The YA Agenda

Happy early Valentine’s Day! Last week there came an article in the New York Times wailing that YA books don’t contain sex anymore. This was a baffling assertion on a number of fronts. The week before that, I wrote and submitted my February YA column for the wonderful blog Lady Business, in which I built a rec list of YA books where the main characters have sex and they’re fine. Because among the many things YA does well is that it sometimes models healthy decisions about sex. The kids are all right. Don’t panic.

That column is out today, so read it here!

The Future of Football: A Links Round-Up

IT IS FRIDAY. Every week is a thousand years long, and I have a weird SF video thing to share with you first:

What will football look like in the future (the far, far future)? SB Nation has a go at figuring it out.

Following the death of Otto Wambier, journalist and Korea expert Suki Kim argues that tourism to North Korea serves no legitimate purpose.

Some people get very mad when JK Rowling says stuff about Harry Potter. My pal Ben Lindbergh argues at The Ringer that there’s no point being mad about it.

This movie review is magical. I loved every word of it, from the first line all the way through to the ending. Props.

This book review is also magical. Reviews are magic. Thank you, God, for giving us reviews like these.

Three books about (kind of) One Direction fandom that sound great. And I mean, one of them is great. Cause I read it. And I really liked it.

Janet Mock on “pretty privilege,” which is for sure a real thing.

In honor of the Fourth of July, Karan Mahajan writes about the American institution of small talk (and its trickiness to master).

Juliet Litman weighs in on the mess that the Bachelor franchise has made of itself.

The Public Religion Research Institute has a new study about the way Americans in different demographics perceive discrimination in this country and what should be done about it.

This story about the Philip Pullman bid in Authors for Grenfell Tower will never not make me teary.

What are the books that colleges are giving incoming freshman to read? My main takeaway from this article is that everyone else got to read awesome stuff and we had to read goddamn Fast Food Nation.

Have a great weekend, my lovelies! I will be making homemade Oreos, editing podcast, constructing a dollhouse, and hopefully getting some reading done and WATCHING BLACK SAILS OMG.

Justice for Kenny: A Links Round-Up

Okay, I don’t actually have a link about Kenny, my favorite contestant on this season of The Bachelorette, but I will tell you that there is some racist shit going down on this season, and it is not fun to watch, it’s upsetting. ABC is a tire fire. What else is new.

Roxane Gay’s series “World of Wakanda” was canceled — as usual, because Marvel calculates sales in the stupidest way possible and doesn’t give its new series and new authors the support they need and enough time to find their audience. Swapna Krishna discusses this nonsense.

I still haven’t watched Handmaid’s Tale and I don’t plan to because I can’t face it, but I can’t stop linking to Angelica Jade Bastien’s work so HERE: Have her close-read of the racial politics (and erasure of people of color) of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Joss Whedon’s proposed Wonder Woman script got released online and it is, uh, not great, Bob. Here is a Twitter thread for your enjoyment. Here is another one. What the ffffff.1

I don’t know if y’all know about my intense love of good celebrity profiles, but here’s a Vogue profile of Zendaya that made me DAMMIT sort of want to see new Spiderman.

This is a story about a raccoon.

Sonia Soraiya watched that Alex Jones interview so you don’t have to.’s free ebook for the month of June is John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, which was on the list of SF recs I got from Renay! Get your copy today if you sign up for their newsletter!

Guess who has a new book out in October! It’s John Green! I am sure the book will be good, but I also don’t want to read all the Hot Takes about fanfiction by people who think John Green invented it.

Have a great weekend, friends. I’ll see you back here on Monday.

  1. Do I feel sorry for Joss Whedon for having his unedited work posted publicly and viciously picked over? Like, kind of? But also, he’s a crazy successful film person who talks constantly about being a feminist but whose feminism appears not to have evolved since the 90s even though lots of things have been written and said and done since then. So my answer is that I’d feel sorrier for him getting dragged over his portrayal of ladies if he’d portray ladies better.

Research Topics for the Weekend: A Links Round-Up

Happy Friday! There are no more good weeks in our barren world; there are only weeks where the world falls apart. Eat cheese and chocolate accordingly, and plan to call your senators a whole lot next week.

The always-marvelous Angelica Jade Bastien unpacks the debate about black American and British actors.

This isn’t new, but I hadn’t seen it before: An interactive self-care guide that is legit pretty great.

If you’ve read The Thief and The Queen of Attolia, may I direct your attention to this appreciation of Eugenides? It contains significant spoilers for two eminently spoilable books, so don’t click if you haven’t read them.

Dude movie stars are getting too many muscles, says Vulture. I….do not disagree with this. Chris Evans’s arms in Civil War are pretty great tho.

This excerpt from the new book Hearththrobs is pretty fucking great. The goal of making me want to read Hearthrobs is achieved thereby.

Wesley Morris writes about Bill Maher with the perfect degree of contempt and world-weariness. Plus a hell of a kicker.

This Buzzfeed article on Trump-inspired rhetoric in schools made me really sad. Also squares with some stuff I’ve heard from teacher friends.

Since we’re interviewing Zan Romanoff for next week’s podcast, I am in the midst of a desultory deep dive into One Direction history. Here’s her explainer on the group.

Some thoughts on sex work and its decriminalization (a topic about which I am soon going to educate myself more thoroughly).

One time I asked my dear, good friend Julia to teach me how to be a Wikipedia editor, and she was all gung-ho for it. She was like “Okay, first of all, pick a username that doesn’t indicate in any way that you might be a woman, and also don’t let it be connected to any other username you’ve ever used for anything anywhere on the internet, no matter how long ago,” and I was like “ha ha never mind, this sounds awful.” I felt bad for disappointing her, but on the other hand, this article.

Have a wonderful weekend, my darlings! I will be reading up on One Direction, South African history, and the decriminalization of sex work.

Fantastic Girls and Gilmore Beasts: A Links Round-Up

Happy Friday, team! It is a grumpy Friday for me because I have to work tomorrow, but I struggle on in spite of everything. Stay brave, friends, and have a wonderful weekend.

It’s not too late to ask me and Whiskey Jenny to pick out books for you to buy your loved ones this holiday season! Fill out our holiday gift guide form and you’ll received personalized gift recommendations on our December 14th podcast.

Rebecca Traister is a writer I’ve come to really respect, and her piece on blaming Trump on the people who fought the hardest against him is fantastic.

Also, here’s Rebecca Traister again and the equally fantastic Rembert Browne talking about moving forward with anger and/or optimism in the age of Trump.

What books were some of this year’s most awesomest writers thankful for? Buzzfeed has your list.

The state of Harry Potter fandom in the conflicted age of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

And speaking of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw has some thoughts about queer subtext in that movie and queer-coded villains.

The Merriam-Webster social media team speaks out about their on-point Twitter game.

Long story short, I always thought that Gilmore Girls was problematic and that the Gilmore girls were assholes (but I also love it!), so I’m really enjoying all the thinkpieces that have come out lately reading the revival for filth on those very points.

Also Maddie Myers is one of my fave critics these days, and she has good things to say about the Stars Hollow musical and what a jerk Lorelai is about it. (Lorelai Gilmore is a jerk, pass it on.)

On myths of racial determinism and books like Hillbilly Elegy.

Look up, please: Y’all, this is what I’m talking about. If you witness something like this happening, tell the person to stop. It will suck, but nobody else will do it if you don’t. Be that person.

A history of the concept of political correctness.

On the dearth of famous black writers in sci-fi.

The Atlantic has been doing Trump Time Capsules, but stopped when the election was over. Here’s what they have to say on the future of time capsules.

JK Rowling Does What She Wants: A links round-up

Emily Asher Perrin (writer of the superb Harry Potter Reread series on has some thoughts on JK Rowling’s constant expanding of the Harry Potter universe, and most of them are also my thoughts, so go see what you think.

The controversial Professor Bhaer: An investigation in five parts at the Paris Review.

Bros writing about southern food (& why it should be more ladies), over at a website I newly love, The Bitter Southerner.

This piece by Kiese Laymon about Bill Cosby and minimum standards of human decency is so, so good.

The stories you have the right to write, and building a new canon.

“Yes We Need Diverse Books. But that doesn’t always mean that we want YOU to write them.” Ellen Oh on the hip new trend of diversity, and the important work of promoting books by diverse authors.

“I Met a Sex Monster”: The Toast recaps “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

bell hooks chats to Emma Watson, and it’s as adorable as you are imagining. Maybe even adorabler.

Christy of A Good Stopping Point has converted her great-great-grandmother’s journals into a blog! Stop by and check it out!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

The #HamAlong Can’t Wait to See You Again

Confession: When I was reading the lyrics to the last few songs of Hamilton to decide on a post title, I teared up. I could hear Philippa Soo’s angel voice in my head, and I am not made of stone.

This section served up a whole bunch of things that broke my heart into tiny pieces, and I guess I might as well just lay them out for y’all so you can be heartbroken too.

Feeling poorly, Kent retired early to bed. Anxious about his guest, Hamilton tiptoed into his room with an extra blanket and draped it over him delicately. “Sleep warm, little judge, and get well,” Hamilton told him. “What should we do if anything should happen to you?”

I don’t know if I’ve told y’all this, but nothing wins my heart like people putting blankets on other people to make sure they aren’t cold.

In the lead-up to the duel, Hamilton’s son James asks his father to look over a speech he’s writing, and this is what Hamilton tells him:

“My dear James,” Hamilton began, “I have prepared for you a thesis on discretion. You may need it. God Bless you. Your affectionate father, A.H.”

Super weird advice from our guy A. Ham.

And finally, I wrote “heart is stabbed tho for real” in my notes when I got to this bit:

While reading the scene in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy in which the tenderhearted Uncle Toby picks up a fly and delicately places it outside a window instead of killing it, Burr is said to have remarked, “Had I read Sterne more and Voltaire less, I should have known the world was wide enough for Hamilton and me.”


The whole scene of Alexander Hamilton’s death is really, really hard to read. You know how Alexander Hamilton could sometimes be the sweetest human man? Well, that’s what he was up to throughout the days of being on his deathbed. I kept wanting to stop reading, except stopping reading wouldn’t have stopped Alexander Hamilton from dying tragically young.

As we reach this the final day of #HamAlong, I want to give an infinitude of props both to Ron Chernow for creating this monumental biography (overpartial to its subject though it is), and particularly to Lin-Manuel Miranda for creating out of it a piece of art that gives stunning immediacy to the story of this long-dead genius and his life at a time in history that we all feel we already knew.


Thanks for Hamilton, dude. That’s a pretty fucking incredible thing you made.

And now, with thanks once again to the fabulous Alice for hosting, I will just toddle off to weep in a corner over how great Eliza was and how unfair it is that she had to live for fifty years without her beloved husband at her side. SOB.

#BBAW: Book Recommendations

Today is the hardest topic of all the topics for Book Blogger Appreciation Week (hosted, again, by me and Ana and Andi and Heather, over at the Estella Society); or I should say rather, the very easiest. To wit:

Day 3 What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger?

What haven’t I read and loved because of a fellow blogger? Before blogging, my reading life was on its way to becoming a tragic wasteland. I had exhausted the recommendations of my friends and relations and was reduced to — this is not a joke — examining college syllabi for various English classes, under the assumption that they would contain recommendations for New Classics.

Since then, all my newly acquired favorite authors have been by way of fellow book bloggers, and I am basically dead from gratitude. Perhaps I would one day have discovered Helen Oyeyemi, because she wins the prizes and is a literary darling (in a minor way); but who can say if ever I would have discovered some of the, for instance, YA authors that I now cherish? Maggie Stiefvater, Kekla Magoon, Patrick Ness? Would I only have discovered them when movie adaptations of their books were made?

Not to mention (but oh, I shall mention it) the curating of comic books done for me by my fellow book bloggers! Where would I have learned which Marvel comics to read? Would Paper Girls be on my TBR list now? (Doubtful.) Would I know about the Tamakis? Princeless? WOULD I?

Stop by the Estella Society to see what else people have been reading because of other book bloggers! And as usual, I love you all. Kisses!


NB, Tulum: A Links Round-Up

Happy Friday, everyone! I have had a stupid week and am psyched for it to be over! So here are some links, as ever, for your delectation and delight.

First and most importantly, Book Blogger Appreciation Week is NEXT WEEK. I’ll be hosting a Twitter chat on Tuesday at 9 PM EST, and the blogosphere at large will be squeeing about our love for each other all week long. Don’t miss it.


I admit this has nothing to do with anything, but Caity Weaver’s GQ profile of Justin Bieber is magic.

It’s unsettling to share a personal story, or ask a long-winded question, and be met with Justin Bieber’s silent, cool-eyed stare the entire time you’re talking. Justin Bieber makes eye contact like a person who has been told that eye contact is very, very important.

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is a fantastic blog that you should be following if you’re not already. Here she is on Aubrey Beardsley’s weird, attenuated illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s weird, attenuated play Salome.

Survey says: Publishing is super white. Dit dit dit. Alert the presses to this breaking news.

An interview with Frances Hardinge, author of The Lie Tree which DAMMIT I still haven’t read. It looks sooooooo goooooooood.

Why you can mash up Hamilton with litrally anything.

So, I am perfectly willing to believe, if given sufficient reason to do so, that multiple regression analysis is a garbage statistical method. On the other hand, this reads like Mickey Rooney in his latter years so I have grave concerns about its validity. THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH NOT KNOWING EVERYTHING.

Elif Batuman on passing for Muslim in Turkey.

NPR’s Code Switch compiles a round-up of responses to Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance and new video “Formation.”

Rebecca Solnit on the CDC’s alcohol recommendations for women and the men who are missing from the narrative.

Jessica Jones, Episode 3: AKA It’s Called Whiskey

What’s that you say? It’s time to talk about Mike Colter now? YES OKAY.

Up to now, we’ve mostly seen Luke Cage in a state of chilly calm, whether he’s offering Jessica free drinks or fussing at her for sending cops his way. And don’t get me wrong; Mike Colter is amazing at chilly calm. But in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey,” he and Jessica are getting to know one another, and it’s fun to see both of them a little more relaxed and getting to know each other. Mike Colter’s cheekbones are just really really on point.

AKA It's Called Whiskey
mmkay will try not to then

Plus, how often do we get a smile this genuine out of Jessica? It’s nice, right?

AKA It's Called Whiskey

If Mike Colter’s considerable charisma weren’t enough to get me excited for the Luke Cage show (it is), and if I didn’t care that Alfre Woodard is also in it and it’s got a black showrunner (I do), the fact that his superpowers are the result of an experiment would do it. If I’m very, very good and eat all my spinach, can the Luke Cage show please, please, pretty please be as incisively critical of America’s history of medical exploitation of black bodies as Jessica Jones has been of rape culture?

Sadly, their chemistry/true love isn’t meant to be, because the picture in the medicine cabinet is of his dead wife, and flashbacks reveal to us that Jessica — under Kilgrave’s influence — is the one that killed her. By the end of the episode, Jessica realizes how messed up this all is, and breaks things off with Luke Cage. Good call, Jess. I mean, a better call would have been NOT GODDAMN SLEEPING WITH HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE, but I understand we’ve moved past the point where that was a possible outcome.

Speaking of medicine and black folks, Jessica’s still on her quest to score some sufentanil.

AKA It's Called Whiskey
Your daily reminder that Trish is the best.

And on this quest, she does the purely shittiest thing we’ve seen from her so far: She makes it look like Malcolm (remember him? her peanut-butter-loving junkie neighbor?) has attacked a hospital nurse in order to create a distraction that will allow her to swipe the anesthetic. Dude, come on. You couldn’t think of literally anything else that would create a comparable distraction?

AKA It's Called Whiskey

(Oh, before she does that, she tries to get Jeri’s wife Wendy to score her some drugs. Wendy doesn’t believe the story Jessica’s telling her about Kilgrave, and she writes her a prescription for an antipsychotic. Which — dick move, Wendy? And also, I’m pretty sure it’s unethical to write prescriptions as a punchline?)

Jeri — sharky lawyer that she is — uses Trish’s radio show to put out a call for more Kilgrave victims without making it seem like she believes in mind control. Smart, Jeri. When she ridicules the notion that Hope was telepathically controlled, Trish completely loses her temper and talks all the shit about Kilgrave that she can before Jessica stalks into her recording booth to break her microphones.

Trish: So he gets to run around, destroying lives, destroying your life, and I have to just sit here and shut up?

I mean, yeah, sort of, hon. But I love that you’re this pissed off about it. A running theme in Jessica and Trish’s relationship is that Trish is the one who truly wants to be a hero, and Jessica’s the one who’s actually equipped to do it. When Kilgrave, inevitably, sends a brainwashed cop to kill Trish as a punishment for her mouthiness, Trish fights like absolute hell, but Jessica still has to show up to rescue her. (Poor Trish.)

Thinking fast on her feet like she do, Jessica convinces the cop he’s killed Trish, slips Trish’s phone (which has a tracking app) into his pocket, and then tracks him to his rendezvous with Kilgrave.

AKA It's Called Whiskey
Finally getting a look at him! Kilgrave!

The full flashback happens with Luke Cage’s wife now. Kilgrave told Jessica to “take care of her,” and Jessica punched Luke Cage’s wife so hard that some combination of the punch and the fall killed her. Then, as Kilgrave called her back, Jessica continued to walk away from him. So it seems that Jessica has at least some measure of resistance to Kilgrave’s compulsion powers?

Though she’s now armed with the sufentanil, Jessica has to put off drugging Kilgrave in order to stop the poor Kilgraved cop from jumping off a roof. Then she has to fight off, but not kill, the three residents of the house where Kilgrave’s been staying, all of whom have instructions to stop her from following him. When they’re finally all unconscious, Jessica finds a large room that absolutely plastered with recent photographs of her. It is truly the murderiest of murder walls.

AKA It's Called Whiskey

Next time, we’ll be dealing with the fallout of this time, particularly with how it’s affected Trish. (Trish!) And also with the question of who the hell’s been taking all those photographs.

Jessica breaks things: A pane of glass in her apartment, while sexing Luke Cage (so that one’s on both of them!). Luke Cage’s bedframe, also while sexing (ditto). Trish’s recording equipment, to stop her from badmouthing Kilgrave on air. The new lock on her newly-repaired door. Luke Cage’s heart a little bit. A bunch of miscellaneous items in the house where Kilgrave’s staying, as she fights off its brainwashed occupants.

Drinking game rules: Drink for super-obvious product placement! Such as Jessica’s Acer laptop. (This is a universal drinking rule in fact. Except maybe don’t do it when you’re watching Jane the Virgin, because I don’t want you to ruin your liver.)

Jessica, private-investigating: “He teaches in the biology department, or chemistry, I don’t know, is biochemistry a thing? I don’t know which one, it’s science.”