Spooky Season Indulgences

Happy September, everyone! It’s been almost two years since COVID started impacting our lives, and my smol family and I have begun eagerly embracing and celebrating the small stuff… because over the past couple of years, our lives have gotten pretty small. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it’s different, and if we don’t find small things to enjoy and to beat the drum about, well. Things get a little bit sadder.

Well, spooky season is my all-time favourite time of year, so we started back in August… we started Spoopy Movie Tuesday (my partner doesn’t enjoy anything scary!) – every week, we watch a spooky movie and have some snacks, I started collecting Halloween-themed stationary and stickers to do some spooky season happy mail, and we started planning some fun treats for the fall holiday season – Halloween through American Thanksgiving.

But what would a proper celebration be without some literary indulgences? Well, lucky me, because picture books are some of my favourite gems of literary creation, and I’m going to share some of my all-time faves with you today. For those of you who don’t already know, I don’t believe that picture books are only for children, but of course, these are all family-friendly selections, appropriate for your tiny spooks and ghouls.

After that, I also want to share with you a YA book that I stumbled across earlier this year in the ARC pile. It JUST became available, on September 14th, and it’s a debut novel called Before We Were Blue, by E.J. Schwartz. I reached out to the author after I found it, because SO much of what this book addresses resonated with me personally – it’s one of those books that I wish I could go back in time and put in preteen-me’s hands. But even knowing that from the pub copy, I didn’t know how much I would absolutely relish this story. Graciously, E.J. was willing to share this space and give us a little bonus creative content – and I am SO excited to host her here! Shoutout as well to her agent, Kaitlyn Johnson, who I absolutely admire, and to the team at Flux for bringing this book to shelves!

The cover of BEFORE WE WERE BLUE by E.J. Scwartz.

But first… some age-inclusive spooky faves!

Brand-New Books

I have yet to get my very eager paws on any of these newly-released spooky season picture books, but I absolutely can’t wait!

Little Witch Hazel this cottagecore book of four stories by Phoebe Wahl follows a forest witch in her daily life throughout the year. I feel like this book was straight up written for me, and I can’t wait to enjoy it this fall – but it would also make a great one to revisit for the changing of the seasons, solstices/equinoxes, and/or the embers, if any of those are your thing.

Hardly Haunted is the newest offering from my FAVOURITE picture book author/illustrator, Jessie Sima, best known for Not Quite Narwhal. I don’t even know what to say about this book, because it’s so inevitable that I’m going to love it that I’m torn between waiting to buy it so I can enjoy it later and running out to get it, like, this afternoon.

The Little Kitten is the latest from bestselling author Nicola Killen, and the third in the Ollie Series. In this book, Ollie and her cat pumpkin help a lost kitten with a little support from some Halloween magic!

Books About Ghosts

Ghosts are probably my favourite spooky season characters (let’s be real – I love them all year round). These books are guaranteed to endear any reader to my phantasmagoric faves without inducing fear at any level! Straight up spoopy goodness here.

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason and illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler follows a little ghost who’s just a bit… different from his friends. Growing up on the east coast, this book was so nostalgic and just felt right to me. This is one I wish that I could have shared with my grandmothers. It’s also a Canadian Children’s Book Centre favourite book of 2020!

Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago is a Dia de los Meurtos-themed spooky season tale about a wee ghost who struggles with anxiety. Gustavo was so relatable and charming to me, as I’m sure it will be for many readers, especially those who have cultural connections to fall celebrations that are Halloween adjacent. This book features incredibly detailed, stunning artwork.

How to Make Friends with a Ghost is a cottagecore how-to guide from Rebecca Green. I discovered this one working at Another Story bookshop, and often recommend it to older readers. It’s a little bit different from your average picture book, but if you want to learn a little bit about making friends with the friendly spirits (and/or neuroatypical people? I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here…) in your surroundings, this is the book for you.

Boo Who? is a lighthearted Ben Canton classic. You probably know Ben from the Narwhal and Jelly series – and if you don’t, you should probably check it out. He also wrote Rot: the Cutest in the World, which is a story about a mutant potato that would be great for spooky season! But I digress – Boo Who? is my pick for this list, because it’s ALSO about a shy ghost (are you sensing a theme here, or is it just me?), and tackles the theme of feeling invisible and learning to love who you are.

Sir Simon by Cale Atkinson is a picture book with a comics feel, and it’s 100% guaranteed to make you giggle if you are a spooky season fan. This one has also been child-approved – spooky season or not, it was the favourite of a four-year-old who I coparented for a while a couple of years back. They literally used to take the book to bed with them. If you have a wee one in your life, you want to get in on that cuteness for sure.

Leo by Mac Barnett and with pictures by Christian Robinson is the story of a young ghost boy just trying to make friends, but finding himself and his talents under-appreciated. Don’t worry – there’s a happy ending, including delicious snacks!

Books ABout Monsters and Creatures

There are so many unusual friends to make at spooky times – it’s one of my FAVOURITE things about this season. These books feature characters that only seem to be allowed to dominate shelves when the leaves are changing – and I think it’s well-worth appreciating them.

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is one of my favourite Ben Hatke stories, although if you haven’t experienced Little Robot yet, you should. Here’s the thing – this is actually a series? I had no idea, but Ben has three books about Julia’s house as of this year! Suffice to say, this one stands well on its own. In this story, Julia and her Baba Yaga-esque walking house welcome in a few unusual visitors – and trying to figure out how to manage everything gets overwhelming fast!

Alfred’s Book of Monsters by Sam Streed is about me, if I were a young Victorian boy named Alfred. Alfred loves reading about monsters, despite his family’s objections. This book is the story of Alfred’s admirable quest to get the monsters from his books to join him for teatime!

Mr. Pumpkin’s Tea Party (you know, to stay on the tea theme) by Erin Barker features a whole host of unique spooky season characters in beautiful watercolour. It’s a well-executed rhyming book that doubles as a tool for teaching numbers.

The Scarecrow is written by Beth Ferry, but importantly: illustrated by the Fan Brothers. This illustration duo may be best known for The Night Garden or their work on The Darkest Dark with Chris Hadfield, but my favourite book of theirs is Ocean Meets Sky, which makes me cry every. Single. Time. Just like all the Fan Brothers’ other works, this collaboration with Beth Ferry is a gutpunch, from the delicious illustrations to the heartwrenching story about the changing of the seasons, friendship and loneliness, leaving and grief, loyalty, and what it means to come home.

Bonaparte Falls Apart by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Terry is the perfect follow-up to The Scarecrow – it’s tender and lighthearted and guaranteed to make you smile. Bonaparte’s worried about starting schools, because he has a habit of losing his bones, and he’s worried how he’ll fit in. Despite the efforts of his well-meaning friends, he has to brave the experience in the end. It’s all about appreciating difference, and some of the antics that these Halloween-themed characters get into doing their genuine best to help their pal.

Beekle by Dan Santat… okay, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch that this is a spooky season book. Beekle isn’t exactly a ghost – he’s an imaginary friend. But I LOVE Beekle, yall. And I really think he fits into the whole ethos of what I’m trying to put together here. And there are a lot of really cool mystical creatures in this story, and a great adventure… plus honestly? Beekle’s a bit anxious and not very patient. He forges his own path – and I appreciate him.

Bone Soup by Cambria Evans is much more explicitly Halloween! I would say that as far as picture books go, this one is up there for creepy AF. It’s about a wee skeleton that never gets full, and always needs to eat, so he travels with his eating stool, his eating spoon, and his eating mouth! But you know – relatable?

She Wanted to be Haunted by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Susie Ghahremani was the perfect addition to this list when I stumbled across it (thanks, Goodreads algorithm!). I love haunted houses, especially ones that are full characters in their own right. There are not enough haunted house books out there! Well – this is… kind of that. Clarissa is a cottage – her dad is a creepy vampire castle, and her mom is a witch’s hut! So how did Clarissa end up as an adorable cottage?! This book is all about being your BEST SELF, which I think is the true meaning of Halloween!

Pumpkinhead is the story of Otho, a boy born with a pumpkin for a head, by Eric Rohmann. It is a truly unusual story, and a little text-heavy for a contemporary picture book. That said, it’s quite an adventure tale, and its clean illustration style is very enjoyable. This story reminds me so much of folk stories my grandmother would tell me when I was wee. The pub copy describes its themes perfectly: “Is Otho’s story a parable? A cautionary tale? A celebration of the individual? A head trip? That is something each reader (and Otho) will have to decide.”

Herbert’s First Halloween is a gentle story about a small pig named Herbert by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Steven Henry. Are you a spooky season skeptic? Are you SURROUNDED by folks who love Halloween, and you just can’t figure out why? Well. Let Herbert’s dad teach you what it’s all about. Don’t worry. He’ll ease you into it.

Books about witches and their familiars

It’s 24/7/367 witches in my house, but even if you only don pointy hats at harvest season, these are perfect seasonal reads.

Lots of Cats by E. Dee Taylor is one of my favourite picture books of all time. Not only is it a sweet lesson about being careful what you wish for, independence, and love of animals, but the illustrations will absolutely take your breath away. They’re vibrant and beautiful and lush, and the cats are very cat.

The Pomegranate Witch, despite being published in 2017, was a new discovery for me this year! It’s by Denise Doyen and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, and tells the story of the neighbourhood haunted house in a cute new way, with a twist ending. It’s rhyming, and prominently features a pomegranate tree and a Scooby-like gang of children who just want to get their hands on the juicy treasures that it bears.

The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies by Kyle and Derek Sullivan is So. Cute. It deals with really great themes like prejudice, fear of the unknown, xenophobia, and oppression… but with awesome and SUPER cute spooky protagonists, including the title cyclops witch. While you’re checking out this book, keep an eye out for the Sullivans’ board books as well – the Monster Series from Hazy Dell Press: Goodnight Krampus, perfect winter read; Hush Now, Banshee, a counting book; Don’t Eat Me Chupacabra, which is a dual language Spanish title; Monster ABC; and Get Dressed, Sasquatch and its companion title Bigfoot Baby!

Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy and Joe Berger is the first rhyming story in a now six-book set of Hubble Bubble books about a little girl and her unusual grandmother. It’s a great, feminine, Halloween-appropriate story about being yourself, and embracing the weirdness in others.

Classics

Slight aside: I genuinely adore these classic books that are perfect for spooky season. But as a publishing professional, I have to tell you: times are very hard for authors writing new books right now. If you decide to purchase a copy of one of these books to enjoy the nostalgia of the season, please also consider purchasing a newly published book and creating some memories for the future!

The Teeny-Tiny Woman by Paul Galdone was originally published in 1984, and is a timeless, humorous rendition of an English folktale about a teeny tiny woman who finds a teeny tiny bone in a teeny tiny churchyard. Definitely a book that kids will love to hear aloud until they’re able to recite it along with the reader!

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and illustrated by Megan Lloyd was published just a couple of years later – 1986. It’s a rollicking Halloween classic among many millennials, and tells the story about a brave old woman getting the scare of her life.

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet is by the iconic Mercer Mayer, best known for the beloved Little Critter Series (see: Happy Halloween Little Critter if you’re new to this author). Now, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet is one of Mayer’s first books, and pre-dates Little Critter, having been published in 1968 for the first time. It deals with a timeless theme: fear of the dark.

Strega Nona is by classic children’s author Tomie dePaola, who passed away in 2020 after authoring over 200 books for young readers – including this one in 1975. Again – maybe this is a stretch for spooky season, but as a kid, I always totally thought Strega Nona (and my own grandmothers, to be fair) was a witch, so I’m keeping it in here. This one isn’t scary at all – it’s a cottagecore tale about a mystical elder woman and why you should never trust men to look after your magic, even for a minute. 😉

Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall came out in 1977, and is great for fall not only because of Halloween, but also because of back-to-school. It tells the story of a witchy substitute teacher whose most important lesson is the appreciation of the important people in your life!

Bony-Legs by Joanna Cole was also released in 1986, proving that that was the scariest year on record for picture books! This one is creepy. It’s straight up a story of a girl’s escape from an evil witch who wants to eat her for supper. Very Hansel and Gretel vibes!

Non-Fiction

Not everyone’s looking for fiction, and I guess we still need science lessons in the autumn. These two non-fiction books about bones are the perfect spooky season tie-ins.

Skulls! by Blair Thonburgh and Scott Campbell and Give Me Back My Bones! by Kim Norman and illustrated by Bob Kolar are both enthusiastic non-fiction titles that are engaging, informative, fun to read, and spoopy. Skulls! is a great, light-hearted read-aloud that’s jam-packed with skull facts, while Give Me Back My Bones! is about the whole skeleton – and it’s pirate-themed!

Death

These books aren’t necessarily fall or Halloween themed, but it’s inevitable that when the year is winding down, leaves are changing, and everyone’s dressing up like phantoms, death is a topic that comes to mind. I wanted to make a few suggestions for reads that you might consider if you want to approach the conversation with a bit of levity and reverence.

What Happens Next? is by Shinsuke Yoshitake, a Japanese illustrator whose works are so much fun. He has 14 books published in nine languages, including this one, about a boy who explores his grandfather’s journal after his death. It’s quirky and deep and unique. This is a book that I think everyone should read.

Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch is a long-time favourite of mine, but a word of warning that this one is a tear-jerker for me. And not in like an, oh, sweet, I’m crying happy tears kind of way, but like, an emotionally affected kind of way. It features simple illustrations and a sparse storyline that I find incredibly touching.

Ghost Cat by Kevan Atteberry is actually the story book that I picked up when I was processing the death of my dog, D. It’s a sweet, tender story described perfectly in the pub copy as a “comforting tale of love and loss”. It does actually feature a ghost cat, and it’s a soft story that doesn’t necessary feel like a book about grief. Sneak it into your collection during spooky season for emotional health and level up!

Special Guest: E.J. Schwartz and BEFORE WE WERE BLUE

CW: Eating Disorders

Book Trailer for BEFORE WE WERE BLUE

Okay. Before we dig into the amazing content that author E.J. Schwartz provided me with for this post – and yall, it’s lit – let’s get a little bit personal for a second. When I was 13 years old, I had no idea that I was queer. I had no idea that I was trans. I had undiagnosed psychiatric disabilities. And like so many feminine teenagers, I learned that there was something in my life that I could control, if I really wanted to: my body. I was very athletic – I rode horses, I ice skated, I played soccer year-round, I was briefly into volleyball, I did some gymnastics, I had a dog who loved long walks and we lived in one of the best places in the world for hiking. I was also vegetarian, the only one in my family, which meant that I did the majority of my own cooking, and decided how much of it I ate. I also had undiagnosed autism and high anxiety, which manifested for me as high achievement and perfectionism – at any cost.

In 2021, we recognize scientifically and sociologically that eating disorders are far more complicated than we did in the 90’s. What I experienced as a teenager and into my early 20’s would today be diagnosed as orthorexia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia. I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday, reading in a cookbook when I was a pre-teen the phrase, what you eat today is how you will look and feel tomorrow. This became an obsessive mantra for me, and it’s something that I’ve never quite shaken off, even as an out and proud, fat, queer, gendervoid, autistic, adult in my 30’s.

Suffice to say that media that reflected my eating disorder (ED) experiences did not exist when I was a pre-teen. I read pro-Ana websites, and when the documentary Thin was released in 2006, I watched it on repeat. In my research for this post, I came across this Electric Lit article by Ellen Rhudy that really nailed my experience on the head – everything that I found to consume as a victim of ED in the late 90’s and early 00’s read to me like a how-to manual, at best. To this day, I don’t really pick up many books or watch movies that depict ED, because there’s something about them that’s almost tempting. I think that a LOT of this comes from the fact that the experiences depicted in most ED media, to this day, remain so distanced from the real issues that I was facing in my life at that time – and that I continue to wrestle with.

Lauren Greenfield’s 2006 documentary, Thin

When I read the pub copy for Before We Were Blue on Edelweiss+, I immediately knew that this book was different.

At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.

The publicity copy for BEFORE WE WERE BLUE, from Edelweiss+

This was a book about LGBTQ+ teens, nuanced characters with complicated lives and motivations, and it’s not preaching morality. It also hits some of my favourite parts of any book… complicated relationships, anti-heroes, fierce femme characters, friendship, coming-of-age, huge internal conflict, traditionally feminine sports, and you should be warned before you pick this up – it does go dark. Death, anti-semitism, co-morbid diagnoses, and toxic parental relationships all make appearances in this raw narrative. There are also some great light moments! Budding queer feels, kitschy emo art projects, kool aid hair dye jobs – this story has it all.

I’m sure that I will go back and read this story again and again. One of the things that I love about it is that the ending isn’t squeaky clean, and that really resonated with me as someone for whom ED has played a huge role in my life… so often, “recovery” isn’t a binary state, and it doesn’t always go the way we plan. Schwartz doesn’t shy away from the grit in this story – if anything, she digs in. I think this will appeal to young readers the same way that it did for me, and there is so much content that will open up space for dialogue for educators, caregivers, and young readers.

Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash

This title feels so timely right now. COVID and the resulting isolation has been particularly difficult for people who experience ED, especially young people. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t something that mainstream society seems to be addressing very well, but hopefully this book will make it into the hands of those who need it. Before We Were Blue is available now – and if you want a physical copy, please order it soon – or consider an eBook! This is a rough time for production and distribution in the publishing industry, and it might be hard to get your hands on in a couple of months.

In the meantime, the characters of Before We Were Blue are absolutely captivating humans, and the relationship between the two magnetic MCs, Rowan and Shoshana, is practically impossible to unwrap your mind from. As such, I am delighted that E.J. decided to make playlists for each of her MCs to share in this space. Give them a listen below (maybe while you wait for your book to come in), and read the line notes that E.J. provided for each.


Making these playlists was such a dream, and surprisingly, a challenge! Shoshana and Rowan have large character arcs in “Before We Were Blue” and although it’s one of the things I’m most proud of writing in the book—the way neither girl is remotely the same person by the end—it made choosing songs difficult! But lo and behold, Rowan and Shoshana’s playlists (and my rambling explanations)!

E.J.’s Custom Playlist for BEFORE WE WERE BLUE MC Shoshana

Shoshana

Lucky

Britney Spears

“Isn’t she lovely, this Hollywood girl?”

“Lucky” is a classic! From the outside, someone looking in at Shoshana’s life might envy her. Her cheerleading success, her social media popularity, her relatability. I can imagine people thinking she’s lucky. But at the beginning of the novel, Shoshana is in the treatment center, hiding from the world after a breakdown caught on camera. Britney Spears’s “Lucky” perfectly encapsulates how Shoshana’s pristine image runs directly against her crumbling reality.

Blue World

Mac Miller

“Think I lost my mind, reality’s so hard to find”

Mac Miller is—was—gosh I hate using past tense with him—he was someone whose music I’d listen to for many different moods. He stood out to me for Shoshana in his goofiness, his quick rise to popularity, and his Judaism. Shoshana views her Judaism in the same way Mac did, feeling like she’s not an exemplary Jew but still takes pride in her faith and community. “Blue World” also feels right for “Before We Were Blue” since Shoshana’s world is a “Blue World” in many, many ways.

jealousy, jealousy

Olivia Rodrigo

“I think too much ‘bout kids who don’t know me”

Yes, I am an Olivia Rodrigo stan. This song is a great social media anthem. I think Shoshana, like almost every teenage girl, is green with envy and sick of herself when she sees all the success and triumphs around her online. She wants what other people have, and would rather be different. Like Olivia Rodrigo, Shosh is way too hard on herself.

The Weather

Built To Spill

“As long as its talking with you, talk of the weather will do”

Apparently this song is about someone who died, with the “No one knows what to do” portion (I just found this out)! But “The Weather” has always felt uplifting to me, like a syrupy-sweet love song. It nails the intense feeling of finding someone you can talk with about anything or nothing, and it’s exactly the same.

Overstimulated

Okay Kaya

“Anything could happen, at any given time”

Overstimulated? Shoshana? No

Somewhere Only We Know

Keane

“So tell me when you’re gonna let me in”

This was my and my best friend’s version of “our song” many years ago. We had a codependent friendship and I based Rowan and Shoshana a lot on us. Shosh and Ro want their “Somewhere Only We Know” place, but they have a hard time letting each other fully in, Rowan especially. Shoshana has to wait for Rowan to open that door.

Fade Into You

Mazzy Star

“Colors your eyes with what’s not there”

Everyone probably knows this song and if you don’t—oh my gosh, do yourself a favor and go listen. So beautiful, but also sinister? To me, this is a perfect song about codependency. Shoshana and Rowan are nothing if not attached at the hip, and I think this song sums them up well. Shoshana leans more toward Rowan, and that’s why I picked this song for her playlist over Rowan’s.

Pull The Plug

Du Blonde

“I pull the plug and I shut down”

Du Blonde is the singular artist on both Shoshana and Rowan’s playlists. Pull The Plug is angsty and raw. Occasionally a song feels like it can flip flop between the two girls, despite how different their voices are in the book. This is one of them, and it just happened to land on Shoshana’s list!

Two

The Antlers

“Two ways to tell the story”

This album, Hospice, is incredible and terrifying. If Pitchfork is right, it’s about a relationship with a terminally ill child, but I interpreted it as an abusive romantic relationship. The lyrics just floor me. “Two people talking inside your brain” feels very Shoshana, and the more obvious “no one paid attention when you just stopped eating.” The song just feels like everything is unwinding, and so it’s a good fit for Shosh.

A Lot’s Gonna Change

Weyes Blood

“It’s high tide, you’ll learn to get by” Gosh, all these songs I love, but this song… “A lot’s gonna change in your lifetime” is such a simple obvious-but-necessary mantra. It mirrors the common phrase “time heals all” and I think that’s a note to end this playlist on, regardless of Shoshana’s ending in the book.

E.J.’s Custom Playlist for BEFORE WE WERE BLUE MC Rowan

Rowan

Every Single Night

Fiona Apple

“Every single night’s a fight with my brain”

Fiona Apple is a musical master! Rowan is a master herself, or she wants to be at fitting all her moving parts under one detached leave-me-alone mask. On the one hand, Rowan wants to feel things big in Apple’s “I just want to feel everything” vein (as Rowan would say things are “meant to be felt”). But on the other hand, her brain wants to combust from feeling so much. I’ve listened to this song a hundred times and I bet Rowan would too.

Something Soon

Car Seat Headrest

“I want to break something important” x “Let’s burn this house down”

This song is all about desperation. I think of Rowan as someone who’s really desperate.

Soap On Your Skin

The Solids

“Room is ruined by clean”

Along the lines of codependency, this song is romantic, sexual, and speaks to the urge to melt into someone else. Where does the line between soap and skin blur? This is what Rowan wants for her and Shoshana; complete and total allegiance with no hesitation.

Dumb

Nirvana

“Soul is cheap”

Dumb is a song Rowan would worship because she absolutely detests people who float through life without thinking about it. She wants to debate everything with everyone. Rowan’s life is also about playing a role or playing “pretend” like the song mentions. And I mean… it’s Nirvana, come on.

i wanna be your girlfriend

girl in red

“I don’t wanna be your friend, I wanna kiss your lips”

Shoan? Roana? Y/N? We’ll see…

Holiday Resort

Du Blonde

“Looking down the barrel of a gun that I adore”

Again, Du Blonde is the singular artist on both Shoshana and Rowan’s playlists. I wish I wrote the lyrics “Romance is a crop that modern culture cannot yield” and “In my twenties I’m antique.” This song is about physical and emotional deterioration, something Rowan is all too familiar with.

God Must Be Doing Cocaine

Charlotte Lawrence

“Can anyone really blame Him?”

These lyrics—straight from Rowan’s mouth.

For Her

Fiona Apple

“Maybe she spent her formative years, dealing with his contentious fears”

Fiona Apple is the only repeat artist on Rowan’s playlist, but with good reason. “For Her” is unyielding in its pointed views of men. Rowan is a cynic. The album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”—I mean, just the title alone—it’s all completely Rowan.

Reservations

Wilco

“How can I convince you it’s me I don’t like”

I discovered this song after writing “Before We Were Blue.” I was going through all of Pitchfork’s perfect “10″ albums and I’m so glad I did because this is one of my favorite songs now. It’s romantic and despairing and wholesome. Rowan feels this way about Shoshana: “I’ve got reservations, about so many things, but not about you.”

Don’t Let the Kids Win

Julia Jacklin

“We’re gonna keep on getting older, it’s gonna keep on feeling strange”

This song just guts me. It’s a perfect ending to Rowan’s playlist in the sense that the whole book is a journey for Rowan. Julia Jacklin writes a lot about lessons and hindsight. Rowan relishes hindsight. She believes in multiple versions of herself, layers building toward the surface of who she is in the present. I think she’d listen to this song and feel like it resonates with her coming-of-age process. Also, it’s just stunning—production and lyrics! Go listen if you haven’t!


As always when I feature and non-Black author in this space, I also asked E.J. for book recommendations, and she asked that I share two: Toni Morrison’s Beloved for prose, and for poetry, Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead, adding: Heart-wrenching reads, stamped in my brain forever!

The cover of Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith.

Last, but not least, if you are seeking additional information or support about eating disorders, please checkout nedic, NEDA, or Kids’ Help Phone. If you are seeking information specifically about LGBTQ2S+ folks and eating disorders, check out this fact sheet from Rainbow Health Ontario.

PS, if you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving me a tip! It only takes a minute, and it allows me to keep creating content just like this, buying food for my pets, and pursuing my career as a literary agent!

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