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FOR THE PERSON WHO CASUALLY REFERENCES CHARACTERS FROM POP CULTURE AS THOUGH THEY’RE FRIENDS

1. The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry

Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the teen cultural phenomena that the early aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, those touchpoints shaped her identity, and she came out on the other side, as she puts it, gay as hell.

Join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the early 2000’s, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance—a time not so long ago, that people seem to forget.

2. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

A rip-roaring essay collection from the smart, edgy, hilarious, unabashedly raunchy, and bestselling Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America, health food and skincare obsessions, money trouble, the real story of glamorous Hollywood life and more.

3. Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery

From the New York Times bestselling author of Texts From Jane Eyre and Merry Spinster, writer of Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column, and cofounder of The Toast comes a hilarious and stirring collection of essays and cultural observations spanning pop culture—from the endearingly popular to the staggeringly obscure. From a thoughtful analysis of the beauty of William Shatner to a sinister reimagining of HGTV’s House Hunters, and featuring figures as varied as Anne of Green Gables, Columbo, Nora Ephron, Apollo, and the cast of Mean GirlsSomething That May Shock and Discredit You is a hilarious and emotionally exhilarating compendium that combines personal history with cultural history to make you see yourself and those around you entirely anew.

4. No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.  It is the joy of stumbling upon the Wikipedia page for “fatberg” for the first time at 2 a.m. It is the horror of discovering why that one guy on DeviantArt is commissioning all that art of WonderBread. Whether we’re ready for it or not, Patricia Lockwood has written a book for the internet addicted, brain worm-riddled weirdos out there. Welcome to the dark carnival.

5. Literally Show Me a Healthy Person by Darcie Wilder

It’s a book of grief and anxiety, of questions and confessions. One that explores the way pain and anxiety can be simultaneously public and private, constant but not always at the top of a person’s mind. A book that asks: what if the words we angrily (or drunkenly) tap out on our phones, that we save as notes, or send to ex lovers, or post publicly on social media, the ones we send without bothering to correct for typos, are the words we mean the most?

6. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit. There’s a lot going on in this book, and a lot to love as a result. It’s intensely genre-savvy, blending high fantasy with space opera with blink-and-you-miss-it pop culture references, speaking to Muir’s skill at crafting a rock-solid aesthetic. There are glimpses of all sorts of inspiration: the goth angst of Ginger Snaps, the high-concept worldbuilding of Homestuck (which Muir wrote fanfic of, because of course), the slick dark emotion of My Chemical Romance, but the end result is entirely unique and more than a little maximalist.

7. Tori Amos Bootleg Webring (Remember the Internet, vol. 2) by Megan Milks

To be part of the most elite Tori Amos tape trading webring of 1998, you’ve got to be better than the best. This is how teenage Megan Milks sees it as they negotiate 2:1 trades of rare concert audio with some of the most intense Toriphiles the Internet has to offer—as well as navigate fandom friendships haunted with nascent queer meaning. In this new volume of REMEMBER THE INTERNET, Milks leads us through a world of concerts and USEnet meetups, a world just now inventing the rules for being with one another online: bring references, bring blanks.

8. Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan

Given the initials F.A.D. at birth, Fiona Alison Duncan has always had an eye for observing the trends around her. But after years of looking for answers in books and astrological charts and working as a celebrity journalist to make rent, Fiona discovers another way of existing: in the Real, a phenomenological state few humans live in.

Fiona’s journey to the Real takes her to Koreatown, Los Angeles, where she sublets a room in La Mariposa. There, in the aftermath of a reality TV deal gone wrong, Fiona asks the question, Can you rewrite your life? The answer, her debut novel, Exquisite Mariposa, follows a cast of friends and lovers as they navigate questions of art making and economies, breakups and breakdowns, and the Internet and its many obsessions.

HOLIDAY 2021 GIFT GUIDE: POP CULTURE AFICIONADO
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