Books + Comics

Magical Thinking

Books about losing, finding, fantasizing, and escaping. That pretty much covers it.

Brideshead Revisited
Evelyn Waugh
1945, Back Bay

I read this book every year in the summertime. When I was younger I would only read the first half, which is full of collegiate shenanigans and fresh ripe strawberries and the escapism of friendship. The second half is about that friendship’s slow, slow decline: “I became part of the world which he sought to escape; I became one of the bonds which held him.” It’s one of the wittiest books you’ll ever read, while also being the saddest. In addition, it will teach you how to masterfully use a semicolon. —Maggie

The Enchanted April
Elizabeth von Arnim
1923, Simon & Schuster

Four British ladies rent an Italian villa in the 1920s. One of them is a young beauty, two are middle-aged and struggling with their marriages, and the fourth is old and extremely particular. The women don’t know each other well, but that’s not really what it’s about—each is on a vacation in order to sort herself out, not to make friends. (Of course, that happens regardless.) It’s like a cross between The Golden Girls and Stealing Beauty. This book will make you want to rent a house and then never leave it, instead just moving from sitting room to garden path to dining room and back again, because that’s where everything important happens anyway. —Emma S.

Weetzie Bat
Francesca Lia Block
1989, HarperCollins

I used to teach after-school English classes to high school students who hated reading, and I would always push this book on them. Because even if you are allergic to books—which is FINE—you will love Weetzie Bat (and its sequels, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, Baby Be-Bop, and Pink Smog). They don’t feel like reading, they feel like being put under a spell, like WHOOPS you’ve just tumbled into a sparkly world where magic and romance haunt everyone’s real lives, where anything can happen, and where love can change the world. (Lovers of books will also love this book. One time I met a guy who hated this book and I’m not friends with him anymore.) —Anaheed

Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books
Francesca Lia Block
1998, HarperCollins

Last month some guy at the bar where I work asked his friends, “If you were going to be stranded on a desert island for 10 years, what book would you bring?” He implied that there were “right” and “wrong” answers to this. His friends hemmed and hawed, clearly trying to impress him. While he waited on them, he called out, “Hey bartender, what would you pick?” I responded in a heartbeat: “Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block.” He made a face because he had not heard of it, and it was not on his mental list of the correct, pretentious books like War and Peace, which was his choice because he hadn’t read it (and apparently when one is stuck on a desert island one should edify oneself by reading notoriously tough literature). “Why?” he asked me, to which I responded: “Because I’ve already read War and Peace and even though it’s good, I wouldn’t want to read it again. I could read Dangerous Angels every day for 10 years and be happy, because it’s magic.” He scoffed at me, so I refused to elaborate for him. He wouldn’t get it. He wouldn’t understand the sometimes poisonous but always gorgeous and glittering paradise that is Francesca Lia Block’s Los Angeles. Dangerous Angels is Weetzie Bat plus four other stories (all published between 1989 and 1995) that round out her world of genies and purple-eyed witches and magic. We get to know Witch Baby—the curly-toed, rollerskating snarl-ball who is my favorite character—and Cherokee and the boys they fall for. We watch them search L.A. and New York City for mothers, missing lovers, and the magic inside of themselves. In the final section, Baby Be-Bop, we get to know Weetzie’s best friend, Dirk, and find out the history behind that magic lamp. It is one big modern fairy tale, and if you love stories that you can feel, smell, touch, taste, and completely IMAGINE being a part of, it will be your desert island book, too! —Stephanie

Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself
Salomon Grimberg
2008, Merrell

This book “glamoured” me into a purchase. I love Frida, but I was on vacay and not into gathering more stuff. However, it called to me, and I was so glad to drag it around in my bag like a precious object. Song of Herself has everything I want in a book: it’s beautiful and has lots of rare Frida images and words that can actually feed the reader. Frida (the O.G. Crown of Love wearer) might be the most famous female artist in the history of the universe. Unfortunately, her life was straight-up tragedy. But she turned that shit around and made HER ART. This book contains rare interviews, a medical history (hers is shocking), and most interesting, a psychological assessment of the artist (the author is also a child psychiatrist). It’s also one of those books that you can flip around in and find a magical passage. I magically flipped to this poem, author unknown: Where is, heart of mine, the place of my life? Where is my true home? Where is my precise abode? Here on earth I suffer! —Sonja

Here They Come
Yannick Murphy
2006, McSweeney’s

I love this book so much that it’s PARALYZING. What to say about one of the best books ever written about childhood and adolescence that I’ve ever read? I don’t know, but here goes. Yannick Murphy gets so much right in this short, hilarious, terrifyingly moving novel about growing up on New York’s Lower East Side in the ’70s. Our guide is a 13-year-old girl who lives with her depressed mother, her suicidal older brother, her two sisters, and her alcoholic French grandmother. Her life, in a sense, is fucking hell, but you almost forget it because Murphy’s narrator infuses even the bleakest moments with magical possibility, irreverence, and humor. When she describes seeing the map of scars crisscrossed over her father’s bald head from drinking and falling down too much, you get the sense that she loves him as much as she loathes him, that every gesture of beauty is buoyed by one of cruelty. There isn’t so much a plot as a dreamy weave of episodes as we learn from our plucky, weird, charming, flawed heroine what it’s like to live in total, utter poverty and despair. This book will punch you in the gut when you’re in mid-laugh, heal your wounds when they bleed, break your heart when you think you’re floating, set it free, break it again, and then release you into the thunderclouds of your dreams. —Jenny

Lauren Groff
2012, Hyperion

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up on a hippie commune? Of course you have. In this novel, Groff explores the (not-so-hidden) downside of a utopian community from the perspective of a boy named Bit, following him from his childhood on the land in upstate New York, where all the adults smoke pot and sing songs and otherwise run amok, to his adult life in the city. It unfolds like a fairy tale come to life, dark and truthful, marked by astonishing storytelling and magical thinking. —Emma S.

Helter Skelter
Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry
1974, W.W. Norton

In middle school, my cousin and I were deeply obsessed with the Beatles and everything related to them, which included the most frightening cult-killer and Beatles fan of all time, CHARLES MANSON. We were so scared of Charles Manson that we couldn’t sleep at night without reciting a long mantra about him being cryogenically frozen and suspended in outer space, where he could never get to us. Helter Skelter is an account of the Manson cult murders by the attorney who put him behind bars. It is a must-read for any Beatles fanatic and/or weirdo who wishes to have their library records flagged by the FBI. —Maggie

The Vanishers
Heidi Julavits
2012, Random House

What do psychics know? Can they send each other telepathic messages, can they find the people we’ve lost, can they help us find ourselves? If you’ve ever wondered about any of these questions, this novel is going to be your new best friend. It’s smart and strange and goes places you don’t expect—it’s actually exactly what you want from a psychic. This book won’t tell your future, but it will keep you rapt for days. —Emma S.

Wicked Lovely
Melissa Marr
2007, HarperTeen

Aislinn has been taught by her grandmother not to stare at, speak to, or attract the attention of the fairies she sees in the mortal world, but now there are more and more of them. They seem to be drawn to her, and it threatens to change her entire life. Though Aislinn’s story is central to Wicked Lovely, it’s told from multiple points of view, including that of the Summer King, Keenan, and my favorite character, Donia, the Winter Girl, which allows Marr to build a lush and full fairy world of mythic proportions. I’m not interested in Disney-fied fairy stories. As someone who grew up reading mythology and folklore, poring over Brian Froud’s books and worshiping Francesca Lia Block, my standards are incredibly high, and Wicked Lovely was the first faerie book to really satisfy me. The series is darker than the Weetzie Bat books, but I loved it just as intensely because it’s so vivid. Best of all Aislinn, Donia, Leslie, and all of the other female characters are fierce, independent, and fully capable of making their own tough choices. —Stephanie

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Michael Chabon
2000, Picador

Sometimes you just need a good adventure story, something both Chabon and the protagonists of his novel understand. At the cusp of World War II, Joe Kavalier flees Nazi-occupied Europe to stay with his cousin Sam Klayman in Brooklyn. The two combine their respective loves of illustration and writing to create the Escapist, a comic book superhero who fights super-villains, including (but not limited to) Hitler. Kavalier’s and Clay’s personal struggles are woven into the stories they create and actual events (I read the book while taking a university course on American comic book history—yes, such a thing exists—and it was very historically accurate). If that last sentence made the book sound totally boring, I assure you it’s not—everybody I know that’s read this book (myself included) stayed up till five AM just to find out what happens next. —Anna

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Joan Didion
1968, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This is Didion’s first collection of magazine articles. Her debut novel, Run River (1963), was met by mixed reviews and she found herself deeply questioning the point of devoting her life to the “irrelevant act” of writing. To shake things up she went to San Francisco, where the hippies of Haight-Ashbury were dropping out and turning on. It often takes an outsider to recognize the loneliness of individuals lost in a movement—and that is Joan, the quintessential outsider, the sort of writer people forget not to hide their true selves from because of her quietness and diminutive stature. But don’t be fooled: behind those oversize sunglasses lurks a laser-beam insight. Didion was able to cut through the patchouli-soaked veneer of free love and openness to reveal the deeply disaffected, directionless, and self-destructive youth of America that lay beneath. The only thing you’ll want to do more than read her is be her. I’m still trying! —Kevin Townley

The White Album
Joan Didion
1979, Simon & Schuster

This is Joan Didion’s second collection of essays, published over a decade after her seminal Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The White Album is much more grown up than its predecessor—it’s not necessarily cynical, but has a greater perspective on the world as it is. Didion depicts her experiences in California (and, to a lesser extent, America as a whole) in the ’60s and ’70s with keen insight. She is thoughtful without being schmaltzy: there is not a superfluous word in the book. You get the sense that she’s standing in the back of a room, constantly observing her surroundings, perhaps overlooked but always present. Some of the essays are very topical, covering things like the Manson family or the Doors, but Didion explores a need to make sense of the world that always feels universal. —Anna

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
2010, Seven Treasures

The Brothers Grimm went around Germany in early part of the 19th century and collected oral folktales. These were lascivious, bawdy, and gruesome tales meant to entertain the village folk, especially women who sat for hours, bored stiff, spinning and weaving textiles. If you think Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and stepsisters get off easy in the Disney version, don’t worry, because here, the sisters get their eyes pecked out. The evil queen in Snow White is forced to wear red-hot iron shoes and dance until she falls down dead. In The Juniper Tree, the father is tricked by his second wife into eating a stew of his dead son’s bones. In these tales, everyone is always so hungry, virtuous women die in childbirth and are replaced by wicked ones, children are abandoned and forgotten by the adults who are supposed to take care of them, and the men are nothing more than neglectful, useless bystanders who swoop in at the end to enjoy the fortunes won by their clever children. For the most part, the paradise that the heroes and heroines of these tales pursue is nothing more than the desire to be taken care of and loved. Sure, there are magical birds and enchanted forests and cunning witches and trolls and the stuff of fantasy, but in the end, it’s the reality of poverty that anchors these fairy tales. —Jenny

Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period
Michelle Mercer
2009, Free Press

“The people who get the most out of my music see themselves in it,” Joni Mitchell tells the author here. This is the handbook/bible/companion to Mitchell’s masterpiece, Blue. She is arguably the greatest female musician of all time, and Mercer goes deep into the psychology and influences of all that surrounded the album and its predecessor, For The Roses. “What I did was bring just a little more detail to pop lyrics like ‘I feel blue,’ for example, pairing it with more-specific character and metaphors and making the music actually feel blue with what I call my chords of inquiry,” Mitchell says. Who else could achieve her perfection? —Sonja

Legs Get Led Astray
Chloe Caldwell
2012, Future Tense

As a child, I didn’t understand greed was bad. Once, I sat in front of an open refrigerator, shoving slices of Kraft cheese into my mouth until I vomited. Another time, I piled all of my mom’s sweaters on my head in the middle of July and sweated until I fainted, and when I woke up, I asked my mom, “Did you like my show?” Chloe Caldwell’s debut collection of autobiographical essays is full of greed—sweaty, ugly, beatific, endless greed. She fixes her gaze on the subjects that have never ceased to fascinate us—youth, sex, love, death, drugs, friendship, New York, rebirth—and she does it with an excess and an earnestness that will make you wish you could be her best friend. If you were her best friend, she would invite you to an orgy that she secretly tapes and listens to the next morning on her flight back to Portland. The essays in this collection are as exuberant as they are sad. Her storytelling is as vulnerable as it is bombastic. The essays roll in gangsta, but wear freshly picked daisies in their hair. They’re short and often take the form of repetitive lists that spiral outward like galaxies. When she lists all the different times and ways she’s made herself orgasm—as a child lying face down on her mother’s couch, listening to Tori Amos in an airport at 16, in the bathroom of a library in the middle of writing this very essay—or all the things she did when she first moved to New York, you get this sense like nothing will ever be enough, and that that is a beauty all its own. There’s an essay where Chloe reads her lover’s diary and admits that she’s always wanted someone to invade her privacy. The essay ends with: “I can accept that all I’ve ever wanted is not very special—all I’ve ever wanted, like most people, is proof of love.” And in some ways, this entire collection of essays is Chloe’s invitation to us to invade her privacy, to get to know her, maybe even to love her. —Jenny

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir
Bill Bryson
2006, Broadway

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get really tired of reading major dramatic books with major dramatic themes and problems. I find myself flipping back to the beginning, when things were still happy—a childhood is being described, or a mother (who smells of Chanel No. 5) stands in her slip, putting on her earrings before she goes out for the night. Nothing bad has happened yet, ya know? The childhood hasn’t been taken away. The mother hasn’t quite lost her mind. Everyone still loves one another. Because I read for escape, I love the parts of books that just describe how things were. Enter one of my favorite books of all time: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. It’s a goldmine for escapists. You are dealing with 375 pages of NO PROBLEMS, just a totally hilarious description of being a kid in the 1950s. Go back in time to when everyone knew everyone else on the block! Eat neon food laced with dangerous chemicals! If you need a mental break from drama, this is the book for you. You can read about America at its most optimistic, when the war was over and happiness was a refrigerator in the kitchen, a self-cleaning oven, and an upside-down pineapple cake. —Krista ♦


  • lylsoy June 7th, 2012 11:09 PM

    WEETZIE BAT! I’ve given that book to a few friends and there haven’t been one that didn’t love it! and I absolutely agree, I cannot be friends with someone who doesn’t like it. And I will call my daughter Weetzie. Or Cherokee. but only maybe :)

    • -alexandra- June 8th, 2012 12:35 AM

      I don’t know how well Witch Baby would pass for a baby name, so I might have to reserve it for a kitten :)

      Yay for Weetzie! xxx

      Be sure to sign the petition for FLB to be able to save her home, The Faerie Cottage, from possible foreclosure!!

    • Cherokee June 8th, 2012 8:30 AM

      My name is actually Cherokee. Didn’t even know the Weetzie Bat series included a character named Cherokee until only a few months ago, though I am aware (and have read) ‘Fly, Cherokee, Fly’ about a pigeon named Cherokee…

  • coolschmool June 8th, 2012 12:08 AM

    holy shit this list is amazing. all the ones on there i’ve read I loved and all the ones I haven’t look sew gud THANKS GUYS NOW I’M GONNA GO SPEND EVERY CENT I OWN ON BOOKS AND THEN NEVER LEAVE MY ROOM AGAIN xoxo

  • Mags June 8th, 2012 12:11 AM

    I discovered Weetzie Bat when I was 12, and I’ve been enchanted ever since.

  • -alexandra- June 8th, 2012 12:32 AM

    I’m obsessed with the Weetzie Bat books. Witch Baby is my spirit animal. I LOVE FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK.

    If anyone else is huge Francesca Lia Block fans or just wanted to help a lovely woman out with stopping the possible foreclosure of her home, PLEASE sign this petition to help her refinance her home The Faerie Cottage:

    The descriptions have lots of information about her truly sucky situation. We’re really close to the goal of 2,500 signatures! All it takes it a couple clicks and keyboard taps.

    Help FLB keep the magic alive! xx

  • jenaimarley June 8th, 2012 1:05 AM

    I’m basically on a mission to read as much as possible this summer and so I am quite grateful for so many great recommendations and reviews!
    (One of) my deserted island book(s) is The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, which sort of goes with the theme. This novel in verse is the modern retelling of Hercules’ 10th trail told from the point of view of Geryon, the red monster (who, in this narrative has his heart broken rather than being killed by Hercules) is definitely a book I would become (Fahrenheit 451 reference).
    Also I am reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, which totally fits in as a splendid work of magical realism.

  • Minnah June 8th, 2012 1:15 AM

    This list could really use a John Green book or two! Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines are all about looking/searching/finding- I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a “Literally the best thing ever” about John’s books- because they are literally the best thing ever.

    • mdoodle13 June 8th, 2012 9:38 AM

      I totally second this.

    • bookworm123 June 8th, 2012 3:26 PM

      I third this! Perhaps Nerdfightaria could be expanded into the Rookie-verse:)

    • -alexandra- June 8th, 2012 4:29 PM

      YES! There needs to be a John Green article. Can the next Ask a Grown Man PLEASE be John Green!?? I really think he would do it, he’s so involved with online video.

      Everyone who hasn’t read The Fault in Our Stars needs to. Right now.

      • Minnah June 9th, 2012 3:59 AM

        oh my god, YES. yes to EVERYTHING

      • back2thepast August 1st, 2012 2:55 PM

        Just finished fault in our stars last week. Sat on the bathroom floor (share a room, needed privacy to read the end of something so amazing) and cried my eyes out. I love how its a cancer themed book without being a “cancer story book”, know what im sayin?? Augustus waters forevvvaaa <3

    • rhymeswithorange June 8th, 2012 9:04 PM

      yes yes yes. I’ve been rereading An Abundance of Katherines and I forgot how damn good that book was.

  • anonymouse June 8th, 2012 1:55 AM

    Ah, the Grimm Brothers! I have the complete collection! My favorite story in the collection is The Maiden Without Hands. It’s beautiful and dark, and idk, filled with hope.

  • mayaautumn June 8th, 2012 4:06 AM

    i wanna read them all!!!

  • Libby June 8th, 2012 4:37 AM

    And that is my summer reading list, sorted.
    I’ve spent the last four weeks reading Carniege-nominated books for my school shadowing project, and also textbooks to revise for next week’s tests.
    So books about magic are just what I need.

  • Helenus June 8th, 2012 4:55 AM

    Franny and Zooey. And anything by Kurt Vonnegut.

  • LizzieS June 8th, 2012 5:00 AM

    The strawberries and wine scene in Brideshead Revisited contains my favourite passage from any book ever! It’s beautiful. I’m gonna order half of these on Amazon I think.

  • HarrietIsAPirate June 8th, 2012 7:09 AM

    Weetzie Bat sounds fantastic, definitely going on my ‘to read’ list (although I’ve got to get through all the Game of Thrones books first so it might be a while before I actually read it!)

    Also, I absolutely love Bill Bryson, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is one of the few books of his that I haven’t read. As a British person, Notes From a Small Island is my favorite Bill Bryson because it pretty much perfectly sums up the awesomeness and insanity that is my country

  • Calla_Lily June 8th, 2012 7:47 AM

    Well, I have read exactly 0% of the books on this list (aside from a few Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but who hasn’t?) but this is definitely going to be my summer reading list!
    P.S. My deserted island book would definitely be “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” but Ned Vizzini. I’m not really sure why, but this book about depression is for some reason my FAVORITE book, and I never would get tired of reading it

  • Abby June 8th, 2012 7:57 AM

    I could read Wuthering Heights over and over and over and never get tired of it. It’s magical to me because of how incredibly well the author can delve into a dysfunctional relationship. She really shows how loving someone too much is bad for both parties, and all the people around them.

    Also, Sybil, which is an awful, terrible, disturbing book, but I like it because I’m a psychology nerd. If you’re into psychology like me, especially abnormal psychology, I suggest it, but only if you have a strong stomach and mind.

  • I.ila June 8th, 2012 8:14 AM

    Thanks so much for all the suggestions! I will get them out and read them at camp.
    Okay, so I sort of have to put something in for my favorite book ever, which would be Time and Again by Jack Finney. It’s about time travel, but the main character finds his paradise in 1882. It’s a really really great book, and I suggest it to all.

  • Naomi Morris June 8th, 2012 8:33 AM

    i LOVE bill bryson when i need a break from drama and heartbreak and questions of humanity

  • EnidEnvy June 8th, 2012 8:58 AM

    pumped to see Arcadia on the list! I got to pick the first book for my new book club, and I chose Arcadia. wicked excited to read it!

  • gary cole June 8th, 2012 9:13 AM

    This list is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. So good. I am picking up Weetzie Bat immediately. May I also add my island pick: Run with the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams. I picked this up at age 14, maybe? And some 20 + years later (yes, I am an old lady) I still read it when I am feeling particularly fragile and needing a huge hug. Story of a depression era boy in Georgia? It works.

  • Claire June 8th, 2012 9:32 AM

    As always, Rookie is so timely – I just got Helter Skelter from the library, and that Joni Mitchell book looks fantastic. And this inspired me to go back and read some of my old Judy Blume books this summer (I wonder if Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret will shock the hell out of me like it did when I was 8…probably not, but it’s worth a walk down memory lane).

  • missmadness June 8th, 2012 9:39 AM

    Anaheed, Weetzie Bat sounds amazing. I also have to say that I am SO JEALOUS that you could assign a book like that! The schools I’ve worked at would be crying “evil” in a hot minute (a few of the parents organized burnings for the harry potter books when they were really popular. So sad). Anyway, I definitely want to pick this up!

  • Pocket Cow June 8th, 2012 10:51 AM

    Man, I haven’t read Dangerous Angels in YEARS! I’m gettin’ me out to the library and re-reading that as soon as I can! :D

  • RhiaSnape June 8th, 2012 1:20 PM

    Aw I cant wait to read some of these books! On Rookie, I’d love to see more book reccomendations, cause I’m a total bookworm. But why are they so expensive?
    I’m 15, and have no money for books, and librarys are rubbish. If anyone knows somewhere to get books like these, cheap, let me know! xox

    • -alexandra- June 8th, 2012 4:40 PM

      For books, I like to go to independent bookstores. Often even the expensive-seeming ones have gently used books for sale. These places will also accept used books for credit, so if you have any books, even children’s or middle grade, you can earn credits to buy more books instead of using money.

      Places like Goodwill (thrift shops if you’re outside the US) also usually has a decent book section with some contemporary reads. Also, flea markets usually have some bookstalls and places like churches have booksales as well.

      Chances are that where ever you are, the person selling the books is extremely knowledgable about what they are selling. So, even if it seems like the thrift store/book stall/garage sale if full of dusty paperback romance novels, don’t hesitate to ask them about what a teenage girl might enjoy!!

      It would be also really cool if you had book swaps with friends!

      I hope this was somewhat helpful! I’m 16 and on a tight book budget as well, so I’ve learned to be resourceful : )


      PS. Even if you are on a tight budget, I really recommend buying Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block. If it helps justify the $$ for you, it is 5 books in 1!

    • caro nation June 8th, 2012 4:56 PM

      HEY. Libraries are NOT rubbish.

      • hvit June 11th, 2012 11:26 AM

        NO! LIBRARIES ROCK. Except they didn’t have any of these books. Well, probably the Grimm’s fairy tales, but I have that one. Grrr. Oh well, it’s a small library, some things have got to give!

        But seriously they’re great. Don’t forget you can order books and they’ll get them in for you!

  • Blythe June 8th, 2012 2:44 PM

    Wicked Lovely is one of the best series I have ever read.

  • PearlFog June 8th, 2012 3:56 PM

    Great recommendations, really looking forward to checking some of them out.

    Somebody mentioned Judy Blume…I was in a charity shop the other day buying books for my old grandma and came across a 50p paperback of one of her grown up novels, ‘Summer Sisters’. I’ve been reading it the last couple of days and it was really hard to put it down and go to work this afternoon. Reading it took me right back to reading her books as a teenager and how honest and menacing and unsettling they were. They were so frank and the combination of that with their unfamiliar American, 70s and 80s settings made reading them a very intense experience for me. Good to know it hasn’t changed!

    The other book I’d recommend is ‘White Oleander’, just my all time favourite and a great LA set novel which is a favourite subgenre of mine!

  • -alexandra- June 8th, 2012 4:42 PM


  • caro nation June 8th, 2012 4:54 PM

    Didion and…… more Didion.

    I read The White Album just as my father embarked on a trip to Los Angeles, also known as MY HOMETOWN.

    And then Rookie did this whole thing.

    I haven’t been back in YEARS, Rookie, do you have to rub it in?

    • caro nation June 12th, 2012 6:44 PM

      The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West also adheres to the theme you have going here.

  • SpencerBowie June 8th, 2012 8:15 PM

    Jenny! Love what you wrote here about Grimms Fairy Tales!!! Very cool! I think everyone should grow up on the happy Disney versions of those stories and then find out the gory truth as a part of growing up! I was shocked about the iron shoes in Snow White when I was like 8 or so! Love ‘em now tho!

    Happily ever after!

    • Jenny June 10th, 2012 12:14 PM

      Haha, yeah I was kinda blown away by it all too. For me, I was so surprised that Cinderella’s stepsisters got it so bad… I felt almost bad for them?

  • SWIZZLEFAIRY22 June 8th, 2012 9:54 PM

    I totally wish you guys would do more book reviews! it’s never enough.

  • stellarbell June 9th, 2012 2:35 PM

    Anyone who loved Wicked Lovelies might want to check out Tithe by Holly Black. It’s another modern-world-creepy-fairies-type story.

  • poison ivy June 9th, 2012 2:37 PM

    my favorite book:


    Brian Oswald starts out as a loser (in my opinion, but he thought he was pretty cool) and then turns cool and listens to The Misfits. He’s in love with his best friend Gretchen who is an overweight punk badass. One flaw though, is that you have to read it once and then be done for quite a while, because if you read it again right after you read it the first time, its not as great. i guess thats true with a lot of books, though. Anyway, the book does a really good job of summing up what its like to grow up and try to be different and stand out, but also feeling like you need to fit in. highly recommended!

  • EllaCinders June 10th, 2012 9:49 AM

    These kinds of books are timeless. I’m an older type rookie and I worked in publishing for five years and every time books like this come out–adventure, transformation, magic– all the agents and editors go BANANAS, because they’re personally excited, not just because they think they can make a bajillion dollars.

    Some of my favorites are Helen Oyeyemi, especially WHITE IS FOR WITCHING and MR. FOX, and A.S. Byatt’s short stories like ELEMENTALS. I also had a book of Italo Calvino’s Italian Folk Tales when I was 8, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I found out he was also a well-respected weirdo writer in his own right.

  • allcarbdiet June 10th, 2012 1:45 PM

    Great selection of books! I’m so excited to respect myself with days upon days of magical adventures…

    If you’re still looking for more, I’d recommend these books for your bucket list. (esp the first page)

    protip: The Enchanted April is free for kindle!

  • SweetThangVintage June 10th, 2012 3:16 PM

    Now I’ve gotta read Dangerous Angels just because of…roller skating! XD

  • bethleeroth June 10th, 2012 8:36 PM

    I want to read all of these!!!!!! Well, I’ve already read Helter Skelter.

  • YangHaizi June 11th, 2012 4:05 PM

    Cavalier&Clay has been one of my fav books ever since Seth Cohen recommended it

  • Selle June 22nd, 2012 8:15 PM

    Grimm’s fairytales never fail to blow my mind and leave me slightly disturbed yet inspired!

    And I have read and enjoyed Francesca Lia Block’s books but I dunno, there’s something about them that I find…troublesome? Like how all her female protagonists are almost uniformly thin and lovely fragile things. I mean she does have other diverse types in her books but the main girls you were supposed to look up to mostly all fit into that mold of pale, skinny and pretty. I know its all meant to be fantasy and fairy tale like so maybe its suposed to evoke imageries of faeries and fair maidens but I do admit I would like to see a heroine that wasn’t another pale girl with slim legs and hair like silk that for some reason did not know how pretty she was.

    Also, there’s the whole Cherokee character issue… going too far with cultural appropriation or no?

    I do enjoy the lyrical way Block writes, I’ve just never been fully comfortable with the characters. Am I the only one?

    • Selle June 22nd, 2012 8:24 PM

      Oh and I mean not the characters as how they act and are, but how they are physically portrayed :)

  • Delilah July 23rd, 2012 7:40 PM

    Joan Didion’s my soul sister <3 also The Vanishers is all kinds of fantastic.

  • martha August 15th, 2012 5:16 AM

    I actually don’t know what I’d do with out you Rookie. Thank you for this awesome book list.

  • imperfectparadox13 August 29th, 2012 6:43 PM

    i feel like perks of being a wallflower by steven chbozsky should be on here.