ list!

    • It’s so hard to do leisure reading when you have to do academics-related reading too. I really didn’t read much (on my own) during college at all.

  26. I grew up in a very tiny town, but we had the best library. The head library, the coolest Jewish woman named Bonny (who I think might have been a lesbian!), secretly gave me books before they were put in the library system so I never had to worry about returning them in two weeks time. This was how I read historical fiction books with ~innappropriate~ scenes and cultivated my lifelong love of mystery novels (Agatha Christie!), the Tudors, and books about women in pre/post war Europe. Bonny influenced my life so much; she even sneaked me books about sex!

    Tamora Pierce was hugely influential in my pre-Bonny book period. Every book I found by her I read, and I still read every new book she writes. Be still, my heart.

    I got a day off from teaching, so this weekend will be spent finishing “Murder in the Marais” by Cara Black (a murder mystery, involved enough that I don’t feel like it’s a trashy dime store mystery novel) and finishing my thesis! I have a bilingual, unpublished book about nuns on my hands now and idk what to do with it–except graduate!

    • I meant to say “head librarian” not “head library.” Please forgive code switching problems :/

    • Yay Agatha Christie! I grew up in the town she was found in after she disappeared, we have a crime writing festival and everything. Love mystery Nun book sounds fascinating.

  27. I finally finished Locke & Key last week, so I decided to start up Cursed Pirate Girl, which I found while perusing Boulder Bookstore a couple of year ago (I’m slow to get around to things). It is SO GORGEOUS and whimsical and I guess it started as a Kickstarter in 2010??? But it’s everything I would have wanted in a story as a kid, and it’s been really fun to read now. I was shipping CPG/Apollonia within 8 pages, which is silly, but THIS BOOK THOUGH.

    I am totally hotlinking so I hope these images work. The art style and writing shoots for an Alice in Wonderland feel, and it definitely succeeds. And it reminds me a little bit of Flapjack, which I am also okay with.

    • Wow. That looks amazing. Also, can I say that I am really glad the Boulder Bookstore still exists? It’s been almost 20 years since I lived there, but that bookstore is still one of my favorite memories of the place.


    I mean, I have to write two papers, a lab report, a postlab, the lion’s share of two grant proposals, do a pchem problem set, and study for a test the week I get back from break (and I swear I’m forgetting something in that list). But I will be on break and I will get to do while cuddling kitties and a dog and I get to see my best friend for the first time since December. AND everything’s thawing so I can finally go paddling for the first time since January and that’s great because my boats have been so neglected.

    And as for books, hmmm, I’m jumped in a bit above to exclaim about how much I love Tamora Pierce (especially Alanna and Kel, my heart. But also Daja and Tris, too). I also really loved Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit as a kid, like I loved it an absurd amount, like I was Frodo Baggins for Halloween when I was six. I still really love The Hobbit, mostly because I still have this version that has like 15 gorgeous illustrations of various scenes. I recently read the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) and it’s a super great YA series that’s a zombie novel that’s not a zombie novel and instead about political intrigue and the first book was hands down the most gripping thing I’ve ever read, so y’all should read it.

  29. I just finished “The Witches of Echo Park” by Amber Benson; it was great! But it was just recently published, there is a cliffhanger, and there is a sequel – but it has no release date yet. I would definitely recommend it. There is a lesbian character with pink hair, but there is no lesbian sexual touching, just for the record.

    • I appreciate your comprehensive description of the lesbian content in this book, haha.

      Also, I’m happy to hear Amber Benson’s book is good! You never really know how it’s going to turn out when a celebrity writes a book.

      • Remember when Tyra Banks wrote that off-the-wall children’s fantasy book about models that were also, like, fairies? Good times.

  30. No staycation for me tomorrow – I have to be at the school VITA clinic, write a memo, do two problem sets and study for two midterms before Tuesday. EEEK!! However, as of Tuesday, I will be free for spring break! Next Saturday will be my staycation day.

    So I went to a Pride breakfast fundraiser at school yesterday. It was lovely; Tony Kushner was the keynote speaker and he was very funny. I may or may not have been checking out the women there, too. :) We raised over $60K for our emergency scholarship fund, which provides help for students that have been disowned by parents or guardians and may otherwise leave school. :)


    Some of my favorites are: Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, I’ll Give You the Sun, Speak, Stolen, Love Letters to the Dead, The Body of Christopher Creed, Freaks Like Us, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, FORGIVE ME LEONARD PEACOCK, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (i haven’t finished the second book yet), I’ve heard the chaos series by patrick ness is really good, A MONSTER CALLS IS SO GOOD, the I Hunt Killers trilogy, sahara special, bud not buddy, maniac magee, actually im not sure if the last few hold up but they were like life boats for me when i was younger. upon reflection it’d probably wouldve just been easier to take a picture of my room to answer this.

    I work all day tomorrow so I won’t be able to have a Staycation, but I’ll be sending good vibes everyone’s way!

    • My girlfriend just finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and is lending it to me now!

      I would have sworn I already read it, but apparently it hasn’t been out all that long. I think I just got it confused with all the Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl I’ve read. :p

  32. I feel like I must preface this by outing myself as a Literature snob.
    I have very strong opinions on what I read and exercise very strict criticism.
    For me, Literature needs to make me love it, needs to make me feel, realise something about myself, the world, life, or just rock me in an ocean of beautiful words and language, carry me away into a new or other world, make me touch that special place where art is a means of communication, and I see and understand.
    Raskolnikov can sit on a bench after having just murdered someone, and see a drunk girl, and care for her safe homecoming with desperate urgency, just as much as a young girl with cancer can climb up the last stairs in the Anne Frank museum, even though her lungs don’t really have the capacity for it.
    They can pick peaches while starving in ” The Grapes of Wrath” or put their lips gently upon a snitch.
    I can drudge through “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” and then wax poetic about its composition at a dinner table or another, but it does not strike the chord, that needs to be struck, it does not even make me turn the pages eagerly like Katniss roping herself into a tree does.
    After a gazillion more or less entertaining and/or meaningful autobiographical escapades, adult lit has become too self absorbed, too engrossed with the whole “I’m an Author” thing, watch me do my author things,and what will the reviews say? while YA lit oftentimes still has the fire of youth, the wild imagination, the drive and eagerness to tell a story.
    The most enjoyable books I’ve read lately,were found in the YA corner.(And man, did “The Hunger Games” keep me up at night and “The Fault in Our Stars” kick me in the gut).
    A corner I didn’t visit since the age of 12!
    Maybe we’re rediscovering that age of growing up as the perfect age to go on a journey.
    You know, to a Misty Mountain, maybe.

  33. I’m not sure what it is I love so much about the YA genre, but I really do. I’ve read books in all kinds of genres but YA is like that safe comfortable place I can curl up in after a long day.

    I recently read Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Lynburn Legacy” trilogy and I would definitely recommend it. The heroine is a WOC, there are awesome Queer ladies, hilarious dialogue and MAGIC. I literally could go on and on about this series and the cool ways it handles certain troupes, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

    This weekend I plan on starting & possibly finishing “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer. I really enjoyed “Cinder” so hopefully the rest of the series is just as good.

  34. Omg I’m obsessed with YA lit. I’ve always been a big reader (as a kid I would go to the library every Saturday and bring home like a dozen books), and now that I’ve graduated college and actually have time to read books for fun, I’ve been re-reading a lot of my favorites from when I was a teenager/preteen.

    My all-time favorite author is Madeleine L’Engle. My plans for this weekend actually involve reading a bunch of her books while sitting in a lawn chair in my backyard! Some of my other favorite YA authors are Meg Cabot, Melina Marchetta, Brigid Lowry, Sarah Dessen, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting…I read pretty much every book in the YA section of the library growing up.

    I’m definitely gonna read through all the comments and look up the books/authors that y’all are recommending! LIBRARY HERE I COME!

  35. I’m not reading all comments so excuse the repeats.

    Chima, Cinda
    Nix, Garth
    Pierce, Tamora (oh, Alanna… but also fond of Beka Cooper series)
    McKinnley, Robin
    Borchardt, Alice (maybe not technically YA but read her wolf series at the end of my YA years)

    I’d like to read the Throne of Glass series, gave up on Eragon et al, deeply regret time spent on Twilight (cultural phenom aside), and never did get around to Hunger Games. The Ender’s Game series was also big for me, and I still own/re-read them, but just don’t like how he dealt with Petra.

    • I really liked Ender’s Game as a kid! I agree about Petra, though. And I gave up on Eragon too.

  36. I am mostly reading Women In Berlin for my history class.

    Life is pretty peachy at the moment <3! I been working on my love guns also ;)

  37. This is so relevant to my interests. YA lit is possibly my greatest love in life, maturity be damned. I feel especially qualified to comment on gay YA lit and dystopian/sci-fi YA lit because of how they are the best.

    Tamora pierce and Diana Wynne Jones are obvious classics

    My students were very into the Maximum Ride series

    Graceling, by Kristin Cashore is pretty awesome and also feminist-y

    Afterworlds (scott westerfield) an enjoyable weekend read and also has a girl-romance plotline going on

    finally, Wonder (palacio) is more of a middle grades rather than a YA book (but that just means you can read it faster!) and also its realistic rather than fantasy, but its really really good.

  38. I am reading Gene Wolfe’s Urth of the New Sun and I’m really not wanting it to end. I just finished Book of the New Sun, and it was the first fantasy book I had ever read. I feel like it’s opened me up to so much of what the genre can give.

    Like Nemo wrote in a comment earlier, there are some very misogynistic elements in both books (mostly Book of the New Sun) and it can be hard reconciling that.

    • I feel like if that book opened you up to the entire fantasy genre, it can’t be that bad!

  39. I go through spates of YA whenever I get stressed from work or life or whatever. Reading is my safe place, but what I read depends on what I have the mental energy to process. Aside from reading wayyyy too much on my own, I love that some of my friends’ kids are getting to reading age now. It means I get to pass on the joy, and revisit it on my own.

    Some of my favorites that are less well known were/are: George MacDonald’s short stories; The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall; The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge; Black Unicorn by Heather Cooper; Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper; Swallows and Amazon series by Arthur Ransome; The Children of Green Knowe series by Boston; So You Want to Be a Wizard series by Diane Duane; The Ancient One series by Barron; The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley; The Five Children and It series by E. Nesbit; Black Hearts in Battersea; The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander; 21 Balloons by William Pene Dubois; Kon-Tiki by Lyon; The 13 Clocks by James Thurber

    Some of those slant more towards children’s books than YA books, but they all hit a chord when I was 8-17. I’ve read most of them at least twice.

    • Oh I totally forgot about The Gammage Cup! I really liked that book. And The Dark Is Rising. And So You Want to Be a Wizard. You have good taste. :)

  40. The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High were my JAM growing up. TBC mainly because I found a book at a garage sale that said “Dawn…(forgot the actual title)” and I was like SOMEONE ELSE WITH MY NAME. COOL.

    I also have always, always, always wanted to be a twin, so SVH was so great.

    I read YA books every once in awhile, and mainly the super popular ones (John Green, Hunger Games). I just read The Magicians (the first in a trilogy) by Lev Grossman that I enjoyed.

    • I loved, loved, loved the Lev Grossman Magicians books. Especially all the fun he had sending up the Narnia books (in a loving homage, of course!).

    • Aw, I remember Dawn and her long blonde hair and flower child environmentalism. Remember the surfer ghost?!

  41. I still love His Dark Materials! The last book, with (spoilers) the main character’s mother redeeming herself in the eleventh hour was disappointing–she was a character you love to hate–but overall the series has really held up for me.

    Currently, I’m going through my book collection to see what needs to go. I have a slew of Goosebumps books myself and a stack of W. I. T. C. H. novels (did anybody else on here read those?) that probably need to go since I’ll never read them again, but sentimentality is staying my hand. There’s the Seventh Tower series by Garth Nix, too, but I’m afraid those haven’t held up, myself, so I haven’t touched them. I used to be bursting with impatience for my mother’s occasional visits to Barnes & Noble so I could pick up the next book.

    I also was accepted for a summer lab internship, so at the end of May I’ll be moving. I’ve been devouring articles on apartment hunting, haha (no such thing as being too prepared, right?). Going to try to read up on what research the lab is doing so I won’t feel COMPLETELY like a fish out of water.

  42. I am currently reading Presumed Incompetent, which is a book of essays about how women of color in academia are treated, because I am a huge nerd. It’s a huge book and I’m in grad school, so I’ve been reading it since like… August and I’m only halfway through.

    I generally find it very hard to get into fiction now for some reason (I mostly read memoirs). However, I have very fond memories of a lot of the fiction I read in middle and high school. I am convinced I am the only person who has ever read What Happened to Lani Garver, which is a book about the disappearance of a gay/trans/genderqueer kid (never really specified in the book) that I randomly picked off the shelf at the library when I was way to young for it, read it again in high school, and it remains one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.

  43. Anything by Tamora Pierce! her series feature a whole slew of dynamic, diverse, amazing women and lots of magic and great incentive mythology. She was so formative for me. Her books feature a queer POC Mage (who was definitely my first girl crush before her storyline ever presented her as gay), a rad lady-knight who likes a bunch of different guys at different points (which was revolutionary in my 5th grade mind when compared with the mythos of One True Love) and my favorite- women that are celebrated for being powerful and strong, and not celebrated for being ~different~ than other women.

    Plus battles and magic and armor and mythical creatures. Win win win.

    • YES. I also read Song of the Lioness around 5th/6th grade and her relationships were eye opening for me. I used to hide those books under my mattress because I felt like the romance scenes were too racy for my mom to know I was reading. Haha.

  44. Ooh, I have a new YAL discovery! Author is Catherynne M. Valente. Reading the first book in her “Fairyland” series, “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.” It’s billed as being for the 10-14 crowd (the protagonist in this one is 12), but who cares – I’m loving the hell out of it. Two thumbs up.

  45. The Ramona Quimby series was so very important to me. The first time I felt like a normal human being was reading her books and relating to those characters (Ramona, Henry, Beezus). Fun fact: I grew up a few blocks from the real Klickitat Street in Portland, as the author Beverly Cleary was a fellow Oregonian.

    I learned in her Wikipedia article that Cleary pioneered the modern style of YA lit with the Quimby books in the 1950’s, with her style being frank, direct, and valuing children’s POV, which was a radical departure from previously established style of writing for kids. <3 Thank you Ms. Cleary. I swear her characters were the first best friends I had.

    I also read all of the Judy Blume books and The Three Investigators / Nancy Drew / Choose Your Own Adventures / Encyclopedia Brown. I still love reading YA lit including Harry Potter (OF COURSE) and the Eragon series (C. Paolini).

    Happy Friday everybody. I look forward to reading about your Staycation experiences.

    • i knew i was forgetting something for YA lit: chronicles of narnia and the extended wizard of oz series and lion witch wardrobe series. those were awesome. i feel like all my YA lit favorites are old school but they are all so good.

    • The first best friends I had were the Boxcar Children. :)

      That’s pretty nifty shared energy with an idol, and also you get to live near a street that sounds remarkably like a candy bar. :)

      • Hey Lolau; nice to see you on the Friday Open Thread! *waves*

        I remember the Boxcar children! We had it read to us in weekly installments by our grade school teacher. Kind of nice to be read to and experience the book with my classmates, although it was tough to wait that long to find out what happened next. I wouldn’t mind owning that book. And all the Charley and the Chocolate Factory books. And Lafcadio the Lion Who Shot Back. You know; all my old book friends. :)

        • I loved those Boxcar Children books. I think about them in weird moments as an adult. Like my fridge is broken now, and I wish I lived by a stream so I could put my milk in a crate in the water to keep it cool. Jessie would be proud. (Or did Henry come up with that? Either way.)

  46. hellooooooooo doodles.

    I have been reading lots of YA lately! My brain has been frazzley from working a lot, and YA is a really pleasant meander, bc when I’m not reading YA I have been reading this like James Baldwin (exquisite, often very sad) and books about stuff like Alzheimer’s.

    This week I just read Everything Leads to You, which is silly romantic YA fare with 18 year olds having fancy jobs in doing set dressing for independent films, and then I just finished Fangirl, which is not gay, but is about a precious nerd who writes famous fan fiction and adjusts to college. Also there’s a character with bipolar d/o and I think they write that very thoughtfully, in a way that some YA adds stuff like mental health/substance abuse/sexual assault jazz just to make it seem deeper, which I hate, it’s a lazy use of a complex subject.

    I’ve also been reading some Francis Hardinge, who is more witchy than gay, but also totally pleasant, and The Lost Conspiracy in particular is one of those fantasy books that also is about colonialism, in smart ways that will mostly not wreck you emotionally. It’s a great book!

    One of my besteses is a teen librarian, she always fires off recommendations, Grasshopper Jungle is also a weird funny queerish dystopian YA novel folks might enjoy.

    • also I recently reread some of the “Dealing with Dragons” books, and mostly, Book #1 forever, up with dragon spinsters, and don’t marry any damn King of any goddamned Enchanted Forest, why not just hang out with dragons all the time and make Cherries Jubilee and get awesome at fiscal planning and hanging out with your witch buddy. Getting married ruins too many good YA novels.

    • “Lazy use of a complex subject” is about the best descriptive I’ve ever read for that issue. Yes, yes, and yes! I was reading a book I quite enjoyed for it’s romantic nonsense and unfolding mystery/drama, when WHAM a character is graphically raped, and THREE fictional days later was having sex with the lead because they just loved each other so much and the rape brought them closer! OMG, I hate that so much I wanna take a crap on it and use it for target practice. Okay, my rant is over.

  47. I loved His Dark Materials, I don’t think my girlfriend has read them, I am worried this could be a dealbreaker if she read them and didn’t love them. Once when I was 18 I considered going home with a weird sleazy older British hippie dude with long blond hair and purple polyester shirt and no shoes because he started talking to me about those books.

    More excitingly, it’s Friday the 13th and we adopted a black cat!

    • Yeah, I was very taken aback when M wasn’t immediately on board with my undying love for Lyra! Fortunately she has many other redeeming qualities. :)

      Congrats on the new addition to your family!

  48. I have been spending less time on Facebook and more time reading so this is relevant to my interests. I’m going to use the above suggestions to fill out my book list!

    I joined a local queer book club. We recently finished Ash by Malinda Lo. I recommend it. It’s a queer-ish Cinderella retelling, but kinda dark and somber and pretty. My recommendation for the club was The Miseducation of Cameron Post. It’s up in a couple of months and I totally stole the idea from the Autostraddle Queer Book Club (is that still a thing that is happening? If not, it should be! Like, on a super regular basis!) Up next is Orlando by Virgina Woolf, which I just started today but am having a really hard time getting in to. Someone tell me it gets better.

    • I was doing Speakeasy Book Club, but it turns out it’s really hard to coordinate people to read in unison and then write about their book feelings. Sigh.

      I really enjoyed Ash! The Miseducation of Cameron Post is sitting on my bookshelf and I haven’t read it yet, as is Orlando. I really loved A Room of One’s Own, though.

  49. So first of all, this is happening:

    Wahoo! Political shock-based advertising aside, I think this is phenomenal and love love love the positive message.


    I’ve been struggling with identity since I’ve lost some weight (40 pounds – I also have plateau’d in weight but lost another dress size, yay weights!) And now I need to buy some clothes/throw out the old ones. I started playing with makeup, which I haven’t done in a long time. I was thinking if I feel femme I should look femme, but that turned out to be a disorganized moral compass, so I stopped it because FUCK SELF HATE.

    So this:

    Became this:

    I settled for painting my toes and having a bunch of these:

    Where I spend so much time, I even made art inspired by my shower curtain:

    I made art at a Queer Mafia shindig that (which?) exists in Ottawa, a group that organizes above-ground underground queer functions open to the public to foster community. This time it was a Queering Feminism crafting thing, in which we created art using nails, hammers, wood, and string. It was louder than all the sex we could have had together, because holy banging hammers, Batman, but this was my resulting image (a meditating Buddha head):

    In other news, I saw these awesome mannequins in a religious orders’ charity thrift store:

    Which kind of brings me back to my whole self image/weight loss thing and gives me a foot in the door to show off my weight loss… Having no real pics to compare, you will be forced compliment me! Yay, VALIDATION FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER! Which, while I’m abusing imgur, I could comment also that

    So, here I am, in all my size 20 glory (down from 24-26!)

    And the thing which is seriously making me super happy is that I finally have a jaw line again! It’s amazing! I never thought I’d see it again, you guys, my face was the size of a manhole! In the interest of full disclosure, I just thought of what I liar I am thought there are no before pictures… I guess I can be as proud of Fatter Lauren as I am of Less Fat Lauren… this was my pre-weight-loss self on my one girly day last year (I am so embarrassed about looking so femme…. I feel femme, but I like looking masculine – how confusing is that???) But since I’m turning this post into a weight loss diary, here we go:

    And finally, to go for broke, here is the fruit of my terrific labour:

    ps I will be super impressed if I posted all these pics correctly.

    • Woot!! You are looking HOT! ;) I’d love to hang out, but alas, we’re 1k+ miles apart. I need to visit Ottawa, I guess.

      • Oh my gosh, it is the best. I thought I would never look the same again,because my body kept gettibg smaller, but my face stayed chubby. I felt like Johnny Bravo or Hey Arnold, or Rumpole of the Bailey. So yay!

        • Woops, that was supposed to go under Hat’s comment :p

          Also, thanks! Come on down, Bob Barker style! :))

    • I too know the joy or rediscovering ones jawline! Congrats yo. It’s a great feeling huh :)

      • Oh my gosh, it is the best. I thought I would never look the same again,because my body kept gettibg smaller, but my face stayed chubby. I felt like Johnny Bravo or Hey Arnold, or Rumpole of the Bailey. So yay!

      • Thanks Laura! By the way, I am resplendently dazzled by your ability to answer pretty much every comment, your spot-on use of gifs, and the success of this topic. I’m learning so much!!!

      • Thanks, I kind of went on a narcissistic bender there. I easily could have talked about all the Feelings without asking people to pat me on the back for good genetics.

        How open are you to talk about gender dysphoria?

  50. I also just wanted to share a pic of our bedroom walled by bookshelves (that are also all secret doors).

    It was built by one of our closest friends who has just come out of ICU (part of why I haven’t really posted in weeks). I’m incredibly grateful they are alive, and would like to share this as a way of celebrating them!

    • I can’t see it, but I feel like happiness is shared, and you’re pretty consistently positive. So it stands to reason that someone you are close to is benefitting from your positivity. Furthermore, the combined wealth of positivity one has in their life can actively save it. Congratulations, you are part of saving your friends’ life, and it seems like a mutual love :)

      • Thank you! I’ve always been really impressed with your positive outlook, and after my embarrassing attempts at posting a simple pic I really appreciate a friendly comment!
        Have a fantabulous weekend – may it be filled with delicious surprises.

  51. I just read His Dark Materials last year because I somehow missed it growing up and because it was a deal breaker for my SO and I really loved it a lot! A lot a lot.
    I really like Mabel Maney’s books in the Cherry Aimless/Nancy Clue series because I loved Nancy Drew growing up but these are wonderfully gay pulpy if not specifically YA.

    • Oh good! I think I’ll go ahead and reread it, then. It seems like nobody on this thread has regretted reading it as an adult.

      Love those punny names.

  52. One of my favourite books is ‘So You Want To Be a Wizard’ by Diane Duane, the first in the Young Wizards series. It’s difficult to summarise, but basically these kids discover magic and become wizards, and after ending up in a dystopian parallel reality they wind up fighting the being who inspired the stories of the devil. It’s an interesting book, and the writing style is vivid and quickly draws you in.

    I also like the Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett – I think someone else mentioned them already – and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series by Patricia C. Wrede. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles series starts off with ‘Dealing With Dragons,’ in which a princess who fails to meet the stereotype of what a princess is (much to her parents dismay) runs away to live with a dragon because she doesn’t want to get married. The series is charming, and subverts a lot of fairy tale tropes.

    Also, I totally adore anything by Diana Wynne Jones – some of her most popular books include ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and the Chrestomanci series, but my personal favourites are ‘Archer’s Goon’ (although a lot of people don’t see the appeal of that one, I love it) and ‘Eight Days of Luke,’ which is all about Norse gods in modern times and a young boy who becomes entangled with them.

    • “Archer’s goon” is hysterical!!! I love the way that every day annoyances are being magically used (like roadworks etc).

      It’s hard to accept there being no more DWJ or Terry…

  53. These are all books I have read as an adult and really enjoyed!

    YA Lit with queer main characters:

    Santa Olivia by Jaqueline Carey
    About a girl who is not quite a werewolf but also definitely has wolf DNA, and this makes her not experience emotions in the way other humans do (and also gives her other various wolf-related not-quite-superpowers). Set in a military-controlled town on the border of the US and Mexico, this book is so much more than any little blurb I can write about it. It’s full of fighting against what society says is inevitable, and also full of love and tenderness, and also… it is good and I recommend it!

    Adaptation (and its sequel Inheritance) by Malinda Lo
    (okay but seriously I really enjoyed these books, especially Inheritance)

    A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claybourne
    Gonna just quote the Amazon blurb on this one, ’cause it conveys the feel of the book quite well.

    “Sixteen year-old Ewan Mao knows one thing for certain: according to prophecy, it’s his destiny to kill the evil tyrant whose dark reign has terrorized Britain for as long as he can remember. Although he’s just a normal boy, deep down Ewan is confident that he has exactly what it takes to be a hero. But when Ewan’s big moment comes and his best friend, the clever and talented Oliver Abrams, defeats the villain for him, Ewan’s bright future crumbles before his eyes.

    Five years later, while Ewan is living at home and working a minimum wage job, Oliver has a job as an Unusual in the government’s Serious Magical Crimes Agency, the life he and Ewan always dreamed of. A routine investigation leads him and his partner, Sophie Stuart, to uncover a dangerous and powerful cult… one that seems to have drawn his former best friend into a plot to end the world.”

    Aaand I want to write more but also I really need to go to bed. Goodnight!

  54. I am a million years late to this party, and I am here to say: His Dark Materials gets better with age. Those books saved my life.

  55. I have and have had so many Terry Pratchett feelings this week. I am so grateful that he existed and wrote so many amazing wonderful books which saved me time and time again like old friends, doubtless they will continue to do so. I cannot reccomend his work enough, a lot of people have mentioned the Tiffany Aching series but so far no one has mentioned Nation which is not strictly fantasy, more like historical YA fiction. It’s amazing. Centred around two young people from different cultures trying to survive together against the odds, and with brilliant social commentary like all of his books. Stunning.

    • “so grateful that he existed and wrote so many amazing wonderful books” <- my feelings too I will have to check out Nation.

  56. You know what….? Fat bottomed girls really DO
    make the rocking world go round!!!!! Hell yasss!!!!! <3 Also it's official, I am here the rest of my life for Hedonism in all its forms. Wooooo!!!! :)

    • ***Or at least the forms of pleasure that won’t cause addictions or death… Wooo!!! Damn no edit button… anyway I like pleasure is what I’m trying to say… Do you like pleasure?….of course you do or you probably wouldn’t be on this site!!!

  57. Okay. I have never even heard of “His Dark Materials,” but I sure as hell accept these comments as rave reviews and will commence readership ASAP.

  58. I haven’t really kept up with reading, especially during the semesters, just from the vast amount of pages I have to sift through already. But in the past I read a crap ton.

    I remember coming across the portions of the Animorphs series in my fifth grade teacher’s small library, and then searched the rest of the libraries around town for the next couple months trying to finish it. Somewhat successfully. Always loved Tobias’ character.

    Harry Potter was definitely strewn throughout my childhood/adolescence, with either the movies and the books themselves. They’re gathering dust now, because I feel like I remember every moment that happens, but the movies I often revisit. I also did enjoy the Twilight series, but by the end, only finished it bc I started it in the first place.

    I discovered Ray Bradbury during my middle school years with Farenheit 451 and Martian Chronicles and definitley loved those. Revisited him during senior year for a research project and it made that end of the year so much better, with Dandelion Wine and Farewell Summer. Ran through several more of his books/short stories throughout that summer.

    This past week I had a wonderful spring break filled with working both jobs for the first half and then taking a wonderful trip down to Williamsburg, ‘hometown of sorts’, and visiting former coachs, coworkers, and best of all friends. I spent a couple minutes at a river that had claimed the life of an unforgettable aquaintance and paid respects to the other individuals who were also lost during those years. But I definitely feel lighter after that trip – it’s been a long time coming. So I guess I didn’t really take part in the Staycation, at least for the day of, but nevertheless it was something I’ll remember for a while.

  59. O. M. G. You NEED to check out The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

    I was obsessed with these books as a teenager. They’re technically YA, although they’re written at a high enough reading level that my adult brain doesn’t want to throw them across the room. They feel like home to me in the same way Harry Potter feels like home, but better. The worldbuilding is seriously cool, straddling industrialized 1910s-esque Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom, a land where free magic still reigns, and the stories follow the Abhorsens, a line of badass women (of color, probably) whose job it is to fight necromancers and keep the dead down. If you liked His Dark Materials, you’ll like The Old Kingdom series, as it’s atypical fantasy with a dash of horror. Plus, after 10 years the author is finally writing 2 more books!

    • Yes! Yes! A hundred times yes! Those books are fab, plus I read them around the same time as His Dark Materials so in my mine they’re forever associated with each other :D

      Definitely don’t worry about His Dark Materials. I didn’t read the series until I was in university and it’s one of my favourite reading experiences. It’s heart-breaking, beautiful, sorrowful and uplifting and I can feel my own daemon’s heart beating inside me every time I read it.

  60. Here’s a picture of my dog as puppy being an adorable little bean:

    Which I need to stare at real long and hard because looking at and re-organizing my photobucket is shit, there’s good reasons not to delete the whole thing and run screaming into the night.
    Baby high schooler me was dumb so dumb. Even your photobucket is set on private putting things like you did on there is dumb dumb dumb dumb. Things on the net are never safe, nevar.
    I wouldn’t go back in time and slap baby high schooler me only because she was already going through enough. I’d want too but give her a gentle talking to instead.
    Oh god teenagers are so dumb.
    Just augh O_O

    Sorry I missed you FOT.

  61. If you loved His Dark Materials before, it will probably hold up over time. 13 years later, it gives me chills and makes me cry every time I read the series. It is as good as you remember it, but it’s not for everyone.

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