2016 Book Memories Challenge

January 2nd, 2017 12:00 pm by Kelly Garbato


So I started doing the Book Memories Challenge last year, and enjoyed it so much that I continued in 2016 – even though Grown Up Fangirl doesn’t look to be hosting it anymore. (Enter: my own shiny header!)

Anyway, the basic premise is this: for every book you read, jot down your favorite quotes on a slip of paper. Stow ’em all in a jar and, at the end of the year, look back and see which ones made you laugh, cry, or shake your fist in anger. (Preferably number one.) Of course, my penmanship is a shitshow, so I opted to record them in a blog post instead. This also allowed me to go a little overboard, but I’ll leave it to you to decide if this is a net positive or negative.

This year’s WP file got so bloated that I’m typing this intro in its own window, on account of there’s such a delay on the original. Maybe next year I’ll post the first batch of quotes at the end of June? Or maybe at the end of each quarter? Thoughts?

Either way, I shall leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes, one that’s been hanging heavy on my mind thanks to one of my final reads of the year. (The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg.) TELL THEM STORIES. I think good storytelling might be the one superpower we need most in the coming year.


  1. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer (2014)

    He froze, becoming stone still. As the hover climbed the hill to the palace, his shoulders sank, and he returned his gaze to the window. “She’s my alpha,” he murmured, with a haunting sadness in his voice.
    Cress leaned forward, propping her elbows on her knees, “Like the star?”
    “What star?”
    She stiffened, instantly embarrassed, and scooted back from him again. “Oh. Um. In a constellation, the brightest star is called the alpha. I thought maybe you meant that she’s…like…your brightest star.” Looking away, she knotted her hands in her lap, aware that she was blushing furiously now and this beast of a man was about to realize what an over-romantic sap she was.
    But instead of sneering or laughing, Wolf sighed, “Yes,” he said, his gaze climbing up to the full moon that had emerged in the blue evening sky. “Exactly like that.”

    He shrugged against her. “The people of Luna don’t need a princess. They need a revolutionary.”
    Cinder furrowed her brow. “A revolutionary,” she repeated. She liked that a lot better than princess.

  2. The Gods of HP Lovecraft edited by Aaron J. French (2015)

    Metaphors only reshape horror; they don’t prevent it.
    (Adam LG Nevill, “Call the Name”)

    “The end of us will be the end of us, my dear, but not the end of everything.”
    (Adam LG Nevill, “Call the Name”)

    “Mac, are we having an adventure? Is someone going to shoot at me? Am I going to be kidnapped again? Locked in a trunk and dropped into the sea? Experimented on with growth hormones? Chased by a lunatic in a mechanical wolf getup? It sure feels like we’re having an adventure.”
    (Laird Barron, “We Smoke the Northern Lights”)

    “If you kill a snake on sacred ground, you become a snake, or a snakelike creature. […] Anyway, the curse, it’s like karma, right? It means that Indians valued the lowest of the low, creatures literally without a leg to stand on. And if you hurt one, you should expect to find yourself stripped of power and crawling on your belly on the ground among them, yeah?”
    (Douglass Wynne, “Rattled”)

    I felt a little guilty as I let myself out of the room and started down the hall. None of my friends had volunteered for this. They thought they were having a nice vacation that would end when they returned to their lives with suntans and new stories. They didn’t understand.
    But then, the mice hadn’t volunteered either. And none of my friends, when pressed, had hesitated a moment before picking up the needle.
    (Seanan McGuire, “Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves”)

    “What did you do to us? Why?
    “Why did you give cancer to all those mice?” I shrugged. “I needed to know if it was possible.” […]
    Jeremy turned to give me a shocked, even hurt look. The newly inhuman lines of his face didn’t quite suit the expression. Deep Ones are many things. We’re very rarely shocked. “This is nothing like the mice. We’re human beings, and you took us captive and…did things to us. It’s not the same at all.”
    “You were human beings who experimented on lower life forms to see what would happen to them, and because you thought you had the right,” I said. “I read your Bible, you know. Years ago, when I first started at U.C. Santa Cruz. I wanted to…understand, I suppose. I wanted to know. And it said that God had given you dominion over all the plants and animals of the world, which meant turning mice into explosive tumor machines was just fine.”
    (Seanan McGuire, “Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves”)

  3. City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett (2016)

    “Oh, what fresh hell is this,” says Mulaghesh. “Another contraption?”

    More boos and catcalls. Mulaghesh thins her eyes as she watches the tribal leaders. They are all skinny, haggard things, dressed in robes and furs, their necks brightly tattooed and covered with curious patterns. Some are women, she sees, which surprises her: Bulikov strictly forbade women from doing anything more than firing out children as quickly and efficiently as possible. But then, she thinks, Voortya probably wouldn’t have tolerated that bullshit.

    “I wonder how cheated the dead must have felt when that afterlife evaporated around them,” says Rada. “It’s like it’s a game,” she says softly. “And no matter how you play it, it ends unfairly.”

    When the world grinds you down, you pick a handful of fires to hold close to your heart.

    “The reason we all thought Hjörvar was so slow,” says Sigrud, “is we assumed he kept masturbating in the cockpit instead of sleeping. He was known for that.”

    People often ask me what I see when I look at the world. My answer is simple, and true. Possibilities. I see possibilities. —letter from Vallaicha Thinadeshi, 1649

  4. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (2016)

    I tell a thousand little lies about my life every day so I can feel like a normal person.

    I suddenly think of Mr. Melvin’s heartfelt speech this morning about practice and mistakes, and I realize something new. Maybe Hector and I are Papi’s practice kids, where he made all his mistakes. The only difference is that he can’t totally throw us away.

    “Nothing ends. […] There is only transformation, ugly as it may be.”

    That night, I’m home watching Mayor Beame on TV. He tells us we’ll rebuild, but I’m not so sure. How do you rebuild people?

  5. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (2015)

    Beautiful ship, chum. Lines like poetry. She doesn’t move in space, she dances in it.

    CitB: stay on task, grasshopper. we let the Alexander burn us out of the sky, your red hot love will be subsumed by a bigger, hotter flame
    ByteMe: how do you even function in society?
    CitB: it’s a struggle

    I should have been big enough to tell him what he meant to me.
    Now I get to tell him in 7 minute bursts.

    Mason, Em LT 2nd: god i wish i could kiss you goodbye
    ByteMe: this must be why you spent all those walks kissing me in your head. it was practice for this moment.
    ByteMe: i’m imagining kissing you back, right now
    ByteMe: i hear I’m pretty good

    Before this moment, I have never wished to be something other than what I am.

    When the light that kisses the back of her eyes was birthed, her ancestors were not yet born. How many human lives have ended in the time it took that light to reach her?

  6. The Unfinished World: And Other Stories by Amber Sparks (2016)

    She isn’t sure whether she believes in God or not, though she always told her pastor she did. She isn’t sure any woman ought to believe in God.

    Her name is Mrs. Ralph Mattson. That’s how she introduces herself, without herself included.

    At thirty-six, John has three ex-wives, one current wife, and nine children. (Holy shit, John.)

    They never spoke, never wrote, never texted, never exchanged a photograph, though they sculpted and carved each other many times. They could not help but notice each grew lovelier in memory, even as they grew older and older in life.

    Every death is a love story. It’s the goodbye part, but the love is still there, wide as the world.

    When the time machines were new, the public was furious they couldn’t visit the future. No matter how many times the scientists patiently explained about fixed and unfixed points in time, about the instability swirling around an unfixed point, the public didn’t get it. They were even angrier that they couldn’t change the past. They wouldn’t listen, they wouldn’t follow the rules, and they planned trips to save Lincoln, to kill the slavers, to stop Rome burning and change Truman’s mind about the bomb. They wanted to bring penicillin to the Plague, and artificial limbs to Civil War battlefields. They wanted to save the dodo, the rhino, the snow leopard, the honeybee, the whale. They wanted to save their loved ones, and sometimes, themselves. An astonishingly large number of them wanted to save Elvis.

    Sometimes he wonders if it would really be so bad, letting people flood into history like a tidal wave and sweep away the worst of it. Sure, the paradoxes would destroy us, but so what? Did a world that let happen the Holocaust and Hiroshima and the Trail of Tears and Stalin and Genghis Khan and Pol Pot deserve to be spared?

    Rory’s face, blown off in Sardinia. The doctors gave him a new one. It was called a great miracle. Either it broke all the mirrors or he did.

    [H]e understood that the most important things in the world were the kind you made up for yourself.

    She wondered then, if anyone really left you. Was the world crowded with ghosts? Was that the point of suffering: to understand, in some way, what you still had? To clarify it, to own it, to rip the stars from the sky and hold them in the hand like diamonds—to darken all the rest but the most glittering, glad memories?

  7. Burning by Danielle Rollins (2016)

    In the nearly two years since I started coming up with four letter words to write on Issie’s hand, I had never once thought of “hope.”

  8. Daredevils by Shawn Vestal (2016)

    Loretta will never call Ruth “Sister,” but she sees in her the way to do this: be stronger than the thing against you.

    He made all the arrangements without her, including Dean’s promise to wait until she turns sixteen before consummating their union. It sickens her, how far outside of it all she stood.

    In her head, Loretta flies to her worldly future. There, she wears pants with wide bottoms, and colorful blouses with short sleeves— T-shirts, even—and her hair hangs long and loose, and she paints her eyes with mascara. Every whorish thing.

    She thinks of the thick dowel that had been lodged against the sliding window in her bedroom. Dean had cut the wood to size, and climbed a ladder to her second-story window and put it there, so even on the hottest days she cannot slide it open. She thinks of the gold. A bag of gold like in a fairy tale. She thinks of taking that gold away from him, and keeping it for herself.

    This thing Loretta thought would be impossible has turned out to be simple, just as living this life has turned out to be simple. She remembers wondering how she would hide her true self from them, and then discovering how easy it was, because no one ever asked her anything about herself.

    He loves The Poky Little Puppy. It’s one of the few books Ruth tolerates, because the puppy is punished.

    She does not relish this life in any sense. She despises it, feels it like a web of tethers holding her in place. But she knows it. It is all she knows.

    She needs saving, and it has been arranged for him to save her, but how? It must be what she wants, too, though this thought is buried so deep in Jason’s assumptions that he doesn’t actually think it. It is simply what occurs, it is simply what men do: rescue women.

    The world around her works in just this way—the sideways courtship, the arrangements made offstage—and yet she is offended: she feels omitted from her own life. She believes in the Principle. She does. Believes it is ordained by God, believes she will eventually be joined in a celestial marriage with sister wives and her future husband. But not like this. Not without her choosing.

  9. I Know What I’m Doing — and Other Lies I Tell Myself: Dispatches from a Life Under Construction by Jen Kirkman (2016)

    Ryder looked around as if needing to see proof of this wine I was talking about. “Wait. When did you get the wine?” “What?” What kind of question was that? Oh. Wait. Was my young date actually a little wine connoisseur? “Do you mean what vintage year is the wine?” I asked. He said, “No. I mean how do you know you have any wine? We didn’t stop at 7-Eleven on the way home or anything.” I wanted to hold him in my arms and protect him from the world. I wanted to say, “Oh, no, baby-sweetie. When you’re a grown-up? You can just have wine waiting at the house!”

    If you’re in a relationship and it’s date night, have sex before you go out to dinner. Who wants to bone after they are filled with dinner rolls?

    If I keep on living alone, I will probably die in this condo. I’ll definitely hit my head on the tub someday and then three days later a cat will eat my face. I don’t have a cat, but when a single woman dies alone—I hear that cats magically appear.

  10. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (2016)

    There are some really good women pilots in the Army. Good commanders find ways to use them.

    Definitely a girl! I couldn’t stop grinning when they brought the chest in. Her breasts aren’t that large, given her size, but they’re still bigger than my car. Perky … She must have been the envy of all the giant girl robots back in her day.

    I mean, I know what it’ll look like when we have all the pieces. It’s … out of this world. No pun intended. Other than the legs being weird, she looks like a normal badass-warrior human being.

    You wouldn’t want to go down in history as the idiot who started World War III for a giant paperweight.

    Why do you think your government funds so many war and terrorism movies? Hollywood does your dirty work for you.

    I guess what I’m saying is: It’s easier to be just one more soldier in a giant army than being the whole army by yourself.

  11. The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude (2016)

    It was a good place, even with the screams that sometimes came from the forest, the screams that had been there my whole life and longer.

    We’d grabbed hands while climbing trees many times growing up, but touching him now was like a dandelion scattering inside me, seeds full of possibility.

    She always was. Now she’d never be again.

    Heather once said Rook’s voice was honey, but I thought he spoke with deeper tones, hickory roots burrowing earth and bitter moonshine. His voice was made to read books aloud at sunset when we huddled around a bonfire. I’d listen to Rook’s stories and Heather’s singing.

    My eyebrow quirked. A cult. That was one of the nicer things the Glen was called.

    “Those kind of guys are what’s left after Uncle Timothy castrates the bulls — useless dicks.”

  12. Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill (2016)

    A good book will chase away the dark.

  13. Heartless by Leah Rhyne (2016)

    “HI I’M LUCY YOU MUST BE JOLENE!” she said, opening her arms to hug me, her voice super-sized and enthusiastic. “ARE YOU LIKE THE WHITE STRIPES VERSION OR THE DOLLY PARTON VERSION OF THE SONG?”

  14. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (2016)

    Lydia handed Dill another shirt. “We need some clothes-trying-on-montage music—‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy’ or something. And at one point you come out of the dressing room wearing a gorilla costume or something, and I shake my head immediately.”

    Remember this. Write it on a handmade cross and plant it in your heart to mark this ending.

    “Oh come on, Travis. You have a beautiful body. Dill, tell Travis he has a beautiful body.”

    Al Gore was parked in the rear of the lot, Lydia’s preferred spot for quick after-school escapes. She even had a track of fast banjo music that she played on her iPod for these getaways.

    And worse, somewhere, circling and flitting around that dread, was another awful feeling: nothing makes you feel more naked than someone identifying a desire you never knew you possessed.

    “I think Travis has Bloodfallen for this girl. See what I did there?”

    “Oh, and the best part is that because I’m not an awful, gross dude, the keyboard is one hundred percent semen free.”

    “Limousines are for sociopathic oligarchs.”

    “I sense something special in you. A great imagination. I sense that you have a story to tell.” Travis glowed. Something began to grow inside of him. Something that might be able to grow through the rocks and dirt that his father had piled on him.

    You probably didn’t wake up this morning sensing that the world is poorer, but it is.

    If I could, I would lie with her under these stars until my heart burst.

    They went to the Column, where they stole a few more quiet minutes together, listening to the river wear its way deeper into the Earth, the way people wear grooves into each other’s hearts.

  15. Adulthood is a Myth: A “Sarah’s Scribbles” Collection by Sarah Andersen (2016)

    Are you a special snowflake? Do you love networking to advance your career? Have you never wasted a fresh new day surfing the internet? Ugh. This book is not for you. Please go away.

  16. Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood (2016)

    Everything about the Cabinet is grimy and fusty and strange. Nazan smiles. It’s everything she’d hoped it would be. It’s perfect.

    Rosalind laughs. “I do love unflappable girls.”

    “As a matter of biology, I am most tediously male. Lots of people assume my male half is the act—that I’m a woman dressing as a man. I suppose it obliterates their peace of mind to contemplate the alternative. But there’s no denying.”
    “Do you wish you were female?”
    “My, we get right to the point, don’t we?” He considers the question. “You know, I don’t think anyone ever asked me what I want before. And the answer…is no. No, I don’t.”

    “My parents named me Edward Butler.” He pronounces the name like it’s a synonym for vomit. “I took the name Rosalind because I like it better. Some days, I wear dresses because I like them; sometimes, I wear trousers because I like those too. Frankly, I don’t know why it all has to be so complicated. Actually, that’s not true. Of course I know why; I’ve just chosen not to care very much. Isn’t our little earth grim enough without denying ourselves the perfect lipstick?”

    “I just…I was just curious. Does Mr. Morrone wish you were a lady?” Rosalind smiles sadly. “With all his heart, I’m certain. But here on Coney Island, we learn to take each other as we are.”

    “Not one of us knows what we can do, until one fine day, we stand up and do it.”

    As he picks his way across the floor, Spencer thinks—not for the first time—that if an earthquake hits Brooklyn, his brother will perish happily in an avalanche of printed pages.

    Enzo muses, not for the first time, that her accent sounds like the opening of a door, while his sounds like a door slamming shut.

  17. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer (2015)

    “One should never save cake for later when it can be eaten now.”

    “Scarlet and I are going to start a missing-fingers club. We might let Cinder be an honorary member.”

    “I’m going to make it a law that the correct way to address your sovereign is by giving a high five.” Kai’s smile brightened. “That’s genius. Me too.”

    “Wait,” said Winter as Scarlet nudged the podship forward. Scarlet’s heart dropped. “What?” she said, scanning the port for a thaumaturge, a guard, a threat. Winter reached over and pulled the pilot’s harness over Scarlet’s head. “Safety first, Scarlet-friend. We are fragile things.”

    “Why do this to yourself? How does it make anything better?”
    “It does not make anything worse.”
    “It makes you worse. Why can’t you just … do good things with it?”
    Winter laughed against the strain of the delusion. “They all believe they are doing good.” Her head fell to the side and she watched Scarlet with her bleary eyes. “My stepmother is not only powerful because the people fear her, she is powerful because she can make them love her when she needs them to. We think that if we choose to do only good, then we are only good. We can make people happy. We can offer tranquility or contentment or love, and that must be good. We do not see the falsehood becoming its own brand of cruelty… who am I to presume what is good for others?”

    “No one is dying for you. If anyone dies today it will be because they finally have something to believe in. Don’t you even think about taking that away from them now.”

  18. The Fireman by Joe Hill (2016)

    FOX said the Dragon had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s. MSNBC said sources indicated the ’scale might’ve been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation. CNN reported both sides.

    Her maiden name had been Willowes. She missed the way it rolled off her tongue, and the thought of having her old name returned to her felt like another escape—a far more satisfying and peaceful escape than her leap out the bedroom window.

    Harper thought all tombstones should be this size, that the small blocks to be found in most graveyards did not even begin to express the sickening enormity of losing a virgin son, thousands of miles away, in the muck and cold. You needed something so big, you felt it might topple over and crush you.

    “You know what the kids say.”
    “I have no idea what the kids say. What do they say?”
    “She came back from the eighties to save mankind. Martha Quinn is our only hope.”

    In her experience it was very difficult to offer a man affection and kindness without giving him the impression you were also offering a lay.

    The hens are clucking. Harper thought it would be a toss-up, which term for women she hated more: bitch or hen. A hen was something you kept in a cage, and her sole worth was in her eggs. A bitch, at least, had teeth.

    When she tipped back her head and looked into the sky, she saw so many stars, it made her ache with love for the world. And what a thing: that she still loved the world, even now.

  19. Fowl Language: I Used to Be Cool and Do Cool Things by Brian Gordon (2016)


    Are you a mom or a dad? How wonderful and annoying for you!

  20. Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth by Guinnevere Shuster (2016)

    Dandelion saw me into adulthood before the playful pup was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer. A leg amputation was followed by failed chemo treatment, and five months later we spent Dandelion’s last week on the Oregon coast with our toes dug deep in the sand watching the moonlit waves.

  21. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris (2016)

    Born into a cultural legacy of slavery, Black American women have interpreted defiance as something that is not inherently bad. Harriet Tubman was defiant.

  22. Every Heart a Doorway (Every Heart A Doorway #1) by Seanan McGuire (2016)

    She was a story, not an epilogue.

    “‘Real’ is a four-letter word, and I’ll thank you to use it as little as possible while you live under my roof.”

    She couldn’t go back. Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colors and kept trying to set her up on dates with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.

    “Going back” had two distinct meanings at the school, depending on how it was said. It was the best thing in the world. It was also the worst thing that could happen to anybody. It was returning to a place that understood you so well that it had reached across realities to find you, claiming you as its own and only; it was being sent to a family that wanted to love you, wanted to keep you safe and sound, but didn’t know you well enough to do anything but hurt you. The duality of the phrase was like the duality of the doors: they changed lives, and they destroyed them, all with the same, simple invitation. Come through, and see.

  23. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (2016)

    And perhaps the most powerful evidence of all for the public acceptance of sexism is the growing number of major daytime television programs taking issues around women’s safety and assault as topics for “debate.”

    “Most people’s concept of what a leader is has been a male stereotype of somebody who is having power over rather than empowering people.”

    Bishops also sit in the House of Lords, creating an extra twenty-six places that cannot be occupied by women, since the Church of England refuses to allow women to reach those lofty heights.

    Analysis released by the Huffington Post in September 2014 of more than thirty-two colleges and universities revealed that less than a third of college students found guilty of sexual assault were expelled and only 47 percent suspended.

    Street harassment is often an invisible problem or one that is portrayed as a joke, a compliment or the fault of the harassed person. In reality, it’s a human-rights violation that restricts harassed persons’ access to public spaces and the resources there.

    Once had a guy ask “Would you mind telling me your bra-size?” I replied “No, but tell me first how big your cock is.” Amazingly he was shocked and found MY comment highly inappropriate.

    Throughout history, everything that we do—everything we believe about ourselves and other people, everything we plan for and work toward—has been shaped by stories. The stories we hear as children help us to imagine and dream what the future might hold. The stories we learn as we grow up help us to work out our place in the world. And the stories we tell when we are adults determine the legacy we leave behind. So it is impossible to underestimate the impact of the fact that still, in 2016, women’s stories are not being told.

    From contraception to abortion and baby weight to childlessness, the common misconception that women’s bodies are public property is never stronger than when the subject is reproduction.

    He doesn’t babysit, he PARENTS.

    As the writer John Scalzi brilliantly and simply put it on his blog, Whatever: “In the role playing game known as The Real World, ‘Straight White Male’ is the lowest difficulty setting there is.”

    603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime, and more than 2.6 billion live in countries where marital rape is not a criminal offense.

  24. Fellside by M.R. Carey (2016)

    No wonder he’d lost so many of his own memories. He’d left them behind in everybody else’s.

    [T]he dead were dreams that dreamed themselves alive.

  25. Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past by Vanita Oelschlager and Kristin Blackwood (2009)

    Give me sunbeams dazzling.

  26. Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn (2016)

    Half the stuff in our house, from the TV to the toilet paper, fell off the back of a truck and was then sold to us at bargain-basement prices. When I was seven years old, I was terrified of driving behind trucks for fear that big leather couches like the ones my uncles had just gotten would come flying out and smash me to bits.

    I cough and gag, wondering if some of these Cheetos might have been people.

    I’d been thinking of the whole wish-granting thing as a colossal mistake and the world’s biggest screw-up. And yeah, it’s still that. But it’s also fierce and powerful. No. I am fierce and powerful. That thought reverberates through my head like a new math concept I can’t quite grasp. Yet.

    We bury a cardboard shoebox filled with Cheetos in the backyard.

  27. The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (Les Royaumes du Nord #1) by Stéphane Melchior-Durand, Philip Pullman, and Clément Oubrerie (2015)

    When you make a bargain with an armored bear, you can rely on it.

  28. Dreamology by Lucy Keating (2016)

    “Jeremiah, meet Alice. It’s a little too soon to tell, but I’m pretty sure she is going to be my first wife.”
    Jeremiah crosses his arms. “No girls allowed.”
    “We do allow girls to join, Jeremiah,” Oliver says. “It’s just that none of them want to join us.”

    For example, Jane was a pescetarian, but only if the fish was killed humanely. Excuse me, I imagined Jane asking a waiter at a fancy French restaurant, but was this fish gently euthanized by syringe as soothing symphony music played? Or did it just die of natural causes immediately at the time the fishing boat came by, like a heart attack or brain aneurism?

    In this moment, watching Max, I picture my heart as one of Jane’s beloved fish. How many ways could it possibly be murdered before Max is through with me? I picture it now, swimming with a bunch of other little heart muscles down a stream, before they are all caught up in a net, jumping and wiggling around.

  29. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (2016)

    In Bharata, no one believed in ghosts because the dead never lingered. Lives were remade instantly, souls unzipped and tipped into the streaked brilliance of a tiger, a gopi with lacquered eyes or a Raja with a lap full of jewels. I couldn’t decide whether I thought reincarnation was a scare tactic or a hopeful message.

    Why did they always start with history? Show me a dream unrealized. Don’t show me unchangeable paths.

    Bharata wanted to be rid of me, just as much as I wanted to be rid of it. But not like this. Not like some parcel of land bartered between countries. That wasn’t freedom.

    “What do you think we were?” asked Gauri, looking up at me. “Princesses?” “Nothing as boring as that,” I said. “We could have been stars, you and me. And not the mean ones that blindly spell out the rest of your life, but beautiful constellations hovering far above fate.” I pointed to the open window. “We could have been something magical. Talking bears that built a palace in a mango tree. Or twin makaras with tails so long they could have encircled the ocean twice.”

    “I make this bond to you in blood, not flowers,” he said. “Come with me and you shall be an empress with the moon for your throne and constellations to wear in your hair. Come with me and I promise you that we will always be equals.”
    My mouth went dry. A blood oath was no trifling undertaking. Vassals swore it to lords, priests to the gods. But husbands to wives? Unthinkable.

    “The truth,” said Amar, taking a step closer to me, “is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way.”

    “Guilt is what makes you accountable.”

    He laughed. “I believe them, but I choose to read them differently.”
    “I don’t see any happy way to explain death and destruction.”
    “Doesn’t death make room for life? Autumn trees die to make room for new shoots. And destruction is part of that cycle. After all, a devastating forest fire lets the ground start anew.”

    “A memory is a fine legacy to leave behind.”

  30. Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (2016)

    Public School Kids Always Ask
    How do you meet guys
    if you go to an all-girls school?
    Immaculate Heart Academy
    is named for the pure love of God
    that flows through Mary’s heart.
    But here’s the real reason why
    our logo is a hunk of dripping muscle:
    five hundred girls in red plaid skirts.
    Even if we brushed with garlic toothpaste
    we couldn’t keep the vampires away.

    Hail, Mary, full of grace,
    You know what it’s like
    the Lord is with thee.
    to wake up in a body no longer your own.

    Cafeteria Catholic
    That’s what they call you
    when you buy some of
    the church’s teachings,
    but not the whole buffet.
    Mom is telling me about
    the time when she was nine and her cranky old parish priest
    made her take off her
    Gemini necklace before mass.
    She couldn’t convince him
    that it wasn’t a false idol.
    It wasn’t a sin.
    It was a birthday present.
    “The Catholic Church is run by men,”
    she says as she digs out her wallet
    to pay for my birth control pills.
    “And men
    make mistakes.”

    Mary’s Parents
    Sure, they tried their best
    not to treat her any different.
    What choice did they have?
    After all, she was still their daughter,
    and they had promised
    God to love her no matter what
    crazy shit her body could do.

  31. The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass (2016)

    There were some things you could never say because, the moment you did, you changed everything.

    But other times I read something, found something, like buried treasure, that made me realize that God, and maybe even my father, knew the exact shape of my heart.

    ‘You will hide your true self. You will bury what you fear, in a locked chest in the cave of your heart, where you will keep the bones of the person you could have been.’

    I wasn’t an urban legend.

    “It’s funny, isn’t it?” he said, chest contracting as he caught his breath. “How beautiful the world becomes when you think you might have to leave it?”

  32. The Girls by Emma Cline (2016)

    These long-haired girls seemed to glide above all that was happening around them, tragic and separate. Like royalty in exile.

    But even the surprise of harmless others in the house disturbed me. I didn’t want my inner rot on display, even accidentally. Living alone was frightening in that way. No one to police the spill of yourself, the ways you betrayed your primitive desires. Like a cocoon built around you, made of your own naked proclivities and never tidied into the patterns of actual human life.

    I waited to be told what was good about me. I wondered later if this was why there were so many more women than men at the ranch. All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you—the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.

    At that age, I was, first and foremost, a thing to be judged, and that shifted the power in every interaction onto the other person.

    And now I was older, and the wishful props of future selves had lost their comforts.

    Poor Sasha. Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.

    Mitch studied me with a questioning, smug smile. Men did it so easily, that immediate parceling of value. And how they seemed to want you to collude on your own judgment.

  33. The Last One: A Novel by Alexandra Oliva (2016)

    When the unreal outweighs the real, which is true?

    Our mat has my husband’s surname stitched on it. Not mine. My mother-in-law never accepted that I didn’t change my name. We made a joke of it and Sharpied my name on there too—under his, but bigger. She’s come to visit only once since then, and she laughed unpleasantly. “I forgot,” she told me, “you’re modern.”

    I didn’t even take a picture. I didn’t even take my ring. I barely remember leaving, and the only thing I have of us is me.

    My grandmother’s not in Heaven and neither are you. The energy that coursed through your brain, that made you you, is dispersed now like my father’s grief. The cells that housed that energy are dead, and as they decay they will release the atoms that formed your body, that pumped your blood, that was your blood. I once read that, the way atoms travel over time, everyone alive today likely contains at least one that was once a part of Shakespeare’s body. In this way our ancestors are all one, and one day, your atoms will become everyone. Eventually the atoms that together make my skin, my bones, my marrow, my hair and guts and blood will mingle again with yours. I’ll be like you then, nonexistent and everywhere.
    We don’t need Heaven for this to be true. We don’t need God to be together again.
    But I wish for it. I wish I could pray, find solace. I wish I could believe that you were still you, more than atoms, watching from above. But I’m done with pretending, with lies and wishful thinking. This leaves me with the truth: You’re gone. I can see you in the bed, gone. I close my eyes and see you, gone. I walk through the cloud around me and see you, inert, preserved—gone. I see your face as I remember, but this vision of you exists only in my imagination. I’ve seen enough to know. Gases, rot, bloating stench. That is what you’ve become and though the flashes come I cannot bear to think of you that way. I will allow myself this final lie: You’re there, like a carving beneath the covers. In this lie I stare until you smile, and then I kiss your forehead good night and turn away to let you sleep.

    The people in the camp are not refugees. They are survivors.

  34. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones (2016)

    The moon was always full in his stories, and right behind him like a spotlight.

    And none of Grandpa’s stories were ever lies. I know that now. They were just true in a different way. He had been telling me secrets ever since I could sit still enough to listen.

    “Pack your things,” Libby said to me. I used a black trash bag.

    Every boy who never had a dad, he comes to worship his uncle.

    Darren wasn’t there the night it happened, when I was born. But she was. The real story, the one she saw, the one Grandpa was trying to say out loud finally, it’s that a father carries his oldest daughter out past the house, he carries her out and she’s probably already changing for the first time, into an abomination, but he holds his own wolf back, isn’t going to fight her like that. This is a job for a man. He raises the ball-peen hammer once—the rounded head is supposed to be kind—but he isn’t decisive enough, can’t commit to this act with his whole heart, but he has her by the scruff, and she’s on all fours now, is snapping at him, her just-born son screaming on the porch, her twin sister biting those baby-sharp dewclaws off for him once and forever, and for the rest of that night, for the rest of his life, this husband and father and monster is swinging that little ball-peen hammer, trying to connect, his face wet with the effort, the two of them silhouettes against the pale grass, going around and around the house.

    The burial he’d given the oldest werewolf of our time, the werewolf who had to have saved all of our lives fifty times over, the werewolf who had played his granddaughter’s game as a way of educating her, at least until a real werewolf showed up, the burial Darren had given him, it was on the yellow stripes, about two hundred yards down from the mailboxes—the opposite way Libby came in from. By now Brittany’s grandfather was road mush.

    One thing werewolves can’t say is that they’re not supposed to take rides with strangers. Werewolves are the strangers.

    “You’re not going to believe this,” the villager’s uncle says back to the villager’s aunt, his smile as wide as the villager’s ever seen. “One of them’s got a pitchfork.”

    For a lot of years we’d been pallbearers, carrying my mom from state to state.

    “Being a werewolf isn’t just teeth and claws,” she said, her lips brushing my ear she was so close, so quiet, “it’s inside. It’s how you look at the world. It’s how the world looks back at you.”

    This is how it is with werewolves. Even when they lie, it’s the truth. And now I knew the truth about myself. I was a murder weapon. I was revenge. I was a burden my aunt and uncle had been carrying around for ten years already, out of obligation to my mom. I was maybe a wolf, maybe not.

    In all the stories and all the movies, there’s human footprints walking along, becoming wolf prints at the end. In the heaven of werewolves, there’s just new grass folding back into place. There’s a wolf running across one part of the meadow, her true husband waiting under the shadow of the trees, and there’s a wolf standing behind as well, taking snapshots with his eyes, with his heart, with his nose. With his pen. It’s hard to remember every single thing. But not this. I’ll never burn this, Libby. That’s all.

  35. With Malice by Eileen Cook (2016)

    It was one of those unwritten understood things in our friendship. She was the hot one. I was the smart one. We used to joke that if we could combine into one person, we’d be unstoppable.

    “What happens here shouldn’t be seen by anyone. It’s private. Do you think I want anyone to see me like this?” She gestured to her limp legs. “Everyone thinks getting through rehab is some kind of noble thing. Oh, look at the cripple being so brave. But it’s not brave, because what else are you going to do but keep moving forward? Die? Too late — you already survived. Rehab is like taking a shit. It’s ugly, and it stinks, and you don’t want anyone to see you do it, but it’s unavoidable.”

    Why is it they say that you always hurt the ones you love? Because you know exactly how to do it.

  36. Some Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips (2016)

    Once something I wrote made the judge of a contest indignant. He wrote, “This is something that this woman should share with her husband alone, if with anyone, and probably not even with him.”
    (“Things We Do”)

    Our grief is about ourselves. Our own regrets, Our own shortcomings.
    (“Life Care Center”)

    The hermaphrodite craze consumes our globe.
    (“The Joined”)

    It was bad enough to see strangers and acquaintances this way. But to see your own parents. To be forced to acknowledge the architecture of their bodies, the chaos of their blood vessels, the humility of their skulls. To know that this vulnerability was the place from which you arose.
    (“Flesh and Blood”)

  37. Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee (2016)

    I smoothed my hair back behind each of my ears and pulled on the ends so they pointed forward the way I liked them, in sharp pink daggers just below my chin.

    When I was younger, if I couldn’t sleep, I would mentally trace the stars of the Gemini constellation. Dad had taught us to find it when we were as young as six or seven, keeping us up late on certain clear winter nights, when Gemini would be easiest to spot. He didn’t know that much about constellations, but for some reason he needed us to memorize every part of those glittering, dazzling twins, so close to each other that they formed a single constellation. So we would bundle up in sweaters and jackets and follow him outside with our kid-size astronomy books and the star maps that he’d printed out. We would find Orion or the Big Dipper and use them to trace our way over to the bright stars Castor and Pollux, and from there we’d find the rest of Gemini.
    For Dad it was all about the timeless beauty of those twins and their love for each other, which was more important to them than life itself. He couldn’t have known how for me it would be just the starting point to falling in love with all the stars. […]
    But at some point I started worrying about Gemini, the celestial twins. Were they glad to spend billions of years together in the sky, always on display, or would they rather wander apart and explore?

    “You keep saying ‘we,’” Clara said sharply. “You know, you don’t always have to speak in the first person plural. Some of us have to. But you don’t.”

    There we were in the girls’ bathroom, the main one next to the school library, angling back and forth as we took turns washing our hands in the scratched-up little sink, each of us looking up into the mirror under the subtly vibrating, blue-tinged fluorescent light. Always feeling each other’s presence but mostly just seeing ourselves.

    “Don’t you ever want to be free of me?” I asked. There was a long silence, filled with nothing but the sounds of our almost-synchronized breathing. Almost synchronized, but not quite. “I want to be free,” she said finally. “But not free of you.”

    “It’s not like I don’t get what you’re saying,” she said. “I guess it would take an extraordinary guy to want to be with either of us. But maybe that’s the only kind of guy who’s worth bothering with anyway.”

    Today, despite the chill, the sun shone brightly between the clouds. Its light fell directly on my face and hands, having hurtled all the way through space to reach me in less than eight and a half minutes. And as I danced among my friends and classmates and this one cute stranger, I felt as if this whole blue-green expanse of planet lay before me, all lit up with mysteries.
    And I imagined a hairless, tentacled, teenage girl-creature on another planet somewhere out there in a distant constellation, circling some other star, gazing out across the vast expanse of space toward us here on Earth. I imagined her using her super-high-powered alien telescope to zoom right in on me and Hailey, these rarest of mutations in perhaps the strangest species ever to have evolved on this improbably fertile planet, living and laughing and dancing so awkwardly here among the stars at the edge of the Milky Way.
    And I thought, Well, good. Let her stare. I think we’re quite a show.

  38. Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard (2016)

    “In ten more years, towns like this won’t exist,” Mark said. “Did you see all those For Sale signs? Everything is empty. It’s just not cost-effective to live in the middle of nowhere. It’s irresponsible.”
    “Your parents live in the middle of nowhere,” she said.
    “It’s different. They live off the grid.”
    “No,” she said. “They don’t. They aren’t farmers. They’re retirees. They couldn’t live without access to the city.”
    “My father still teaches.”
    “He’s emeritus. He teaches once a year,” she said. Then, after a beat: “When he feels like it.”

  39. A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff (2016)

    Lorelei didn’t know whether she liked the boy or the guitar more.

    “You’re such a marshmallow,” Zoe says. “You look like one of Carina’s angry troll dolls.”

    “All love spells are curses.”

    She wonders how many men will shipwreck against her before she learns how to keep them—and herself—safe from the dark pull at work in her and her voice.

    She doesn’t want to be like those communities of women wherever her family comes from, keeping their power private the way women always do.

  40. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (2016)

    If I was going to lead a life of desperation, then it would be loud, not quiet.

    The Wolf called me Feral outside the hayloft, but inside she called me Wink. She taught me how to keep my lips soft when I kissed. She taught me how to stroke skin with my fingertips, until the goose bumps came.

    Bad people still put out traps in the woods. Leaf and I found a coyote once, his back foot caught in the metal teeth. The coyote screamed and screamed. He tried to bite Leaf, and did, on his upper arm, a deep nip, but Leaf got him free all the same. The coyote ran off on his three good feet and didn’t look back.
    Leaf stayed out in the forest for two days straight, waiting for the trap man to return to his snare. When Leaf finally came home the front of his shirt was dripping blood. Mim didn’t ask questions. She never asked Leaf questions.
    I see the coyote sometimes, standing in the trees at the edge of the farm, looking at me with his big ears and bushy tail. I know it’s him, because of the limp. He watches us for a while, and then retreats into the woods, back to doing his coyote things. He’s looking for Leaf, but I don’t know how to tell him that Leaf is gone.
    I’d put out a trap in the woods.
    I’d caught a wolf.
    And now it was screaming.
    If Poppy was the Wolf, and Midnight was the Hero . . .
    Then who was I?

    “My heart might have two billion beats left in it, or two hundred.” She sighed. “But it doesn’t matter that much. It doesn’t. I used to think that I needed to be part of a story, a big story, one with trials and villains and temptations and rewards. That’s how I would conquer it, conquer death.”
    She sighed again, and nestled closer into me. “All that matters, in the end, is the little things. The way Mim says my name to wake me up in the morning. The way Bee’s hand feels in mine. The way the sun cast my shadow across the yard yesterday. The way your cheeks flush when we kiss. The smell of hay and the taste of strawberries and the feel of fresh black dirt between my toes. This is what matters, Midnight.”

  41. The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (2015)

    I leave secrets too, every once in a while. Type them up on Elsie’s antique typewriter and post them into the big wooden box she keeps them in. At the end of the school term Ms. Byrne, the art teacher, sets up an installation through the halls of the school. She pins up all the typewritten secrets on lengths of clothesline so everyone can read them. It gets a lot of attention from the local press, but Ms. Byrne says it’s all about catharsis and community. You read the secrets and you don’t feel so alone. You read your secret up there, among the hundreds of other anonymous secrets, and you know you’re connected, if only by a thin length of clothesline through the school halls.

    By the end of the day, this is what I’ve learned about Elsie: She doesn’t have any friends, she stays at the secrets booth between classes, nobody really knows her. None of the teachers or students I’ve asked know where she is or where she lives or even what subjects she’s doing. She keeps quiet in class; nobody notices her. It seems like she lives her life just at the corner of the frame. She is forgotten once you’ve turned the page.

    So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
    To the river beneath us where we sink our souls,
    To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceiling,
    One more drink for the watery road.

    Can you break your heart by accident, I wonder, like you can break a wrist? If so, the accident season has me bruised and broken inside and out.

  42. What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black by Gregory E. Pence (2016)

    Many of the names in Orphan Black — Leda, Castor, and even Helena (a derivative of Helen) — derive from a famous story in Greek mythology about Leda, the queen of Sparta, and her husband, Tyndareus. According to one legend, on the same night that Tyndareus impregnated Leda, the god Zeus adopted the form of a swan and seduced (or in some versions, raped) her. Four children resulted: Helen and Polydeuces from Zeus, and Castor and Clytemnestra from Tyndareus. Of great interest to Orphan Black, in some versions of this myth, Leda actually lays two eggs; Helen emerges from one and Polydeuces from the other. Since poly means many, Polydeuces could refer to several children from the same egg (like Sarah and Helena) or the same DNA (e.g., cloned children). […] If we view Sarah and Helena as corresponding to the twins produced by Leda’s union with Zeus, it follows — according to the narrative logic of Greek myth — that both Sarah and Helena (and Kira, because she is Sarah’s daughter) might possess godlike powers, perhaps of healing.

  43. F*ck That: An Honest Meditation by Jason Headley (2016)

    Let this meditation help you find peace with the challenges that surround you.
    Because they are fucking everywhere.

  44. Three-Year-Olds Are A**holes by Sarah Fader (2016)

    Sammy would blow up entire planets just to get the pink jellybean instead of the white one. God love her, but she may as well have been Darth Vader.

  45. The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney (2016)

    I am getting big. I got new shoes last week. Except they weren’t new. They belonged to Miss Hawcross’s niece, who must have very big feet. But I stuff newspaper into the toes and they’re quite all right, except when they get wet. I wonder if she is a pretty girl, whose shoes I wear, and if her toes feel something when I wiggle mine in her old shoes. That would be nice. We could talk to each other, make up a language of twitching toes, and compose long letters while walking down the street.

    It must be terrible to be old, when you love someone who died young. They never change in your mind, and every day you see yourself grow away from that person you were when you loved and knew them. Until you are more of a shadow than they are, and the girl you were is altogether gone, more dead even than the young man on the battlefield.

    All the lovely bright moments of our lives get forgotten except for remnants here and there, like the leaves blown from a tree in the autumn, and the terrible things, they stick with us forever, as bright and raw as the day they happened.

  46. The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North (2016)

    “I’m not sure I enjoy watching money being squandered.”
    “It’s just money,” he replied. “It’s just paper.”
    “It’s time,” I said, sharper than I’d meant. “It’s the means to purchase time. It’s the cost of a new bed in a hospital, a solar panel on a roof; it’s a year’s salary for a tailor in Dhaka, it’s the price of a fishing boat, the cost of an education, it’s not money. It’s what it could have been.”

    How many lives had I touched, who now considered themselves insane?

    [T]here is no part of her which is not in some way written over with stories.

  47. The Mermaid Girl: A Story by Erika Swyler (2016)

    The problem with stealing the magician’s assistant from a carnival was that you were always waiting for her to disappear. […]
    The problem with marrying the mermaid girl from the carnival was knowing that one day she’d swim away.

  48. The 100 Year Miracle: A Novel by Ashley Ream (2016)

    She had read once about a bird called the Eurasian Roller that vomited a noxious, orange liquid all over itself to repel would-be predators. This did not seem, in the moment, altogether unreasonable.

    How was one to write about the end of life when life was ending?

    The nurses had said that, in a small way, she was lucky. It could have been her face. She would still be beautiful from the front.

  49. Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana and Francisco Javier Olea (2016)

    There are some things time cannot change.

  50. We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler (2016)

    By 2015, you couldn’t swing a tampon without hitting someone or something that boasted its feminist import, in places you definitely wouldn’t expect: nail polish, underwear, energy drinks, Swiffers. Things started getting a little weird.

    “The vote. The stay-at-home-dad. The push-up bra. The Lean Cuisine pizza.”

    (As Maris Kriezman put it in one consideration, “Game of Thrones is a show for Star Wars fans who thought Princess Leia should have been raped.”)

    Reading Twitter feeds and headlines on any given day has begun to feel like watching election-night results roll in on one of CNN’s giant interactive maps: We’ve [feminism] got Swift! We’re getting close to winning Portman . . . closer . . . we’ve got Portman! Aziz Ansari and John Legend are in! We lost Kelly Clarkson, well, but . . . Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he’s good too! What’s that? We’ve got Ruffalo? HIGH FIVE FOR RUFFALO!

    It can no longer be about who says they stand for feminism, but about how they stand for it.

    It seems significant that when asked to define the word “feminism,” women today are as likely to say that “It’s about choice” as “It’s about equality.”

  51. Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson (2016)

    You’re slipping away from me, and I shouldn’t care so much because you’re slipping away from yourself.

    the truth is
    your heart is stronger than you think it is
    the truth is
    loving someone isn’t a period
    it’s a semicolon
    and the choice you make is what comes on the other side
    maybe it’s a picket fence and a subaru and 2.5 kids
    maybe it’s a fantasy world that lives in your computer
    maybe it’s a guild
    maybe it’s a fandom
    maybe it’s the last thing you ever expected

    I’m telling you this, Evie, because stories change in memory and in the retelling, and because you write and rewrite them until they’re what you want them to be, but this is one story I want you to remember the way it happened. I want you to remember the people we are now, the times I was there for you and the times I let you down. I want you to love me weak like I loved you crazy, and when we’re both on top again we’ll remember that we did it.

  52. The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition by Jewelle L. Gomez (2016)

    “Why white people feel they got to mark us?” the Girl asked, slipping back into her own vocal rhythm. Bird pushed her arms back into her sleeves as she thought for a moment.
    “Maybe they’re afraid they’ll be forgotten.” She gathered the papers from the table, then added, “They don’t know that we easily forget themm who they might be. All we ever remember is their scars.”

    “In our life, we who live by sharing the life blood of others have no need to kill. It is through our connection with life, not death, that we live.”

    “Why do you say others may kill and we must not?”
    “Some are said to live through the energy of fear. That is their sustenance more than sharing. The truth is we hunger for connection to life, but it needn’t be through horror or destruction. Those are just the easiest links to evoke. Once learned, this lesson mustn’t be forgotten. To ignore it, to wallow in death as the white man has done, can only bring bitterness.”

    That she hit him with his own whip seemed to startle him more than the pain.

    “The past does not lie down and decay like a dead animal, Aurelia. It waits for you to find it again and again.”

    Her connection to the daylight world came from her blackness.

    My love is the blood that enriches this ground.
    The sun is a star denied you and me.
    But you are the life I’ve searched for and found
    And the moon is our half of the dream.

    As always she marveled at the darkness of her flesh next to the whiteness of others. It seemed an extraordinary gift – this variety of textures and hues. She failed to understand how it instilled such fear and horror in others.

  53. A Robot In The Garden by Deborah Install (2016)

    There was something strange about cleaning a robot with an electric toothbrush. Maybe it was the hum of the brush as it worked away at the dirt on Tang’s metal body or the look on the robot’s face as he watched it uncover surfaces he’d clearly forgotten existed.

    I can understand why she was alarmed. When she came downstairs, she probably didn’t expect to see Tang lying flat on his back while I peered at his gusset like a gynecologist, with a camera phone and an electric toothbrush in full oscillation.

    “Funny, ain’t it, the way we apply human qualities to these machines? People can get real attached to them. We have a cemetery just down the road for folks who’ve lost their androids.”

    “This is what happens when my technology tries to leave me.”

    “Acrid smell. Acrid tang.”
    Acrid tang?
    “Yes.” He smiled at me.
    “You named yourself after a bad experience?”
    “No, I names Acrid Tang after escape. After I free.”

  54. The Reapers Are the Angels (Reapers #1) by Alden Bell (2010)

    You can’t put nothing past these southern boys. They just sit around waiting for somebody to kill their brother so they can get started on some vengeance. It’s like a dang vocation with them.

    He was here once before but that was in a different lifetime, when wonders were rare and announced—like amusement parks or school trips.
    Now they are everywhere, for the delectation of those among the survivors who might be hunters of miracles.
    And the beauty he looks over is fathomable only by a girl who would have felt the measure of it as deep as to her dazzled soul.

    He nods, his eyes on her like he’s reading a book he’s just getting to the end of and can’t be interrupted.

    “What I mean is I done some things I don’t care to talk about.”
    “Little sister, anyone alive’s got a collection of those things.”
    “Maybe so, but it’s one thing to feel like there’s a few rotten things knocking around inside you like some beans in a can. But it’s another thing to feel like those things are what your heart and stomach and brain are built out of.”

    America having changed to benefit them, their accounts suddenly cleared, they reverted to the only actions that still seemed mercenary in this topsy-turvy landscape: They rode the countryside like desperadoes, helping people.

    “I bet I got places to go that I don’t even know exist yet.”

  55. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (2016)

    The truth is that much of the hate directed at us is about fear of us.

    Because though our stories may be fiction, the people who read them are not.

    Stories about monstrous men are not meant to teach us how to empathize with the women and children murdered, but with the men fighting over their bodies.

    In truth, when I write “the end” I strive to ensure that all of my characters have a life that’s going on beyond that last page, a life you might think about sometimes; you might wonder what they’re up to. But it’s not a life you own, any more than you own mine. It’s a life you get to participate in for a while, maybe. But then they go home, and you go home.

    Perhaps that’s the truly refreshing thing about this film, for me. It’s that instead of women playing a part in some guy’s story, in propping up some guy’s journey, we have, instead, Max stumbling into Furiosa’s story, and simply going along for the ride. He is, if anything, a Manic Pixie Dream Guy who stumbles in to suggest that she turn around and take the citadel herself.

    As a writer, it’s my job to construct new normals for people. It’s my job to show folks what’s possible. It’s my job to rewrite narratives. Because we can change these narratives. We can choose better ones. We can tear it all down, and build it up again. It makes us the most poorly paid but most powerful people in the world. And I take that power seriously.

    Let’s be real: if women were “naturally” anything, societies wouldn’t spend so much time trying to police every aspect of their lives.

    The only time I’ve ever been praised for my weight repeatedly was when I was dying.

    There are many ways to silence a woman, and not all of them involve getting her to stop speaking. Sometimes it’s enough to simply ensure all she speaks about is you.

    History was full of Great Men. I had to take separate Women’s History courses just to learn about what women were doing while all the men were killing each other.

    Life is a series of unrelated incidents. It is the human mind that seeks to string them together into narratives, into story. It is the human mind that gives events meaning.

  56. American Girls by Alison Umminger (2016)

    These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. —Charles Manson

    My first Manson girl was Leslie Van Houten, the homecoming princess with the movie-star smile.

    I had. I had read about how Roman Polanski was pretty much a sketchball who knocked up a very pretty actress and then continued to be a sketchball. Supposedly, after they’d been married a while, he was driving up to Tate from behind and started to catcall at the hottie walking down the road before he realized that it was actually his wife. His mother was killed in the Holocaust, his wife and unborn son were horribly murdered, and he turned around and raped a young girl.

    Backstage, Olivia Taylor had removed her moon boots and was curled cat-like against Karl Marx. He rubbed his hand up her leg, almost into her crotch, and she opened a mirror and lined her lips silver-blue while he talked.
    “It’s all waste,” he said, his accent as perfectly beautiful as it sounded in the interviews I’d watched. “Waste and filth. Even these women, these perfect creatures.”

  57. The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen (2016)

    One. Mustn’t trust humans too much.
    Two. I know what they can be like.
    Three. I was one once—

    Sometimes a body is all the language you need.

    With my eyes shut, I can almost imagine myself back in the hive – the dark brought to life by the hum of a hundred bees. Within that earthquake my whole body seemed ablaze, until boundaries melted and I felt myself leaking into something larger. We. Us.

    Then I feel the dribble. Juices are oozing from my rear and hardening into weight – my spinnerets are producing silk.The realisation takes me by surprise. Of course, I’ve read about this but the actual experiences of a body are rarely as I’d expect.

    These memories have been handled so many times their edges are worn soft but what else do I have?

    Of course, it always feels like a part of you has died when you leave a long-term Ressy forever. It’s less traumatic than being hit by a car, yes, but the loss – that creeping feeling that I’ve left something behind, that’s there with every Come Home. These innumerable incremental deaths.

    I should have seen it coming. People can never stand the challenge of another point of view. It was there when I told people about my job; clear in the curling of lips, or widening of eyes. Once or twice people simply turned away. Animals are just animals, they would proclaim, for eating, for servitude, for entertainment, not for understanding. Buckley would call them idiots, yet it never seemed to me as simple as that. They were more scared than stupid.

    The wrongness of Sperlman’s has completely vanished, but a different type of disquiet is left in its place – this feels less like becoming something new and more like a distortion of my Original Body. […]
    In a funny way it reminds me of the times I’d study myself in front of the mirror when puberty first kicked in. Back then I felt as if my own body was collaborating against me, morphing in front of my eyes. I’d even try to squash everything back into place; ironic, considering a couple of years later the prodding was aimed at emphasising the same curves. Airbrushing seemed so easy, flesh so stubborn. In my lowest moments I wanted to lash out at the doppelgänger in the mirror, who dared to wear my face yet resisted my wishes. But, thanks to Phenomenautism, I don’t have to be either of those girls.

    My hiss escapes in condensation. If only I was a bird or something small, I could fly onto the roof or sneak my way in. Human bodies aren’t good for anything.

    Buckley always said that reading is the closest an ex-phenomenaut can get to wearing another skin.

    How can they sell Phenomenautism as image and experience? How can they sell it at all? A Ressy isn’t a consumable. Phenomenautism is meant to consume you.

    The chase sags from my shoulders. A taunt of its scent lingers on the breeze. Even here, even as a polar bear, I can remember the sensation of water over sleek skin. How can what I once was become my food? My guts growl in disappointment. Of course, I knew that seals are the staple polar bear diet, but I hadn’t fully faced what it would mean to eat one.

    For all the good that science achieves, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that it’s a discourse of the third person; its aim, the seizing and solidifying of the other. Science permits only one Truth, one Reality. But what if there are other valid ways of knowing? What if the world is not one, but multitude, with as many ways of being as there are beings? What if literature were the opportunity to glimpse such refractions, thrown by the world as though from a diamond? (From the author’s disclaimer.)

  58. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry (2016)

    She blew out as if extinguishing a candle flame. For a split-second the wasp hovered in the air. Then it dropped dead to the ground.

  59. The Shepherd’s Tale (Serenity #3) by Joss Whedon, Chris Samnee, Dave Stewart, Steve Morris, and Zack Whedon (2010)

    We each get to be in the world a time, and I’ve had mine.

  60. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (2016)

    “You’d make a fine pair of boots, Elka girl.”

    Trapper saw the wild in me and didn’t try to tame it and cage it like my nana done.

    I’d found me a momma, gone off into the woods by myself and I caught me one, same as Trapper catches rabbits. He’d be right proud a’ me.

    I kept chewing. No matter what was about to happen, I’d eat as much as I could afore shots fired.

    Trapper hated bathing. Said it made him smell too human and told the animals right where he was. I recall only one time he came back to our little home not stinking of sweat and dried blood. Said he did it to smell more human and fit in with them other animals. I didn’t pay no mind to what he was saying back then, he often times talked in riddles but now I think back on it, knowing he’s a murdering son bitch, them words weren’t no riddle, they was instructions.

    Wondered brief with a smirk if bleeding out that reverend had given us all a mild winter.

    Felt tears in my eyes as this wild thing, this old-world creature, decided I was good enough to be friends.

    He bolted up, stood tall and kinglike, towering above me. Felt like I’d lost a piece of me in that moment, like that wolf had stolen something and I had to stick with him always to make sure I’d get it back.

    I tell you, that feeling is something no number a’ pretty words can make real. That’s ancient, old-time respect ’tween beasts. We could both kill each other quicker’n you could snap your fingers and maybe one day we will, but by that lake and in them forests, I felt more kinship with that wolf than I ever did with a human.

    They’d turned the king of the wood into a death bringer. Like they’d taken a great proud grizzly, shaved off all his fur, and made him dance. Made me sick to see it.

    Penelope didn’t have no fat on her, no reserves for her body to live off ’tween meals. If that was the price for beauty and the desire a’ men, well hell, you can keep it. Alive and ugly is better than pretty and dead.

    Memories ain’t no one’s friend. They show you all the good things you had, all the good things you lost, and don’t let you forget all the bad shit in between.

    “Change” was one a’ them words I weren’t too friendly with. Nana told me I had to change when she caught me skinning a rabbit. Man in Ridgeway once told me I’d never get a husband the way I was. Only person never to tell me to change was Kreagar, and that’s because, way he saw it, I was already just the same as him.

    “Way I reckon it, men killed more wolves than wolves ever killed men,” I said. “I know who I’m more afraid of.”

    She smiled, tension went out a’ her, and she said, “Did you catch breakfast?”
    “Hell, woman! You ate yesterday. Damn, you expect food every day?”

  61. Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer (2015)

    “Maybe the princess could save herself.”
    “That sounds like a pretty good story too.”

    “She knew it wasn’t real. She knew the holograph wouldn’t hurt. But she also knew that fire was dangerous, and illusions were dangerous, and being tricked into believing things that weren’t real was often the most dangerous thing of all.”

  62. Night of the Animals: A Novel by Bill Broun (2016)

    Waves of species were being wiped from the wild at a level not seen since the end of the Mesozoic era. So few nonhuman animal species existed in the deforested, bulldozed, and poisoned planet, the London Zoo had truly become a kind of “ark” for all interconnected life—an ark, and a death row prison.

  63. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016)

    Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love. No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting. No time to flinch or brace.

    “It’s terrifying when you consider that every thought we have, every choice we could possibly make, creates a new world.”

    We’re all made of the same thing—the blown-out pieces of matter formed in the fires of dead stars.

    I am not allowed to think I’m crazy. I am only allowed to solve this problem.

    “Imagine you’re a fish, swimming in a pond. You can move forward and back, side to side, but never up out of the water. If someone were standing beside the pond, watching you, you’d have no idea they were there. To you, that little pond is an entire universe. Now imagine that someone reaches down and lifts you out of the pond. You see that what you thought was the entire world is only a small pool. You see other ponds. Trees. The sky above. You realize you’re a part of a much larger and more mysterious reality than you had ever dreamed of.”

  64. Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) by Marissa Meyer (2016)

    The first time, he had wondered why she liked books so much, and if it had anything to do with why he liked spaceships. Because they could take you somewhere far, far away.

    But was the woman’s death the tragedy, or her life?

    “I will accept this side effect. I will accept any amount of monsters my mind wants to give me, but I will not become a monster myself.”

    Listening to him felt like being plugged into a power dock, feeling the gentle current of electricity warm and enliven her.

    In the beautiful blue thread, into the silk lining of Scarlet’s wedding dress, Winter had embroidered a single word in simple, elegant script: Alpha.

    “In preparing for this ceremony,” Kai said, setting the bouquet on the mantel behind him, “I did some research and learned that the word Alpha has held many meanings across history.” […]
    Alpha can refer to the first of something,” said Kai, “or the beginning of everything. It can be attributed to a particularly powerful or charismatic person, or it can signify the dominant leader in a pack of animals, most notably, of course, wolves.” His serious expression tweaked briefly into a teasing smile. “It has meanings in chemistry, physics, and even astronomy, where it describes the brightest star in a constellation. But it seems clear that Ze’ev and Scarlet have created their own definition for the word, and their relationship has given this word a new meaning for all of us. Being an Alpha means that you’ll stand against all adversity to be with your mate. It means accepting each other, both for your strengths and your flaws. It means forging your own path to happiness and to love.”

    That mechanic was going to change everything.

  65. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (2014)

    But the worst kind of monster was the burrowing kind.
    The sort that crawled into you and made a home there.

    It came from the woods
    (most strange things do).

    I married my love in the springtime,
    but by summer he’d locked me away.
    He’d murdered me dead by autumn,
    and by winter I was naught but decay.

  66. The Unseen World by Liz Moore (2016)

    Ada wrote down what she had heard in her journal for future reference, in the unlikely event that she was ever called upon to discuss popular culture with one of her peers.

    The work of the Steiner Lab, in simple terms, was to create more and more sophisticated versions of this kind of language-acquisition software. […]
    These applications of the software, however, were only a small part of what interested David, made him stay awake feverishly into the night, designing and testing programs. There was also the art of it, the philosophical questions that this software raised. The essential inquiry was thus: If a machine can convincingly imitate humanity—can persuade a human being of its kinship—then what makes it inhuman? What, after all, is human thought but a series of electrical impulses? […]
    Collectively, these talks acted as a sort of philosophical framework for her existence. Sometimes, in her bed at night, Ada pondered the idea that she, in fact, was a machine—or that all humans were machines, programmed in utero by their DNA, the human body a sort of hardware that possessed within it preloaded, self-executing software. And what, she wondered, did this say about the nature of existence? And what did it say about predestination? Fate? God?

    “What can I get you to eat, hon?” asked Liston, and rattled off a list of all the snacks of the 1980s that Ada was never permitted to have: canned pastas by Chef Boyardee, Fluffernutter sandwiches, fluorescent Kraft macaroni and cheese. In truth, Ada had never even heard of some of the food Liston offered her.

    “You are more machine than human, Ada,” he said at times. And it was the truth, not an insult. And it was calming to her to be so understood. And, sometimes, she felt it was why he loved her.

    She could not get used to this fact about girls her own age: their volume, their exuberance, the outlandishness of their humor; the way they invented wild, improbable scenarios in their heads and then speculated about enacting them; the silliness of them; the sheer joyful foolishness, except when they were around boys. When they were around boys they reduced themselves, their voices, their bodies, made them smaller, making way for the male antics that occupied a place of precedence in the center of any room.

    I was told to ask you something, said Ada finally.
    I know, said ELIXIR. I’ve been waiting.

    I can stop the story here. I can pause it, in the Unseen World. I can halt the action before David blunders, fails; I can save them all from what comes next. I never do. I let him speak. Look: he is speaking.

  67. The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison (2016)

    “Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

    “Our choices make us who we are,” he said eventually.
    It wasn’t what I’d call a substantive response.
    “What choices are you making, Desmond?”
    “I don’t think I’m making any choices right now.”
    “Then you’re automatically making the wrong ones.” He straightened, mouth open to protest, but I held up my hand. “Not making a choice is a choice. Neutrality is a concept, not a fact. No one actually gets to live their lives that way.”
    “Seemed to work for Switzerland.”

    “You’re one of my girls, too.”

    Victor holds his handkerchief across the space between the beds. She takes it and mops at her face. “People come back?” he suggests.
    Her voice is soft with wonder. “And other people expect them to.”

  68. The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (2016)

    There was an order of misery, misery tucked inside miseries, and you were meant to keep track.

    To hear his valet Prideful tell it, James confined his erotic energies to specialized rooms in a New Orleans establishment. The madam was broad-minded and modern, adept in the trajectories of human desire. Prideful’s stories were hard to believe, despite assurances that he received his reports from the staff of the place, with whom he’d grown close over the years. What kind of white man would willingly submit to the whip?

    She had not been his and now she was his. Or she had always been his and just now knew it.

    Stolen bodies working stolen land. It was an engine that did not stop, its hungry boiler fed with blood.

    Controlled sterilization, research into communicable diseases, the perfection of new surgical techniques on the socially unfit—was it any wonder the best medical talents in the country were flocking to South Carolina?

    It was a fine lesson, Cora thought, to learn that the slave, the African in your midst, is looking at you, too.

    There was indeed a ghost in the house, but she was done with chains, rattling or no.

    She had never seen colored men hold guns. The image shocked her, a new idea too big to fit into her mind.

    The almanac had a strange, soapy smell and made a cracking noise like fire as she turned the pages. She’d never been the first person to open a book.

    from her legal but not rightful master fifteen months past, a slave girl called CORA; of ordinary height and dark brown complexion; has a star-shape mark on her temple from an injury; possessed of a spirited nature and devious method. Possibly answering to the name BESSIE.
    Last seen in Indiana among the outlaws of John Valentine Farm.
    She has stopped running.
    Reward remains unclaimed.
    December 23

  69. All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (2016)

    Our immediate family is all she has, and her parents’ deaths have made her acutely aware that people we love do in fact die. It’s amazing how we all lose sight of that. Maybe life would be unbearable if we did not.

    It seems so easy, doesn’t it? To just erase the past. But now you know better.

  70. The Sunlight Pilgrims: A Novel by Jenni Fagan (2016)

    —Gender is closer than anyone likes to think. Men won’t buy it because most of them are dickheads, she says.
    —Is that the technical term, Mum?
    —It is. We all share twenty-two identical chromosomes; the twenty-third is the sex chromosome and they don’t kick in for at least ten weeks. Everyone starts out female and they stay like that for months. […]
    —Why don’t they teach all of this stuff in Sex Ed?
    —Gender indoctrination.

    —Don’t worry, you can always show the other kids how to start a fire with a battery.
    —I am trying to fit in, Mum!
    —Sounds tedious.

    Lewis will never kiss her again. She might as well forget it. She isn’t pretty, and she’s angular, and she has a penis. As tick boxes go for the most popular boy in school, those attributes are probably not high on his list. He did kiss her, though, and the only two people that know about it are her and him. He won’t kiss her again in case any of his friends find out and think he’s weird—that is why he won’t do it again. Or because he already knows he’d like it. He wants to, though. He wants to even more than she does.

    —Are you staring right at the sun? Stella asks.
    —I’m staring right under it.
    —You’ll go blind.
    —No, I won’t. I was taught how to by the sunlight pilgrims, they’re from the islands farthest north. You can drink light right down into your chromosomes, then in the darkest minutes of winter, when there is a total absence of it, you will glow and glow and glow. I do, she says.
    —You glow?
    —Like a fucking angel, she says.

    Cael Fairbairn has ceased to exist. Thirteen months ago the girl that wore his body got up and told everyone to quit calling her by the wrong pronoun.

    There is still no sign of the moon polisher. If he had a camera he would have filmed her and made it into a short. Maybe that’s what he should be doing with his life now. Making films and living, instead of watching them and merely existing. It’s a thought.

    —How long has Clachan Fells been without a library service? Is there even one at Fort Hope?
    The Mother Superior looks out over the audience and faces are blank and a few parents shake their heads at Constance’s question. The Mother Superior fixes her habit and, while all the other nuns have small crosses around their necks, she has a huge one on the end of her rosary. She looks up at them again and smiles, and Stella can tell the woman is pissed off about the people shaking their heads when someone mentions books and it makes her like her, despite the penguin outfit and the napkin hat.

    She dries herself with a blue towel and looks in the mirror. She has no breasts. That’s okay. That’s fine. A beard is less good. A deep voice is a terrifying thought. Sometimes, in quiet moments like this, she has to fight not to hate her body for threatening her with a baritone. She won’t do that, though, she won’t let herself hate it, because her body is a good one. It is strong. A girl is a girl is a girl.

    She’s not worried about breasts and she doesn’t want rid of her penis, small as it is, not if it means getting an operation anyway. She just wants smooth skin and her girl voice and to leave wolf prints in the snow each morning.

    It is funny how he always thought she was a hero when he was a little boy, but he had no idea exactly how much that was true.

    Our cells crave light because that is what we started as, it’s what we are. All humans are sunlight pilgrims. Except me. Cos I’m a goth.

  71. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011)

    The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

    “I made a wish on this tree years ago,” Marco says.
    “What did you wish for?” Bailey asks.
    Marco leans forward and whispers in Bailey’s ear. “I wished for her.”

    “But I’m not … special,” Bailey says, “Not the way they are. I’m not anyone important.”
    “I know,” Celia says, “You’re not destined or chosen. I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it is not true. You’re in the right place, at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that is enough.”

    I find I think of myself not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus. To visit the circus again, if only in their minds, when they are unable to attend it physically. I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will.
    When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn’t it?

    “Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon … is not the dragon the hero of his own story?”

    “You tell stories?” the man asks, the piquing of his interest almost palpable.
    “Stories, tales, bardic chronicles,” Widget says. “Whatever you care to call them. The things we were discussing earlier that are more complicated than they used to be. I take pieces of the past that I see and I combine them into narratives. It’s not that important, and this isn’t why I’m here—”
    “It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that.” He takes another sip of his wine. “There are many kinds of magic, after all.”

  72. Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (2016)

    “But you are a scientist. You understand how this works. We study the universe in order to know, yet in the end the only thing we truly know is that all things end—all but death and time. It’s difficult to be reminded of that”—he patted her hand where it lay on the table—“but it’s harder to forget.”

    It seemed ridiculous, but perhaps these books, sheaves of paper made from trees that had once grown on their home planet, full of made-up stories, were what kept Thebes so much more grounded than the rest of them.

    The bear groaned and rolled onto its side. Augie moved closer. He wasn’t afraid any longer, and as he fitted himself against the bear’s warm stomach and felt its massive arms close over him, he was at peace. No longer an interloper, but a part of the landscape. He felt the bear’s hot breath against the crown of his head and burrowed deeper against it, turning his face away from the wind and into the fur, where he found the quiet thunder of a heartbeat, slow and deep and steady as a drum.

    The future, which just hours ago had seemed so beautifully empty, became crowded with unknown possibility.

  73. The Girl Before by Rena Olsen (2016)

    My life is not about choices.

    We get in the van, and though Glen continues to hold on to me, I feel my freedom forever slipping away as the door shuts us in.

    If what I’ve been told is true, if I was taken from a loving family, what does that mean for the girls I raised? Were these girls all taken as well? Glen had to know. There’s no way that I’ve been able to work it out in my mind that he didn’t. I want to talk to him, to ask him why, but part of me is terrified of the answer. Terrified to know the truth, because if he knew, if he orchestrated all of it, then what does that make me? What did he make me?

    What if they tell me that my family really doesn’t want me? What if I tell them what I’ve done and they hate me? I think that is what terrifies me the most. That what I am beginning to suspect about myself and what I have done will be true. That perhaps in the fairy tale of my life, I’m not the princess, but the villain. And there are no happy endings for villains.

  74. Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle (2016)

    He could never have distinguished the rescued young orca of a week before from the rest of the pod, but there was no mistaking the slender figure poised on the slanting bluff that had long since been Joanna’s daffodil bed, before a tremor had sliced it in two. Lioness Lazos was standing there, not at all like a witch, arms raised to order tides and powers to her bidding, but as calmly as the great dorsals themselves: greeting, perhaps, but never commanding, even seeming at one point to wave them diffidently away. And still the orcas danced for her.

    “Anyway, Virgil Gardner was the last Tlingit chief on the island. The lumber people named it after him when they pushed the Indians out. Abe says it’s what we always do—kill people off, and then stick their names on streets and parks and towns. Like trophies. Animal heads.”

    We could all be ghosts, and we wouldn’t even know.

  75. The Conjoined: A Novel by Jen Sookfong Lee (2016)

    She was on the verge of losing her girls, not to a bearded, smelly man in a rusty pick-up truck, but to a phalanx of people who would look at her and see her mistakes, the gaps of time that she had left her daughters alone, the frank conversations she might have started with them but didn’t. She had worried over the wrong threats.

    It was easy to say My childhood was normal. It was the sort of thing people say when they want to deflect attention, or when it was the most polite way to explain that you grew up with privilege, that your past wasn’t dotted with evictions and coupons and beatings from a father who could never keep a job. It was what Jessica always said, even though she knew this statement couldn’t possibly be true for anyone.

    I come from a family of psychopaths.

  76. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (2016)

    The bread, the cheese, the wine, and the crackers that sometimes he will crumble and put out for the birds—a tiny crack of kindness that makes him all the more hateful. Because if there’s a version of him that feeds birds as winter descends, then there is a decency that he chose to overlook when he did other things. Other things that also fed the birds. And the hawks. And the raccoons. And the coyotes. All the animals that took mouthfuls of my sister, destroying any chance of proving he killed her.

    He’s lonely. So when I stop for the first time ever, I almost feel bad when his face lights up. Almost. Because immediately following that pure smile of a human being who craves the company of another human being, his eyes flick down to my tank top, where my breasts heave up and down as I catch my breath. And we’re not two human beings anymore. We’re a male and a female. Alone in the woods.

    A dog that bites is a dead dog. First day at the shelter and I already saw one put to sleep, which in itself is a misleading phrase. Sleep implies that you have the option of waking up. Once their bodies pass unconsciousness to something deeper where systems start to fail, they revolt a little bit, put up a fight on a molecular level. They kick. They cry. They don’t want to go. And this happens because their jaws closed over a human hand, ever so briefly. Maybe even just the once. But people, they get chances. They get the benefit of the doubt. Even though they have the higher logic functioning and they knew when they did it THEY KNEW it was a bad thing.

    Sometimes I forget for one second and it hurts. It’s a different kind of pain than the constant, the weight that hangs from my heart. It swings from twine embedded so deeply that my aorta has grown around it. Blood pulses past rope in the chambers of my heart, dragging away tiny fibers until my whole body is suffused and pain is all I am and ever can be. But sometimes it swings just right and there’s a moment of suspension when I can’t feel it. The rope goes slack and the laws of physics give me one second of relief. I can laugh and smile and feel something else. But those same laws undo me, and when it swings back there’s a sharp tug on my heart to remind me that I forgot.

    “Yeah, I’m Ray Parsons,” the blond says. “And you’re a fucking bitch who should mind her own business.”
    “By which you mean I should let you rape my friend,” Alex says.
    All around us people flinch at the word rape, and it’s so ridiculous I almost start laughing. Peekay is unconscious, her body flowing like water through Branley’s arms as she tries to get her into an upright position. Her shirt is torn open so far I can see her bra. Her jeans are unbuttoned, already pushed a few inches below her underwear. Yet the word rape still jolts people, like maybe these guys were just dragging her out to the woods to help Peekay take a piss.

    The books didn’t help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own. I am vengeance.

    I now have three people in my phone. I can call them at any time, invading their lives with a series of numbers, like spinning the combination on their locker and suddenly being in their space. It’s so intensely personal it almost feels profane.

    It’s not the sheep that call to me, but the other wolves. I want to run with them, so that I may tear out their throats when they threaten my flock. But I can’t return to the sheep with blood on my breath; they will shy away from me.

    I wonder what would happen if I went down there, took a ball out of the cage, and pretended to have sex with it. I think people would stop and look. I think the whole gym would come to a standstill and teachers would definitely interfere. There would be discussions (again) about what exactly is wrong with me that I would do such a thing. I would definitely log some more hours in the guidance office. But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.

    I know that the seconds are ticking by, making minutes, turning into hours, becoming days that will stretch into weeks and years. And with every sunset Alex will be a little farther from me, her face a bit fuzzier, her voice an echo, our time a memory. And I’m not letting go just yet. Right now life is on pause and I want it that way, because she can’t slip away from me entirely until I start moving on.

    Alex is gone but she’s very much still here, and not only in my mind. I’ve seen her in Sara’s willingness to skip class and erase dicks with me; in a loud complaint from a freshman instead of just rolling her eyes when a senior smacks her ass; in a not cool, man from Park when one of his friends made a rape joke. And she’s here in the bathroom stall with me, her hand behind the writing on the wall even if it wasn’t her fingers holding the marker.
    stay away from Blake C.—date rape 3/26
    me too—2/4
    chad will roofie you don’t party with him

  77. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (2016)

    I was watching hope dissolve in real time.

    This is your calling card; this is what will get you into the senate! You propose harsher sentencing laws for any violent crime where the victim is a minor, mandatory jail time for first offenders, blah blah, whatever. No one will dare go against you on it. Nobody wants to be tarred with the ‘soft on crime’ label, and now they’d also get lambasted for not caring about kids, about your daughter. Even that asshole Torkelson will have to support you!” Andrew Torkelson was Mr. Walker’s opponent in the race, and a relentless critic of the man’s views. “If we could just figure out a way to pin it on that scrawny little pothead boyfriend of hers, we could throw a Reefer Madness angle in there, too, get the anti-drug crowd running to the polls next Tuesday. You’d practically be guaranteed a second term.” […]
    You’re the candidate with the dead kid, now, John. That’s the brass fucking ring!” He actually laughed. “No one has to know what an obnoxious brat she was when she was alive.”

    It wasn’t fair, and a huge part of me burned with resentment when I thought about Jonathan on his way to Capitol Hill at the expense of everything that had been taken from his stepdaughter—and everything that had been taken from me and Tiana and Micah and everybody else who loved January.

  78. In My Humble Opinion: My So-Called Life (Pop Classics #6) by Soraya Roberts (2016)

    Red is the color of revolution.

    Angela may not want to be Rayanne, but she idolizes her rebellion.

    Perhaps that is why Rickie is so often an afterthought – because to Angela, in all her privilege, he is.

    “I think about that line in Star Wars, when Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Darth Vader, ‘If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.’ That’s exactly what happened here.” But, thanks to Angela Chase, she’s no longer our only hope.

  79. Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin (2016)

    Her creation would look like all the eras of her father’s inventions pieced together, a history book.

    It came together at her will, and a cocktail of delight and pride swelled inside her. She would hold this hand. She would be held by this hand.

    “I am your maker,” you say. I open my eyes again and . . . love. Yes, this is love. Your hand is wrapped around mine. This is what it is to be alive.

    What should she say to him? How should she say it? How do you talk to something, someone who’s just been born?

    You sit across from her, and you are smiling. You say, “Isn’t he amazing?” This word sets off pistons in my code. I am glad I amaze you.

  80. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers (2015)

    “What do your crazy speciests do?” Kizzy asked.
    Sissix shrugged. “Live on gated farms and have private orgies.”
    “How is that any different than what the rest of you do?”
    “We don’t have gates and anybody can come to our orgies.”

    She would never, ever understand the idea that a child, especially an infant, was of more value than an adult who had already gained all the skills needed to benefit the community. The death of a new hatchling was so common as to be expected. The death of a child about to feather, yes, that was sad. But a real tragedy was the loss of an adult with friends and lovers and family. The idea that a loss of potential was somehow worse than a loss of achievement and knowledge was something she had never been able to wrap her brain around.

    Tresha. It was the thankful, humble, vulnerable feeling that came after someone saw a truth in you, something they had discovered just by watching, something that you did not admit often to yourself.

    Such a quintessentially Human thing, to express sorrow through apology.

    “All the things I’ve done to my body, I’ve done out of love.”

  81. The Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler (2016)

    The woman laughed and it was the sound of falling down a rabbit hole and ending up someplace you never expected and didn’t entirely understand.

    When the fur around Cressida’s shoulders moved, Jackson thought it was her shifting as the vehicle pulled into the street. But Cressida stayed still. The fox face in her stole turned to pin Jackson with a violet look.

  82. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd (2016)

    I eye him sideways. He doesn’t look like the type to fatten children for witches, but who does?

    When the princess had this place built, did she imagine that one day children would die here, crying so loud you could hear it even over a screaming kettle? Did she think, while she threw open the doors and let music pour onto the back lawn, that one day a black winged horse would circle around and around the roof, tirelessly, always on the hunt?

    Everything at Briar Hill is white snow and gray stone. It is the dull browns and greens of soldiers’ uniforms, and the black of nuns’ habits. No wonder we have drawn the Black Horse straight to us. Our world is colorless midwinter.

    But there must be more out there. There must be brighter things.

    The Sisters and Dr. Turner think we do not know what the tickets mean, but of course we do. Of course. Yellow means extra doses of cod liver oil. Yellow means only feeling the sunlight from a window. Yellow means red is one step away.

    We are our own prism of light now.

  83. “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker (2016)

    Scholars emphasize the idea that racism is more than acts of individual meanness. It is built into society and functions systemically, rendering it nearly invisible.

    The elimination of the Native can take place in a multitude of ways, including full-scale genocidal war, but it is usually more insidious than that.

    Not only could Columbus not have discovered a country that didn’t yet exist—or play any actual role in its creation—but he also utterly failed to comprehend, let alone respect, the people he stumbled upon in the mistaken belief that he had arrived in the “East Indies.” He wasn’t the first European to sail to the Americas anyway, and he never even set foot on the continent we know today as North America during any of his four journeys. He did, however, set into motion a tidal wave of destruction so cataclysmic that many scholars believe it is unparalleled in recorded history.

    According to Loewen, Columbus is thought to have enslaved five thousand Indigenous peoples throughout his voyaging career to the Americas, more than enslaved by any other individual ever.

    Imagining huge fields of gold, which did not exist, Columbus instituted what later became known as the encomienda system, large estates run on forced labor for the purposes of extracting gold. Las Casas reported that when mining quotas were not met by the Indians excavating the gold, their hands were cut off and they bled to death. When they attempted to flee, they were hunted down with dogs and killed. So little gold existed in Hispaniola that the island turned into a massive killing field.

    In other words, American Indians today can be said to have survived genocide of apocalyptic proportions, more dramatic than any other in recorded history.

  84. Serenity, Volume 2: Better Days by Brett Matthews, Joss Whedon, Will Conrad, and Michelle Madsen (2009)

    Somebody’s gotta have a fantasy ’bout being filthy rich, doesn’t require a shower.

  85. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (2015)

    Because for the first time, somebody bothered to tell me why they were in pain. Everybody around me was in pain, I realize now, but none of them ever poured it out of themselves into another person. Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.

    How do you handcuff a handless girl? The answer is remarkable. There is a man. His name is Early. He’s the first person to introduce himself after I arrive at the white cinder-block building that houses every underage female criminal for five hundred miles. He enters the blank-walled processing room with a measuring tape and a mouth full of crooked smiling teeth. Early’s job, he tells me, is to make all the custom restraints for the Missoula County Correctional Department. You wouldn’t think a man could possibly make a full-time job out of this; after all, how many handless people could possibly be imprisoned at one time? Early says he makes ends meet in all manner of ways—making fox traps for hunters, altering the stretchers where they do lethal injections for obese prisoners. He tells me that he even tinkered together a silver necklace for the warden’s daughter’s sweet sixteen.

    The Prophet never allowed girls to read, and I think it’s probably that fact more than my hands that makes me feel like I never stood a chance.

    For years, we had stood on opposite sides of a divide, calling across because we could never jump the distance. This was the moment we discovered that, if we both shifted our weight forward, if we abandoned our fear of the drop below, not looking down, we could touch the tips of our fingers together. And though it wasn’t much, in that moment, it was enough.

    He sees things so clearly. But he’s never lived in fear. He’s never had to dread the choices of big men with their large, dark-haired hands.
    “I’m just sick of the victim being judged for fighting back.”

    “Fuck,” she whispers back, a smile creeping onto her face. And, inside that smile is the knowledge that some things are just too sad, too screwed up. Sometimes there’s nothing for it but shouting “Fuck” with your best friend at the top of your lungs.

    “Most of the energy on Earth comes from the sun,” I explain. “We all run on sun power. And did you also know that everything on Earth, including people, is made of particles of a star that exploded? We’re stars who run off stars.”

    It was almost a privilege, the sight of them, fingertips slanted like they could’ve been playing the piano. Not many people get to see their bones outside their body.

    “I’m sorry. I can’t reach it,” I said. “I haven’t got hands.”

    “Yeah, they do. Back then, they [Paris] allowed smoking in bars. When you walked in, you’d see everything through a blanket of blue smoke. I’d be at a bar stool, alone, and I’d look around and hear all these foreign voices layered over one another and see these people moving around in foreign clothes with foreign faces. And then I’d realize that, actually, I was the foreign one. I was the one who didn’t belong. There’s something about grief that makes you feel like that, like a foreigner. When I lost my son, I became a citizen of a country I never knew existed.” […]
    “The grief world isn’t closer to where the dead live,” the doctor says. “You only trick yourself into believing that. If you stand up and move around and look at the living world, and start participating again, you’re closer to them anyway.”

  86. Serenity, Volume 4: Leaves on the Wind Zack Whedon, Fábio Moon, Dan Dos Santos, and Georges Jeanty (2014)

    “We’ve seen rioting –”
    “You mean protests”

    “I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.” (River, as she’s piloting Serenity to a hospital to save Zoe’s life, after a complicated childbirth.)

    “There’s some worlds where I’m revered as a hero.”
    “Same world where siblings marry, I’m guessing.”

    “Well I won’t be here much longer. I got friends comin’ for me.”
    “Ha-ha-hah — yeah, we all got friends comin’ for us.”
    “Not like these you don’t.”

  87. Senior Dogs Across America: Portraits of Man’s Best Old Friend by Nancy Levine (2016)

    An old dog’s eyes, milky white, are not so much going blind as they are being clouded by memory: every stick, every ball, the squirrel that got away – they’re all there. Nothing is forgotten. The day she swam across the lake, or chewed your mouthguard into a million pieces. Remember when she was lost for two days, and came home soaking wet, muddy, and with a bird’s feather – blue and white – somehow lodged beneath her collar? She remembers. They all do. Every word, every walk, every time you RUBBED their neck. The memories spill into their eyes, and eventually all they can see is the past.
    – Daniel Wallace

  88. A Vegan Ethic: Embracing a Life of Compassion Toward All by Mark Hawthorne (2016)

    If veganism is about doing your best to not harm any sentient life, we must logically extend that circle of compassion to human animals as well.

    Animal sentience is the most inconvenient truth of all.

    In the US, corporations have the same legal protections as humans—so why not animals?

    One of the saddest uses I’ve seen is a souvenir elephant, complete with tusks, carved from ivory.

    Being vegan means you don’t have to apologize to your food.

    If, as the animal rights movement argues, there is no moral distinction between human and nonhuman animals—if animal rights are human rights—then it makes sense that we should be working for the liberation of all species.

    In a patriarchal social system, no female—human or other animal—is seen as having ownership of her body.

    Spanish-speaking female farm workers refer to the fields as the fils de calzón—“fields of panties.”

    In introducing the topic of intersectionality, pattrice asked the audience, “What is 6 times 7?” A few people yelled out, “42!” pattrice said, “OK, everybody imagine 42. Now, what is the 6 and what is the 7? You can’t say, can you? No, because the 42 is the product of the 6 and the 7 in interaction with one another.” In a similar way, she said, Crenshaw used the term “intersectionality” to try to explain the relationship between racism and sexism. Though it began by addressing race and gender, intersectionality has gone on to examine multiple dimensions of inequity among other social categories.

    I think it’s safe to say that for most Black people in the United States, a polar bear on a melting ice floe is not the face of climate change—it’s Katrina.

    “Compassion is a verb.”

    With its roots in Latin, the word compassion literally means “to suffer together.”

  89. Santa’s First Vegan Christmas by Robin Raven (2016)

    Santa, look. I know you meant no harm.
    You’re just going along with the cultural norm.
    But horses pulling carriages, reindeers pulling sleighs?
    It’s all got to end. And I mean starting today!

    Dana’s family joined Santa and Mrs. Claus
    As the day’s kindness united hands, hooves, and paws.

  90. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics (2015)

    His name sounds ridiculous on her tongue. I want to take a paring knife and cut it out like a growth, before the infection spreads, before it gets to her brain.

    The Lord works in mysterious ways, all right. Wish a baby dead, get another one in return as punishment. This is my reckoning.

    Smitten lies and bloody thighs and a prairie home reeking of evil!

    I want to see God’s face, just so I can spit in it.

  91. The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics (2016)

    Sometimes things just are, and all that’s left to do is exist in spite of them.

    How did he conjure the will to give a shit about cuff links when he got dressed this morning, with everything that’s been going on?

  92. Above by Isla Morley (2014)

    AS DANGEROUS AS it is, as futile as it is, I still scale the shaft periodically. Getting down, as I discovered the first time, is still the tricky part, and so far I have fallen only once. A twisted ankle, nothing serious enough to prevent me from going up there occasionally to yell for help. Mostly, though, I wedge myself against the grate just so I can be reminded that there is still a world up there.

    When he leaves, I pull out from under my pillow the slim volume. It is the Book of Common Prayer. I turn to the section of prayers in Latin. I begin with one of those. It is easiest to pray when I don’t know what the words mean.

    Once in a while, he’ll tell me he loves me. It’s not love. It’s what he feels for The Manifesto, for the seed catalogs and the silo. Ownership is what it is.

    Stories keep the fire burning inside us, stories keep us from dashing our heads against the wall. Without stories we’d be lost, dead, forgotten. I am a story, I should tell him. There used to be a girl who lived in a town where nothing bad ever happened. You are a story. Play your cards right, and you might live in a town one day, too. How about that for a story?

    Adam presses his hands against his ears, then fixes his gaze at the door of the silo. Beneath the full moon about only a dozen yards or so away, it appears to go nowhere. It looks, in fact, like an invitation. If I’d wandered across the prairie and come to a door such as this, I would have wanted to see what was on the other side of it. I’d have gone down those stairs to see if it led to another world.

    Because the weight of the world can be held for only so long, I lift his hand and perform a pirouette beneath it.

    To be utterly sad is not to cry, but to make unreasonable pledges, the kind of promises that weigh like prison sentences. If I do nothing else with my life, I will write about my people—on these walls, if I have to—so they will exist somewhere other than my memory. I will tell of them even if Adam grows so tired of the stories that I have to whisper them to him when he’s asleep. I will teach ravens how to say their names.

  93. Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (2016)

    To quote the poets…murder is terribly exhausting.

  94. The Girl in the Spider’s Web (Millennium Trilogy #4) by David Lagercrantz (2015)

    Surely she had not deliberately sacrificed her queen so early in the game? That would be impossible – the sort of thing you read about in books, it didn’t happen in your local chess club in Vasastan, and it definitely wasn’t something that pierced punk chicks with attitude problems did, especially not to great players like him. Yet there was no escape.

    “Are you insane?”
    “Probably, yes,” she said.

  95. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race edited by Jesmyn Ward (2016)

    In December 2002, my then senator, Trent Lott, attended a function honoring the outgoing Senator Strom Thurmond, who is famous for opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 so strenuously he conducted the longest lone filibuster ever, one that lasted twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes. At this event, Lott, who is from a small town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast around twenty-five miles from mine, said: “We’re proud of it [voting for Thurmond in the 1948 presidential election]. And if the rest of country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.” It was dismaying to hear this, to see what those in power thought of people like me, but it wasn’t a surprise. After all, when I participated in Presidential Classroom in Washington, D.C., I, along with around five of my high school classmates, met Senator Trent Lott. My schoolmates were white. I was not. Trent Lott took a whip as long as a car off his office table, where it lay coiled and shiny brown, and said to my one male schoolmate who grinned at Lott enthusiastically: Let’s show ’em how us good old boys do it. And then he swung that whip through the air and cracked it above our heads, again and again. I remember the experience in my bones.
    (“Introduction” by Jesmyn Ward)

    It seems the rate of police killings now surpasses the rate of lynchings during the worst decades of the Jim Crow era. There was a lynching every four days in the early decades of the twentieth century. It’s been estimated that an African American is now killed by police every two to three days.
    (“Where Do We Go From Here?” by Isabel Wilkerson)

    When you look at Peters’s life, okay, the brother “did a couple bids,” but at least he didn’t leave behind any people that had to be sold to erase his debts, as Jefferson did. Families were broken up, auctioned off, and sifted like chaff.
    (“‘The Dear Pledges of Our Love’: A Defense of Phillis Wheatley’s Husband” by Honorée Jeffers)

    Did Dolezal really fool those black folks around her? I have a strange feeling she didn’t, that many simply humored her. You have to do this with white people, from time to time.
    (“Blacker Than Thou” by Kevin Young)

    Walking became so regular and familiar that the way home became home.
    (“Black and Blue” by Garnette Cadogan)

    A friend recently told me that when she gave birth to her son, before naming him, before even nursing him, her first thought was, I have to get him out of this country.
    (“The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning” by Claudia Rankine)

    In 1955, when Emmett Till’s mutilated and bloated body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River and placed for burial in a nailed-shut pine box, his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, demanded his body be transported from Mississippi, where Till had been visiting relatives, to his home in Chicago. Once the Chicago funeral home received the body, she made a decision that would create a new pathway for how to think about a lynched body. She requested an open coffin and allowed photographs to be taken and published of her dead son’s disfigured body.
    Mobley’s refusal to keep private grief private allowed a body that meant nothing to the criminal-justice system to stand as evidence. By placing both herself and her son’s corpse in positions of refusal relative to the etiquette of grief, she “disidentified” with the tradition of the lynched figure left out in public view as a warning to the black community, thereby using the lynching tradition against itself. The spectacle of the black body, in her hands, publicized the injustice mapped onto her son’s corpse. “Let the people see what I see,” she said, adding, “I believe that the whole United States is mourning with me.”
    (“The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning” by Claudia Rankine)

    You can’t tiptoe toward justice. You can’t walk up to the door all polite and knock once or twice, hoping someone’s home. Justice is a door that, when closed, must be kicked in.
    (“This Far: Notes on Love and Revolution” by Daniel José Older)

    “The world is before you,” I want to tell my daughters, “and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.”
    (“Message to My Daughters” by Edwidge Danticat)

  96. Ice Crypt (Mermaids of Eriana Kwai #2) by Tiana Warner (2016)

    No one would love a girl who loved a mermaid.

    “So you’re willing to send a girl out to fight for our people,” I said, “but you’re not willing to listen to what she has to say?”

    “They’re not monsters. They’re predators. Just like humans.”

    “Start a family,” I muttered. “They’ve got a shock coming if that’s what they’re expecting.”

    “Human deaths aren’t the only tragic ones!”

  97. Everfair: A Novel by Nisi Shawl (2016)

    Mwenda was right. Everyone was right. That was the problem. The settlers of Everfair had come here naïvely at best, arrogantly at worst. Due to the orders of the king they had found the country seemingly empty. In the fight against Leopold, their assistance had been most valuable, and they had also brought to the cause the help of Europeans and Americans who would never other wise have cared for any African’s plight. But by their very presence they poisoned what they sought to save. How could they not? Assuming they knew the best about so many things— not even realizing they had made such assumptions— they acted without considering other viewpoints and remained in ignorance in spite of the broadest hints.

    The white girl reminded him of his lost love, as white girls usually did.

  98. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (2016)

    Nothing says trouble like a woman in pants.

    “If the present arrangements of society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodelled.” – Elizabeth Blackwell

    “It’s made to believe / Women are the same as men; / Are you not convinced / Daughters can also be heroic?” – Wang Zhenyi

  99. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (2016)

    Certainly, the morning was beautiful, the sun bright and the seething sky faded to faint basketweaves.

    Ninety-seven stars in the dream-realms sky; six constellations. Clarie Jurat had written, He says there are millions of stars. Vellitt had heard this before about the waking world, but she could not imagine it. Where would they all fit? The sky was hardly infinite: she could see its pendulous, titanic folds, its shifting patterns, black on black. And if each planet or star had its own buffeting, fretful, whimsical god, how could the waking world survive?

    If she walked through those gates, would she find herself in yet another place, her dream lands? Did women have dream lands? In all her far-travelling, she had never seen a woman of the waking world nor heard of one, but she thought of the little picture card of Avignon, la Place de l’Horloge, the town square and all its women in their bright summer dresses. There were as many women as men in that image: was that even possible?

    She reopened the book and began to read, but an aged man in violet robes so old they had faded to lavender entered the room and castigated her for touching the books. Despite the differences in language, age, and sex, his tone was a mirror of that of Uneshyl Pos, the librarian at the Women’s College; for all librarians are the same librarian.

    She had never met a woman from the waking world. Once she asked Carter about it. “Women don’t dream large dreams,” he had said, dismissively. “It is all babies and housework. Tiny dreams.” Men said stupid things all the time, and it was perhaps no surprise that men of the waking world might do so as well, yet she was disappointed in Carter. Her dreams were large, of trains a mile long and ships that climbed to the stars, of learning the languages of squids and slime-molds, of crossing a chessboard the size of a city. That night and for years afterward, she had envisioned another dream land, built from the imaginings of powerful women dreamers. Perhaps it would have fewer gods, she thought as she watched the moon vanish over the horizon, leaving her in the darkness of the ninety-seven stars.

    When were women ever anything but footnotes to men’s tales?

    Vellitt had once saved an infant gug that had fallen into a pit and been pierced by punji stakes. Already the size of a full-grown wolfhound, and already stocky, ugly, and fetid, the creature had no neonate attractiveness, but she had been alone in the under-realms and this pierced, crippled creature was the first thing that did not strike sick horror into her soul. By the faint light of lichens, she had lowered herself into the pit and levered the young gug free. Though it must have been in great pain, it did not struggle or bite her, but held still, its vertical maw agape in silent panting, expelling the reek of carrion inches from her shoulder. At last she rocked back on her heels and said aloud, “There you go;” and at the sound of her voice, the gug leapt to its six paws and bolted. Only then did she see the other gugs gathered at a distance: adult, gigantic, alien, and terrifying. They had been watching her. She was sure that, had she made different decisions, they would have destroyed her. The infant ran between their feet and was gone; a moment later, the adults followed, and she had followed them, having no better plan for her deliverance.
    The busy millipedes scuttered through the secret places of the gug city and left traces wherever they walked of Vellitt Boe’s tears. And a certain gug, grown to full size and dwelling a thousand leagues from the flesh-lined den of its infancy, padded upon six paws each a yard across, along steep ramps and up broad stairs and over a soaring stone archway that bridged the shaft shared by two cities; until it stalked through the alleys of the ghasts, cracking apart such structures as stood in its way, following a scent it remembered from its earliest youth. For gugs forget nothing.

    Gravity seemed in some indefinable way less onerous, but it was not this that made things lighter: it was the absence of gods, as though she had walked her entire life under a heavy hide and cast it off at last.

    “It’s not his blood that calls me home—not in the way you mean. If I am a god’s granddaughter, then I am a god, right? So I can save Ulthar. Some people change the world. And some people change the people who change the world, and that’s you.”

    Clarie went on, “I’ve seen a world without gods, and it’s better. You: stay, and I will return and fix our world. There have to be ways to counter them. To fight them. I am one of them. I can do it.” She laughed and for a moment it seemed as though the little house was filled with thunder and the earth beneath them shuddered.

  100. Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape by Jessica Luther (2016)

    The world of sports has a sexual assault problem the same way one can say that Miami has a global warming problem. In other words, it’s true, but it’s also an issue that extends well beyond just this one corner of the planet.
    – Dave Zirin, Foreward

    It is easy to say that you do not condone this kind of violence; it is infinitely harder to take a hard look at how the very sport you love contributes to a culture that ignores, minimizes, and sometimes perpetrates it.

    There is no isolated case when we talk about college football and sexual assault.

  101. The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke (2016)

    I try to put myself in her shoes. Coming back to your family after all that time. You’d want things to be the same as when you left, wouldn’t you? But a lot can change in thirteen years. Your mother can wither away to nothingness, and your dad can get together with a lovely Frenchman, and your little sister can stop building sand castles and start building a wall around herself instead.

    What do you wear to meet the sister you thought was dead?

    The press conference is over, and a man and a woman with perfect hair sit in a futuristic-looking TV studio and talk about how brave Laurel is. They use the word remarkable a lot, and they say that they hope the media will leave our family to heal in peace, which is ironic because one of their correspondents has been known to shout questions through our mail slot.

  102. Yesternight by Cat Winters (2016)

    I allowed his parents to see that church exorcisms were not the solution. The devil was a member of their own family.

    “Are you worried about being viewed as a laughingstock if you help my daughter?”
    I slid my right thumb across the layer of condensation frosting up the glass of soda pop in front of me. “I’m already considered a laughingstock by some, Mr. O’Daire.”
    “Because I’m a woman in a man’s field.”

    If I hadn’t been a psychologist—if I didn’t find the idea of reincarnation so absurd—I would have wanted Violet Sunday to exist.
    A female mathematical genius.
    A Victorian female mathematical genius.
    What an absolutely delicious idea.

  103. Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal by Erin Gilbert, Abby L. Yates, and Andrew Shaffer (2016)

    Prior to the twentieth century, the most important trait for a young scientist to have was a set of male genitalia.

    “I believe you believe you saw a ghost. I mean, you wouldn’t call yourself Ghost Girl for nothing.”
    “Someone else started calling me that.”
    “Kids can be cruel,” I said, nodding.
    “My second-grade teacher came up with the name.”

  104. Children of the New World: Stories by Alexander Weinstein (2016)

    Publicly, we sold memories under Quimbly, Barrett & Woods, but when it was just the three of us, working late into the night, we thought of ourselves as mapmakers. […] Here was the ocean, here the ships, here the hotel, here the path that led to town, here the street vendors, here the memories of children we never had and parents much better than the ones we did. And far out there was the edge of the world.
    (“The Cartographers”)

    mush v. [“Just Mush the Bitch,” a song by American musician, G-Spot] 1. Heterosexual intercourse wherein the female has her face pressed firmly against a surface (usually floor) in a forceful manner. […]
    2. To embarrass someone publicly through domination or degradation, often in business.
    (“Excerpts from The New World Authorized Dictionary“)

    We were like babies. Like Adam and Eve, some said. We reached out toward one another to see how skin felt; we let our neighbors’ hands run across our arms. In this world, we seemed to understand, we were free to experience a physical connection that we’d always longed for in the real world but had never been able to achieve. Who can blame us for being reckless?
    (“Children of the New World”)

    There’s no way you can give everything to your children, no way you can spend every minute with them or be there for each hour of their lives. But give me a second chance, and I’d never log off.
    (“Children of the New World”)

    It all made me want to turn off my layers, go back to the old days, and stay disconnected. But you do that and you become another old guy buried in an e-reader, complaining about how no one sends emails anymore.

  105. Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt (2016)

    Once again, Iris thought, here she was, undone by love and mad with grief because of it. She had seen that poster in Lucy’s room, that ridiculous sentiment that you don’t belong to me, and I don’t belong to you, but if we find each other, it’s beautiful. What a stupid thing to say! Of course people belonged to each other. Love owned you. It kept you captive.

    Love, she thought, was a chemical reaction, one person igniting another, like the hot sparks she made when she welded.

    And then, one day, she turned fifty, which amazed her, and then sixty, and time rushed by so fast she wanted to shout at it to stop.

    She had stopped yearning for romance a long time ago. And anyway, none of these men were as funny, tender, and bighearted as her dead gay husband.

    She didn’t tell him that she hated to take the eggs from the hens, especially Dorothy, who always gave her a brooding sort of cluck. She let the hens sit on the eggs as long as they wanted, because what else did they have that was their own?

    “No, I’ll do it,” she said.
    “You? Are you sure?” When she nodded, he sighed and put his hands in his pockets. “It’s a nasty business. You want to think twice about this. It’s not your responsibility.”
    “Yes, it is.”
    She had heard about Sharon Tate’s father cleaning up Cielo Drive after the Manson murders.

    “She’s a tough old bird, your mother,” the woman said. “I’m Bess. I know you don’t know me.”
    Bess grasped Charlotte’s shoulders for a moment. “I’m so sorry about your sister,” she said.
    “You know about Lucy?”
    Bess shrugged. “You think we don’t read the papers or listen to the news? You think no one here recognizes pain? A bunch of us knew, and we waited for her to say something, but she never did. Then one night I walked by her room and heard her crying, and I stayed there knocking and knocking until your mom let me in. As soon as I saw her, I hugged her and then let her cry. I told her that my daughter Melanie died when she was fourteen from an asthma attack, right in my arms while I begged her to breathe. And that’s how we started to talk about Lucy, over and over, as much as she needed.”
    “She doesn’t talk about Lucy that much to me,” Charlotte said.
    “Well, of course not,” Bess said. “You’re her daughter. She wants to protect you.” Bess leaned closer. “And you should let her think she can.”

    Maybe all you got from life was that one little sliver of brilliance, and the light from that happiness had to shine across your whole life.

    “I’m eighty years old.” As soon as she said that, she felt astounded, because how could that be?
    “I always liked younger women,” he said. “I’m eighty-two.”

  106. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown (2016)

    There’s only a little gap between rain and snow,
    an open window of sunshine to go,
    it all must be timed just right
    or it will go all wrong,
    like a cup of tea that slips
    from too hot to too cold
    without leaving enough time
    in between to drink it.

    “Mary Ann!” Eleanor whispers.
    “You hurt his pride.”
    I swallow, shrug,
    whisper back, “I didn’t know
    it was such a fragile thing.”

    Around me the ground moves, mounds shift,
    snow erupts and crumbles as one by one
    they emerge from the snow,
    pop up from the white,
    like flowers coming alive only to find
    it wasn’t spring.

    He almost shot Charles,
    thinking he was food.

  107. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest (2016)

    “My name is Dahlia Dutton, and I’m sorry about what’s coming. I want you to know, it isn’t up to me. I’d save you if I could, but I can’t—so I’ll save what pieces I can. In that way, you’ll live on someplace else. That’s all I can offer. But I promise, I will take you apart with love … and I’ll never forget you.”

    In all the years she’d been talking to houses, the houses had never talked back.

    “Men don’t care. Even when they know what they’ve done, and what it means—they don’t care. They just leave us behind to clean up their messes … like they never had no part in making them.”

    It didn’t look like a girl in a yellow dress. It looked like a dead thing that haunted bathrooms because the devil had taken it, and made it stay where it least wanted to be.

  108. Cold-Forged Flame (Ree Varekai #1) by Marie Brennan (2016)

    Who has she been, that she recalls so many revolutions?

    She isn’t just an archon, and therefore a story that repeats throughout the ages; she is a teller of stories, someone whose voice has its own power.

  109. Your Orisons May Be Recorded by Laurie Penny (2016)

    All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is no.

    “Human hearts,” says Gremory, “are brittle, but also durable. I should know; I’ve eaten thousands. You should never attempt to engage one while it’s still beating. I advise against it.”

    We’re not allowed to smite wrongdoers with great vengeance, or even moderate vengeance. We’re not allowed to make calls to social services. Human beings are supposed to sort things out by themselves, even six-year-old girls. We’re just supposed to listen. That’s all. I hate my job sometimes.

  110. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (2016)

    She was a place whose darkness held not fear, but the promise of stars.

    I am not your garden, she said, the words no louder than the thread of her mother’s voice the wind carried.
    I am not one of your father’s pumpkin vines.
    You do not own what I grow.

    With his weight on her, she was water and he was a moon, his gravity pulling her closer. He was a world unmapped, a planet of valleys and vapor seas no one but him had a right to name. If he let her, she would learn the bays and oceans of him. She would know him as well as he knew the maria in the moon atlases.

    Their mother would have a light to see by no matter whether the moon above them was a sickle or a bright coin. She could leave her broken heart with them. If she let it go, if she let it streak down to the earth like a fallen star, her spirit would be so light, so unweighted, she would float to places so beautiful they could not be told in stories.

    The closer she got to him, the more she felt it in her roses, like a moon pulling on a sea.

  111. Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes (2016)

    Pearl looks back at the protestors. One of the handwritten banners stays with her. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” it reads.

    It should come as no surprise that the princess found her pea, not beneath the teetering pile of mattresses, quilted and cotton-rich, with pocket coils and high-density foam, but nestled among the wiry coils between her legs.

    The Pinocchios are starting to rot. Really, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. They’re just doing what corpses do best. Even artificially preserved and florally animated ones. Even the ones you know.
    (“The Green”)

    They’re supposed to be confined to one of the specimen storage units. But a month ago, a Pinocchio pulled down a cabinet of freeze-dried specimens. So now Inatec management lets them wander around. They seem happier free-range. If you can say that about a corpse jerked around by alien slime-mould like a zombie puppet.
    (“The Green”)

    We weren’t used to nature. We didn’t know how hungry it was.
    (“The Green”)

    What’s better than a dead zombie? A live one.
    (“The Green”)

    #Sex&TheDystopianCity I Picked up the most adorable bespoke pink tutu. Only had to gun down eight people. #win #summersales.

    #MyLittlePonyNoir Ain’t no rainbows here, Dash said. Not since Pinkie Pie turned up hooves up in an alley.

    a is for algebra
    “It’s all equations,” she says. “It’s all explainable.” Like we could break down the whole universe into factors and exponents and multiples of x. Like there is no mystery to anything at all.
    “Okay, what about love?” I shoot back, irritated at her practicality.
    And she ripostes with: “Fine. xx + xy = xxx.”
    She has to explain the bit about chromosomes. This is her idea of a dirty joke. Later, I wonder if this was also her idea of a come-on.

    Don’t worry, she repeats, her back to him, laying out things with serrated edges and conducting pads and blunt wrenching teeth. You can’t dehumanize something that isn’t human.

    Serial killer folklore maintains that they often have a type. Ted Bundy was into young women with middle partings and brown hair, for example. But what if my killer was not into physical characteristics but some inner quality that shone out of young women? Bright, full of spark and curiosity, engaged with the world, kicking against convention, pushing past their doubts and fears. What if the story was more about their lives than their deaths? What if the pretty corpses had voices, and that’s part of why they were cut down?
    (“All the Pretty Corpses”)

    At least in fiction, unlike real life, you can get justice.
    (“All the Pretty Corpses”)

  112. Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Margaret Atwood (2016)

    She never asked him how they came to be there together, living in the shanty, apart from everyone else. He never told her. It would have been a shock to her, to learn that she did not exist. Or not in the usual way.

    Watching the many faces watching their own faces as they pretended to be someone else – Felix found that strangely moving. For once in their lives, they loved themselves.

    It still astonishes Felix, the way everyone wants to get in on the act, once there is an act.

    It’s the words that should concern you, he thinks at them. That’s the real danger. Words don’t show up on scanners.

  113. Baba Yaga by An Leysen (2016)

    The witch, who awoke very hungry and was looking forward to a tasty meal, hurried to the bathroom to see if her niece was ready to be eaten.

  114. The Land of Nod by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter (2017)

    From breakfast on through all the day
    At home among my friends I stay,
    But every night I go abroad
    Afar into the land of Nod.

  115. Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez (2017)

    Atoms are the smallest building blocks of matter. We are not able to see them with the naked eye … but everything that surrounds up is made of atoms. The stars … our bodies … the entire universe. They combine in millions of ways to create all the things we see and touch … and all the things we haven’t seen yet.

  116. The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon (2016)

    “Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can’t even remember what she looks like. You know? Not really. I miss her, Subhi.” […]
    I give Jimmie’s hand a squeeze. “It doesn’t matter what you see. I think it just matters what you feel.”

    But until then I keep on at Maá every night, asking her for a story. Just a single one. Because sometimes, in here, when people stop talking, and stop asking, and stop remembering, that’s when they start to lose that piece of themselves. That’s when their brains start to mush. It happens a lot.

    He lets go of me and reaches into his pocket. “Here. I got you something.” He pulls out three whole muesli bars, still in their wrappers and not even past their use-by.
    “There are boxes of them,” he smiles. “I heard them talking, the Jackets. They’re sending them all back because of the wrappers.”
    I can’t see anything wrong with the wrappers. Eli points to the name of the bars—Freedom Bars. “I guess they don’t want us getting any ideas, hey?”

    How could people be so mean to each other when isn’t everyone just the same anyway and why can’t anyone work that out?

    I remember Eli telling me that the stars we look at are already dead, we just don’t see it yet, is all. That should make me sad but it doesn’t. It just makes them more amazing for the strangeness of it.

    And I wish I didn’t understand, because understanding doesn’t fix it. Understanding just makes it worse.

    “Coming here is a bit like waking up from a nightmare and then finding out that you aren’t awake at all,” Queeny told me one time when we saw a boy try to hurt himself.

    Jimmie looks at me and nods. “I know,” she says. “I hear you.”

    Queeny says they only do it so that I shut up for a bit and stop pestering them for more stories. She reckons the only time I’m ever quiet is when I’m being told a story. But Queeny doesn’t get it. I need these stories. Everyone else in here has memories to hold on to. Everyone else has things to think on to stop them getting squashed down to nothing. But I don’t have memories of anywhere else, and all these days just squish into the same. I need their stories. I need them to make my memories.

    I’m not like him. But maybe Someday I can be. Maybe today.

  117. Pretty Deadly, Volume 1: The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos (2014)

    A wraith of rage for men who’d cage
    and harm what should be set free.

    Life ain’t ours to keep, girl. We get to hold some for a little bit, but then we got to pass it on.

    It’s the dying that makes the living matter.

  118. Pretty Deadly, Volume 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos (2016)

    Don’t steal tears from tomorrow, boy
    Don’t grieve what you ain’t lost
    Don’t waste today on yesterday
    You still got paths to cross

    I am not a bee, but I am small.
    I like to see small things win.

    There’s never been a war like him before.

  119. Little Nothing by Marisa Silver (2016)

    She has never seen a penis before. It looks like a pale and very narrow and really quite useless section of piping.

    Pavla revels in her name because she knows that if nothing is little, then it must be something indeed.

    But in five months she has not gotten used to the dangerous energy of the crowd. During her dwarfish childhood when she was pitied and teased, occasionally accused of being the cause of a spate of fever or a poor crop yield, she never felt what she does now each night: that she is one step away from being murdered. She is, after all, the synthesis of two things men have a need to routinely destroy: animals and women.

    “You’re the one who said all time exists,” Danilo says. “The past exists. The future exists.”
    It’s true. She did say this. And she does somehow believe that what has happened to her and what will happen to her exist simultaneously, that the story is already written but not yet told. She must be like someone in one of her mother’s stories who has existed for centuries of telling and will exist even after her mother is gone. How else to explain her life? As something random?

    After that night, Pavla’s performance changes. When Danilo removes the cape, instead of simpering and pretending to be ashamed and then roaring for effect, she simply stands motionless, looking out at the audience. She waits out the horrified shrieks, the gasps, the catcalls and stoning until that dangerous energy is spent. At that point, the audience, no longer allowed to engage with her as an act, must come to different terms with the fact that she is a living truth, no more fantasy than those who look upon her. Her stillness, her unwillingness to prance and perform, become a different sort of confrontation that makes them feel less superior, vulnerable even, as if their own masks have been violently ripped away and now the truth of their ugliness and their distorted desires are on display for Pavla to see. Each night, as the women drop their hands from their eyes, as the men stop leaning into one another to tell their nasty jokes, Pavla sees in their faces not ghoulish pleasure but confusion. Why is she staring at them? What horror does she see?

    Agáta frowns. “We make up the sense of things after they happen,” she says. “We tell stories. This happened because of that. We string things together one by one so that it seems like there’s a reason to it all. But there is no reason. The most unbelievable things can happen and you have no idea why.”

    “I’m sorry it has taken so long for us to come,” he hears himself say.

    Markus fell silent. Danilo looked at the sky and watched the sound disappear into the vast emptiness where nothing and everything exists and where all stories begin.

  120. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (2017)

    I wish I never washed the damn hoodie now that you’re gone. It no longer smells like your grandmother’s old flower shop; it doesn’t have the dirt stains from all the times we spent at the park. It’s like you’ve been erased.

    “history is how we get to keep him.”

    I don’t want to go in, I don’t want to go in. Theo, I don’t want to go in, I don’t want to go in to say goodbye to you.

    You’re waiting inside. Not you, but you. I owe you a goodbye.

    Love. I love you; this isn’t a past-tense love.

    I’m still crying a little when we’re done. I can’t believe your entire life out here could be stored away in two boxes.

    I think about alternate universes as we lay you to rest in this one. There are billions, trillions, existing all at once: one where we never broke up and you stayed in New York, one out of reach from oceans that have it in for you, one where we both moved to California for school, one where you quit school and left animation and Jackson behind because you missed me so much, one where we met halfway somewhere because you wanted me not only to be your future but to help you find it, one where we’re the sole survivors of the zombie-pirate apocalypse . . . countless more where things are right, maybe with some touches of wrong. But in them all, you and I are more than history. I have to believe these universes exist; it’s the only way to manage the suffering here.

    “Is Theo coming? I want to watch his movie with the flowers.” You’re still alive for Grandma. You’re still around making more films. You’re still around to whip out your camera phone and play one of your videos for her. You’re still around to hold my hand and kiss me good morning. I know you’re not alive, but I know I don’t treat you like you’re dead. I know you’re watching, but I know there’s a chance you’re not. I know you’re not around to live, and I know you’re always going to live through me.

    I promise I’ll find happiness again. It’s the best way to honor you.

  121. Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online by Bailey Poland (2016)

    When dealing with things like cybersexist abuse, it cannot be said often enough that there is no way to solve a problem without understanding it.

    Additionally, it is worth noting that nearly every technological advancement throughout history has been seen as too liberating for women— and therefore dangerous.

    Everything from the telephone to the washing machine has been considered a worrying technological advancement that will make women too independent, and it was this independence that the cyberfeminists wished to claim for themselves.


  122. Orphans of the Carnival: A Novel by Carol Birch (2016)

    She heard a wag in the audience say, “It’s a chimpanzee in a dress!”
    Someone shouted, “Loup garou!” She laughed. Her eyes twinkled, her smile was genuine. Now that she was on, she didn’t feel so bad. I’m looking at you, she thought. You are looking at me. And you’re paying.

    If she was very careful, she could cry without anyone knowing, letting the tears hide one by one, strictly controlled, in the hair beneath her eyes. This was useful.

    He watched, oddly moved, as Marie brushed and combed Julia’s hair, rearranged the paper flowers, the pearls, the feathers. “There now,” she said, standing back and admiring her handiwork. “You look lovely. Sister.”

  123. Kill the Next One by Frederico Axat (2016)

    Ted McKay was about to put a bullet through his brain when the doorbell rang. Insistently. He paused. He couldn’t press the trigger when he had someone waiting at the front door.

  124. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (1948)

    “It’s not the way it used to be.” Old Man Warner said clearly. “People ain’t the way they used to be.”

    Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.

  125. Everything Belongs to the Future by Laurie Penny (2016)

    Meanwhile: consider that time is a weapon. […]
    Ever since men could measure time, they have used it to divide each other. Time is a weapon wielded by the rich, who have excess of it, against the rest, who must trade every breath of it against the promise of another day’s food and shelter.

    It was always somebody else’s apocalypse. Until it wasn’t.

    “All I wanted was to make something small and bright and good, something that lasted a little while, a little while longer than I did. All I wanted was to push back against the darkness just a little bit. To live in the cracks in capitalism with the people I care about, just for a little while. But it turns out I can’t even have that. And now I just want to burn shit down.”

    This is the face I was always meant to have, my true face. When I was beautiful, nobody thought of my words as worth considering. Not even me myself. This face makes me invisible, and invisibility is its own power.

  126. The Supergirls: Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines (Revised and Updated) by Mike Madrid (2016)

    After The Supergirls came out, something interesting happened. I got emails from readers who had no idea that there had been female superheroes in the 1960s, much less in the 1940s.

    Male heroes were given female partners for two reasons: they provided sex appeal for male readers, and romantic storylines to attract girls. But this romance angle also proved that these superheroes were all-American, heterosexual men, who just happened to be gadding about in colorful tights.

    Batman shows more faith in Ace, the Bat-Hound than in Batwoman.

    At the time [1950s], DC Comics’ official Editorial Policy Code addressed the presentation of women in this way— The inclusion of females in stories is specifically discouraged. Women, when used in plot structure, should be secondary in importance . . .

    Supergirl’s strangest romance is with Bronco Bill, a handsome singing cowboy who she meets while vacationing at a dude ranch as Linda. The two fall in love, but Bronco Bill is keeping a secret from Supergirl: he is in reality Comet, her Superhorse! Comet was actually a centaur from ancient times that had been inadvertently transformed into a horse by the legendary sorceress Circe. To make up for her blunder, Circe made the white stallion immortal, indestructible, and telepathic. A comet passing through the solar system can temporarily change the steed into a human. This makes it very convenient for Comet, as Bronco Bill, to woo his mistress, with whom he has secretly fallen in love. Eventually the celestial enchantment wears off, and Bronco Bill reverts back to his equine form. Supergirl is crushed that her cowboy beau has seemingly vanished without a word of goodbye, and cries on the shoulder of her faithful pet, Comet. Comet gives Supergirl some telepathic words of comfort, never revealing the bizarre love tryst that the two briefly shared. For as wholesome as DC Comics were at the time, there was something disturbing about this entire scenario.

    The one certainty is that America prefers a princess to a queen. A princess is young and pretty, and less threatening than a queen who actually wields authority. That is why Supergirl will never grow up to be a Superwoman.

    Despite the fact that a teenager like SpiderMan was referred to as an adult, these heroines still go by the more adolescent appellation “girl.”

  127. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman (2016)

    No point in changing things now, is there?

  128. My Real Children by Jo Walton (2014)

    The world was so beautiful and so fragile. They really shouldn’t risk it this way.

    Trish walked out into the dawn and wished she still believed in God. The sea was still lapping on the shore, the last stars were vanishing as the sky brightened. But the sky was empty of comfort. There was no loving God waiting, no heaven where Doug could find happiness. Just the cold contingent universe where things happened for random reasons nobody could understand. Nevertheless, while she was torn apart with grief for Doug she also felt at peace. His struggle was over. There was no more pain. And she had been with him and helped him. She had seen his whole life, from his birth to his death. “Everyone is born,” she said to the empty sky. “Everyone dies.”
    It was cold comfort as time went on and she began to understand what missing him meant.

    Then Bee died, choking for breath, with both of them at her bedside. Pat’s own chest felt tight hearing it and her heart beat faster. Now would be a good time to have another heart attack, she thought at it, encouragingly, but her heart took no notice and kept on beating.

    She had made a choice already, one choice that counted among the myriad choices of her life. She had made it not knowing where it led. Could she make it again, knowing?

  129. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton (2016)

    Good thing that waffle is a kung fu master!

  130. Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan (2016)

    * tick * tick * tick * KILL

    Don’t go back, kid
    Don’t ever go back.

    My name is Snow White, but my mother didn’t call me that to be funny.
    She would say that the snow covers everything and makes the entire world beautiful.
    – You’re far from the country now, sister.
    The same snow falls here.

  131. Heartless by Marissa Meyer (2016)

    She would be queen, and queens … queens did not open bakeries with their best friends. Queens did not gossip with half-invisible cats. Queens did not have dreams of yellow-eyed boys and wake up with lemon trees over their beds.

    She felt it again, that internal tug she’d had during the dream, telling her that he had something that belonged to her, and she had to catch him if she were ever to get it back.

    “It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

    She stole glimpses of him again and again, like gathering unsatisfying crumbs in hopes they could be reformed into a cake.

    She listened to the gasps, the moans, the crinkle of parchment paper as someone scooped up the buttercream that had gotten missed. This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.

    Was he mad already? She couldn’t help inspecting him, newly speculative and curious. He didn’t seem mad. No more mad than anyone else she knew. No more mad than she was herself. They were all a little mad, if one was to be forthright.

    “I came here to steal your heart.”

    The Fox folded her hands and recited,
    One to be a murderer, the other to be martyred,
    One to be a monarch, the other to go mad.

    “Your future is written on stone, but not in it.”

    “You’re right. He was innocent,” Hatta murmured, so quiet she barely heard him. “Martyrs usually are.”

  132. Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (2016)

    When Kalpana Chawla’s math professor explained the concept of a “null set,” she used the example of a female Indian astronaut. There had never been one, so it was a classic case of a category that simply did not exist. “Who knows?” Kalpana exclaimed to her class. “One day this set may exist!” The other students laughed – they had no idea that their outspoken classmate would one day make history.

  133. Becoming Unbecoming by Una (2015)

    Canon Gordon Croney, vicar of Leeds, considers police-controlled houses of prostitution to be impractical. “I know it’s an easy answer, but I believe it could make the problem worse,” he said.
    “If prostitutes came under police protection, then it could make a psychopath like the Ripper prey on innocent women.”

    It’s odd that a person who brings only pleasure should draw so much ire.

    There is nothing to be afraid of in the dark…that doesn’t also exist in the light.

    So what’s the truth?
    Maybe it’s something like this:
    Ordinary men are capable of extraordinary violence.
    Women and girls are neither virgins nor whores.
    None of it is funny.

    So many popular cultural monuments to Sutcliffe have been built by men. Perhaps it’s easier to see it as just another story, if you don’t belong to the group of people the Ripper wanted to kill?

  134. Iron to Iron (Wolf By Wolf #1.5) by Ryan Graudin (2016)

    He didn’t need to win. Not the way this girl did.

    He thought (feared?) they might run out of things to talk about, but the silences between them didn’t stand a chance.

    Bile scraped up Luka’s throat again, tickling the edges of his molars. He didn’t swallow it back. This was the taste he had to remember, not some sultry minx kisses. This was the feeling he had to cling to in the weeks and months to come. Hate made perfect training fuel, and he had a lot of training ahead. Iron called to iron, and there was always something more. Fräulein would enter next year’s Axis Tour, go for a Double Cross of her own. When she did, Luka would be ready.

  135. Labyrinth: One classic film, fifty-five sonnets by Anne Corrigan (2016)

    Said Jareth to the babe “Soon, you’ll be mine” –
    and Toby looked like that would suit him fine.

  136. Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf #2) by Ryan Graudin (2016)

    Yael wanted to be like the Valkyrie maidens in the old Norse lore. Winged women who rode to war on the backs of wolves, choosing which soldiers lived and died. She’d thought she could make death mean something, if she wielded it right. (A death to end this death.) So she aimed her gun at that man in the ballroom and made her choice.

    Yael almost rolled up her sleeve there and then, almost pointed to the loping lines of Aaron-Klaus’s wolf, almost told Luka everything she was. But Luka was playing with his father’s dog tag again. And Yael found herself wondering if Kradschützen troops had rolled through this very village, letting their motorcycles idle as the SS made it a pile of bones. She wondered if Luka had any idea how their pasts tangled and tore at each other’s throats.

    Yael’s eyes went to the boy’s own twilight-purple knot of a bruise, trailed down to the glistening burn on his collarbone: marks of loyalty, far more meaningful than any swastika armband.

    “You had different names on the television. Inmate 121358ΔX. Yael.”
    “I have a lot of names.”
    “That must explain why you’re so hard to find. I’ve been looking for you, Volchitsa.” The woman’s accent suddenly fit her words; she’d switched languages to German. “For a very, very long time.”

    Her third wolf was alive, and she was a fierce, fierce creature.

    “You gave me a chance to live,” Miriam said. “You’ve given the world a chance to free itself. That’s nothing to feel ashamed about.”

    Yael’s eyes were a sharper blue: seeing Luka and being seen. He caught her gaze, watching her in this new light. She was Jewish! The first Jewish person he’d ever met face-to-face, exchanged words with, knew . . . Was it really so surprising that Yael was nothing like the slurs Luka’s father/teacher/Führer spewed? That out of all the souls Luka had ever come across, hers was one of the brightest? It held the bravery of one hundred Iron Crosses, melted down and forged into something purer—a courage not corroded by cruelty.

    “Monsters cut children open and call it progress. Monsters murder entire groups of people without blinking, but get upset when they have to wash human ash from their garden strawberries. Monsters are the ones who watch other people do these things and do nothing to stop it. You and I are not monsters. If anything, we’re miracles.”

    Yael was not a monster. Luka was not the next generation of National Socialism. They were what the Reich would come to fear the most. A Jewish girl and a German boy holding the future and the past in their hands—together.

    Luka Löwe—the boy she hated, the boy she loved, the boy she lost—was not a wolf.

    Felix deserved to die, yes. But Yael deserved to let him live.

    Yael couldn’t speak when she picked up the doll. She could not cry when she twisted the biggest one open and found the next, and the next, and the next. Four faces, each different, all of them there. Aside from some loose clods of dirt, the set of matryoshka dolls looked untouched. Plucked straight from dark night memories: the offering of Babushka’s wrinkled hands, Yael falling asleep with the family knotted against her chest, Miriam’s promising to keep them safe. They’ll all be together again someday, she’d told Yael.

    Yael’s name was already in the history books (inked—forever and always—beside Luka Wotan Löwe), but this did not stop her from accomplishing more. She followed the ratlines to South America and marked every Maskiertekommando she could find. She stood at the end of the Avenue of Splendors and watched the Volkshalle’s dome crumble to dust; the shock waves of its demolition shook the roots of her molars. She thought of the dead and fought for the living, entering the battleground of Neuberlin’s politics to make sure the voice of her people was not lost, would never be lost again.

  137. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (2017)

    “Roanoke girls never last long around here.” She skipped along the hall, her voice growing fainter as she moved, like we were standing at opposite ends of a tunnel. “In the end, we either run or we die.”

    As a little girl I’d tried to please, tried to live by the simple refrain my mother repeated like a desperate prayer in my ear: be good be good be good. But I’d known even then it wouldn’t work, went against something dark inside me. A mean streak that came to the surface more often as I grew. And I thought maybe here, at Roanoke, my being bad wouldn’t break anyone. I remembered Allegra’s words last night at the dinner table about Emmeline, my granddad’s sparkling eyes a moment ago when he spoke of my mother giving him hell. Maybe here it was like a different country, someplace where it was all right to be a little wicked.

    But now he had a real wife and his own beautiful, dark-haired daughters. He didn’t need Sophia anymore. He had a whole house full of girls who worshiped him.

    I felt the weight of my mother’s love for me for the first time, there on Roanoke’s porch with my whole world crumbling around me. She might not have been able to love me the way a mother should, with kisses, and kind words, and hopes for my future. But she’d done the very best thing for me—she’d taken me away from here and tried her hardest to keep me from ever coming back. It wasn’t her fault she’d failed. I understood now that she’d held on as long as she was able. I tried to wait. I’m sorry. Discovering the secrets of Roanoke had given my mother back to me, long after the understanding of her pain could do either of us any good.

    Perhaps that’s my granddad’s real power, making the women in his life do terrible things to one another.

  138. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (2017)

    She runs because she loves her body, the power of it, how it has always saved her when she most needed saving.

    “Honey, you’re not crazy. You’re a woman.”

    A couple of months later, he comes over to my apartment in the middle of the night because we’ve long abandoned any pretense of a mutual interest in anything but dirty sex and he’s holding a fiberglass baby arm, painted the color of flesh. He hands it to me and says, “I thought you might like this,” and I take the baby arm and tell him if he’s not careful, I will fall in love and he says he would be fine with that.

    “I want a boy who will bring me a baby arm.”

    There once was a man. There is always some man.

    There’s a lot to love about breaking things.

    I would eat none of it. I do not care for the taste of venison. It tastes too much like the flesh of an animal.

    My husband’s family is religious. They believe in God. Their God is angry and unkind because they made him in his image.

    People in town didn’t understand Anna and largely believed her to be godless, a designation she rather enjoyed because she understood that in their community, to be godless was to have a mind of one’s own.

    You too have always been popular. I have seen the evidence in your childhood bedroom, meticulously preserved by your mother. Even now, you have packs of men following you, willing to make you their strange god. That is the only thing about you that scares me.

  139. The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (2017)

    It would have been better not to have any babies at all than to give birth to two girls. Some even said it was an act of spite on the mother’s part. Only a truly disobedient woman would do such a thing.

    And so the sisters stole what should not have been stolen, and left only a hole, an absence, in the place of what had been ripped away. It was a dark little hole at first, one that would spread in the coming years.

    The night was good. It was where the fear grew. And the sisters would feed on the fear, and they would never, never be hungry.

    “They’re not building a Gate to keep folks out. They’re building a Gate to keep folks in. Especially folks like us.”

    She couldn’t get away from the monster. She was the monster.

  140. The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (2017)

    Four letters,
    one silent. A single syllable
    pregnant with meaning.

    Freak-freak connection’s a powerful thing.

    isn’t only self-defeating. It’s

    I’ve read that people often
    choose this time of year
    to die, and I don’t wonder why.
    Especially if they’re alone,
    or grieving, or just damn tired
    of trudging through another
    day, and the thought of crossing
    the threshold into another year
    sucks the soul right out of them.

    My childhood is a jigsaw puzzle,
    with chewed and misplaced
    pieces. I’ve always known that.
    What I didn’t realize
    is that even if every correct piece
    was fitted perfectly into place,
    the resulting picture would’ve been
    interpretive art.

    Maybe I don’t want to choose,
    and I’m not talking about left
    or right. I’m talking about Gabe
    or Monica. I don’t think I’m allowed
    to have both.
    I hear people talk.
    I know how they feel
    about “someone like me.”
    There’s no such thing as “bi.”
    That means they’ll fuck anything.
    They’re . . .
    (depending on who’s
    talking) straight or gay, and going
    through a phase
    or in total denial.
    They’re full of shit.
    They’re mentally ill.

    What I really
    want to do is crawl into a corner
    and sleep so I won’t think about
    the images solidifying in my mind,
    resurrected by visions of Garrett’s
    and Keith’s faces. Blood gushing.
    Snot dripping. Bruises resembling
    thunderheads rearing up. A woman,
    dropped down on her knees, sobbing
    apologies for “inviting” my dad’s abuse.
    I can see her damaged face clearly.
    But I don’t remember her name.

  141. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (2017)

    At eighteen, I was too old for my grandmother’s fairy tales, yet I cherished the guilty thrill that ran through me whenever the Goblin King was mentioned. Despite everything, I still believed in the Goblin King. I still wanted to believe in the Goblin King.

    “You are clever. I do not offer this gift to you out of the goodness of my heart, but out of a selfish need to see what you might do with it.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.”
    He had heard me sing with the fruit-sellers. A wild, untamed sort of music.

    She turned around. My sister’s lips glistened—red, sticky, and sweet—her pout swollen as though she had just been thoroughly kissed. In her hands was a half-eaten peach, its flesh dripping down her fingers like rivulets of blood.

    “Oh, Elisabeth.” The Goblin King shook his head. “When will you be selfish? When will you ever do anything for yourself?”

    I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts—Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored—the plain, drab, practical, talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.

    “I may be just a maiden, mein Herr,” I whispered. “But I am a brave maiden.”

    I let the Goblin King play me the rest of the evening, the sonata, the bloodstained handkerchief, and the candle forgotten for the time being. He was the bow, I the strings, and his fingers brushed my body to make me sing.

    I kissed him back. Time did not stop for anyone, least of all me, but in that moment of our kiss, I found a little pocket of eternity.

    The Lord and the Goblin King worked in mysterious ways, and I rather wished they didn’t.

  142. Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu (2016)

    Groovy notices the brush in my hand and flips over, squirming in excitement. His tail even wags. I’d have to be a pretty big asshole not to brush this dog right now.

    “If your wife was an atheist, does that mean when she died she didn’t think she would see you again? I mean, in Heaven?”
    “Yes, I’m pretty sure. I mean, I never asked her, but I can only assume it to be the case.”
    “Does that make you sad?”
    Dr. Greenberg nods. “Yes, it does. But in Judaism when someone dies, we say, ‘May her memory be a blessing.’ I love that saying. Her memory is a blessing every single day. So I try to focus on that.”

  143. Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (2017)

    A door swings open, dinging a bell. I recognize the next sound: the deliberate but controlled steps, treading gently, as if she’s trying not to leave footprints. I’ve never seen a footprint, of course, but my understanding is that the harder you press, the more of an impression you leave behind.

    I begin to wonder if maybe the surgery was all for nothing. I mean, sure, I can see. But I can’t do anything useful with that vision, and I’m not sure I ever will.

  144. Red-Blooded American Male: Photographs by Robert Trachtenberg (2016)

    Though you’re only seeing the one shot, here’s how my day with [Will] Arnett broke down:
    Shot One
    Me: “Will you put on this strapless gown?”
    Arnett: “Yes.”
    Me: “Thanks, the color really works with your eyes.”
    Shot Two
    Me: “Will you cry at a window with mascara running down your face?”
    Arnett: “Yes.”
    Me: “More hysterical, please.”
    Shot Three
    Me: “Will you put on these fishnets?”
    Arnett: “Yes.”
    Me: (Eternally grateful)

    Member of the House of Representative, [Brian] Sims is the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania history. He is also an accomplished attorney and gets smart, legible tattoos, like the quote from Benjamin Franklin pictured here. Another memorable quote came from Sims himself during a heated floor debate with his colleagues over personal choice and religious freedom. “Each of us put out hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. We did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.” We need this guy.

    I was able to talk to [Bob] Saget on the phone before the shoot about what I wanted to do: “A hooker dressed as a giant rabbit is passed out next to you in a cheap motel bed. There’s booze, condoms, lube, cash, and the pitiful realization of what you’ve just done.” Without a moment’s hesitation he replied, “Sounds good. Do you need me to bring any of that?”

  145. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (2017)

    “A prophecy then, sea-maiden.”
    “Why do you call me that?” she whispered.
    The bannik drifted up to the bench beside her. His beard was the curling steam. “Because you have your great-grandfather’s eyes. Now hear me. You will ride to where earth meets sky. You will be born three times: once of illusions, once of flesh, and once of spirit. You will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, weep for a nightingale, and die by your own choosing.”

    Marina, thought Pyotr. You left me this mad girl, and I love her well. She is braver and wilder than any of my sons. But what good is that in a woman? I swore I’d keep her safe, but how can I save her from herself?

    Vasya’s mouth twitched despite herself. “Dunya always said that male virgins are best for finding the undead. You walk in circles until you trip over the right grave. Care to lead, brother?”
    “You’re out of luck, I’m afraid, Vasochka,” said Alyosha with some asperity, “and have been for some time. Do we need to kidnap a peasant boy?”

  146. They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery (2016)

    [T]he young black bodies we kept seeing in our Facebook newsfeeds could have been our own. How could we explain this to ourselves or each other?

    In interviews over the months I spent in Ferguson, residents described Mike Brown as a symbol of their own oppression. In a city where, federal investigators would later conclude, traffic tickets and arrest warrants were used systematically to target impoverished black residents, Brown’s death afforded an opportunity through protest for otherwise ignored voices to be heard. On many nights protesters would refuse to provide their names to reporters who approached them for interviews. “My name is Mike Brown,” they would reply.

    There are no isolated incidents, yet the media’s focus on the victim and the officer inadvertently erases the context of the nation’s history as it relates to race, policing, and training for law enforcement. And by focusing on the character of the victim, we inadvertently take the focus off the powerful and instead train our eyes and judgment on the powerless.

    On the day Mike Brown was killed, Ferguson had almost as many active warrants as it did residents.

    Growing up, we didn’t speak directly about race often in our house, but my parents made certain that my two younger brothers and I knew who we were, and where we came from. Each of us carry a Swahili middle name. It’s hard to doubt your blackness with a middle name like Jabari, which means “the bravest.”

  147. The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own edited by Veronica Chambers (2017)

    Barack and Michelle Obama served this country for two terms as President and First Lady of the United States of America. Imagine that. America shaped in the image of a black man—with a black woman by his side. Even after eight years of watching them daily in the press, the fact that the most powerful man in the world is a Black man is still breathtaking to me. The fact that he goes home to a tight-knit, loving family headed by a Black woman is soul-stirring. That woman is Michelle. Michelle! That name now carries a whole world of meaning. And a whole world of memory. And a whole world of a magic.
    (“Preface,” Ava Duvernay)

    There were a lot of things that had never happened before. There’s never been a bread course. I thought: What would be better than for 400 people who really didn’t know each other to be able to pass the bread? Now we’re breaking bread.
    (“Cooking with a narrative,” Marcus Sameulsson)

    Ichi go ichi e. Treasure this moment, it will never come again.
    (The Freedom to Be Yourself,” Karen Hill Anton)

    Thank you, Michelle, for showing a generation of women, including me and my daughter, what it means to dwell in possibility.
    (“Acknowledgements,” Veronica Chambers)

  148. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker (2017)

    Okay so I’m Black in America right and I walk into a bar.
    I drink a lot of wine and kiss a Black man on his beard.
    I do whatever I want because I could die any minute.
    I don’t mean YOLO I mean they are hunting me.

    At school they learned that Black people happened.

    The world would crumble
    without my unwavering
    sacrifice. I try to write
    a text message
    to describe
    all my feelings
    but the emoticon hands
    are all white.
    White Whine.
    White flowers in a river.
    Some plantation
    stuck in my teeth like a seed.
    I think the phone is racist.
    The phone
    doesn’t care about black people.
    The phone is the nation
    that loves the phone.
    (“These Are Dangerous Times, Man “)

    The reason I was built
    is to outlast some terribly
    feminine sickness
    that is delivered
    to the blood through kale
    salad and pity and men
    with straight-haired girlfriends

    I wish were dead
    Is loneliness cultural
    (“The President’s Wife”)

    94. Teacher called me Sheila
    95. Sheila was the other black girl
    96. Sheila hated me
    (“99 Problems”)

  149. Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell and Shadra Strickland (2017)

    Richard once said,
    “It could be worse, Bean.
    If you was the white one
    and I was the colored one,
    people saw us together?
    They’d lynch me.
    We can do this.”

    We are married.
    We have a child.
    We are a family.
    Of this we are…

    Mr. Cohen reads me
    the judge’s closing statement
    over the phone.
    It’s trying to sort it out.
    God put each race of people on their own continent?
    And meant them to stay there?
    Didn’t Judge Bazile go to school?
    Didn’t hear learn that God put the Indians
    on the American continent?
    Cherokee? Rappahannock?
    And then the white settlers arrived
    and stole this land from the “red” people.
    While people stole black people from the “black” continent.
    Just WHO is guilty?
    Didn’t that judge go to school?

  150. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation by Daina Ramey Berry (2017)

    Looking at their views of commodification shifts the way we interpret slavery and adds to our understanding of social and cultural systems that continue to (de)value black life (i.e., mass incarceration, elite athletes and performers).

    Dear wife, they cannot sell the rose
    Of love, that in my bosom glows.
    Remember, as your tears may start,
    They cannot sell th’ immortal part!

  151. Imprisoned: Drawings from Nazi Concentration Camps by Arturo Benvenuti (2017)

    Humanity continues to kill, to massacre, to persecute, with increased ruthlessness. Before eyes that are increasingly indifferent, passive. When not complicit. There’s no pity for the elderly, for women, for children. There’s no pity for anyone anymore. Man is wolf to man, today as much as – and more than – yesterday.
    The older generations seem to have learned very little; the new ones don’t seem to want to learn any more. Wars continue to sow slaughter. Behind the barbed wire of new concentration camps, it has gone one; humanity has gone on being suppressed.
    Most of all, this book aims to be – attempts to be – a contribution to the just “revolt” on behalf of those who feel like they can’t, in spite of everything, resign themselves to a monstrous, terrifying reality. Those who believe they must still and always “resist.”

  152. The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (2017)

    It had been all downhill since fifth grade. Sometimes she looked back on that golden year and felt a pang of nostalgia so keenly that she thought she might actually die.

    Her father remarried quickly, just over a year after her mother died, and she recalled being struck by the injustice of this, that a replacement wife could be attained so quickly and with relative ease, while a replacement mother was not even an option.

    Maybe they were all bitches, Claire thought. Maybe that was all there was to be in eighth grade. Maybe you didn’t have any choice. Maybe your only choice was figuring out what kind of bitch you wanted to be.

    If she was going to be a terrible person, she was going to have to be a terrible person in private. This was something she had learned long ago.

    There were still little green ribbons covering Lisa’s locker, but every morning some would have fallen down overnight, scattered like tiny leaves, and she would pick them up and toss them into the bottom of her own locker. How long would they let that locker, 64C, sit there, unused? How long did missing-person ribbons stay up? Was there an expiration date, some point where they officially became irrelevant, a day when the fall of Lisa Bellow became the winter of someone else, as Evan had predicted from the start?

    “Do you give out toothbrushes at your house?” one boy asked Claire on Halloween. “We’re just dentists,” she said. “We’re not monsters.”

  153. The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg (2016)

    In the beginning was the world and it was weird. This is because it came from the head of a strange girl with a beak. This is Kiddo.

    We shall hear in this book the tales of many lovers. But there are two around whom all these stories will orbit, like moons around a planet. We shall meet them very soon.
    Yes. Let us begin now.
    And where? Where do we begin?
    In the city of Migdal Bavel of course, the city that the men of Early Earth built in BirdMan’s name.
    We shall begin with two men.
    But let me be clear, this story is not about those men who wrote the history of Early Earth and built those great monuments in BirdMan’s name…
    It is about two very brave women. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
    All in good time…

    They luxuriated sinfully in that most beautiful of all things: The written word.

    The Wealthy Merchant found all the daughters captivating, but it was Little Rosa he liked the best. He thought she seemed quiet and graceful and full of a grave sweetness that he liked very much.
    Of course, this is not what Rosa was like at all. In actual fact she was funny and smart with a sharp tongue and a quick mind, and she laughed all the time.
    But he saw what he wanted to see.

    Lesson: Men are false. And they can get away with it.
    Also, don’t murder your sister, even by accident. Sisters are important.

    He never saw her again. Well, not standing in front of him as a woman. But sometimes he would go out into the marshes, with his daughter, and they would talk to her. All night they would stay, talking and talking. And on those nights, she blazed so bright and so brilliant that everything was lit up like the day. And then they knew she heard them.

    If all the stories of those brave and wonderful women were not enough to make them see, then it doesn’t matter.

    All those stories you have told, all those wonderful stories…
    They are nothing to OUR STORY. People will tell it in years to come…
    And they will say, that was a story about Love.
    And about two brave girls who wouldn’t take shit from anyone.

  154. The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison (2016)

    You belong in a Nick Cave song, a cute counselor once told me at summer camp, back before my night terrors ruled out summer camp, flirting, and sleepovers.

    What’s the point of running if no one follows you?

  155. The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace (2016)

    1. a descriptive word.
    it has no deeper meaning.
    it should not determine
    the worth
    (or lack thereof)
    of a human being.
    – what i know now that i wish i knew then.

    sticks & stones
    never broke
    my bones,
    but words
    made me
    starve myself
    you could
    see all of them.
    – skin & bone.

    told the
    nice doctor
    she was seeing
    in her eyes
    & they were
    beautiful to her—
    like the
    fourth of
    had decided
    to come
    the doctor
    breaking the news
    to her.
    “those aren’t
    it’s cancer.”
    – 40 years a smoker.

    for the
    better half
    of a year
    i was terrified
    every time
    the phone rang
    in case
    it was another
    death call.
    – 3 more would come.

    fuck the idea
    that there is
    such a thing
    as destiny,
    that there exists
    some kind of
    mysterious master plan,
    that there is a god who
    does not
    give us anything
    we cannot
    the pain
    did not
    make me
    a better person.
    it did not
    teach me not to
    take anything
    for granted.
    it did not
    teach me anything
    except how
    to be afraid
    to love anyone.

    i am so glad
    we were born
    during the same

    “what are you
    going to do
    with your english degree?”
    “i plan to
    crack open
    the skulls of the
    & plant
    a colorful
    in every
    “i am
    going to lace
    a necklace
    of words
    for everyone
    i meet.”
    “for once
    in my life
    i am going
    to make sure
    someone finally
    hears me.”

    “i don’t know.”
    – & it’s okay not to know.

    the ocean
    i dive
    when i
    no longer
    – a mermaid escapist II.

    1. fill in the blank:
    a) poetry is ____________.
    – anything you want it to be.

    when you
    live in
    new york
    new jersey
    it is almost
    a rite of passage
    when someone
    jumps in front
    of your train.
    the first thought
    is always,
    “i’m going to be
    late for work.”
    it is never,
    “what a tragedy
    she felt that
    there was
    no other
    way out.”
    but it is.
    it is a fucking
    the world
    does not stop
    for you
    even when
    you give it
    every last
    drop of your
    – i never learned your name, but you mattered to me.

    the love
    some girls
    have for
    other girls
    so gentle
    & so soft
    & so fucking
    these girls
    to have
    better stories
    than the ones
    where they
    are murdered
    because they love
    with too much
    of their
    – love is never a weakness.

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