16 On Paperback Releases

In which our heroine receives frontlist (and waxes poetic about Kesha)

I had to search back through my archives to see if I’d used that subtitle before; I have, in issue two, but it remains relevant. Ya’ll, I got through so much frontlist receiving today. Not because I was moving with anything like speed—Ghost has been waking us up for 6am dingbat hour these last few days, so I have definitely been sluggish—but because my POS/inventory system is awesome. I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned it here: it’s called Bookmanager and it has made my worklife so much easier. (They’re not paying me to say this, I just have a fascination with bookstore inventory systems and a strong desire to make the bookselling business as sustainable as possible; a good inventory system can seriously improve your margins. If you want to talk about inventory systems, you can always respond to this newsletter and say so. Nothing would delight me more.)

But enough about how much easier it is to quickly and accurately receive books with Bookmanager. You came here to read about books. Today wasn’t a big release day—that’s usually the first Tuesday of the month—but there is a lot of good stuff coming out in paperback, just in time for summer.


Advice for Future Corpses* (*And Those Who Love Them) by Sallie Tisdale

I have been listening to a lot of Kesha lately, and by lately I mean since her album Rainbow came out… almost two years ago. For the last couple months I’ve had Warrior on repeat, and there is a song called “Out Alive” where she sings the refrain “no one’s getting out alive.” Every time I hear it—this is going to sound so mawkish—I’m struck by how true and poignant that is.

(I feel like Bob from Bob’s Burgers staring at the pseudo-inspirational poster Linda buys from Teddy.)

But I would be lying if I said that song doesn’t make me recognize my own mortality and question mine and my country’s values. I honestly think if we had a better relationship with our own mortality we would be less concerned with what we’re accumulating and more concerned with what we’re leaving behind. We are all future corpses. Bringing us back to this book! Now out in paperback and ready to deliver a “practical perspective on death and dying.” Which we will all have to deal with one day.

(If you’d like to hear more about my opinions on Kesha, you can also respond to this email. I’m a one-stop shop for rants on Kesha and inventory systems.)

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

In a near future dystopia (I assume—we don’t really write books about utopias or at least not utopias that don’t end up being revealed as having been dystopias the whole time) Pearl’s job is to give people personalized recommendations for happiness using her company’s patented happiness machine. But her teenage son seems to find happiness in being willfully unhappy. And so begins a novel about the nature of happiness, the advance of technology, and our society’s obsession with satisfaction (again, I assume, I haven’t read it).

I love this concept. I have previously considered happiness to be a goal in life. And being happy is great, but, as my high school English teacher reminded our class every Friday, all things in moderation. You can’t always be happy; you can’t actually know happiness if you don’t have unhappiness to compare it to.

I bet this would great on audio.

All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva

Quite a redesign compared to the hardcover:

I prefer the hardcover. What kind of reader do you think they’re trying to draw in? Are mermaids back? Not that I’m not a mermaid fan—The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid and it might be my favorite Hans Christian Andersen story—but the paperback cover feels, oh I don’t know. I guess it works if all the stories are about mermaids, but I don’t think they are.

I already talked about meaning to read this in the article I wrote for SRB a few months back. I still haven’t read it, and I stand by what I said, or, rather, what I quoted Carmen Maria Machado saying; she calls it:

a perfect diorama: scrupulously assembled, complex, unsettling. Completing one is like having lived an entire life, and then being born, breathless, into another.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Speaking of Carmen Maria Machado, she wrote the intro to this new edition of The Awakening, put out by Modern Library Torchbearers, a new Penguin Random House series that aims to recognize “women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.”

I’m going to be honest, I’ve read The Awakening. Twice. Once in high school and once in college and I disliked it both times. But I’ve been meaning to pick it back up again. I suspect there are elements which went over my head ten or so years ago. I mean, this was assigned by the same teacher who introduced to me to Shirley Jackson. I must be missing something. And if anyone can convince me, it’s Machado. But I think I may read the intro after I’ve re-read the book. I’ll be curious to see what my opinion of it is sans influence.


Currently Reading

Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy

Well, I haven’t actually started it. I just downloaded the audiobook from the library. I love being a cat mom, but I think since losing my first cat, Link, I’d glossed over the frustrating aspects of cat ownership (e.g. 6am dingbat hour). So, as I do with most problems, I am turning to a book in the hopes that it will help.


Other Ways to Find Me On the Internets

Once a month (or so) I host a podcast called Drunk Booksellers where my best friend and I interview a fellow bookseller while drinking. I sometimes tweet about books and politics. I sometimes post pictures of books I’m reading, or cats I’m hanging out with on Instagram.

Subscribe to this newsletter:


NOTE: Most book links go to Indiebound so you can shop local via the Internet. Also, they are affiliate links so if you purchase something I get a tiny kickback (which goes towards my podcast because why have two affiliate accounts). Why shop local? Long answer: Here are a bunch of economic impact studies about the importance of shopping local. Short answer: bookstores are good/warm/lovely places that add so much value to the community, but they are also businesses, which cannot survive if you’re not shopping there.
Thanks to Lara Kaminoff for the cat mascot, Giles. Find more of her work here. Follow her on Instagram here.

15 On Integrating Books

In which our heroine and her partner move in together

Told you I’d be back. And this time, I brought a picture of mine and Sam’s cat!

His name is Ghost. He is mildly destructive, a bit skittish, and quite affectionate—when you agree to his terms. So he’s like most cats I’ve known. Sam and I adopted him about a month after we’d moved in together. But, according to my co-workers, immediately adopting a cat is not the craziest choice we’ve made: integrating our books is. I have co-workers who have been married for years and years, and still they keep their books separate. Now, we haven’t integrated yet, but we’re seriously considering it.

See, I like having my books organized (by section, then author last name, then pub date). And it seems ridiculous to have two Fiction sections. But I recognize that integrating our two collections (my idea) is not a decision to be taken lightly.

There’s something extremely personal about your book collection. It is a representation of the self you are, the self you wish you were, the self you’re working towards, the self you used to be. This can get muddied upon integrating. And as two booksellers we have a lot of overlap; whose copy of My Favorite Thing Is Monsters do you keep? (Both, until you find someone to “lend” one to.) So, now that all the books are in one place, we’ve decided to give it some time—possibly longer than it took for us to get a cat.

Whether we integrate or not, our book collection just about doubled, which means there are even more books in my home that I have not read but one day hope to. As always, that’s what I’m here to talk to you about. So here are some of Sam’s books I wish I were reading.


The Listeners by Leni Zumas

Leni Zumas recently published Red Clocks, which is not, as I was under the impression, her first book but her third. The Listeners is her second (though her first novel) and it

explores a far-out world where a patchwork of memory, sensation, and imagination maps the flickering presence of ghosts.

So that sounds great. Red Clocks did not rank among my favorites of last year, but I think that was more about the marketing than the book itself. The publisher—like all publishers of literary spec fic at that moment—sold it as the next The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s not that, but it is a fascinating exploration of women’s agency and autonomy—or lack thereof—in a world where abortion is illegal. Red Clocks felt further from dystopia and closer to reality compared to my memories of The Handmaid’s Tale. It was uncomfortable in a way fiction should sometimes be. I’m guessing The Listeners may be similar.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

I may already own this—my books still aren’t organized (yes, it’s driving me a little bit insane). Regardless, Sam is kind of the reason I want to read this. I picked up Toews’s latest book, Women Talking, because he read it and loved it; and, if you’ve been reading this for a bit, you’ll remember that I was so affected by the book I wrote a whole newsletter about it. That was my first experience with Toews’s work and now I want to read everything else she’s written—lucky for me, Sam just said “I have a couple of her others—I keep buying them.” Because we’re booksellers. We collect books like its our job.

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Me: Have you read Helen Oyeyemi yet?

Sam: No, but I keep buying her because you love her books so much

I think true love might be buying books for your own collection just because you know your partner loves them. The Icarus Girl is Oyeyemi’s first book. I have no idea what it’s about, but he’s right, I love her writing; and I recently read her latest book, so it would be quite interesting to see how her work has changed in the fourteen years since this one was published.

City On Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

I never really wanted to read this one; it came out in 2015 to much acclaim and I’m one of those readers that shies away from buzzy books—I don’t need to read them because they’ll sell themselves.

But as Sam was unpacking his books the other night he started talking about this one, about how well it captures New York—a city we both love, a city I lived adjacent to when this book came out. And when Sam starts talking about books I honestly go weak at the knees. I know that is an extremely corny thing to say, and I did not understand that cliché until he started telling me why I might like Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit at a bookstore once—before I lived in Seattle, when we were still acting like we weren’t completely enamored with each other—and it literally happened to me.

I couldn’t tell you if I love the way he talks about books because I love him or vice versa, but it doesn’t really matter; as soon as he gets going about a book he’s excited for I’m all in.


Currently Reading

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Probably you’ve heard of Sally Rooney; it seems a new think piece is written every week about whether or not we should take her and her characters—millennials, both—seriously.

I just said I generally avoid the buzzy books, didn’t I? Well, I’ve been in this odd mood where I’m gravitating towards not just novels but novels that I can only categorize as “contemporary fiction.” (Usually I go in for more speculative and/or fabulist short stories.) I read Conversations with Friends, Rooney’s debut, and thought it was fine. Probably I would like it more now—I think when I read it I was kind of like, oh everyone thinks you’re so great, why don’t you prove it. Like an asshole. (This is why I stay away from buzzy books, especially when they are written by people my age and I am jealous of them.)

When I started Normal People I was immediately taken by Rooney’s prose. Her writing is incredible, but in a way that doesn’t call attention to itself. So you’re already twenty pages in and only just realizing, damn this woman can write.

I have written and deleted numerous attempts to explain just what it is about her. (This is why I write a newsletter about books I haven’t read; they are much easier to write about.) She understands people, how we think and interact. And it seems effortless.

I haven’t even told you what it’s about. And I’m not going to, I’m just going to quote Meaghan O’Connell’s review of it:

Basically, it’s a very neurotic romance novel.

Pretty much.


Other Ways to Find Me On the Internets

Once a month (or so) I host a podcast called Drunk Booksellers where my best friend and I interview a fellow bookseller while drinking. I sometimes tweet about books and politics. I sometimes post pictures of books I’m reading, or cats I’m hanging out with on Instagram.

Subscribe to this newsletter:


NOTE: Most book links go to Indiebound so you can shop local via the Internet. Also, they are affiliate links so if you purchase something I get a tiny kickback (which goes towards my podcast because why have two affiliate accounts). Why shop local? Long answer: Here are a bunch of economic impact studies about the importance of shopping local. Short answer: bookstores are good/warm/lovely places that add so much value to the community, but they are also businesses, which cannot survive if you’re not shopping there.
Thanks to Lara Kaminoff for the cat mascot, Giles. Find more of her work here. Follow her on Instagram here.

14 The Title Caught My Eye

In which our heroine returns

Oh, hello there.

Should we talk about why I haven’t been around for months, or just pretend like I didn’t spend the last nine or so weeks not writing?

Well, in the time since you last heard from me I moved apartments and helped transition my store to a new inventory system. I’ve been thinking about writing a lot, but honestly I was interacting a lot less with new-to-me books and a lot more with cardboard and computer screens.

It’s not just that. I had developed a habit of writing these on Monday evenings. Now, I try to go to a yoga class every Monday. I still haven’t figured out a time to re-form this habit. But the first step is writing this, right now. Once I send it, I’ll expect you to expect another one next week, and the week after that, and so on. So here I am, on a Friday afternoon attempting to write while also hanging out with my friend’s adorable twins. (I mean, be grateful that I’m even able to write anything when there are such cute and fascinating babies vying for attention.)


I’ll admit that I didn’t finish writing this on a Friday afternoon—those babies were just too cute to ignore. Now it’s Monday, and a new moon, which is a wonderful time to set intentions. I intend to present you with a new newsletter every Tuesday. I also intend to write multiple some weeks, to have in my back pocket when I need a week off. I intend to read all the books I write about, some day. (I think of this newsletter as my archive of intent.)

Today I present you with a list of books whose titles caught my eye while I was doing a publisher range—that’s a report we pull prior to placing an order, it looks at all the books from a certain publisher that have sold since I last placed the order. Most of these books I haven’t even seen in the store, but now I plan on seeking them out.


An Attempt at Exhausting a Place In Paris by Georges Perec, translated by Marc Lowenthal

Perec spent three days sitting in the same place, recording everything that happened. I love when everyday events are made fascinating. I think all you need to do, to achieve this, is pay attention. I am trying to slow down and notice more. I am thinking this book may help.

Soft Science by Franny Choi

Have we talked about how I am an aspirational poetry reader? Not that I read aspirational poetry, but that I aspire to read poetry at all. I own a lot of poetry, but the last collection I read all the way through was—I don’t want to admit it, but I do know exactly thanks to my spreadsheet—2015. This is great, I’m going to shame myself into reading another poetry collection. Maybe next week I’ll tell you about all the collections I’ve bought since 2015. (That would take too long, so I’ll just tell you about some. Anyway.) This poetry collection:

explores queer, Asian American femininity. A series of Turing Test-inspired poems grounds its exploration of questions not just of identity, but of consciousness—how to be tender and feeling and still survive a violent world filled with artificial intelligence and automation.

So, yeah. That sounds incredible.

Pesto: The Modern Mother Sauce by Leslie Lennox

Was it the pesto part or the mother part? I love pesto—it was the first sauce I could make without a recipe (ok, it’s still the only sauce). But I am also drawn to the topic of motherhood so, I know it sounds weird, but that could have been it too.

Apparently this book will introduce readers to a new way of thinking about pesto—it’s possibly the way I already think about pesto (as a sauce that can be created using any type of green and nut combo, not just basil and pine nuts), but it’s likely a more nuanced and descriptive way of thinking about pesto plus recipes and so I’m very interested.

Notes On Design: How Creative Practice Works by Kees Dorst

Design is something I’m very interested in, but also something I have very little confidence in—rather, I have little confidence in my ability to understand it, or know good design when I see it. So, obviously, I need to read books about it. My list of to-read design books could be its own post. This one is essays on the nature and role of design “within the broader contexts of business and society.” I’m mostly interested in design from a business standpoint—learning enough to be able to produce attractive newsletters, signage, fliers, etc. and to create eye-catching displays—so this premise intrigues me.


Currently Reading

Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

Remember in my last issue, I wrote about half the books by my bedside? Well, that bedside has since moved so part two of the post will likely never come. But I can tell you that my current, actual bedside reading book is this thorough examination of each card in the tarot deck. Rachel Pollack is kind of the person when it comes to learning about tarot. If you want to understand the meaning of certain symbols, learn some history of tarot (it started as a regular ol’ card game), and, yes, learn about their use in divination and you’ve got time for a deep dive, well, this is the book you’re looking for.


Other Ways to Find Me On the Internets

Once a month (or so) I host a podcast called Drunk Booksellers where my best friend and I interview a fellow bookseller while drinking. I sometimes tweet about books and politics. I sometimes post pictures of books I’m reading, or cats I’m hanging out with on Instagram.

Subscribe to this newsletter:


NOTE: Most book links go to Indiebound so you can shop local via the Internet. Also, they are affiliate links so if you purchase something I get a tiny kickback (which goes towards my podcast because why have two affiliate accounts). Why shop local? Long answer: Here are a bunch of economic impact studies about the importance of shopping local. Short answer: bookstores are good/warm/lovely places that add so much value to the community, but they are also businesses, which cannot survive if you’re not shopping there.
Thanks to Lara Kaminoff for the cat mascot, Giles. Find more of her work here. Follow her on Instagram here.

13 Bedside Reading Part One

In which our heroine starts to detail the books beside her bed

According to the spreadsheet I keep to track my reading, I’m currently reading twelve books. That is too many books to be reading all at once. There is at least one I should just admit I’ve given up on and move over to my Need to Start Over/Abandoned tab—a much less organized tab than my main Reading tab, but an interesting graveyard of intent. (This tab, now that I think about it, will make a good post in and of itself so let’s move on.)

Most of the books I’m ‘currently reading’ are sitting by my bedside. I like have a designated book to read before bed, or, I guess, I like to have eight. (To be clear, I don’t actually like this. Having so many books I’m technically reading makes me feel like I can’t start a fresh one until I’ve finished an old one.) So, for fun, let’s explore why these books remain at my bedside, starting with the oldest one first.


They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

I really hate to admit this, but I’ve been reading this book for nearly a year. Not because I don’t like it. Abdurraqib is an incredible writer; he manages to thread pop with political culture, giving his topics a weight and relevance I didn’t expect from essays about Fall Out Boy or Carly Rae Jepsen. (I know better now.) I am the kind of person who obsessively listens to one album or artist for a few months (or, sometimes, years) and doesn’t really branch out. I don’t pay much attention to stuff I’m not already into, so I don’t seek out music writing. Of course I am wrong in this; music writing, like writing on any topic, is informative and transformative in the right hands. Abdurraqib has those hands. His essays are about music, yes, and also about love, death, protest, and what it means to be black in America. These are serious fucking essays. In fact, this is an awful book to read before bed; it’s no wonder I’ve been reading it for so long. This is not a gently-lull-you-to-sleep collection. It’s an incite-fury-and-sadness-and-initiative collection. I’m moving this book from bedside-status to in-my-bag-everywhere-I-go-status.

Down to Business: the First 10 Steps to Entrepreneurship for Women by Clara Villarosa

Oh god, who am I kidding? If I’d weeded out this stack before writing you, we would not be talking about Down to Business. Lucky for you, I prep not, preferring to give you the raw, honest, and weird—an actual look into my reading life. This is a business book, written by a woman who owned The Hue-Man Bookstore. Obviously I started this book because I want to open a bookstore one day. I was hoping it would be a kind of Boss Life for bookselling; but, so far, her focus is more on women becoming entrepreneurs (this should have been obvious to me from the subtitle). Likely more than a little useful to me, if I ever get around to finishing it, but there’s no way I’m going to read it before bed. (What I need is a currently reading shelf. Or the self-control to read just one book at a time. . . . lol, just kidding.)

How to Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace

Yeah, this one kind of stopped me in my tracks when it asked me to get clear with what my work is. I then realized that everything I do is kind of work? And that felt awkward, so instead of continuing to read the book I thought might help with that, I relegated it to my bedside, which, we are now realizing, is kind of also a graveyard of intent. Who chooses a workbook as bedside reading? Someone who does not want to actually examine their work habits, that’s who. Looks like another one for the Currently Reading shelf.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

You may recognize this one from Issue 07 My Kind of New Years Resolution, written, oh, three months ago. This book is much thicker than I expected when I was just listening to the audiobook. I returned the audiobook when I realized this might be the kind of book I should read, so I can actually pause and do the suggested exercises. So I purchased a used copy at Third Place Books back in January. I have not (why must you make me admit this) picked it up since. Once again, clearly, not a good bedtime book.


So, what have we learned? Well, I don’t actually use my bedside to store books I want to read at bedtime. Or, rather, I don’t always use it that way. Next time I write about this (note the “part one” in the title) we will cover books that have been beside my bed for slightly less time and really are designated bedtime reading, or were before the next book arrived and pushed them down the pile.

I am curious about others bedside book piles now. Are these bedtime-only books? Do you have another place where you keep your currently-reading? Or perhaps you are a sane person and don’t require an entire shelf for the books you’re in the middle of? Let me know.


Currently Reading (no, really)

Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

I’m actually reading this book on my cell phone (using an app called Moon+ Reader). Instead of playing mindless games, scrolling through Twitter, or actually enjoying my surroundings when I am out and about, I can now read. (I mean, I could always read, but my habit is to look at my phone, so now I am trying to harness that habit for good.) I started this because my boss was reading it and either said I’d like it or it made her think of me (can’t remember). Either way, I was thinking, as someone who copy edits and bosses other copy editors around four times a year (at least, four times a year for money) I would probably benefit from a book by a copy editor. And it’s really good so far! Dreyer has a wonderful sense of humor, a no-nonsense attitude, and a love for the Oxford (or, as he calls it, “series”) comma.

Other Ways to Find Me On the Internets

Once a month (or so) I host a podcast called Drunk Booksellers where my best friend and I interview a fellow bookseller while drinking. I sometimes tweet about books and politics. I sometimes post pictures of books I’m reading, or cats I’m hanging out with on Instagram.

Subscribe to this newsletter here.


NOTE: Most book links go to Indiebound so you can shop local via the Internet. Also, they are affiliate links so if you purchase something I get a tiny kickback (which goes towards my podcast because why have two affiliate accounts). Why shop local? Long answer: Here are a bunch of economic impact studies about the importance of shopping local. Short answer: bookstores are good/warm/lovely places that add so much value to the community, but they are also businesses, which cannot survive if you’re not shopping there.
Thanks to Lara Kaminoff for the cat mascot, Giles. Find more of her work here. Follow her on Instagram here.

12 On Kids & Comics

In which our heroine prepares for Comic Con

I know I said last week that we’d be back to our usual programming this week. I guess I lied! See, on Thursday (tomorrow, when you read this) I’m going to be on a panel about recommending kids comics, specifically those that portray difficult topics, without raising red flags with parents/guardians. Or it’s about using kids comics to portray tough topics—also without raising red flags. I’m not totally clear on the finer points, but it’s all within the same vein: comics, kids, and tough topics.

Panels make me queasy, and I haven’t had as much time to prepare for this one as I’d like to, so I’m using this lovely newsletter to stir up my mental juices. Prepare yourself. I am now going to ramble on about why comics are important especially when it comes to talking about life’s tough shit.


It is probably unnecessary to argue that comics are worth reading. The fight to bring comics into the mainstream and/or to make people realize they’re a worthy form of literature seems more or less over. But just in case people aren’t convinced, here are my two main arguments for why kids should be encouraged to read comics:

  1. For some readers, comics are more approachable than non-graphic works—whether because they seem easier to read or because they look more interesting than pages of text, kids are drawn to comics (pun totally intended)

  2. Comics are a complex reading experience. Despite them feeling more approachable, comics demand an engagement on both a visual and textual level. What are the pictures saying that the words aren’t, or vice versa? How does one inform the other?

I know, they’re kind of contradictory. Comics seem easy but really they’re tricking kids into developing memory, inference, visual literacy, and a whole host of other skills, not to mention a lifetime love of reading. And who doesn’t love tricking kids into loving learning?

So what makes comics in particular a wonderful medium for introducing young readers to topics/concepts like bullying, racism, death, sex, eating disorders, war, and identity crises?

I was reading March by John Lewis and really chewing on that question. The first volume of the March trilogy covers Rep Lewis’s younger years: getting an education, learning about passive resistance, and protesting racist laws through sit-ins. You can tell a kid about Rosa Parks, about nonviolent protests, about racism, but if they’ve never experienced discrimination, a jail cell, or slurs it just won’t have the same impact as seeing Lewis’s story laid out on the page. It’s easier to connect to history through personal stories, easier still when those stories are enriched with images. It’s not first-hand experience (and who would wish that on anyone anyway), but it feels closer than just words on a page.

Speaking of words, the n-word makes an appearance at least a dozen times. Lewis never breaks the fourth wall to explain what this word means or how harmful it is. He doesn’t have to. It’s obvious from the malicious grins and leers the word emerges from. A quick flip through March might make some parents hesitate to hand this comic to their kid. But the other benefit of comics is that, often, all it takes is a quick flip through to know if there’s content inside that might prompt a conversation. I’m against censoring books; if a kid wants to read something that I think may be too scary/sexual/intellectual or otherwise above their head, I see that as an opportunity to have a discussion. Let’s talk about where the n-word comes from, why people use it, why they shouldn’t, and what a slur even is.

Representation and diversity in literature has always been an important issue, but more than ever it’s one that a lot of readers, writers, publishers, and booksellers are talking about. Kids want to read about other kids like them, and more not-white not-cisgendered not-straight kids can read about themselves than ever before. It’s nice to know that not all superheroes are white dudes—at least one is a Muslim teenager! Comics make it easier to represent a diverse cast without making it feel like tokenization or lip service. And this has the dual benefit of showing readers other kids who aren’t like them. Just as important as the validation of seeing yourself represented, is the experience of learning about other cultures/lifestyles/preferences and realizing that they are equally valid.

I think comics make difficult topics more approachable and understandable. And let’s be realistic, the world is full of injustice, terror, and bullies. We should prepare our kids, let them know that life isn’t fair, while simultaneously teaching them how to fight back.


This topic feels so big and important, I’m being pulled in a number of directions. It’s hard to know where exactly the conversation will lead, so I’ve tried to keep my mental arguments general, without being platitudinous. Mostly, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get deeper with specific recommendations. Obviously, I just finished March so its arguments are at the forefront of my brain. Some other comics I think deal well with difficult topics include:

  • This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    It deals with the liminal space between childhood and teendom, the awkward dance we do when we want to be taken seriously but also want to goof off with our best friend. It also touches on marital issues, abortion, and generalized angst.

  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
    It’s not just about a prince who enjoys wearing dresses and struggles with his identity; it’s also about friendship and sacrifice, how the choices we make can have an unintended ripple effect.

  • Speak written by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll
    This adaptation of Anderson’s YA novel by the same name is incredible. It perfectly evokes the lonely terror MC Melinda feels after being raped and facing ostracism of her peers.

  • Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk
    I get to be on a panel with this creator! Another comic about friendship, bullying, and fitting in except in this one MC Dany literally makes herself a friend by drawing one in a magic sketchbook. So it’s also about an “imaginary” friend having an existential crisis, which is both touching and fascinating

And there’s still more I plan to read by Thursday, like New Kid by Jerry Craft, Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

If you have recommendations, or thoughts on kids comics and the topics they tackle, I’d love to hear them. And, if you live in Seattle, my panel is taking place Thurs 3/14 at noon at the Seattle Public Library. Should be a good time?


Other Ways to Find Me On the Internets

Once a month (or so) I host a podcast called Drunk Booksellers where my best friend and I interview a fellow bookseller while drinking. I sometimes tweet about books and politics. I sometimes post pictures of books I’m reading, or cats I’m hanging out with on Instagram.

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NOTE: Most book links go to Indiebound so you can shop local via the Internet. Also, they are affiliate links so if you purchase something I get a tiny kickback (which goes towards my podcast because why have two affiliate accounts). Why shop local? Long answer: Here are a bunch of economic impact studies about the importance of shopping local. Short answer: bookstores are good/warm/lovely places that add so much value to the community, but they are also businesses, which cannot survive if you’re not shopping there.
Thanks to Lara Kaminoff for the cat mascot, Giles. Find more of her work here. Follow her on Instagram here.

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