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Rainbow Reading: I’ve Been Thinking About What I Was Reading When I Was 13

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illustration by A. Andrews

Hi everyone! It’s Yashwina, back with my metal detector and all the reading material I’ve dug up on the literary internet over the last couple weeks. In honor of Autostraddle’s 13th birthday, I’ve been thinking about what I was reading when I was 13, and despite my fixations on classics like Jane Eyre and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I keep coming back to how much I adored the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I maintain that there is something gay about this book; not exactly sure how, but I know it’s in there. This book was perfect for me as a serious, day-dreamy, awkwardly adamant kid, and I reread it at the end of every summer. What were y’all into at 13?

Alrighty, folks, here we go. On this week’s Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:

Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note

Girls Can Kiss Now as a whole will definitely make many queers feel less alone, especially a specific kind of very online and very pop culture savvy millennial. There’s so much to engage with and so much to learn from, and the writing is fun, conversational, and truthful as all hell.”


Vanessa in her conversation with Jill Gutowitz about Jill’s new essay collection

Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!

Okay so like, it’s not strictly-speaking gay, but this thread about cats, creatures-that-are-distinctly-not-cats, and chilling in hammocks was a real bright spot in my week. I hope it delights you as much as you delight me.

That’s all she wrote, folks! If you’re a queer writer, particularly an early-career queer writer: I’d love to hear about the cool things you’re up to so that I can share links to your published essays, book reviews, short stories, poems, and longform features on LGBTQ+ topics! Please email me links for consideration at [email protected] with the subject line “Rainbow Reading Submission” — I’m an avid browser-tab-collector, and I especially want to hear from you if you’ve just landed your first publication or first major byline.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Yashwina Canter is a reader, writer, and dyke putting down roots in Portland, Oregon. You can find her online at @yashwinacanter.

Yashwina has written 53 articles for us.


  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my favorite books. I think the gay vibe comes from a young woman coming into her own. LGBT folks are often forced into deeper introspection and self-conviction in order to be able to live our authentic lives and not be constricted by traditional expectations.

    At 13 a few of the books I was obsessed with were: Harry Potter series, the Lost Years of Merlin series, and The Adventures of Blue Avenger. SCOTU-MSOT-FIOTU!

  2. I used to reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn every year too! I reread it this fall actually for reasons of fanfiction, and it’s still great. Francie is surrounded by interesting, strong women.

    13 would’ve been the tail end I think of rereading LM Montgomery to pieces, & the start of getting more into classics, but also like, Cynthia Voigt. Ooh and Katherine Paterson. I had her sign my falling-to-bits copy of Jacob Have I Loved when I met her in library school. I also loved historical fiction & cozy murders. I started reading all The Cat Who mysteries in middle school (and I don’t even like cats!)

  3. I read a lot of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” series when I was in middle school, and other similar teen thriller/horror books. Christopher Pike is another author I remember. At the time they seemed sort of trashy and scandalous, which only made me like them more.

    I also think it was either late middle school or early high school when I read V.C. Andrews for the first time. “Flowers in the Attic” is such a fucked up book but we were all obsessed with it.

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