50 Must-Read Eco Disasters In Fiction

Fiction at its best lets us play out our darkest fears about the future. You don’t get much darker than environmental collapse, and the way things are right now, it’s even odds on whether heat, pollinator extinction, superstorms, or sea level rise takes us out first. But hey, whatever happens, it’ll be dramatic!

Not all of these stories are about impending disaster. Some deal with past ecological collapse too. Others are so wild that they’re really just good fun. If this really isn’t enough mayhem for you, make sure and also check out more climate change aftermaths. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling a little shook by all of this reality-mirroring climate talk, remember that knowledge is power. Let’s dive right into fictional Earths where the weather just hates everybody and into Earths based in fact where the great wave of Nature’s fury is poised to obliterate us all.

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki

“Yumi Fuller hasn’t set foot in her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho—heart of the potato-farming industry—since she ran away at age fifteen. Twenty-five years later, the prodigal daughter returns to confront her dying parents, her best friend, and her conflicted past, and finds herself caught up in an altogether new drama. The post-millennial farming community has been invaded by Agribusiness forces at war with a posse of activists, the Seeds of Resistance, who travel the country in a camping car, “The Spudnick,” biofueled by pilfered McDonald’s french-fry oil.”

Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko

“Silko’s ambitious, massive novel is an impassioned indictment of the white man’s rule in the Americas, a prophecy of a revolution by Native Americans, and a jeremiad warning of a corrupt world rushing to Armageddon.”

American War by Omar El AkkadAmerican War by Omar El Akkad

“Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be.”

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

“Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.”

Beacons: Stories For Our Not-So-Distant Future, edited by Gregory Norminton

“A riveting and provocative collection of short stories, Beacons throws down the gauntlet to award-winning writers, challenging them to devise original responses to the climate crisis. From Joanne Harris’ cautionary tale of a world where ‘outside’ has become a thing of history to Nick Hayes’ graphic depiction of the primeval bond between man and nature, each story thrills the senses as it attempts to make sense of a world warping into something unfamiliar.”

Blackfish City by Sam J. MillerBlackfish City by Sam J. Miller

“After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called ‘the breaks’ is ravaging the population.”

A Breath of Fresh Air by Amulya Malladi

“On the night of December 3, 1984, Anjali waits for her army officer husband to pick her up at the train station in Bhopal, India. In an instant, her world changes forever. Her anger at his being late turns to horror when a catastrophic gas leak poisons the city air. Anjali miraculously survives. Her marriage does not.”

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

“The world has no air. If you want to survive, you pay to breathe. But what if you can’t? And what if you think everything could be different? Three teens will leave everything they know behind in Sarah Crossan’s gripping and original dystopian teen novel of danger, longing, and glimmering hope.”

The Butterfly Effect by Rajat Chaudhuri

“In the decaying capital city of a near-future Darkland, which covers large swathes of Asia, Captain Old – an off-duty policeman – receives news that might help to unravel the roots of a scourge that has ravaged the continent. As stories coalesce into stories – welding past, present and future together – will a macabre death in a small English town or the disappearance of Indian tourists in Korea, help to blow away the dusts of time?
From utopian communities of Asia to the prison camps of Pyongyang and from the gene labs of Europe to the violent streets of Darkland – riven by civil war, infested by genetically engineered fighters – this time-travelling novel crosses continents, weaving mystery, adventure and romance, gradually fixing its gaze on the sway of the unpredictable over our lives.”

California by Edan Lepucki

“The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.”

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

“In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.”

The Carbon Diaries by Saci LloydThe Carbon Diaries 2015 Saci Lloyd

“It’s January 1st, 2015, and the UK is the first nation to introduce carbon dioxide rationing in a drastic bid to combat climate change. As her family spirals out of control, Laura Brown chronicles the first year of rationing with scathing abandon.”

The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall

“The world has changed. War rages in South America and China, and Britain – now entirely dependent on the US for food and energy – is run by an omnipresent dictatorship known simply as The Authority. Assets and weapons have been seized, and women are compulsorily fitted with contraceptive devices. This is Sister’s story of her attempt to escape the repressive regime. From the confines of her Lancaster prison cell she tells of her search for The Carhullan Army, a quasi-mythical commune of ‘unofficial’ women rumoured to be living in a remote part of Cumbria.”

Death of Grass by John Christopher

“The Chung-Li virus has devastated Asia, wiping out the rice crop and leaving riots and mass starvation in its wake. The rest of the world looks on with concern, though safe in the expectation that a counter-virus will be developed any day. Then Chung-Li mutates and spreads. Wheat, barley, oats, rye: no grass crop is safe, and global famine threatens.”

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

“A mysterious disaster has stricken the midwestern American city of Bellona, and its aftereffects are disturbing: a city block burns down and is intact a week later; clouds cover the sky for weeks, then part to reveal two moons; a week passes for one person when only a day passes for another. The catastrophe is confined to Bellona, and most of the inhabitants have fled. But others are drawn to the devastated city, among them the Kid, a white/American Indian man who can’t remember his own name. The Kid is emblematic of those who live in the new Bellona, who are the young, the poor, the mad, the violent, the outcast—the marginalized.”

The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. WalkerThe End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

“Perfect for fans of The Martian, this powerful post-apocalyptic thriller pits reluctant father Edgar Hill in a race against time to get back to his wife and children. When the sky begins to fall and he finds himself alone, his best hope is to run – or risk losing what he loves forever.”

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

“Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.”

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

“Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire.”

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire VayeGold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

“In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.”

Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh

“To drill or not to drill? Prison guard Rich Devlin leases his mineral rights to finance his dream of farming. He doesn’t count on the truck traffic and nonstop noise, his brother’s skepticism or the paranoia of his wife, Shelby, who insists the water smells strange and is poisoning their frail daughter. Meanwhile his neighbors, organic dairy farmers Mack and Rena, hold out against the drilling—until a passionate environmental activist disrupts their lives.”

Hot Sky At Midnight by Robert Silverberg

“At Samurai Industries, Paul Carpenter studies his computer monitors to predict the movement of toxic clouds drifting across the Pacific Northwest. If he’s wrong, a sudden shift of wind can kill thousands. Nick Rhodes, a research scientist for the controversial Santachiara Technologies’ Survival/Modification Program, seeks better ways for humans to adapt to Earth’s hostile environment. His girlfriend, Isabelle Martine, is a kinetic therapist and political activist, violently opposed to the threatening new technology. They are among those who have opted to stay behind, scratching out a perilous existence on a poisoned planet where no one dares leave home without a face-lung and a daily injection of Screen.”

Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss

“Millions of years beyond our time, our Earth has long since stopped spinning—and giant flora have taken over the sunlit half of the motionless world. Here humans are among the very few animal species that still exist, struggling to survive against enormous odds, but they have become small and weak, and their numbers have dwindled to almost nothing. When the aging leader of Gren’s tribe decrees it is time for the old ones to go “Up,” the younger are left to make their own way below. Although the journey will not be an easy one for young Gren, he sets off on an odyssey across a perilous world populated by carnivorous plants and other evolved vegetation. But any knowledge to be gained at the terminator—the forbidding boundary between the day world and the night—might well prove worthless for the boy and the companions he amasses along the way when the expanding sun goes nova and their Earth is no more.”

I Have Waited And You Have Come by Martine McDonaghI Have Waited, And You Have Come by Martine McDonagh

“The world has been ravaged by climate change and Rachel is left to fend for herself. Living amid a clutch of disparate communities whose inhabitants she chooses to avoid, she rarely ventures beyond the safety of the storm wall. But when Jez White disturbs her twilight existence, Rachel finds herself in a murky territory somewhere between stalking and being stalked.”

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

“Annie Bell can’t escape the dust. It’s in her hair, covering the windowsills, coating the animals in the barn, in the corners of her children’s dry, cracked lips. It’s 1934 and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma is struggling as the earliest storms of The Dust Bowl descend. All around them the wheat harvests are drying out and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie’s fragile young son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia; her headstrong daughter, Birdie, flush with first love, is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, her husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain.”

The Ice People by Maggie Gee

“Far into the the 21st century, civilization has broken down in the face of the deepening cold. An old man, Saul, lives in a disused airport with a gang of wild boys, who spare his life only because of his skills as a storyteller. Saul tells of his youth, days of fierce heat and dwindling fertility. Men and women live separately, the women cluster around the rare children, and men turn to each other or to robot “pets.” But Saul is different—he falls in love with Sarah.”

In the Palm of Darkness by Mayra Montero, Edith Grossman (Translator)

“‘In the Palm of Darkness’ tells the story of American herpetologist Victor Griggs and Haitian guide Thierry Adrien, who are searching for an amphibian known as the blood frog (grenouille du sang) in the mountains of violence-torn Haiti. The rich and tragic tale of Thierry’s family, his life and loves and his curious destiny, forms a backdrop for the obsessive search of the two men from different cultures, and opens a window onto another way of understanding the world.”

Mara and Dann by Doris LessigMara and Dann by Doris Lessig

“Thousands of years in the future, all the northern hemisphere is buried under the ice and snow of a new Ice Age. At the southern end of a large landmass called Ifrik, two children of the Mahondi people, seven-year old Mara and her younger brother, Dann, are abducted from their home in the middle of the night. Raised as outsiders in a poor rural village, Mara and Dann learn to survive the hardships and dangers of a life threatened as much by an unforgiving climate and menacing animals as by a hostile community of Rock People. Eventually they join the great human migration North, away from the drought that is turning the southern land to dust, and in search of a place with enough water and food to support human life.”

Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

“Twenty years ago Lucie Bowen left Marrow Island; along with her mother, she fled the aftermath of an earthquake that compromised the local refinery, killing her father and ravaging the island’s environment. Now, Lucie’s childhood friend Kate is living within a mysterious group called Marrow Colony—a community that claims to be ‘ministering to the Earth.’ Lucie’s experience as a journalist tells her there’s more to the Colony—and their charismatic leader– than they want her to know, and that the astonishing success of their environmental remediation has come at great cost to the Colonists themselves.”

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta

“Global warming has changed the world’s geography and its politics. Wars are waged over water, and China rules Europe, including the Scandinavian Union, which is occupied by the power state of New Qian. In this far north place, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that Noria’s father tends, which once provided water for her whole village.”

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

“The waters rose, submerging New York City. But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever. Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building, Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides. And how we too will change.”

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

“Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.”

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel RichOdds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich

“As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe—ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters—he becomes obsessed by a culture’s fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell’s predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?”

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

“Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.”

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

“Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.”

The Rapture by Liz JensenThe Rapture by Liz Jensen

“It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase. But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief.”

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

“A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.”

The Sheep Look Up by John BrunnerThe Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

“In a near future, the air pollution is so bad that everyone wears gas masks. The infant mortality rate is soaring, and birth defects, new diseases, and physical ailments of all kinds abound. The water is undrinkable—unless you’re poor and have no choice. Large corporations fighting over profits from gas masks, drinking water, and clean food tower over an ineffectual, corrupt government.”

Solar by Ian McEwan

“Michael Beard is a Nobel Prize–winning physicist whose best work is behind him, and whose fifth marriage is crumbling. However, an invitation to travel to New Mexico offers him a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?”

Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World, edited by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, Fábio Fernandes (Translator)

“Imagine a sustainable world, run on clean and renewable energies that are less aggressive to the environment. Now imagine humanity under the impact of these changes. This is the premise Brazilian editor Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro proposed, and these authors took the challenge to envision hopeful futures and alternate histories. The stories in this anthology explore terrorism against green corporations, large space ships propelled by the pressure of solar radiation, the advent of photosynthetic humans, and how different society might be if we had switched to renewable energies much earlier in history. Originally published in Brazil and translated for the first time from the Portuguese by Fábio Fernandes, this anthology of optimistic science fiction features nine authors from Brazil and Portugal including Carlos Orsi, Telmo Marçal, Romeu Martins, Antonio Luiz M. Costa, Gabriel Cantareira, Daniel I. Dutra, André S. Silva, Roberta Spindler, and Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro.”

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

“On the airwaves, all the talk is of the new blue planet – pristine and habitable, like our own 65 million years ago, before we took it to the edge of destruction. And off the air, Billie and Spike are falling in love. What will happen when their story combines with the world’s story.”

Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann PancakeStrange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake

“Set in present day West Virginia, Ann Pancake’s debut novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, tells the story of a coal mining family—a couple and their four children—living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life. As the mine turns the mountains to slag and wastewater, workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters.”

The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld

“In a future America that feels increasingly familiar, you are your credit score. Extreme wealth inequality has created a class of have-nothings: Subprimes. Their bad credit ratings make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they’ve walked out on mortgages, been foreclosed upon, or can no longer afford a fixed address. Fugitives who must keep moving to avoid arrest, they wander the globally warmed American wasteland searching for day labor and a place to park their battered SUVs for the night.”

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

“It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over, each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel; the Thames is overflowing; and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south—but not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.”

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.”

Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King

“Truth and Bright Water tells of a summer in the life of Tecumseh and Lum, young Native-American cousins coming of age in the Montana town of Truth, and the Bright Water Reserve across the river in Alberta. It opens with a mysterious woman with a suitcase, throwing things into the river – then jumping in herself. Tecumseh and Lum go to help, but she and her truck have disappeared. Other mysteries puzzle Tecumseh: whether his mom will take his dad back; if his rolling-stone aunt is home to stay; why no one protects Lum from his father’s rages. Then Tecumseh gets a job helping an artist – Bright Water’s most famous son – with the project of a lifetime. As Truth and Bright Water prepare for the Indian Days festival, their secrets come together in a climax of tragedy, reconciliation, and love.”

The Water Knife by Paolo BacigalupiThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

“In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel ‘cuts’ water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, it seems California is making a play to monopolize the life-giving flow of the river, and Angel is sent to investigate.”

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

“In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.”

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

“Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko…”

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, Howard Goldblatt (Translator)

“An epic Chinese tale in the vein of The Last Emperor, Wolf Totem depicts the dying culture of the Mongols—the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world—and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf.”

Wool by Hugh Howey

“Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.”

African American Classics I Wish I’d Read In School

There’s a good chance I would have not gotten into a fight with my English teacher in my senior year of high school had we read any (and I mean any) people of color all year. And the year before that. The name of the class was International Baccalaureate, for goodness’s sake.

Anyway, when I got to college I sought out all the good literature I had straight-up missed because my high school curriculum was only interested in white authors. The classes that particularly struck me were the ones about African American literature. I read a lot of contemporary black writing, but these opened my eyes to a whole world of the past. I wonder how influential these writers could have been to the students of my school—would more black students enjoy their English classes? Would our white peers understand things better?

This is a list of just some of the African American classics I would love to see added to high school curriculums across the nation. (Staples of the genre like Beloved by Toni Morrison or The Autobiography of Malcolm X aren’t on this list because I’ve seen them taught in various high schools.)

african american classicsNative Son by Richard Wright

This is, hands down, one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. And for good reason. When Bigger Thomas starts working for a wealthy white family in Chicago, things don’t exactly go as planned. I won’t give away too much, but I’ll say this—Bigger does something terrible.

This was the first Book of the Month pick by a black author, and it stirred up so much controversy when it first came out in 1940. It angered everyone. Blacks, whites, elites, middle-class workers. But they couldn’t stop talking about it. This, along with the sheer quality of the book, made it a lasting part of the African American literary canon.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

For a book some consider young adult, A Lesson Before Dying is HEAVY. It follows a young black teen named Jefferson charged with the murder of a grocery store owner. Spoiler alert: he’s innocent. That doesn’t matter to the southern court system in 1948, however. The state sentences Jefferson to death by electric chair.

Distraught over her son’s fate, Jefferson’s family asks the local teacher to teach Jefferson “how to be a man” before he dies, as opposed to the animal that the state sees him as. You will need some tissues for this one, mark my words.

african american classicsGo Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

I’ve never been one for religious texts, but somehow Baldwin’s breathtaking novel never comes across as didactic or pushy. It elegantly delves into the institution of the Pentecostal church and its relationship with the black community in 1950s Harlem. Following the story of a variety of characters like the local fanatic preacher, a woman with a dark past, and a young boy struggling with faith and sexuality, this book is simply gorgeous. In addition, it is a semi-autobiographical work. Any glimpse into the fascinating life of gay black icon James Baldwin is worth a read.

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

This debut novel centers a Barbadian immigrant community in Brooklyn as they mingle, fall in love, fight, and dream for a better life. Its main character is Seline Boyce, a 10-year-old with a contentious relationship with her mother and an adoring one with her father. Shackled by a lower class lifestyle, they want to own their brownstones and have some autonomy in a world that barely affords them any. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

african american classicsMoses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

The Biblical myth of Moses has long appealed to enslaved populations for its strong sense of justice against the enslavers and for the exploited peoples. In this gorgeously written novel, Zora Neale Hurston rewrites the story of Moses and the Hebrews in black vernacular, making the Hebrews a stand in for black slaves and the Egyptians a stand in for white slave masters. Strange at times, magical at others, this is one of Hurston’s lesser known works but also one of her most outwardly political.

Imperium in Imperio By Sutton Griggs

This 1899 novel is endlessly intriguing. It follows two politically active black men as they try to live their lives in the 19th century. Eventually, their stories coalesce as as they both have a hand in creating a secret black utopia in the middle of Texas. Mirroring the ages long struggle between militant black politics and non-violent black politics through the two characters, Imperium in Imperio is a fast-paced thriller that packs a big punch.

african american classicsPassing by Nella Larson

Clare and Irene can “pass” as white (depending on the circles they’re in). They were childhood friends but lost contact after a tragedy. When Clare and Irene find each other after years apart, they become intertwined and seek to rekindle their relationship. As adults, Irene lives in Harlem as black, but Clare mostly lives in Europe with her white husband and daughter. She conceals her blackness from him and their peers. Trouble is, her husband is a loud-mouthed racist. Who knows what he would do if he found out who he really married?

Shocking, intimate, and one of the foremost novels about racial passing for decades, this is a must-read.

The Street by Ann Petry

I’m willing to bet your average reader has never heard of The Street, yet it was the first book by an African American woman to sell a million copies. How did this seminal novel fall out of popularity with the general audience? (Tayari Jones, who recently wrote the bestselling novel An American Marriage, explores how Petry paved the road for black women authors in this article here.)

When you read The Street, you immediately get why it was a bestseller. It centers relatable, headstrong Lutie, a black mom in Harlem looking for a place to live for her and her son. As she knows all too well, however, the street (a metaphor for every street in America) just wants to push her down. Sexism, racism, and violence threaten to stop Lutie from making a living when all she wants to do is survive.

Do you have any African American classics you particularly enjoyed?

The Best Books You’ve Never Heard of, April 2019

We love gushing over new releases here at Book Riot. It’s so exciting to keep up with the big books that everyone’s talking about! But there are so many books being published every week, it’s easy for amazing titles to fall through the cracks. We want to take a little time to recognize the backlist books that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. To make sure they’re actually obscure, we have picked an arbitrary cut-off point of under 250 Goodreads ratings. (For context, The Girl On the Train has 1.6 million ratings. In Watermelon Sugar has 11 thousand ratings.) I highly recommend checking out your own underrated reads! You can sort your read Goodreads shelf by number of ratings to see how obscure your book taste is!

So, let’s get into it! Here are some of our favorite books that you (probably) have never heard of.

Simon Says by Elaine Marie AlphinSimon Says by Elaine Marie Alphin

This YA novel came to my attention when I was a teen, fortunately enough. It’s moody and deals head-on with mental health among other darker topics. Perhaps one of the most interesting themes of this book is the idea of your idols not living up to your expectations. When Charles enters a private high school for the arts, he’s convinced meeting Graeme will change his life—and it will, but not in the way he expects. With pressure from his father and now the angst of the reality of Graeme, Charles is just barely holding on. Some of the representation may now be considered problematic, but if you head in for the story and consider the relative lack of knowledge around mental health at the time of its publication, Simon Says is riveting. —Abby Hargreaves

The Smoking Mirror by David BowlesThe Smoking Mirror (Garza Twins #1) by David Bowles

It is hard to believe that this book has less than 100 ratings on Goodreads. This book is not only amazing, but it won the 2016 Pura Belpre Honor Book Award for Narration. Bowles is a prolific writer and his works stay true to the Latinx culture in which he was born and raised in Deep South Texas. The Smoking Mirror is about Carol and Johnny Garza, 12-year-old twins, whose lives in a small Texas town are forever changed by their mother’s unexplained disappearance. Shipped off to relatives in Mexico by their grieving father, the twins soon learn that their mother is a nagual, a shapeshifter, and that they have inherited her powers. In order to rescue her, they will have to descend into the Aztec underworld and face the dangers that await them. Although the audience for this book is classified as YA and Juvenile, this is a great read for readers of all ages. Bowles is an assistant professor at the University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley and is the recipient of awards from the American Library Association, Texas Institute of Letters, and Texas Associated Press. —Romeo Rosales

A is for Awesome by Eva Chen, Illustrated by Derek DesiertoA is for Awesome by Eva Chen, Illustrated by Derek Desierto

This board book is, you guessed it, AWESOME. It’s an alphabet book that features an iconic woman for each letter of the alphabet: “U is for Ursula K. Le Guin, prolific and prize-winning science fiction author.” The illustrations are big and bold and fun. What I like best are the quotes from speeches the women have given (and that it includes Ursula K. Le Guin, one of my favorite writers). What my daughter likes best is the big, child-friendly mirror on the last page (the link goes to a blog post with a picture of my daughter gazing at herself in the mirror). This is one of our favorite board books. —Margaret Kingsbury

Soul Tourists by Bernardine EvaristoSoul Tourists by Bernardine Evaristo

An uptight banker and a free-spirited loudmouth go on a road trip together. Evaristo more than delivers on the awkward tension and humour this premise promises, while also delivering a crash course in European black history. But she’s also a prize-winning poet and wizard of words who takes Stanley (the banker), Jessie (the loudmouth) and the reader on a breathtaking trip. —Beulah Devaney

For Her Dark Skin by Percival EverettFor Her Dark Skin by Percival Everett

Percival Everett gives an absolutely hilarious and very clever retelling of the story of Medea and Jason from multiple points of view. Yes, I realize this story is a tragedy. Yes, I said hilarious. An article from May 2018 in the Los Angeles Review of Books titled “The Unavoidable Percival Everett” says, “You may have not heard of Percival Everett, and he would probably prefer it that way.” I’m here to say that I had the pleasure of being in his presence a few times while I was an undergrad, and both the man and his writing are an absolute delight. —Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

From a Limestone Ledge by John GravesFrom a Limestone Ledge: Some Essays and Other Ruminations About Country Life in Texas by John Graves

Graves isn’t read much outside of Texas literary circles. If he’s known nationally for anything, it’s for his travel book Goodbye to a River, which earned him comparisons to Thoreau and the first of two National Book Award nominations. The second came for this collection of articles originally published in Texas Monthly. Graves is on fire in every single piece here. In “Meat,” he wrestles with his carnivorous eating habits. Even if the essay doesn’t convince you to go vegan, it’ll certainly make you think long and hard about the next steak you eat. “Blue and Some Other Dogs” is the most touching piece of writing about animals I’ve ever come across; have tissues on deck. “Tobacco Without Smoke,” a two-part essay covering “dippers” and “chewers,” is dead-on social observation on why people use the drug. Graves died in 2013, and the Lone Star State lost one of the great chroniclers of its land, people and animals. —Michael Herrington

Here. the World Entire by Anwen Kya HaywardHere, the World Entire by Anwen Kya Hayward

Anwen is a remarkable writer; I recommended this book last year on Book Riot, and yet it has only about 93 ratings as of this post. She takes the myth of Medusa and points out how the monster was once a girl, and a girl who never wanted to hurt anyone. Rather than Perseus being the hero that slays her to save a girl, it’s men being dicks to get the power they seek, with the pawns hurt in the crossfire. Medusa can’t have her old life back, but she can hide from the people that think they can help her, or want her dead. And ultimately, the only way to move forward is to trust someone who is totally not trustworthy. —Priya Sridhar

The New Fuck You edited by Eileen Myles and Liz KotzThe New Fuck You: Adventures in Lesbian Reading edited by Eileen Myles and Liz Kotz

What a (pardon my language) fucking amazing collection! The New Fuck You is a queer, diverse, feminist selection of poems, short stories, essays, and more that packs an incredible range of experiences and voices into one small volume. Reading it feels like stepping into a very cool, queer, ’90s punk party. I love the sense of queer history and community in this collection.  I’m not sure how exactly I found my way to this book, but I’m so glad I did. —Susie Dumond

Oola by Brittany NewellOola by Brittany Newell

Written by an (at the time) 21-year-old debut author, Oola is edgy, lyrical, and full of heart. It is a story of obsession gone wrong, but it’s not a thriller. At first, it almost reads like a love story when young couple Leif and Oola move into an isolated cabin on the coast of California. It’s easy to miss the madness that slowly seeps in as Leif builds a shrine around Oola. Observing her every move, capturing fallen strands of hair and used tissues—his actions somehow seem charming under the guise of Newell’s writing. It isn’t until you set the book down that you realize the disturbing reality built by the two lovers. It’s such a unique and intense story that I’m not quite sure how this one slipped under the radar! —Sophia LeFevre

Care Work cover imageCare Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

I am, frankly, really frustrated that this is under 250 ratings, because although it is fairly new (it came out in October), it deserves to be in every public or school library and to be assigned in classes. I’ll admit that I know a lot less about disability activism than I should, so this book was operating about 6 levels above where I am. In essays varying in topic and tone, Leah explains the joys and difficulties of living a life of disability justice: disability activism that leads from the most affected, which means centring queer, trans, black, indigenous disabled/Mad/Crazy people of colour. Disability justice sees ableism as intertwined with colonialism, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and all of the other ways that bodies are policed and evaluated. This book absolutely blew my mind, and I’ll have to read it many more times to feel like I’m just scratching the surface. It’s complex and honest and much needed. —Danika Ellis

Jigsaw Youth by Tiffany ScandalJigsaw Youth by Tiffany Scandal

I love this book. Love, love, love. I recommend it to everybody. Formatted as a jumble of non-sequential short stories, this memoir describes the coming-of-age of a Latina lesbian who finds herself in punk and Suicide Girls. It’s raw, it’s unsparing, it’s not afraid to feel rage and pain. If you’re already a Scandal fan, here’s a chance to get to know the big heart beneath the tattoos. If you’re not, then this is what it’s like to be a woman defining herself outside of all social expectations, yet still dragging those expectations like IVs full of poison in the midst of a hospital escape. Content warnings for suicide and rape. —Anna Gooding-Call

Good Morning World by Paul WindsorGood Morning World by Paul Windsor

There are so many beautiful board books by Native American illustrators, and Paul Windsor is one of my favorites. I consider this one to be an essential for a newborn’s library. On each page, Windsor depicts an animal using Haisla and Heiltsuk artistic traditions—his native tribes. The page then says good morning to the object illustrated: “Good morning eagles flying high in the sky.” One of the hardest parts of being a new parent is learning how to rise early in the morning, and to be in a passably good mood at that. While much is made of reading a book together as part of a night time routine, I actually find it more helpful for myself to read a book with my daughter in the morning. This book helps me feel more positive about the day. On nice mornings, my daughter and I will go outside and say good morning to everything we see, following the tradition in this book. I’m surprised to see that all of his books have under 50 reviews. —Margaret Kingsbury

Soul Rest by Curtis ZackerySoul Rest: Reclaim Your Life. Return to Sabbath. by Curtis Zackery

Zachery shares his own experiences of struggling to find true spiritual rest, and through that vulnerability, he gives us permission and encouragement to examine our own lives. He reminds us of our identity in Christ, and the ways Jesus can empower us when we rest in Him. The reader is encouraged to remember that seasons of crisis can be times of healing and sharpening in the hands of a loving God. I enjoyed this so much reading it on my own, but it would also make a great book for study and discussion within a small group setting. —Heather Bottoms

Can’t get enough? Check out the other best books you’ve never heard of.

Queer Poetry Collections to Read During National Poetry Month

Listen, we all know every month is National Poetry Month if you’re doing it right. And apparently, you are—we’re seeing a huge resurgence of poetry, with the NEA reporting an increase in U.S. adult poetry readers, from 6.7% in 2012 to 11.7% in 2017. It’s a really exciting time, with some incredible work being published.

But what National Poetry Month encourages us to do is think about the work we are consuming and actively seek out new work. National Poetry Month encourages us to spend time with poems, to give them space and let them seek harbor inside of us. National Poetry Month encourages us to celebrate poets and express gratitude for all of the ways poetry influences our lives.

For me personally, poetry has always been there. I remember writing my first poem when I was 8, and that love has stayed with me ever since. But as a devotee, I do try to make an effort to discover and support new poets, to give as much as I can to the community. So I encourage you to do the same, dear poetry lover, and find something new to love this National Poetry Month.

Here are some wonderful queer writers with new books out, as a place to start:

Franny Choi soft science Soft Science by Franny Choi

I can’t describe to you the feeling of reading this book. Franny’s full-length collection is so special, so thoughtful, and so exciting to read that I promised myself I’d find a way to work it into every piece of National Poetry Month content I put out. It really is that good. The book really captures what it’s like to be soft and vulnerable to the world around you, to be a soul trapped in a body (what is a body, anyway), to be questioning yourself and your autonomy. It’s an exquisite collection.

Monsters I Have Been by Kenji C. Liu

Kenji C. Liu investigates masculinity in this collection, a series of hard-hitting, visually intricate poems. A good chunk of this book is made up of “frankenpo”s, a sort of collage of quotes from other poems, pop culture references, or speeches pulled into a cohesive poem. He juxtaposes Senator Palpatine from Star Wars with quotes from that guy in the White House, Octavia Butler, and Confucius. All of these come together to make the reader think about toxic masculinity’s pervasiveness in our culture.

jericho-brown-the-traditionThe Tradition by Jericho Brown

I stand firm on the fact that Jericho Brown is one of the best writers working today. This work is powerful, but tender at the same time, and he approaches big topics like racial violence, queer love, and history with care. Brown’s skill is shown in the precision of word choice, the elegance and heart with which he writes. Did I mention he also invented a new poetic form?? I mean, come on. Truly devastating in the best way, It’s a book that will make you want to go and devour everything this master poet has ever done. And also maybe buy a flower crown.

The Black Condition ft. Narcissus by jayy dodd

Exploring themes of desire and self-love with hip-hop infused poetics, jayy dodd’s newest collection feels like a fairytale: the titular Narcissus taking a hard look at theirselves in a golden mirror, a study of beauty and sexuality and awareness. This collection will make you think about finding and caring for your own beauty, both physical and deeper, and how we can approach life with more tenderness. Trust me, dodd’s poems will seduce you, and you won’t be mad about it. 

alison-c-rollins-library-small-catastrophesLibrary of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins

This is an incredibly accomplished and intelligent book of poems. Using her experience as a librarian, Allison C. Rollins explores love and literature, womanhood, lineage, memory, and loss. With references to Zadie Smith, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde and more, these poems are an ode to black women, to Native culture and language, to bookworms. Rollins’s lines cut deep; her poems show a spectacular mastery of craft, each word poignant and moving. Plus, there’s tons of BLE—Big Librarian Energy.

& more black by t’ai freedom ford (pub. may 1)

Poet t’ai freedom ford is really a force to be reckoned with. Her latest collection is a conversation about blackness and ancestry, queerness and gender presentation. With ford’s trademark bold lyricism, the collection feels like a freight trail of unapologetic selfhood. & more black is truly a statement piece, a criticism and a sermon all at once.

sara-borjas-heart-like-window-mouth-like-cliffHeart Like A Window, Mouth Like A Cliff by Sarah Borjas

These poems will make you want to drive out with your friends in a pickup truck, get drunk and forget what time it is, watch the sunset over the desert. But it will also make you think about your roots and all of the small things from your past that made you who you are. Borjas writes about her parents, questions who they are, and the difference between how she felt as a child and how she views things now. It’s an interrogation of family and Xicana identity, told in honest, melancholy poems.

Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50 by Lee Ann Roripaugh

Written as a tribute to the victims and survivors of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, this collection is about weather, sure—the humanized tsunami destroys and conquers—but also about homeland, displacement and starting over, surviving. Roripaugh imagines voices of the “nuclear diaspora,”  imagines the femme power of the tsunami, all lush with pop culture references and natural imagery. It’s a book of beautiful, wild, and impactful poems.

grace-shuyi-liew-careenCareen by Grace Shuyi Liew

Okay, so, I’m really excited about Grace Shuyi Lieu. These are poems full of fantasy and desire and rage. They’re decolonial poems, profound poems, poems with heart and tears. Grace Shuyi Liew questions whiteness, sexuality, family, homeland, politics, the body, and more in this collection, with a voice that is clear and sharp. It’s a knockout collection that’s unexpected in all the ways you want poetry to be.

Build Yourself a Boat by Camoghne Felix

Camoghne deals out tarot cards, heartbreak, love, both of self and of others, and so much more in this collection. These poems are written with confidence and wisdom, yet still convey vulnerability. And the collection is political, in the way that being of politicized identities demands (and yes, Camoghne is also a political strategist), but through explorations of the body and emotions and how the two are tied, there is beauty and strength. This collection really shows all the variations of that experience, in a wonderfully visual and dynamic way.

cover-of-halal-if-you-hear-meHalal If You Hear Me ed. Fatimah Asghar & Safia Elhillo

Leave it to poetry queens Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo to put together a collection featuring Muslim poets who are women, queer, genderqueer, nonbinary, or trans. Halal If You Hear Me is absolutely one of a kind. Every poem in here is an absolute banger, full of pride and emotion and, like, lots of mangoes. Featuring poems by the aforementioned powerhouses that are Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo, as well as Warsan Shire (whom you may know from Beyoncé’s Lemonade), Tarfia Faizullah, Yasmir Belkhyr, Noor Ibn Najam, Angel Nafis, Kaveh Akbar, Khadijah Queen, Marwa Helal, and more.


For more poetry: 4 Ways to Enjoy Daily Poetry This National Poetry Month

WoC Poets to Read During National Poetry Month

50 Best Contemporary Poetry Books

How To Find A Book By Description

One of my favorite reference librarian questions came from a patron who said she wanted to read the latest Danielle Steele book, which she’d seen at the local grocery store. It had a blue cover. As she gave me the things she could remember about the book cover and title, I realized she wasn’t talking about a Danielle Steele book, but a Daniel Silver book. She’d hoped I could find a book by description and indeed, I did—it just wasn’t the book she’d hoped it was.

We’ve all been in the position of hoping to find a book by description at some point if we’re readers. Even for someone like me who writes down every book I read and have since high school, there are times I remember a scene or pieces of a book’s story that make me realize I’ve forgotten the title or author and I desperately want to reconnect with the book. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to help you find a book by description. I’ve compiled some of my best tips and tricks as a reader and former librarian to help you track down those former favorite gems. Note: these tips are also useful if you’re itching to find a new-to-you book based on some keywords or descriptions of things you really like or want to know more about.

How to find a book by description. Whether it's a book you've forgotten the title of and want to find again or a topic or idea you want to learn more about, here's how to find it. how to | how to find books | how to find a book you've forgotten | book databases | find a book by description | books by description


How To Find A Book By Description

Google Like A Librarian

This is going to be the most obvious tip, but I will offer up some steps to get you above and beyond that here. Google is, indeed, your friend, but you have to know how to use it well.

When you only remember parts of a book, use those fragments of memory as your search terms. But use them as quotes to ensure that Google is searching exact phrases.

A few years back, I wanted to recall the name of a book I loved from many years ago. I knew it was a middle grade or young adult book, that the cover had a mermaid on it, and that one of the key parts of the story was that it was set in a trailer somewhere in Texas. Here are some of the ways I’d pull together that search in Google, using the quotation marks.

Google search of terms "mermaid cover" and "young adult" in quotes

“Mermaid cover” and “young adult” brought up a sea (heh) of blue tinted covers for the book. But I know that the book did not have a blue cover. The first page of results doesn’t look especially promising here, as the results are primarily about mermaid book covers on young adult books (which makes sense since that’s literally the search).

From here, I’ll add another detail I remember to the search. You do not need quotes around single word descriptions, but you will want to include a + between them, so that Google picks up all of those search terms as critical in the search.

Google search of terms "mermaid cover" + "young adult" + Texas

I thought adding Texas would drill down a bit more, but in this case, it didn’t. It did remove the blue covers popping up at the top, but it highlighted The Little Mermaid more than anything. I don’t think that book was set in Texas, though, and I know for a fact that the book was not actually about mermaids. It just had one on the cover.

Often at this point in a book search, I like to tab over to images. I’m a visual learner and my memory is sparked by how something looks. This might not be ideal for everyone, but it’s especially useful for those who remember book covers.

With the “mermaid cover” “young adult” + Texas search, these are the image results:

Google image search of "mermaid cover" "young adult" + texas

None of these covers looked right to me. It’s time to refine that search, this time using the piece of information I remember that I think will really refine the results: “trailer park.” I suspect there aren’t a lot of books featuring mermaids in trailer parks.

Since I can’t remember if it was set in a trailer park or rather in a trailer, my first search will be the simpler one, using the single word trailer. Again, this will require a plus sign after Texas.

The results for this search aren’t getting me anywhere new, and the results after the last one are to adult-themed sites. This is always a possibility when you’re searching key terms and ideas, for what it’s worth. Because this search didn’t change anything, I’m going to refine the final term from trailer to trailer park, which will be in quotes.

Google will be searching for anything with the terms “mermaid cover” and “young adult” and Texas and “trailer park.” My results will absolutely narrow down. Maybe even to the book I’m looking for.

Except in this case, it did not. I won’t share the image of the results, since it’s all links to adult websites. When you use quotes around ideas and use them in conjunction with other quotes, Google searches for only results that have all of those words exactly. In many cases, this would be useful. In the case of this search, it’s not.

But if I took this search and removed all of the quotation marks, maybe that would help. Instead of searching for all of the words exactly, Google will search for each of these words individually and bring back results that fit the most of those words in ranked order. You do not need to use a + sign in this instance. The + is only useful for quoted term searches, where you want the exact phrasings all to be included.

This search brought up a book cover with a mermaid on it right at the top that looked familiar. When I clicked on the first image on top, featuring the mermaid on a cover, I was taken to the second result below to a page on Penguin Random House’s website for Martha Moore’s Under The Mermaid Angel. Unfortunately, the website was a dead link. Fortunately, the link below the one I clicked led to the Goodreads page for the same title. Here’s the book’s description:

Thirteen-year-old Jesse leads a pretty boring life in just about the most boring place in the universe — otherwise known as Ida, Texas. She cannot forget the death of her baby brother seven years ago, and how she just couldn’t pray for him when he was sick. She never talks about it though, not even to her best friend, which is something she doesn’t have, anyway. But all that changes when Roxanne moves into the trailer next door. Thirty years old, with her fake fur coat, wild red hair, and romantic notions, Roxanne is a revelation to Jesse. Why has she moved to Ida, of all places? Their growing friendship will change Jesse’s life, giving her back a vision of hope beyond the mundane world around her.

Although it did not hit all of the search criteria in the description, it did pick up on a number of them, namely Texas and trailer. Reading reviews of the book showed that Google picked up some of the additional terms from those reviews and indeed, this was the book I wanted to remember. Success in four quick searches!

Using a variety of search terms, in a variety of quoted and unquoted means, helps narrow down your Google searches to find a book by description. 

An additional trick is to use the – symbol while searching. This will remove any search results that include a specific word (or phrase, if used in quotation marks). In the above search, for instance, knowing that the book was not about mermaids in water, I may have selected to do this as a search, too:


This actually brought up even better results, since Moore’s book is pointed to in all of the top results. It would make me more confident that this was indeed the book I hoped to find.

Any phrases or details you can remember about a book will help your Google skills in this capacity. Again, don’t forget to check the images tab, too, especially if your memory is most vivid around book covers. This was exactly how I deduced the Danielle Steele/Daniel Silva mystery for a patron.

There are other ways to modify Google searches, as well, and you can play with some of those Google tips and tricks offered in their guide.


Your Local Library

Whether you head to your library in person or visit it digitally, it’s always a great resource to help you find a book by description. Your local librarians are likely not only well versed in strong Googling, but they have an arsenal of databases and other resources at the ready to help you find that book you remember by having just a blue cover. If you don’t already, ensure you have an up-to-date, active library card, especially if you want to access any of your library’s databases from home or the workplace.

One database you’ll want to get to know—and one your librarians may be using—is NoveList. Though not available at every library, this resource is a tremendous collection of information about books of all stripes and searching it with some of the keywords you recall about a book can help you find that book. If you aren’t familiar with NoveList and want to give it a whirl, here’s a handy guide to using NoveList.

Another library resource you may have access to is Books in Print, which is precisely what it sounds like: a database of books available in print. One of the cool things about Books in Print is you can do a character search, meaning that if you remember that a book you are looking for is part of a series with a character named Sherlock Holmes, you can winnow down results to that character, his various iterations, and his storylines until you find that book you’re seeking.

WorldCat, which is the world catalog of books, is accessible whether or not you have a library card and can also be useful for hunting down a lost book. Though the search mechanisms aren’t as robust as those on Google, WorldCat can work similarly through keyword searching. Taking the example above, I struggled to find any matches when I plugged in the words mermaid cover Texas and mermaid cover young adult. Young adult is something I can select as an in a later search screen if necessary, so I don’t need to include it here.

Tinkering with the search a bit, though, and putting in the words mermaid Texas trailer park into WorldCat landed me precisely on the correct book (a cover image search in WorldCat isn’t as useful as it is on a more visually-driven search engine like Google).

WorldCat search results for mermaid texas trailer park

If you look on the lefthand side of the image above, you’ll see that the option exists to limit results to juvenile (aka children’s books, middle grade books, and young adult books), so putting it into the search bar isn’t necessary.

WorldCat can be especially useful if you’re searching for a book by description and aren’t seeking a specific title. For example, if you’re seeking children’s books set in Latin America, you can do a search for Latin America, then limit your search to juvenile and go from there. It’s like your library catalog, but with access to every record for every library that’s part of the world catalog, which is a whole lot of them. You can get a few more tips on how to use WorldCat to find a forgotten book here, as well as some insight into a couple of other databases that might help you find a book by description.

Library-focused listservs can also be useful, whether you yourself subscribe and ask a question or you ask your local library to seek the book out for you via one. The Fiction-L listserv, hosted by the Cuyahoga Library System, is an excellent resource. Even if you don’t subscribe to it, there is a search feature from the subscribe page. A savvy searcher might plug their own key terms for a book into the search box and see someone else has asked about the same book.


Goodreads, LibraryThing, Reddit, and Other Social Sites

Back in the day, LiveJournal had a robust community for those searching for a book they could not remember. Even though it’s not active like it used to be, there are a number of great places to help you find a book by description.

Goodreads has a forum called “What’s The Name Of That Book?” brimming with readers who are eager to help you track down a forgotten title. What’s great about using this is that not only can you get help, but you can put your skills and knowledge to the test in helping others find a missing title, too. Like with the Listserv noted above, you can do a search on this particular forum and maybe discover the title of the book you’re seeking without ever posting.

LibraryThing has a similar community-focused book finding effort with the group “Name That Book.”

You can also search through Reddit’s answer to these two services with their subreddit “What’s That Book?”

Finally, an outstanding resource not only to use but to read is the “Stump The Bookseller” service offered by Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Write in with the book you’re trying to find, and the booksellers will do their best to help find the title. Librarians are great at finding books, but never forget that booksellers are as well. I’m especially into the fact this particular project encourages stumping the bookseller. No question is too hard (though, as has been the case in my librarian experience, sometimes the question is a misremembering or a blending of two different books into one in one’s memory).

50 Must-Read Books About Unicorns

I don’t know about you, but I went through a serious unicorn phase when I was a kid, which lasted well into high school not because of Lisa Frank, but rather thanks to Sue Dawe and her ability to make unicorns look like they were all stepping off of a heavy metal album cover. I’m not sure when dragons suddenly took over from unicorns as being “cooler” in my brain, but they never fully expunged these magical horses and their stab-a-guy-ready horns. And while I think dragons have taken over fantasy that involves magical creatures, unicorns are still gamely hanging onto the written word, just waiting for their chance to take over again. Here’s a list of 50 books about unicorns (not just unicorns as “also appearing”), both old and new, that are well worth reading.

I’ve separated these books about unicorns loosely by age group, but does age really matter to unicorns? I will note that this book list turned out very white, almost entirely so. I spent days sifting through unicorn books and failed pretty hard when it came to locating more written by authors of color; perhaps it’s an issue of the specificity of the topic. Here’s hoping for more unicorn books from a wider array of voices in the future—because unicorns are for everyone.

Are there any awesome unicorn books I missed, either favorites from your childhood or new releases? Let us know in the comments!

Picture Books About Unicorns

You Don’t Want a Unicorn by Ame Dyckman, Illustrated by Liz Climo

“When a little boy throws a coin in a well asking for a pet unicorn, he has no idea what kind of trouble he’s in for. Unbeknownst to him, unicorns make the absolutely worst pets: they shed, they poke holes in your ceiling, and they make a big mess.”

The Secret World of Unicorns by Pat Perrin, illustrated by Ryan Hobson

“Have you ever seen a unicorn? Though rare, they’re out there. In China, if you’re very lucky, you might see the Kilin, a unicorn considered to bring great fortune. Mist and Rain Fader unicorns are said to love the waterfalls of South America. And, rumor has it that unicorns have even been glimpsed in New York’s Central Park.”

Not Quite a Narwhal by Jessie Sima

“Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer, and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him!”

Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton

“Lily the unicorn loves making new friends and going on adventures! So when Lily meets her new pal, Roger the penguin, she plans all sorts of fun for them. But Roger is afraid of trying new things. What if he tries and fails?”

Beasts of Olympus: The Unicorn Emergency by Lucy Coats, illustrated by Brett Bean

“Demon has just returned from a trip to Asgard when a brand-new set of disasters fall into his lap. Not only does he have a groggy volcano monster to deal with, but something seems to be wrong with the unicorns, too. Demon’s only clue is a mysterious note saying “Unicorn Emergency!” left on his bed.”

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

“Ever since Unicorn moved into the neighborhood, Goat has been feeling out of sorts. Goat thought his bike was cool-until he saw that Unicorn could fly to school! Goat made marshmallow squares that almost came out right, but Unicorn made it rain cupcakes! Unicorn is such a show-off, how can Goat compete?”

Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman, illustrated by Justin Gerard

“Once upon a time, a king owned twelve enchanting unicorns that he locked up with golden chains. But every morning, he’d find the beautiful creatures peacefully asleep in their corral—with their chains shattered. Puzzled, he promised a reward to anyone who could reveal the unicorns’ secret. With the help of a magic cloak, a little girl sets out to discover the truth . . . and help the special unicorn that she loves the most.”

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

“Thelma dreams of being a glamorous unicorn. Then in a rare pink and glitter-filled moment of fate, Thelma’s wish comes true.”

The Unicorn and the Moon by Tomie dePaola

“When the moon gets stuck between two hills, the unicorn tries to free it with help from a griffin and an alchemist.”

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

“Uni the unicorn is told there’s no such thing as little girls! But no matter what the grown-up unicorns say, Uni believes that little girls are REAL.”

The Baby Unicorn by Jean Marzollo

“Star, a baby unicorn and one of the last eight unicorns on earth, must find a way to help save her friends from the evil dragons.”

Where Have the Unicorns Gone? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

“Long ago unicorns lived in a haven of sun-dappled glades and flower-filled dells. But as civilization spread over the ages — with its fierce knights, its chugging trains, its thick smogs — unicorns had to find a new sanctuary. But where?”

The Unicorn and the Lake by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by Michael Hague

“When a serpent poisons the lake where all the animals drink, only the unicorn has the power to save them.”

Nobody Rides the Unicorn by Adrian Mitchell, illustrated by Stephen Lambert

“When the magic of Zoe’s soft, sweet singing draws a beautiful unicorn to her, everyone is delighted. But then Zoe finds that her unicorn is in terrible danger.”

Morgan Morning by Stephen Cosgrove, illustrated by Robin James

“When the young horse, Morgan, is swept over a waterfall and breaks his leg, he is rescued by a magical unicorn, who changes Morgan into a unicorn.”

When Unicorns Poop by Lexie Castle, illustrated by Christian Cornia

“Did you know that when a unicorn poops, rainbows arch across the sky? And when they toot, shiny bubbles float all around! What happens when a unicorn sneezes or spits or cries?”

Michael Hague’s Magical World of Unicorns by Michael Hague

“Classic unicorn illustrations are paired with excerpts from poems, stories, and songs that reflect our fascination with the mysterious and beautiful unicorn and its enchanted, mythical world.”

Never Let a Unicorn Scribble! by Diane Alber

“This story is about a little girl who keeps hearing, “Never let a unicorn scribble!” But in her heart believes that people just don’t understand how beautiful scribbling can be. She keeps trying to teach her unicorn to scribble but soon realizes this is more difficult then she anticipated.”

Sarah’s Unicorn by Bruce Coville and Katherine Coville

“Although she tries to keep her friendship with Oakhorn a secret, Sarah’s wicked aunt finds out and is determined to rob the unicorn of his magic.”

Goodnight Unicorn: A Magical Parody by Karla OceanakGoodnight Unicorn: A Magical Parody by Karla Oceanak, illustrated by Kendra Spanjer

“As night falls in the enchanted forest, the unicorns and their friends gather to get ready for bed. Say goodnight to all the types of unicorns — the pearly-whites, the foals, the oldens, the fluffies, the jet-blacks, the cuties, and more — as well as the wonderful beings who attend them, from rainbows and fairies to baby dragons and, of course, the full moon.”

Middle Grade Books About Unicorns

Here There Be Unicorns by Jane Yolen and David Wilgus

“A fabulous collection of unicorn stories and poems, with both medieval and modern settings, weaves the author’s imaginative perspective intotraditional unicorn lore about the fabled beast’s healing powers and quintessential goodness.”

The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

“Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor . . . until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.”

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Unicorn Training by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

“Some things Pip and Tomas will find when dealing with unicorns: Show-offs, stampedes, mystery, a unicorn who’s afraid of everything
Some things Pip and Tomas will not find when dealing with unicorns: peace and quiet”

Phoebe and Her UnicornPhoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

“It all started when Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and she used it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend.”

Louie Lets Loose! by Rachel Hamilton

“Louie the Unicorn is a star! At least, he will be once he polishes his act at performing arts school. With a song in his heart, a spring in his step, and an unwaveringly sunny outlook, he’s about to take the big city by storm.”

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: The Unicorn’s Tale by R.L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

“Is there no rest for the travel worn and weary? Not if you are Nathaniel Fludd, world’s youngest beastologist-in-training. All Nate really wants is to track down his missing parents, but when a unicorn falls mysteriously ill, Nate’s Aunt Phil makes it clear where beastologists’ duties lie: with the beasts who need them.”

Cover of Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power By Mariko TamakiLumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Brooke Allen

“When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they’ve ever seen, things don’t go quite as planned. For one, they didn’t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.”

The Road to Balinor by Mary Stanton

“As Arianna recovers from a bad accident and loss of memory, she slowly recalls things about her past and learns that her “horse” Chase can speak thoughts to her, as can her dog. When Chase is threatened, Arianna tries to run away with Chase and Lincoln – only to find herself transported into the world of Balinor, where she must reclaim her birthright.”

A Glory of Unicorns edited by Bruce Coville, illustrated by Alix Berenzy

“An award-winning author compiles twelve stories from popular fantasy writers to demonstrate the importance of magic in everyday life and show how unicorns are a prime source of this power.”

Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville

“On a wintry night Cara and her grandmother are pursued into St. Christopher’s church by an unknown man. Clutching her grandmother’s mysterious amulet, Cara escapes into Luster, the Land of the Unicorns. Soon she is traveling across a beautiful but dangerous world to bring her grandmother’s message to the oldest unicorn of all.”

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline Ogburn

“For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away. One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.”

Young Adult Books About Unicorns

Zombies Vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

“It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies.”

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

“Fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace and the unicorn Gaudior undertake a perilous journey through time in a desperate attempt to stop the destruction of the world by the mad dictator Madog Branzillo.”

The Secret of the Unicorn Queen by Josepha Sherman and Gwen Hansen

“When her eccentric friend Dr. Reit invents an amazing transport into other worlds, Sheila McCarthy accidentally falls through the portal into the kingdom of Arren. There, Sheila finds herself part of a band of warrior-women. Astride unicorns, they gallop toward a dazzling city made of marble. But will they arrive in time to stop the evil king and his wicked wizard henchman from carrying out their deadly plans?”

Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce

“Jan, the prince of the unicorns, is high-spirited, reckless-and the despair of his mighty father, Korr. Reluctantly, Korr allows Jan to accompany the other initiate warriors on a pilgrimage. Soon Jan’s curiosity leads him, along with his friend Dagg, and their mentor, the female warrior Tek, into the greatest dangers-deadly gryphons, sly pans, wyverns, pards, and renegade unicorns.”

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

“Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they’ve been extinct for a hundred and fifty years. Or not. Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.”

The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 1: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono

“Yoko Nakajima, a typical, obedient Japanese high school student, has a fairly ordinary life–that is until Keiki, a unicorn in the guise of a young blond-haired boy, tells her that she is his master and must return to their kingdom, but when the boy mysteriously vanishes, Yoko is left alone on a quest for survival and self-discovery.”

Last Unicorn Peter S BeagleThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. So she ventured out from the safety of the enchanted forest on a quest for others of her kind. Joined along the way by the bumbling magician Schmendrick and the indomitable Molly Grue, the unicorn learns all about the joys and sorrows of life and love before meeting her destiny in the castle of a despondent monarch—and confronting the creature that would drive her kind to extinction…”

The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen

“Richard, a lonely boy, enlists the help of the popular Heather in his quest to save a unicorn with magical powers from the hunters who descend upon Five Mile Wood.”

The Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee

“Nobody knew where it had come from, or what it wanted. Not even Jaive, the sorceress, could fathom the mystery of the fabled beast. But Tanaquil, Jaive’s completely unmagical daughter, understood it at once. She knew why the unicorn was there: It had come for her. It needed her.”

Adult Books About Unicorns

Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry

“Having magical powers makes you less than human, a resource to be exploited. Half-unicorn Gary Cobalt is sick of slavery, captivity, and his horn being ground down to power faster-than-light travel. When he’s finally free, all he wants is to run away in his ancestors’ stone ship. Instead, Captain Jenny Perata steals the ship out from under him, so she can make an urgent delivery. But Jenny held him captive for a decade, and then Gary murdered her best friend… who was also the wife of her co-pilot, Cowboy Jim. What could possibly go right?”

Song of Sorcery by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

“Hearthwitch Maggie Brown meets minstrel Colin Songsmith and a unicorn named Moonshine while saving both her sister and the kingdom.”

Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball

“Three old space mining prospectors in their beat-up space ship discover a small pod floating in space. Inside is a tiny girl child, with funny little hooves, a wealth of silver hair growing on her body, and a lump in the middle of her forehead which, as time elapses, grows into a horn.”

Ariel by Steven R. Boyett

“Five years ago the lights went out, cars stopped in the streets, and magical creatures began roaming the towns and countrysides of Earth. Pete Garey, a young loner who survived the Change and the madness that followed, spent two years wandering and scavenging the near-deserted cities and towns alone — until the day he encountered an injured unicorn.”

Immortal Unicorn edited by Peter S. Beagle

“In a new anthology, the author of The Last Unicorn and other authors–including Charles de Lint, Nancy Willard, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Eric Lustbader, and Katharine Kerr–contribute short stories about this legendary animal.”

Unicorns I edited by Jack Dann and Gardner R. Dozois

“Sixteen magical tales about the most wondrous of all creatures.”

Touched by Magic by Doranna Durgin

“Magic has never been a part of Reandn’s life. Until the people under his care start dying. Until the threat extends to his family-and then turns on him. Someone, somewhere, is trying to draw magic back into Keland, and they don’t care what-or who-is destroyed in the process. But Reandn does.”

The Unicorn Sonata by Peter S. Beagle

“A tomboy misfit and born musician, thirteen-year-old Josephine “Joey” Rivera encounters a mysterious young man named Indigo who changes her life, playing ghostly, haunting music that she follows down an ordinary street into the magical world of Shei’rah.”

The Natural History of Unicorns by Chris Lavers

“Where did the unicorn come from and how was it accepted for so long as a part of the animal kingdom? Chris Lavers argues that although the unicorn of our imagination isn’t real, traces of its character can be found in existing species.”

The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

“Kellen’s life changes almost faster than he can understand or accept. Rescued by a unicorn, healed by a female Wild Mage who knows more about Kellen than anyone outside the City should, meeting Elven royalty and Elven warriors, and plunged into a world where the magical beings he has learned about as abstract concepts are flesh and blood creatures-Kellen both revels in and fears his new freedom.”

30 Teen Book Bloggers, Bookstagrammers, and BookTubers You Should Be Following

I love it when I meet teenagers who read. As a lover of books, especially young adult books, I enjoy hearing what teens think of stories that are written for them. Teenagers are our future generation of leaders, inventors, writers, and thinkers. As a teacher, I’ve met so many young people who are intelligent, creative, analytical, and thoughtful. It’s time to amplify their voices in the book community. The following teen book bloggers and ‘grammers and vloggers have a lot of great things to say about books!

Vicky Who Reads

Vicky is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer who blogs about YA books. Her blog is pretty fabulous, with interviews with authors running every Wednesday and lots of book reviews. She also runs a delightful Instagram account full of, you guessed it, books! Vicky is also one to follow on Twitter.

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Paperback Nat

Bookstagrammer and tweeter Paperback Nat is a teen who loves to talk about diverse books. She makes amazing visual mood boards about books she’s read, which you can find on her Twitter.

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Reading, Writing, and Me

Lauren is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer who mostly focuses on YA books. She posts book reviews, occasional author interviews, and sometimes her own original writing. Also, she runs her own online literary magazine and encourages teens to submit!

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Jordz the Bibliophile

Jordyn is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer at Jordz the Bibliophile. Her blog is eye-catching and well-designed. She writes thoughtful book reviews, but she also writes fun posts like Will These Crossover Ships Sink or Swim? Her Bookstagrams are a visual treat!

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Teen Kester Nucum runs this blog about YA and MG books. Kester wants to “unite book lovers, both big and li’l.” He posts reviews and author interviews.

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Some Books and Ramblings 

Sam is a blogger, Bookstagrammer, and is active on Twitter. Sam reviews books, gives book recommendations, and—this is so cool—highlights fanart on her blog! She also posts gifs about books she’d read on Twitter.

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Book Dragons

Clo is a self described “book dragon,” book blogger and Bookstagrammer. She posts book reviews, book tags, and book recs. She also is the co-creator of Bookends, an organization that hosts book-related events.

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Bookishly Bree

Bree is a teen who blogs about mostly YA books. She posts book reviews and connects with readers through WWW Wednesdays. I love that in her bio she says, “I get slightly angry when people say that YA isn’t real literature. IF IT ISN’T LITERATURE, WHAT IS IT?”

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Not Just Fiction

Charvi is an Indian book blogger and Bookstagrammer who writes some really unique blog posts about books. On Valentine’s Day, she wrote about “8 Characters Who Have Been Through Hell And Deserve Some Love.” Perfect, right? She also posts some beautiful Bookstagrams!

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Reading Hysterically

Rubab is a teen blogger in Pakistan who writes and tweets about books. Check out her post in which she sorts random characters into Hogwarts houses! I love her honest books reviews and colorful blog.

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Belle Ellrich

Belle is a book reviewer and Bookstagrammer. Her blog is a visual delight, and I love that she includes author bios after each review! Follow her Insta account for book recs! I love the pics of her Beast book sleeve!

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Lori’s Bookshelf Reads

Lori is a teen book blogger who posts book reviews, monthly wrap-ups, and participates in book blog tours! I love her “Recommendable” section at the end of each book review. Lori writes thoughtful, honest reviews of mostly YA books.

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Liv Reads

Liv is a teen Bookstagrammer who highlights mostly YA books. Check out her stories to see more about the books she’s read!

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The Hufflepuff Nerdette

Alexandra is the blogger behind The Hufflepuff Nerdette. She blogs about all kinds of books and participates in book blog tours!

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Rose Petal Pages

Cailin is the book blogger and Bookstagrammer behind Rose Petal Pages. Her beautifully designed blog has plenty of reviews and bookish posts. Her Instagram is a visual delight.

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Lunarary Reads

Destiny runs Lunarary Reads, a book blog about most YA books. I love the tagline of her blog: “Books are a fantastic magic portal.” She posts tons of book reviews, and right now she’s having a book giveaway!

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Caitlin Althea

Caitlin, who lives in the Philippines, blogs about YA, MG, and adult books. I love her post about song requests for books! Also, a fun fact I learned on her blog is that she loves ramen!

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Paper Reader

Caroline is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer focusing on YA books. Check out her blog for great book reviews and her Instagram for styled book photos and recs!

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Joeyls Reads

Joy is a teen booktuber with a wealth of YA book vlogs! You need to check out her tribute video for Becky Albertalli!

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Scribbles & Stories

Alex is the teen behind the Scribbles & Stories blog and Bookstagram! I appreciate her review style on her blog, which includes sections for What I Didn’t Like, What I Felt Ambivalent About, and What I Loved. Her Bookstagrams have a really cool outdoor theme!

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J’s Bookshelf

Justina runs the blog J’s Bookshelf, where she reviews YA books, does monthly round-ups, highlights TBRs, and even talks about favorite book covers! A well-rounded YA book blog!

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Paper Blots

Julianna is the teen behind Paper Blots, a really cool book blog about mostly YA books. You’ll find some reviews but also a lot of unique posts about books, such as “Spoofing Titles of My Favorite Books” and “Book Covers With People of Color on Them That Just Butter My Eggroll.” You’ll want to read this blog ASAP.

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The Nature of Pages

Ally is a teen BookTuber, Bookstagrammer, and book blogger. Her videos are not just her talking about books, but they include all kinds of antics, often with her friends, including things like battles and singing. Check out her blog for book reviews and her Instagram for quirky Bookstagrams.

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The Elven Warrior

Chloe is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer. At the Elven Warrior you will find plenty of YA book reviews, and my favorite posts are #RockyRecommends, which are book recs from Chloe’s cat Rocky. You can see pics of Rocky with books at The Elven Warrior Instagram!

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Emily the Book Fairy

Emily is a teen Bookstagrammer with some beautiful book pics and recs!

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Shadow and Books

Edith is a teen BookTuber at Shadow and Books. She posts insightful book vlogs, and I love that all her books are arranged by color!

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Librorum In Sempiternum

Deyae is the teen at the Librorum In Sempiternum blog. She posts reviews and thoughts about mostly YA books.

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Ruby Rae Reads

Ruby is the book blogger and Bookstagrammer from Ruby Rae Reads. She posts book reviews as well as other bookish posts, including this one on How to Manage School and Reading. Her Instagram is full of cute book posts and even book giveaways!

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EJ Reads

EJ is a teen book blogger and Bookstagrammer at EJ Reads. She posts reviews and musings about mostly YA books. You will love her Instagram posts about books (and cats!).

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Lauren’s Boookshelf

Lauren is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer. Her blog is a rich resource of book reviews, unboxings, and Top 5 Wednesday posts. Her Instagram is a beautiful collection of books pics and recs!

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