Books + Comics

The Rookie Gift Guide: Stuff to Read

Zines, books, and magazines to give or to ask for.

In the spirit of giving, this month we’ll be featuring a bunch of mini–gift guides, which, added together, will be a veritable treasure trove of ideas for what to give your bestie/sibling/parental figure/crush this year.

First up: Zines, comix, books, and magazine subscriptions recommended by two of our readingest staffers, Brodie and Suzy X. (More gift ideas here!)

Magazines

Brodie’s Picks:

little-white-lies-penelopeLittle White Lies
The first item on my own Christmas list this year is a subscription to the British film magazine Little White Lies. While most magazines follow a pretty strict template, LWL gives itself a makeover every issue. Each one is dedicated to a different new film, with in-depth articles on its director, actors, and themes, and designed with that movie in mind. They also review new releases in a useful way, the way we humans talk about movies amongst one another: Rather than assign a film a single score, they give it three ratings: one for their anticipation beforehand, one for their reactions while watching it, and one for how they felt after the screening, once they’d let it sink in. Since receiving a copy of the Tetro issue in an international magazine swap back in 2010, I’ve been obsessed with collecting every issue. (£33 [about $45], plus shipping, per year, the Church of London)

zoetrope-all-storyZoetrope: All-Story
When he chilled out from making films and passed on the torch to his kids in the late ’90s, Francis Ford Coppola sat down, poured himself a bottle of Coppola wine, and launched an arts-and-literary magazine called Zoetrope: All Story. Each quarterly issue is designed by a different well-known creative person. Past guest designers include the Rodarte sisters, Lou Reed, PJ Harvey, David Bowie, and Ryan McGinley. Coppola has also, of course, included members of his tight-knight family: Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola have designed issues, and Gia Coppola contributed to the recent one, designed by legendary French filmmaker Agnès Varda. One of the coolest things about Zoetrope is that every issue features a short story that went on to inspire a film: In the spring 2011 issue, guest designed by Mark Romanek, Will Ferrell wrote an introduction to short story “Why Don’t You Dance?” by Raymond Carver, which the film Everything Must Go (starring Ferrell) was based on. Zoetrope: All Story is a great magazine for film fans and people who love fiction, and doesn’t ever feel like one is being sacrificed for the sake of the other. ($24 per year, Zoetrope: All-Story)


Zines

Brodie’s Picks:

worlds-onlyWorld’s Only
Megan Alice Clune

World’s Only is a zine by the Sydney-based editor Megan Alice Clune, who started it because, after graduating from college with a music degree, she couldn’t find any resources that spoke to her as a classical-music fan. I don’t know very much about classical music or orchestras or any music that people generally have to wear a black tie to hear live, but the great thing about this zine is that it can teach and entertain you, even if your only point of reference is a failed violin lesson at age seven. Being a musician herself (she plays the clarinet), Clune has a way of interviewing artists that is very natural and personal, so even if you’re unfamiliar with the work of Jess Olivieri or Margaret Leng Tan, you’ll get drawn into the conversation. It’s not all classical music in here, though; the recently released issue three also features a mixtape from the band Golden Blonde and a photo diary taken backstage at a Romance Was Born fashion show. World’s Only palpably combines all the things Clune herself is into, which makes reading it feel like you’re hanging out with her at a gig. ($12 per issue, World’s Only)

Suzy’s Picks:

17836654The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad: The Book
Adam Gnade
2013, Pioneers Press

Winter can be really tough on some people—and I’m not just talking about the cold weather. It’s proven by SCIENCE that reduced exposure to sunlight can be a total downer on our psyches. And for TONS of people, these downers never seem to go away. In this zine, Adam Gnade offers a kick in the pants for those of us struggling with anxiety and depression. He writes with such honesty and compassion that the zine reads like a long, fervent pep talk from a friend over records and comfort food. Even if you don’t struggle with the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad all the time, this is a good item to keep around for those moments when you’re feeling blue and need to be affirmed. ($7, Pioneers Press)

Atoe-ShotgunSeamstressZineCollectionShotgun Seamstress Zine Collection: Six Zines by & for Black Punks
Osa Atoe
2012, Mend My Dress Press

Shotgun Seamstress was a zine that for five years (2006–2011) focused on black punk, queer, and/or feminist artists. This anthology reveals the rich history of black and brown people in punk/rock/alternative music, through the use of interviews, personal anecdotes, playlists, and music/zine reviews. Atoe talked to artists, musicians, and activists from all over the world, and included here are incredible conversations with punk legends like Poly Styrene and Mick Collins. This is a beautifully curated archive of a legacy that’s often overlooked in punk retrospectives, and would make a riveting read for the music historians in your life! ($18, Antiquated Future)

tumblr_inline_miwr6y5ySW1qz4rgp#ArtLife: Musings and Advice From a Queer Art Activist of Color
Nia King
2013

This is an excellent guide to those trying to make a living off their creative work and do it with a good conscience! There are helpful tips on how to promote yourself and put a value on your time and effort; things that take a lot of confidence and encouragement, no matter what walk of life you come from. ($3, Nia King)

igguInternational Girl Gang Underground
Kate Wadkins and Stacy Konkiel, editors
2011

With all the Riot Grrrl nostalgia going around—and, hey, I’m not complaining—it’s imperative that those of us inspired by the movement learn its history, through a variety of perspectives. This collection of critical essays and artwork by women of all ages and from various backgrounds responds to the movement and its legacy in ways that don’t romanticize, but rather engage with, Riot Grrrl. Many of the thorny issues and questions that were raised in the ’90s resurface here, prompting readers to reconsider the ways people practice DIY ethics and feminism today. Perfect for feminist crafters, rebel grrrls, and regular ol’ changemakers alike. ($3, Stranger Danger Zine Distro)


Comics

Brodie’s Picks:

32_stories_box_set32 Stories
Adrian Tomine
2009, Drawn and Quarterly

Drawn and Quarterly, the publisher of our first two Rookie Yearbooks, is best known for giving the world work by awesome graphic novelists and comic artists like Lynda Barry, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, our own Sonja Ahlers, and my personal faves, Joe Sacco and Adrian Tomine. Before his serialized comic Optic Nerve was published by D&Q, Adrian Tomine was photocopying, stapling, and self-distributing his stories for a small group of loyal readers. While it’s always been pretty easy to track down copies of Optic Nerve (there are three anthologies: Sleepwalk: and Other Stories, Summer Blonde, and Shortcomings), reading Tomine’s early, handmade mini-comics was nearly impossible before the publication of this wonderful box set. It’s a great gateway for people who are interested in comics and graphic novels but may feel a little intimidated walking into a comic book store filled with unfamiliar titles and people who seem to know more than you do. Tomine’s stories feel like tiny movies playing out just for you, and 32 Stories takes you back to the days when he was just figuring it out for himself. ($12, Drawn and Quarterly)

Suzy’s Picks:

jeremiahcoverJeremiah
Cathy G. Johnson
2012

This is a gorgeous graphic novel about a quiet farmer’s son with a big secret in the big country. Little bits of explosive dialogue are sandwiched between striking watercolors of pastoral scenery, giving an otherwise troubling narrative a cosmic, meditative quality. In the same vein as Southern Gothic writers like Flannery O’Conner and William Faulkner, Johnson uses silent tension to explore deep questions about sex and morality that might sit heavily with you long after you’ve finished the book. ($10, CathyBoy)

6a00d8341c625053ef01156f63a917970c-450wiJin & Jam no. 1
Hellen Jo
2008, Sparkplug Books

She’s best known for her colorful renderings of tough-as-nails babes, but Hellen Jo’s comics are also pretty bomb. Jin & Jam #1 is a short story about some rowdy teen girls who meet at church and wreak havoc in the schoolyard. The fight scenes hark back to the brutality of some classic superhero comics, but Jo’s drawing style and cheeky characters are truly one-of-a-kind. ($3, Hellen Jo)


Books

Brodie’s Picks:

9780857862549It Chooses You
Miranda July
2012, McSweeney’s

It Chooses You is not brand new, but it is one of those books that beg rereading at least once a year, and each time you’re sure to get something new out of it. After earning acclaim for her 2005 film Me and You and Everyone We Know, July was kind of stumped about how to follow it up. When she was supposed to be writing her next film, she instead created a book of photos of and interviews with people who advertised items to sell in the Penny Saver. Between the interviews, July muses on the progress she’s made on her script and her attempts to close her computer, stop Googling herself, and just get her work done—something I can really relate to. When I first read this book, I was in a very lonely place in my life, and I found comfort in the idea that one of my heroes, someone I’d assumed had her shit together in a way I never could, might be feeling some the same stuff I was about success, creativity, love, and life. I really believe this book chose me. ($10, McSweeney’s)

WesAnderson_CaseSpotUV_5_24.inddThe Wes Anderson Collection
Matt Zoller Seitz
2013, Abrams Books

One of my rules for my holiday wishlist is that it has to include at least a couple of items that I wouldn’t buy for myself—things like jewelry, nice bedsheets, and non-drugstore nail polish make frequent appearances on my list. So do big, heaving coffee-table books. This gift idea combines my love of impractical books with insights into one of my favorite filmmakers. It includes a massive interview with the director, divided into seven chapters—one for each of his films—and catalogs fascinating minutiae like fan art and the visual references Anderson called on in films like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson also details the inspiration for Suzy and Sam’s fantastical storybook romance in Moonrise Kingdom (he wanted the film to feel like a story Suzy would read in one of her books). The best thing about The Wes Anderson Collection is that the author, critic Matt Zoller Seitz, is a fellow Anderson fan, and you can feel the love and generosity he poured into the project. ($40, Abrams Books)

vanessa-berry-ninety-9Ninety9
Vanessa Berry
2013, Giramondo Publishing

The latest addition to my list of ’90s girl role models is Vanessa Berry, who’s well known in the Australian zine community as the maker of the beloved Band T-Shirt and I Am a Camera. This year, Berry released this memoir, which chronicles her time as a music-obsessed teenager who was “too weird to be popular” in the ’90s. The chapter titles reference iconic (not ironic) hallmarks of the decade, like “All Ages Show,” “Zines,” “VHS,” and “Music Festivals.” This time capsule of Berry’s adolescence is so personal that reading it felt almost like I was hiding in the wardrobe of her teen bedroom, watching as she listened to the Cure for the first time and tried her best to be goth in a perpetually sunny rural town outside of Sydney. Ninety9 feels like a big sister to Rookie, and its writer the older sister who doesn’t know just how cool she is. ($20, Giramondo Publishing)

15 Comments

  • lyssagrltx December 3rd, 2013 12:59 AM

    I’m going to put pretty much all of these on my wishlist they all seem so great. I always LOVE when rookie mag does recommendations for stuff because pretty much everything y’all recommend is great, so thanks.

  • lizabeth December 3rd, 2013 2:10 AM

    I want everything on this list–especially that Wes Anderson book!

    I’m so inspired just by reading the descriptions of each item :)

  • JadeTayla December 3rd, 2013 3:44 AM

    I bought The Wes Anderson Collection book for myself as an early Christmas/birthday present!!! I’m not gonna exaggerate here, but it’s seriously the greatest thing I have EVER BOUGHT! I just can’t stop picking it up and staring at it everytime I walk past my book shelf.

    http://daftpunkisplayingatmahouse.tumblr.com

  • monalisa December 3rd, 2013 5:28 AM

    i have the Wes Anderson collection and it’s FAB-U-LOUS

  • navyblueguava December 3rd, 2013 6:53 AM

    This was so perfect! I always give myself and others books for Christmas, and the fact that you put up this gift guide simply makes me want to dance around forever!!

    http://theneonguava.blogspot.com

  • kbro December 3rd, 2013 7:46 AM

    So great to see World’s Only make the list, such a beautiful zine worthy of such attention!! perfect stocking filler.

  • StellaBerlin December 3rd, 2013 8:42 AM

    also the book “steal like an artist” by austin kleon is great

  • AnaRuiz December 3rd, 2013 8:47 AM

    I wish my family would start giving me books for the holidays. I’m somewhat tired of the ugly pijamas.

    http://anaruizwriting.blogspot.com

  • SugarVendil December 3rd, 2013 2:14 PM

    SO stoked that you guys have a classical music publication on here! As a classical pianist I can totally identify with Clune’s search for compelling resources. Can’t wait to check out ‘World’s Only!’

  • spudzine December 3rd, 2013 9:22 PM

    OMG BOOK LIST. I LOVE book lists, preferably because I know what to read next(or, uh, what to give people during the holiday season hehe…)

    http://spudzine.tumblr.com/
    http://emotwins.tumblr.com/
    http://rockogirl.tumblr.com/

  • Tyknos93 December 3rd, 2013 9:46 PM

    I read Jeremiah online here ( http://www.jeremiahcomic.com/?cat=4 ) in one sitting and was moved to tears (read: bawled like a baby). Seriously it’s so beautiful and I want to own the rest of these so baaaad.
    http://blazoningpens.blogspot.com/

  • mrsdalecooper December 3rd, 2013 11:35 PM

    i got the Wes Anderson book for my birthday (he’s my FAVE director) and it is a Game Changer. W O W. truly a treasure, 11 stars

  • Nahs December 4th, 2013 12:29 AM

    JIN&JAM!!!! <3
    I loved so very much that comic!! I'm a big Hellen Jo fan! Does anybody know if there are more volumes to their story?

  • catpower44 December 5th, 2013 7:44 PM

    I lovelovelove It Chooses You I re-read it all the time! Also 32 stories is great and I asked for the Wes Anderson Collection for Christmas :)

  • suzicle December 19th, 2013 3:12 PM

    Love!

    http://thrivemagofficial.com/2013/12/19/books-i-recommend-to-women/