2019 Book Memories Challenge

January 2nd, 2020 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato


 

I think this particular reading challenge ceased being A THING years ago, but I enjoy it, so let’s do this!

Below you’ll find my favorite quotes from all the books I inhaled in 2019. “Quotes” is a bit generous, seeing as I didn’t always exercise discipline with the copy and paste buttons; some of these are more like excerpts. And that’s okay! The only rule is that THERE ARE NO RULES. I mean, that’s about where we’re at now, right?

null

Spoilers and trigger warnings abound, so proceed with caution.

 

  1. Everything Grows by Aimee Herman (2019)

    Last night, Aggie said that we are onions. Always unpeeling, making people and ourselves cry as we unwrap. I have so many more layers, James. I feel like I’m just starting to unravel and see what has been hiding in me. What was hiding in you? Were there things you were afraid to unwrap?

    I feel like your mother is a warm hug wrapped up inside a human being.

    “Audre Lorde said something really beautiful about that,” Flor said. “A different book than what you’re reading. I’ll have to give to you. She talked about the words we don’t yet have and the power of what happens when we find them.”
    “So how do I find my words?”
    “Keep reading. Keep searching. You and your words will find one another,” Flor said.

    “You’re lucky. You don’t have to make some grand announcements that you’re straight. Everyone just assumes it already.”

    “I became a woman at the Freehold Raceway Mall. Can my life get any more humiliating?”

    “Dear Kurt,” Aggie paused. “What does it feel like to be gone but still able to speak? Even in your death, you make music. We rip up old flannels to remember you, but all we really need to do is press play. Sew thread into each square and knit them together as you scream ‘Pennyroyal Tea.’ Watch as shirts turn into a blanket to remind us how to stay warm as you call out ‘Lithium’ and you came as you are. There is no such thing as a separation of deaths. I believe we all head into the same place, floating and filling up the air with our memories. Say hello to my mother, please. Tell James he had more friends than he ever knew. I’ll keep playing your music to keep you down here as you sing along above me.”

  2. A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle (2019)

    Everybody needs books, Molly figured. No matter where they live, how they love, what they believe, whom they want to kill. We all want books.
    (“The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders)

    Wall to keep the empire safe: strrrrrong empire, empire with mightiest military in the world, empire made of blood and theft, human and land. Before the wall was even finished the empire began to strip rights, silence certain people, keep others sparking in their skins of distrust. But most of the inhabitants paid attention to other things, shiny things, scandals. It would pass, hadn’t it always? White folks had short memories.
    (“The Wall” by Lizz Huerta)

    The Head Librarian was called the Needle. She’d been memorizing the universe since time’s diaper days, and I never knew her real name. She was, back then, in charge of rare things from all over the world. Her collection included books like the Firfol and the Gutenbib, alongside manuscripts from authors like Octavia the Empress and Ursula Major.
    (“Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley)

    It is crucial to remember that life, when it is long, is full of goodbyes.
    (“Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley)

    You are the amen of my family, and I am the in the beginning of yours. This story is the prayer, or one of them. This story says you can live through anything and that when it is time to go, when the entire world goes dark, then you go together, holding on to one another’s hands, and you whisper the memory of birds and bees and the names of those you loved. When it is not time to go, though, this story says you rise.
    (“Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley)

    This is what I whisper to you now, so that you will carry the story of the library, so that you will know how we made magic and how we made books out of burdens. This is to teach you how to transform loss into literature, and love into a future. It is to teach you how to make a book that will endure burning.
    (“Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley)

    “Oh no,” Sid whispered, an hour later, and handed me his phone. “No,” I said, and shut my eyes. And breathed. Prince had just been added to the Filter, the official government list of artists who could not be listened to. […]
    Prince was pretty much the only music Sid and I adored equally. Prince and Sade, but she’d been Filtered for years, along with every other female singer.
    (“It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right” by Sam J. Miller)

    Nayima imagined what he saw: an old gray-haired black woman with a walking stick, face brittle, eyes bright. This was not the person he had expected to kill him today, if he’d even bothered to imagine that he might die.
    (“Attachment Disorder” by Tananarive Due)

    Y’all, the first baby born to the Federation of Free Peoples was gonna be one incredible brown-ass baby.
    (“O.1” by Gabby Rivera)

    Dragons love them some collard greens, see. Especially with hot sauce.
    (“Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death” by N. K. Jemisin)

    Yun exhales, and a burst of flame exits her mouth, making Michael yelp and recoil. she feels the inside of her throat blister from the heat of her fire, and she relishes the sensation, how the pain makes her feel both powerful and alive.
    she should have become a monster a long time ago.
    (“What You Sow” by Kai Cheng Thom )

  3. Whose Boat Is This Boat?: Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane by The Staff of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (2018)

  4. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss and E.G. Keller (2018)

  5. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters (2019)

    “I just snuck out to leave shoes for the girl, so she won’t keep making these charcoal tracks. I worried she might be your muse.”
    I snort at her assumption and scratch the back of my neck.“I write of romance and epic adventures, Rose. If a muse of mine were to step into the world, it would appear in the elegant form of Calliope, a writing tablet in hand.”
    Rose frowns.“I know what it’s like to be haunted by dark muses, Edgar. My life began in the same manner as yours, remember?”

    “I’m the best part of you, Edgar Poe.”

    “The kindest thing you can do for the dead,” says the young man who requested the kiss, “is to weave their names into art.”

  6. 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?”

  7. Man-Eaters, Volume 1 (#1-4) by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk (2019)

    I’m not scared, if that’s what you’re thinking.
    Before the Toxoplasmosis X mutations, and the Global Hormone Initiative, women used to get their period all the time.
    They just walked around…
    bleeding.
    It was pretty bad ass.

  8. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand (2018)

    Theirs was not a world that was often kind to women. And if Deidre had decided to sell her soul for a bit of comfort, an illusion of safety, power she had long been denied?
    Well, thought Val mutinously, maybe that’s the world’s fault.
    Maybe these monsters are what they deserve.

    “Why do the monsters eat girls?” she asked at last. Her voice sounded small.
    When Marion didn’t answer, Zoey turned on her side to face her. “Marion?”
    “Because,” Marion answered, looking beyond Zoey to the sea, “when a predator hunts, it seeks out the vulnerable. The desperate.”
    Zoey’s laugh was bitter. “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”
    “What I’m saying,” Marion said, now looking right at Zoey, her gray eyes bright, “is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

    Marion couldn’t imagine a God like the one she’d grown up hearing about – some man sitting in the clouds, maneuvering the pieces of the world to suit his whims because he, of course, knows best.
    But she could imagine a God in the shape of an island crowned with trees, brooding in the middle of a black sea.

    “Screw that book,” said Val. “It was written by men.” She held out her free hand to Marion. “We’re rewriting it.”

  9. A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland by DaMaris B. Hill (2019)

    The afflicted pray for healing—just as hungry people pray for bread, but when has God ever sent bread? In my recollection of the scriptures, God has always sent a woman.

    In the pre-emancipated South of 1856, there was a $40,000 reward offered for Harriet Tubman’s capture. “Dead or alive,” the ads stated. In 2017, that $40,000 in U.S. currency would be worth $1,101,670.36. The reward for capturing the FBI’s Most Wanted, Assata Shakur, recently increased from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 U.S. dollars. Assata Shakur’s net worth probably does not total $2,000,000. She may never earn that amount of money over her lifetime. Again, I am perplexed. What is so threatening about a Black woman bound to her own freedom, one who is also committed to the liberation of others?

    A RECKONING: ASSATA IN 1980
    Despite the fact that the new world’s
    maps are carved out of the ebony
    underbellies of Africans, you
    grew into a “Moses”
    woman, a Harriet Tubman, standing
    between the ocean sprays
    and morning stars. Thumbtacks crown
    your wanted posters. I envision you
    a savior born on western soil, a second
    coming, another Jonah, the cargo inside,
    some bit of contraband, a sharp
    gallstone in the bile of Ahab’s whale.

  10. Strange Fruit, Volume I: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill (2014)

    You, my dear family, are entitled to know my greatest illusion. It is not some sleight of hand or parlor trick. It is not any of the tricks for which I am famous.
    The world has known the great illusionist Richard Potter as an Indian from the far-flung exotic orient.
    My mother was a black serving woman. She was my father’s slave. My greatest illusion is that I am and have always been a black man.

  11. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (2017)

  12. Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll (2018)

    Why don’t you ever see a kid dressed up as a groom on Halloween?

    The school board banned one of Maya Angelou’s books, so the librarian had to take down her poster.
    I fished it out of the trash.
    She must be a great writer if the school board is afraid of her.

    A kid asked him what his painting was.
    “It’s Venice at night,
    an accountant’s soul,
    the blood of imbeciles.
    Smoker’s lung.
    Tenure.
    The inside of a lock,
    the taste of iron.
    Despair.
    A city with streetlights
    shot out,
    the heart of
    a school board director.”
    Some teachers whisper he’s having a breakdown.
    I think he’s the sanest person I know.

  13. Wires and Nerve, Volume 1: Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate (2017)

    I don’t think humans realize how fragile their bodies are. So many injuries that are minor annoyances to me would be fatal to my friends.

    The people love you, Cinder. It is no small wonder that this announcement will be met with opposition.
    It is a beautiful irony that the greatest queen we’ve ever had is the first to take off her crown.

  14. Women Talking by Miriam Toews (2019)

    Ona speaks: If it has been decided by the elders and the bishop of Molotschna that we women don’t require counselling following these attacks because we weren’t conscious when they happened, then what are we obliged, or even able, to forgive? Something that didn’t happen? Something that we are unable to understand? And what does that mean more broadly? If we don’t know “the world,” we won’t be corrupted by it? If we don’t know that we are imprisoned then we are free?

    We won’t have to leave the people we love? says Neitje. Greta points out that the women could bring loved ones with them. Others question the practicality of this, and Ona mentions, gently, that several of the people we love are people we also fear.

    I notice that even Neitje and Autje, who are normally wary of Ona because Ona is thought to have lost her fear— which is akin, for colonists, to having lost one’s moral compass and been transformed into a demon—have turned their attention to her.

    Mariche can contain herself no longer. She accuses Ona of being a dreamer. We are women without a voice, Ona states calmly. We are women out of time and place, without even the language of the country we reside in. We are Mennonites without a homeland. We have nothing to return to, and even the animals of Molotschna are safer in their homes than we women are. All we women have are our dreams— so of course we are dreamers.

    Greta has raised both arms in the air. She asks: What will happen if the men refuse to meet our demands? Ona responds: We will kill them.

    Time will heal our heavy hearts, she states. Our freedom and safety are the ultimate goals, and it is men who prevent us from achieving those goals. But not all men, says Mejal. Ona clarifies: Perhaps not men, per se, but a pernicious ideology that has been allowed to take hold of men’s hearts and minds.

    Salome continues to shout: She will destroy any living thing that harms her child, she will tear it from limb to limb, she will desecrate its body and she will bury it alive. She will challenge God on the spot to strike her dead if she has sinned by protecting her child from evil, and furthermore by destroying the evil that it may not harm another. She will lie, she will hunt, she will kill and she will dance on graves and burn forever in hell before she allows another man to satisfy his violent urges with the body of her three-year-old child.

    Ona speaks, rescuing me yet again. It has just occurred to her, she says, that the women could consider another option, besides leaving and besides staying and fighting and besides doing nothing.
    Mariche reminds her that it’s late in the day to introduce another option. Greta waves this comment away and gestures to Ona to speak.
    We could ask the men to leave, says Ona.
    Is that a joke? asks Mariche. […]
    None of us have ever asked the men for anything, Agata states. Not a single thing, not even for the salt to be passed, not even for a penny or a moment alone or to take the washing in or to open a curtain or to go easy on the small yearlings or to put your hand on the small of my back as I try, again, for the twelfth or thirteenth time, to push a baby out of my body. Isn’t it interesting, she says, that the one and only request the women would make of the men would be to leave? The women break out laughing again.

    I thought: I have come to Molotschna as a last resort, for peace and to find my purpose, and the women have left Molotschna for the same reasons.

  15. Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer, Stephen Gilpin, and Douglas Holgate (2018)

    Liam, what’s wrong?
    I just don’t understand the way everyone treats her. It’s like they forget they’re talking to a computer.
    Maybe the strange thing is that you’re the only one who can’t forget it.

    I don’t idolize her.
    You totally do.
    I admire her for what she did for our country. For us. There’s a difference.
    Oh, please. You would cut out your own heart if she asked you to.
    Perhaps my deference is owed to the fact that she is a queen who would never ask that of me.

    Is this…Peony’s ID chip?
    My military found it on the Benoit farm. It was submitted as evidence to be used against you – if and when you were caught. I’d forgotten all about it until you mentioned you were coming here today. She’s not gone, Cinder. Not as long as you remember her.

    That’s more like it. Got any weapons?
    Yeah. Me.

    Peony and I used to spend countless hours dreaming of the day we would go to the annual ball. Peony would dress up in Adri’s silk kimonos, and I would drape strands of pearls over my servant-droid body. Then we would sway around her bedroom and pretend we were dancing with the prince. I wish she were here now. I wish she could see me like this – a real person who deserves to go to the ball. But then, maybe she already did see me that way.

    As soon as Wolf and Scarlet were back on their farm, they finally got engaged. From what I hear, she proposed to him.

  16. oh no by Alex Norris (2019)

  17. Cretaceous by Tadd Galusha (2019)

  18. Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood (2018)

    When I became Midwife Ley’s apprentice, she explained that in order to practice her craft I must learn to read and to write and that she would teach me. When she asked if I was amenable to that, I began to cry. She did not ask if I cried from fear and frustration or from joy and gratitude. She looked upon my tear-streaked face, and I understood that she already knew my mind, and possibly my heart.
    I take the book from the box, holding it carefully, tenderly. I know its worth.
    – “Afterbirth” by Andrea Cremer

    “Why did you do this?” Marimar asked as glass broke and pans clashed in the kitchens. “How did you do this?”
    “I didn’t. We become what we need.”
    – “Divine Are the Stars” by Zoraida Córdova

    “Nothing is yours!” The Grand Rosa Divina shouted. “The world wasn’t made for you. The world was made.”
    “Divine Are the Stars” by Zoraida Córdova

    I wish I could stop smiling at things I hate. Sometimes I wish I never learned.
    – “Daughters of Baba Yaga” by Brenna Yovanoff

    [I] was just mad. Mad at Maya, and mad that the meanest, most hateful thing that someone could say was just another way of pointing out that you were a girl.
    – “Daughters of Baba Yaga” by Brenna Yovanoff

    “You understand the truth, though, don’t you? The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power. That’s why they watch us burn.”
    – “Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May

    If witchcraft is the voice of women rising free and powerful (to change the world, make it ours, on our feet instead of on our knees) then I wish to be a witch more than anything.
    – “Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May

  19. The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in by Ayser Salman (2019)

    My father walks in and Mom shoves the quarter in his face.
    MOM: Talk to your daughter. A boy gave her this!
    Dad takes a moment to put on his bifocals and studies the offending item.
    DAD: Does he think you’re cheap?
    My mother looks at me, satisfied.
    DAD: He should have given you a silver dollar!
    Now, Mom is disgusted with me, the quarter, and Dad.

    Shy little Theodore wore glasses and a blue fur coat that made him look like Cookie Monster. He was also the cutest boy I’d ever seen. What girl doesn’t like Cookie Monster?

    We put our bags through the x-ray machine, and they were transported to a separate table where airport officials opened and searched them. This was before the age of prohibited liquids, so I couldn’t imagine what they would find that the x-ray hadn’t detected. A man wearing the traditional thawb and an official airport worker jacket eached into my bag, grabbed my Teen Beat magazine, and began combing through. Then, with a flick of his wrist, he tossed it in the trash behind him.
    “Wait!” I protested as my mother nudged me to be quiet. The man shook his head and said, “Haram.”
    Next, he found the loose magazine photos I had saved of Valerie Bertinelli lounging by a pool—I liked her hair in that picture and wanted to get mine styled in the same way. Nope. “Haram,” he said as he crumpled it up and tossed it aside.
    Finally, he got to my prized diary, a small pink book with a lock secured on it to hide all my nine-year-old secrets. On the cover was a picture of a cartoon boy and girl smooching, similar to what you’d find on a Hallmark card. Mr. Haram studied it for a few minutes as if he were debating asking me to unlock it.
    In Arabic, my mother said, “For children. She’s just a child.” That seemed to appease him. He put my diary back into my bag, but not before taking a sharpie and scribbling out the image of the boy and girl kissing on the cover.

    Once, I had a close call when I accidentally dripped spaghetti sauce on a Judy Blume book she’d lent me. I tried to wipe it off with a wet napkin, but that only made the problem worse, spreading the stain and blurring the words on the page. I panicked and spent two hours debating what was better, telling her the truth or saying that the book was stolen by a Mutawwi’ when my family was out on a Friday morning. While I was agonizing over this, my doorbell rang and Amirah entered, bringing some dolmah her mom had made. I awkwardly blurted out my confession and told her I would pay to have the book replaced. She laughed at me until she realized I was serious, then waved it off with a flick of her hand. “I get chocolate milk on my books all the time. Spaghetti sauce will be a nice change.” That’s when I realized I might have found my soul sister.

    During college, I was still dipping my toe into the dating waters, having recently been broken up with by Charlie. He’d done it with a note—and not one written by him, mind you. After ghosting me for a month, we finally met up to talk. When I asked how he was, he said, “Maybe this will explain how things are going,” and handed me a note from his new girlfriend.
    It said: “Hey cutie, I can’t wait to see you tonight. Hope you’re having a good trig class.”

    I told no one about my emotional state, especially not Mom. Back then, it wasn’t commonplace to talk openly about suffering from depression, especially not in Arab culture. Even my Western friends didn’t quite understand why I was sad. Out-of-town friends lamented that they wished they could live a glamorous Los Angeles life, and one male friend even told me I was “too cute to be so upset.” I wanted to punch him in the throat.

    If anything was going to take the focus away from a discussion about terrorism, it would have been Charlize Theron’s badass black side-buckle boots.

    Similarly, my friends also become more vocal and active. Karen was outraged about reproductive rights and got out and marched. Mike marched for reproductive rights as well as LGBTQ rights. Karen insisted that Lena march for women’s rights, which Lena was planning on doing anyway, but then she got pissed about Karen’s sudden civic interest because, “I didn’t see her at any of our Black Lives Matter protests last year when our men were being shot by police!” And Naz was pissed at Stacy for being self-congratulatory about her participation in the Women’s March—not because she bought the pussy hat, made the signs, and documented her experience on Instagram, but because a year ago she’d called Naz “a drama queen” when she tried to explain how dangerous a Trump presidency would be. And that’s how I learned about intersectionality.

    [A]fter you’ve decided to force yourself to get back out there, you tend to take more chances and select people who don’t normally fit your type. The reasoning? You’ve already selected your type once, and that didn’t work. Or, in my case, you’ve already selected your best friend whom you shouldn’t have married in the first place, and so now you’re going to choose that guy with the full-sleeve tattoo commemorating his defection from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  20. The Outsider by Stephen King / narrated by Will Patton (2018)

    ‘I would like to believe in God,’ she said, ‘because I don’t want to believe we just end, even though it balances the equation – since we came from blackness, it seems logical to assume that it’s to blackness we return. But I believe in the stars, and the infinity of the universe. That’s the great Out There. Down here, I believe there are more universes in every fistful of sand, because infinity is a two-way street. I believe there’s another dozen thoughts in my head lined up behind each one I’m aware of. I believe in my consciousness and my unconscious, even though I don’t know what those things are. And I believe in A. Conan Doyle, who had Sherlock Holmes say, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”’
    ‘Wasn’t he the guy who believed in fairies?’ Ralph asked.

    Money was no cure for sorrow, Alec reflected, but it did allow one to grieve in relative comfort.

    ‘You asked me if I’d seen one of your kind before,’ Holly interrupted. ‘I haven’t – well, not exactly – but I’m sure Ralph has. Strip away the shape-changing, the memory-sucking, and the glowing eyes, and you’re just a sexual sadist and common pedophile.’
    The outsider recoiled as if she had struck him. For a moment he seemed to forget all about the burning SUV sending up smoke signals from the abandoned parking lot. ‘That’s offensive, ridiculous, and untrue. I eat to live, that’s all. Your kind does the same thing when you slaughter pigs and cows. That’s all you are to me – cattle.’
    ‘You’re lying.’ Holly took a step forward, and when Ralph tried to take her by the arm, she shook him off. Red roses had begun to bloom in her pale cheeks. ‘Your ability to look like someone you’re not – something you’re not – guarantees trust. You could have taken any of Mr Maitland’s friends. You could have taken his wife. But instead of that, you took a child. You always take children.’
    ‘They’re the strongest, sweetest food! Have you never eaten veal? Or calves’ liver?’

  21. Window Horses by Ann Marie Fleming (2017)

  22. The Underfoot, Volume 1: The Mighty Deep by Ben Fisher, Emily S. Whitten, and Michelle Nguyen (2019)

  23. The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One (Women Are Some Kind of Magic #3) by Amanda Lovelace (2019)

    swan song II
    i have a
    terrible habit
    of writing
    myself
    braver than
    i’ll ever be,
    & i’m not sure
    which of us
    i’m trying
    to convince—
    you, or
    me.

    in one of our many worlds existed a girl who couldn’t handle how very sad & confusing life could be, so she approached one of her many overstuffed bookshelves, got up on her tippy-toes, & pleaded to the dozens of warped & well-loved spines, “i want nothing more in this world than to be one of you.” miraculously, the books listened. they more than listened. from that day on, they took her in & raised her as one of their own. each night while she was supposed to be sleeping, the girl’s new family scribbled her into fairy tales about princesses & witches & even her favorite fantastical creature: mermaids.

    star light,
    star bright,
    first star
    i see tonight;
    i wish i may,
    i wish i might
    flee my skin
    for but a night.
    – bibliophile.

    when i tell you i’m still waiting for my hogwarts letter, what i mean to say is i never meant to be here for so long.
    – forever wandering lost & wandless.

    she didn’t kiss frogs.
    she kissed great white sharks.

    at
    this point,
    staying
    with you
    is nothing
    more
    than
    muscle
    memory.

    this is me
    pressing
    my finger
    to the sand,
    delicately
    drawing
    your name
    there,
    & then
    stepping back
    so i can
    watch
    you
    as you’re
    finally
    carried away.
    – goodbye.

    you are sad now.
    you are not sad forever.

  24. This Land Is My Land: A Graphic History of Big Dreams, Micronations, and Other Self-Made States by Andy Warner and Sofie Louise Dam (2019)

    A community founded in upstate New York in 1848 and based on a radical reimagining of society, marriage and child rearing…
    …ended up being one of the world’s largest purveyors of cutlery and tableware.

  25. Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology edited by Hope Nicholson (2016)

    I knew the apocalypse had started before he said her name.
    (“Legends Are Made, Not Born” by Cherie Dimaline)

    I walked into the clearing with a weight much different than the one left by my mother’s death; a weight that balanced out the ache and made the ordinary extraordinary.
    (“Legends Are Made, Not Born” by Cherie Dimaline)

    Strange Boy and Shadow Boy realized at last that they had never been alone. They were just the first to free their hearts and fly in their own beauty.
    (“The Boys Who Became the Hummingbirds” by Daniel Heath Justice)

    Could I manage the first animal clinic on Mars? Support a burgeoning pet population? First dogs and then cats and then potbellied pigs! Goats, bison, passenger pigeons: dense flocks migrating through engineered skies. I’d build a paradise, one better than the home I lost as a child.
    (“NÉ ŁE!” by Darcie Little Badger)

    As for Aanji Iron Woman, as she danced in the night, carefully following the steps of her aunties, nothing else but this moment mattered. She might never pass as human the way she wanted to, but to the Star River tribe, she was family.
    (“Imposter Syndrome” by Mari Kurisato)

  26. Fish Girl by David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli (2017)

  27. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince (2014)

    That ended my 2nd grade kissing spree.

    In the library we were joined by all the other 6th grade girls in our school.
    I have a bad feeling about this.

  28. Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner (2019)

    People have a lot of free time, apparently. Especially the kind who pay for postage to “well, actually” a public access show.

    I don’t know who watches Midnite Matinee or why. I mean, I have some idea from letters we get. Here’s my guess: it’s lonely people. People who don’t have a lot going on in their lives, because they have time to sit at home on a Saturday night (that’s when we air in most markets, including our home market) and flip through channels. People who aren’t rich, because if they were, they’d have more entertainment options. People who aren’t hip, because if they were, they’d seek out higher quality entertainment options. People who don’t truly love to be frightened, because if they did, they’d find actual scary movies. People who prefer their awful movies straight, with no commentary, because otherwise they’d watch old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. People who still write letters. It’s a very niche crowd. Most of all, I think it’s people who love to be reminded that sometimes you do your best and you come up short, but there’s still a place in the world for people like that. People like them.

    Buford whines at the suit he’s wearing and tries to get at the chicken livers. His normally sad eyes always convey utter despair at these times. Kill me, they plead. Even if it’s painful.

    “The leather cuff is the fedora of the wrist.”

    Someday I’d love to know why the people with the least to lose are always losing the little they have.

    And while we’re kissing, sweet melancholy wells inside me. The kind you get when you’re already reaching the end of a beginning. I don’t want to grow up. I want to keep living in this moment forever. With Lawson. With Delia. Take the hourglass and lay it on its side.

    You don’t always know at the time when you’re experiencing one of those random memories you’ll carry all your life. When nothing momentous happened other than driving a little too fast in the direction of Florida, at dusk, with your best friend by your side and, at your back, a guy who’s really good at kissing you. Still, you remember it until the day you die. But this time I know.

    We may not have forever together, but we have right now.

    I guess everything dies eventually, even the sun someday. My life feels like a star collapsing into itself. And it was never that bright to begin with.

    Sometimes small and unspectacular things can be a universe.

    Childhood feels like it takes forever when you’re in the midst of it, but one day you wake up and you’re eighteen and going to college. That basset hound puppy with the bow around his neck? You’re going to see his whole life pass. You may find someone you love and get married. And it might last a long time, but it ends one way or another. Maybe you’ll be together for fifty or sixty years, but one of you is going to get left behind. I’m glad things end, though. It forces you to love them ferociously while you have them.

  29. Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir by Amy Kurzweil (2016)

    Sometimes a whole world is one person. My worlds were disappearing, one by one.

    I met other survivors but we didn’t really talk about it either. Sometimes little things would come out. They say, How did you survive? I say, I was a shiksa, and they know. But lately now we talk more. Since people began to say never again. Never again. Now we want to talk because we don’t want for it to happen again, not to anyone.

  30. On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (2018)

    Why are adults so stupid?
    Hmn?
    It’s like the older you get the more you forget that you can change things.

    We were pissed off when you showed up. Char was gone and we were broken. And we could’ve taken that out on you. But we didn’t. You showed up and Alma made you dinner. We made you a bed, even played cards together. And we TOLD you, we told you that Ell didn’t talk, we told you their pronouns. And you IGNORED US.
    I don’t need to know what stuff! This is a job, none of that is important!
    No. NO way. You don’t get to decide that. You don’t get to decide what’s important for US. You can choose for yourself, but no one else.
    Fuck yeah, Jules.
    When you chose not to respect us, we chose not to respect you. The fact that you expect people you shit on to treat you nicely shows just how delusional you are.
    I can’t believe this. So I screwed up some words. You act like I’m a monster!
    Wow…you really don’t get it, do you? Have you ever even considered that something that’s trivial to you could mean…SO much more to someone else? You don’t get to take the easy road out and just respect the parts of people that you recognize. And, pro tip: If you find yourself in a similar situation in the future where you’re surrounded by people you don’t understand – Try listening. It’ll work a lot better for you than talking.

  31. FTL, Y’all!: Tales From the Age of the $200 Warp Drive edited by C. Spike Trotman (2018)

    Android bodies can withstand radiation, temperature, and pressure outside of normal limits.
    Even see ultraviolet.
    Transmissions take years to reach home.
    How long transmissions last depends where the launch lands.
    Sometimes nothing comes back.
    But sometimes you see a double sunrise on a comet.
    Or feel the last breaths of a star.
    (“Lia” by Alexxander Dovelin)

    they fed me a star
    (“Ignition” by Iris Jay and Skolli Rubedo)


    (“Finders Keepers” by Ahueonao)


    (“Story of a Rescue” by Nathaniel Wilson)

  32. The Girl Who Married a Skull and Other African Stories, Volume 1 (Cautionary Fables & Fairytales) by Cameron Morris, et al. (2018)

    No, that’s it! No more playing with snakes! I’m not fattening you up to be dinner for somebody else!

    Look, guys! I caught a hunter for us to eat!

  33. Anarcha Speaks: A History in Poems by Dominique Christina (2018)

    when he left
    seem like he stayed
    like i kept
    some of it
    like i ain’t
    have no other way.
    and now Betsey say
    i expecting
    how you translate
    a bludgeonin to
    a birth?
    you tell me how
    i’m suposed to
    do that –
    a baby
    from the mud pile…
    a baby…
    one more
    thing i don’t know
    how to carry.

    i say:
    what you make a dem stars?
    he say:
    they just like us. sizzlin dead.

    fine. new hell, whatever.

    That morning he woke up and coupled
    With his wife unceremoniously threw a leg
    Over the bed after, sat up and told her
    What they needed was more negroes
    Like sayin you need to pick up milk from the store
    Like sayin you outta eggs and corn meal

    this bruise ain’t no girl
    she gone
    she never gon be again
    she too much a ghost even
    for burial

  34. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks and Ibraim Roberson (2008)

    Father Mendoza informs me that this brotherhood’s temple contains a chamber of severed demon heads, still alive, and still wailing.

  35. The Cassandra: A Novel by Sharma Shields (2019)

    “Mrs. Brown just phoned. She said you bought a whore’s lipstick. She said I ought to know. The whole town heard about it on the party line.”

    Just daydreaming of rebelling was an exhausting rebellion of its own.

    Tom Cat, it became clear, had feelings for me, and I imagined that maybe I had feelings for him, too. How would I know? What did having feelings even mean? I tried to think of myself as falling in love. I knew Tom Cat would be a hard worker and a kind man to live with for the rest of my days, but the bloodied meadowlark returned to me, flashing its panicked yellow breast, beating its good wing against the glass bars of Tom Cat’s rib cage. Maybe that, in itself, was what love felt like.

  36. The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell (2012)

  37. Womanthology: Heroic edited by Bonnie Burton, et al. (2012)

    “Come on kiddo. It’s bedtime. Did you like the comics?”
    “Sorta.”
    “Well, maybe we’ll go buy you some comics a girl might like.”
    “It’s okay, momma…
    “I made my own.”
    – “In Every Heart a Masterwork” by Gail Simone and Jean Kang

    For fun, I write TV spec scripts that are too weird to ever air, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Count Chocula, or an episode of CSI where the serial killer murders his victims using craft glitter and googly eyes. In college, I wrote a TV script that was a crossover between The X-Files and Murder, She Wrote called Mulder, She Wrote. I really should be running a TV network.
    – Editor – Bonnie Burton

  38. Trish Trash #1: Rollergirl of Mars by Jessica Abel (2016)

  39. The End of Summer by Tillie Walden (2017)

  40. Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn and Molly Ostertag (2017)

    “Can you see it? The Shattered Warrior constellation. It’s only visible for one month a year.”
    “No. I can never see anything in the stars. Why do they call it that?”
    “Old folk tale. My father hated it, but it was my mother’s favorite story.
    “It’s about a princess who was in love with a common soldier. The king had promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to any man who could win a duel against his mortal enemy.
    “The warrior won the fight, but the evil lord’s soldiers murdered him and hacked his body into pieces.
    “The princess grieved and grieved, refusing all other suitors, and the king feared she would die. Then one day, a handsome young man came to the palace.
    “It was the brave warrior come back to request her hand in marriage.”
    “How could he still be alive?”
    “That’s what the princess asked him on their wedding night. And he said, ‘Your love was so great that it mended my body and restored my broken heart.’
    “Every year, as the world revolves, the constellation dissolves. And every year, when the stars realign, you can see that Shattered Warrior again. Brought back to life by love.”

  41. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (2018)

    I wondered what rabies felt like.
    I wondered how many people I’d bite before they subdued me.

  42. Spinning by Tillie Walden (2017)

    [But knowing for so long still didn’t make it easy.]
    “Congrats on passing.”
    [I knew it wasn’t right and I didn’t tell anyone how I felt.]
    “Eh.”
    [So I quietly fell in love, over and over again. never once thinking it could ever be real.]
    “I always pass.”

    I had to believe that if I kept going things would get better.
    They had to.
    Didn’t they?

    I was scared to be gay. I was scared to be in Texas. I was scared of all the hate I saw in YouTube videos and that I knew existed.
    But I had to force those feelings down, leaving my stomach feeling cold and stiff, because I didn’t want it to matter.
    I just wanted to be here with her.

  43. The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent (2019)

    Exhaling, I wish to myself that I could stop looking for invisible cracks and pin-size holes in everything he tells me, in everything he does, but until I have answers, I imagine this will be my new normal.

    He’s an island, though he’s more like that island of trash that floats around the Atlantic Ocean. No one wants him. No one knows what to do with him.

    Brant always said everything has to die to be reborn again, but I beg to differ. There are plenty of places on this earth with lush green everything always, places where nothing dies because the sun refuses not to shine.

    I’m going to read them all.

  44. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (2019)

    “The funny thing is, the other time travelers—I’m thinking of Teddy Avedon in particular, he’s been showing me the ropes—they keep telling me that it’s green to be so excited. They mean I’m being gauche. Teddy says I’ll get used to seeing dead people. But I think he’s wrong. Whenever I visit my father, the trees in his garden are young again, and so is he. I will never take that for granted.”

    To live an incident you’ve already read about is called completion. Returning to an incident you’ve already experienced is called echoing. Feeling angry with someone for things they won’t do wrong for years is called zeitigzorn.

    For instance—intercourse with one’s future self was called forecasting. Intercourse with one’s past self was a legacy fuck.

    Ruby knew something was wrong as soon as she opened her eyes the next morning. Not because of a sixth sense, or anything as silly as that. She knew because Bee was usually an early riser. While she’d stayed in the flat, her chatter with Breno and quiet singing and clinking of breakfast cutlery and pots were the soundtrack that roused Ruby. So when Ruby’s eyes focused on her bedside clock, which clearly read ten twenty, and the flat was silent, she knew Bee was gone. She pretended, for the last few minutes, that her grandmother had overslept.

    Two women, who’d already witnessed each other’s deaths, married on the first day of spring. […]
    Entertainments followed: fifty-five Angharads danced a ballet.

  45. Vagrant Queen Volume 1 (Vagrant Queen #1-6) by Magdalene Visaggio, Jason Smith, Harry Saxon, and Zakk Saam (2019)

  46. Safely Endangered Comics by Chris McCoy (2019)

  47. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe (2019)

  48. Smut Peddler Presents: Sex Machine (Smut Peddler #4) edited by C. Spike Trotman (2019)

  49. Soppy by Philippa Rice (2014)

  50. How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t by Lane Moore (2018)

    The Friend Zone, while not always ideal, is still a goddamn gift, and really, the definition of true love. If you love someone, or even just care about them, as you claim to, you don’t mind the Friend Zone at all, because sure, fine, you don’t get to French them and stuff, but you get to know them and be close to them and hear all the dumb things that run through their minds and all the brilliant things that they don’t even know are brilliant. You get to know them and share the same air, and you’re alive at the same time, which is a gift in and of itself. If you don’t want the Friend Zone, you don’t want the girl. Simple as that.

    When we see teenage girls in movies who “seduce” older men, we paint them as bad girls in crop tops, bad seeds in purple lipstick, troublemakers with lip rings, jailbait—sexy, sexy little teens with crazy horny brains. What we don’t ever talk about is what they’re looking for, what they’re running from, and why they’re running toward any kind of love or attention at a terrifying speed.

    I started losing a lot of weight and was eating only one salad a day, with sundried tomatoes, olives, red peppers, salt and pepper, and avocado. That’s all. This was the only salad I ate for months, maybe even the whole year. It took a while for me to realize it, but the last night we’d had together, truly had together before the stupid drinks/hang with his friends, we’d watched movies and made a salad together with sundried tomatoes, olives, red peppers, salt and pepper, and avocado. And my brain so desperately wanted to get back to the last night I’d ever have with him that it tried to pause time by wanting nothing but that salad for a year.

    And yes, I do watch these shows over and over again, often curating specific episodes like “Okay, so we should start here because this is when Ben and Leslie first meet,” like I’m creating a super-cut version of the show that plays out like a twenty-hour rom-com. And even though that’s a fucking long rom-com, I am always so gutted when TV shows end, when a TV rewatch is done. Often I’ll go back and start the whole thing over again because I don’t want to leave that world. I want to stay safely wrapped inside it, so immersed I feel like I can move within that world, that I live inside it, that I’m a part of it. […]
    Nik once very accurately observed about my obsessive relationship with television: “Oh my god, Lane. I just realized something. You rewatch your favorite shows because they’re like your family. The characters are people who are there for you when you need them, you’ve grown to love them, you know them well, you’ve spent so much time with them. In some cases, the shows were with you when you were growing up, they raised you, they’re your family. And when they’re done, you don’t want them to leave because then you’re alone again and your family is gone.” And he was very, very correct.
    But back to Jim Halpert.

    I seriously can’t watch seasons one through three of The Office without just crying nonstop at how beautiful the world would be if more dudes were Jim Halpert in pretty much all of the ways. It’s physically painful to behold his existence, and I don’t feel like that’s an exaggeration. His relationship with Pam is basically a fairy tale that seems like it could actually happen, so once you get out into the world of online dating apps and guys you meet at bars who think negging is cute, it’s reasonable to find you’re very, very angry because you were told there would be Jims. (Or at the very least, one Jim.)

    Anyway, my point is I have lots of friends and leave my house with a regularity that is congruent with social norms.

    Being alone is not a life sentence. I know it feels like it at the time, but I promise you, you will not be alone for the rest of your life. And if you are—which I am not going to say that’ll never happen because I’m starting to see that maybe, in my own way, I will always be kind of alone—okay, let’s see what happiness can be found there.

    I took her to get microchipped and the woman at the rescue organization said, “Are you thinking about keeping her?” and I said, “I think, maybe,” and she said, “Well, dogs are a big commitment. How would you feel about having her for the next ten years?” and I said without thinking, “That’s not enough time.” I loved her already and it scared the shit out of me.

    And I named her Lights. Partially, because I love the musician Lights so so much, but also because she was and is a beam of light that was brought into my life when I thought my life was over. In true romantic comedy fashion, she found me when I wasn’t looking, and showed me true unconditional love I’d never known before.

  51. Color Outside the Lines edited by Sangu Mandanna (2019)

    When I get home from school, my mom is in the kitchen with her “I Love You a Latke” apron on, and okay, we are stereotypes sometimes.
    (“What We Love” by Lauren Gibaldi )

    “Well,” he said before the awkwardness could fully take hold, “if I were a star hurtling billions of miles per second through the atmosphere, I should think I’d be the last thing anyone would want to entrust with a wish.”
    Hlee laughed, unable to look him in the eye again. “That might be the first time anyone’s considered the feelings of the star.”
    He crossed his ankles and stacked his hands behind his head, looking pleased with himself. “Stories belong to everyone, not just the ones telling them.”
    (“Starlight and Moondust” by Lori M. Lee )

    “Shiva,” he said quietly, “it was one conversation. It doesn’t mean I’ve been programmed.”
    What if he doesn’t want to figure shit out?
    “Of course you have. We all have. You just don’t notice because the program has been meticulously designed to benefit you.”
    (“Five Times Shiva Met Harry” by Sangu Mandanna)

    “Rumi says, ‘The wound is where the light enters you…’” If that were true, Tara thought, she’d be a million rays of the sun right now.
    (“The Agony of a Heart’s Wish” by Samira Ahmed)

    Days passed. And nights. Tara kept Jimmy’s book of poems safely tucked under her pillow in Shimla and in Hyderabad, and when the tears came, she found herself reaching for the pages, hearing his voice recite the words until weeks and months later, the echo of his voice slowly passed into a dimly lit corner of her memory. The longing faded, too, until the wounds simply became shiny scars. Until the sharp pain became a dull throb and eventually just a pinch. Until the raging bonfire of feeling a mere ember that she guarded and kept glowing.
    (“The Agony of a Heart’s Wish” by Samira Ahmed)

    The sign at the door says
    924 Gilman Collective
    No racism
    No sexism
    No homophobia
    No drugs
    No alcohol
    No violence
    And now I’m smiling, because how cool is that? I push my wadded ones at the Debbie Harry look-alike door girl.
    Inside, Gilman Street is a living homemade comic book, an all-punk metropolis, a waking dream of spray paint and Sharpie-scrawled band flyers where all the superheroes are girls. There are guys here too, yes, but they’re mortal compared to the bandit-eyed glitter-trash pantheon of girl power everywhere I look. It’s the band, I’m realizing, as I see homemade Bikini Kill T-shirts on a trio of what appear to be zombie kindergarteners in pink ankle socks and holey canvas Mary Janes.
    (“Gilman Street” by Michelle Ruiz Keil)

    I swarm the stage with the other girls and here is Lourdes, jumping up and down like a circus girl on a pogo stick. She grabs my hand and I jump with her, the mess of our kiss less important than this moment when a tiny powerful woman stands, feet spread wide, and the crowd of boys parts for the shining raging mass of girls.
    “GIRLS TO THE FRONT!” she yells again, and she is pure magic.
    (“Gilman Street” by Michelle Ruiz Keil)

  52. Family Pets by Pat Shand, Sarah Dill, and Jim Campbell (2015)

  53. The Girl Who Owned a City: The Graphic Novel by O.T. Nelson, Dan Jolley, Joëlle Jones, and Jenn Manley Lee (2012)

  54. Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks (2012)

  55. The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (2018)

    The $4,000 investment in a boat and motor can earn the smugglers about $40,000 or $50,000. A dozen boats might leave the Turkish coast on a given night, profiting smugglers about half a million dollars. It’s more lucrative than dealing drugs.

  56. Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash (2015)

  57. Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim (2011)

  58. Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau (2019)

  59. Minus by Lisa Naffziger (2019)

  60. This Place: 150 Years Retold by Chelsea Vowel, et al. (2019)

  61. Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler (2019)

    It was stupid to send grown men into space when a girl would be a better fit.

    “I think what’s left is our thoughts. They’re impulses, signals that bounce back and forth inside our heads, like the energy we talked about earlier. Maybe when we’re gone what’s left are these signals and impulses, traveling across the universe as heat and light.”

    Dear Judy,
    You’re gas, carbon, and star parts. You’re light and heat. You’re spreading everywhere all at once, like the universe. Nerves aren’t as quick as combustion, so I bet it was probably too fast to hurt. If you did hurt, it’s okay. Your light will reach the moon. It’ll touch the lunar rover and make it less lonely.
    Love,
    Nedda

    She’d been taught that fear was worry that something bad would happen to you. It wasn’t. Fear was something horrible happening to someone you love, someone you need, and you being left alone.

    Though it was decades before Liberati and Maccione would suggest a liquid spacetime, in Easter, atop an aquifer, surrounded by canals and irrigation, time had found a perfect home.

    When customers asked why Betheen’s baking was better than anyone else’s, she forced herself to blush and say her kitchen was downwind from Prater Grove; everything had a little orange blossom in it. She did not say, “Because I’m a chemist, asshole,” though the words always threatened escape. Women at the Society House wanted folksy comfort. Chemistry—though it kept them alive with their heart pills, made their food sweet, and held their dentures in their mouths—was not desired, not from her.

    She knew them by their light, the gentle differences—Amit’s warm, yellowish brown, Evgeni who glowed like a pearl, Louisa who was brighter than all of them. Nedda would know them anywhere; if she lost their shapes, she’d recognize their light.
    They would likely die. It was why they were childless, unwed. Freedom of sacrifice. It was a shame that only three people would ever again be in the same room as Evgeni when he sang. Only three people would know that Singh ate with his pinkie out. That Marcanta pulled hairs from her eyebrows when frustrated. Children would know their names, and drive on roads named Sokolov or Papas. Children would know their ship, Chawla, and who she’d hauled. A little girl somewhere would rattle off everything she’d read about them, and with it everything she knew about space and time, about light.

    11/16: Betheen said, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” And if that child is dead? Then what?

    “Behind every brilliant woman is her doubly brilliant mother.”

    “What do I say to him?”
    “Whatever you want him to know,” Betheen said.
    “How do I know what that is?”
    “It’s the thing you’re most afraid to say. Always.”
    There were too many words, so many that she knew there’d be none at all.

    “I got a boat too. It’s not real big, just enough to take a few people out, that’s all.”
    “What’d you name it?”
    Flux Capacitor.”
    Doc Brown’s a better name.”
    “Yeah, but boats are women.”
    “Everything’s a woman. Cars, boats, houses. Anywhere that’s safe or takes you somewhere better is a woman,” she said.
    “So, Chawla is a woman?”
    “Obviously.” She opened her eye to find him staring.

    “Please don’t worry. It’s already happened, and it’s okay. I promise. Little Twitch, you’re going to be fine and so will I. What did I say we all become? Gas and carbon. Heat and light. I’ll be in the air, I’ll be in the ground. I’ll always be with you.”
    “That’s stupid,” she shouted, then wished she hadn’t. Those might be the last words he’d hear her say. But it was stupid.
    “It’s not,” he said. “You were with me even before you were born. Everything that would make you was already here, waiting to be you. It’ll be like that, I promise. It’ll be like I’m waiting for you.”

    “We’ll be fine, Nedda. It’s not okay right now, but we’ll be fine.”
    When he was a baby, he was round and screaming, like a doll, like someone else’s person and not hers. By her ear, breath tickling the fine hairs, Betheen said, “Here’s a secret. You’ll be stronger. Not at first. You’ll miss him terribly. At first, you’ll walk around and wonder where a piece of your heart went. You’ll think maybe you died. But you didn’t, and you won’t. You’ll learn how to live when you’re hurt, how to work when you feel broken, and how to do better than everyone else even though you’re suffering. All those other girls and boys who have easy lives, who don’t know how to hurt— when they grow up and lose someone, it will stop them. But it won’t stop you, because you’ll know better. And I will be here, and I won’t ever let you go. Not ever. Even when you grow up and don’t need me anymore, I’ll be here, just in case. This is it.” She kissed Nedda’s temple. “Nothing will hurt more than you hurt right now.”

    In the end, her mother’s equation was beautiful. A single line in graceful handwriting, the same slanting loops she used to write recipes. Betheen could write Fold egg whites gently and an equation that would tear Crucible apart and kill her father.

    “You don’t have to,” Betheen said.
    “Yes, I do.” Switches were logical: on/off, if/then. If Betheen flipped the switch, Nedda would blame her. If Betheen flipped the switch, there would come a time when Nedda had to make a decision and would look to someone else to do it for her. If Nedda flipped the switch, she would know she could do the hardest possible thing.

    What do people become? What they always were: carbon, heat, and light, smashed together until they became something else for a little while. A star, a monkey, a boy. An old man. A baby.

    “Mom?”
    “Yes?”
    “Dad said when we die, we go back to what we were, and that everything comes from carbon. We just become carbon, gas, and heat too. I wanted to know what thoughts were, what happened to the other stuff after—everything you think and who you are, what you feel and everything that ever happened to you, your memories. He said it’s all electrical impulses, that it’s light and shocks and stuff. And when you think about how electricity travels, there’s all this light to it, and it never stops. Right? It just keeps going. He said that maybe it keeps traveling forever. That all the light from the beginning of the universe is still traveling.”
    “It was kind of him to say that.”
    It made it hurt worse too, to know that he was traveling to places she would never see, that he was still in the universe but she was without him.

    If all the light in the universe kept moving and never died, if all the light in the universe was still there, her father—like Judy, like the seven—was still traveling. Her brother was too. She wanted, more than anything in the world—more than to have her own lab, more than to stand on the moon, more than she wanted space and an Agena rocket— she wanted to touch that light again.

    He’s spent his entire life in Florida, moving only once, from Tarpon Springs to the Atlantic coast. The more his body constrained him, the deeper the travels in his mind became. In death, all things expanded. From a single point bound by flesh, his very self protracted. At first, his light was caught in his laboratory, bouncing off Crucible’s remains, a leg of which pierced what had been his chest. His light bled through the door, down the corridor and out, spreading into the sky, stabbing the pellucid skin of time he’d been instrumental in creating. Each facet of his life distilled to a wish or impulse, riding photons into the night and beyond.
    As time broke over Easter, Theo traveled, flying through decades of day and night as a flickering aura, liquid and sheer. He moved with it, his thoughts glancing along the tops of waves. Everything traveled.
    The moment of awe when he first saw Betheen in his class, a mint green pencil tucked behind her ear, reached the moon to slide along the Montes Taurus, brushing each jut and crevasse as he had the supple skin below her ear. The moment he’d touched Michael’s thumb washed deep into space, riding a slow current, striving for the universe’s end. His father’s death wended to the center of the Horsehead Nebula, where it met other lights, others who had been but were no more. Their lights mixed, waves amplifying, surging together.
    The light that was Theo Papas rippled across the universe. Parts of him sloughed away, absorbed by blackness, caught against other thoughts, until he was a lone brilliant wave. The last of Theo traveled as light, a single memory of a sound—the first time he’d pulled a quarter from behind his daughter’s ear and heard her laugh. She was five, perfect, owl-eyed, and her laugh was like clinking glass. It made him hurt with happiness. That final piece of him was a joy so full it was painful, stripped of the fear that came from losing Michael, from Betheen leaning away, the fear that came with Nedda growing up, worrying she would be hurt, that she would be alone, that she would leave him. That brilliant happiness—his best self, the one who loved her beyond all things—crossed the solar system, sluicing through an empty patch of sky they’d often looked at, sailing to far stars.
    This thought touched a small planet in a near system, pinkening as it grazed the surface. Terraformers and bots began to move with ease, and fine blush dust fell from their joints as if swept away on a soft breeze. Atmosphere generators hummed, touched by the passing essence of one who loved and understood machines. The diggers and tillers, machines like ones from an orange grove, all welcomed this light, the wave of laughter.
    He circled the bots, the leveled ground, and the mountains, blanketing the planet’s surface, a wave reaching ever onward. In his wake, the air carried something of oranges, a touch of solder, and the subtle salt that makes a human. That best light mingled with the light of another sun, the star his daughter would spend the rest of her days beneath.
    To welcome her home.

  62. Nat Turner by Kyle Baker (2008)

  63. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Volume 1 by Emil Ferris (2017)

    Anka never played by anybody’s rules. Wearing a filthy wedding dress she’d sneak into a yard to rescue a garden plant that was withered because it wasn’t being watered. Anka would plant it here in the backyard of our building and Mr. Gronan (our landlord) would give the angry neighbor a couple of bucks and Anka would keep what she’d stolen and bring it back to life. Last year Mr. Gronan misted beehive that was between Mr. Gronan’s garage and the fence with white clouds of DDT. A long arm of upset bees flew out of the hive and fell suddenly onto the ground. Anka used a spatula and a cookie sheet to collect the whole dead colony. Anka was crying and Mr. Gronan felt bad but…
    … Mrs. Gronan was screeching, “Fraulein, if you’d left my plastic flowers alone there’s a been no bees to kill!” Anka said nothing but looked at the tray of bees. Now when I hear the word betray, I think of Anka’s tears and I smell the boiled beet odor of the DDT and the sad sweet smell of the dead honey bees.

  64. A Book For Sad Pets by Kristin Tipping (2019)

    Please, please tell me that you will always think of me.

  65. Space Boy Volume 1 (Space Boy #1) by Stephen McCranie (2018)

  66. The Widow (Kate Waters #1) by Fiona Barton; narrated by Hannah Curtis, Nicholas Guy Smith, Mandy Williams, Jayne Entwistle, and Steve West (2016)

    I remember looking at him lying there in a small pool of blood and thinking “oh well, that’s the end of his nonsense.”

  67. Space Boy Volume 2 (Space Boy #2) by Stephen McCranie (2018)

  68. Spill Zone (Spill Zone #1) by Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland, and Hilary Sycamore (2017)

  69. The Broken Vow (Spill Zone #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland, and Hilary Sycamore (2018)

  70. Last Pick (Last Pick #1) by Jason Walz (2018)

  71. Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks (2012)

  72. i love this part by Tillie Walden (2015)

  73. Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld and Joe Sumner (2016)

  74. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge (2011)

  75. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (2019)

    It takes a week for her to be released from the hospital. She goes home with stitches running up the inside of both arms like equations she’ll never solve, and when they come out, the scars they leave behind will be minimal, at least to the naked eye. She’ll always know that they’re there, but maybe that’s all right. Maybe that’s the reminder she needs that she can’t jump, because someone will always catch her, whether or not she wants them to.

    There’s a lot of rivalry within the mathematical community, a lot of racing to be the first to solve a puzzle that’s broken scholars for years. She’s solved eight of those puzzles, and published the solutions to six. Some people think she’s a liar, others think she’s a hoax, and one particularly verbal group thinks she’s an actress hired as a front for a revolutionary AI.

    They should have been longer. They should have been always.

    Everything is perfect. Everything is doomed.

    The world keeps ending, every minute of every day, and nothing is going to make that stop. Nothing can ever, ever make that stop.

    History is an equation. It can be changed under the right circumstances. It should be terrifying, but it’s really just wonderful, because it means so many of their mistakes have been curated ones, deemed necessary by themselves in the future.

    The unspoken pieces of language are sometimes the most painful.

    Reaching into her pocket, she produces a handful of coal dust streaked with glints of silver. The coal came from a mine where a disaster claimed the life of over a hundred men; the silver, melted down from the jewelry of a woman whose husband had choked the life from her body before bedding his mistress in her marital bed. It’s a subtle, complex thing, is alchemy.

  76. Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean (2016)

  77. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (2012)

  78. Habibi by Craig Thompson (2011)

    “We need to go. We’ve overstayed our welcome.”
    “Yup. That’s how the earth feels about the whole human race.”

  79. This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel / narrated by Gabra Zackman (2018)

    “You’re too old to be open-minded and tolerant,” said Rosie.
    “I’m too old not to be.”

    All of that turned out to be prelude though. The bugs and the spun sugar and the weird vegetables were the easy part, which he should have guessed because bugs, spun sugar, and weird vegetables do not smell like dry or wet blood. In the next part of the market, all Claude wanted to do was sit down and cry because cages the size of Jupiter’s kennel held piles and piles of shiny black chickens, chickens on top and underneath, chickens squawking at one another for stepping on their heads. At first Claude wondered vaguely if he could hold or at least pet one, but then, woozily, he saw his error because on top of the cage was a giant tray of dead chickens, their skin naked and pale and puckered, their yellow feet reaching out for rescue, but, headless, they were way too late for that. Next door was another even smaller cage with geese inside, fairy-tale geese, snow-white bodies with Halloween-orange feet and beaks. There were far too many for the small space, and they were as wedged in as he was, but at least they all had both feet on the floor. The geese had taken a vow of silence because their cage was also topped with a tray of bodies swaddled in plastic wrap with their price scrawled on in red marker. And next to them the ducks. They couldn’t see their grisly future, but probably they could smell it. Then there were pig faces—not the head, just the empty, saggy face: snout and curling ears and horrible hollows where the eyes had been. At the end of the row, an ancient wrinkle of a woman hunched on a stool scooping tiny jumping shrimps into plastic bags. She squeezed lime over them and sprinkled them with salt, kind of like when Aggie’s cousin was baptized, and the businessman who bought them popped them into his mouth, still jumping, like he was eating popcorn at a movie. Claude understood suddenly what it meant to say the walls were closing in on you. He tried to take deep breaths, but the smell of terrified birds burned his nose and throat and chest.
    There were dead animals everywhere.

    Nok said, “Buddha peaceful, gentle, nonaggressive. So look female.”
    He said, “Buddha many lives and bodies before enlightenment.”
    He said, “Nothing belong to you. Not even the body of you.”
    None of which really answered the question. What was clear, however, was that the Buddha was born male, then cut off all his hair one day and got enlightened, then ended up looking like a girl. And as if that weren’t enough, the Buddha also seemed to feel that even things as unalterable as bodies were temporary, and what mattered was if you were good and honest, and forgiveness solved everything. That was how, whatever else they were, Claude and Poppy became Buddhists for life.

    “Not like for Poppyclaude I think. In Thailand, lots kathoey. Not so big deal. We all Buddhist. Is karma. Is life. Is just another way to be.”
    “Really?” It was the most astonishing thing Rosie had encountered in her travels thus far, including the woman who had arrived in labor and literally gotten down off an elephant.
    “Buddhist way.” K shrugged. “Last life one thing, this one another, next another. Whatever happen last life to make me like this not my fault. Everyone know that. Me, my soul, will be lot of bodies before done, some male, some female, some both. So okay. No one care what is under my pants.”

    “Such a tough life. This is not the easy way.”
    “No,” Penn agreed, “but I’m not sure easy is what I want for the kids anyway.”
    She looked up at him. “Why the hell not?”
    “I mean, if we could have everything, sure. If we can have it all, yeah. I wish them easy, successful, fun-filled lives, crowned with good friends, attentive lovers, heaps of money, intellectual stimulation, and good views out the window. I wish them eternal beauty, international travel, and smart things to watch on tv. But if I can’t have everything, if I only get a few, I’m not sure easy makes my wish list.”
    “Really?”
    “Easy is nice. But its not as good as getting to be who you are or stand up for what you believe in,” said Penn. “Easy is nice. But I wonder how often it leads to fulfilling work or partnership or being.”
    “Easy probably rules out having children,” Rosie admitted.
    “Having children, helping people, making art, inventing anything, leading the way, tackling the world’s problems, overcoming your own. I don’t know. Not much of what I value in our lives is easy. But there’s not much of it I’d trade for easy either, I don’t think.”

    “Just because it’s made up, doesn’t mean it isn’t real,” said Penn. “Made up is the most powerful real there is.”

    Wider ranges of normal make the world a better place for everyone.

  80. SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (2015)

  81. Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (2008)

  82. The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Complete Edition by Philip Pullman, Stéphane Melchior-Durand, and Clément Oubrerie (2017)

  83. The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks (2013)

  84. Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Katzenstein (2016)

  85. Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll (2015)

  86. Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston (2008)

  87. #WeRateDogs: The Most Hilarious and Adorable Pups You’ve Ever Seen by Matt Nelson (2017)

  88. Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, Greg Salsedo, Alexis Siegel (2014)

  89. White Rose by Kip Wilson (2019)

    I won’t ever come
    close to the German ideal:
    long blond braids
    shining blue eyes
    thoughts of Kinder, Kuche, Kirche
    (children, kitchen, church).
    Instead I decide
    to become the most me
    I can.
    (“Clipped”)

    Worse, when I read
    a German shouldn’t only feel pity –
    no, much more, complicity

    guilt washes over me
    over what I’ve done
    and haven’t done
    and how I contributed to this
    reign
    of
    terror
    and I for one refuse
    to be guilty
    going forward.
    (“Another Leaflet”)

    Across the room, my
    cellmate has tears in
    her eyes, but I turn
    to the window, ket
    the sunshine warm
    my face.
    Such a lovely day.
    But what does
    my death matter
    if it means
    more students will continue
    what we started
    if it means
    our action will start
    a revolution
    if it means
    others might live?
    The sun still shine.

    I open my eyes, take
    in the beauty that I know
    lies beyond these walls, insert
    my spirit into a sunbeam, send
    a ray of hope into
    this hopeless
    world.
    (“Freedom”)

    Hans takes
    a deep breath, rigid
    as a Panzerfaust, ready
    to fire everything he’s got
    at the enemy tank in front of him.
    He levels
    his gaze to meet
    the judge’s cold, hard eyes.
    Today you’ll hang us,
    but you
    will be next.

    (“My Brother, the Panzerfaust”)

    Our deaths
    will mean
    something.
    (“A Realization”)

  90. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart / narrated by Rebecca Soler (2017)

    “Do you think a person is as bad as her worst actions?…I mean, do our worst actions define us when we’re alive? Or, do you think human beings are better than the very worst things we have ever done?”

    If only she could go back in time, Jule felt, she would be a better person. Or a different person. She would be more herself. Or maybe less herself.

    “Other people adapt to you, asshole. You think there’s no adapting going on, but you’re fucking blind, Forrest. It’s all around you, all the time.”

  91. Pirate Queen: The Legend of Grace O’Malley by Tony Lee and Sam Hart (2019)

  92. Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller (2019)

    “I’ll tell you about the first dick I ever touched. It belonged to a boy named Hayden. We went out freshman year.” Annabelle sits on a pink spring horse, her sneakers flat on the ground.
    “Oh my gosh! Freshman year?” Bea can’t believe it.
    “Hey! No judging. We used to make out in the little woods behind his house. He’d been not-so-subtly directing my hand toward his, you know, stuff, and one day, I was like, fine.”
    “What did you do?” Bea asks.
    “I didn’t know what to do,” Annabelle says, “so I put it back where I found it.”

    “Tell her about the judge, Camille.”

    Thirty minutes feels like forever when you’re standing in a hot alley with abortion pills under your tongue.

  93. Life of the Party: Poems by Olivia Gatwood (2019)

    The truth is: It is a privilege to have your body looked for.

    Reader, I cannot promise you will be less afraid when you finish this book, but I hope you will feel more able to name what lives inside you.

    even when i know everything there is to know
    about heartbreak or envy or the mortality
    of my parents, i think, even then i’ll want
    to be called girl, no matter the mouth
    it comes from or how they mean it […]
    i think, i’ll never die, i’ll never stop running through sprinklers or climbing out of open windows
    i’ll never pass up a jar of free dum dums
    i’ll never stop ripping out the hangnail with my teeth
    i’m a good girl, bad girl, dream girl, sad girl girl next door sunbathing in the driveway
    i wanna be them all once, i wanna be
    all the girls i’ve ever loved,
    mean girls, shy girls, loud girls, my girls, all of us angry on our porches,
    rolled tobacco resting on our bottom lips our bodies are the only things we own
    (“Girl,” after Ada Limón)

    I want to know
    what it means to survive
    something.
    does it just mean
    I get to keep my body?

    If you have a son, how will you love him?
    She is pacing the living room,
    while the Thanksgiving Day Parade
    plays behind her, a montage of inflated
    cartoon bodies, floating slow
    down 6th Avenue, smiles
    painted onto their faces.
    I consider not responding.
    I consider explaining that I can love him and not trust him. I consider saying that I won’t
    love him at all. Just to scare her. Instead, I say,
    If I am ever murdered, like,
    body found in a ditch, mouth
    stuffed with dirt, stocking
    around my neck, identified
    by my toenails, please don’t go
    looking for a guilty woman.

    (“My Grandmother Asks Why I Don’t Trust Men”)

    16. Laughter is not about humor,
    it is about acknowledging a shared joy.
    Laughter is about bonding.
    EXAMPLE: WHEN I HEAR MEN LAUGHING,
    I DO NOT ENTER THE ROOM.
    I CRAWL HOME IN THE DARK.
    (“Mans/Laughter”)

    I don’t know when it happened,
    but one day the word favorite
    began to mean that which I am
    most terrified of. I have told so many men
    that they are my favorite.
    (“Ode to My Favorite Murder”)

    Everyone keeps asking aloud,
    Who would have guessed?
    Him, of all people.
    But we look at each other
    across the room.
    We roll our eyes.
    We have the composite sketch
    in our pockets. We held it
    up to our fathers
    while they slept.
    (“When They Find Him”)

    I want to write a poem for the women on Long Island
    who, when I show them the knife I carry in my purse,
    tell me it’s not big enough,
    (“Ode to the Women On Long Island”)

    Aileen, I wish I could’ve taken you there.
    It’s too late now. I wish you hadn’t hurt all those people.
    I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know you hate it when I say that,
    what I meant was that I wish all those people hadn’t hurt you.
    (“Aileen Wuornos Isn’t My Hero”)

  94. Glory O Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King / narrated by Christine Lakin (2014)

    “Not living your life is just like killing yourself, only it takes longer.”

    I wished I could take her to the library and hand her over to the librarians. Please teach her about everything, I’d say.

    As I walked back to the porch, I was thankful. I’d been so preoccupied with whether or not I would turn into Darla–so busy being the walking picture of emptiness–that I’d overlooked society’s expectations of me.
    I smiled at this.
    Did all outcasts come to this realization at a certain point in life? That being outcast from a bogus and pornographic society actually was a good thing? I hoped so. I hoped there was an army of us out there, smiling about it that very moment.

    My one regret was that I never photographed the bat before we drank it.

  95. Flight, Volume 2 edited by Kazu Kibuishi (2007)

  96. All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (2019)

    “There’s no one right way to do love.”

    “But that’s so gross.”
    “Listen to me,” Xochi said. “You’re always talking about the patriarchy, right? Well, this is a prime example. We’ve been trained to think being a woman is disgusting and shameful. We’ve gotta reject that. We’re beautiful, Pal. We’re goddesses. I am not the least bit grossed out by your blood.”
    Pallas had to smile a little. It was great when Xochi went fierce.

    After that, when Xochi could sleep at all, she dreamed of wandering through a bombed-out city trailing hacked-off body parts and bits of soul.

  97. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King / narrated by Devon Sorvari (2012)

    I am equal to a baby and to a hundred year old lady. I am equal to an airline pilot and a car mechanic. I am equal to you. You are equal to me. It’s that universal.
    Except that it’s not.

    “When I told you I didn’t know if I was gay, I was telling you the truth. I just know I’m in love—with a girl. I had no idea of anything past that. It’s very Socrates, you know? I’m not questioning my sexuality as much as I’m questioning the strict definitions and boxes of all sexualities and why we care so much about other people’s intimate business.”

    I look at the cage around the lightbulb. I know it’s caged for protection—so no truck-driving supplier tosses a box into the corner and shatters the bulb. But I can’t help seeing a cage for what it is. Sure, it protects the bulb, but maybe if people weren’t so careless, then nothing would need to be caged.

    I try to think of what just happened, but I can’t explain it. All I know is that a huge, overwhelming feeling of love has just landed in my heart, and I have to keep it safe for a while.

  98. The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson (2018)

  99. Sanity & Tallulah (Sanity & Tallulah #1) by Molly Brooks (2018)

  100. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (2016)

  101. Wilder Girls by Rory Power (2019)

    See, our teacher said. How they have both gills and lungs, to breathe in the water and on land. See how a body will change, to give you the best chance it can.

    The Tox didn’t just happen to us. It happened to everything. […]
    The way it happened is that the woods got it first. That’s what I think, anyway. Even before the wilderness reached inside us, it was seeping into the earth. The trees were growing taller, new saplings springing up faster than they had any right to. And it was fine; it was nothing worth noticing, until I looked out the window and couldn’t see the Raxter I knew anymore. That morning two girls tore each other’s hair out over breakfast with an animal viciousness, and by afternoon the Tox had hit us.

    I think I have been a problem all my life. Here I am where problems go. First Raxter and now here, and I have always been heading here, haven’t I, haven’t I. Too bright and too bored and something missing, or perhaps something too much there.

    And then. A sparking. I know this feeling. Just before a flare-up, there’s a moment. Hard to describe, hard to pin down, but for me it almost makes it worth it. The pain and the loss, all of it a fair price for this. This strength, this power, this eagerness to bare my teeth.

    “What was that?” she says at last. I managed three years without giving it a name. But there she is, Reese with her starlit hair and her wildfire heart, and I knew what to call this last night in our room, her face beautiful and strange in the dark. I knew the day I met her, when she looked at me like I was something she didn’t understand. I’ve known every minute in between.

    “We’ve been studying them,” Paretta says, crouching down in front of me. “The irises, and the blue crabs too. All of this is something we’re calling the Raxter Phenomenon.”
    A phenomenon. Not a sickness, not a disease. It burns through my heart—that’s the word I’ve been looking for—but there’s something about the way she says it. The name too familiar, too easy on her tongue.
    “Did they teach you about Raxter Blues at school?” she asks. “About what makes them special?”
    I nod.
    You mean the lungs
    “And the gills,” Paretta says. “It’s pretty amazing, right? So it can survive anywhere. And I think it’s pretty amazing, too, that you girls are part of it now.”
    Part of it. The way our bodies alter and bend. The way our fingers darken just before we die, pure black spreading up to our knuckles.

    I wait for my stomach to turn, but instead, all I can feel is the sea spray from that day on the rocks with Hetty, the crab turning black in my hands. It was still alive as it broke apart. I wonder if I will be too.

    He kisses like he’s afraid of me. And he is, but I don’t think I mind it.

    It made me nervous, I remember, seeing him so close up. We saw him through classroom windows, and we saw him across the grounds as he mowed the lawn and cleaned the gutters, but this—a man, his calloused hand on my arm. I forgot I could be afraid of them.

    Byatt’s too big, too much to ever disappear.

  102. The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper / narrated by Steven Shanahan (2016)

    He plucked it off and squinted at it. It was a printed library receipt showing that the novel had been lent to Karen Hadler on Monday, February 19. Four days before she’d died, Falk thought. She’d used the receipt to mark her place, and the realisation that this mediocre thriller could have been the last thing she’d read in her life made him feel deeply depressed.

    Nothing like old-fashioned misogyny to make the ignorant turn down good advice.

    “No-one tells you this is how it’s going to be, do they? Oh yes, they’re all so sorry for your loss, all so keen to pop round and get the gossip when it happens, but no-one mentions having to go through your dead son’s drawers and return their library books, do they? No-one tells you how to cope with that.”

  103. (H)afrocentric Comics: Volumes 1–4 by Juliana “Jewels” Smith, Mike Hampton, and Ronald Nelson (2017)

    And besides, I’ve never seen you be pleasant around white folks with dreadlocks.

  104. The Black Mage by Daniel Barnes and DJ Kirkland (2019)

  105. The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O’Connor (2018)

  106. Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars Omnibus (Trish Trash #1-3) by Jessica Abel (2019)

  107. The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz (2019)

  108. Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia (2015)

  109. Rise: The Complete Newsflesh Collection (Newsflesh 0.5, 3.1-3.6) by Mira Grant (2016)

    A world without cancer. What a beautiful thing that would be.
    (“Countdown”)

    The robotics engineer who lived across the street was an avid Burner, and had been happy to contribute the fire-breathing whale he’d constructed for the previous year’s Burning Man. Not the most immediately useful contribution in the world, but it was sufficiently heavy to make an excellent roadblock… and Stacy had to admit that having a fire-breathing roadblock certainly gave the neighborhood character.
    (“Countdown”)

    “Supposed to” never changed anything. This was how things were, and what came next was up to her.
    (“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats”)

    Unis, who was a very Good Dog, fought to the end to defend her mistress, and died knowing that The Woman was safer because she had been there. Out of everyone who fell during the siege of San Diego, she may well be the only one who died at peace, knowing that she’d done her best.
    The same cannot be said of Lesley Smith. Her last thought was of Unis, whose frenzied barking had stopped a few seconds before. Worrying about her dog made it a little easier to endure the teeth biting into her flesh—and then there was only pain, and darkness, and then there was nothing at all.
    (“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats”)

    Good dogs should never be asked to prove that they’re good dogs. If there’s anything in this world that we should take on faith, it’s good dogs.
    (“Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus”)

    I stopped, squinting at a piece of bright pink paper. “Hang on—why do we need a waiver clearing us from prosecution in the event that we’re forced to injure an attacking koala? Isn’t the word ‘attacking’ enough in that sentence?”
    “Not in Australia,” said Jack cheerfully. “There are millions of humans and not nearly that many koalas. Most of them are too small to amplify, and they tend to live pretty high up in the trees. A big old male actually manages to get sick, he isn’t going to find very many targets. Most of the other koalas are more coordinated than he is once the infection really sets in, and so all he does by biting at them is piss them off and get himself shoved out of the tree. Infected koalas go after easier targets. Like humans.”
    “Only you can’t necessarily tell infected-and-shot from startled-you-and-shot,” said Olivia. “Since humans can outrun koalas on level ground, people are encouraged to avoid koala habitat and wear good running shoes, rather than risk reducing the koala population further.”
    I stared at the back of her head. “You’re serious?”
    “Serious as a zombie outbreak in a public mall,” said Jack. “We want our citizens to be comfortable and happy and we’re as interested in the survival of mankind as anyone else, but at the end of the day, we can always get more people. It’s all our immigration restrictions can do to keep us from getting more people than we can handle. But we can’t get more koalas.”
    (“How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea”)

    My name is Shaun Mason, and I am not okay.
    I walked through the cabin, picking up pieces of my gear from tables and couches as I made for the back door. We were careful about decontamination—we had to be, until we knew whether my immunity to Kellis-Amberlee, which had been contracted from the original Georgia, had been sexually transmitted to her clone, and the mere fact that I could think that sentence with a straight face said something about how fucking weird my life had become.
    (“Coming to You Live”)

    “We could host a mad science sex party.”
    (“Coming to You Live”)

    There’s always time for one more draft, one more round of revisions, one more fact-check. Until there isn’t. Until you realize that all this time, you’ve been spending the time you had on things that didn’t matter at all. —GEORGIA MASON
    (“Coming to You Live”)

  110. The Avant-Guards, Volume 1 (The Avant-Guards #1-6) by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes (2019)

  111. El Deafo by Cece Bell and David Lasky (2014)

  112. The Swallows by Lisa Lutz (2019)

    Warren Prep kids had called Stonebridge students “Stoners.” I considered that detail its most attractive quality.

    “I’m curious,” I said. “When Jane came to you and told you her story, did you believe her?”
    “I did. But I thought it was best to remove myself from the situation.”
    “Why?” I said.
    “Young girls don’t want to talk to old men about such things. Am I wrong?” Greg said.
    “An old man who listens is better than a young woman who doesn’t.”

    “Well, if you’re choosing to give oral, you don’t have to have regular sex,” Mel mumbled.
    “You don’t have to have any sex at all,” Witt said loudly.

    Come to think of it, Witt herself was like an inkblot test. Everyone saw something different.

    For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why I hated him so much. Then I realized why. He’s the editors all grown up.

    “When I look at what the editors have written about us, I have to wonder how they see us. Do you know what I mean?”
    “I’m not sure,” I said.
    “Like, are we even human?”

    “Swallows were spies, right?” said my mother, as she gazed down at the page.
    “Spies? What do you mean?” Mel said, perking up.
    “The Russians called female spies ‘swallows’ and male spies ‘ravens’ in the Cold War,” I said.

    “I would cut off the penis of any man who talk about me like this,” said my mother, as she gazed down at a score sheet. “You know what I would like to see? A bad-blowjob contest. That would teach them.”
    Gemma and Mel, who had seemed so lost, suddenly looked up at Mom like she was their new queen.

    Ms. Witt made us promise not to castrate anyone.

    Emelia didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. She went to bed. In the morning, when I woke up, she was taking scissors to her beautiful hair. She chopped her long tresses right to the scalp. I asked her why. It made her sick reading what Adam had written about grabbing her ponytail. Tegan said that rapists often look for victims with long hair. It makes them easier to control. Tegan took the scissors next.

    I remember the first time I saw them. They were walking down the hall together. Bald, proud, angry. The boys didn’t laugh when they saw them. They’d never been quieter. You could feel their fear. The girls didn’t look like girls anymore. They looked like warriors.

    Greg feels guilty about Adam’s death. I know that because he’s asked me more than once if I do. Usually I ignore his question or change the subject. When I think about Adam, I think about the kind of man he would have become.

    In a perfect world, they wouldn’t need to fight. That’s not the world I live in.

  113. Jerusalem: A Family Portrait by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi (2013)

  114. Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale (DC Ink) by Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart (2019)

  115. After the Flood by Kassandra Montag (2019)

    That he could pass with so little ceremony stunned me.

    I was so young, I wasn’t accustomed to loss and impermanence the way Grandfather was.

    Children had been the future, but did we even want the future anymore?

    “There once was a girl,” Behir began, “who was a giant and the daughter of a god. But because she was a giant she was very hungry, so hungry that she attacked her parents so she could eat them. To protect themselves, the mother and father had to take the daughter away. The father took his daughter on his kayak, telling her he would take her to an island far away. But when they were out in the ocean, he threw her over the side so she would drown. She clung to the side of the kayak, begging for her life, but her father cut her fingers off. She drifted to the bottom of the seafloor, where she rules over the monsters of the deep. Her fingers became seals, walruses, and whales. Sedna is a vengeful sea goddess, and if you do not please her you will see her anger in the swells of the sea and she will not release fish for you to catch.”

  116. Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan (2019)

    “Athena needed a feminine hygiene product.”
    Melissa pulled a box of tampons from her backpack. Between cigarettes and tampons and fake IDs, Melissa barely had room for her books.

    Kyle stopped the song after the first chorus. I kept playing my contrapuntal line for a few seconds, lost in the simple rhythm of the song. “You’re really good,” Kyle said. I held my breath. I hoped he wouldn’t add “for a girl.”

    Here a fetus, there a fetus, everywhere a fetus.

    You can tell a lot about a person from how they act during group projects.

  117. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor / Narrated by Adjoa Andoh and Ben Onwukwe (2014)

    “Human beings have a hard time relating to that which does not resemble them. It’s your greatest flaw.”

  118. Dr. Horrible (Second Edition) by Zack Whedon, Joss Whedon, Joëlle Jones, and Jim Rugg (2019)

  119. We Are Here Forever by Michelle Gish (2019)

  120. Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël, and David Evrard (2019)

  121. No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant (2019)

  122. Stay by Lewis Trondheim and Hubert Chevillard (2019)

  123. Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt (2019)

    Tam’s mom is a book
    you can’t judge by its cover
    because she’s wide open,
    every page right there
    to be read
    in giant letters
    begging you
    to read more,
    to flip through,
    to lose yourself
    in all her truths.

    I don’t want to stare.
    I can’t help but stare.
    Her hair.
    Dyed white.
    Shaved on one side.
    Flopping over her eye
    on the other.
    Her arms glow with colors,
    designs
    swirls
    daggers
    hearts
    flowers.
    I want to know the story
    of every tattoo, and I can tell
    from the way she smiles
    she wants to tell me those stories, too.

    Oh, honey.
    If you think being normal is a win,
    then I have done my job wrong.

    Do you think you are?
    Gay, I mean?
    Lesbionic?

  124. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby / Narrated by Dan Bittner (2016)
  125. Autocomplete: The Book by Justin Hook (2019)

  126. Dahlia Black by Keith Thomas (2019)

    Even as a kid I knew it wasn’t realistic. If there was other life out in cosmos, it wasn’t going to look or act like us. If we ever even saw them, that is. No, aliens—if they existed—might be so unlike us, so vastly different, that we might not even recognize them as living. Forget space amoebas or creatures of light; we’re talking beings that don’t even live inside our spatial planes—beyond invisible.

    A lot of people assumed the Pulse was sent to Earth because humanity had reached some sort of pinnacle—perhaps socially, scientifically, or technologically, or maybe all three. They wanted to believe we got the signal because we, humanity, were finally ready to join the larger universe—that we were now able to ascend some galactic ladder to our better, final forms. I wish that were true.

    The Elevation is misnamed: they aren’t elevating us so that we can live with them. They’re elevating humanity so that they can live inside our minds. That’s the territory they’re terraforming.

    There is no punch line but the end of the human race.

    I am not an incubator, but my head has become an executable.

    I like that aspect of it: even at the end of time, some mysteries should remain.

    When the Elevated leave, our world will remain, and those who stay with it will need to rebuild. You have an opportunity that will never come again. Rebuild society to be stronger, better, than it was. Allow the emptiness of the world to fill in naturally. Take your time and do it right, so that it lasts and it is meaningful. The future is unwritten and only you have the tools to write it.

  127. Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame by Erin Williams (2019)

  128. Nuclear Winter, Volume 1 by Caroline Breault (2018)

  129. Nuclear Winter, Volume 2 by Caroline Breault (2019)

  130. It’s a Whole Spiel edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman (2019)

    I’ll probably never know what a space station careening through the atmosphere looks like, because I wasn’t looking up anymore. I was looking at him and smiling, and he was smiling back at me, and his braces were gleaming like starlight, and he whispered, “Shehecheyanu,” and I leaned forward, and I pressed my lips against his stars.
    (“Indoor Kids” by Alex London)

    The rabbi sometimes drops by. A nice guy, but when gay couples couldn’t get married at our temple, I went out of my way to avoid talking to him. For me, Jewish has always been about acceptance and social justice and saying we are all slaves until everyone is freed. So Jewish and gay have never been incompatible. But we’re liberal. Just after college I saw a documentary called Trembling Before G-d about gay Orthodox Jews and their struggle, and I realized My People can be as blind and intolerant as any other People. To me, Jewish is understanding this and fighting this.
    (“The Hold” by David Levithan)

    I asked him what it was like growing up gay and Orthodox. This led, naturally, to us sharing our coming out stories—in gay dating, this is what separates a frivolous first date from a substantial one, the willingness to take this particular story down from the shelf where it sits next to the moment you first knew, and your first kiss, and the first time you had sex.
    (“The Hold” by David Levithan)

    Then he surprised me. More than any boy had surprised me up to that point, and more, I would guess, than any man has surprised me since.
    “Let’s go,” he said. And I genuinely didn’t know what he meant. But then he was grabbing my hand just like I had grabbed his for the hora, and he was pulling me across the street to the Hotel Pennsylvania.
    I might not have understood what was going on, but the guy behind the front desk did, and he loved it. Absolutely loved it. One of our kind, I realize now. He made sure to ask us if we were getting the room while our parents “parked the car.” He didn’t look at all surprised when Moshe paid in cash.
    (“The Hold” by David Levithan)

    I wish I’d had the experience, the wisdom then to tell him: To me, Jewish is knowing that you can’t be asked to have pride in one part of your identity and then be told to have shame about another part. Whoever asks you to do that is wrong. To be proud as a Jew is to be proud of everything you are.
    (“The Hold” by David Levithan)

    My chewing sounds like applause.
    (“Neilah” by Hannah Moskowitz)

  131. Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw (2019)

    At least wait until he finishes puberty before you corrupt him and make web-footed babies.
    – Oh, he’s done with puberty and he’s done well.

    Well, six innings isn’t too bad. Yay, fifteen-run rule.
    – Aren’t they supposed to slap butts? Why don’t they slap butts? SLAP BUTTS!

    When did you know?
    – When did I know what?
    That you were…you know…a lesbian.
    – Oh, I’m not a lesbian.
    – Everybody has a natural preference. I happened to be a sucker for a man in uniform…and Sam looked damn good in a suit.

    You know I met Cat after I transitioned.
    – Wait…what?
    Everyone at school knew me before I was me. Let’s just say they weren’t the most understanding. But at the Zipper, no one questioned who I was. I’m sure the assholes are going to tell you and I’d rather you hear it from me – want to know my old name?
    – Naw. you’re Darren.
    Good answer.

  132. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (2019)

    Or Amy Dumont. Delicate, sweet. She would make for a docile wife, but her hips are too narrow, beddable to be sure, but not sturdy enough to withstand childbirth. Of course, some men like breakable things. They like to break them.

    And I wonder if this is the magic taking over. Is this how it starts—the slip of the tongue? A loss of respect? Is this how I become a monster the men whisper of? I turn and run up the stairs before I do something I regret.

    “In the county, everything they take away from us is a tiny death. But not here . . .” She spreads her arms out, taking in a deep breath. “The grace year is ours. This is the one place we can be free. There’s no more tempering our feelings, no more swallowing our pride. Here we can be whatever we want. And if we let it all out,” she says, her eyes welling up, her features softening, “we won’t have to feel those things anymore. We won’t have to feel at all.”

    “In the county, there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman who speaks her mind. That’s what happened to Eve, you know, why we were cast out from heaven. We’re dangerous creatures. Full of devil charms. If given the opportunity, we will use our magic to lure men to sin, to evil, to destruction.” My eyes are getting heavy, too heavy to roll in a dramatic fashion. “That’s why they send us here.”
    “To rid yourself of your magic,” he says.
    “No,” I whisper as I drift off to sleep. “To break us.”

    I’m trying to hold back my emotions, but I can feel my face contorting. That strange heat moving to my cheeks. I always thought it was magic moving through me, but now I know it to be rage.

    That’s the one thing they will never be able to control in me. My wild, wild heart.

    We may be without powers, but we are not powerless.

    The men will never end the grace year. But maybe we can.

    It’s odd moving through the narrow lanes now. I find the men avert their eyes. It’s disconcerting at first, but then I realize how freeing it is. The women, on the other hand, meet my gaze head-on, eyes wide open. It’s the slightest shift, and something the men would never detect, but I feel it.

    I shadowed my father a million times before, watching him sneak off to the outskirts, but it never occurred to me to follow my mother—that she would have a life of her own.

  133. Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn (2015)

    Your career has another five years, maybe, she says, if you’re lucky.
    According to who? I ask.
    According to every actress who’s come before you.
    So I turn my focus to every actress
    coming after me.
    (“Thelma Todd”)

    No one should have to look back to see
    the bright future ahead of them.
    (“Bridgette Andersen”)

    But I’ve crunched the numbers and think I’ve found my six-pack:
    I’ll get a new nose. The cartilage lost from one of those can be measured in grams. If I shave my head,
    that’s shaving off one fourth of a pound.
    66.6 percent of the three-pound human brain
    would be another two pounds down.
    The vestigiality of all phalanges is coming to an end.
    So why keep them?
    And twenty-five feet of intestinal tract?
    Let’s half that. Anything gastric’s elastic.
    Ribs can be replaced with plastic.
    (“Abigail Nell”)

    Remember when Artax disappeared into the swamp, never to be seen by Atreyu again?
    It was like that.
    (“Julia Thorp”)

    Forty-two:
    On your first mission into space,
    you recall your mother’s umbilical cord
    being cut from you.
    Your high heels floating down the river,
    all the way into the Atlantic Ocean.
    (“Samantha Smith”)

    Mrs. Pellington found muddy footprints leading up her front porch
    and only muddy handprints leading away from it.
    (“Frances Farmer”)

    The author died during the writing of this book.
    (“True or False:”)

    I’ll bet their wives let their cats go out
    hunting at night like premonitions of future sons.

    Dear men in Congress,
    You think banning birth control is conservative progress?
    You think sanctioning my ovaries won’t bring me to violence?
    How about I tell you what to do with your caucus?
    It is now illegal to think about me topless.
    To keep your lotion where your socks is.
    To refer to powerful women as monsters like those jocks at Fox did.

  134. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (2019)

  135. Full Throttle by Joe Hill (2019)

    Most sons fall into one of two groups.
    There’s the boy who looks upon his father and thinks, I hate that son of a bitch, and I swear to God I’m never going to be anything like him.
    Then there’s the boy who aspires to be like his father: to be as free, and as kind, and as comfortable in his own skin. A kid like that isn’t afraid he’s going to resemble his dad in word and action. He’s afraid he won’t measure up.
    It seems to me that the first kind of son is the one most truly lost in his father’s shadow. On the surface that probably seems counterintuitive. After all, here’s a dude who looked at Papa and decided to run as far and as fast as he could in the other direction. How much distance do you have to put between yourself and your old man before you’re finally free?
    And yet at every crossroads in his life, our guy finds his father standing right behind him: on the first date, at the wedding, on the job interview. Every choice must be weighed against Dad’s example, so our guy knows to do the opposite . . . and in this way a bad relationship goes on and on, even if father and son haven’t spoken in years. All that running and the guy never gets anywhere.
    The second kid, he hears that John Donne quote—We’are scarce our fathers’ shadows cast at noon—and nods and thinks, Ah, shit, ain’t that the truth? He’s been lucky—terribly, unfairly, stupidly lucky. He’s free to be his own man, because his father was. The father, in truth, doesn’t throw a shadow at all. He becomes instead a source of illumination, a means to see the territory ahead a little more clearly and find one’s own particular path.
    I try to remember how lucky I’ve been.
    (“Introduction”)

    “What do we smell like?” Saunders asked.
    “Like cheeseburgers,” said the wolf, and he barked with laughter. “And entitlement.”
    (“Wolverton Station”)

    Gail looked out at the water, wanting to hear it again, that soft foghorn sound, and she did, but it was inside her this time, the sound was down deep inside her, a long, wordless cry for things that weren’t never going to happen.
    (“By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain”)

    “Charn doesn’t know much about devil-thorn. It doesn’t change color in the presence of menace but of wickedness.”
    “I never killed anything!” Christian said.
    “No. You only laughed while other men killed. Who is worse, Christian, the sadist who serves his true nature honestly or the ordinary man who does nothing to stop him?”
    (“Faun”)

    “I can think of worse ways to go than with a good book in my hand. Especially if it was one I had no right to ever read, because it wasn’t going to be published until after I was dead.”
    (“Late Returns”)

    “So it’s like, what? A reward from God for living a good life?”
    “Why can’t it be a reward from the library,” he said, “for returning overdue books in spite of the inconvenience of being dead?”
    (“Late Returns”)

    “And you’re not an envoy from the Lord? You’re not an angel?”
    “Nope. Just a librarian.”
    “Ah, well,” she said. “That’s close enough for me.”
    (“Late Returns”)

    “The price of being alive is that someday you aren’t.”
    (“All I Care About Is You”)

    “If there’s one thing prettier than a sunset,” Iris says, “it’s seeing little shits cry.”
    (“All I Care About Is You”)

  136. Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (2019)

    I wonder, sometimes, what it would be like to not have to hide your hunger, to be able to want like those girls do without having to conceal it, without having to practice walking, practice smiling.

    Earlier this summer, before the kiss, I saw a commercial for a show called The L Word. Two women were kissing in a white room. One’s shawl slipped off her shoulders and fell to the floor. Then the scene cut to another woman wearing men’s clothes, her hair hanging jagged around her face. She was holding a pale, dark-haired girl in her arms. When they started kissing too, I cleared my throat and then changed the channel. I turned to Sarah, who was sitting next to me on the couch, and I saw something like recognition flit across her face. She said, under her breath, “Beautiful,” and then, so lightly I almost didn’t feel it, she touched my hand. We never talked about it or saw the commercial again. But it gave me a glimmer of hope that beyond Heterosexualandia, beyond Pieria and the straight, flat land of Texas, there was a place for girls like us.

    I first knew that I would love her when we were twelve. She woke me up at three in the morning just so she could show me the North Star outside of her window. Without saying anything, she took my hand and didn’t let go until the sun was rising and the star was gone. We never talked about it again.

  137. Homesick: Stories by Nino Cipri (2019)

    “You can’t trust words. They have too many rules, and too many ways to break the rules.”
    Merion looks skeptical, but then shrugs. After all, the English language isn’t particularly charitable to people like Merion, with its rigidly gendered pronouns.
    (“a silly love story”)

    It is easy for him to imagine the worst things. Trying to see exactly what’s in front of him is harder. A plastic container full of living fruit. The streetlight shining through the window. The dangling thread of wool on his suit, the shiny black buttons. His cheap apartment, his silent and spectral roommate, the letter confirming his academic suspension, his infatuation with someone who switches out their gender like it’s an attractive but itchy sweater, his mother’s disappointment, his dwindling savings.
    And the one thing he can’t see, can’t imagine: his future. That’s the monster, really, that’s lurking at the corner of this painting.
    (“a silly love story”)

    Half the neighbors avoid me, like having your husband run off with one of his interns is a contagious disease, while the others keep offering to set me up with bachelor cousins or uncles. Nancy just sends over a fine-looking college boy to mow my lawn bare-chested once a week. Bless that woman.
    (“let down, set free”)

    You and I, we’re twenty feet and more than a hundred years apart.
    (“the shape of my name”)

    She was not a woman given to romance or fancy, but sometimes thought she should have been the witch in a fairytale, alone in the forest except when she wanted to make mischief for men.
    (“not an ocean, but the sea”)

    Who knew why straight people did anything, really.
    (“presque vu”)

    Ossicarminis, in his mind, confirmed that the separation between animals and people wasn’t an impermeable border. It was hand-shaking distance between neighbors.
    (“before we disperse like star stuff”)

  138. Sparrowhawk (Sparrowhawk #1-5) by Delilah S. Dawson and Matias Basla (2019)

    You’re the loveliest monster I ever knew.

  139. A Girl in the Himalayas by David Jesus Vignolli (2018)

  140. The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Renée Nault and Margaret Atwood (2019)

  141. Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden (2019)

    My first kiss … never in my wildest dreams would I have thought it to be with a man.

    “She?” I ask, eyes wide. Never in all my dizzy dreams had I thought that our beast was something other than a thing, an animate object, a sustainer of life. The idea intrigues me. Scares me some, too.

    A child’s eyes. My thoughts skip back to the baby beast. As much as I try to put her out of my mind, I can’t help but wonder if there’d been something else there. If there is more to the beast than just a convenient package of flesh for us to consume.

    As if we aren’t a bunch of parasites, murdering beast after beast.

    “All throughout our history, we sing of two kinds of women … those born into power and those who disrupt power. I intend on being the latter.”

    We are careful, taking only what the other offers, knowing that a connection like this is deeper than either of us can fully comprehend. He reads poetry to my spleen. I tell fairy tales to his bile ducts. The inside of his navel is a vast, unexplored desert. He lounges upon the cushion of my lips. His desires rise, and I pretend not to notice, diving right into the pool of tears caught in the corner of his eye. I don’t make a single splash. And while I swim laps, he hikes across the boundless expanse of my molars, and then I’m climbing up his chest hairs.
    We’re curious, playful. Adventuresome. The landscapes of our bodies like the foreign world we orbit. Is this how the beasts communicate with one another? A life without secrets? Becoming intimately familiar with everyone you touch?

    We all want this change and realize what we are risking to get it. If we are successful, we will have a chance at healing our entire civilization. But just like a badly set bone, things will need to be broken before they can begin to heal properly.

    Wheytt slips the puppet gel onto the bed. I sit, just out of view, next to the bed, poking the puppet to animate the gel and forcing a moan as Doka mounts her. I hear the squelch of splitting gel, a horrid wet rip, and then the poor puppet takes on a life of its own—jiggling, wiggling, limbs flailing wildly.

    “Darkling child,” the pale man says.
    “Seske. It’s Seske Kaleigh, true daughter of mothers. You can call me Matris, if you’d prefer.”
    “I will do no such thing! Have you no men to lead you?”
    “Have you no women to lead you?” I mouth back.

    I bite down so hard my jaws ache. They are not beasts. Calling them that will not make the slaughter any more palatable. The life-form we dwell upon, it’s sentient. It’s intelligent. It’s manipulative. It’s trying to kill us.

    This time, I’m in space, the emptiness lapping coolly over my skin—not frigid and biting, like we’d experienced before, but nice, like a dip in the springs. With an eye on each side of my head, I can see the entire sky at once, tendrils whipping in and out of my vision, mouth bared open, skimming traces of gases wading through the void, my ass end shooting out the same, propelling me faster, faster, toward a beast.
    But it doesn’t seem like a beast, it … she seems like a friend. I slip up next to her, our tentacles briefly knotting together in a complex greeting, and then we’re staring eye to eye. I see immediately it is Wheytt behind that lens. How I know this, I am not sure, but there is a draw within me. And suddenly we’re dancing, a dance I feel in my bones, bones that are older than the entire existence of humanity. It is a dance, and a song, and a story, all three together, telling of the rich history of these so-called beasts. And when we are done, I know that it is only one small section of one dance, one song, one story of millions. It’d take my entire lifetime to tell half a dozen of them.
    I suddenly feel the weight of each culled beast in my gut, of the baby beast that had died before my eyes. I’m crying, tears evaporating off my lenses, but I know they’re tears, and I now know that these majestic creatures do cry. How many tears have we caused?

    “They won’t see you as Matris anymore. They’re willing to put up with a lot of things, betcha, but tentacle-cooch isn’t one of them.”

  142. The Nameless City (The Nameless City #1) by Faith Erin Hicks (2016)

  143. The Stone Heart (The Nameless City #2) by Faith Erin Hicks (2017)

  144. The Divided Earth (The Nameless City #3) by Faith Erin Hicks (2018)

  145. Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson (2018)

    As the great Lil Wayne once said, “Real Gs move in silence like lasagna.” I guess so do those who don’t understand that in order for feminism to work, it has to be intersectional.

  146. You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno (2019)

    You crafted my home out of your own sadness. You peeled it out of you and shaped it into trees and grass and houses and hills. Your despair made Near. You felt so deeply, and for so long, that your very sadness grew limbs and walked away from you.

    And the growing.
    And the unhinging.
    And the screaming.
    And the blood.
    Magpie took a seat on the grass, stretching her legs out in front of her and crossing them at the ankles, leaning back on her arms, feeling the warmth of the Near-sun on her face. She couldn’t have written it more perfectly. While Mr. James had slid neatly down his monster’s throat, Brandon struggled and flailed. It was almost as if Allison was playing with him, crunching down on the bones of his legs and then letting him almost get away, crawling across the grass on his arms, pulling himself forward before she knelt down and scooped him up again.

  147. Betty Bites Back: Stories to Scare the Patriarchy edited by Mindy McGinnis, Demitria Lunetta, and Kate Karyus Quinn (2019)

    you wonder about the Titanic, was it so bad?
    you’re drunk on melancholy, and it’s not even eight AM
    (“You Wake With Him Beside You” by Cori McCarthy)

    The fire started in the temple and spread across the floor, melting the iron on the doors into silver puddles on the cobblestones. The inn and stable caught fire next, then the butcher’s. Once the flames touched Lysander’s house, they spread like the flap of phoenix wings to the rest of the village.
    (“The Weight of Iron” by Amanda Sun)

    His heart kicked to life, encaged in her ribs. It was disorienting, to say the least, but the Warden soon got used to the sensation. But he never acclimated to the danger of tethering his heart inside another, and he clung to his daughter to keep it as close to the safety of his chest as possible.
    (“After the Foxes Have Their Say” by Tracie Martin)

    I found out that there was much knowledge that Chira had kept from me. The women of the village knew that a man was necessary for procreation; they just did not see his value for anything else.
    (“Shadows” by Demitria Lunetta)

    I pass an older man sitting on his porch near my bus stop. I’m unaware of the smile on my face until he says something.
    “What a pretty smile,” he says. “I see you walk past here every day smiling like that. I wish all girls smiled like you.”
    No, you don’t, I want to say, but the phrase dissolves inside of me like the sugar cubes my grandmother drops in her tea. Men who want all girls to smile at them don’t really care if the girls want to smile.
    Men who are like wolves.
    I wish men knew what it meant for a compliment to feel like a threat.
    I see you every day means I’ve been watching you.
    What a pretty smile means I want to eat it up.
    I wish all girls smiled like you means Girls owe me their joy, real or not, a flash of teeth in a pretty face. It’s only polite.
    (“Gravity” by Kyrie McCauley)

    “I do not care to be a wife.” The Crawfords, it goes without saying, were beside themselves. What could Hattie possibly mean by this? What man would take her now, after she’d made such a scandal of herself? How did she plan on living?
    (“The Whispers” by Lindsey Klingele)

    Most women didn’t smile. Those that would usually kept walking, a little faster than before. But this one stood directly in front of them, a tremendous grin on her face as though nothing pleased her more. The men felt triumphant.
    Except several moments passed and she was still standing there, smiling wider and wider. One of the men coughed. The other smiled back, weakly.
    “You need something else, hon?”
    She said nothing. Her smile kept growing. Grotesque now, her lips stretched as far as they could go, teeth shining in the morning sun.
    (“Smile” by Emilee Martell)

    But the circle doesn’t break.
    Someone lifts her eyes first. Her eyes into another’s eyes. Their smiles widen. Spread. Soon a contagion. They’re big now. Brash. Toothy grins not meant to be concealed, not meant to be buried.
    Then comes the laughter that is more than laughter. It’s chortling. It’s guffawing. It’s bigger and bolder than the bodies they inhabit, the spaces they’re allowed.
    A stair creaks.
    The circle goes silent but remains intact.
    A little boy in a little boy’s suit takes little boy steps in that jerky manner of little boys learning to conquer stairs, learning to conquer worlds. He stares at them. Ten maybe fifteen women, all in black, in a circle. And he knows—it’s in his eyes—there’s something to fear here among these women. Something to be broken and tamed. These black-clad women with their cackled secrets.
    He’s too young to have the thought, but still it’s there, half-formed. He thinks, Did they kill her? Did they kill poor Mary, cold and dead in that coffin just a floor above? Are they gathered to rejoice at the destruction of their own? Everyone knows that’s what women are like. No greater enemy than each other.
    (“Potluck” by Kamerhe Lane)

    Later, I asked Mom “Why change the women? Men being too mean was the real problem . . . wasn’t it?” Mom sighed.
    Then asked if I remembered the story of Adam and Eve. I did. But she retold it anyway. Emphasizing Adam was
    Made by God. Adam was the original. Eve lesser, an imperfect copy. You don’t weaken
    that which was made perfectly by God himself. Instead you try to bring Eve
    up to par. Except it didn’t work. The change only made women stranger odder less like men lesser than men, which made it easy to justify the hunts.
    (“The Change” by Kate Karyus Quinn)

    As another dead town disappeared behind us I couldn’t help thinking how we refused to learn
    from the past, but rather used it as a blueprint for our future.
    (“The Change” by Kate Karyus Quinn)

    It may look like we are scared. Like we are running. But we are not. I am not. Not anymore.
    (“The Change” by Kate Karyus Quinn)

  148. Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (2019)

    I was born happy but when anything that is large, alive, and wild gets hurt and confused, I feel so sad, and I notice that I wish I could nurse big scared things. And it is worth mentioning that “big scared thing” is one way to describe how my heart often feels. My heart can feel like an elephant who is feeling dread and has an exceptional memory and naturally possesses something valuable that might be hunted, poached, wasted.
    (“I Was Born: The List”)

    I was born in the stacks in the Columbia University Library. I was born in shin-guards on a soccer field on a chilly little Saturday morning in the 1980s and I was too scared to even feel the sting of the ball on the inside of my shoe. I was born during tennis. I was born as a backyard swimming pool and my twin sister is an orange Popsicle and my mother is a bowl of pickles and my father is a hamburger.
    (“I Was Born: The List”)

    But back to the sea captain and his broken heart. I somehow always felt that this was my story as well. Maybe because I was so obsessed with what it would feel like to one day fall in love, to have another person who loved you the most, and loved you so much, voluntarily, that it became involuntary.
    (“Ghosts”)

    [I]t feels like life is the beach in the winter. It feels like life is the beach where I used to go with someone who died. It feels almost wrong to be here . . . I feel like I am wearing a bikini and the weather is forty degrees and the sky is that screaming winter white and it is all I can do to just stand still and try to remember why I am here. It is all I can do to not pack up and leave.
    (“Daydreams/Tides”)

    If I planted my pussy in the ground right now it would grow into a tree of flaming swords with a moat of tears around it.
    (“I Want to Look Out a Window”)

    I died. Oh, god! I did die! Some man was standing right in the middle of the room talking about how he knew that now was the time for men to listen, and he was proud to say that he knew how to listen but strangely he kept talking for so long and I was the one who was listening and so then what happened was that my head twisted around on my neck and faced the wall.
    (“I Died: Listening”)

    This is the pits.
    The pits are also the seeds. The pit is also a deep place with an actual bottom. You could argue that the bottom of the pit is where you plant the start of the thing that is made to travel to the light. You could prove, if you tried to or wanted to, that the bottom of the pit is of course the start of getting up to the top.
    (“The Pits”)

    There was a time before Patriarchy.
    We have a better origin story and it is not widely spoken about but it is the truth.
    (“The Code of Hammurabi”)

    I think, Well, I am so sensitive and I am very fragile but so is everything else, and living with a dangerous amount of sensitivity is sort of what I have to do sometimes, and it is so very much better than living with no gusto at all. And I’d rather live with a tender heart, because that is the key to feeling the beat of all of the other hearts.
    (“Kinship”)

    I wonder what you will do with the rest of the tart. I guess the trick of the treat is that I left it there for you because I had too much of the troublesome ingredient with me for so long and I needed to make it into something else and give it away. It is too much for one person, isn’t it? And if you eat it, maybe you will know how full of it I felt, but also how much sweetness I have been holding for you, inside of myself, in so many colors and forms.
    (“Tart”)

    I know that I can’t change it: I died. I died as a very old woman. I died after living more of my life with you than I lived with just myself. I did die, and everyone wants to talk about that because it is the final thing, it is the only real completeness I guess, but completeness was never a prize, in my eyes. Connection always was, deepening, tending, asking, cycling through, all of the things that we did together before we died our deaths. I died but it was so small compared to how I had lived so much and for so long with you, alive. One death was so small compared to all the things that we did in our life, things that we did all the way through, right to our ends.
    (“I Died: Bronze Tree”)

    I never knew how hard it would be to live with the loss of you, and I wanted to let go of the pain even though it was the last thing that felt alive from you […]
    I am tired of being in a constant state of recovery.
    (“I Died: Bronze Tree”)

    I died and I died in a town by the sea. I died and you had already died in the bedroom upstairs, and when you died, the spark of your life flew into me when I watched your breath stop, and the spark did its last energy frizz inside of me and I didn’t tell anyone but half of the lights of myself went off as well. Almost every door in me closed too. Most of the space, where you used to tread, to rest, to read, to sleep, most of that space closed up for good. I became a house with only the porch light on.
    (“I Died: Bronze Tree”)

    I died and I have to move on soon, but I will always be so glad for the life I had with you. The fact is that it is incredibly hard to RIP and I’m just not sure I can get it done. Because what will I be now? I know that we will have new life with new forms and that we won’t be able to love each other like we did the last time. Maybe I am going to be a banana and you will be a car. It just won’t work. I know that. And I’m not one to beg for the impossible, especially as a banana, but I can’t seem to stop reacting to the enormity of the final end of us, sweetheart.
    (“I Died: Bronze Tree”)

    I look up to you because I love the heavenly bodies of the universe, and the way I see it, your heart is a planet. Your heart is factually a part of the universe, which is a miracle of endless force and boundless beauty. There is literally no way that you are not part of that.
    (“From me to you, from me to everybody:”)

  149. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson (2016)

    Listen, I already have cocoa butter in my bag—and not just one safe-for-airplane-travel-sized bottle. I have three. That may seem like a lot, but I like having enough lotion on hand to moisturize all black people within a hundred-foot radius. Just think of me as a Wi-Fi hotspot for ashy knees and elbows.

    Listen, I’m a sweaty person; I always have been. But I had managed to keep it under control with aluminum-based deodorants until the fear of getting Alzheimer’s made me switch to Tom’s of Maine. People had warned me that Tom’s might not be strong enough for me, but I shrugged them off and asked Jesus to take the wheel. Here’s the thing about asking Jesus to take the wheel: Sometimes he doesn’t and instead lets you crash your Toyota Corolla into a tree.

    Then there are the gigs that put you on the path toward achieving your dreams, but the pay is shit. Case in point: One time, my compensation for doing a stand-up show was a vibrator with a computer-USB-cord charger, which I have refused to use till this day because I’m pretty sure a vibe teaming up with a laptop in order to power on is what Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was warning us about.

    If you’re ever lost or filled with doubt, just ask yourself, “What Would Lisa Bonet do,” and you’ll be all right, ‘kay?

    Unfortunately, white culture is not just people with college degrees making white condiments in white rooms with whiteboards because they got seed money from probably white friends. In fact, a lot of white culture is pretty ugly. It’s done harm to a lot of people. And it’s ugly right now as I write this. At the time of this writing, Donald Trump seeks the Republican nomination supported largely by a bunch of angry white people who sense where history is going and DO NOT LIKE IT AT ALL and are therefore hoping that if they punch and shove enough brown people, it will fix it. Perhaps when you read this, Donald Trump will be president or maybe superking. But even if that happens, he shall pass. Time does not go backward. (John Hodgman)

  150. Space Boy Volume 2 (Space Boy #2) by Stephen McCranie (2018)

    See above. ^

  151. Space Boy Volume 3 (Space Boy #3) by Stephen McCranie (2019)

  152. Space Boy Volume 4 (Space Boy #4) by Stephen McCranie (2019)

    Don’t worry — It’s safe. She only bites men.

  153. Foul Is Fair (Foul Is Fair #1) by Hannah Capin (2020)

    In the morning I put on my darkest lipstick before it’s even breakfast time, and I go to Nailed It with a coffee so hot it burns my throat. The beautiful old lady with the crooked smile gives me new nails as long as the ones they broke off last night, and stronger.
    She looks at the bruises on my neck and the scratches across my face, but she doesn’t say anything.
    So I point at my hair, and I say, This color. Know what it’s called?
    She shakes her head: No.
    I say, REVENGE.
    She says, Good girl. Kill him.

    I know it better than I’ve ever known anything: every second in my whole life has just been practice for what I’ll do to these boys. This is why I’m alive.

    We were middle school six months early, wearing our shiny new crowns before anyone else knew a monarchy was coming.

    “We’ll be the witches they don’t believe in until it’s too late.”

    Some of them even say—and it’s girls, not even flock-girls because they’re afraid to straggle out of line; it’s the not-it girls who say it and the flock-girls who listen too long—what if it’s her?
    They never give her a name, but they know who they mean.
    They want it to be her, I think. The girl from the party at Duncan’s house.

    I said, I spat, I swore: You picked the wrong girl.
    They did.
    They had to.
    It could only be me.
    Not the first—
    —but the last, the last, the last.
    They picked the right girl.

  154. Mischling by Affinity Konar / Narrated by Vanessa Johansson (2016)

    I had never played a jackal in the Classification of Living Things, but it suited me. The coat shone with the determination of a clever animal whose reputation had been much maligned but who chose to endure.

    “We won’t wait now. But perhaps—in case we are separated in this—we should establish a meeting place first?” he suggested. “That is what friends do. You are our friend, yes, Bruna? Only a friend would offer to kill you before others can.”
    I watched Bruna’s face struggle to maintain its usual stony veneer. She was touched. It seemed likely that the term friend had never been uttered so nakedly alongside her name before.

    Whatever else one could’ve said of our beloved criminal, we all knew that Bruna’s word was true. Theft was not her genuine talent. A promise—that was her real gift. She could not help but dream of fulfillment and creation, even as she dedicated her present to havoc. She meant well, our Bruna. But of course, she did her best to mask her virtue. And so her kindness and generosity were cons, double-dealers; they skulked about, disguised as flaws—and then, suddenly, when you weren’t looking, her tricks trespassed and broke inside you so that they could steal from you, bit by bit, until you hosted an emptiness in which your real goodness could thrive. In this way, she saved you.

    “Is it safe to be alive now?” he whispered.
    I cursed him for lifting his head from the snow. What if someone looked back and saw him?
    “No one’s looking back.” He laughed bitterly. “The whole world will never look back. And if they do, they’ll probably say that it never really happened.”

  155. My Dark Vanessa: A Novel by Kate Elizabeth Russell (2020)

    Shielded by the desk, he reaches down and pats my knee gently, gingerly, the way you might pet a dog before you’re sure it won’t turn mean and bite you. I don’t bite him. I don’t move. I don’t even breathe. He keeps writing notes on the poem while his other hand strokes my knee and my mind slips out of me. It brushes up against the ceiling so I can see myself from above—hunched shoulders, thousand-yard stare, bright red hair. The nine other students pack up their things and leave the classroom to carry on with their lives, to practices and rehearsals and club meetings. I leave the room, too, but I’m not part of them. They’re the same, but I’m changed. I’m unhuman now. Untethered. While they walk across campus, earthbound and ordinary, I soar, trailing a maple-red comet tail. I’m no longer myself; I am no one. I’m a red balloon caught in the boughs of a tree. I’m nothing at all.

    The radio plays hits from the seventies and eighties, Dad tapping the steering wheel along to “My Sharona” while Mom sleeps, her head leaning against the window. “Such a dirty mind / I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind.” I watch his fingers tap to the beat as the chorus comes around again. Does he even hear what the song is about, what he’s humming along to?

    One afternoon Strane tells me my name originated with Jonathan Swift, the Irish writer, and that Swift once knew a woman named Esther Vanhomrigh, nickname Essa. “He broke her name apart and put it back together as something new,” Strane said. “Van-essa became Vanessa. Became you.”
    I don’t say it, but sometimes I feel like that’s exactly what he’s doing to me—breaking me apart, putting me back together as someone new.
    He says the first Vanessa was in love with Swift and that she was twenty-two years younger. He was her tutor.

    “Good. That’s good.” He reaches for my hands. “You’re in charge here, Vanessa. You decide what we do.”
    I wonder if he really believes that. He touched me first, said he wanted to kiss me, told me he loved me. Every first step was taken by him. I don’t feel forced, and I know I have the power to say no, but that isn’t the same as being in charge. But maybe he has to believe that. Maybe there’s a whole list of things he has to believe.

    Last summer when I was at the height of my sulking, Mom tried to give me a pep talk about boys. She didn’t understand what had actually happened with Jenny. She thought it had all been about Tom, that I’d liked him, that he’d chosen Jenny over me or something equally clichéd. It takes time for boys to see anything beyond what’s right in front of them, she’d said, and then launched into some allegory about apples falling from trees and boys going for the easy-to-pick apples first but eventually learning that the best apples take a little more work. I wanted none of it.
    “So you’re saying girls are fruit that only exist for boys to eat?” I asked. “Sounds sexist.”
    “No,” she says, “that’s not what I’m saying at all.”
    “You’re literally calling me a bad apple.”
    “I’m not,” she says. “The other girls are bad apples.”
    “Why do any girls have to be bad apples? Why do we have to be apples at all?”

    After the sex is finished, he goes into the living room and brings back the Polaroid camera.
    “Don’t get dressed yet,” he says.
    I hold my arms over my chest and shake my head, my eyes wide.
    Smiling gently, he reassures me it’ll be for his eyes only. “I want to remember this moment,” he says. “The way you look right now.”
    He takes the pictures. Afterward, I wrap myself in the comforter and Strane lays the photos across the mattress. Together we watch them develop, the bed and my body emerging from the dark. “My god, look at you,” Strane says, his eyes darting from one to the other. He’s entranced, transfixed.
    I stare at the photos and try to see what he sees, but I look too weird in them—painfully pale against the unmade bed, my eyes unfocused, hair matted from sex. When he asks what I think, I say, “They remind me of that Fiona Apple music video.”

    I remember my college roommate Bridget saying, after I first told her about Strane, Your life is like a movie. She didn’t understand the horror of watching your body star in something your mind didn’t agree to. She meant it as a compliment. Isn’t that what all teenage girls want? Endlessly bored, aching for an audience.

    Ordinary girls have shoeboxes of love letters and dried-out corsages; I get a stack of child porn. If I were smart, I’d burn everything, especially the photos, because I know how they’d look to a normal person, like something confiscated from a sex-trafficking ring, evidence of an obvious crime—but I could never. It would be like setting myself on fire. I wonder if it’s possible for me to be arrested for having photos of myself.

    Fiona Apple was raped when she was twelve years old. I remember her talking about it in interviews back when I was twelve years old. She spoke about it so openly, the r-word coming out of her as though it were the same as any other. It happened outside her apartment; the whole time the man did what he did, she could hear her dog barking through the door. I remember crying over that detail while hugging our old shepherd dog, hot tears that I buried into his fur. I had no reason to care about rape then—I was a lucky kid, safe and securely loved—but that story hit me hard. Somehow I sensed what was coming for me even then. Really, though, what girl doesn’t? It looms over you, that threat of violence. They drill the danger into your head until it starts to feel inevitable. You grow up wondering when it’s finally going to happen.

    I wonder how much victimhood they’d be willing to grant a girl like me.

    It hurt then and it hurts now, his heavy limbs and sandpaper hands, a knee prying my legs apart. How can he be ready again? The bottle of Viagra in the bathroom cabinet, puke crusting together a lock of my hair. Him on top, his body so big it could smother me if he weren’t careful. But he is careful and he is good and he loves me and I want this. I still feel torn in two when he pushes inside, will probably always feel this way, but I want it. I have to.

    “I tortured him,” I say. “I don’t think you understand how much I contributed to everything. His whole life descended into hell because of me.”
    “He was a grown man and you were fifteen,” she says. “What could you have possibly done to torture him?”
    For a moment I’m speechless, unable to come up with an answer besides, I walked into his classroom. I existed. I was born.

    “I just feel . . .” I press the heels of my hands into my thighs. “I can’t lose the thing I’ve held on to for so long. You know?” My face twists up from the pain of pushing it out. “I just really need it to be a love story. You know? I really, really need it to be that.”

    I tell Ruby I feel like I’ve moved from grieving Strane to grieving myself. My own death.
    “Part of you died along with him,” she says. “That seems normal.”
    “No, not part,” I say. “All of me. Everything about me leads back to him. If I cut out the poison, nothing will be left.”

  156. This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis / Narrated by Brittany Pressley (2017)

    “Cause I had that dream too. But I was actually there and you sure as hell weren’t asleep.”

    “What’s gotten into you, Sasha?”
    I almost say Isaac Harver’s dick, but then cut it off with a laugh at the literal answer my sister would want me to toss out.

    “Hey,” he says back, his eyes roaming over my face.
    I still haven’t looked in the mirror, because if I did I know I would have told him not to come. The nurses keep telling me it’s improving, but I’m nowhere near what I was the last time he saw me. I can part my hair so that the half that’s still growing in isn’t as obvious, but the stitches across my forehead can’t be hidden. So I don’t even try, instead meeting his eyes boldly.
    “Shit, lady,” he says, his hands going to my face. He runs his thumb over the stitches softly, and I lean into his touch. “You look badass.”

    I try to ignore the fact that he must have misspelled weird enough times that autocorrect gave up on him.

    They’ve got Nadine in a wheelchair, her go bag across her knees. She’s bright as a star, her face radiant and a smile so big it even includes me as she sees my approach. Nadine sees me coming with arms open wide, and opens her own, welcoming what she thinks is a celebration, her victory over a shared struggle.
    She’s still smiling up at me as I clamp my hands on either side of her face and puke into her mouth.

  157. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (2019)

  158. Porn & Revolution in the Peaceable Kingdom by Micaela Morrissette (2013)

    In the holiday season, the ice songs of sea lions played from the speakers in endless loops.

    His favorite sleeper was passing at that moment, a bacterial hive-mind he’d privately christened Sunny for the cloud of eerie yellow shimmering phosphorescence that pulsated around her ever-shifting form in its delicate glass tube as she rolled hesitantly, unsteadily through the store on her wheeled wire rack. Even though all the species were entirely equal, the animals knew the bacteria were something special, something spiritual and otherworldly and slightly terrifying but also wonderfully wise.

    He’d queued up a documentary series on great art forgeries of parasitic mimicry to watch after they ate, but Mimi grew bored and complaining as soon as the first test-yourself quiz popped up onscreen, so Tim let her put on her favorite musical, about a human girl who marries her canine owner and becomes so wealthy that she possesses humans of her own. It was a made-just-for-humans movie, which explained the love affair between human and dog.

  159. Clean Room, Volume 1: Immaculate Conception (Clean Room #1-6) by Gail Simone, Jon Davis-Hunt, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, and Jenny Frison (2016)

  160. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston / Narrated by Jorjeana Marie (2016)

    “Don’t you want to catch him?” Polly asks.
    “Yes,” I say. “But think about what that means.”
    It hangs between us for about five seconds before Polly’s eyes widen and she realizes what she’s accidentally wished for.

    I am constantly surprised, these days, at the creative ways by which people will avoid saying “you were raped.” Everyone’s broken where that word is concerned.

    “I wanted you to know that my door is always open, if you need me,” she says. “I know it was a rough summer.”
    I stare at her for about five seconds, and then I start to laugh. She hasn’t shut the door, which is not very professional of her, and I can imagine the secretaries sitting down the hall straining to hear every word. Still, I am laughing because I realize Mrs. Itesse has had it relatively easy with our year. No one is pregnant (that we know of), and Clara died so long ago that we’re all well through the grieving process. Until a week ago, I would have assumed that Mrs. Itesse had never dealt with a rape case before, but now I know better. “Hey, looking for something?” I may not remember, but I know. There’s no way I’m the only girl who only consented to taking a drink.
    “Mrs. Itesse,” I say, standing up and pushing the door shut myself. “If you can’t say the word rape, or even attack, I don’t know how much help you’ll be able to give me.”

    “If someone starts throwing around stupid words like ‘It’s a gift,’ or ‘It’s in God’s plan,’ you come right here, and I’ll find you ten ways in which it isn’t.”
    I wonder how I’ve known Reverend Rob all my life and never realized he was a superhero. I keep bringing out the best in people, it seems.

    Mum doesn’t talk as much as Dad does, so sometimes it’s hard to read her. I can tell she’s angry now. Her eyes bulge a little, and her knuckles are white. There’s a sadness to her too. It makes her fragile around the edges. I don’t like it. “The only thing that’s kept me from breaking heads is the part that I don’t know whose head to break. I know you think that Polly is your superhero, but in this case, she’s going to have to get in line.”

    I’ve never met any of these women before, and I will never see any of them after today. I don’t know their names and they don’t know mine. I’ve been on teams and in clubs my whole life, surrounded by people who are united by a common purpose, and I have never felt anything like this. Maybe it’s the gas, but until this moment, I have never felt such a kinship with a person who was not actually family. I love every person in this room, and I’m pretty sure that if they asked, I’d do anything for them.
    Anything, except have a baby.

  161. Clean Room, Volume 2: Exile (Clean Room #7-12) by Gail Simone, Jon Davis-Hunt, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, and Jenny Frison (2017)

  162. Clean Room, Volume 3: Waiting for the Stars to Fall (Clean Room #13-18) by Gail Simone, Walter Giovani, Sanya Anwar, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Jenny Frison (2017)

  163. The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1) by Carrie Ryan / Narrated by Vane Millon (2009)

    Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there’s no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed? What if we are the only ones left — who will know our stories then? Who will remember those?

  164. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium #5) by David Lagercrantz / Narrated by Simon Vance (2017)

    One Saturday evening their home filled with visitors and noise and movement. It took her a while to understand what was happening. No-one had bothered to tell her that the family was celebrating her engagement.

    She was already living in a prison then, but she never allowed herself to give in to feelings of resignation or hopelessness. Instead she became furious, and gradually she drew less and less comfort from her memories of Jamal. Just thinking of a conversation where words had flown free made every exchange at home feel inhibited and stiff, and not even God was compensation for that. There was nothing spiritual or generous about God, not in her family. He was little more than a hammer with which to beat people over the head, an instrument for small-mindedness and oppression, exactly as Imam Ferdousi had said.

    But the interlude ended up being his life and he was never quite sure how.

    She thought about how, as a little girl, she had run shoeless through Stockholm until she got to the Royal Palace and hurried past a tall pillar towards a cathedral which was lit up in the darkness. That was Storkyrkan. She knew nothing about it then, she was simply drawn to it. She was freezing cold, her socks were soaked through and she needed to get some rest and warmth. She ran into an inner courtyard and walked through the side doors of the cathedral. The ceiling was so high that it seemed to reach to the sky. She remembered how she had gone further in so that people would stop staring at her. And that’s when she saw the statue. Only later did she realize that it was famous, said to represent St George killing a dragon and rescuing a damsel in distress. But that was not something Salander knew then or would even have cared about. She saw something entirely different in the statue that evening – an assault. The dragon – she still remembered it so clearly – was on its back with a spear through its body, while a man with an indifferent, blank expression struck the animal with his sword. The dragon was defenceless and alone, and that had made Salander think of her mother.
    She saw her mother in the dragon, and with every muscle in her body she felt that she wanted to save her. Or better still, she wanted to be the dragon herself and fight back, and breathe fire, and pull the rider down from his horse and kill him. Because the knight was clearly none other than Zala, her father. He was the evil destroying their lives.
    But that was not all. There was another figure depicted in the statue, a woman one could easily miss because she was standing to one side. She wore a crown on her head and was holding out her hands, as if reading a book. The strangest thing was that she was so calm, as if she were looking out over a meadow or an ocean rather than a slaughter. At the time, Salander could not recognize the woman as the maiden being rescued. In her eyes, the woman was ice cold and indifferent. She looked exactly like the woman with the birthmark from whom she had just escaped and who, like all the others, was allowing the violence and the abuse to continue at her home.

    “The last time we saw each other, we talked about that statue over there,” she said. “He wanted to know why I was so fascinated by it. I told him that I had never seen it as a monument to a heroic deed, but rather as a representation of a terrible assault. He understood immediately, and asked, ‘What about the fire the dragon is breathing?’ I said it was the same fire that burns inside everyone who is being trampled on. The same fire that can turn us into ashes and waste, but which sometimes, if some old fool like Holger spots us, plays chess with us and talks to us and just takes an interest, can become something totally different: a force which allows us to strike back. Holger knew that you can still get back on your feet, even with a spear sticking through your body, and that’s why he kept on nagging and was such a pain,” she said, and then fell silent again.

  165. Fury (Menagerie #3) by Rachel Vincent (2018)

    “He will pay for what he did,” Gallagher insisted. “I gave you my word. And even if I hadn’t…my hands itch to spill the life from his veins. I want to hear him scream until he chokes on his own blood. I want to see terror in his eyes when he recognizes me and understands exactly why his last moments will be excruciating, and as prolonged as I can make them. Delilah, I want to craft a rattle for our child from his vertebrae.”

    “The Lord never gives us more than we can handle.”
    Lenore snorted as the woman walked away. “Spoken like someone who’s never lived in a cage,” she whispered.

    The mental disconnect between knowing that he’d died and understanding that I would never see him again felt like a chasm my heart just couldn’t bridge.

    And if she had to defend herself someday, she could. She would be her own champion.

    “I cry foul. Humankind doesn’t deserve a sword and shield. Or even a plastic spork. Not after everything they’ve done to us. You should be fighting for us.”

    Despite the fear and rage pulsing through him, for one long moment—several endless beats of his heart—Gallagher could only stare at the spectacle. It was magnificent. She was magnificent. Delilah stood in the middle of a huge crowd, drenched in the fragrant crimson life force that fed his soul, as if she were the eye of a blood hurricane, wreaking destruction in an ever-widening ring.

  166. I Hunt Killers (I Hunt Killers #1) by Barry Lyga / Narrated by Charlie Thurston (2012)

    “She’s a she. Not an it. She’s always been a she.”
    “Yeah, no kidding.”
    “Don’t ever let me call her an it again,” Jazz told him. “Actually, don’t ever let me call anyone an it, okay?”

    There was always a knife in a sink.

    Sometimes hope could be the most frightening thing in the world.

    He couldn’t help himself. The Impressionist knew himself to be a strong-willed individual, but when it came to Jasper Dent…Every rational part of him screamed to avoid the kid. But something deeper and more primal urged him forward, wanted him hurtling in Dent’s direction.
    The Impressionist wondered: Is this what it’s like to be in love? Is this what people in love experience?

  167. Bird Brain: Comics About Mental Health, Starring Pigeons by Chuck Mullin (2019)

  168. Game (I Hunt Killers #2) by Barry Lyga / Narrated by Charlie Thurston (2013)

    “I hear they have really tall buildings.”
    “And subways.”
    “And museums.”
    “And more than a dozen black people, too. It’s truly a land of wonder.”
    “A miracle of our modern age,” Jazz agreed, and kissed the back of her neck.

    “Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been thinkin’ that someday you’re gonna crack and end up like your daddy. And you’ve been looking for proof that you won’t. What you don’t realize is this: The looking is the proof. Trust me when I tell you that Billy Dent never had a moment’s doubt in his life about what he was and what he was doing. Your doubt is your soul, kid.”

    And poor Samantha had had enough. Enough of her brother. Enough of the reporters. Enough of the damn dress it had taken her all day to find. She’d kicked the car door and screamed, “There isn’t a hell in the universe hot enough for my [bleep]damned brother! If they wanted to kill him, I’d flip the [bleep]ing switch myself!”
    The bleeps, of course, were courtesy of network censors. Obviously, they found her justifiable “mature language” too offensive and shocking for the delicate sensibilities of the same viewers who regularly tuned in to hear details of Billy’s extensive career of raping, torturing, and murdering mostly young women.

    And the next thing you know, you’re Jeffrey Dahmer, drilling holes in the heads of corpses in an attempt to make sex zombies, and the crazy thing isn’t that you’re drilling the heads to make sex zombies—the crazy thing is that doing so seems completely and utterly normal and necessary.

    Jazz wasn’t sure what to do, how to react. He’d never been shot down like this. Bureaucracy. Who knew that bureaucracy would be my kryptonite?

  169. My Bison by Gaya Wisniewski (2020)

    And then one winter, my bison didn’t come.
    I looked for him for a long time.
    In the forest, I felt like a little girl again.
    But I didn’t find him.
    That night, I came home with a heavy heart.
    The sky was bright with stars, more than I had ever seen
    before. I cried. I missed my bison so much.
    And then I felt him by my side.
    And in my heart I heard him say,
    “I am in every spring flower, every sound in the forest,
    and every snowflake.”
    He was always with me.
    He had never left.

  170. The Living (Warm Bodies #3) by Isaac Marion (2018)

    “But you had plenty of warnings before that. A poisoned planet choking on your apathy. A government festering as you filled it with rot. A culture sustained on conflict, feeding on its own blood, a thousand tiny wars that could never be allowed to end.”
    He moves toward the staircase, and Paul follows him. “And then one day, it all caught up to you. Your government went rabid and turned on you. The ocean you used for your toilet rose up for revenge. Even the earth itself tried to shake off its tormentors, but no matter how many cities it flattened in its convulsions, you kept drilling. No matter how many wars erupted, you kept provoking more, kept raising armies and smashing them together like toys, kept hating and hurting and devouring each other until you finally broke the universe. You reached the very bottom and you drilled right through, and a new kind of death bubbled up to meet you.”
    Their boots rattle the rusty metal steps, echoing up and down the stairwell as they ascend toward a distant light.
    “This new death was the final warning, but you still didn’t listen. God held up a mirror and said, ‘See what you’ve become!” but you refused to look. So your reflection climbed out of the mirror and ate your children. It ravaged your world and reduced it to a skeleton. But instead of falling to your knees and begging God to save you, you’re building new houses out of the bones.”

    “They think it can’t happen because it’s never happened before.”

    I give her the human parts of me. The parts that everyone has, in some shape and color. And when the time is right, I’ll give her the rest, and I’ll hope what we’ve built can withstand it.

    The bartender looks embarrassed. “Oh…I thought you were local. There’s a ban on alcohol right now. We uh…we serve juice.”
    She stares at him blankly.
    “Some whiskey drinkers say grapefruit has a similar kick?”
    “I’ve been on the road for two years,” Nora says. “I spent most of last week in the Gresham Patriots’ prison pit before they tried to sell me to the Nor-Cal Riders and I had to kill two people with a broken bong. I could really use something stronger than grapefruit.”

    I glimpse a few strawberries among the weeds and think of a Beatles reference that Julie would have enjoyed once, back when all I had to do to impress her was to know literally anything.

    It’s harder to decontextualize meat when you’ve chewed it off a living, screaming body. Perhaps some parts of my humanity should be left unremembered.

    “What we had before is what burned the world down. I’m ready for a whole new everything.”
    “Chairs on the ceiling,” Tomsen adds. “An otter for president.”
    Gebre looks at us for a moment, then tosses up his hands and turns back to his husband. “Well. Okay.”
    Gael erupts with laughter. “You’re out of touch with the youth, old man.”
    “I might even agree with them,” Gebre says with a shrug, “but they’re hardly representative of the general population.”
    “We might be someday,” Julie says. “Maybe sooner than you think.”

    We are learning how to speak. We can’t shout, but we can whisper. We can’t push, but we can nudge. We can slip truths between pages until finally she reads them. Nora stands in front of the void and croaks a name.
    “Addis?” […]
    We draw lines between his scattered volumes, connecting them with his sister’s, and we smile. Two tiny parts of our vast body, a brother and a sister, severed and now reattached. The average temperature of the universe rises a degree.

    All it took to crash the system was enough people deciding to do it.

    “I’ve been thinking,” I tell him. “About our new lives. How we got here from there. And I think…dying isn’t so bad.”
    He turns his head just enough to look at me sideways.
    “Dying…halts your momentum. All those wheels set spinning in childhood…determining what you do…who you are… they stop. You stop. You see where you’re standing. And then you can turn around.”

    “R,” she says, barely a whisper. “You’re different.”
    I watch her eyes glint in the dark as they explore my features.
    “When your heart started beating, I thought that was it. I thought you were ‘cured’ and whoever you were then was the real you. But you’re still changing, aren’t you? You’re still… forming.” A fragile smile touches her face. “Who are you going to be when you’re done?”

    “No way around it, zombies are magic.”

    “We’re not a doomsday cult.” Peter’s earnestness warms into another wry smile. “We’re a doomsday family.”

    “Every good thing is worth fighting for. No matter how long it lasts.”

    “Perry?”
    A feeling of warm water pools in my chest—a ghost is smiling. It’s good to be known, R.

    My body and mind have taken many forms throughout my many lives. I am a walking canvas for reality’s new rules.

    We are surrounded by creatures that have outlived empires. Gnarled oaks and towering redwoods whose inner rings inhaled the last breath of Christ and the smoke of Alexandria. How foolish we must look to them.

    We are ten thousand generations of humans and millions more of simpler things, a vast history of lives and experiences condensed like an ocean of oil, growing deeper and more refined with each new moment of beauty. We want to ignite. We want to be heat and light. After billions of years, we are running out of patience.

    I look down at the metal briefcase in my hand. I have this weapon today because of the man I once was. That wretch carried it across the country and left it for me in the woods. A corner of my mouth quirks at the thought: he was searching for BABL too.

    Will this be our only moment? Our one chance to enjoy such simple sweetness? Will we ever return to this house and the life we hoped to build? Ungrateful questions. Insults to a generous universe. I won’t reject a gift because it isn’t two gifts.

    Since the day I met Julie, I’ve been trying to keep her safe. But what I’ve come to realize is that Julie will never be safe, because she doesn’t want to be. She wants to fight hard and love hard and eat life raw and bleeding. So I won’t try to keep her out of danger. If it’s time for war, I won’t hold her back. I’ll charge in beside her and make sure we win.

    In the glorious mess of the Library, books are bound loosely, pages migrate freely, and one moment of a life might disagree with the next. So when a corrupted man dies and can no longer cause harm, even his own memories rejoice. The better parts of his life, the Higher moments, they celebrate along with us and we bear them no grudge, because the Library is not a collection of people but a collection of moments, experiences, thoughts, and sensations, and we have only one goal: to elevate the whole.

    The dome is thick with shadows, but Abram can see his former travel partners in the dusty shafts of daylight. He starts to catalogue them by features—the black girl, the big guy, the blond bitch, the lanky fucker—but his mind surprises him with names.
    Nora. Marcus. Julie. R.
    They look like they’ve been through Hell. Abram saw some of it on the screens. He saw Marcus take a knife in the ribs. He saw Julie take it in the leg while trying to protect Marcus. And now they’re all here, bloody and gaunt, knowing full well that Axiom is coming for them and apparently not caring.
    It is hard to call this weakness.

    Addis reads all this in our fluttering pages. It joins the swirl of other moments circling his head. He has been tallying them for a long time, counting up good and bad, weighing the balance on some imaginary scale of justice, but he is suddenly ashamed of this petty bean-counting. His grand calculations shrink to a human scale as they play out on the stage in front of him. He sees people trying. He sees compassion and love and selfless sacrifice. He sees blood willingly shed and tears that are more than grief and people continuing to fight long after their strength is gone.
    He sees goodness.
    He sees a lot of it.
    He sees enough.

    “How do we make a better world without giving up a single piece of the old one? We don’t. We can’t. That’s a fucking stupid question.”

    “R,” she says, looking up from the page. “You’re writing a memoir?”
    I shrug, tossing aside the bottle like it’s betrayed me.
    A smile spreads across her face. “Am I in it?”
    “You’re the main character.”

    Where have I heard this song? Whose voice is that singing it to me? I close my eyes to remember, and my head floods with pictures. Pages. Lives that aren’t mine and lives that aren’t yet anyone’s—lives still waiting to be lived. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past, but I have rarely looked at the future. I look at it now. It towers above me, its ceiling so remote that I’m not sure it has one. Just a light that grows brighter the farther away it gets, shining from distant books too beautiful to understand.

  171. Long Story Short: 100 Classic Books in Three Panels by Lisa Brown (2020)

  172. Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg’s stand to save the world by Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico (2019)

  173. What I Lick Before Your Face … and Other Haikus By Dogs by Jamie Coleman (2019)

    Grass
    Why do I eat grass?
    Perhaps today is the day
    It is sausages

    Best Friend
    The definition
    Of friendship must surely be
    You, a bag, my poop

    Rubs
    It hurts my feelings
    When you avoid stroking there
    Nipples are me too

    The Lead
    You make me bring you
    This harness of oppression
    In my own damn mouth

    Going to Live on the Farm
    Guys, there is no farm
    I wish there was, but there is
    Only nothingness

  174. Blood of My Blood (I Hunt Killers #3) by Barry Lyga / Narrated by Charlie Thurston (2014)

    “You little witch!” Billy marveled, and some part of Connie found it amusing that Billy Dent didn’t drop the B word on her.

    “I want a tattoo that just says ‘tattoo,’ ” Howie went on. “It’s a meta thing. Very postmodern. Avant-garde. I don’t expect you to understand.”

    This would be a waiting game. Jazz kept tabs on the guy he’d begun to think of as Ryan. He didn’t know why Ryan. But he knew that he had to give the guy a name. Thinking of him as Drunk Guy was one step removed from thinking of him as Victim #1. Which was one step from thinking of him as something less than human.
    People matter. People are real. Even Ryan.

    Howie imagined the city of New York armed to the teeth, terrified neighbors blowing one another’s heads off as fear set imaginations afire and itchy trigger fingers on the highest alert. Sounded like the most moronic idea ever, and that was coming from a guy who’d put the moves on a serial killer.

  175. The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2) by M.R. Carey / Narrated by Finty Williams (2017)

    The Caldwell doctrine, that ego-death occurs at the moment of infection, is widely accepted in Beacon but has never been satisfactorily proved. The alternative hypothesis—terrible but not implausible—is that the hungries have some kind of locked-in syndrome. That they’re conscious but unable to command their own limbs, sidelined by the pathogen that’s set up house in their nervous system. How would that feel? A soul peeping out through stained grey curtains while the body it used to wear celebrates its freedom with acts of random carnage?

    The Rosalind Franklin sits in the middle of the clear space, an armoured mother hen waiting for her chicks to come home.
    Her? Khan always falls into the trap of using the female pronoun, and always resents it.

    When she thinks of John Sealey, she thinks of their bodies pressed together between the upper and middle bunks—the narrow space that they defended against the world. That’s important. The scientist in her insists on it. Her memories are John’s mortal remains, and that roadside carrion is nothing.

    A cure for pregnancy? She’d love to see what that might look like.

    I didn’t cure you. And I won’t. Because the main ingredient of the cure would be the children, and I can’t do that to them.
    Can you imagine, Rina? Half a million people in Beacon. Half a million doses of vaccine, just to start with. If I bring this home, if I tell them … We’ll scour the whole country, from one end to the other. Probably we’ll have to send some raiding parties across the Channel, too. And then when that isn’t enough—not nearly enough—we’ll start a breeding programme. Capture female hungries alive and impregnate them. Take the babies, and …

    Mulch them down. Liquidise and synthesise and mass produce. Build massive battery farms full of insentient brood mares. Fill them and empty them again and again.
    Perhaps if it were just hungries they were talking about it would be bearable. But Khan remembers the potlatch in the forest. The scarred girl accepting the plastic voice box, then taking the keychain from her belt and handing it to Stephen. She looks down at his waist, sees that it’s still there: the little plastic man saluting her with his expression of arch amusement.
    Marco? Mario? Something like that. A child’s toy, manufactured by the billions in an age when everything—life, food, comfort, safety—came without effort.
    The children are human in every way that counts. Growing up in the wild, with no adult role models except the hungries, figuring it out for themselves. It’s a miracle they have come so far so fast. That they have formed a family instead of beating each other’s skulls in and eating the best parts. Clubs and knives and slings and stones notwithstanding, Lutes and John and Phillips and Penny notwithstanding, they’re nobody’s monsters.
    What would be monstrous would be pulping their brains and spines to make medicine. Khan understands why Stephen can’t bring himself to do that, even for her.
    “I never thought I’d be sorry you had too much empathy,” she says. She tries to smile, to take the sting out of her words. If the smile looks from the outside as bad as it feels on her face then it must be a pretty awful counterfeit. “Pretend I didn’t say that,” she says, “I get it. You’re not into genocide.”

    The solution is here. Now. It takes the form of a Venn diagram, two circles intersecting. The world of Beacon, dying slowly every year even before it decided to dismember and eat itself; and the world of these children, which whatever it might be now has at least the potential to be something else. It’s a seed. A dead tree can stand for years or decades as it hollows out. A seed has places to be and things to do.
    Stephen has made up his mind. He’s with the seeds, the scarred girl’s tribe. He can’t be one of them, but he has chosen his allegiance. The children are all that matters.

  176. Come See the Living Dryad by Theodora Goss (2017)

    “My God,” said Dr. Patel, leaning across the table. “What was wrong with her?” She had been quiet for so long that I had almost forgotten she was there.
    “Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia,” I said. “Or, you know, being murdered. Can I take out the nightgown?”

    Precisely was also how she packed all the evidence back in the box. This, I thought, was Daphne Merwin’s coffin, as much as the one in which her body lay decomposing.

    If we had been living in the late nineteenth century, you and I, we might have paid a shilling or two to see the human wonders of the age: the Bear Woman, the Dog-Faced Boy, the Elephant Man, the Primitive Eve, the Living Dryad. A century later, we must rediscover Julia Pastrana, Fedor Jeftichew, Joseph Merrick, Lucy Barker, and Daphne Merwin: the human beings behind the labels and advertisements. Who were they? What did they think? How did they feel?

    But do they actually see me?
    Or only the creature he has created? To them, I am merely a curiosity, and sometimes I wish that I could speak—he has told me not to speak, that only he is to speak, ever. My speaking would destroy the illusion. But I wish to tell them … what? That I am real, flesh and blood, not wood. That I am a woman, not a fairy tale. I have a soul, as they do.
    Would they listen?
    You, beyond the lights, I would say. When you look at me, what do you see? When I speak, what do you hear?

  177. Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (2020)

    All these years, I’ve been telling people she was sick. Look who was right after all.

    Never mind all the attention she got while she was sick. Never mind the free toys and extra lollipops from the nurses and the total adoration from every citizen in Deadwick. She had them eating from the palm of her hand—she chose to throw it all away. And now she wants it back.

    If I take Adam, Rose Gold will move mountains to find him. He and I will never be at peace. This would all be so much easier if she just … disappeared.

    Buying the house meant giving up on my beautiful white teeth. I didn’t take the decision lightly.

    For years I had dreamed of what joy without self-consciousness would feel like. What could be more worthwhile than my confidence, my happiness? How about a satisfaction so deep, every inch of your skin tingles? How about a different kind of happiness—the kind people who have never been mistreated would call perverse?

    As someone not part of society until semirecently, I could by now confirm it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Other people were exhausting.

    I had come to love food like it was a person. In some ways, food was better—reliable and nourishing and it never talked back.

    Of course I set her up.
    You’ve wanted to do the same. You have lain in bed at night thinking of all the exquisite ways you could punish the person who wronged you. You know the one—even now, their face hovers in your mind. If only, you think, not daring to finish the thought.
    The difference between you and me is follow-through. I made it happen.
    When Ursula was about to destroy Ariel, Prince Eric didn’t make a peace offering. He didn’t divvy up sides of the ocean, settle for living amicably with a sea witch. He drove a ship’s mast straight into her gut and killed her. I’m my own Prince Eric. I saved myself.

    Most people don’t like holding on to anger. They feel it crushing and consuming them, so they let it go. They try to forget the ways they’ve been wronged.
    But some of us cannot forget and will never forgive. We keep our axes sharp, ready to grind. We hold pleas for mercy between our teeth like jawbreakers.
    They say a grudge is a heavy thing to carry.
    Good thing we’re extra strong.

  178. Dangerous Games to Play in the Dark by Lucia Peters (2019)

    Once that candle goes dark, anything might happen.

  179. Blood Countess by Lana Popović (2020)

    But I see it. Just as I see Lord Nadasdy’s hand close around her wrist, the skin paling with the force of his grip. I can see how it hurts her, in the way her smile slides off her face.
    For all the gold and silver in her coffers, in some ways the countess is just like me.
    A woman, with a man’s cruel hand around her wrist.

    It is not the dark itself that I fear, but the men who come creeping under its cover. Though I am often just as leery when approached even at high noon. It seems many of them are not safe at any time in our lord’s creation.

    “You should be wed already, and growing round with child. I see how you dote on your sister. You need a babe of your own.”
    I wrinkle my nose with distaste, averting my face so she does not see it. Despite her years of catching babes, cauled or stillborn or so monstrously large they rend their mothers open before sucking their first breath, somehow she still loves children above all else. I can’t understand it. The last thing I desire is to be split open, to die shrieking and sundered on a scarlet wave of blood, delivering a child that would forever shackle me to my husband. Wed to a man, I would no longer belong to myself.

    “And would you like to?” she asks, her voice husky with wine. She plays with our tangled fingers, bringing them so close to her lips I can feel the heat of her breath skip over my wet skin. “Have an opportunity for fire? I am decidedly choleric myself, you know. Strong-willed, decisive, vengeful. And always very prone to flames.”
    “I should love it, my lady,” I answer, my voice low. “If it will please you.”
    Again, she angles her head back so she can look at me, inverted, those red, red lips curving into a languorous smile. “Oh, it does already, Anna,” she says. “I could not be more pleased that you’ve made your way back to me.”

    Nothing pleases her more than the thinness of my skin, how readily it reveals the activity beneath.

    And is it truly Ferenc’s abuse, I begin to wonder, watching the corded muscles in Elizabeth’s neck, the wild elation flooding her face with every fall of the switch, that casts her to these abject depths? Or might there be some black vein of malice riving through her, too, nothing at all to do with him?
    But that cannot be, it cannot. I could not love someone evil, and yet I love her so dearly, shudder with yearning for her touch.

    “How funny,” she ponders. “I’ve never even considered befriending a man. I would not know how to trust one.”

  180. War and Peas: Funny Comics for Dirty Lovers by Jonathan Kunz and Elizabeth Pich (2020)

  181. That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy (2020)

  182. The Companions by Katie M. Flynn (2020)

    “That’s my favorite part.”
    “I know. You like it when I talk about the penis.”

    I grabbed my robe and raced off to the communal shower, had a good cry. I don’t know why I was so affected. It was a machine, after all, but what happened when it broke? Was she gone, the girl inside?

    “She didn’t go to prison. She was a housewife.”
    “Well, according to my mom, that’s a prison in itself.”

    Where I live now is a blank space. I imagine you live somewhere similar. I can fill it with light, with sorrow, drench it in horror, erase it all with an ocean roar. I can fill it with memories, you putting on your sister’s clothes, Lea! I can remember her name—I don’t know why.

  183. Gudetama: Love for the Lazy by Gaydos Sarah (2020)

  184. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks (2019)

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , ,

Leave a Reply