Illustration by Elly Malone.

Illustration by Elly Malone.

If you’re looking for some long reads to dive into during winter break, we have a suggestion: this website, Seriously. In honor of our five-year anniversary in 2016, we asked our contributors to recommend some of their most-loved Rookie essays, guides, roundtables, and galleries. We compiled them into a reading list intended for new Rookie readers and long-time Rooks alike. We won’t say that the work included below is “the best” or our “favorite,” but only because it would be impossible to make those kinds of choices. We love it all, and we hope you’ll find something to love here, too.

“How to Bitchface” by Tavi Gevinson
1319076978repulsedOK, this tutorial is iconic. An active bitchface can scare away the worst of people with the least amount of effort on your part. I read this post for the first time a few years back and was in awe of Tavi’s spot-on, detailed descriptions of how to move your face. (Case in point: “Open your mouth ever so slightly like you’re about to eat a mini cheeseburger. NOT a mini plain burger. Then your mouth will be too small.”) Then I contorted my face into the meanest of shapes for no one but my computer screen to see. Take a gander at this classic DIY if your bitchface needs an upgrade, or if you just need a laugh. —Savana Ogburn

Mad Love” by Jenny Zhang
1356807442romeo-4I first discovered “Mad Love” before I was ever in love, during the throes of junior high school. I’ve returned to it time and time again; most recently this year, when the love boat came back around and threatened to crash into every rational cove in my brain. Jenny’s essay played an instrumental part in how I thought about love, and how I thought about how I thought about love, and in realizing how many of my ideals resided in something that was neither sustainable nor healthy. I couldn’t find excitement in thoughts of marriage or stable relationships, only the love where something had to die to prove the strength of the intimacy, where there were blood pacts and elopements and actions that were more extreme versions of yelling, “You just don’t understand!” at a parent. Jenny made me realize how polar my perceptions of being in love were, and introduced me to the idea that happiness could come from something that wasn’t always threatening to implode. —Britney Franco

Breaking in a Broken Heart” by Liz Armstrong
1335853917heartbreak-540x772*sigh* Need I say more? This one by Liz Armstrong is a light at the end of a dark tunnel. REALLY. I nursed a heartbreak caused by unrequited love and found this, as always, right when I needed it. (Rookie is prophetic!) I cried reading this, and will forever cry as I re-read forever. —Kiana Flores

“How to Structure Your Days If You’re Depressed” by Ragini Nag Rao
1428590786lucy-structuring-life-with-depression-text-by-ragini-700x944This article is a big help to me when I’m depressed, and depression usually grabs onto me and a lot of people I know—especially queer and trans friends—during the holidays. —Annie Mok

I’ll Be Your Mirror” by Amy Rose Spiegel
1407624366allegra-muse-no-more-text-by-ars-piece-not-in-yetI am not exaggerating when I say this essay changed my life. Amy Rose writes about morphing yourself into a dreamgirl vessel because of the patriarchy but also because honesty is scary. I’ve never read something and been more like, “Same pal, same.” Reading it was an actual epiphany that helped me understand myself and why I was legitimately stressed out when I said I liked Santigold and the person I was dating said they didn’t. Amy is hilarious and kind in the midst of being so, so REAL. This essay helped me map out a better way of being, one with more honesty and less shape-shifting. When I find myself getting too caught up in what other people like and how well that aligns with my own life, I think of this essay and remember, in the words of Grimes, “I’ll never be your dreamgirl.” —Madeline Keyes-Levine

Never Too Much” by Michelle Ofiwe
1455217269taira-rice-missy-elliott-text-by-michelle-ofiwe-768x1027Michelle Ofiwe writes about Missy Elliott and what she represented—as a fat, dark-skinned, black female rapper—to her as a young black girl. I mentioned it in an essay I wrote about Nina Simone because, like Simone, Elliott’s existence seems exceptional, almost utopian. Michelle manages to talk about herself and her own body issues without clouding Missy Elliott’s own experience. It’s rare to read black girls writing about eating disorders, and I’m glad this essay exists for all the girls who feel like they can’t take up too much space. —Fanta Sylla

Ouija Board, Ouija Board” by Tavi Gevinson
screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-08-19-amIn my tradition of vicariously experiencing things through fellow Rookie writers before my own personal encounters with them, I read Tavi’s essay when I was still too plagued by familial superstitions to use a Ouija board. I’d learned about them in-depth on Tavi’s blog years prior, and so I recognized a lot of the spirit conversations that were included in the article. It was a topic of extreme interest for me, and knowing that someone else saw the validity in them was jarring in the best way possible. However, once these conversations were contextualized with the theme of her friendship with Ella and how it spanned these pages dedicated to the unseen, I felt them differently than I had before. Now that years have passed since my initial reading, and I have used the Ouija board across those years with close friends, I draw an emotional parallel that is less voyeuristic and more reflective. —Britney Franco

First Kiss” by Jenny Zhang, with photos by Petra Collins
1315869389firstkiss1-540x814For a long time I harbored secret anxiety about my first kiss—the movies and books I’d digested led me to believe that it was abnormal not to have experienced even a spin-the-bottle-type kiss at 17 years old (not true, btw), and I started hankering for stories that talked about first kisses and first loves. Jenny Zhang’s incredibly sweet recounting of her own first kiss—complete with AN INTERVIEW WITH THE KISSEE (!!!)—is absolutely wonderful, regardless of whether or not you’ve had your own first smooch. —Victoria Chiu

The Season of the Witch” by Sady Doyle
1318577234thecraft2This essay made me fall in love with Rookie and realize what all this hooplah was about! For the first time (get ready—this is gonna be cheesy), I saw the world unfold in front of me. Basically, I could do whatever I wanted, however I wanted. I didn’t need to sound like a Harvard graduate to write something that was good or worth reading. The color palette of my worldview blossomed from black and white to the whole dang rainbow. Never have I laughed so hard over such an inspirational revelation…or felt so empowered at a desert gas station (I was in the car, coming home from Arizona). —Alyson Zetta

The Big, Scary Thing” by Esme Blegvad
1445541069big01-700x878The realest talk about self-harm is here in Esme’s comic. As someone who self-injured for a long time, I’ve spent years trying to write and explain the why, and the what-it-felt-like in my brain and my body. Seeing it on the page made me feel understood and less alone. Everyone’s experience, especially in terms of recovery, is different, but knowing you aren’t alone—and having something to show people to explain the experience—is a game-changer. —Stephanie Keuhnert

Something to Read While Debating Whether or Not to Call Your Ex” by Tavi Gevinson
1432761927kim-something-to-read-while-debating-whether-to-call-your-ex-text-by-tavi-700x834Dialing up a former flame in the hopes of feeling some love is something we have all thought about doing when late-night loneliness gets to be too much. Whether they’re for an ex or an ex-crush, the pangs of lost love are so strong. Tavi offers mantras to overcome “kiss me through the phone” temptations, including this beautiful phrase: “When the insecurity is at a minimum and your walls can come down, THAT’S when you are the most open to the world and capable of loving.” —Miranda Feneberger

We’re Called Survivors Because We’re Still Here” by Sady Doyle
1325831312sadysailllo-540x756If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, this is such an important resource. Sady speaks to the aftermath of sexual assault with kindness and honesty. She reminds us that all survivors’ experiences are different and that you don’t have to be OK. She provides insight into what you will experience and tools to help. —Stephanie Keuhnert

Moving Walkways” by Olivia Bee
screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-6-02-21-pmMy personal-favorite Rookie gallery is this photoset of Olivia Bee’s trip to Japan. I have it bookmarked on my computer! Every time I revisit it, I get oddly nostalgic and feel sort of voyeuristic. And, just in general, Olivia was one of my biggest inspirations back when I was a baby Rook. —Isabel Garcia

The Aunt Debbie and Uncle Mitch series by Pixie Casey
1343872514dandmyoloEvery satirical compilation of texts, emails, and tweets from Aunt Debbie and Uncle Mitch—everyone’s favorite fictional clueless/unashamed relatives—makes me LOL for real. Possibly even more so in 2016 when the pop culture references remind me that the Wanted were once a thing. This one might be my favorite because it makes me want to sign off my emails with “#1 Fan of ‘Call Me Maybe.'” —Madeline Keyes-Levine

How to Not Care What Other People Think of You” by Tavi Gevinson
1327380650tavidontcareilloThis article is one that I’ve highlighted, underlined, starred, et cetera (in my Rookie Yearbook, of course) because it’s just so dang good. Tavi tells you exactly what the title says, offering guidance on self-love and doing what you want with humor and lots of PUNS. —Savana Ogburn

Hello, Darkness” by Jenny Zhang
1405373288emma-d-confronting-darkness-text-by-jennyThis is the first essay of Jenny’s that I bookmarked. I have re-read it every three months, at least. I relate strongly to her dark childhood thoughts at Disney World and how she reconciled that shit; sometimes you have to see and understand that to move through the world, and maybe that’s the only constant. Jenny is a person of experience and wisdom. I LOVE JENNY ZHANG. —Kiana Flores

The Surge We Need” by Maggie Thrash
1325218834surgeweneedThis is one of the first stories I illustrated for Rookie, and I instantly loved Maggie’s writing. The story was short, but the setting and characters were so vivid to me. When I read other work by her that was totally different, I was so impressed by the way she could make up worlds out of nothing. —Kelly Abeln

The Great Big Beyoncé Roundtable” by Rookie contributors
1387193468beyoncepicture1-700x392This is one of my all-time favorite Rookie articles! When Beyoncé’s self-titled visual album came out, I was so pumped and instantly fell in love with every song. But after reading this roundtable discussion about it, I saw it as more than just a great pop album: It was a work of art and an amazing feminist statement. It’s been a while since the album dropped, but I would highly recommend reading this great roundtable on Beyoncé and how she deals with themes like female sexuality and unattainable beauty standards. —Ugochi Egonu

Friends Like These” by Amy Rose Spiegel
1320104455amyrosegirlgangillo-540x428When I started trawling through Rookie’s archives years ago, one of the first authors read was Amy Rose. Her writing has always been so witty and fun, and I’ve learned a lot about life and love from her work. This essay—on her endeavors falling into and out of different friend groups while developing as an individual—is one of my perennial favorites. It’s something I’ve encountered a lot myself and continue to deal with, and it’s comforting to hear the perspective of someone older and wiser who has lived through it, too. —Victoria Chiu

On Taking Yourself Seriously” by Sady Doyle
1331888729sadyseriouslymainillo-540x757As a fledgling writer in a country where a career in the arts and humanities are not given much importance, respect, or praise, this article has helped me re-focus and affirm my dreams and goals, regardless of what anyone around me says or thinks. A phrase of Sady’s has stuck with me, and I re-read it to power up and power through: “Fantasies are good, and so are goals, but to move forward, you’re going to actually need a plan.” —Kiana Flores

“David Sedaris Is As Awesome As Everybody Hoped” by Tavi Gevinson
132617646929071102-540x393David Sedaris is my favorite author ever, and I mean like ever ever. I read stories from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day before bed at least once a week because they’re so brilliant and funny. This interview is amazing—he talks about how to write fan letters, hilarious gifts for teenagers, and his favorite Japanese fashion designers. Give it a read if you’re already a David Sedaris fan, or if you just want advice on how to (nicely) make fun of people. —Savana Ogburn

Don’t Le Me Be Lonely” by Tova Benjamin
1458239850kendra-yee-when-good-people-are-cruel-text-by-tova-benjamin-768x978I am a lover of the epistolary form! (Chris Kraus, I’m looking at you, *wink wink*) This is how I want to write my breakup letters, my mourning letters, my love letters. Tova gently encapsulates loss, and makes me want to hug and softly cry at everyone. —Kiana Flores

Doing Drugs” by Amy Rose Spiegel
1458239850kendra-yee-when-good-people-are-cruel-text-by-tova-benjamin-768x978Amy Rose is one of today’s brightest writers, and her piece about TRYIN’ DRUGS is a great example of her ability to distill taboo things into plain, humorous language that isn’t preachy in the slightest. This guide offers the best of straight-up science and personal experience to help you make the best decisions when faced with drugzzz. A must-read for anyone curious about altering your consciousness. —Meagan Fredette

Eating: A Manifesto” by Krista Burton
1342137334food-guilt_krista_mainKrista Burton’s manifesto about “[eating] the fucking brownie” makes me laugh every g-dang time I read it. Her stream-of-consciousness thoughts, use of all-caps, and natural wit make this call to action so funny and so lovable. Plus, it hammers home a very, very insightful message about eating and our attitudes toward it, and how messed up it is that sometimes we can feel pressured to eat—or not eat—certain things to adhere to societal standards. Brava! —Victoria Chiu

P.S. I Love You” by Erica Segovia
screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-6-13-56-pmThis photo series of “two dandelions in love” is dreamy and unexplainably cute. I often think of these dandelions and hope they are doing well. —Madeline Keyes-Levine

Real-People Reviews” by Rookie contributors
1332399150nutsnutsnuts-140x186Something I love about Rookie is that, in addition to all of the serious coverage, it is also HILARIOUS. The first round of Rookie’s people reviews literally made me laugh until I cried, especially the very last one by Anaheed. “Nuts. Nuts. Nuts.” Forever. —Stephanie Keuhnert ♦