Captain Awkward’s Home for Wayward Really Insecure Dudes

A heart against a background of grass with the words "Hey Girl a date with you would make me 30-35% more human."
Adapted under a Creative Commons license from a photo by David Goehring on Flickr. A lovely photo that probably deserved better than this.

So. That happened. If you feel overwhelmed about diving in, Rachel Scotland made a tl;dr version here. But I hope people will dive in. The commenters gave, collectively, some of the greatest advice about dating, liking and being nice to yourself, meeting people, and pulling yourself out of bad patterns of thinking ever assembled on the internet. The last communication I received from our dear LW before hitting the block button was a hearty “go fuck yourself!” I was hoping for something more poetic from the man who gave us this:

The icy grip of loneliness is always one step behind me and if I stop for one second, I’ll be ensnared. We all have to sleep, and there is no worse a time than when I must lie down and let my mind wander as the loneliness that I spent a whole day running from sucks the very essence of my soul from my body leaving me shivering and alone.

…but we get what we get. And what we got was stuff like PomperaFirpa’s guide to finding your awesome, finding your venue for awesome, and a 5-step plan for having a casual conversation with a stranger about anything that even includes instructions for making a graceful exit! Designed BY introverts FOR introverts.

This community fucking rocks, is what I’m saying. I could spend the next three months taking comments from that thread and building them out into their own posts. Next time I apply for jobs I’m going to put “curator of best commentspace on the Internet” on my resume without irony.

Good job, us.

I’m not going to close comments over there, but I’m going to ask that people don’t go in just to beat up on the LW some more. He behaved pretty badly and needs to grow up a bit and learn that the world won’t issue him a girlfriend, but he’s obviously a sad, genuinely lonely dude and I’m hoping that he’ll come back in a couple weeks and read some of the comments again (and I was serious about the reading more books, etc. by women advice, if you’re still reading, and I think you are).

I’m going to leave this up today as a general open thread. Post recommendations for great books, movies, comics, music by women! Shamelessly self-promote (as I am doing, below the cut) your own work! Use quotes from the thread to make your own counter-intuitive valentine!

I need to step away from the internet for a few hours and unfuck my habitat. Thanks for being so awesome.

Now, it’s still pledge drive week, and I wanted to say that part of why I wanted to do this was about money (to make more good internets to push the bad internets out!) and part of it was about getting my movie seen outside of a few film festivals and local screenings by a group of people who like awkward things. So I’m going end today with 5 cool facts about The Wardrobe:

1. The  lead actress, Devon Carson, was the last of probably 100 women we saw for that part. She walked in on the very last day of auditions (auditions that were really callbacks) and I made her stay all day and read with everyone. That moment for a director is magical. “You. Make. My. Movie. Possible.” She is in a band in Chicago called Lights Alive, and this summer she worked at a rock and roll camp to teach girls how to be rock stars.

2. There is a scene in the movie where two glamorous stylists circle the main character and tell each other what will have to be fixed about her – her body, her hair, etc.. Both the actors (Allison Ochmanek and Erin Breen) work frequently as models, and they made up that dialogue out of things people routinely say to and about them.

3. We  wanted Henri’s apartment to have an artificial feeling – it needed to be a space that nobody actually lived in. One idea we experimented with was cobbling a fantasy apartment out of the displays in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart (it’s full of life-size fancy kitchens and bathrooms and whatnot). We ended up using the model units for The Chicago Spire with the generous permission of the real estate developer. We had an entire floor of the NBC tower in Chicago that was dressed up so that potential buyers could get a feel for what the spaces would be like. We added: Mannequins, some clothes in the closet, actors. That’s it. The rest of it looked like that, right down to the fake fruit. While I loved the idea of the Spire and wanted very much to see it in our skyline, I love that my not-quite-real movie character lives in a fantasy space that will never actually exist. Architecture & Design Nerds: This might be your once chance to see inside.

4. One scene from the short story was supposed to take place in a high-end boutique. We ended up changing the script so that the stylists bring the stuff to Henri’s place for reasons of time and budget. But there was about a month during the summer where one of the producers, the production designer, and I (a very, very fat woman) walked into all of the most high-end women’s clothing stores in Chicago together and watched the faces of the salespeople fall as they tried to decide how to break the news that they had nothing that would fit me. Their relief when we didn’t want to try on pants (we just wanted to bring a film crew into their fancy store for a night or two and shoot a movie, no big deal*) was palpable.

5. If you place a Craigslist ad looking for people who will lend you mannequins for a couple of nights, you will find out things you didn’t want to know.

I really hope you guys enjoy the film. I love writing this blog, and I’m not going to stop anytime soon, but it’s time for me to get back on the filmmaking horse. Thanks to the many generous contributors so far. Your kind words and generous support are extremely gratifying, and you’re really making that a possibility for me over the next few months.

*That’s a giant pain in the ass and a really big deal, if you didn’t know. They probably should have just agreed to sell me some pants.

448 thoughts on “Captain Awkward’s Home for Wayward Really Insecure Dudes

  1. I’ll go with an episode of Parks and Recreation that was written by a woman (Emily Spivey), directed by a woman (Nicole Holofcener), and deals with friendships between women and friendships between women and men, the great season three episode “Eagleton”.

    1. I’m going to second this, because Parks and Rec is amazing, not just for how funny it is but the massive diversity of personality in their characters. Leslie is nothing like April is nothing like Ann and so on, but they are all fascinating and competent and funny as all get out.

    1. I read that one waaaay (waywaywaywaywaaaay) back in high school! I especially remember that someone gets shouted at after sheathing a post-killing blow sword without cleaning it first. It seemed incredibly sensible at the time and for some reason stuck with me.

      1. Do be aware of the rape (real? imagined?) in the Paksenarrion series. I enjoyed the books, but wish I had known that going in. It is a relatively minor part of only one book, but it distressed me when I stumbled into it.

    1. Enthusiastically cosigned! I’ve been hearing recs for these for some years now, but hadn’t gotten around to reading them until a friend shoved the first two in my hands. I devoured them, and can’t wait to read the others.

      The first two, at least, center on the close friendship between two adult women who spend the entirety of their page time acting like competent, intelligent adults(!!), and navigating cross-cultural gaps with sensitivity and thoughtful curiosity. It’s sad that this is so rare to find in fiction, but reading them was like a balm to my soul. Plus Rosemary Kirstein is really, really good at getting you to care about all the characters, including the minor ones and the ones who hate each other.

      1. Yes yes yes to all this! She’s also doing some of the most *amazing* worldbuilding I’ve seen anywhere, and the way she uses POV to do that is incredible. It’s not just that she can slot in some new piece of information that makes everything you know, or thought you knew, recompile into a dizzying reveal. It’s that she lets us watch Rowan learn and recontextualize information constantly– and sometimes Rowan’s logical deductions are wrong, and sometimes they’re wrong because she doesn’t have all the information the readers have. But just as often, the things we know and she doesn’t can lead the reader to make equally incorrect, equally logical, deductions.

        I’ve seen these called science fiction about the scientific method. I think that’s accurate, and the picture they show of the scientific method at work is pretty accurate, but– you know how there are series where no character is safe? This is the series where no assumption is safe. The worldbuilding is amazing and solid and detailed, but everything in it could support six completely contradictory conclusions, and probably will by the time the series is finished.

        1. These sound excellent! There’s no Kindle edition for the first book in the series, so no instant gratification (whaaaat?), but I will try to remember to keep an eye out for it. Thank you for sharing!

    2. I’ll put in a recommendation for Jo Walton’s own books, too! My very favorites are her latest, Among Others, and The King’s Peace, The King’s Name, and The Prize In The Game. Those last three are sort of alt-Arthuriana but not really. The first one, Among Others, has boarding school and dysfunctional family relationships and figuring out how to be an adult, and magic; also the main character reads lots of science fiction and fantasy. She’s also done Trollope with dragons (Tooth and Claw) and a book I don’t know how to categorize, Lifelode.

      (Also Jo is a nifty person.)

      1. I haven’t read her Arthurian books yet, but I *loved* Tooth and Claw, and her Small Change trilogy (Farthing, Ha’Penny, Half a Crown) are harrowing to read, but astonishingly good.

  2. “The Supremes” from The West Wing. Written by Debora Cahn, directed by Jessica Yu, and guest-starring Glenn Close as the most awesome potential Supreme Court justice ever.

    Sharyn McCrumb’s mystery novels are also pretty great. I have a particular soft spot for If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him and Bimbos of the Death Sun, although the latter is definitely not for everybody. It’s an affectionate satire of science fiction cons, and I love it, but I know a lot of people who don’t, some of whom are fellow geeks.

    1. Yes yes yes, Sharyn McCrumb! Heartily, heartily co-signed, especially If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him and all of the Elizabeth MacPherson books. If I’d Killed Him… is a good bit of the way through the series, but I think it probably stands alone reasonably well.

  3. Jedi hugs and Internet High-Fives to you, Captain, for having one of my favorite spaces online.

    Lady-produced webcomic rec time!

    First up: Dicebox, by Jenn Manley Lee. I LOVE IT SO HARD. It’s this quiet, g

    Next up: Strong Female Protagonist, created by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. Ordinary superpowered girl navigates college, politics, relationships, and power. I think of it as “what if Wonderella took itself seriously?” But in a fun way, I promise!

    1. AUGH, posted before I was ready. AS I WAS SAYING.

      Dicebox! It is so good. The worldbuilding is just so much FUN. Space! Adventures! Relationships! Spies! Etc! I recommend it to everyone, but for me, it’s the perfect thing if you love you some Firefly but wish the show were more queer and nonwhite. Dicebox!

      Also, Erika Moen did an awesome comic explaining it. If that’s not enough, I don’t know what is:

    2. I am a total newbie to webcomics but want to wade into the genre… any recommendations on a good place to start on that?

      1. A few women authored webcomics:

        Cat and Girl
        Hark a Vagrant
        Templar, AZ
        Girls with Slingshots
        Super Indian*
        The Princess*
        Octopus Pie

        Sorry for no links, but googling will bring up most of these. Some you’ll need to append “comic” to in your search – I’ve marked those with an asterisk.

        Hope you enjoy 🙂

        1. Tossing in a +1 for Hark a Vagrant, Templar, AZ, and Girls with Slingshots. I’ve found all of the above immensely enjoyable.

          1. +1 for GWS!!! It has a really great diverse group of characters, and is funny without being cruel to any of them.

      2. Family Man, by Dylan Meconis, at It’s slow-moving — detailed and plotty and very much unfinished, and it only updates once a week — but definitely worth it if you like accurate historical detail, lushly detailed pictures of libraries, awkward Spinoza scholars. And incidental werewolves, but the details of 18th century religious controversies get a lot more screentime than the werewolves, so far. Mostly it varies between G and PG-13 depending on the number of gutted rabbits onscreen, but there are definitely some NSFW bits.

        Gunnerkrigg Court, at Wacky boarding school adventures, only way more creative and weird than that makes it sound. One main character is a semi-orphaned psychopomp who eventually acquires a demonic sorta-familiar trapped in her stuffed wolf; another is like Tony Stark if Tony Stark were a nice friendly person and also a preteen girl (so basically I just mean the genius engineer part); their schoolmates also play a major role. The school is a giant weird castle full of robots and secrets, which is surrounded by a forest full of magic and secrets, and there are complicated politics floating around in all of this.

      3. Weregeek! Weregeek is awesome. The main character is a guy, but the strip is done by a woman. The site for Weregeek also links to her autobiographical comic, Moosehead Stew.

        (Weregeek is very much an “ongoing serial” strip; I wouldn’t recommend trying to jump right in with today’s — we’re currently 5 or 6 days into the characters’ latest vampire-based LARP session. Starting from strip #1 is lots of fun, though!)

      4. My all-time favorite is Digger ( ), which wrapped up about a year and a half ago and is still winning awards.

        Others, in alphabetical order:

        Erfworld – – gaming comic from an in-world perspective with several strong female characters, though some issues with fanservice

        Freefall – – hard scifi comic with a focus on the power imbalance between humans and sentient artificial intelligences, also funny and has a competent female protagonist

        Girl Genius – – steampunk, primary plots are war and romance, competent female protagonist, relatively gender-balanced fanservice

        Gunnerkrigg Court – – fantasy, complex world, reasonably competent young female protagonist, some issues with cultural appropriation, starts slow but gets very interestingly complex later

        Manly Guys Doing Manly Things – – I’m not sure I can do this one justice in a synopsis. It’s much more awesome than you’d assume from the theme, with the latest story arc being especially good. (Author is female.)

        Poly in Pictures – – Pretty much what it says on the tin. A non-serial webcomic; author is also asexual/aromantic.

        Sinfest – – Set in a world where various memes and metaphors actually exist – Jesus, Satan, God, Buddha, etc are characters, though not primary ones, and one of the more hedonistic characters is an anthropomorphic pig while the others are mostly human. Spends most of its time exploring social themes; has been focusing on feminism and (mostly unrelatedly) redemption recently. Highly recommended.

        Subnormality – – More like illustrated essays than anything else, but pretty awesome.

        XKCD – – If you’re a geek, you’re obligated to read this.

        1. Yeah yeah yeah to Digger! Possibly the most well-written webcomic ever, both on the panel-to-panel and the plot levels. Funny and dramatic and touching and deeply, awesomely weird.

        2. Looooooooove Digger. It’s been nominated for a Hugo this year! Ursula Vernon is an amazingly funny woman.

      5. I love Narbonic–it’s got mad science and all kinds of other nifty stuff! The title character is a mad scientist biologist, one of her henchpeople is a computer genius, and I won’t say anything about the other henchperson for fear of spoilers. Oh, and also: intelligent gerbils!

        The Narbonic storyline is already over, and the creator is doing other comics these days, but I choose to see that as a plus: if you get hooked, you can read *the whole thing* without having to wait for each day’s strip to come out! Also, she’s doing a “director’s cut” where the whole comic is being reposted with commentary, one day at a time.

        Beginning, non-director’s-cut version (i.e. everything’s already posted):
        Beginning, Director’s Cut:

        1. I also love Narbonic, because I drew it! I have a semi-sequel (well, set in the same universe) running now called Skin Horse:

          Normally I don’t shamelessly plug my stuff like this, but I love the CA crowd and it’s awesome that someone here has read Narbonic.

        2. I am not the creator, and I second the recommendation for Narbonic! So good, we read the whole thing online and then bought all the print versions. And then reread them.

      6. If you like long-form stories with fantastical or sci-fi elements, here are a few that I like (I’m not sure about the genders of all of the creators, but these are ones that I believe are by women or people who put themselves somewhere in the female end of the gender spectrum).

        The Meek ( – An epic but wonderfully character-driven, quest, with a rich setting and gorgeous art. Be warned – rather dark at points, and lots of (non-sexual) nudity.

        Galaxion ( – Sci fi with lively characters and plenty of humour, as well as the exploration of strange new worlds and some good, old-fashioned nerdliness.

        Red Moon Rising ( – One mistake sends effects rippling across a whole world. Magic, politics and intrigue, well-developed characters and lovely art with a unique feel.

        No Rest For the Wicked ( – In a faiytale world, an insomniac princess sets out to save the moon. Both funny and dark, and has some seriously awesome characters.

        The Fox Sister ( – creepy and gor-ge-ous! It’s already had a rather gruesome scene, and it’s, as I mentioned, very creepy, so I’m not sure how suitable this will
        be for young or sensitive readers.

        And, shameless self-promotion time, my own comic, Geist! ( I can’t begin to claim it belongs in the same category as the wonderful comics I’ve mentioned here, but it’s about high school, revenge and invisible monsters, which I think we can all agree are pretty much the most important things you need for any story, so there you go.

        1. Another long-form webcomic, written by two women:

          Dovecote Crest. (

          It has some slight fantastical elements in the second arc, but it is mostly about Civil War reenactors. It’s fabulous.


    The Good Wife. Legal drama about the tribulations of the wife of a disgraced politician. Co-created by a woman, every episode aces the Bechdel test from moments in, and it doesn’t fall into catty/backstabby tropes about women almost ever. Lots of wonderful friendships and collaborative work relationships between women. I love it more than basically everything on TV.

    Disclaimer: I’m behind and haven’t seen the latest season.

    1. Latest season proved they’re still doing everything right. The way this show examines patriarchy/kyriarchy, sexism, and how these things interlace with politics and relationships is like nothing else anyone in entertainment is doing.

      Plus, Martha Plimpton has a recurring role in which she is unspeakably brilliant, and everybody should love Martha Plimpton by now.

  5. I just picked up Fire by Kristin Cashore again, and was reminded how grippingly and emotionally she writes characters that would in less capable hands become annoying Mary Sues. I need to pick up a copy of Bitterblue, STAT.

    I’m listening obsessively on Spotify to Ida Maria, and you can sample some of her stuff on her website.

    Just finished reading The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. It’s… difficult to explain. Kind of a prose-poem-y thing set during the Napoleonic wars, about literally losing your heart, getting it back, and protecting it, or not.

    1. I *just* finished “Graceling” (as in, on the train this morning)! And I had opinions, and I was going to blog about those opinions, and then I went on Goodreads to take a look at other people’s opinions and find stuff I maybe had missed and develop opinions on those, and ohhhhhh my goth. Now I have all SORTS of more opinions, many of which are extremely mean.

      It’s a very good book, though, and I will be reading the sequels.

    2. Just read Bitterblue and loved it for the way it deals with the unexamined priviliege of being a queen.

    3. Ooh, this makes me want to reread Bitterblue (do pick it up! it’s excellent!). And so much yes – Cashore proves that Mary Sues are in the handling, not the traits themselves. I mean, Fire? “So beautiful it’s a problem” is positively stereotypically Mary Sue, but Cashore takes it and makes it work and produces a well-rounded, believable character whose shoes I would not want to be in for a million years.

      I also like how both Fire and Graceling contain parenthood narratives that aren’t the norm – Katsa who is very sure she does not want to have kids of her own but is willing to move into a caretaker role for a young girl, Fire who does want to have kids but who knows it’s a very bad idea and makes a hard choice because of it, at least two single dads…

    4. I literally just finished reading The Passion too! It was actually the first time I’d read anything long by Winterson, and I enjoyed it. Dear The Internet: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Sexing the Cherry are the two Winterson works I hear the most about, but if I’m just getting into her, are they the best places to start? Or are there some overlooked gems?

        1. PLEASE read her new autobiography, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read, fiction or nonfiction.

    5. Bitterblue is incomprehensibly amazing.

      I missed this whole wank, but I have to say that if I look at a guy’s OKCupid profile and he doesn’t list any music or books by women, I give him a major side-eye.

  6. Isabella Bird was pretty nifty; “A Lady’s Life In the Rocky Mountains” is fascinating. Of course, she still is a 19th century woman, so expect some typical 19th century bad attitudes along with the cool bits.

    Project Gutenberg has all of her writings! (Which I need to go read the rest of, brb)

  7. She’s really popular lately, but I would just like to say: Hilary Mantel is one of the best writers to ever come out of the UK. She is amazing. And not just the Cromwell books, either. A Place of Greater Safety, her prior novel about the three architects of the French revolution, is incredible. So is Fludd, and so is The Giant O’Brien. So are her two creepy Mother books, Every Day is Mother’s Day and Vacant Possession. She’s really, really good. Brilliant and funny. Beautiful prose.

    Also, well, Octavia Butler? I suspect people here know about her already, but most people don’t seem to have read or heard of the Xenogenesis books or the Patternmaster series? She’s really good at writing science-fiction that counters the U!S!A! in Spaaaaace! framework that so much traditional science fiction uses. It’s deep stuff, but gripping. She never pulls a Sorkin. And her women characters are amazing: responsible, autonomous, fiercely intelligent and creative.

    1. Oh my god, yes, Octavia Butler. I am making everyone I know read her immediately. I just finished reading everything she ever published last month and she is pretty much my favorite ever.

      I’d recommend starting with her short stories or Kindred, which are a little shorter and not quite so “Hard Sci Fi” compared to the rest of her stuff, which tend to be on the epic side. I would not recommend starting with Fledgling with is very good but deeeeeeeeeeeply disturbing.

      1. It’s also frustrating as hell–it was clearly meant to be the first part of a trilogy but she passed away, so at the end you’re like, “Right! On to Mordor to vanquish the–oh. Well, shit.”

        Perhaps fandom could step in?

        Bloodchild is fantastic, and the short stories get into some of the themes she stayed with in longer works.

    2. I actually started reading the Xenogenesis books but could not finish because of the disturbing rape-related stuff. Disturbing both for the content itself and for the attitude the narrative seemed to have about it.

      1. I think the first book is particularly disturbing in that way – lots of sexual coercion, reproductive control, and general rape-vibes under the guise of “for your own good”. I thought that the later books did a good job making those problems more explicit for the reader, and resolving them in a way that was both morally acceptable and consistent with the story set up.

        But, clearly, this is a series where YMMV as to whether you think it’s justified and whether that’s something you can (or want to) stomach in the first place. 🙂

        1. I think the point at which I stopped reading was (and I think this might need a trigger warning?)… ugh, my memories are fuzzy, so I might not explain it properly… where one of the men gets violent towards one of the aliens, while they’re all having some kind of “getting to know you” party (that involved drugging the humans through the air system so that they wouldn’t be so creeped out by the aliens? Something like that), and the protagonist narrates that obviously he did that because he was angry at, ugh, I think this phrasing was pretty close, angry at being made to feel pleasure because it made him like a woman. Like, “oh tsk tsk, he’s only objecting [to being drugged and raped] because he’s insecure about his masculinity, and also unbalanced and violent, there’s nothing really wrong going on here”.

          And wasn’t there a bit where one of the human men tries to rape one of the human women (but is stopped), and they get together later on? I don’t remember that so much, but I do remember someone bringing it up in a discussion of the book.

    3. The Xenogenesis books are fantastic. So many ethical questions wrapped up in a damn good story.

  8. I’m going to be super nerdy and say that outside of “Brony” shenanigans, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is actually pretty good female-centric TV. The main characters are all female, have very different personalities, and they face problems that are decidedly “people problems” rather than “girl problems.”

    (For people who haven’t seen it: it’s a kid’s show, but it’s very adult-watchable. It’s not dumbed-down; it’s an entertaining light-fantasy series that happens to star brightly colored ponies.)

    The thing I like best is that it’s accepting of the girls’ (uh… mares’) different personalities. Fluttershy is very quiet and meek, and instead of demanding she turn “normal,” other characters understand that’s just the way she does things. Rainbow Dash is arrogant and tomboyish, and she sometimes gets checked on her arrogance, but never gets stuffed into a “you have to be normal to have friends” mold either.

    As long as you just watch the show and don’t get too involved in the weird-ass fandom, it’s a great show that’s all about complex, diverse female characters.

    1. Seconded! My boyfriend (who is a brony, but not a particularly weird-ass one) got me into MLP:FiM, and it’s a really good show. From a feminist perspective, I especially like the portrayal of Rarity. She’s really into fashion and pretty things, and sometimes can be a bit dramatic, but she’s not portrayed as shallow or a “mean girl.” She’s resourceful, loyal, and can get herself out of tricky situations without male help. (Like the episode where she gets captured by devil dogs, and Spike keeps fantasizing about rescuing her, but she uses her creativity to rescue herself.)

      1. And the best part about all this is that fashion isn’t some frivolous thing for her: Rarity owns a clothing shop, which means her fashionableness is making her one of the most consistent incomes of any of the main characters.

    2. A strong second for ponies! They are many flavors of awesome. I think my favorite episode is Lesson Zero, early in season 2. The moral of the story is “you should take your friends seriously when they’re upset, even if you think they’re overreacting about something weird.” Tiny Me could sure have used reassurance about that, and I’ll be real, Grown-Up Me feels better hearing the same thing.

      Also: they write song parodies of Sondheim!

    3. Anything Lauren Faust touches is magic, I think. I also love her old series The Powerpuff Girls, which is about little girls who are also superheroes.

    4. My Little Pony! Yes!

      When I read this quote from Lauren Faust, I knew she was terrifyingly amazing:
      We live in a society where saying that something is for girls is the equivalent to saying that something is stupid, or saying that something isn’t worthwhile […] I think that’s awful and I think that kind of attitude needs to be changed.

    5. The My Little Pony collector fandom rocks, though. It’s nearly all female and some sweet non-creepy guys, since it’s about a fierce love for a 30-year old toy line instead of a new internet fad. They’ve been really kind but firm about the behavior of FiM fandom, too.

    6. Thank you Cliff. It has been difficult to explain why I find the show enjoyable and I think you hit the nail on the head. MLP:FIM is about girls being people and not about girls being stereotypical media portrayed girls.

      So consider this another recommendation to go watch some My Little Pony: Friendship s Magic.

    7. This might be kind of a weird thing to have appreciated, but I really liked the ‘reading is awesome’ episode in S2. It went for ‘reading is awesome and fun! here is a fun book you’ll enjoy!’ rather than ‘you’ll totally regret never reading someday because you’re DUM’.

    1. Hey, I’ve just read through Unsounded, and it’s as good as you say — beautiful and funny and suspenseful, with great characters. Thanks so much for recommending it.

  9. Is the Vorkosigan series too obvious? The first two books/omnibus (Shards of Honor and Barrayar, collected into one volume called Cordelia’s Honor) are the only ones with a female protagonist, but a couple of the later books (Mirror Dance, A Civil Campaign) feature some excellent advice from Cordelia Naismith to her sons about what the world does (and doesn’t) owe them. I recommend those especially to C.S.

    Plus, they’re just really solid science fiction. Who doesn’t like that?

    1. I was just coming here to recommend them! Several of the later books have female narrators and co-protagonists, and there’s a lot in there about dealing with families/situations that Don’t Understand, Try To Mold You Into Someone You’re Not, and How To Get Over Playing Wall All the Time. Also, almost the entire series is available for free by the publisher:

      Also, the Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold is so excellent. While “The Curse of Chalion” is my favorite, “Paladin of Souls” has a middle-aged woman go off on the prototypical young man hero’s journey — with fabulous results.

      1. Oh my goodnesss I am so delighted to find someone else who thought *Curse of Chalion* was better! *Paladin* is great, and I’m glad it won the Hugo… but *Curse* is totally better.

        1. “We lords, at our oars, then? We sweating, pissing, swearing, grunting
          gentlemen? I think not, Palli. On the galleys we were not lords or men. We
          were men or animals, and which proved which had no relation I ever saw to
          birth or blood. The greatest soul I ever met there had been a tanner, and I
          would kiss his feet right now with joy to learn he yet lived. We slaves, we
          lords, we fools, we men and women, we mortals, we toys of the gods–all the
          same thing, Palli. They are all the same to me now.”

          I’ve read “Curse” probably ten or fifteen times now, and every single time I read that line, I stop and recite it, because it’s just so beautiful and heartrending — and somehow hopeful, nevertheless.

          Also, how awesome is it that The Lady of Spring is the goddess of intellect and her “body part” is the brain?

      2. Oh Curse is totally better. I prefer the Vorkosigan saga to her fantasy in general, but I’ve read the Curse of Chalion Series and the Sharing Knife series and I enjoyed them both (for all that there is some creepiness in the love story in Sharing Knife)

        1. No, I enjoyed Curse (and re-read it from time to time) but Paladin of Souls is the one I read seven times within a year, because it’s THAT AWESOME. But everyone should read Curse first for worldbuilding + enjoyment, before reading Paladin for further exploration of the world + enjoyment.

        2. I love Curse and Paladin both so much, I can’t even tell you. I was kind of skeeved by the Sharing Knife, though, (esp. the romance) and I felt like it really needed an editor (could have easily been 2 books instead of 4). I really liked the magic and the world, though, definitely something completely different.

      3. I love Ista so very, very much. I was rereading Paladin again last night and I continue to be amazed as to how her journey works out and how it changes her. Plus the quietly snarky bits here and there.

        “Your god has a vile sense of humor.”

    2. Enthusiastically seconded!! Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan is one of my favorite characters ever, and the worldbuilding that Lois McMaster Bujold put into these books is phenomenal.

    3. A Civil Campaign is also excellent reading for those who are feeling unlucky in love and like they’re failures at those whole dating thing, because compared to The Dinner Party, pretty much any fuck-up you may have made is kinda small beans.

      (Have you ever (ROT-13 for spoilers) vagebqhprq n cbgragvny ybir vagrerfg gb lbhe cneragf jvgu gur jbeqf “V’q yvxr lbh gb zrrg — fur’f trggvat njnl!”? If not, you’ll be fine. 😀 )

      1. I have to agree. That dinner party was one of the funniest things I have ever read.

        Also, in reply to stickyrice, I totally prefer Curse of Chalion to <Paladin of Souls. It’s become one of my comfort reads.

  10. As long as we’re into the Parks and Rec love (which we obviously should be), The Fight is my favorite single episode of any comedy ever. Written by and starring Amy Poehler, and centers on the first fight she and her (female) best friend have ever had.

    For books, I just read two speculative fiction novels I loved and both are by African writers: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (set in Nigeria) and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (set in South Africa). And for those who like their books a little more true to life, Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min is an incredibly interesting and humanizing novel about Mao Zedong’s third wife, who played a major role in directing the atrocities of the Cultural Revolution.

    1. Agreed about The Fight. I never get tired of watching it. I didn’t realize it was written by Poehler, though! (I thought it was written by a woman, but wasn’t sure.)

  11. On the music front, I ❤ Neko Case and Regina Spektor. Also, not musicians or writers, but Emmy Noether and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin were amazing scientists.

    PS Long-time lurker, first-time commenter, just wanted to say thanks to the Captain and the community for creating this awesome space. I've learnt so, so much from following this blog. Jedi hugs all 'round.

  12. Time to be really obvious but someone has to say it: Margaret Atwood. I’m reading The Blind Assassin right now and it is blowing my mind. But of course Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake are wonderful as well.

    1. If you haven’t read it, Penelopiad is a fascinating take on The Odyssey from a different perspective. That was the book of hers that pulled me in since retelling of Homer is hard but she pulled it off.

      1. Doi! I totally had but forgot. It was such a tiny book, I read it in sub 2 hours. Loved it since ancient Greece is kinda my thing.

        I always want to recommend Mary Renault (anything) because she’s amazing but I chicken out because there are a lot of barriers to entry. She doesn’t hand-hold on the ancient history and I don’t know if we want to start dear L.W. off with gay lit but they’re wonderful books for those so inclined.

        1. It’s kind of my thing as well and yes, Mary Renault is tough but worth it. The Persian Boy is one of the better ones to start with for non-Classical people as Alexander’s story is fairly well known. The Theseus and Athens’ novels require a bit more knowledge but are completely worth it.

          I’d recommend Lindsey Davis especially Course of Honor. She writes Roman but she’s incredibly good at getting the feel of real people in the midst of history and the Falco series is full of fun mysteries. They’re not as woman centered but Course of Honor is all about Vespasian and the woman he loved and their journey to find their happiness.

          The tricky thing about historical fiction for this era is how it was a male centered world so you have to go in knowing that its going to be different. So its not one to start off with if you’re looking for more of a woman’s point of view.

          1. Totally adding Davis to my Goodreads to-read list. Is she anything like Colleen McCullough?

            An excellent point about historical fiction. I do like gay lit in general so the male focus wasn’t really a problem for me but I have no delusions about a woman’s place in that world. It seems like, at best, they could have husbands who were fond of them.

          2. I’m not sure where the reply button went on your last comment but Davis is lighter than McCullough. With the Falco series, her basis was hm, how would Noir look in Ancient Rome. Then started poking holes in the tropes.

            Falco has a big family that keeps getting involved in his life, he falls in love with a woman he really shouldn’t and their relationship is written brilliantly. It’s troubled and funny and she’s very sex-positive.

            Its all set during the era of Vespasian, which is a nice change from a lot of Roman works and it has its moments of being tough but there’s a love of life from Falco. Its one of those series where whenever I see the newest book, I snag it and usually read it in a few days.

          3. Have any of you read The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw? “Smart daughter of patrician has to disguise herself as a boy and study medicine!”

          4. Ooh, no, though I know I’ve seen that author’s name about. I will add to my to-read list as good crossdressing novels are great. The Bloody Jack series is hilarious and a YA about a girl who basically has everything in the 19th century happen to her. It wasn’t a great fit for me, but I have a friend who loves them.

          5. Your reply button went away too, apparently we’re talking too much. 🙂 But trust, I’m not a total McCullough fangirl, a lighter touch with fewer civics lessons is better. These sound awesome, I’ve totally marked Davis down to read.

      2. Ooh, yes! And if you’re going to be in Toronto in January/February, Nightwood Theatre is doing a production of it, with an all-female cast. I saw it last season and it was breathtaking. Go see that.

      3. In the retelling-classic-dude-stories-from-a-female-perspective genre, The Mists of Avalon blew me away when I finally got around to reading it a few years ago. It’s the Arthurian legend told from the point of view of all of the women in the story, and instead of just going “wooo, knightly things!” like a lot of Arthurian work, it questions and laments the shift from old matriarchal Celtic traditions to the new patriarchal Camelot.

          1. Holy crap. Honestly, while it’s been a few years I don’t remember anything particularly problematic about the book itself, but I had *no idea* that her husband was a pedophile who she actively supported. Jesus.

          2. I have a huge thing for retellings of classic stories, and I think The Mists of Avalon started it when I was a teenager. It felt so great to hear such a well-known story just completely turned around. And I also love that essay (and most essays) by Sady Doyle. Her stuff just rocks.

    2. And Toni Morrison. Admittedly this was several years ago, but Song of Solomon blew my mind when I was in high school.

      1. Yes! Song of Solomon was a bit of a head-scratcher for me in high school but in college Beloved made me stand up and cheer. Mainly because it Went Places. Dark places. But it was still so beautiful.

    3. Cat’s Eye blew my mind for its unflinching depiction of the cruelty girls can perpetrate on one another and for the protagonist’s journey to finding out what she needs and what she can be.

  13. Hey, I totally posted here. Where did it go? Anyway, I was going to recommend the Vorkosigan series by Bujold. I recommend Mirror Dance and A Civil Campaign in particular to C. S. but really all of them are excellent. Totally solid science fiction.

    Also, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (who also wrote the hilarious Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip) is a compelling graphic novel.

    1. Alison Bechdel’s new memoir is out, too, it’s called Are You My Mother? (I just got my copy yesterday and read it straight through). Also incredibly compelling, IMO.

    2. Just bought a copy of ‘Fun Home’ and am loving it so far. Boyfriend was like ‘What is that?’ and I was like ‘Remember how I am constantly complaining when movies don’t pass the ‘Bechdel Test’ it’s because of this woman here.’

  14. Any book by Diana Wynne Jones, her books are full of strong women or growing girls who are finding their way and playing with tropes. They’re also full of humor and great takes on magic and her writing is amazing for how it doesn’t easily fit into genres. I’m constantly rereading her books because they just make me happy.

    The music and writing of Seanan McGuire, Wicked Girls has become my anthem as I’m trying to find a job and she writes urban fae fantasy-Toby Daye, urban monster fantasy-InCryptid and zombies-Feed series. She’s also a fantastic woman who writes great things on her blog.

    1. So many people love, love, love Diana Wynne Jones. So I picked up The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I in the discount bin. I agree that it was imaginative and fun and interesting, and I could see why people love her. But. It also had the most over-the-top racist shit I’ve seen–not lack of representation, which is bad enough–but the most egregious of negative stereotypes wrapped up in a sugarcoating of fantasy. Ugh. Despite the protestations (apologia) of enthusiasts that I shared my reaction with, I can’t make myself delve further into her oeuvre. /derail (Sorry for venting all over your suggestion)

      1. No, its okay. Some of her stuff can be problematic. There are a few of her books I don’t reread. You’ve tried her and she doesn’t work for you.

        1. Shit. I do, in fact, love the hell out of Diana Wynne Jones. But yeah, she has a lot of Middle Eastern stereotypes (at least, those are the ones that I’m remembering off the top of my head) intertwined with many of her stories.

          1. I love the Hero and the Crown & The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, but full admit that the second one especially is “pretty white lady is Chosen One for dark horse-riding desert people” even though it’s done with all of the love and Hill Culture is Superior! in the world.

          2. Yes, and every once in a while not good women tropes slip in. I feel like what helps is she’s written so much that its possible to avoid the bad stuff and find the good. Like I never reread The Dark Lord of Derkholm but constantly reread Year of the Griffin. I wish she had been more consistent but she’s an author that I find myself going back to.

          3. I haven’t read enough of her stuff to come across those. Nope, I was speaking of straight up blacks are ignorant, evil savages who wear furs and trinkets, live in the unexplored and mysterious dark realm and whose souls are so deformed that the one who grew up with white people is the only one who is a good person.

          4. Robin McKinley’s version of Robin Hood (“The Outlaws of Sherwood”) is near and dear to my heart, pretty much entirely because of Marion and Cecily. <3333333333333

          5. Yeah to the Robin McKinley issues with The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. (There’s also the weird issue — at least, weird to me — that the heroic ancestress of the apparently people of color of the Hills tribes is a red-haired white person? What?)

            I will say that one reason I enjoy Tamora Pierce is that I’ve actually been able to watch her growth as a writer as she’s written more and more books. . . like you can see her view of the world getting more complex (with problems! as noted in a comment above!) as the series progress. One nice thing about the Circle of Magic series as opposed to the Tortall books is that POC are main characters rather than side ones.

          6. Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” is my favorite vampire book ever. And her retelling of Beauty (called Beauty) is probably the book I read the most times growing up.

          7. One for for Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and I’ve reread Spindle’s End several times too. If you like fairy tales with thoughtful, grown-up princesses who rescue themselves, they’re just the ticket.

          8. This is actually a response to Jane: One thing I appreciate about Tamora Pierce is that although her earlier books are all about the nobility, her most recent trilogy stars a girl from a poor family who becomes a kick-ass cop (though she does get her break partly because of a high-ranking sponsor. But still). I get tired of fic—written by Americans, no less—all about OMG THE CHOSEN ONE. Look, writerly people of the US of A, I get that you’re just riffing off some very old tropes, but we are the longest-running civil-rights-based republic in the world, yo, and one of our oldest national myths is that of the Common Person who changes the world even without old-school advantages of wealth and birth. Can we maybe have more fantasy stories about people like that?

          9. Robin McKinley wrote The Blue Sword in a burst of outrage at the amazingly racist, misogynist and rapey book The Sheik, by E.M. Hull. So, yes, problematic in many respects, but aware of its problems?

        2. at starling: Holy crap. I actually read that book, because I think was listed as an “inspiration” somewhere for The Blue Sword, and I was SO CONFUSED because I did not know that “inspiration” meant “rage fuel.” (As in, “I cannot even imagine this Robin McKinley reading this shitty-ass book, how could it be an inspiration?”)

      2. I just read the same thing for the first time a couple days ago, and HOLY SHIT on the racism, especially in The Lives of Christopher Chant. “Savages” indeed. 😡

        I also disliked Charmed Life; it was (SPOILERS) telling me from the beginning that Cat was the hero and that Gwendolyn was evil, but I was kind of going “wait… why?” Why were we cheering for this boring, passive boy when his sister is this active, talented witch who is ignored by her teachers and then punished by having her magic taken away (!!!). At the very end it’s like No No She Was Super Evil All Along, but. Also, all four of the mentioned Chrestomancies are men. Hmm.

        Yeah, definitely left with a poor taste in my mouth by the Anglocentrism, racism and somewhat gendered expectations in the books. That said, I am continuing with reading the next book in the series since they’re pretty light and fun and aren’t filled with CONSTANT RAPE AND MISOGYNY like some of the other fantasy novels my friends are trying to get me to read.

        I also read Howl’s Moving Castle since I was told it was SO MUCH BETTER than the Miyazaki film (which is extremely pretty, but definitely lacks substance). Was not impressed with it either.

    2. Seanan McGuire also wrote a set of zombie novels starting with “Feed.” I’ve only read the first but if you are into politics and blogging it is a great series about how journalism, and government change in a world where we are living with the real threat of Zombies. The female characters in it are strong and generally awesome. I’m not into Zombies, but I really loved the first book. (I am so not into zombies that I have to wait until vacation to read the next too so I wont be reading them before bed.)

      1. I really enjoyed Feed and its sequels, and do highly recommend them. However, I don’t recommend them to everyone, because of a content warning (spoiler for thing we learn midway through Deadline, encoded in ROT13): zbfgyl bss-fperra pbafrafhny oebgure/fvfgre vaprfg.

        1. Eiiich, I know! (Ok I didn’t decode it but I assume we’re talking about the same thing) I really liked Feed, but I felt like the later two were kind of pointless. I mean, I still read them and enjoyed them but I do think that Feed would’ve worked better as a standalone.

        2. Just wanted to say that I love you a little bit for encoding spoilers in that way, that is brilliant. When I heard about that particular spoiler (only read Feed) I was just like “yeeeeah, saw that one coming.” Definitely pinged my shipper-dar (not that I ship it, blurg).

    3. Seanan McGuire does some great stuff, too. And I love her free fiction! Especially Velveteen Vs. on her site. My favorite is Toby Daye, but Verity Price is also a great heroine.

    4. Terrorist fist jabs for you because Seanan McGuire is awesome and I used ctrl f to see if anyone else recommended her and a winner is you! If anyone has a hard time finding the zombie stuff, it’s under the pen name Mira Grant.

      1. Okay, Seanan is apparently a friend of a friend and if two Awkward Army folks are saying I should read her stuff, then I SHOULD READ HER STUFF. Period. ::heads to Amazon promptly::

    5. I really liked Jones’s “A Tale of Time City” even though I never got into any of her other stuff.

  15. I cannot wait for the next Tana French book, Broken Harbor. Lovers of detective novels! Start with In The Woods, move on to The Likeness and then Faithful Place.

    1. I LOVE THESE. They are so depressing! Um, have you read any Penelope Lively? Margot Livesey?

      Oh, everyone should read The Missing World. It’s…relevant.

      1. Alan Bradley has written a series of mystery novels that are excellent–he’s a dude, but the sleuth is a twelve-year-old girl, Flavia, who’s a budding chemist and poisons enthusiast. And she’s wonderful.

          1. Also! The Poisoner’s Handbook, by Deborah Blum, about pioneering coroners in New York city, who worked in workers’ protection and murder cases relating to poisons.

          2. I’ve tried the first one and really kind of hated it, but I definitely get why people dig them.

            Gillian Flynn’s novels (Dark Places, Sharp Objects, and the latest, Gone Girl) are all excellent mysteries with fantastic characters, but they might be very, very triggering for some people (all three in different ways!), so caveat emptor.

      2. I’m a big fan of Barbara Hambly’s A Free Man of Color series, and the Victorian era novels by Anne Perry are pretty damn hard hitting, particularly the books featuring Monk and Hester, though the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series is also excellent. I also like the books by Martha Grimes. Nevada Barr’s books can be good, but there are some issues, mostly in her early books and mostly relevant to people actually working for NPS.

          1. I love them, but they are full of dodgy class and race stuff (reflective of the values of the times) which some people might prefer to avoid. If you are happy to wear your “oh well, they knew no better” hat and enjoy the story anyway, they’re AWESOME books. (I got used to that hat as a kid as I read a lot of Victorian children’s novels. YMMV.)

        1. +1 for Hambly. Any of her fiction is worth a read actually. She really problematises some of the standard fantasy tropes dealing with women and even in the novels where the main character is a man, the women characters are believable and well rounded.

          1. I’ve only read one of Hambly’s novels, The Ladies of Mandrigyn, but at least in that one there was a lot of problematic stuff in other areas. Here’s part of what I wrote after reading it:

            “… I was also really irritated at Hambly’s apparent acceptance of the old idea that one’s morals are reflected in one’s external appearance: the evil governor had to be crippled, the evil wizard had to be fat, the townsmen who were too injured or disabled to fight were lumped in with the cowards and traitors as though morally they were all the same, etc. The story was fun enough that I did read it through to the end, but it’s going on my giveaway pile now, not back onto the shelf, because those annoyances make it not worth re-reading.”

  16. Oo! I adore getting and giving book recommendations.

    Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book – quiet, dreamy novel. Couldn’t be described as action-packed, but so atmospheric I could smell the vegetation.
    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, about the nature of Englishness and the industrial revolution but with magic and prophecy and amoral fairies.
    The Great Stink by Clare Clark, a historical thriller featuring murder, PTSD and sewage engineering in Victorian London.
    Kelly Link’s short stories.
    Field of Blood by Denise Mina: intelligent, characterful crime fiction.
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – incredible science writing.

    1. Also The Ladies of Grace Adieu, a short story collection by Susanna Clarke. I periodically reread Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but its not an easy book to get into. Her short stories are wonderful and one is even set in the same world as Gaiman’s Stardust.

      1. Yes, I liked Grace Adieu but for me it didn’t get close to Strange & Norrell – short stories, even brilliant ones, just don’t last long enough to give me that total immersion in the plot feeling.

        Speaking of women who write both amazing novels and amazing short stories, I forgot Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter.

        1. I completely agree in terms of depth and world for the short stories. The nice thing about Clarke is that she’s written both. This reminds me I need to figure out where my copy of Strange and Norrell is.

          1. Thanks for the reminder to add this one to my reading list! It’s been recommended to me in a few places now.

    2. Just wanted to add my love for Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I have it in paper book, ebook and audio! The audiobook is particularly brilliant. I’ve listened to it a good 5 or 6 times and keep going back to it. So many fantastic characters to love and loathe.

    3. I’m rereading Strange and Norell right now! I had to read it twice to really pick up on its dark humor and intelligence; at first I was like “I guess this is a homage to Austen or something??? Magic???” but something kept me going and I was eventually taken in by the epic dark-faerieland quality of the later chapters. On the reread, I saw the brilliance from the beginning.

    4. I could not put down Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I finished it at nine in the morning, having read all night, and felt like I had been hit over the head with a brick. In a good way. Also loved Grace Adieu.

  17. Books:
    Start with winners and short list nominations for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

    For speculative fiction, this list is a good starting point:

    And female award winners in that type of fiction:

    I personally the works of the following are total amazeballs: Octavia Butler, C.S. Friedman, P.C. Hodgell, Jo Clayton, C.J. Cherryh, Eleanor Arnason, Joan Vinge, Vonda McIntyre, Sherri S. Tepper, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Ursula LeGuin, Phyllis Gottlieb, Laurie J. Marks.

    There are other authors that I am fond of and that have some particularly excellent themes or works, but I recognize some concerns/limitations/problems: Lois McMaster Bujold, Patricia McKillip, Andre Norton, Patricia C. Wrede, Barbara Hambly, Robin McKinley, Patricia Briggs, Doris Piserchia, Diana L. Paxson, Judith Tarr.

    Then there are those that are beloved by others that I find highly problematic: S.L. Viehl, Diana Wynne Jones, and sad to say, Anne McCaffrey.

    Well, I simply don’t watch much, and don’t pay too much attention to the director, producer, writer, etc. I don’t have any examples ready to hand, so I will simply refer to online resources:

    Riot Nrrd (wonderful although technically probably not a female artist)
    Girls with Slingshots
    Hyperbole and a Half

    Music: I recommend simply visiting Her Infinite Variety on WORT community radio station (currently at but transitioning soon to This can be livestreamed on the web, or downloaded from the station’s audio archives.

    And the Wardrobe was excellent. Thanks for the insider points.

    1. Then there are those that are beloved by others that I find highly problematic: S.L. Viehl, Diana Wynne Jones, and sad to say, Anne McCaffrey..
      These are something of an antirecommendation for me, I’m afraid, particularly with respect to Viehl–total Mary Sue character in the one book I read, the problematic conflation of animal rights and human slavery, and the rape that wasn’t rape because the protagonist orgasmed WTF?

      Another music program recommendation: for people who enjoy classical music, Other Voices, again on WORT, showcases female composers, conductors, performers, etc.

    2. I want to add a +1 for Ursula LeGuinn. Her world building is fascinating, she plays pretty explicitly with tropes of gender and class, and most of her protagonists are POC. Good times.

  18. My goodness, I missed A Thing yesterday, didn’t I? Thank you for redirecting back to it to see how awesome this community is (again). As you say, I hope yesterday’s LW can come back and re-read the whole thing someday and realize how the “Can’t get a date” and his comments on the thread are all connected. I genuinely feel bad for him, as he’s clearly driven his braincar into some deep, deep ruts that are going to take a lot of work on his part to get out of.

    On to happier things and more awesome stuff by women!

    So I’m a game developer who doesn’t get to participate in my community in RL very much due to RL needs at home trumping cons and monthly gatherings and other such fun things. But I do get to follow them on the glorious tubes of the Interwebs! Here are some women in the gamedev (or in a few cases more general geekdom) Twitterverse if anyone else would like to follow:

    @KelleeSan @avantgame @annlemay
    @Themiscyra @bellecanto114 @HollyConrad
    @LaraCrigger @deb_shin
    @jennatar (You may have seen her very recent post on the topic of feminism/sexism: )
    @BioMaryKirby @TrinAndTonic @garannm
    @JessicaMerizan @Lady_Serpentine @mnemosynekurai
    @CourtneyWoods @bonniegrrl @KristineGreaves
    @nyyjen @lauralovescake @Masah_K
    @HemiArt @traceylien @digitalholly
    @cupcake_rachel @elizabethdanger @JessConditt
    @kezamacdonald @casskhaw @sparklebliss @devilherdue
    @deirdrakiai @patriciaxh @kingoforigin @tigresaa
    @meesherbeans @LadieAuPair @kkjordan @KCoxDC
    @inkycats @LineHollis @Leahbjackson
    @xMattieBrice @beckysaysrawr @TaraLongest
    @Batgirl @_vixx @twitgera
    @jhaletweets @manojalpa @kateri_t
    @AlexaRayC @thebrennil @MeaganMarie
    @LivelyIvy @HollieB @janedouglas
    @missharvey @ashelia @TraceyJohn
    @rikkusarah @colettebennett @kiala
    @ChristinaCoffin @0jenzee0 @mistressmousey
    @megganpez @MituK @LisaFoiles
    @desensitisation @chimmely @q0rt

    AAAAAHHH!!! I…I’m sorry… I guess I follow a lot of people. That list has taken me 15 minutes to cut-and-paste already. I have to stop. There’s more…but…eeep…too long already. Tell you what, if you want a full list, browse who I follow at @JustinSHouk. It will be a lot easier to add them over there than here. Oy.

    Anyway, women are awesome and make great things and it really sucks the way they get treated sometimes and I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better. Now to go rest my poor aching Ctrl-X/Ctrl-V fingers…

  19. I don’t recommend Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books because I think they’re flawless or contain deep insight into the female character – if anything, I recommend them with a huge grain of salt re: weird 1970s views of sexuality – but a HUGE contingent of nerdy women have read those books and treat them as a kind of cultural touchstone. In certain demographics it is as common a science-fiction-fan origin point as Star Wars.

    Ursula Le Guin is a great writer for the kind of dreamy overthinking-it crowd who like scifi but are neutral on action/adventure.

    1. Ursula LeGuin is my favorite fantasy author of all time, not only for her wonderful writing and world building, but for her wonderful philosophy on writing fantasy with integrity. She is my spirit guide.

    2. Seconding you with the Anne McCaffrey warning. It’s not just a 1970s view, because she carries the rape-as-romance trope well into the 1990s and beyond with her later send-ups. And I was one of those teenage nerds who used to masturbate to Jaxom’s sex scenes in The White Dragon and thought the Pern books were amazing–a world without religion! Plus all of her other works! Until I didn’t. I stopped after Moreta’s Ride and became absolutely disgusted once dolphins entered the scene.

      I love Ursula LeGuin. Haven’t read a bomb by her yet.

      I mentioned these in my comment, but I think it gotten eaten by the spam filter too, since I don’t even see the “waiting for moderation” notice.

      1. I tend to think of Anne McCaffrey as showing a kind of raw, unexamined female sexuality. There are a lot of unquestioned rape tropes in there — but also a lot of real, groin-felt feminine desire. I’m glad her work exists even though it has problems, because I remember being pushed away by the rape scenes, but pulled in by the scenes of genuine want, which evoked something I felt without knowing how to feel it.

      2. Not to mention she thought men became gay by impression, and that if a young boy was raped with a tent peg — no, really, that’s what she said, Google it — he would be gay.

        1. I feel like the tent peg interview is to people who grew up reading Pern books as Jar-Jar Binks was to people who grew up with Star Wars, though I think the tent peg thing was way more offensive than Jar-Jar, and that’s saying something.

  20. For any other fantasy nerds, particularly YA fantasy, I recommend anything by Tamora Pierce, Holly Black, or Laini Taylor.

    Tamora Pierce was one of my fundamental childhood authors, and she is still writing. I haven’t read much of her “Circle of Magic” series; they seem to be intended for a younger audience. I have read all of her Tortall serieses, which are, as follows: The Song of the Lioness quartet, about a girl (Alanna)who disguises herself as a boy to become a knight (and is still the best girl-disguised-as-a-boy story I’ve ever read, and I read a lot of those). The Immortals quartet, about a girl with “wild” magic (basically, animal-related stuff, including shapeshifting) and some wacky magical creatures (with bonus dragons). The Protector of the Small quartet, about the first girl to openly try to become a knight after Alanna the Lioness came out as a lady and got it legalized (this series is surprisingly not repetitive). The Trickster’s pair of books, a fun spy series about Alanna’s daughter, who has mad awesome spy skills because her dad is the king’s spymaster, who uses her mad spy skills in the service of a revolution in another country (WARNING: This is a “special white person helps brown people throw off the rule of evil white people” story. It is possibly the least crappy of these stories ever written, but whether or not you want to actually read it is something in which people’s mileage may vary a lot). And finally, the Provost’s Dog trilogy, which is a set of fantasy-medieval police procedurals that are, uh, really hard to describe, actually. But very good.

    Holly Black has written a bunch of stuff but is best known for her “Tithe” trilogy, about faeries (wicked awesome old-school powerful scary faeries, not cute helpful Disneyfied ones), of which I have only read the first one, and her “Curse Workers” series (White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart), which is a sort of urban fantasy con-artists-and-mafias story where certain people have magic powers but it is illegal to use them, so most of the people with magic end up working in crime syndicates, and everyone wears gloves all the time because you have to touch people to magic them.

    Laini Taylor is also best known for a faerie series, “Faeries of Dreamdark,” which has two titles, “Blackbringer” and “Silksinger.” They are the most adorable books I have ever read, ever. She has started a new series, of which right now the only book out is “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” which is about angels and chimaerae (basically, wacky beast/human hybrids a. k. a. devils-because-they-are-in-a-war-with-the-seraphim). Not for devout Christians; the seraphim are basically imperialist bastards and there is a lot of talk about how lol silly humans built whole religions out of occasional seraph/chimaera sightings aren’t they cute.

      1. Me also. Those books pretty much got me through my awkward adolescence into significantly less awkward adulthood.

    1. One warning for Tamora Pierce and the Protector of the Small series. I have to basically skip any description of the Big Villain in the last book and a bit because she uses stereotypes of autistic people (never still, always twitching, etc. never looking people in the eye, etc. etc. etc.) as shorthand for the evilness/sheer wrongness of the necromancer.

      Otherwise, she’s pretty terrific. Including (especially in the Circle of Magic series) not describing non-white people as their race (as a physical description) and nothing else. In fact she quite often gives in-depth physical descriptions of people (exact shade of skin and hair, for example) and doesn’t mention race specifically.

      1. > One warning for Tamora Pierce and the Protector of the Small series. I have to basically skip any description of the Big Villain in the last book and a bit because she uses stereotypes of autistic people (never still, always twitching, etc. never looking people in the eye, etc. etc. etc.) as shorthand for the evilness/sheer wrongness of the necromancer.


        Thank you for the warning.

      2. One author new to me that I just stumbled over is Michelle Sagara. I thought her YA fantasy <i?Silence was well above average. One of the supporting characters has ASD, and I thought she did a fabulous job handling his portrayal (I’m speaking as a neurotypical, though), as well as the serious themes of loss and grief and social awkwardness and the use and abuse of power. I think she had many of the typical high school archetypes but did an excellent job of subverting them: shy geek, queen bee, etc. They all had strengths and weaknesses, including Michael, the Asperger’s character, and all contribute to the outcome and support each other, even with the obligatory teenage snark and sniping.

    2. And while there’s all that religion business in her books, making them Not For Everyone, let us not forget Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote a protagonist very real to me, one Ms. Meg Murry.

      1. Love, love, love L’engle! She definitely wrote string young women. And her books are a bit religious in theme, but I never minded.

    3. I will never not second Tamora Pierce recs. SO GOOD. Kel is one of my favorite characters of all time. She fights the kyriarchy through competence! It is glorious!

    4. I want to chime in on the “Circle of Magic” series, because I love that even more than Pierce’s Tortall series (this is saying a lot!). I’m not sure I’d say they’re aimed at a younger age group – the first quartet possibly, the second and the books currently in progress not so much.

      What I really like about the series, more than the Tortall series, is this: its focus is pretty strongly on family-as-choice, with the four main characters being people who have somehow lost all or almost all their birth family and who create a new one together. Romance plays no role at all in the first books (…as they’re ten), some in the later ones – but the focus remains on platonic, familial relationships. I find this extremely rare and refreshing to find! It’s also really nice to read a book with a boy and a girl (in fact, three girls) as main characters who have a strong bond that is not romantic, and in fact explicitly stated not to be romantic.

      I also think CoM is generally better on race and queerness grounds than a lot of the Tortall series – I see you mentioned the “white saviour” issue in the Aly books already, but in general the protagonists tend to be pretty white and there are some unfortunate dynamics in place, especially when it comes to early world-building stuff (e.g. the various countries). In CoM, a significant portion of the cast are PoC, including major characters (two of the four main characters – Daja and Briar – as well as two of their four teachers, Lark and Frostpine) and there’s a lot of diversity in the background cast as well. Similarly, multiple major characters are queer (this comes up in the later books).

      Don’t get me wrong, I like the Tortall series too! It just seems as if Circle of Magic is quite a bit less popular and more obscure, and I find this sad because it’s amazing and really progressive in a lot of ways.

      1. Seconding CoM so hard. QUEER CHARACTERS, man! Who do awesome things and aren’t defined by being queer! They were there for me at a really important point of my adolescence. And I still remember my little sister (who I wasn’t supposed to tell because she “wouldn’t understand”) going into the kitchen to go “Mom, why are girls kissing?” and it was SO GREAT.

        Ahem. Just had to get that out of my system. Tamora Pierce is fabulous.

        1. I love the Circle of Magic series – and never got into any of her other works. I read all of the Alanna quarter (Lioness, I think?) but it was meh for me. The Circle of Magic, though, was awesome.

        2. Yes! I about leapt out of my chair in Glee when “Will of the Empress” let on that [does this count as spoilers?]

          Lark and Rosethorn were in a relationship and had been the entire time, and everyone had known. I mean, this *could* have gone badly in the ways of “let’s retcon some characters into being queer”, but there were lots of hints in the previous books (hell, they’re living together, arguably raising kids together, there are plenty of affectionate scenes between the two of them). It just hadn’t come up before because Lark and Rosethorn probably cut down on PDA around ten-year-olds and most importantly it wasn’t a big deal.

          Also, Daja Daja omg Daja I love you forever. And I am still going to hold out for Tris to be ace. >> (Or Sandry! It’s not out of the question!)

          I’m really glad you had those books – alas, published slightly too late to be of use to myself as a teen – and am grinning so hard imagining that scene with your sister.

      2. I forgot to mention the other thing that shows up really commonly in CoM books: PTSD. presented as, like, the body/brain’s normal response to trauma. (Three of the main students, at least one of their students later, both their (lesbian! although I see people mentioning that lower down now) foster parents, etc. etc. etc.)

    5. Couple months ago I reread the Circle books for the first time in a decade, during which I learned a lot about writing. And while I still loved them as stories, I thought they were good technically too.

      Sandry’s Book/The Magic in the Weaving, especially, is so *competent*. Foreshadowing and set-up are carefully built into everything so that the payoffs feel natural and nothing feels out of the blue. The setting feels real and developed, the characters feel real and developed. There is no scene that does not advance the plot, everything is packed with detail, and yet it doesn’t feel rushed.

      I love that in the first four circle books the only serious, thinking antagonists are the pirates in book two, which are mostly distant anyway, so most of the conflicts are not simple affairs. I love that the series averts medieval stasis. I love that Pierce doesn’t totally smooth away the hard nasty things, and yet there still can be happy endings and idealism. I love the underlying themes of empathy, respect, and compassion. I love that everyone carries scars from past traumas, and these aren’t banished after one epiphany. I love that plenty of characters are not particularly social or friendly, they have traits that can be flaws, and they’re still good people – while they can soften, they don’t have to change. I love that the teachers are people too, flawed as anyone but still good.

      My favorite Pierce books are still the Protector of the Small quartet, because Keladry of Mindelan is amazing and wonderful and I love her scars and her stoicism and her endless compassion for those weaker than herself and her awkward crushes. But I’m really impressed by the Circle books, after a reread. Definitely take a look.

      1. I keep forgetting to mention things about the CoM series that make me love them!

        I’m convinced, in the second book about her, that Sandry is being groomed by her uncle to be his successor as ruler of Emelan. (I haven’t read the Will of the Empress in a long time, so I don’t know if it’s continued there, but for most of the book she’s not around him, anyway.)

      1. I KNOW, RIGHT

        Beka rocks my socks. She’s a commoner and she don’t need no noble blood to save the day!

    6. I sort of grew out of Tamora Pierce’s books by the time she wrote the Trickster ones, but rereading the four series before that is still good for my soul. They were super formative. But oh god, the Alanna books have some serious ish going on with their desert-tribes-oppress-women-via-veils stories (a good chunk of the third book). On the positive side for that series is that her romantic/sexual relationships are surprisingly well-done for a set of books where that’s not the focus – she sleeps with more than one guy and no one (who isn’t unambiguously evil) cares, she’s in a relationship where they love each other but it’s just not going to work so they deal with that, and she is always her own first priority.

    7. Glad to know I’m not the only Tamora Pierce worshipper. I started reading her when _Alanna_ was new, and I was in the target age group for that series. I never stopped.

      Although, yes, I also looked side-eyed at the “special white person” aspect of the Trickster novels. What say we start a letter-writing campaign to get Dove her own series? I’m dying to know what she does next. 🙂

  21. books:
    Wild by Cheryl Strayed
    The Hunger Games trilogy (I know, they have so much hype already, but they are SO GOOD)
    A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo
    Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni

    Amanda Palmer
    Marie Digby
    Bitter Ruin – I hope this counts, as they’re a duo consisting of a man and a woman. I saw them open for the Dresden Dolls at their reunion show last year, and was completely blown away.
    Ari and Mia Friedman – who I sort-of-know IRL, and are awesome

    visual art:
    Flora Bowley
    Fiona Watson

    Shameless self-promotion: I recently started a blog, mostly about fatshion, called Tutus and Tiny Hats.

    1. I love Amanda Palmer, but I want to disclaimer that she occasionally does racist and ableist shit and is not very good at Getting It when she gets called on it.

  22. Children’s books edition:
    Anything Kate DiCamillo — some of the smartest, most character-driven children’s fiction out there. Because of Winn-Dixie is a classic, but I’m also very fond of The Tiger Rising.

    Katherine Paterson has also been steadily churning out amazing books for 30+ years. Bridge to Terabithia is a classic, but there’s also Jacob Have I Loved and The Great Gilly Hopkins, among others.

    The Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker — Clementine is funny, smart, resourceful, and quirky without being annoying. She’s a delight. (The audiobooks are great, but you will miss out on Marla Frazee’s illustrations.)

    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read. Highly recommended for people who love A Wrinkle in Time (a book which is crucial to the plot of When You Reach Me). (Also Rebecca Stead is super nice in person. I saw her speak with Kate DiCamillo last year and they were both amazing. DiCamillo is wicked funny in person.)

    If you liked The Hunger Games, you should try Suzanne Collins’ other series, the Gregor the Overlander books. I think this series is better, overall, than HG (possibly in part because it wasn’t as popular, so she wasn’t rushing to finish the series). While the protagonist is a boy, there are lots of interesting female characters, and it explores a lot of the same themes as HG.

    If you haven’t already read it, Gail Carson Levine’s version of Cinderella — Ella Enchanted — is pretty much perfect.

    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is great historical fiction about a girl coming of age in Texas in 1899 and discovering a love of science. (More good historical fiction — Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm.)

    Have you reread the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary as an adult? You really should. (You can also try the audiobooks, read by Stockard Channing, which is even more amazing than you’re imagining.)

    1. Ooooh, I LOVE Ella Enchanted. But I’ll warn against the movie: it turned the ending inside out, to where she’s basically rescued instead of rescuing herself. (I don’t remember the details, I just remember my overwhelming disappointment about that.) Awesome book, though, and I should go read it again!

      1. That movie is a TRAVESTY. 😦

        In general, Gail Carson Levine’s stuff is worth reading–she does a lot of “rewriting classic fairy tales so that they are not terrible for young girls” stuff, so if you are a fairy tale nerd like me, that is fun.

      2. I am pleased that there might be a version of Ella Enchanted which is not completely crappy. My parents showed it to me to show off their new fancy tv once … unfortunately during my “just broke up with the guy I loved because his idea of dating was my idea of friends-with-benefits and now I Will Be Alone Forever because I Have Standards” phase. I’m afraid they got a bit of an earful from me about it.

    2. Seconding Gail Carson Levine – and millefolia, as I interpreted it, she basically saved herself (she was pushed to that point by someone else, but she did the saving herself.) In the movie it’s…different. Also, she does some really adorable short retelling of fairy tales in which the female characters are definitely not your average princesses.

      This hasn’t been mentioned yet, but if you like fairytale retelling, “The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making” is beyond amazing, beyond wonderful, beyond great. It is a must read about a young girl, who is slightly heartless and slightly wonderful (like children are), who ends up having adventures in fairyland (saving herself, of course), running into people – it’s fabulous.

      Also, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles features strong, practical, intelligent, wonderful women (of multiple species.)

    3. Yes! to the Gregor series. It’s about a boy who is a gentle-hearted person, whose main concern is caring for and protecting his baby sister (diapers! preventing tantrums!) and whose response to developing skill at fighting is what you’d expect of a gentle person, not the usual “yay ass-kicking I’m so awesome now, + maybe some angst that’s completely implausible b/c the narrative makes it clear it’s all awesome.”

      Be warned, though it’s aimed a bit younger than Hunger Games, it’s really, really dark and deals a lot with poverty and war.

    4. Some other excellent books by Gail Carson Levine are Fairest, which really examines why some women obsess over beauty and how it’s not the answer, and the Two Princesses of Bamarre, where the introverted, “cowardly” sister has to go on a quest to save her outoing, adventurous, and now deathly ill sister.

    1. Whoops, I thought I read all the comments, but I duplicated the Digger recommendation below. REALLY IT’S BECAUSE IT’S GREAT NO REALLY.

    2. I gotta second Digger hardcore. The art is lush and fantastic, the mythology and folklore are amazing, and overall it’s one of the best works of epic fantasy I have ever read.

    1. Connie Wanek

      Lisel Mueller

      Louise Gluck

      I could do this for days. Poetry, man. Poetry.

      Atwood fans, if you haven’t, please do read some of HER poetry. Lights out. I mean:

      “You Fit into Me”

      You fit into me
      like a hook into an eye

      a fish hook
      an open eye

      –Margaret Atwood

      1. ooh, thanks! Glancing through some of those links, I see that “A Nude By Edward Hopper” by Lisel Mueller is one version of a poem I’ve tried to write, before, myself. Only better than I could manage, of course.

  23. Children’s books edition:
    Anything Kate DiCamillo — some of the smartest, most character-driven children’s fiction out there. Because of Winn-Dixie is a classic, but I’m also very fond of The Tiger Rising.

    Katherine Paterson has also been steadily churning out amazing books for 30+ years. Bridge to Terabithia is a classic, but there’s also Jacob Have I Loved and The Great Gilly Hopkins, among others.

    The Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker — Clementine is funny, smart, resourceful, and quirky without being annoying. She’s a delight. (The audiobooks are great, but you will miss out on Marla Frazee’s illustrations.)

    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read. Highly recommended for people who love A Wrinkle in Time (a book which is crucial to the plot of When You Reach Me). (Also Rebecca Stead is super nice in person. I saw her speak with Kate DiCamillo last year and they were both amazing. DiCamillo is wicked funny in person.)

    If you liked The Hunger Games, you should try Suzanne Collins’ other series, the Gregor the Overlander books. I think this series is better, overall, than HG (possibly in part because it wasn’t as popular, so she wasn’t rushing to finish the series). While the protagonist is a boy, there are lots of interesting female characters, and it explores a lot of the same themes as HG.

    If you haven’t already read it, Gail Carson Levine’s version of Cinderella — Ella Enchanted — is pretty much perfect.

    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is great historical fiction about a girl coming of age in Texas in 1899 and discovering a love of science. (More good historical fiction — Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm.)

    Have you reread the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary as an adult? You really should. (You can also try the audiobooks, read by Stockard Channing, which is even more amazing than you’re imagining.)

    1. Argh, sorry to post twice! I though the first one failed, because I didn’t see a “waiting for moderation” note.

  24. The Emma McChesney books, starting with Roast Beef, Medium, by Edna Ferber. Mrs. McChesney is a traveling saleswoman with a teenage son. She’s smarter and more resourceful than the men she competes with, but she’s delightfully imperfect. And all three books are available at Project Gutenberg.

  25. If we’re doing webcomics, I have to show some love for Kate Beaton!

    If you check her out at the moment, I have to say that the current most recent comic is not as… substantive or high-brow as she usually is. I guess I’m trying to say that it’s not always about horse poop.

    Also, seconding an above recommendation of Mary Renault. I might start with The Persian Boy, since it’s awesome and revolves around Alexander the Great, so most people will probably be familiar with the historical setting. I also think the richness and accuracy of her settings is something she does really well that not everyone manages – it is a huge pet peeve of mine when authors write “historical fiction” and then plop characters with fully 2012 attitudes toward sex and the family right in there like it makes them “better” versions of historical people. With Mary Renault, you always get an interesting plot and characters in an interesting world that is actually not like your own. Also, sex.

    1. That is totally my pet peeve with most of the historical romance claptrap published nowadays. I’ve heard of Mary Renault before, so I will definitely have to look for her books.

      1. YES! Another one! I’ve convinced four people in my life to read The Persian Boy, two of whom couldn’t give a flying flip about Greek history and they all loved it. All this Renault love is making me so happy.

    2. Ahaha, that is the most unrepresentative Kate Beaton comic I have ever seen! We have this one framed and on a wall:

      Another female webcomic I can heartily recommend is Allie Brosh: She’s struggling with some serious depression and hasn’t been able to keep working on her comic lately, but I defy you to find more condensed hilarity on the interwebs than the simple dog or young Allie’s quest for cake.

      It looks like WordPress ate the comment I tried to post of all the womenfolk I follow on Twitter in the gamedev space for those who might be interested in such things, but that’s probably just as well given that the list was getting painfully long (I follow a lot of people on Twitter) and would have been too cumbersome for anyone to cut and paste into their own Twitter follow list anyway, even if they were interested in the list. So I’ll just say track me down on Twitter and browse my follow list if you want to find the twitter feeds of some really interesting women who work in the video game industry.

      1. Allie Brosh’s post about struggling with depression is one of the most genius things I have ever read–it is both absofuckinglutely hilarious and doesn’t make light of depression at all, and even more impossibly, it is both absofuckinglutely hilarious and a spot-on perfect description of depression. THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE POSSIBLE.

        1. I read the “Adventures in Depression” post, and I burst into shuddering tears that would not stop for probably half an hour in utter catharsis — because Someone Got It. It’s helped me, and probably 50% of my friends circle, more than I can say. I wish nothing but candy and ponies for her.

      2. I *love* Hyperbole and a Half, and was so sad to hear what Allie has been going through. Her most recent post on the site is not representative of the rest of the webcomic, but it is an amazing, heartbreaking look at depression.

      3. I came across a brief update (at reddit) from Allie when I went googling for Hyperbole and a Half mentions recently. I thought I’d mention it for anyone who’s been wondering about how she’s doing since her last post (which I agree was amazing).

        All of her stuff is great, but I think the absolute funniest one is The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas.

        1. For me, it was How A Fish Destroyed My Childhood. I literally hurt from laughing at that , bith immediately and the next day – seems everyone has their own Allie Brosh cartoon helpless laughter nemesis!

  26. Joanna Russ, for science fiction. The Female Man is a classic, but her Alyx stories and her novel The Two of Them also deserve wider attention.

    Also, I recently picked up something called Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirstin Backis. It turned out to be gorgeous and surprisingly dark. If you like steampunk, you will like it.

  27. I am a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy books so that is where all of my recommendations are going to come from. That said, here goes:

    Lois Bujold! Lois Bujold makes me happy. For sci-fi, the Vorkosigan Saga; for fantasy, everything else she’s ever written.

    Octavia Butler and K.J. Parker are both stunningly good authors who fill me with complicated feelings. Don’t try Parker if you like happy endings, because you won’t get any; Butler is a little easier on that score.

    And of course, I would be remiss if I talked about fantasy literature by women and didn’t mention the Elcenia series, which is so great that nearly fifty thousand words of fanfiction were not sufficient to contain my feelings.

    1. Okay, I’m apparently the nth person to bring up Bujold, and although I just thought of Pierce I would clearly be nthing her too, but I haven’t seen anyone else mention Tanya Huff yet! Tanya Huff is fucking delightful. Fantasy of all flavours, always for some reason containing some combination of redheads, mind control, and Canada. Seriously, two out of the three every single time, I have no idea why. It’s awesome, though.

  28. Anyone into Scarlett Thomas? I’ve gone to serious love, even though I find the protagonists are a little hard to relate to. But the way she deals with really dense subject matter – physics, consciousness, dimension – in an accessabile almost-easy-to read way…love it. I would say The End of Mr Y is one of my favourite books ever, certainly this decade.

    1. I loved that (and was even able to tolerate the sneering at the scientist) and couldn’t put it down and was awestruck by it… for two thirds of the book, and then felt let down by the rest because it seemed to lose its pace and imagination. But I will certainly read more from her.

  29. I just want to say how much I LOVE the advice to consciously consume creative works created by women. I really think it would help a number of guys that I know who claim they ‘do not understand women’. The point being that women are people and the stuff we create is the same as the stuff that men create. Except maybe (slightly) fewer giant heaving bosoms.

    I’m a big ole dorky fan of young adult fantasy novels (I am 26). Most of it written by ladies.
    Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynn Jones, Ursula K. Le Guinn
    Also I love me some comics I just picked up one of Alison Bechdel books ‘Fun Home’ which is amazing so far. Her comic ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ is also wonderful (as a straight cis-gendered lady).
    I’m also a fan of so many super awesome web comics by ladies ‘Girls with Slingshots’, ‘Hark a Vagrant’ & ‘Octopus Pie’, also the now finished ‘Anders Love Maria’ by the mega talented Rene Engström.

    In the video department Miranda July is a wonderful director. Also I’ve recently fallen in love with the internet short ‘’.
    If that doesn’t float your boat try looking up female stand-up comedians on You-tube. Start with someone obvious like Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, Paula Poundstone or Margaret Cho and then just click around on you-tube clips of other comedian ladies. It’s an easy hilarious way to kill an hour or so.

    Captain Awkward please continue writing, I’m grabbing my credit card now so I can send you a couple dollars.

    1. Margaret Cho rocks, as does Wanda Sykes. I also want to recommend Eddie Izzard. He’s a transvestite, so nearly a woman, and a self-described feminist. He’s the only male comedian I trust with absolute certainty to never make a misogynist joke. The last time I checked, it’s not on YouTube and I’ll try and rectify this, but at the end of his Live at the Ambassador gig he does the most amazing bit about PMS I’ve ever heard.

  30. People above hit two of my favorites (Diana Wynne Jones and Tamora Pierce); in my “comfort fantasy” section there is also Robin McKinley, particularly The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. Though, those might be a matter of taste; I have a friend who finds her writing style very simplistic? Dunno.

    In the NOT COMFORTABLE AT ALL BUT REALLY GOOD SECTION, I would recommend The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai, and The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. I found both of those books really stunning.

    I really like Barbara Kingsolver, though occasionally she gets. . . heavy-handed. I can only speak to The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and High Tide in Tuscon being really awesome, but they are pretty awesome.

    I feel like Joan Didion is good for reading when you feel kind of grim and resolute about life but still convinced of its beauty.

    I enjoyed Lesley Kinzel’s new book, Two Whole Cakes, though honestly I like her blog (of the same name) more.

    The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea is a really long, really fun children’s book about adventures through irish mythology. It was a super-fast read and often very funny.

    Finally, Secret Six is a DC comic short series penned by Gail Simone and with artwork by Nicola Scott. As far as superhero comics go, it’s pretty good — witty banter and bloodshed abound.

    1. I love the term ‘comfort fantasy’. I haven’t heard that term before but I was trying to explain the concept to a friend of mine where sometimes I want to read a book where I am pretty much guaranteed a ‘happy ending’. That is exactly why I love reading Diane Wynn Jones & Tamora Pierce.
      Also I have not heard of Secret Six but I will have to look it up, I pretty much gave up on mainstream comics because ‘OMG sexism’, even though I love the witty banter & bloodshed.

    2. Quick note on The Poisonwood Bible is that disability is handled very poorly in some places and it still irks me, even though I read it years ago, though, admittedly, I’ve seen worse.

    3. “Comfort fantasy” is a great term! I read Mercedes Lackey’s books because they fall squarely into this category. She’s definitely a feminist, and just all-around FUN. Her most recent Five Hundred Kingdoms stories are a combination of light romance and poking merciless fun at fairy tales. You haven’t met a kick-ass godmother until you’ve met Elena.

      1. I love her Elemental Masters series. They are retakes of fairytales placed in (as I recall) the early 20th century.

    4. These may only halfway count, since they’re team-written by a straight married couple, but the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are my top-of-the-list “comfort fantasy”. They’re basically manners novels, in space.

      Not only do I enjoy their writing, but I also love the saga of how their writing happened. Del Rey published their first three books, but dropped them after that because the numbers, while good, weren’t good enough. Problem is, that was three books into a five-book sequence, so the story was left as a cliffhanger… for ten years. Then Meisha Merlin picked them up, re-released the original three, published the other two that completed that particular story line, and ALSO published the three additional novels they’d written in the intervening years, because apparently that’s what they do as a couple.

      However, Meisha Merlin went under while still owing them royalties, so Steve Miller took the train from Maine to Georgia, rented a box truck, backed it up to the MM warehouse and filled it full of their books, and drove it back to Maine. For a while, they supplemented their incomes from their regular jobs by selling those volumes online. But there was another story to tell: the five-book main sequence had ended with a brand-new mystery character showing up, walking up to a character we thought we knew well, and asking him “Father, where the hell have you been?” So, fans were kind of curious, but Lee & Miller had no publisher.

      They wrote that story, which ended up being two books, in a “Storyteller’s Bowl” format: for each $X raised by reader contributions, they’d post one chapter. They figured it would take a while and they’d have at least two or three weeks between chapters. By the end of the first month, 10 chapters were paid for. By the time chapter 1 went up, 20 chapters were paid for. Basically, it was so wildly successful, and they had so many more stories to tell, that Baen picked them up, along with their entire back catalog. They’ve published 5 more Liaden novels since then.

      So, if you’ve ever thought that Jane Austen novels would work really well if blended with a few spaceships, gunfights, intrigue, and enormous aliens that look sort of like turtles, you might wanna give these guys a try.

      1. Their publishing history sounds pretty damn similar to P.C. Hodgell’s misfortune with the Kencyrath series. However, she’s finally gotten picked up by a larger publisher, so she’s been able to continue with some sequels, though the cover art for the Baen editions is awful, awful, awful. Jame is always described as slight with small breasts and they’ve got the cleavage! Plus the Arrin-ken on the cover of Honor’s Paradox is a travesty.

        Great fantasy series full of humor and fun biology (arboreal drift! carnivorous butterflies!) and all of the excellent themes (love, death, honor, family dysfunction, politics, gender roles, religion, etc.). Hodgell has a light touch, a good imagination with some unique worldbuilding, and relatively complex characters who are sympathetic, even when they’re the bad guys. Jame is a great protagonist who is doing her best to find her own identity despite the many expectations and fears placed on her by others who want to use her. I am glad that Hodgell’s work is starting to reach a larger audience instead of remaining obscure.

        I’ve heard of the Liaden books, but never followed up on them. I’ll have to check those out.

      2. “enormous aliens that look sort of like turtles” reminds me of Wen Spencer’s book Endless Blue
        I love Wen Spencer’s books. I started with the Tinker series (Tinker, Wolf Who Rules and recently published Elfhome).

        I read voraciously but rarely buy fiction books ( Oh how I love my public library) and Wen Spencer is one of the few authors whose books I buy (unread even).
        Nina Kiriki Hoffman is also on my list of Authors Whose Books I Buy. In fact, she is my favorite author. Both of these women write books where magic intersects with everyday reality – my favorite sub genre.
        And wrapping it around to Jane Austen, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermere’s “Sorcery and Cecelia” is set in a Regency England with magic. This is on of my favorite comfort fantasy books.



    Cough sorry. Containing myself. It’s about a super-practical female wombat who accidentally tunnels into another universe and hyenas and various gods. IT’S GREAT.

    Also I love Lackadaisy Cats, by Tracy Butler, which is a gangsters-in-1920s-Prohibition-St.Louis story told with. . . anthropomorphic cats.

  32. Point of Honour is a Regency-era mystery with a close attention to period detail *and* a smart, resourceful female main character who has created a career as an investigative agent. There’s a lot to enjoy here; the mystery is well-paced and interesting, there’s a strong female character who is generally respected for her unusual occupation, and there’s a lot of discussion about the limited options available to women (and the difficult choices/sacrifices they make because of this) at the time.

    The other amazing thing I just discovered? Roller Derby. Seriously y’all, this shit is amazing. I had been saying for years that I wanted to go to some matches and now that I have, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. It’s an interesting sport and a lot of fun to watch, plus the matches I’ve been to sell huge delicious cupcakes.

    Also, I think more sports would be improved if players had to choose some sort of amusing/pun-based stage name, don’t you? The Bay Area teams feature such fantastic player names as Chantilly Mace, belle RIGHT hooks, Steely Jan, Cass Warfare, Baron von Punchausen, and Slaybia Majora.

    1. Loved Whip It. My nerd dreams were crushed when I discovered that one of the derby girls in Chicago already has the name “Cora Lation”

      1. Yes! Whip It was a pretty great movie; watching that was one of the things that reminded me to check out some matches here. My big complaint is that it is really straight; how can you make a roller derby movie with zero queer women in it?

    2. If you like roller derby, try reading “Going In Circles” by Pamela Ribon.

  33. Gonna throw out a few comic artists who I like. 🙂 Faith Erin Hicks and Raina Telgemeier write and draw comics for younger audiences (YA and middle grade works) but they’re worth reading at any age, and their drawing styles are completely different, but both cartoony and engaging.

    Gail Simone’s comic writing is excellent. Birds of Prey is always well-done, even when somewhat… sexist and cheesecakey artists worked on it.

    Also, Alison Bechdel. There are no limits of good things I can say about Fun Home and Are You My Mother? They’ve helped me through some rough family stuff lately and her works heal as they provoke and make you think.

    1. I saw Raina Telgemeier at Comic-Con yesterday. Tween girls flipping out over meeting her are the cutest and awesomest thing ever.

  34. A few of the lady-authored books I’ve read and enjoyed lately that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff is thoroughly enjoyable novel, slightly fantasy/sci fi but with a literary bend.

    Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum is an excellent book for white people who would like to work on unlearning racism.

    The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is a solid memoir about childhood and poverty.

    Children of the Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel is a gripping and moving account of the Angel of Death in the Holocaust, Dr. Mengele, and the twins that he performed gruesome experiments on. It covers both life in Auchwitz and Mengele and his surviving victim’s lives after WWII.

    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is funny and weird and well worth reading.

    Perseopolis by Marjane Satrapi is a comic memoir about life growing up in Iran.

    Whipping Girl by Julia Serano is a really excellent book about trans* folks, sexism, and society.

  35. If you’re talking books for women, by women I’m going to give a plug for the romance genre. It’s not for everyone, but it’s really changed since the days of 80s rape as romance, and I find a lot of the novels produced now to be pretty feminist. Not all of them, and you have to choose your writers, but it’s definitely worth a look. There are authors working outside heterosexual, monogamous strictures of traditional publishing too, primarily on the ‘net (including a lot of good romance/erotica!).

    But since this is for the LW I’m going to recommend Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay Trilogy. It has male protagonists who are awesome and respectful, and the romance story is told through their point of view as the three brothers try to parent a kid. Especially recommended is the second book, where one brother has to deal with his childhood history of being sexually abused in the context of a current romantic relationship. I just thought perhaps the LW might enjoy reading about a how a relationship might develop between a strong woman and a respectful and understanding dude, since LW’s all about relationships.

    Just watch out for the happy-ending-we-are-together-forever stuff of romance finishes, don’t know if that will aggravate the LW’s obsession with it. On second thought, maybe I should have stuck to fantasy recommendations. Ummm everything by Mercedes Lackey? Those books practically parented me, and laid some of the the groundwork for my ardent feminism today 🙂

    1. Jennifer Crusie has written some really interesting romance novels that are a lot of fun to read and subvert a lot of romantic happily-ever-after nonsense. Bet Me is one of my favorites, but she has written lots.

      They can be deeply problematic in many ways that are both of-their-time and not (there is definite classism and anti-Semitism, and probably other issues that I’m not clued into), but Georgette Heyer just about invented the Regency Romance, and some of her works are very very good. I like A Civil Contract, Cotillion, the Unknown Ajax, Frederica, and The Grand Sophy (but beware of anti-Semitism in the last).

      1. I love the Crusie. My favorites are Welcome to Temptation, Faking It, Bet Me, and (with Bob Mayer) Wild Ride. Her blog at is also a fun read.

        I also like the writing of her roommate, Lani Diane Rich/Lucy March (

      2. I’ve been watching as I read this thread to see if anyone had mentioned Heyer yet. The ones you mentioned are mostly my favorites too (Frederica is my very favorite). I’ve been warned that her mystery novels aren’t nearly as good.

        1. Another Heyer fan here! You will want to tear a page out if every other book for rapeyness, but nobody else bar Austen can craft a character as well. Formulaic plots, because duh, romance, but perfect comfort reading. The Masqueraders is my favourite.

          I’d agree that the mystery novels don’t have the spark that her romances do.

          1. And the antisemitism is over the top. Not to mention the one romance with the fashionable little black page named Sambo. So I grit my teeth over those details and continue to enjoy The Grand Sophy, Frederica, The Masqueraders, Black Sheep, Venetia,…

        2. Yeah, run screaming from her mystery novels and avoid A Civil Contract, Simon the Coldheart, and her first one (forgot the name) with pirates.

          I love Georgette. Although some of it is amazingly problematic.

          1. Civil Contract is one of my favorites of hers, so I’m curious–what did you dislike about it?

          2. At the end, it still sounded like a marriage in which he was a spoiled brat and she was doing the heavy lifting. You know, he appreciated that she was a Good Wife, but she worshiped the ground he walked on.

            IIRC, it was a somewhat ambiguous ending, so you may have read it as more positive than I did, but ewwww.

          3. Oh, that makes sense. Yes, I read it more positively than you did (I think he was beginning to love her/beginning to realize he loved her), but I can see how you could get your interpretation too.

  36. After the Dragon by Sarah Monette. A story about a young lady recovering from a dragon attack, physically and emotionally.

    She also has two collections of short stories out, The Bone Key and Somewhere Beneath Those Waves. Her fantasy series The Doctrine of Labyrinths is also very good, but can be hard to read since she deals with how people with the traumatic backgrounds a lot of fantasy protagonists have would actually wind up being.

    1. Oooh ooh ooh Sarah Monette! I couldn’t actually get into the first Doctrine of Labyrinths book because I so disliked one of the protagonists, but I’ve loved every short story of hers I’ve been able to get my hands on.

      And because they sometimes write together, that prompts me to mention Elizabeth Bear. I especially recommend Bear’s Jenny Casey trilogy, which starts with _Hammered_. Nearish-future SF with a very interesting protagonist.

      1. I particularly love anything that she gets to set in a museum. I love watching her museum crush take over the story just the right amount!

        I should probably try to read more of Elizabeth Bear’s stuff, but her treatment of racial issues in New Amsterdam really irritated me so I’ve been giving all her other books the side-eye. Possibly unjustly.

        1. Yeah, Elizabeth Bear was the flashpoint for RaceFail ’09. Her original post was moderately thoughtful, but she responded not so well to critique. So I am not surprised that the New Amsterdam stuff is disappointing.

          1. Yeah, I had already read New Amsterdam at that point, so I wasn’t very surprised. It’s a very small part of the book near the end. The characters are in Paris and the protagonist is watching this Algerian woman and really others her. Like full on ‘she is so wild and free and exotic and wearing leopard fur in the Parisian winter, oh I wish my POC servant could be so wild and free like an exotic bird’. The rest of the book was a lot of fun (vampire detectives, yay!), but augh.

  37. Another hit for Octavia E. Butler- I’m not a diehard science fiction fan, but I love her work because all of her characters are three-dimensional and real, even in totally implausible environments. Also, I had the good fortune of meeting her at a Q&A/reading she gave in Brooklyn years ago, and not only was she incredible to listen to, but our conversation was (I realize in hindsight) one of my first big bumps into my own white privilege. It made me uncomfortable for years but only recently have I been able to really articulate why. So she holds a special place in my heart for that alone.

    Another favorite, favorite, favorite author of mine from forever ago is Flannery O’Connor. There is no one else like her in southern Gothic writing. What really horrifies me in her stories is her frequent depiction of unreliable protagonists who always end up being antagonists, and who ultimately get theirs when they try to control someone else’s faith or goodness. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “A View of the Woods” chilled me to the bone for days. I also just love the story about O’Connor’s life, and how much she stood out from everyone else around her (being not just a devout Catholic, but a well-respected Catholic scholar, and a lesbian, and chronically ill) and how much you can see her conflicted relationship with the South in her stories.

    Another great book I have to recommend that I feel like no one has ever heard of is The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead. It’s a huge, dense book about a large blended family in which the bizarre, attention-seeking father is invasively emotionally invested in the lives of his children and thoroughly contemptuous of his wife (and most adult women he meets too). It’s SO engrossing and morbidly engaging- in the introduction, it even says, “After reading this book, you cannot forget it, because now you are in this family too.” It’s so true. It’s not horror but it may well be to some people.

    As far as films, someone above mentioned Jessica Yu, and I’ll second that recommendation. In particular, I love her films Protagonist and In the Realms of the Unreal. It’s interesting that both films are actually about men, but she as a filmmaker is extremely sensitive to the worlds of her subjects, and opens them up ingeniously. Protagonist in particular gives the men profiled a ton of space to really reflect and take you through their experiences in a way that you ache for all of them. They’re a little bit more experimental, but the films of Su Friedrich are also visually arresting and very honest about family, sexuality, identity, etc.

    I know I definitely have more, but I have limited time. I love all the other recommendations I’m getting here too- it’s so worthwhile to have new media by women to enjoy!

  38. SF/F
    N.K. Jemisin, Inheritance Trilogy and Dreamblood Duology – She does an interesting take on epic fantasy and clearly gets some of her tropes from anime/manga and fanfic, and I am so happy that her worlds are populated by many POC and feature queerness.

    Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon’s Arms – older female protagonist! Menopause and magic! The protagonist is homophobic, but I think Hopkinson is good at showing that it is the character’s flaw, not the book’s POV.

    Emma Donoghue, Kissing the Witch – Lesbian fairy tale retellings with a great structure… each tale goes into the next, so you get to see princess becoming witches and etc.

    Non-SF/F YA
    Angela Johnson – I love everything she’s written… she’s very poetic and her books are very short, but my favorite is The First Part Last, which is a lovely look at single fatherhood.

    Elizabeth Wein – Her Aksum/Arthurian series starts with The Winter Prince and then gets even cooler with The Sunbird. And her latest, Code Name Verity, is the story of a female fighter pilot and female spy in WWII, and it is one of the best things I have read all year.

    Justina Chen Headley – Girl Overboard. Girl snowboarder works out stuff with identity and family and etc.

    Yazawa Ai – I love everything she’s done, but her strongest work is Nana, which is about the epic friendship of two women named Nana. All the characters are wonderfully human, and the relationships (romantic and not) make me laugh and break my heart.

    Yoshinaga Fumi – I like Antique Bakery and her manga about food a lot, but I LOVE Ooku, which is an alternate history in which 75% of the men die in Tokugawa Japan and the shogun is female.

    Takaya Natsuki – Fruits Basket. The premise looks kind of silly, but this is a great series on abuse and family and chosen family.

    I am skipping non-fiction because it would probably just be the entire reading list for a college course or something!


      It’s built around the central relationship of two badass female best friends — the kind of best friendship that is much more important than romantic love, while still entirely platonic — and I haven’t even mentioned the bits about AIRPLANES and PLOTS and SPIES. Read that, everyone.

      (Um, I commented as Dr. Introvert above, but now the commenting system wants to identify me as manuscriptgeek. Same person. I’ll just let manuscriptgeek stay as the listed identity from here on, I think.)

    2. LOVE LOVE LOVE Nana. Totally seconding this rec. The two main characters get to be stereotypically girly and a bad ass rock star and they tease each other about it, but there’s never any sense of either them being wrong or less.

    3. I’ve had to largely stop reading new fiction because I’m a psychic/mental sponge for the mental states of books and movies. I had to give away almost all my Mercedes Lackey because reading them turns me into a melodramatic teenager for DAYS.

      After reading “The Effluent Engine” (a lesbian steampunk short: ) in a linkaround somewhere about RaceFail, I went out and bought The Ten Thousand Kingdoms, because it seemed like she wouldn’t take me to melodramatic places (and I have a special place in my heart for books about mortals + complex pantheon interaction).

      And devoured it. And then did something I almost never do. I read it again immediately. And bought the other two. Do Recommend. Want more in that universe.

    4. I’m going to second the Fruits Basket rec, though with some reservations! The ending may be a little irritating for those who have ties to LGBT identities (to say as non-spoilerishly as possible, the end is kind of a Parade of CisHeteronormativity for a series that had seemed decently diverse in LGBT representation up until that point,) and the whole series should come with a trigger warning for incest and, as mentioned, abuse. However, it’s still a series close to my heart, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks they can handle the aforementioned things.

      And while we’re reccing lady-authored manga, while it’s hardly obscure, I’d recommend Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa to anyone! It’s an amazing series, and while the two brothers it focuses on are male, there’s a decent and diverse amount of completely amazing female characters among the cast. One of the central themes of the series is making yourself stronger by overcoming adversity, both personal and societal, and it’s one of my very favorite narratives out of any kind of media. This said, people that have triggers having to do with war and bloodshed should probably avoid it! (Also, for anyone who has only seen the first anime and didn’t enjoy it, please don’t write off the manga! The first anime has extremely different themes and handling of the narrative and characters than the manga– the manga is more optimistic, has less manpain, and treats its female characters with much, much more narrative presence, respect, and agency than the first anime. If you prefer anime to manga, try Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood– it’s the second anime adaption that follows the manga much more closely.)

      1. OMG so with you on the warning for Fruits Basket. I really wish Takaya had gone more places with the non-cisnormativity, but sadly, it was not so =(.

        FMA! Izumi Curtis: best housewife slash mentor ever? Y/Y I haven’t finished it yet, but I really like that it looks at stuff like colonialism too.

    5. Other fantastic Manga:

      Aya Nakahara – wrote the Lovely Complex, about the tallest girl in the class falling in love with the shortest boy. I really liked her (mostly) realistic portrayal of how that develops over time.

      Queenie Chan – The Dreaming is about twin sisters in a haunted boarding school

      Alice M. LeGrow – In Bizenghast, the protagonist is trapped into a contract to put dead souls to rest. She’s also suspected to have schizophrenia, and I haven’t read it recently, so I don’t remember how problematic her portrayal of mental illness was.

      Naoko Takeuchi – Sailor Moon has magical girls saving the world and being awesome friends. And it’s being re-released in English 😀

      Emura – This one might not be for everyone, but the heroine of W Juliet is a tall athletic girl who’s constantly mistaken for a guy, and the love interest is a boy who has to go through his last year of high school as a girl in order for his father to allow him to be an actor. It doesn’t have a nuanced portrayal of gender, but I loved the story anyway.

      Svetlana Chmakova – has two series out, Dramacon, about a manga writer’s first comicon, and Nightschool, about a witch enrolling in a school for supernatural beings in order to find her missing sister.

      1. I really like Chmakova, though I was sad that Nightschool wasn’t longer… it felt like it should have been a 20-volume series or something. And Dramacon is a great look at geek girls with creative ambitions.

        Also, even though you can tell which bits of Sailor Moon are tailored for young/teenaged girls (I say this non-derogatorily, having been one myself and having written myself into the Sailor Moon world), I really how much it foregrounds female relationships. Also, you almost need a reverse Bechdel test because there are not very many guys with speaking parts, and the main guy usually plays the role of “damsel” in distress.

        1. I think that was just the first story arc, and she’s going to go back and write more of it once she’s done adapting James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard into a three volume manga (the first two volumes of which are already out). I’m really hoping that’s true ^o^

  39. I’ve been really enjoying a couple of series by Illona Andrews for a while now. It is actually a husband and wife team that write the books. Their “Kate Daniels” series is set in a world where magic is reasserting itself and technology begins to break down. The female protagonist is pretty kick ass. They also have a series called “The Edge” that tends to follow a single character for each book, is a little more romance oriented, and is set in a universe that is splintered into the real world, a magic world and “the edge.”

    I really enjoy their writings because they do such a nice job of portraying relationships between men and women as partnerships, but still fun sexy partnerships.

    1. You might like my friend Margaret Ronald’s work – start with Spiral Hunt.

    2. I can second the “Kate Daniels” series, for the same reason about the partnerships, even if she gets rescued a bit much.

      1. Thirded. I also liked that even though she’s a warrior character (and thus often alone), the friendships she has are very strong and mutual.

        And the banter scenes are pretty fantastic.

  40. I listen to female singer-songwriters a lot — which means if I’m exploring a new genre, it’s probably because I found a female singer-songwriter in it.

    So, for hip-hop, big mentions for Jean Grae. Love Song is maybe her best, but don’t buy it off the ‘Evil Jeanius’ album, because for some reason she doesn’t receive any money for that (no idea who screwed her over, there, or how). I’m also really fond of Don’t Rush Me for her line about “wouldn’t want to breathe if I required assistance” which, yeah, I have trouble accepting help too.

    And for country (yes, country, I’m not prejudiced), I just discovered Lucinda Williams after Fred Clark linked to Rescue. She’s got a few other good ones, too, if you don’t mind that she’s perpetually (if reflectively) downbeat. If you’re the sort of person who hates country but doesn’t mind Johnny Cash, she’s worth a look.

    Then there are my old favourites: Joni Mitchell and k. d. lang both helped me shape a sense of my own desire, and Tori Amos is wonderful — ‘Snow Cherries From France’ is one of my favourite songs for singing around the house.

      1. Thank you! Wow, she’s really moving, in a casual-statements-that-pull-your-heart kind of way.

  41. Semi-randomly, things nobody has mentioned so far:

    War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, a fantasy novel about a rock-and-roll musician
    The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages, about a teenager living in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. (This is realistic fiction about scientists, not science fiction or fantasy.)

  42. Since webcomics are going on the recommendations list, I’ll also add a few more: – It’s about fairy tales and stars the princess from “Princess And The Pea” on her journey to resurrect the moon, meeting other fairy tale characters along the way. It’s creepy, funny, and awesome. Very slow updates, but the archives are worth the read! – Sarah Ellerton’s comics, Inverloch and Requiem. (She did the art for Dreamless with another author and I haven’t read it myself.) Inverloch is a fantasy story with elves and things and pretty enjoyable, although the “prejudice is bad” message gets messed up by the end. Requiem takes place in a Victorianish setting with a female doctor-in-training as the protagonist and is more supernatural and horror-y. The art for both is excellent.

  43. So, not to say there aren’t problematic parts of these books, but I cannot stop reading anything by Charlaine Harris once I start. All three of her major series feature great women. Of course, the easiest place to start is with the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series, keeping in mind that True Blood on HBO is only inspired by, not really based on, the books. I particularly enjoy the details of southern culture and the first person narrative.

  44. Outdated by Samitha Mukhopadhyay is a fantastic book, it’s also alllll about the dating as a woman and a feminist.
    Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body
    and I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

  45. Oh! It occurs to me that I’ve been reading poetry lately! Here are some poets I enjoy.

    Stacie Cassarino, Zero at the Bone: Free verse, prickly, “confessional” (even though I hate that word), full of gorgeous sensory images.

    Marilyn Hacker: I’ve got her Selected Poems, but really, read anything by Marilyn Hacker. Her wit and formal wizardry keep me coming back.

    Kim Addonizio: What is this Thing Called Love and Tell Me are my favorites. Another adept user of poetic formalism. Nice and gritty.

    Wendy Cope, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis: Formal, funny, fantastic parodist. Has a Shakespeare parody that starts out: “The expense of spirits is a crying shame.”

    Sawako Nakayasu, Texture Notes: Surrealist prose poems with lots of ants and eyeballs.

  46. Even though the Lontra Pup was a late-teen male when I read it, “Cinderella Ate my Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture” by Peggy Orenstein was really interesting.

    Er, I don’t see how to do linkage, so here’s the plain URL:

  47. So, I’ve commented maybe once before, but I’m an avid reader, and also! I have recently done a female vocalists reclist, which I will reproduce here. (Also, Lights Alive are awesome, and you can download an album for free!)

    Shemakeswar. One track: Scared To Capsize

    Imogen Heap. One track: Goodnight and Go

    Nerina Pallot. One track: Geek Love

    Regina Spektor. One track: On The Radio

    Tegan and Sara. One track: I know, I know, I know

    Sound Of Rum. One track: Slow Slow

    Alanis Morrissette. One track: You Oughta Know

    Letters to Cleo. One track: I Want You To Want Me

    Kate Bush. One track: Hounds Of Love

    Ellie Goulding. One track:The Writer

    *crosses everything that this works*

    1. Oh my gosh! This is the best, most organized reclist ever! I love getting individual music suggestions!

  48. I love all these suggestions! And nth them!

    Also suggest: A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer. Mostly because she does an awesome job of gender flipping. The main character is a man, but treated as women are often treated in fantasy novels. In this world, the women protect the men, the man’s place is in the home, his greatest goal in life is to be properly married off, etc. It might be a bit of an eye opener for a lot of Nice Guystm.

    1. I love that book! We talked about it on a panel at FOGcon two years ago and about how it’s sort of an extremely tongue-in-cheek love letter to the historical romance genre as a whole.

  49. Wow, yesterday was…. wow.

    I’ve got some non-fiction.

    For anyone who likes food, reading MFK Fisher is great. She wrote in the 30s, 40s, and 50s about her travels but mostly about food she ate or made or loved. There’s an omnibus of 5 of her books called ‘The Art of Eating’. She must have been way richer than a lot of people at the time (cross Atlantic travel by ship as normal) so not exactly the everywoman, but worth reading anyway.

    Another book is ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen: The Evolution of Women Chefs’ by Ann Cooper. It was published in ’97 so not exactly up to date, but it contains the modern history of women in professional kitchens, mostly told through their own words.

    Lucy Worsley is the chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces in the UK, she’s written some good stuff about British royalty in history. Her book ‘Courtiers’ is about the people around the royals in the time of George I and George II. It details lots of women, including the rough time both their queens had.

    Kate Hopkins wrote ’99 Drams of Whiskey’ where she and a female friend go out on a tour of distilleries in Scotland, Canada, Ireland, and the US to go through the history of the drink and to find out what makes people spend such amazing amounts of money on old bottles. A woman’s side of something that is traditionally viewed as *very* male.

    ‘A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove’ by Laura Schenone is a history of women in America told through food and remembrances. It is, of course, mostly about white women but not completely.

    I’m slightly embarrassed that most of the books I have by women relate to food or are cookbooks. I need to get to work on the rest of the Army’s recommendations, especially the sci-fi/fantasy. I ❤ sci-fi and fantasy. 🙂

    1. I predict you will like The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry about studying cooking in Paris.

    2. I love Lucy Worsley’s TV programmes so I must try her books! I love how she dresses so girlie, with the hairgrips and the little skirts, and the cute nose-wrinkly faces she pulls… and then REALLY FUCKING KNOWS HER STUFF. It’s fun just imagining how much she must be messing with sexists’ minds.

      1. I know! I saw a talk with her a couple of years ago, and she was just great. You’re right about the TV shows. She’ll talk to the experts in like, windmill mechanics or something, but never dumbs anything down or appears dumb herself. She’s just aggressively competent.

        1. Another good history book I read recently was Bess of Hardwick by Mary Lovell. For extra women-centred bonus points it chiefly focuses on Bess’s relationships with the other women of her era struggling for power: Lady Jane Grey, Queen Mary I, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.

  50. Long-time reader, first-time commenter:

    For visual art, I like Frida Kahlo. She had huge struggles in her life, among others health-wise, and love-wise, and her pictures express some of that; but are also wonderfully colourful and cheerful and full of life – she really has a unique image language. There’s also a biopic about her (made by a woman as well, if I’m not mistaken).

    1. Natalie Angier is good pop-science, too. Her “Woman: An Intimate Geography” is well worth a read, and I’m told “The Canon” is also good, although I haven’t read that one.

  51. Under the heading of webcomics, I’d like to recommend “Todd Allison and the Petunia Violet,” penned by a lady who goes by the handle “Nozmo”:–the-Petunia-Violet/23/0/0?lang=en

    The female half of the protag duo is clumsy and awkward, and tends to fail at a lot of things, but you come to find that she has a lot of guts and gumption. It kind of promotes a lot of the “it’s okay to take risks and fail” themes we’ve been seeing here lately. (Plus, it takes place in the 1920s, which hits a lot of my aesthetic buttons.)

  52. I haven’t read the whole thread, but if no one has mentioned Syne Mitchell yet, she is one of my favorite writers. “Technogenesis” is one of my favorite near-future “cyberpunky” novels.

  53. I thought of a few more…

    The Vermillion Lies
    Also, because I have an excessive amount of ’90s nostalgia: Hole, No Doubt, Garbage, Fiona Apple, Tracy Bonham, Poe, K’s Choice, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Bif Naked, Veruca Salt, the Cranberries

    The Country of Loneliness by Dawn Paul (another person I know IRL, yay!)
    Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World by Mary Pipher
    Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness by Ariel Gore

    children’s book:
    When the Sky is Like Lace by Elinor Lander Horwitz, illustrated Barbara Cooney. It’s sadly out of print, but if you can get it out of the library, do. The story is lushly poetic and playful, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

    Then there’s XOJane. There’s a lot of crap on there, but there’s also a lot of good writing by a diverse group of women.

  54. I stayed the hell away from yesterday’s thread because my first instinct after he started replying was to snark about purple prose.

    This one, though, um wow. I came in going “damn, I don’t have a lot of recs for female-created stuff, but I do want to rec X, Y, and Z,” and then I kept going WAIT NO I NEED TO ADD THAT ONE THING, AND THAT OTHER ONE, AND…. So yes. Here is a giant recs list!

    Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge is a novel about being alone for a long time — not “alone” as in “without a romantic companion,” but as in, like, totally isolated. There’s a lot of corporatespeak at the beginning, but don’t let you put that off; I promise this book has a soul.

    I second the Diana Wynne Jones recs from above, and also second the problematicness of some of her writing. My favorite Chrestomanci novel is Witch Week, because it’s about boarding school, but with witch hunts.

    I also second Diane Duane’s writing, especially her Young Wizards series, although I had some issues with A Wizard Alone‘s depiction of autism. (I am neurotypical, but have autistic friends.)

    Also seconding Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, homg, yes. Do read this. The beginning is slow, but it picks up.

    Get Medieval is a comic about aliens coming to earth in the middle ages. Not intentionally, they just crash-landed, and now they have to learn to cope without their own technology. The author/artist, Ironychan, has other projects (Dumnestor’s Heroes, which I liked but is on hiatus, and I think she has one called The Interstellar Tea House?) but Get Medieval is the one I love the most.

    I love almost anything I have ever encountered that was drawn or written by Shaenon Garrity. Start with Narbonic. It’s about mad science and interfering parents and love and gerbils. (She comments here sometimes! But usually not about gerbils.)

    I also love Hark! A Vagrant, and mostly like Girls With Slingshots.

    “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” is an Australian TV show about a lady detective in the 1920s. It is an anviliciously feminist show, so if you want women carrying the bulk of the plot and doing the problem solving, and you like your characters to have happy endings, I’d recommend it. (But if you’d rather see gritty historical accuracy and dead naked women, watch Boardwalk Empire instead. Seriously, HBO?)

    Seconding “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” It is really, really good. Although, like others, I kind of have to side-eye the fandom.

    Digital: A Love Story, by Christine Love, is an excellent game about the (often) fantasy-filled nature of online romance. I also like her Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story, although it does have a kind of skeevy teacher/student plotline. (I have yet to play Analogue: A Hate Story.) Both games look cutesy and then get kind of dark.

    Fallen London‘s team is mostly male, but they do have one female writer, and they make an effort to be race-, sexuality-, and gender-inclusive. This is a browser game set in an alternate universe wherein Queen Victoria sold the city of London to, um, well, we don’t know what they are yet, but basically the whole city’s been moved underground, just down the river from Hell, and nobody dies permanently anymore.

    I love Maddy Prior’s voice whether she’s in Steeleye Span or solo. She and Steeleye Span do Celtic folk rock. I particularly love their versions of Thomas the Rhymer.

    Carrie Newcomer is another folksinger — American, Midwestern. I suggest in particular her album “Betty’s Diner,” each song of which profiles a fictional character who is a regular at the titular diner. And for really shitty times in my life, “Hold On”.

    Diana Jones (not Diana Wynne Jones) is another American folksinger. I like her songs “Soldier Girl” and “If I Had A Gun” [TW: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE for that last one] especially.

    Hildegard von Bingen, an oldie but a goodie, was a medieval composer, among other things. There are various interpretations of her work, but I like the new age/electronic-ish album by Garmarna. Because I’m a huge dork.

    Janelle Monae OWNS MY SOUL. I think I found her through Two Whole Cakes? Anyway, “Cold War” is the best song. Except for all the other best songs.

    1. “Cold War” is one of my theme songs. I love how she does robot concept albums.

    2. Analogue: A Hate Story starts gray and gets dark as hell. I highly recommend it. I reviewed it (with Sunkyunkwan Scandal) here.

      And Janelle Monae is among the best things ever.

    3. I have a lot of enjoyment for Fallen London – it’s got a bunch of gender-quirky/fluid/queer options and the storylines are interesting. (The prelate? Or his sister? OR BOTH?)

      However, it’s best played connected to your Twitter/Facebook AND with several friends on that network playing with you AND if you can pop in to play 10 turns several times a day. Just know that going in.

      If you like it, there’s a similar game from them relating to the book The Night Circus. (Same caveats)

    4. I love the hell out of Solitaire! Before I read it I would not have believed you could write a gripping, emotional SF book about project management.

    5. I kind of disagree about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries because I read the books first and they changed a LOT, I mean a LOT a lot, and I was very disappointed because I really like the book series – I think if I hadn’t read the books first, I would have loved the TV series. But hey – more power to you if you like it!

      For those of you who don’t know the books at all, they’re by an author named Kerry Greenwood and they’re about the Hon. Phryne Fisher, a very wealthy, white (TAB, heterosexual, conventionally attractive, etc.) woman in 1928 who moves to Melbourne, Australia, and decides to become a private detective because she thinks it would be fun. She’s a very cool character – she flies planes, drinks cocktails, has a lot of sex with various lovers and doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks of her.
      The first book, as an example, focuses on a cocaine-smuggling ring and an illegal abortionist (note: I didn’t feel that it was an anti-abortion book, despite the abortion-performing character being a bad guy – he’s also a disturbing portrayal of What Could Happen if abortion is made illegal again). I would recommend the series, with a caveat that they sure as heck aren’t perfect, with at least two of the books having somewhat of an “asexuality = evil” thing, a lack of characters with disabilities, and there are also some slightly ooky portrayals of POC or not-of-English-origin characters, particularly in the early books. There are a few decent portrayals of LGBT characters, but keep in mind that they are set in the 1920s and thus a lot of characters aren’t 100% accepting of people not “just like them”. I thought they were a fun read though, and not too heavy.

      The other series by Kerry Greenwood that I like is the Corinna Chapman series, about a fat and happy baker-of-delicious-food who solves mysteries on the side. They have a cast of wonderfully real characters, from Corinna’s assistant Jason (who bakes the best muffins ever), her friend Meroe (a practicing witch who is one of the most sensible characters in the whole series), and her cats Horatio (an aristo-cat) and Heckle and Jekyll (the Mouse Police). There are a lot of cats, and recipes for tasty foods at the back. These, being set in contemporary Melbourne (rather than 1920s Melbourne), are somewhat less problematic, but again – not perfect. I haven’t read them in a while so I can’t remember anything in particular, but I thought they were pretty good with feminist issues most of the time.

      One more Australian author that many people haven’t heard of and whose work I enjoy – Jackie French. She writes children’s books and YA. I really like her historical novels, and she often focuses on young women and girls, although she does have several novels written from a male perspective (also ones from a dog’s perspective. Or a wombat’s). There are no LGBT characters as far as I know, unfortunately. Plenty of her books don’t focus on romance at all – however, of those characters that do get into romantic relationships, all of the relationships seem to be boy-girl. There are also very few characters who aren’t TAB. However, I do like her work a lot. Also, although I think she is white, she does write characters who are POC. I’m white too, so I don’t know whether she writes them well or not, but I don’t think she writes them too badly. I’d appreciate it, if I’m wrong about that, that you tell me – but please don’t feel an obligation.

      Wow – this was a much longer comment than I intended to write. Sorry about that!

  55. Wow, how awesome is this place? We get a massive thread of nearly textbook troll behavior, but also some of the best advice about dealing with people and social situations ever. And now we get book/media recs?

    For music, I’ll recommend Abby Ahmad. Her songs are fantastic and her voice is just amazing. Here’s her site:

    In particular, I’m going to mention the song Stone (you can stream it on her site and she’s also on Grooveshark). It’s a great song, and it’s basically all about when you’re feeling kind of broken and lost. I happened to catch a concert a while back and she mentioned that this song is by far her most requested song. She always has people telling her how much this song spoke to them.

    I’m currently reading Julliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts by Stacy A. Cordery. I’ve actually thought of Captain Awkward a lot during various sections, particularly the chapter which included a description of UK divorce laws circa 1910 (short version? they were MESSED UP). It’s interesting that a lot of the contemporary criticism of the Girl Scouts when they were starting matches current day criticism (like that Indiana politician who thinks it’s a radical organization that’s a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood). I’m really enjoying Cordery’s writing style and there are a lot of fascinating people connected to JGL. She’s also written a biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth that I’m planning on checking out.

    For all the Atwood fans, if you’ve read Oryx and Crake, I definitely recommend the sequel, The Year of the Flood. I’m generally somewhat dubious of sequels to books I’ve loved, but this one was a great follow-up that really complemented the first. Also, ditto on The Blind Assassin — that was my first Atwood after The Handmaid’s Tale and between the two I set on a mission to read everything she’s ever written.

    Ditto on The Good Wife — it is filled with wonderful, multi-layered female characters, fantastic acting, and nuanced storylines. They don’t always get everything perfect (there have been some race fail moments, some of which have been addressed in story by other characters), but overall it’s great. Oh and it has a fantastic soundtrack, I’ve found a lot of great music from this show, including a surprise cover of Here I Go Again (yes, the Whitesnake song, and no it’s completely transformed from the original) by Audra Mae (who I would also recommend, her voice is great).

    For everything else I’m either nodding my head in agreement or copy/pasting for the next time I’m wandering around a library.

    1. I have to second Audra Mae. I caught her a couple of years ago on The Revival Tour with Chuck Regan and Frank Turner, and she blew me away.

      1. And it’s sooooo good! Definitely seconding the rec for Oryx/Year of the Flood.

    2. That dude wasn’t a troll, though. Trolls are in it to piss you off. That dude sounds exactly like 50 people, give or take, that I have met in real life, not all of whom were guys. Some of whom, in fact, were me, in the sense of “what do you mean, if I want a different result, I have to take different actions? THAT IS CRAZYPANTS”

      1. You’re right, he wasn’t a troll. I sort of meant that he hit every single point, so it was almost like a troll trying to get bingo. But, no, people like that do exist. A troll would’ve gotten bored and left, this guy was for real (and convinced he was right).

  56. “The Land of Green Plums” by Herta Müller. The semi-autobiographical novel is set in Romania during Ceauşescu’s rule and chronicles the friendship of 4 dissidents. The narrator is a young woman.

    Müller won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature, among other awards, so she’s a highly decorated bad-ass.

    1. I had to reply to this just to compliment your turn of phrase. “Highly decorated bad-ass,” hurrah!

  57. I want to self-promote! I wrote an urban fantasy, Matchbox Girls, about a woman saving some little girls with the help of some other women. It pretty much lacks romance, which some people seem to consider a selling point. It is published by someone other than me!

  58. I’m going to bookmark this post and come back again and again forever!

    I’m currently in love with Lucy Schwartz who has a great voice and a “fuck-it-if-you-don’t-like-it” attitude. I’m forever in love with Bree Sharp who kills at acoustic guitar and tells amazing stories in her lyrics.

    The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman is beautiful. As is A River Sutra by Gita Mehta (beautiful prose and broken characters, makes me cry everytime). I’d also like to suggest The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon. Although the main character is male, the story is about the civil rights movement and was written by a talented woman who I have had the pleasure of knowing since high school. Plus, it’s really good 😉

    And check out Belly dance by women, for women. There’s some really awesome stuff about how American Tribal Style belly dance empowers by making the dancer both the viewer and the viewed. And then watch the dancing because these women are awe inspiring!!

  59. I recommend these :

    Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (I don’t love all her writing but I really found this book based on a true story really compelling)

    Cruddy by Lynda Barry. Lynda Barry’s storytelling is really great, with all the painful nuances of existence. Also What It Is by Lynda Barry is an excellent exercise in looking at/exercises for doing writing and storytelling in a different way. 100 Demons has short comics about really painful subjects.

    1. Bastard Out of Carolina was really well written. I almost had to rage throw the book across the room because one character made me so angry (and going into more on that would involve spoilers so I’ll leave it at that). But, it’s a very compelling book and I love the flow of her writing (and I was glad I kept going with it and didn’t permanently stick it in the freezer — my anger for one character didn’t overpower everything else overall).

  60. is probably one of the best websites I’ve ever come across. The comments on that blog are pretty much on the same level as the comments here. (That is, TERRIFYINGLY AWESOME.)

    If you might be interested in erotic webcomics, check out Chester 5000 XYV by Jess Fink.

    Emily Carroll has some beautiful webcomics also.

  61. I was genuinely moved by how many people were frustrated at the fact that there was yet another guy who can’t believe that mere women are allowed to decide if he gets to have their time and vaginas, and expresses this anger first through passive-aggression and then, when called out on it, open aggression. Just the sheer number of charlatans out there making cartloads of money as “pick up artists” suggests that this particular unpleasant personality is as common as dirt.

    It’s a classic example of PHMT. These guys are raised to believe women are inferior, uninteresting vagina-dispensing machines who faint with joy at the possibility that any man would lower himself to actually allow one of his inferiors to come into his house, suck his cock, and pick up his socks. Then he goes out into the real world to discover women actually do require more than coming on to them and saying, “You, female, I will give you one of those commitments I hear you all want. Please fall over in gratitude, inferior human, and do whatever I demand.” And he gets angry. And then angrier. And angrier. He’s entitled! These women are crazy, with all their demands for a boyfriend who actually likes them, instead of condescends to let them service him in exchange for baubles.

    Creeps aren’t well-served by the patriarchy. All that entitlement may make them feel good in the short run, but as was evidenced in that thread, they often end up alone and bitter. It’s a shame.

    1. That was my take on the entire thread: patriarchy hurts men, too. I have a sneaking suspicion that my husband was not unlike that guy when he was 23, and it was a long, painful, lonely experience growing out of it. (Although, not exactly like that guy: he would have taken the advice instead of stomping and throwing an ugly fit.)

  62. Hey, I’m doing a giant project on Fans of the Olympics! If you’re going to London you should definitely email me — but otherwise please check out my website! I wish I could build a community as beautiful as this one, haha. But even just reading my posts, if you’re interested, would fill my heart with joy 🙂

  63. These recs are so great and you are all terrifyingly awesome! A few of my own now, because I didn’t see a ton of historical fiction and that is my bag.

    The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. Set in Renaissance Italy, it’s a coming of age story with some fantastic bits of art and political intrigue, all beautifully done. One of those books I can’t put down every time I read it.

    Freedom and Necessity by Emma Bull (who I saw rec’d above) and Stephen Brust. It’s an epistolary novel set in Victorian England, with most of it taking place in letters between a well-off young lady who is “too smart” and “too curious” for her own good and an equally well-off slightly older man who has been sort of the stereotypical wealthy dilettante, despite being very intelligent and well-educated. There’s politics and intrigue and occult societies and emotional baggage and unpacking all kinds of expectations and it is DELIGHTFUL.

    And a song rec:

    “King of Anything”, by Sara Bareilles. It got me through a break up right after the single came out and I still love it to death.

    1. Wait, that one’s by Sara Bareilles? Clearly I haven’t been paying enough attention to her — I love her “Fairy Tale” but haven’t (knowingly) listened to her in a while.

      1. “Fairy Tale” is another of my favorites. I really love almost all her stuff, actually. “Sweet As Whole” from her new EP is HILARIOUS and delightful.

  64. The webcomic covers topics such as the author’s depression, self-harm, bisexuality, and general awkwardness.

    Awkward Zombie is a webcomic about videogames and helps dispel the myth that women don’t play games. The downside is that it is difficult to understand many of the jokes without some familiarity with the games in question.

    Mighty Jill Off is a short, free indie videogame by Anna Anthropy where you play as a submissive lesbian who must climb to the top of a spike filled tower in order to lick her mistress’ boots. Anna makes a lot of games about her personal experience being a trans lesbian in a D&S relationship. In Dys4ia she utilizes classic mini-games to describe her experience getting hormone replacement therapy.

    Long Live the Queen is a videogame where you play as a 14 year old girl who must successfully navigate politics and avoid assassination until she becomes queen. There’s the possibility of becoming a Magical Girl Warrior in the process, and a much, much greater possibility of dying horribly if you make the wrong choices. The creator has several other games and you can read a bit about her design philosophy here.

  65. Did anyone mention Tune-Yards yet? I don’t think they did. Anyway listen to Tune-Yards, Merrill Garbus is the greatest.

  66. I would recommend Justine Larbalestier: she’s a YA author who does a great job with gender/race issues and just good stories.

    And while this list –> isn’t specifically written by women, it’s the list of books considered for last years James Tiptree Jr award, which deals with issues of gender. Andrea Hairston won this year, and her acceptance speech was nothing short of awesome.

  67. Garfunkel and Oates! Hands down, the best comedic music in existence. I can’t link because I’m on my phone, but they can be found easily on YouTube and iTunes. And they have a free app! Go-Kart Racing is my favorite.
    Nurse Jackie keeps knocking my socks off. Created and written mostly by women, three top-billed actors are amazing women, and the characters are so real. Jackie is both so deliciously messed up and amazingly together, it’s rare to see someone keeping up with a difficult life so beautifully while on a highway to hell. Zoey manages to be all bubbly and insecure and serious and a damn powerhouse at the same time, and I love how sucessful and materialistic Dr O’Hara is, and how she knows who and what she us and doesn’t have an inkling of shame about any of it. And Gloria Akalitus! Who’s powerful and decisive and awkward and snappy, just like a real person! All of the women also love and respect the fuck out of each others, despite any of the disagreements they often have.
    Literature-wise, I want to recommend Not Before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo. The American edition is called Troll: A Love Story, which is a horrible translation of the title. It’s a haunting fantasy tale on a premise that trolls are real. She’s Finnish, so the book takes a lot of Finnish and Scandinavian folk tales and gives them an interesting spin. The main character is gay, but very naturally so and it’s never made into an issue. Her other works are amazing too, but only one of her other books is translated (Birdbrain). There’s a short story by her called Transit in the Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, which is probably the most interesting portrayal of autism I’ve ever read.
    Purge by Sofi Oksanen is also a really compelling read. It’s about women in Estonia during and after the Soviet rule, told as a story of one woman.

    I also want to give a shoutout to fanfiction! Women owning their sexuality and agency through stories to (mostly) other women, what’s not to love?

  68. I love this thread SO MUCH.

    Recommendations that aren’t already up there somewhere, probably because everyone just assumes everybody’s read it, but as part of a “women are people 101” list they should be included: Anais Nin, pretty much everything. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar and also most of her poetry. Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. bell hooks. On the more modern front, I’d like to second the Nalo Hopkinson recommendation up above and add The Robber Queen as a rec.

  69. I’m going to bookmark this post and refer to it any time I ever want reading.

    Some things that weren’t mentioned above:

    Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich write hilarious, woman-centric songs that have been covered by people like Kristin Chenoweth (“Taylor, the Latte Boy) and Lea Salonga (“There’s Nothing I Wouldn’t Do”), and is adapting

    Vienna Teng – amazingly talented singer/songwriter/pianist who fans of Dar Williams will love, just co-wrote a musical with Tanya Shaffer about a modern-day female Buddha (

    Esperanza Spalding – bassist, her song “Black Gold” is amazing

    Also, following Judy Blume on Twitter is surreal.

    1. Eeee, Heisler and Goldrich are THE ACTUAL GREATEST, and I hadn’t heard about The Fourth Messenger and that is SO EXCITING, so thank you for sharing!

  70. Popping in to add that I cannot believe I forgot to rec Sarah Waters’ novels! Tipping the Velvet and Night Watch are my favorites. Affinity was a bit grim for me, and Fingersmith was slower than the others to my mind, but they’re all good. They’re historical so obviously the requisite warnings about oogy historical modes of thinking periodically popping up stand, but most of her novels are about people moving beyond those modes of thinking, so I think it’s worth it.

    1. Seconding Sarah Waters’s whole oeuvre. I think her most recent (surprise! no lesbians!) novel, The Little Stranger, is also fantastic.

  71. I would like to recommend anything ever written by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, about a bunch of interrelated (and amazing, beautifully realized) characters living through wartime in 1960s Nigeria is my personal favorite, but her short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck and her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, are also fantastic. And her TED talk, called Danger of a Single Story ( should be required viewing for pretty much anyone.

    I’d also like to mention Edith Wharton, particularly Age of Innocence. It’s a beautiful novel, and its themes, about the effects of things like slut shaming and vicious gossip, are still completely relevant 100 years after it was written. Plus, wayward insecure dudes like yesterday’s letter writer might find the well meaning if occasionally clueless male protagonist to be more relatable, as much as I hate to say that. (He is a fantastic character, don’t get me wrong. As are the book’s female protagonists.) House of Mirth is also pretty good, though I didn’t find it nearly as strikingly wonderful as Age of Innocence, and also there’s an unpleasant bit of surprise antisemitism towards the end.

    And I just finished listening to Rachel Maddow’s new book, Drift, on audiobook (like literally just finished it about an hour ago). It’s a terrifying history of how the U.S. military got to the place it is today, but it’s fantastically well-researched and well written, and just so, so intelligent. (I adore Maddow and her show, too– despite being a mostly-straight girl, I have kind of a giant crush on her).

    Oh! also Carson McCullers. Particularly The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

  72. Yuki Kajiura and Yoko Kanno both write music for anime (among other things) and they’re really amazing. Kanno is probably the most famous of the two, but Kajiura is my personal favorite and one of my favorite composers overall. I really love the way she mixes pleasantness-to-the-ear with dissonant weirdness in her songs and how she often combines really low contralto parts with really high, soaring soprano parts – she mostly writes for (um, traditionally) female voices, apart from her instrumental pieces.

    Her music currently takes up more than half the disc space on my mp3 player. =)

    Some anime she’s written the music for:

    * Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    * Madlax
    * Noir
    * Mai-Hime and Mai-Otome
    * .hack/SIGN

    Some personal favorites among the songs:

    * Magia (by band Kalafina; from PMMM)
    * Key of the Twilight (possibly by band See-Saw; from .hack/SIGN)
    * Nowhere and Inside Your Heart (by band FictionJunction; from Madlax)
    * Salva Nos (from Noir)
    * Credens Justitiam, Sis Puella Magica!, Pugna Cum Maga and Nux Walpurgis (all from PMMM)

    See-Saw, FictionJunction and Kalafina are all bands she’s written the music for and been part of or sort of run.

  73. Ooh, shameless self-promotion? Then, I must link my series, Mathochism, recounting my attempts to revisit high school math in my late 30s/early 40:
    And a screed on how a popular weight loss plan worked, but was sending me into a seriously bad mental place (TW for dieting, disordered eating):
    And non-self-promotion: anything by Diana Wynne Jones. “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a good place to start.

  74. My apologies if I’m repeating somebody, as I haven’t made it through this giant thread- Joan Vinge. She’s amazing. AMAZING. The Psion/Catspaw/Dreamfall series is something I reread frequently (I have heard a rumor she’s working on a fourth? This thought fills me with indescribable joy.) And then there’s The Snowqueen/Summerqueen/World’s End/Tangled Up In Blue. She is amazing. She makes me think I can actually be the better person I want to be (as does Bujold, but we’re full up on those recs). Such amazing exploration of the societal process and price of Othering groups. Great worldbuilding, great characters, great plots. Great everything.

    Also, N.K. Jemisin! Which reminds me that the second book in her new trilogy should be out and I should put a library hold on it when I get back from vacation!

    1. Also: Mary Doria Russell. The Sparrow and its sequel, Dreamers of the Day, Doc, and I’m sure her other ones I haven’t read yet.

      Also, despite how obvious this suggestion is, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series. I loved this book enough to make it through it in Spanish, too.

  75. I love frothy fantasy — but If you like non-frothy fantasy, with rich detailed worlds and huge casts and deep pain and life struggles, well, I also love Robin Hobb, though, be warned, she puts her characters through hell. Also, I just finished Kate Elliot’s Crossroads Trilogy, which was awesome in a similar way.

      1. Which main character? Fitz? Yeah, he’s really unlikeable. Honestly, her first series is not her best.

  76. I would like to recommend the non-fiction book Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. It is my all time favorite piece of non-fiction! LeBlanc examines the roles of women in the Bronx and how they intersect with race and class. I could read this book over and over again; it’s that good! This book is perfect for anyone interested in reading about: love, women/gender roles, drug policy, America’s prison system, class mobility, inner city experiences, or adolescence and growing up.

    1. I so second this! It’s such a powerful read, and now I just want to pick it up again. Since I don’t read a whole lot of non-fiction – do you have any other recommendations by any chance?

      1. I do! As for books written by/about women, I would recommend Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife by Irene Spencer. She details her experiences as a sister wife and shows how religion infiltrated her relationships. I read it a while ago, but it was powerful stuff, and I think I’ll read it again soon.
        As for other non-fiction, Columbine by Dave Cullen is an amazing read. It is definitely very heavy, but it is so important to understanding other humans. And it’s quite artfully crafted.

  77. Does anyone else like Cherie M. Priest’s stuff? Boneshaker? I am dying to see the movies that will get made out of steampunk zombies with heroines of a certain age.

    Actually, Cherie, call me. I’m dying to MAKE the movies of your books.

    1. Yes, I really enjoyed Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Boneshaker was cool, but my history buff husband pointed out a few details that didn’t work so well, mostly to do with a particular building and the fact that people on the West Coast at that time didn’t stay in lost-cause cities; they just picked up and moved. (He did still like it.)

    2. Boneshaker was great! I find most steampunk books are kind of lacking in…heart, for lack of a better word, but this had all the cool world-building and derring-do that makes me want to read steampunk, an awesome MC (how often do you get a mother who’s a fully realized and awesome MC rather than nothing but a Mama Bear?) and that indefineable heart thing.

  78. I already talked up Tamora Pierce somewhere above, so… others!

    I guess a guarded recommendation for Mercedes Lackey. I used to adore her and her writing, but as I get older I find more issues with her writing, and so on. Her books are… there’s a lot of formula. People usually start single and end hooked up. It’s hard to find a prominent character who isn’t angsty, utterly good, and nigh-flawless; totally evil and nasty with no redeeming qualities; or apparently evil but as soon as they realize the errors of their ways, they’re utterly good.

    Plus there’s a very strong tendency for the plot to be centered around a main character starting in a miserable situation, with maybe one friend, getting hauled out of it and never seeing or thinking of their friend again, and being plopped into a world of enough food and good people and meaningful work, to which they usually adjust instantly and without a ripple. (Arrows, Last Herald-Mage, Brightly Burning, Exile’s, To Take A Thief, Darian’s Tale, most of the Elemental Masters books, Dragon Jousters, some of the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, the first Bardic Voice book, If I Pay Thee Not In Gold [which I thought was skeevy and regretted reading, because cowriter Piers Anthony makes my skin crawl], a bit in the Obsidian Trilogy.)

    Mind you, if you don’t… binge on her like I did, the formula doesn’t start getting really obvious and tiring, and I enjoyed a lot of them despite it. The Black Gryphon, The Ship Who Searched, the Obsidian Trilogy, the first Dragon Jousters book… There is some great stuff in there, especially when she’s a cowriter. Other writers also tend to leaven her tendency to have the conclusion be rushed and jammed in at the very end, meaning her strengths can show: buildup, and vivid pictures of another world with different rules.

    Someone different: Amy Thomson. She’s fairly little known and has only written four books: Virtual Girl, The Color of Distance, Through Alien Eyes, and Storyteller. Each of these books is science fiction, and they are all of them amazing. The Color of Distance and Through Alien Eyes are a pair, the other two are standalones.

    Compassion, the idea of finding oneself and one’s identity, adoptive parenthood no less real than blood ties, grief, hope, giving back, wandering a planet and taking it in, and nonromantic love are powerful themes in all of these. A robot girl and various aliens are believably and intensely non-human, but still humane, even if they can’t relate perfectly to humans, nor humans to them. No main is hooked up at the end of any of these, though some side characters have found – and this is seen as completely okay. They’re also often heartwarming, and POC are everywhere.

    Virtual Girl has a heroic rogue AI. You know how rare that is? And she’s not like any other robot girl in fiction, as far as I know. I like that she’s effectively asexual, and has emotions, and that reprogramming herself according to a mangled command that came through as “You are the most important thing” ie self-preservation is the top priority, did not make her cold and hostile. The last line is something like “There were children to feed and robots to teach. She was going home.”

    The Color of Distance and Through Alien Eyes are notable for the sheer volume of female characters, incidental and otherwise. I actually went and got a notepad once and put down names and genders; I’ve lost it by now, but the totals were very nearly even. I’ve jokingly called the first book “Avatar, but with everything I loved about it amped up and everything I hated about it discarded”. While the aliens in these books have no war and are in balance with their environment, the author very delicately manages it so that they are not special and superior. They have their good and bad elements, and so does humanity, and each are very different but with some things in common, which could greatly help or greatly harm the other.

    Storyteller is frankly one of the most intensely emotional books I’ve ever read. It takes place on basically a utopian world. There is a lot of loss and despair in it as death draws near, not caused by some individual – not something to get revenge against – and there’s a lot of suicidal thinking, but there’s a lot of love there too, and new joy, and couples who were happy together part without acrimony, just some awkwardness.

    1. Am I allowed to add on an ableism warning for Mercedes Lackey?

      Admittedly, I’ve read barely anything of hers, so quite possibly it was just very bad luck I started off with the series where she gives one of the main characters a disability that I have (stuttering – the Bardic Voices trilogy) and then proceeds to go on a merry romp through almost every single stereotype and plotline related to that I despise: He’s shy! He’s nervous! He has trauma that made him stutter! He can cure it by becoming more self-confident and by confronting the trauma! No, wait, he can cure it BY SINGING! Because he doesn’t stutter when singing so clearly this is the key to fluency![1] Oh yeah, but other – fluent – characters have to tell him this because he’d never notice on his own! Oh wow, let us show that our protagonists are amazing and wonderful people by…… listening to what he says. This shows that they’re saints, nobody else would ever do this for him, he must be incredibly pathetically grateful for it, it’s not as if that’s basic fucking human decency or anything. And probably more I have blocked out from my memory.

      I also remember the girl with a cognitive disability at the start of the book who I’d just started identifying with when I realised she was only there to show how hard the protagonist’s life was, part of that being because she had to deal with a girl with a cognitive disability.

      …so YEAH sorry for the rant I am sort of slightly bitter when it comes to Mercedes Lackey books.

      [1] I have run into this so many times and I just have. No. Idea. If you think “people who stutter don’t stutter when singing! this means singing is the cure!” is a reasonable thing to argue, I dare you to go out there and sing – full-on sing – all of your conversations for a day. Or rather, until the first person punches you in the face for taking the piss. Singing? Not a practical way to communicate.

      1. That’s true.

        She also consistently has characters afflicted by PTSD or deep-set guilt who are completely cured after being talked to a few times. Epiphany Therapy, they call it on TVTropes, and it usually annoys me. There’s also a rapist in The Black Swan who is made to realize that he’s horrible and then turns himself around completely and instantly, never backslides or even thinks he’s owed sex again.

        Lackey also includes gay and lesbian characters, but… a lot less often these days than she used to. The last one that I’m aware of was kind of the ‘pet homosexual’. He acted camp to scare away a sleazebag but then confided to the main character that he preferred younger men. Though there are at least eight unattached people who fit that description among the main characters, and Lackey’s always quick to have her characters claim utter inclusiveness and open-mindedness in the narration, he’s completely sexless. His sexuality is played for laughs.

      2. Years ago, a woman who stuttered auditioned for a band I was in at the time. She’d also gotten the advice about singing. Her response to all those people was, “I don’t do musicals.” Heh.

  79. Ooh ooh book recs! I love sharing my favorite obscure F&SF authors.

    Ann Tonsor Zeddies has written only half a dozen books (and two under the name Toni Anzetti), but I love love love her first duology, Deathgift and Sky Road. Major themes include chosen families and turning one’s back on violence.

    eluki bes shahar’s Hellflower trilogy, with themes like the nature and proper uses of technology, the nature of consciousness, the chosen family, and the evolution of the self, as told through the voice of a smuggler (in which “Damon Runyon meets Doc Smith over at the old Bester place,” to borrow her phrase). She also publishes under the name Rosemary Edghill: she’s written four funny and subversive Regency romances, a trilogy of mystery novels starring a practicing Wiccan, and a very weird duology called The Vengeance of Masks (available in its complete form only through Can you tell I think her books are tragically under-read? She’s also teamed up with Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, btw.

    I second Nina Kiriki Hoffman. The Thread That Binds the Bones is an engagingly weird book and still my favorite of hers, though I also really like A Fistful of Sky and Spirits That Walk in Shadow. She’s all about reinventing yourself, finding who you really are, reaching inside yourself to find your unique gifts, and learning how to stand up for yourself.

    Pauline Ashwell’s Unwillingly to Earth is a very funny coming-of-age novel with a hoot of a main character. She also wrote Project Farcry, which is about telepaths and yet is about as far as you can get from McCaffrey’s psychics.

    Doris Egan’s Ivory Trilogy. She also wrote City of Diamond under the name Jane Emerson.

    Wilhelmina Baird wrote a trilogy of cyberpunk novels back when cyberpunk was a thing. Full disclosure: there’s some rather skeevy verbiage based around stereotypical movie-Native American dialogue (“forked tongue,” Ms. Baird? Really?), but it’s a tiny fraction of the books.

    Others not yet mentioned that I’ve loved:

    YA authors: Pamela Dean, Susan Cooper, Nancy Garden, Eleanor Cameron, Eloise Jarvis McGraw (I do not care what you have to do to get a copy of her non-F&SF coming-of-age novel Greensleeves, you DO IT)

    Non-YA: Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Lynne Flewelling, Nancy Kress, Tanya Huff, Michaela Roessner, Starhawk (she wrote The Fifth Sacred Thing, which is a Goddess-Wicca-centered novel that mashes utopia and dystopia together in really interesting ways), Rachel Pollack (Unquenchable Fire is weeeeeiiiird but very very feminist and very very cool)

    For nonfiction, check these out:

    Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life (she blogs at

    Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing

    Ursula Le Guin’s books on writing

    Ellen Goodman and Patricia O’Brien’s I Know Just What You Mean : The Power of Friendship in Women’s Lives

    Adair Lara’s Hanging Out the Wash: and Other Ways to Find More in Less

    . . . Yeah, I may possibly have too much to say here.

    1. Seconding the Starhawk love here! The Fifth Sacred Thing is one of my favorite books of all time. I found a lot of her other books a bit heavy-handed, and the sequels to FST weren’t near as good. But, oh, how the images of waterfalls and gardens running down San Francisco’s city streets, and colorful gondolas strung between the hills have stuck with me years.

      As someone mentioned below, I also love Nevada Barr’s books. Though the central character is a strong, independent woman, I wouldn’t exactly call them feminist – the books have a lot of issues. But she’s great at accurately and vividly describing both the natural history of the parks the books are set in and the workings and culture of the NPS.

    2. Oh, my gosh, I forgot several names last night; I couldn’t go look at the bookshelves because my husband was already asleep.

      Delia Marshall Turner’s Nameless Magery (delightfully snarky self-rescuing heroine) and Of Swords and Spells (delightfully rageful self-rescuing heroine who transcends her initial nature to become what she wants to be)

      Salinda Tyson’s Wheel of Dreams (trigger warning for parent-on-adult-child DV)

      Chico Kidd: The Printer’s Devil

      Lisa Goldstein: The Red Magician

      R.A. MacAvoy: Tea with the Black Dragon

      Nancy Springer: The Hex Witch of Seldom and Larque on the Wing (caveat: the main character is a sort-of-transsexual person—it’s complicated— and it’s been long enough that I can’t really recall how well she handled it)

      Megan Lindholm, which is Robin Hobb’s other pen name: Cloven Hooves

      Pat Murphy
      Terri Windling
      Elizabeth Willey
      Vonda McIntyre
      Jane Yolen
      Midori Snyder

      1. Yes, Jane Yolen! She’s done a lot of really awesome fairy tale retellings, in addition to her own original fiction. One of her best books is Once Upon a Time (She Said). A lot of those stories highlight some of the misogyny and other problematic stuff in the older stories.

    3. I hadn’t read Jarvis’ Greensleeves since maybe highschool (when I had to go back over to the middle school to read it in their library), and yet, it’s always kind of lingered in the back of my head. After years of seeing it on ebay for $50 a copy, I finally hit on one much cheaper. Expecting it to not age well (both as a ‘book I read when I was young’ and ‘book written 20+ years ago’), I read it all in one sitting when it finally arrived. Worth re-reading, most definitely. For both coming-of-age and ‘dealing with feeling socially awkward’.

  80. I really enjoyed Mary Gentle’s “Sundial on a Grave.” The main character is based on a real person but is not that person, so it got some bad reviews. I can’t speak to the events it describes, but the attitudes seem realistic to the period.

    The sex is graphic, and there’s a little bit of kink. If you’re into that, great; if you’re not into that, this may not be the book for you.

    1. Have you read her book Rats and Gargoyles? I really liked how this one gigantic building in her city was almost a character in its own right.

    2. Oh, shoot, I forgot to mention Gentle’s Golden Witchbreed and its sequel Ancient Light. They take a page from Left Hand of Darkness in that the aliens don’t acquire gender until puberty.

    3. oooh, there’s new Mary Gentle? I had much ❤ for Golden Witchbreed (and slightly less so for the sequel) for its fascinating gender stuff and aliens who were kind of like us but at the same time actually really pretty alien, and enjoyed Rats and Gargoyles.

  81. Has anyone mentioned Margaret Atwood yet? Those of her novels I’ve read are all about groups of women, in some configuration, and how they interact with each other – I especially like Cat’s Eye (friendship and cat-tiness among girls growing up in post-war Canada), The Blind Assassin (the life story of two sisters over the course of almost a century, and also a sic-fi romance plot), and The Robber Bride (friendship among a group of women, plus husband-stealing and a crime investigation).

    And, I love Katherine Mansfield (The New Zealand Stories – especially The Doll’s House!)

    1. I’ve only read Handmaid’s Tale, and I admit, I was very disappointed with the “sex and manliness save our helpless damsel” ending.

      1. I haven’t read that one, but I get where you’re coming from – there were certainly some elements that I didn’t like or agree with to those books that I read.

  82. Well, one of my favorite female authors that I can wholly recommend is Gail Carriger. The Parasol Protectorate is quite an interesting read.

    Also, one of my favorite movies is Kissing Jessica Stein.

    1. I love that one of the ladies who made Kissing Jessica Stein is married to Jon Hamm. Go get you some, Gurl.

      1. She did and it WAS! I sat at the computer and read the whole thing through like whoa.

  83. Would this be a good place to leave quick little questions and get feedback from commenters?

    In case of no, disregard rest of comment.

    In case of yes, I put in my two weeks notice at my current job this week. My boss looked at the schedule and realized my last day coincides with the beginning of someone else’s vacation. Therefore, she asked if I could stick around a little longer. I don’t want to, even though there’s not much reason I couldn’t. Anyone have a good, ironclad script I could use that is kind but firm? Boss is a wheedler and I am not always good at standing my ground. (One of the reasons this job isn’t the best fit for me.) Current plan is to talk about how I plan to move right after my last day, and can’t do the much longer commute.

      1. I thought for a second you were saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t [give you advice.]” Suddenly things are a lot funnier.

    1. “I’m sorry, I can’t.” And then maybe ask if he wants you to spend part of your time in the next two weeks explaining your job/tasks/filing system to someone else.

      Part of the point of two weeks’ notice is that he has two weeks in which you could be filling someone else in on the basics of what you do, and/or the person going on vacation could be prepping a temporary worker on what they’ll need to know.

      1. Part of the reason I thought my departure time would turn out well is that there’s no events scheduled for a while that specifically require my expertise. (The vacationing coworker is also in my department, and she won’t be missing any such events either.) I’m inclined to agree that the remaining duties can be divided up between the remaining staff members after my departure and during the vacationer’s absence.

    2. Definitely seconding (or thirding?) the “I’m sorry, I can’t” script. Wheedlers will use any explanation you give them to convince you that you can actually do the thing they want you to do. It’s a non-negotiable, it doesn’t really matter why you can’t, just the fact that you can’t is enough.

    3. I feel like the Captain has mentioned this before in other advice, but avoid giving reasons. So, basically what teasugarsalt and others said. Just repeat “I’m so sorry I can’t,” and if they say, “But why?” just say, “Because I can’t,” and smile. Rinse, repeat. Even if someone calls you out on not answering “But why?” just say, “I’m not going to talk about it, but I can’t.”

      Answering via e-mail instead of in-person would help me in this position; helps me take a deep breath before responding to someone’s pressuring, instead of having to deal with it super-fast.

      1. Yeah, I would love to be able to do that, but my boss doesn’t really let that happen. As in, she’ll usually abruptly demand my attention in that moment and I’m supposed to give it to her, completely. But, she has started asking for more favors via text! Easier to say no that way, at least.

  84. Kage Baker! Tales of the Company! Time travelling cyborgs and the gormless humans who unwittingly created them! Creepy Rain-Man fairies! Stealing history! Mystery doomsday! Sexy, sexy clones! Read it all. Start with In The Garden of Iden.

    1. Oh, and joint musician/author rec: S.J. Tucker and Catherine Valente. Why? Because they have this mutual admiration thing that does really beautiful things. The Orphan’s Tales are two very wonderful books by Valente that weave you in and out of some amazing stories and come together in a dizzying whole at the end. Then S.J. Tucker wrote two albums of original music to go with them – two albums of some of her best work (which is saying something!)

      Think Scheherazade but more bite.

    2. I started with Mendoza in Hollywood because the cover was so fascinating and literally didn’t read Garden of Iden until right before the final novel was released, which actually worked pretty well for me. Her other novels and works outside of the Company series are great too.

      1. I can’t imagine what Mendoza In Hollywood must have been like without knowing Garden of Iden. You must have been wondering half the book why she was so surly.

        1. It was a bit perplexing, I’ll admit. Still, the Old West meets cyborgs meets botany and movie nerds (plus the pie safe!) more than made up for it.

  85. I spent this morning making an Amazon wishlist of all the books recommended here, and sending samples of as many as possible to my Kindle. Can’t wait to spend the rest of the weekend reading them! 🙂

    I thought I’d recommend some of my favourite female-made or female-fronted music from the last 20 years. My taste tends towards melodic and poppy, with a bit of indie in the early 90s as I was briefly an indie kid!

    Lush – “For Love” (1991): On the surface a really sweet song about romance, but the lyrics are quite an astute observation about how young women are conditioned to mould themselves into some kind of idealised Perfect Girlfriend.

    Curve – “Fait Accompli” (1992): Dark electronic goth-inspired pop.

    Saint Etienne – “Like A Motorway” (1994): Witty, very English electronic pop.

    Kylie Minogue – “Breathe” (1998): One of the best songs about introversion I have heard. I love the line “Don’t down me just because I am quiet. I’m thinking.”

    Siobhan Donaghy – “Don’t Give It Up” (2007): She was one of the original members of the Sugababes and the first to leave. This is just a truly gorgeous, haunting tune.

    Little Boots – “Remedy” (2009): Melodic synth-pop with a dark edge. This is the catchiest song ever. It cheered me up immensely during a year in which I was suffering from gallstones and desperately needed a remedy!

    The Mediæval Bæbes – “Suscipe Flos Florem” (2009): Choral harmonies with songs taken from many eras of history, particularly mediaeval as the name suggests. There’s no video for this song but I think it’s unbelievably beautiful.

    Katy B – “Katy On A Mission” (2010): I am far to old to legally like this sort of music, but I think this is an amazing, inventive tune. I have no idea what this type of music’s called besides ‘what the kids are listening to today’.

  86. OH I HAVE ONE. The Canon by Natalie Angier is a pretty good introduction to All Things Science, and a fun read even if you don’t need an introduction to anything. (I have some background in physics, but I still learned a lot about the other sciences, and thoroughly enjoyed the writing on the things I already knew.)

    Angier (who is a Pulitzer-winning NYT science writer) asked a number of scientists, “What do you most wish people understood about science?” and then wrote about what they said. But there’s more of her own writing than interview quotes, which is good, because her writing is better than their answers. There’s a chapter on each of six major branches of science, and three more on scientific thinking, probabilities, and (my favorite) thinking about scale, from really tiny to really huge things.

    But it is not a textbook; it is ludicrously fun. Almost every sentence is colorful and funny and informative. It’s good for readers with any science background or none at all.

  87. I am late to comment, but I second the recs for anything Margaret Atwood and for the amazing book on medical ethics/race/biology: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I did not read the thread entirely yet, so others may have thought of these.

    Other recs:

    -The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern- The BEST. A book about a magical circus that is beyond beautiful. I have a feeling that many commenters would love this one.

    -Annabel by Kathleen Winter- a wonderful Canadian novel about an intersex child

    -The Paris Wife by Paula McLean- a book about the first wife or Ernest Hemingway. Touching, sad, historical. Spoiler: He was NOT a good husband.

    -Bossypants by Tina Fey- Hilarious. She rocks.

    -Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns)? by Mindy Kaling- Not as great as Bossypants, but still a good memoir about the comedy world (she is a writer from the Office)

    -The Bedwetter: Stories about Courage Redemption and Pee by Sarah Silverman. You can just imagine.

    -The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (author of We Need to Talk About Kevin)- Two parallel universes with two different (flawed) relationships. The writing is painfully honest and raw. It’s a book about love in not-so-early adulthood, and there are no kids in the book, which is nice sometimes.

    -Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett to be read alongside Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. These authors were friends. Lucy had disfigurement from cancer and tells her story. Ann documents their friendship and Lucy’s struggles. Ann Patchett has some other good novels (Run, State of Wonder)

    -I have mixed feelings about it, but the Dear Sugar column on the Rumpus website has some interesting stuff and some advice that is greatly helpful. It’s a heartfelt column written by Cheryl Strayed. Some people may have recommended Wild above. I have yet to read it. I would interested to know what others think of Dear Sugar. I have conflicting feelings about the column.

    -The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell- Three words: Jesuits in space!

    I am in a book club with some amazing/intelligent/successful women. I strongly recommend book clubs for readers. I even started a second book club at work since it’s so awesome.

    1. Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto is a gorgeous book if you like her work. There’s something almost magical realism about it that I love.

  88. If anyone’s a fan of horror/haunted house novels, Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” is hands-down my favorite horror work and in my top-five list of novels EVER OF ALL TIME. Amaaaaaaaaazing pacing, amaaaaaazing characters with complex motivations and relationships to each other and a perfect, super creepy ambiguous ending. Don’t judge it by its movie adaptations!

  89. Loving this thread, many things I love have already been recced so I will add one that hasn’t turned up via ctrl+F:

    Natural History by Justina Robson: underappreciated SF dealing with humans genetically engineered to perform certain tasks in society, especially in alien environments, and how quite a lot of them don’t like having their lives chosen for them in this way– and the discovery of FTL travel, which presents the opportunity of breaking away form the human race permanently. Very compelling with respect to human rights, personal choice, etc. and the “evolutionary destiny” of humans. Has some weird meandering bits (the first chapter is basically the confused, dying thoughts of one of the main characters) especially where a character is experiencing a SimStim-like virtual reality but overall I found it very interesting.

  90. If anyone reads all the way down here, I’m adding Zilpha Keatly Snyder to the list. I loved her stuff when I was a kid. No idea how it’s aged, but I did reread _The Egypt Game_ fairly recently and it was still pretty good (although the mystery’s solution was way obvious to an adult, yeah).

  91. I’m sure everyone and their mother already knows, but Dorothy L Sayers! Dorothy L Sayers! Gaudy Night taught me more about interpersonal relationships than any other book, and it’s a ripping good mystery to boot.

    Also, on a totally unrelated format, topic, style, and century, the internet content of Cleolinda Jones (Movies in 15 Minutes, Secret Life of Dolls, and her personal LiveJournaling) are very entertaining.

    1. Seconding Sayers, with caveats for anti-Semitism and period-accurate racial epithets; I wasn’t warned, and had to put down books and walk away for a bit, muttering.

      1. Oh, dang, I’d totally wiped that from my mind and you’re absolutely right. Thanks for picking up my slack.

      2. The caveats for Sayers are necessary, yes. BUT Gaudy Night and Busman’s Holiday are on my best-ever-read list.

        Also, has anyone mentioned Agatha Christie yet? Miss Marple! Tuppence!
        And I also remember liking the lesser known works she wrote under the name Mary Westmacott.

        And L.M. Montgomery (I, of course, love the Anne books, but The Story Girl and The Golden Road are actually my favorites by her).

        (for the above– additional caveats for period-ok racism, ableism, ethnocentrism.)

        Music recs:

        Sarah Harmer
        Rosie Thomas
        Brooke Waggoner
        Madi Diaz
        Julie (& Buddy) Miller
        Carmen McRae
        Laura Marling
        Lisa Hannigan
        Patty Griffin
        St. Vincent

        And… to shamelessly self-promote, I’m part of a group called Be Honest, Ruth Bryan! and it is female-fronted.

  92. How have we not talked about Ursula K. Le Guin here in detail? The Left Hand of Darkness was like a bomb exploding into my young, gender-confused soul. I go back to The Telling every time I’m feeling down or exhausted. Changing Planes is one of my absolutely favorite short story collections—biting and humorous and touching and beautiful all at one go. Catwings, full stop.

    Other awesome things by women on my shelves: anything by Mary Roach. Pop science about weird shit (corpses, ghosts, sex, space travel) with the best footnotes ever written. Making Mathematics with Needlework: math and crafting, yesssss. The Westing Game, which I loved so much I stole from my middle school library. All the Dorothy L. Sayers. Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Sappho, and Anne Carson’s too.

  93. First time commenter , wanted to share some of my favourites too.

    Red String -by Gina Biggs is a webcomic about love in all its forms, by it’s own description.

    Filthy Figments is a site with dozens of erotic webcomics written by women that cover a number of sexualities

    Gail Simone writes some amazing comics for DC, especially Birds of Prey, that are a refreshing exception to the usual objectifying crap portrayals of women.

    Libba Bray has written Beauty Queens, about a plane full of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on an apparently deserted island, and parodies a lot of mysogynist tropes. Her Gemma Doyle trilogy is also an amazing fantasy about girls at a boarding school discovering magic and their own sexuality.

    For music: Amanda Marshall, Serena Ryder, Bif Naked, Lucinda Williams.

  94. I’ll go ahead and shamelessly self-promote then! I’m the artist for a comic called Walking on Broken Glass, along with my awesome writerly cohort (who’s also a lady). It’s about a dude who’s got terrifying premonitions that he’s going to turn evil and do terrible things, so he tries to do as much good as possible before that happens; meanwhile his lady friend is trying to help, and is generally pretty kick-ass all around. Also there are werewolves, witches, and soonish, vampires. (Oh my?) You can read it here:

    As for other awesome lady endeavors… I can heartily recommend comics by Vera Brosgol, Kate Beaton, Faith Erin Hicks, and Jen Wang, just to name a few. Absolutely awesome ladies.

  95. I really love Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes stuff. I haven’t yet read her contemporary mysteries, which are about a lesbian detective in San Francisco, but I expect them to be excellent.

  96. Anything by Sarah Vowell is great.

    I also enjoyed “A Door into Ocean” by Joan Slonczewski. It’s like a pacifist, feminist “Dune.”

  97. I thought of a couple Youtubers I haven’t seen mentioned yet.

    Chescaleigh (aka Franchesca Ramsey) makes comedy videos and they’re pretty great (often with a bit of social commentary thrown in). Her most famous video is Shit White Girls Say To Black Girls (which was how I found her).

    Tonjesml (aka Meghan Tonjes) is a singer/songwriter. She has original songs (my favorites are The Fault Is In Our Stars and This Year) and lots of great covers.

    They both have really good production values too (composition, lighting, editing, etc.).

  98. Did a Ctrl+f search and didn’t see this so apologies if I missed it. Melissa Scott writes incredibly intelligent sci-fi (loosely cyberpunk) often with LGBT protagonists. There’s also a great fantasy series written with her partner Lisa Barnett set in a world where astrology is real. The first one is called Point of Hopes.

  99. No love for Connie Willis yet? To Say Nothing of the Dog and Miracle are my two favorites, but Bellwether is also fun. Passage wasn’t quite to my taste, but had a female scientist as one of its two main characters.

    Lois McMaster Bujold is my favorite author at the moment. My favorites: Shards of Honor/Barrayar, Memory, Komarr, A Civil Campaign, The Curse of Chalion, and Paladin of Souls.

    As far as music goes, I’ll plug Marian Call and Molly Lewis.

    The best film I’ve seen in the past year: Winter’s Bone, by Debra Granik. It’s a gut-puncher though, so be careful.

    I’ll also go ahead and recommend Happy-Go-Lucky here, since Sally Hawkins was *amazeballs* in it, and it’s a great, great movie centered on a female character, and it easily passes the Bechdel test.

  100. I’m so surprised that Patricia C. Wrede hasn’t gotten a mention! She wrote The Enchanted Forest Chronicles that I read as a kid, about a princess who become’s a dragon’s princess (it’s a dragon status symbol to have their very own captured princess) who uses her wits to escape danger and solve her problems. She’s very level-headed, intelligent and practical, and even goes adventuring while pregnant!

    1. I loved those books when I was a kid. Cimorene kicked ass. I think I read them all out of order, though, starting with the one with Daystar.

      Man, I should go back and read those sometime.

      1. Patricia Wrede! Yes! Her newer books (Sorcery & Cecelia, and The Thirteenth Child series) are also quite lovely, though nothing takes the place of the Dragon books.

        Also in the YA-ish vein– Megan Whalen Turner. Her Attolia series is to die for.

  101. Just wanted to add a few more authors…
    Angela Carter – my favourite of hers is Wise Children, also loved The Bloody Chamber
    Kate Atkinson
    Isabel Allende

  102. Authors that nobody has mentioned so far:

    Lisa Tucker. Fiction, often involving music. My favorites are her first two books, The Song Reader and Shout Down the Moon.

    Amy Tan. Start with her novels, and then try her memoir, The Opposite of Fate.

    Jennifer Weiner. She gets tagged as “chick lit,” and I wouldn’t call her work profoundly deep, but she writes good reads.

  103. For music, since it’s allowed, I’ll indulge in a little shameless self-promotion: Cinder Bridge! We do acoustic rock; I write all of the lyrics.

    You can listen to a few songs in their entirety at (top of the sidebar).

    * “Dry Ground” (about the friend who begs you to solve their problems, rejects all your advice, and won’t let you off the phone) is vaguely reminiscent of the thread that inspired this thread.

    * If you’ve ever been told “But you don’t look sick,” you might like “Everybody Knows About Me.”

  104. Anything by Octavia Butler – scifi with Black female protaganists? Hell yes!
    Anything by Margaret Atwood, Sandra Cisneros, Carol Queen, Susie Bright, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Staceyann Chin, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Jessica Valenti,
    Poetry by Nikki Giovanni and Alix Olson
    Cunt by Inga Muscio
    Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins
    Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire by Sonia Shah
    Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture by Cheryl Suzack
    Chicana Feminist Thought by Alma M. Garcia
    The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and and How All Men Can Help by Jackson Katz
    How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex by Cristina Page
    This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Gloria Anzaldua
    Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti
    Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body by Courtney E. Martin
    The Serpent Slayer: and Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana
    Abortion & Life by Jennifer Baumgardner
    Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century by Alison Piepmeier
    Men and Feminism: Seal Studies by Shira Tarrant
    Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller

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