weekend open thread – September 25-26, 2021

throwback to baby Olive

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Under the Whispering Door, by TJ Klune. I spent much of my vacation reading this! It’s the latest from the author of The House in the Cerulean Sea (which was my favorite book of 2020) and is about a man who dies, ends up in a tea shop between worlds, and … undergoes some changes. It shares a lot of DNA with his previous book, and I loved it.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,377 comments… read them below }

  1. Aphrodite*


    I am absolutely crazy about autumn and winter–the holidays, the decorations, the town celebrations and events and especially the cool (and hopefully cold) weather. All of it! While I loathe Halloween, I love to decorate for fall beginning in late September. So last weekend I got out my beautiful faux pumpkins (glass, ceramic, mercury glass, resin, copper, wood, velvet, etc.) and the colorful leaf garlands plus a wreath and oversized arrangement and decorated. I added three white mini pumpkins from TJ’s and may see what colors they have next week for a couple regular sized ones to add. There is nothing outside because while I love seasonal decorations during these last three months of the year, I also tend toward minimalism and won’t keep more than I am willing and easily able to store the rest of the year. But it is all so gorgeous and wonderful and I love it all! What do you do to decorate if you do?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I love the variety of your pumpkins, that must look great! Right now I have out a cider-scented candle, wood and felt pumpkin by the front door, fall-themed Target birds with acorn/pear hats, and some pumpkin embroidery I just made. I have some felt pumpkins too but I don’t remember where I put them after last year! I’m not big on Halloween either but I have another Target bird with a costume and some little wooden figurines for the mantle (witch, cat, etc).

    2. English Rose*

      Oh me too, it’s my favourite season, although it looks a bit different here in the UK and we don’t go quite as all-in on Halloween as you seem to in the States, so I do enjoy that. I love the feeling of the shifting of the season and the evenings drawing in (I know, loads of people think I’m crazy, but there’s something womb-like about the darker months).
      I bought some faux pumpkins at a craft fair a couple of weeks ago, and am using those as a table display mixed in with some real pumpkins and squash, along with twigs and leaves brought in from my walks.
      And that’s another thing – is there any feeling so lovely as walking through drifts of dried leaves in the crispy cooler air of early autumn mornings?

      1. Aphrodite*

        Me too, English Rose. I love the longer dark evenings. And if they are accompanied by rain that is heaven on earth to me. Walks in drifts of dried leaves is uncommon–I live in souther-central coastal California–but not unheard of. That is fantastic!

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      Fall is awesome! But I usually just skip right to the Halloween decorations for outside of the house. My favorite part of fall/ Halloween is seeing the kids dressed in their costumes and handing out candy so I always make sure they know we are participating in trick or treat. Out of curiosity, why don’t you like Halloween?

      1. Aphrodite*

        I enjoy the non-grisly decorations, Dwight, but honestly what I hate most about Halloween is that cats get hurt by humans intentionally. I often go to bed crying on that night so I fear and loathe the day more than anything else.

        1. Amtelope*

          So, the idea that it’s common for black cats (or any cats) to be killed or tortured on Halloween is pretty much an urban myth. There are a lot of unsupervised kids around, and plenty of opportunities for cats to get hit by cars or hurt accidentally, so it’s a good night to keep cats indoors, but it’s not worth getting this upset!

        2. StrikingFalcon*

          Animal hospitals and rescue groups confirm that this is not a thing, just an urban legend. Aphrodite, my I gently suggest you disconnect during this time of year from whatever source of information is spreading this upsetting idea? Remember that ideas spread on social media because they make people emotional, not because they are true.

          1. Sleepless*

            Very, very old vet with plenty of ER and animal-control triage experience here, can confirm. This really isn’t a thing. I think the myth started during the Satanic Panic. The most we see around Halloween is chocolate ingestion and animals escaping with all of the doors opening. Thanks for your sweet caring, though, Aphrodite.

    4. Workerbee*

      We are looking for those glass (ceramic?) pumpkins that look like they’ve been painted with chameleon paint—iridescent purples and blues and such. Only they don’t seem to be called that so I’m finding everything but that in searches. As a person of many pumpkins, do you know what I’m referring to??

    5. Wrench Turner*

      Last night Partner and I had a few drinks and a hookah sitting out under the suburban stars on our back deck. We celebrated the first night we needed to wear our favorite hoodies outside. Fall is my favorite season. Beautiful colors and less sneezy than Spring! I hope you all harvest something wonderful for next year.

    6. matcha123*

      September through December are my favorite months. Everything I love is in these months, from Halloween to year-end sales.
      My apartment is very small, so I only do small decorations that I can reuse every year. If I lived in a bigger place, I’d love to go all out.
      Decorations = some cheap paper things and a handful of small objects I can pack away. My Halloween decoration has been hanging up since at least last year…

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I used to have a grapevine wreath with fake fruit on it, mostly in shades of orange, that I hung on my front door. I’m not sure if I kept that when I moved or not; it’s been so long since I’ve seen my stuff that unpacking is going to be like Christmas, lol.

      Hopefully, unpacking (preceded by moving) will happen BEFORE it gets cold and nasty. This is the nice part of autumn. The latter half of it is usually not so pleasant.

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        I have experienced that kind of christmas and finding treasures I forgot I had. It’s pretty fun! I’m currently in a holding pattern on a move to Oregon and about half of my stuff is packed and in storage so I will experience that again sometime early next year (if my company finally approves me) and I can’t wait to live in a home with my pretty stuff around me. I hope you are able to move soon as well.

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      I love fall too! Fall and winter are my favorite seasons but unfortunately, I live in SoCal so we don’t get a real fall or a real winter. I’m supposed to be living in Oregon right now but my work is taking their damn time approving my move so fall is sort of sad for me. I just remind myself that this isn’t the only fall ever and I can enjoy it there next year. I bet your house looks great!

    9. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I love autumn, but I’m not big into decor. Hubby and I will get chrysanthemums later this week (we still have one or two extremely, unseasonably hot days to get past) for several outdoor planters, and we’ll get out our stand-up wooden pumpkin/fall sign, and switch to a fall-themed door wreath. Indoors, my usual decor fits in more with autumn than any other season, but we’ll add a few extras like the glass pumpkin Hubby made at the Corning Museum of Glass a few years ago – my anniversary gift to him on vacation that year, at one of our favorite museums.

    10. Bluebell*

      Conveniently, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot is in September/October, and we get to put up and decorate a sukkah (temporary hut). Ours has twinkle lights on the ceiling, various silk autumn leaves, some laminated holiday cards, older craft projects, and we always put pots of chrysanthemums in the front. Some years I hang mini- squash or small ears of corn, but didn’t this year.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Oh my goodness, she is just the absolute cutest!

      Alison (and others who are owned by torties), I’m curious to know if you think ‘tortitude’ is a thing, based on your experience?

      Why I’m asking: apparently I’m my neighbourhood’s magnet for lost, escaped or bored pets. Once I had a week long stay from a sassy little tortie I started calling Alexis Cattington-Colby. When I realised she wasn’t going home and wasn’t collared or microchipped, I letterbox-dropped the neighbouring few streets and had 2 calls from other neighbours who she frequented often enough for her to be known by several different names. Seriously, talk about 9 lives – this lady seemed to be living them all simultaneously!

      Alexis Cattington-Colby/Ginger/Yes-No Cat/Tommie was reunited with her rightful slave in the end, though I can’t help but wonder how many more “homes” she had beyond my letterbox-drop radius. I’ve had at least half a dozen cats show up at my place, though none quite as playfully cheeky and calculatingly smart as she was.

      Online, so many people talk about the distinctive personalities of tortoiseshell cats. I thought that was just all cats, but I wonder if it is really a genetic thing?

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        One of my cats looks similar to Olive. All tortie on top (black with tan streaks) and calico on the tummy (with 4 white mitts and a bib). I can attest to her “tortitude.” She is a very sweet cat most of the time, but she has her moments of tortie terror.

        My mother -in-laws tortie was 100% tortitude. It remains the only cat that I was truly scared of. She used to stalk me.

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        Yep! I’ve been owned by one tortie, her two calico sisters and am currently owned by a skittish and feisty dilute calico.

        Tortitude is real. The tortie I had was a chatter and a handful. One of her sisters I called the bitch goddess since she was absolutely gorgeous but a total jerk and was the matriarch of the house and ruled with an iron paw.

      3. Purt’s Peas*

        I think it’s a confirmation bias and a gender projection thing, since most torties are female and “tortitude” is like calling the cat a girlboss or whatever. I think it’s a little odd to be honest.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t know if it’s really a genetic thing, but Olive is by far the most princessy/demanding of our cats. Without contest. Things must go her way or you will hear about it. (Although I think she’s technically a calico since she has white in her fur?)

      5. Unkempt Flatware*

        Yeah I’ve only had torties and I live in a constant small amount of fear. I think it’s genetic.

      6. RC Rascal*

        Currently own a stunningly beautiful dilute calico. She is a complete Diva. Sometimes I catch her admiring herself in my dresser mirror.

        Had a tortoiseshell when I was growing up. Very independent cat.

    2. Tabby Baltimore*

      Please consider doing all-kitten portraiture (for those cats who came to you as kittens) for the next 3-5 weekend posts. Wallace could be posted separately from Sophie, of course, and, if your husband has a particularly cute shot of Sophie, as a young mother, “mothering” Wallace in some way (e.g., she’s awake/he’s asleep next to her, she’s grooming him, that sort of thing), that would be awesome.

  2. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Young adult books! We’ve finished our foster parenting training and now are getting a bedroom set up for a teenager. I want to put a bunch of books in there that might appeal to a teenager, but it should be a pretty broad spectrum since we won’t know anything in advance about their reading tastes. (Ages could be 13-18 although likely on the older end of that range.) I don’t read much YA but I know we have librarians here and others who like it — can anyone suggest some good books to include? (I already have the House in the Cerulean Sea on my list!)

    1. Aphrodite*

      Is it a girl? How about Mary Roach’s books? She a superb science writer with a great sense of humor..

    2. Bob_NZ*

      I think it might have been you who recommended Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here. And I’ve enjoyed Louise O’Neill’s young adult books recently too.

      Or how about adult fiction like Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca or Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me go?

      1. Virginia Plain*

        I would have thought Never Let Me Go was a bit bone-achingly depressing in concept (and no happy ending) for a teen already going through a difficult time, but I’m not a parent or person that works with kids.
        There’s a genre of books that I mentally categorise as like being hit over the head with the misery stick, and I would have thought a time in life when everything is unstable and there is likely to have been some traumatic stuff going on, is not the best time for that category.

        1. mlem*

          There are people who feel “seen” by that kind of thing, but yeah, “warehoused minors treated as property by the state” seems a LITTLE on the nose there.

          1. Bob_NZ*

            Oh, for an edit button! You’re quite right. (And some of Louise O’Neill’s books cover some pretty thought-provoking themes which would be challenging to some.) I’d been thinking of books I’d like to have read as a teen but the circumstances here are quite different.

        2. DrunkAtAWedding*

          I liked how well written it was, and how it demonstrated the way they slowly grew to understood something without ever having a moment of realisation. But I read it in my mid-twenties.

    3. Bulu Babi*

      Everything by Brandon Sanderson! Fantasy with extremely cool magic systems, and in his series The Stormlight Archive nearly every major character is dealing with trauma and mental illness. It’s really engaging, fun, rewarding, and lots of young adults relate the characters’ struggles. It’s written quite sensitively.

      1. PostalMixup*

        It is looooong, though, and unfinished. His stuff is great, but Mistborn might be more approachable (although possibly has some issues mentioned above – I believe the main character is an orphan in some pretty bad situations, but it’s been a while).

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Congratulations, that’s amazing!

      The “Legend” trilogy by Marie Lu was equally popular with boys and girls when I was teaching middle school (I loved them too). I read “The Sun is Also a Star” this year and thought it was super cute. “Code Name Verity” is one of my favorite historical fiction YAs but it can be kind of intense.

    5. i will do it anon*

      At that age I loved Tamora Pierce, so that might be good for any kid (especially a girl) who likes fantasy. Sabriel by Garth Nix is also a good fantasy YA book – it has a female protagonist but I can vouch for its appeal to at least 2 different middle aged men (my dad and one of his friends).

      1. Eden*

        +1 to Tamora Pierce – the Tortall books are my favorite books of all time.

        Also highly suggest the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. In some ways it’s more of a “middle grade” I guess? But I liked it more in high school and beyond than when I was 12.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        On the SFF side –

        Yes on the Tamora Pierce. Some Terry Pratchett (not YA, but highly enjoyable over a range of ages). Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Robin McKinley (though probably not Deerskin without warning). Nnendi Okorafor’s YA stuff. Seconding Becky Chamber’s Wayfarer series. Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children books. T. Kingfisher’s more YA stuff. Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series is good.

          1. Zweisatz*

            My favorite character, so absolutely seconded! The first one would be The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

          2. DrunkAtAWedding*

            Or the Johnny books. But I read The Colour of Magic at 11, so I don’t really think it matters which you start with.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          I was going to suggest Wrede’s Enchanted Forest. It’s maybe on the young side for teenagers (aimed at 11-14ish?), but when I was a teen it was escapist and comforting.

      3. YA Reader*

        Came here just to make sure Tamora Pierce got a mention! I wasn’t introduced to her until a few years ago (in my late 20’s/early 30’s) and have read and re-read every book when I want a good escapist read. Tortall is probably the safer option is you’re not sure who you’re getting. The Circle of Magic books are also great and I think the first quartet would be fine, but in the later books some violence is described quite explicitly, though not gratuitously. I wish I had known about her when I was a teen.

      4. Second the Sabriel idea*

        Oh, I still love the Sabriel series! Last year I found the “prequel” and while it’s not quite the same, the thrill of being back “in” that universe was a highlight of the year for me.

        I’ve tried the London books and it’s just not the same.

    6. RB*

      I’ve been trying to get my niece to read some of the older classics, like the Amy and Laura books by Marilyn Sachs. Weirdly enough, she is really enjoying the Mindy Kaling books, even though they’re non-fiction and she generally doesn’t read non-fiction.

    7. RB*

      I know that Tom Clancy did (does?) some young-adult books. I remember my nephew reading them and saying he liked them, and this is coming from someone who rarely reads an entire book.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Did – he passed away a few years ago.
        If the series your nephew reads was Netforce Explorers, I have read two of those books and definitely found them enjoyable at the time.

    8. Double A*

      I taught in a juvenile hall, and Jody Picault was a huge hit with both the boys and the girls. Stephen King is also a perennial favorite.

      I’m working my way through the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers and I think teens would enjoy it. It’s space sci-fi and she explored themes of how really different people can get along. The first book is “A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.” The second book is “A Closed and Common” orbit, and one thread explores not fitting into the body you’re assigned, and the other thread explores making sense of and surviving in the world when you were taught almost nothing about it.

      This is very cool about fostering teens!

      1. Virginia Plain*

        I liked Plain Truth and My Sister’s Keeper but after that I felt like all Jodie Picoult books were basically the same: “Can we ever really know our children? No. And someone’s going to die.”

        1. DrunkAtAWedding*

          Step 1. Pick a hot-button topic.
          Step 2. Think of 5-6 people with different views on it. Make them interact.
          Step 3. Plot twist?!?!?!

      2. Biel*

        Second this. As a teen, particularly towards the end of the 13 – 18 age range, I’m almost certain I’d have turned my nose up at anything too conspicuously written for teens. Page turners from Stephen King and Jodi Picoult are perfect.

    9. Laura H.*

      Harry Potter… and maybe some books that you’ve liked.

      Also, ask them too after they’re settled in; I think that’s a good way to make them feel at home.

      1. BcAugust*

        I’m going to suggest strongly against the Harry Potter books, given the author has come out as a TERF and racist. Also for a foster kid, the whole abuse thing might not be a good thing to read.

        Percy Jackson and the sequels are super popular, though it might skew a bit young, but they have tons of representation in them. And I’ll second the Tamora Pierce stuff. I’m also going to suggest maybe some nonfiction, of the practical variety if lighthearted, The History of the world/How to make stuff/Prep guides. Not preachy, but enough to give a good start if they have questions.

        I’d also go and call your local library to see if you can talk to their teen director and see what’s popular in your area. If everyone is reading, say, the Hunger Games, you might want to have them just to give the kid a better in.

        1. allathian*

          Everyone might be reading Harry Potter… I’m really torn on those, because I love(d) the books. A fair point about the abuse maybe being too much for some foster kids to read, but at least Harry overcomes the abuse. They were also the first books that my son read voluntarily, without being bribed to do it. He read all of them last year, and now he’s reading The Lord of the Rings (he’s 12). LotR isn’t completely unproblematic (some racism, lots of sexism, very heteronormative, a strong implication that beautiful = good, and ugly = evil), either, but it’s at least on a much higher literary level than HP, and it’s also a gripping story, you care what happens to the characters, or at least I did.

          1. photon*

            For what it’s worth, I think LotR would’ve turned me off reading forever had I encountered it early enough.

            There seem to be 2 types of people in the world: Those who can get past Tom Bombadil, and those who can’t.

            1. Scarlet Magnolias*

              Wonderful send up years ago of LotR from the Harvard Lampoon “Bored of the Rings”. They had a field day with Tom Bombadil

            2. The Dogman*

              Tom Bombadil (in my opinion) is one of the most important characters in the books and it was nearly criminal to leave him out of the films.

              I see it as the fact he is immune to the power of the One Ring is the only reason Frodo had the strength to take the mission all the way. Knowing someone could resist was key to resisting for long enough to get there.

              The songs were hard work though… TBH all the poems and songs in the Tolkiens works are “not great to so-bad-they-are-funny”…

            3. Sorrischian*

              It’s a real your-mileage-may-vary writing style; I read it when I was 10 and fell wildly, irrevocably in love with the prose, the poems, and yes – Tom Bombadil (I tend to agree with The Dogman! Tom Bombadil is the very essence of the idealized pastoral ‘harmony with nature’ that Tolkien feels is despoiled by industrialization and warfare).

              But I was the very definition of ‘precocious reader’ and even at that age could tell that it was not going to be for everyone.

              As for Alison’s question, I’d fully second other people’s recommendations of Tamora Pierce and Scott Westerfeld.

            4. RagingADHD*

              The third way: those of us who learned from The Hobbit that you can skip anything typeset as lyrics without missing any of the plot.

              1. photon*

                Okay, real talk, I also just don’t have patience for a flood of worldbuilding- all these names of people and places to memorize – before I’ve been given sufficient reason to care :P The flowery language struck me as onerous for the sake of being onerous, rather than contributing meaningfully to the story.

                But to each one’s own! Obviously LotR is well-beloved. I still wouldn’t suggest it to a teenager unless they had already shown a penchant for reading.

            5. Ursula*

              Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who liked the Tom Bombadil interlude but thought the rest of the series was dead boring.

          2. DrunkAtAWedding*

            I did once ask in a trans group whether there was obvious anti-trans content in the Harry Potter books that I’d missed because I wasn’t sensitive to it. The consensus was that there wasn’t. There were things people could point to afterwards, like a lot of stuff about Umbridge, but nothing had stood out as anti-trans until Rowling made her views clear elsewhere. So, content-wise, there might be stuff in there that’s upsetting, but I don’t think there’s much that would indoctrinate someone into anti-trans views. Content-wise, I think LOTR would be worse. And I’m not sure literary level is a factor. I interpreted the goal as ‘fun to read’, which LOTR was, for lots of people, but not for me.

            For me, the line is giving Rowling money. I don’t want to. So if someone got ahold of the books second-hand or already owned them, I’d have no objection.

            1. slide*

              There is one element in “Order of the Phoenix” that was weird at the time and makes much more sense when you know she’s a TERF — the blaring alarm and enchanted staircase that detect Harry and Ron “are boys” and so prevent them from accessing the girls’ dorm.

              1. DrunkAtAWedding*

                I think, if we didn’t know she were a TERF, I might not take that as proof that she was, in the same way people seem to give Neil Gaiman a ‘pass’ for having the Moon goddess not recognise a trans woman as a woman (which, imo, is a lot more blatant, though he does later have Death, who is, in the eternal hierarchy, above the Moond Goddess, recognise her as a woman, which shows it’s the character’s opinion, not the author’s). Dividing people by gender for sleeping, or bathroom use, or sports is a rough and ready system that works a lot of the time and has been in use for centuries, if not millennia. It’s far from perfect, but I don’t think using it sometimes is a trans phobic act (though it can be abused for transphobia). It’s been a while since I read the book, but I think they talk about it being an older system and the fact that it doesn’t work the other way, i.e., girls aren’t banned from the boys dorms. Plus, I think Harry and Ron were both presenting as boys at the time, weren’t they? Like, they weren’t using polyjuice position or otherwise disguised? So that does give some leeway as to whether it’s detecting sex or gender.

                Obviously, we all know JK Rowling IS a TERF and none of this means she isn’t. But I don’t think it would be unthinkable for a non-TERF writer to have written the same scene.

        2. photon*

          Why are you holding male & female authors to different standards?

          You’re calling Rowling racist, and yet you recommend Percy Jackson. Rick Riordan is accused of racism in the very same way Rowling is – using stereotypes (in his case, stereotypes around Native Americans with the Piper wearing feathers non-ceremonially to symbolize growth, the way he handles Samirah’s hijab & arranged marriages, etc).

          While I think we should push authors to move beyond stereotypes & towards actual inclusion in their writing (I say this as a queer Latina!), I’ve seen a lot more of this directed towards female authors overall compared to male authors, and it drives me nuts. (Last time I had this argument, someone had uncritically recommended Ender’s Game – when OSC literally wrote an essay on how Obama was going to implement a Hitler-style takeover of the US, and on top of that, OSC is also deeply homophobic!)

          I hear you on Rowling being a TERF – it hurts. But the way I see it, these are good books that get kids reading, and I’m not going to deprive them of that just because the authors are problematic people. In my view, people are rife with imperfections, and it’s better to let kids read & talk them through that.

          People are complex. People can write good stories with good messages, with those stories also being riddled with imperfections, with those people holding harmful views in other ways. Hiding complexity from teens is not going to solve any problems.

          1. Fulana del Tal*

            Thank you for writing this so much better than I would have done. So many authors have come out as problematic but the argument is often we need to separate them from their work except for JK Rowling. The double standard is infuriating.

          2. AGD*

            JKR’s bigotry was super loud and disheartening, and it makes sense to me that people have reacted badly because – unlike Orson Scott Card or Roald Dahl – her books were trying to be centrally about love and kindness and supporting each other, at least in a ’90s sort of way.

              1. AGD*

                The books are fine. It’s that the emergence of bigotry and fearmongering from the author was a much worse surprise in context, and must have felt like a much sharper betrayal (relative to, say, Roald Dahl, since from his writing it is less of stretch to imagine him being a mean-spirited person).

                1. photon*

                  I’m not sure that holds. Eg, with OSC, his books are about accepting, rather than vilifying, the Other – and his real life attitudes are very different.

                  I think JKR being a woman is part of it. I’ve never seen Riordan get rape or pipe bomb threats.

                2. Eden*

                  That still comes out to “it’s ok to read hashtag-problematic books from hashtag-problematic authors as long as we never expected better from them, but if we expected better at one point, can’t read those!” Which goes right back to the start of this subthread with women (and other authors from underrepresented backgrounds) being held to way higher standards which is, imo, bad.

            1. DrunkAtAWedding*

              The author of Queen of Wands wrote a long blog post about how upsetting she found Orson Scott Card’s homophobia because of the message of acceptance she’d found in his books. So I don’t think that’s quite right. I’ll put a link to it in a reply to this comment.

              1. Ursula*

                Yeah, after I found out about Card’s real viewpoints I’ve been baffled as to how he was even able to write his books. Accepting differences is BEYOND core to his books. There aren’t really words to describe how core understanding and accepting differences is the core theme to his books.

          3. BcAugust*

            Because I know multiple other people of colour who have read both authors and say exactly the same thing, mostly. Rowling has much more of a platform, is openly working on bad laws, and has been much worse about more groups. Once you move into advocacy, I feel free to treat you like Orson Scott Card and recommend against. If Percy Jackson’s author is doing the same, please let me know.

            And trust me, as a native, almost all kid and teen books have really bad depictions of Native Americans. Unless you go for some specifically geared toward native kids, which there isn’t much. You would have to cut a lot of the writers people mentioned. There has been a push on Latinix YA lately that has been welcome.

            You also might want to see about a few trade paperbacks. LumberJanes, the Miss Marvel are both pretty good, as many issues as it has Hero Academy is super popular, and I know more than a few teen librarians over here are looking more at them.

          4. marvin the paranoid android*

            As a trans person, I might just have a hard time looking at JKR objectively, but for me she has hit a point of no return where I wouldn’t be comfortable supporting her or giving her books to children. I probably wouldn’t feel the same way if she were less actively harmful, but she is a very powerful person who is single-handedly contributing to making the world a more dangerous place for me to live in. There certainly some grey area with problematic artists, but for me she has sailed way past it and into the red zone. But of course everyone has to set their own boundaries for this kind of thing.

        3. Lady Glittersparkles*

          I agree with not supporting J.K. Rowling. My daughter was gifted the first 3 books and of course we all got really into the series. We’ve made sure to buy the others from local secondhand bookstores, so that the purchases profit our local small businesses and not the author…

        4. Pinkbasil*

          I reread all the Percy Jackson books during quarantine and enjoyed them. My best friend’s daughter has a learning disability and she found the representation around ADHD very heartening when she was just coming out of elementary school.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My teen suggests Magnus Chase, also a Riordan series.
            I’ll suggests the Ranger’s Apprentice series, and some old hard sf. Dune might be a good one because there’s a new movie version comeing out this year. Maybe something nonfiction about life with cats.
            How soon can they get a library card?

        5. Laura H.*

          Ok so I was just recommending the books, not the author. I’m of the school of thought that literature has merit, and there just so happens to be someone behind it. I care but at the end of the day, the books stand on their own.

        6. YA Reader*

          I spent a couple of years providing temporary emergency accommodation for young people, and one of my guests was a 16-year-old girl who had been through serious trauma. She adored Harry Potter and it was one thing we were immediately able to establish a rapport on. Anecdotally, for many kids the Harry Potter books are the first and possibly only books they have ever read all the way through, probably because when everyone else has read them, giving it a go themselves seems less daunting. There must be lots of pre-loved copies out there if you don’t want to put money into JK’s pocket.

    10. Sleeping on the floor*

      The Hunger Games series is extremely good, much better than the films.
      Ditto The 100 series.
      They might want something lighter though if they’ve had a traumatic time.
      Congratulations, what a wonderful thing you’re doing! I hope you enjoy it.

      1. Sleeping on the floor*

        For more up-to-date suggestions:
        The YA Book Prize this year was won by Loveless by Alice Oseman. The judges described the story of a romance-obsessed teen who realises she is aromantic and asexual as a “joyful book that truly promotes celebrating our differences”.

        1. Sleeping on the floor*

          I haven’t read Kissing Emma by Shappi Khorsandi, but I love the author so I’m going to recommend it based on that. It’s a modern fable about the rise and fall of a beautiful, but vulnerable, young woman in a world obsessed with money, status and looks. It is inspired by the untold story of Emma Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s mistress, and is out now.

          1. Sleeping on the floor*

            Anything by Malorie Blackman of course!
            These more modern recs, BTW, are British based because so am I so you might not find them suitable.

              1. Sleeping on the floor*

                Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard is about a black half-mortal teenager who moves in with her family living in London. It’s not really about Greek mythology, but about race and growing up and fitting in etc.

                And speaking of Greek mythology, I was always impressed as an adult by Adèle Geras’ books which are aimed at YA but a good crossover for adults too.

                1. Sleeping on the floor*

                  And my last recommendation, which is a tough one for foster kids but I really think every adult should treat it if nothing else because it’s exceptional, is: Looking for JJ by British author Anne Cassidy, first published in 2004. It is about a teenage girl who was convicted of murder as a child.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          I’m going to put that one on my to read list too because the premise sounds fascinating and I can only applaud more aro and ace representation.

        3. Sleeping on the floor*

          Oh, ok, this is my last recommendation! But when I was a teen my friends and I (male and female) aDOred Jane Eyre. Maybe we were weird XD.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh and i just read Shannon Hale’s “Kind of a big deal”. Main character is a theater kid who had dropped out of high school to audition for a Broadway musical and eventually took a nanny job to pay bills…and strange things start to happen to her around books.

          2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            The whole locking-the-wife-with-mental-issues-in-the-attic isn’t something I’d recommend to any young person with a possibly rough background.

      2. Jackalope*

        I know a lot of people like The Hunger Games, but I’m torn. My issue with them is that they’re just so DARK, and I found it excruciating to read through them. The teens you have might be different, and I’m not going to say they should be tossed out, but I would get other stuff first just because I’ve read a lot of books with painful subjects, but I found THG series traumatic.

        1. Sleeping on the floor*

          Yeah I can definitely see that. I think she’s nailed the descriptions of c-PTSD very well, but it’s not for everyone.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, it really depends on the kid. I’d expect kids in foster care to be traumatized almost by default, because things have to get so bad before they’re taken away from their families.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Kids in foster care, and especially teenagers, are all dealing with trauma — the trauma of whatever led to them being removed (generally abuse or neglect), plus the trauma of the removal itself (a lot of kids, although not all, want to be back with their families even if there was abuse there — and even if they don’t, being put in a house with strangers is not an easy adjustment for anyone, no matter how kind or well-meaning those strangers are). It’s even more so with teenagers, because they’re generally more able to cover up what’s going on at home than little kids are, so if they’re removed, it’s usually gotten pretty bad … or they’ve been in the system for a while, which is also a problem in itself.

              We’re doing treatment foster care, which is focused on trauma-informed parenting and requires more hours of training on trauma (our agency believes that all teenagers in foster care benefit from treatment foster care vs. traditional, which makes sense to me).

              But as for how that all relates to books, I think it really depends on the kid! Some kids with trauma in their histories want to read books with similar themes and connect with those stories more. Some don’t. It’s just kid-specific.

              1. Mental Lentil*

                This is very kid-specific and a lot of times it’s even day-to-day-specific. Sometimes you want to read to see yourself and your experience reflected in those pages, and sometimes you just want the escapism. It’s never and either/or.

              2. Observer*

                But as for how that all relates to books, I think it really depends on the kid! Some kids with trauma in their histories want to read books with similar themes and connect with those stories more. Some don’t. It’s just kid-specific.

                That’s the reason I wouldn’t put those books in the room to start with. It’s a lot easier to ADD in these books if your kids is going to benefit than to take them out.

                1. Jackalope*

                  In general I’m a fan of letting kids decide their own reading and what they can handle; I think most of the time they’ll pick what works. I have had some books that I’ve read that I got a fair ways in, was hooked, and then discovered it was horrible in some way beyond what I was up for at the time. Hunger Games for me was in that category. So that’s why if I had kids that wanted to read it I’d be fine with that, but I would probably not buy it for them myself unless they asked. But I don’t have a hugely strong opinion on how other people should handle that; I know they are books beloved by many people so I can totally see getting them and making them available even if I personally probably wouldn’t.

                2. Observer*

                  @KT The issue is not trusting the kid, but the *initial* impression that the kid might get.

                  So what I would ideally do is to start with a few more neutral books that are less potentially fraught that they see when they come in. And the offer them the choice. Get them a library card, offer to buy some books from whatever catalogue you decide to work with, and/ or offer to get them books that they already know of or want.

                3. DrunkAtAWedding*

                  I’d take it in the exact opposite way – get all the books and let the kid decide what to read.

      3. banoffee pie*

        Hunger Games is good but very heavy, I agree. I thought Divergent was lighter and exciting but I wasn’t so keen on the message that if you aren’t into fighting physically you aren’t brave/any good

    11. Virginia Plain*

      How about some Terry Pratchett? I’m told the Tiffany Aching ones are a good start but I many of the Discworld novels as a teen.

      1. MissCoco*

        Seconding Terry Pratchett, those were great pick-me-up type reads as a teen (and still now)
        The Tiffany Aching ones were definitely more marketed as YA than his other work, but I think that is just because they had a younger protagonist than many others.

        Along similar lines Daniel Pinkwater’s children’s books. They are on the easier reading side of things, but they are sweet and funny and unique, and I think there is a lot to be said for having approachable options for a less confident reader. Also lean towards being aimed at boys, all the protagonists are male

        My other two recommendations would be Garth Nix (high fantasy and some science fiction works) and Dianna Wynne Jones

      2. Aealias*

        I strongly encourage some Terry Pratchett. I super-enjoyed the Night Watch series as a teen. I LOVE the Tiffany Aching books, but I started my kid on them at 9 years old, they might miss the mark a bit with a late-teen reader.

    12. Virginia Plain*

      As a teen I liked Agatha Christie for a fun easy read. Also how about Sherlock Holmes? The short stories are really accessible.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, they are. I read Murder on the Orient Express when I was 12 and I was instantly hooked. Some kids are going to be fascinated by a bygone era, others will find it too strange to get into, I guess it really depends on the kid.

        1. Juneybug*

          I was coming here to recommend the same thing – books from another era (which I found fascinating). For example, Little House on the Prairie series.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Yes! Also, maybe a couple of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries? The best ones to start with are *Black Orchids* and *Some Buried Caesar*.

      3. Anonymous phone hater*

        A warning that there is some very overt racism in Agatha Christie books so that may be problematic. I know some people can get past that with a “product of the times” understanding but not all children/teens are going to be able to filter things that way.

        1. allathian*

          Absolutely. All that “Anglo-Saxon brain” stuff…

          The thing that was really the most difficult for me to understand was the idea that having a child out of wedlock would be so shameful that women would be willing to commit murder to stop people finding out, even decades later.

          1. Llama face!*

            Yeah, that and a running theme of people from Spain, Italy, or any asiatic countries being described as “yellow” and either sly or inscrutible. And in at least one book a conversation between two people about how they just generally don’t like or trust [old fashioned term for black people] that had absolutely no relevance to anything in the plot. And plenty of classism of course: the servants are foolish, folishly loyal, or untrustworthy thieves.

            I didn’t notice all of this when I read these books as a child and teen but I think that the background prejudice did have a bad effect on my own developing understanding of the world. So I’d say these are best read by adults who can recognize the issues or with adult guidance to avoid kids unconsciously absorbing the toxic bits.

    13. Janet Pinkerton*

      I bet your actual local library could tell you what’s popular with the teens! I would make an effort to get books about a variety of protagonists and authors. I looked up foster care demographics for what I think I recall is your county and you might also get some books in Spanish.

      I’d also put a special focus on like, easy reading books. Something with a low barrier to entry like a romance, maybe. Zero shade against these books, I’m actually speaking as someone who liked to read but just hasn’t picked up a book in a while. One of the books I recently devoured was Red White and Royal Blue, largely because it was easy, it was queer (and so I saw myself in it), and it was fun.

      1. Jackalope*

        So your comment totally reminded me… Did anyone else ever read the Sunfire romance series? I read them as a teen and enjoyed them, but haven’t seen them since. I’m guessing they would seem a bit problematic now (although maybe I’m wrong and they’ve aged better than I thought) but I loved them back then.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          I read all the Sunfire books! But they are very difficult to get hold of now. I used to have a blog devoted to YA historical fiction and it was murder trying to track down the whole series from used sellers.

        1. Redd*

          Especially because kids with a turbulent background don’t always have the time and support to become strong, comfortable readers. Honestly, I wouldn’t rule out a few books like Animorphs or Replica (or the modern equivalents, I’m old), even for older teens.

      2. Janet Pinkerton*

        I asked my wife who was a public librarian in PG County and she said that the teen urban romance used to be very very popular at her library. One author she remembers is Ni-Ni Simone, as a starting point.

    14. Loves libraries*

      A plug for some Aussie authors, although I love loads of the books already suggested (especially Tamora Pierce, my favourite).
      Isobel Carmody – a teen dystopian series with the first novel written in the 1990s. Pretty trailblazing stuff, strong female lead.
      John Flanagan – ranger’s apprentice and brother band series, both teen boys with brains thriving and forging strong bonds with their peers. Set in a Viking and Middle ages English historical background.
      Ambelin Kwaymullina- The Tribe series. Indigenous Australian author writing post apocalyptic fantasy with great female leads and a lovely underlying theme of honouring the natural world
      Matthew Reilly- hover car racer and adult series- they read like an action movie (with suspense, and some gore) so could hook in the non reader.
      John Marsden- Tomorrow When the War Began series. Main character female runs a teen group who fight back when their country is invaded, great realism about teen issues but also some perspective on the background of guerrilla warfare.

      1. Jackalope*

        Sherryl Jordan is a New Zealand author who’s got some good stuff. I most remember Winter of Fire and The Raging Quiet. Some of it is hard to get in the US, but at least those two are available.

        1. Kris*

          Sherryl Jordan’s The Juniper Game is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it when I was about 13.

        2. Paris Geller*

          I love Winter of Fire! It’s out of print, so I guard my torn-up copy preciously. I’ve been told it’s suppose come back into print, but a quick google search doesn’t seem to indicate so, since used copies on Amazon start at around $60.

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        Another vote for John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series. And it’s not just for boys—the Araluen girls are also strong, smart, feisty, and independent. Confession: Seven or eight years ago my then-young-teen nephew introduced me to this series, and … well, I still re-read the series sometimes, and I’m well beyond my teen years.

      3. Wink the Duck*

        +1 the Ambelin Kwaymullina series. I got it for my great niece a few years ago and it was the only one she didn’t pass on when she got “bored of reading”. (*eye rolls*)

    15. A.N. O'Nyme*

      It might also be a good idea to ask schools in your area to ask what they put on their reading lists for English (or whatever course) and get some of those books so you have them on hand in case they are needed. For example if the internet is to be believed Romeo and Juliet gets analysed to death (though with recent US events that seems to be shifting to Othello instead). Bonus points if you get editions that point out Shakespeare really isn’t as highbrow as some English teachers apparently seem to think he is – if I had a euro for every fart joke…
      It also seems like required summer reading is a thing in the US so getting a variety of books from those summer reading lists may also be handy.

      1. heckofabecca*

        Ryan North has a choose-your-own adventure Romeo and/or Juliet—the “correct” plot is marked, but there’s a bunch of other ways to play out the story too. I have his Hamlet cyoa (To Be or Not to Be: That is the Adventure), and it’s great.

        Also seconding Terry Pratchett, talking to librarian, and asking for school reading lists.
        For nonfiction: Bill Bryson! Delightful and accessible on a range of topics, though probably more for older teens. I did enjoy The Mother Tongue (history of English language) and A Walk In The Woods (Appalachian Trail + environmentalism/conservation) a while ago, but I do not remember how old I was when I did…

      2. DrunkAtAWedding*

        There’s a podcast I really like called Chop Bard, that goes through the plays line by line and talks about the context and explains the jokes and so on. I studied Romeo and Juliet in school, but I got so much more out of the podcast. No shade to my teacher; she had a lot to get through, a lot of kids to deal with, and you always get more out of stuff you choose yourself, don’t you?

        Apparently Romeo and Juliet would have been the equivalent of a big summer blockbuster release at the time, which is why a narrative voice had to come out at the beginning and go “it ends sad, we’re going to subvert this”.

    16. Jackalope*

      I’m a big YA reader, so here are my thoughts. I tend to lean towards fantasy and Girls Who Do Things, so bear that in mind. I gave a bunch of books, some of which are recent, others of which fall more in the “classic” department. I know that sometimes classics can have problematic elements in them, but I tried to pick those that don’t have horrible sexism/racism issues. If I missed anything (some I haven’t read in ages) I apologize, but I think they should generally be okay.

      My favorite author is Robin McKinley, and I like pretty much anything she’s written. Favorites are Beauty, The Hero and the Crown, Deerskin (although CW rape, so you might not want to get that), Sunshine, Shadows, and Chalice.

      Diana Wynne Jones also has some good stuff, and her writing is quirky. Fire and Hemlock is a popular book of hers, and deservedly so. I personally love Dogsbody and the Derkholm series (The Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin). And of course the Howl’s Moving Castle series is great too.

      For a completely different style, there’s LM Montgomery. She’s best known for the Anne of Green Gables series, but The Blue Castle is my favorite, and A Tangled Web is high on the list too. She also has a lot of collections of short stories that are out there.

      Someone mentioned the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix, and I enjoyed that one a lot. The characters are fun, the world-building is interesting, and I had fun reading it. The first book is Sabriel.

      Really, anything by Terry Pratchett is age-appropriate for teens, but I started with the Tiffany Aching books (the first one is The Wee Free Men), and it was hilarious.

      Madeleine L’Engle is a bit all over the place in terms of age she wrote for, but I liked her stuff a lot as a teen. Plus she’s got a million books in her closely connected story lines, so if you have a teen who enjoys her stuff they’ve got a lot of reading ahead of them.

      Others have mentioned Tamora Pierce; I would especially like to recommend her Circle of Magic series. I loved the 4 characters and the chemistry they had between themselves, plus the fun things she did with their magic. It was creative and I enjoyed it.

      Connie Willis would probably be older teen just because of the complexity of the plots and such (I think I first read her mid-high school), but To Say Nothing of the Dog and The Doomsday book, both time-travel books, were my favorites by her. Blackout/All Clear was a duology she wrote in the same world about traveling back to WWII. And Bellwether was hilarious.

      Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles was a fun series and did entertaining things with fairy tales, plus I enjoyed the characters. I also enjoyed Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward.

      I loved most of Cynthia Voigt’s books. The Tillerman series, which begins with Homecoming (and is NOT a fantasy novel), is my favorite, but the Kingdom Series is also good.

      Most of the books with good queer representation are fairly new in the timeline of books so I haven’t had as much time to find them, but here are a few that I’ve enjoyed. Rin Chupeco had a good trilogy, The Bone Witch; it’s on the edge between dark fantasy and horror, but at a YA level. I read Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran earlier this year and really enjoyed it; it’s a fast read and I liked the characters. (CW – there is some brief torture in here; the description of it is only a paragraph, but one of the main characters spends a certain amt of time trying to deal with it, so it comes up later.) Shatter the Sky and its sequel Storm the Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells include a bisexual main character and dragons. I love books about dragons. The Priory of the Orange Tree is LONG (803 pages), but a fast read (I made it through in a day), and has both queer characters and characters of color that I felt were well-depicted (although I’m not a POC so take that as you will). And the Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman (plus the related series that she’s started but is still writing, which begins with Tess of the Road) was a lot of fun.

      I found a list of YA novels and was reminded that I enjoyed Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang. Avi also has some good books (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was my favorite). Walt Morey had a number of “people and animal” stories, the best-known of which is Gentle Ben. I haven’t read them in ages, but I loved them when I was younger. Alexander Key also had some good utopian fantasy, although he’s hard to find these days (in part because a number of his books had HORRIBLE endings, not in terms of what happened, but because they were these beautiful books that just disinitgrated in the end). My favorites by him (and these are books that as far as I remember had actual proper endings) are The Magic Meadow and The Forgotten Door.

      I vaguely remember that I also enjoyed other animal books such as the Marguerite Henry books (Misty of Chincoteague) and Black Beauty.

      This one might be a tiny bit young for the age group you’re looking at, but Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher has always been one of my favorites; it’s a typical coming of age story written in 1917 that has enjoyable characters and shows a slice of life that I’ve always found intriguing.

      And if you are looking for fantasy novels about and by people of color, here is a link to a list I found last year. I haven’t read all of the books on this list, but I’ve read a lot of them and I enjoyed them:

      https : // www dot denofgeek dot com/books/ most-anticipated-non-western-fantasy-books-2020 / (this is specific to 2020, but at the top of the page there’s a link to the 2019 books as well – I haven’t found one for 2021 on their site yet, alas)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Understood Betsy is a fantastic book, and surprising relevant to modern parenting, given that it was written over 100 years ago. It’s on Project Gutenberg, so you can read it for free.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          *Understood Betsy* is awesome. It also has a covert lesbian-coded character, the gruff Cousin Ann, whose approbation Betsy finally earns when our formerly timid heroine proves to be a courageous, resourceful problem-solver during an emergency. In terms of message, it makes me think of *The Secret Garden* as another possibility — like the message in each is that we each hold within us the potential to develop and grow, that we don’t need to be forever bogged down in whatever neuroses we may have, but we can instead learn skills, be open to new people and experiences, and become more capable, confident, and happy people overall.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have to suggest skipping The Doomsday Book, bluntly because it’s a tragedy set during a plague.

        1. Jackalope*

          That is an excellent point. I wasn’t thinking about that, since unlike the many plague books I’ve stumbled across in the last year, it’s talking about the ACTUAL plague instead of some super-flu, which hits a bit too close to home. That being said, it might not be the best book for the moment. Hopefully at some point in time the pandemic will end, though, and then maybe you can consider it, since it really is a gorgeous book.

          1. Ariaflame*

            Um, in fact the book is about virulent illnesses both in the past that one of the characters is in, and in the era the historians come from, so bear that in mind. It’s not unremittingly bleak and there’s definitely moments of humour but there’s a fair amount of dark stuff too.

            I also recommend Bellwether.

          2. Nesprin*

            I found The Domesday Book hard to read even before Covid Times- the characters in the past die from the Bubonic Plague, and the ones in the present die from a flu-like illness.

            Tricky since To Say Nothing of The Dog is one of my favorite books.

    17. tangerineRose*

      I used to enjoy Trixie Belden books and The Three Investigators when I was around that age. Diana Wynne Jones has some amazing fantasy books, although some might be too intense. Gordan Korman has written some really funny books, like “I want to go home” and “Don’t Care High”, but some of his books are more serious. Patrick F. McManus writes funny books that seem to be about hunting and fishing, but are a lot more about not catching stuff.

    18. Batgirl*

      Just a word of warning; I teach low literacy teenagers and some of them would be very put off and embarrassed by the expectation that they read. Some of my 13 and 14yos have a reading age of five to nine years and couldn’t read YA independently. However comics or non fiction, image-heavy, coffee table books on an interest of theirs can be a great resource to warm them up. If you do get a keen reader, I love Leigh Bardugo YA books at the moment – her Shadow and Bone (Netflix adapted it) series is great, but the short stories are even better.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I thought about that too, and also that some teens (especially boys) do not like fiction but might enjoy a book about their favorite sport or car. Are graphic novels still popular? They can be good for teens who are not strong readers. I suspect that a foster child would probably rather disappear into screenworld than read.

        1. Jackalope*

          Ages ago I read Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. It’s a graphic novel with awesome pictures and both a good story about being in high school as well as a ghost story with a tiny bit of spookiness but not a horror story. I checked today and it looks like she has some other graphic novels as well which I would assume are also good but I haven’t read the rest of them.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oh, yeah, a couple of comics and/or manga or coffee table books would also be a good thing to have even if the child in question has the expected reading ability for their age (or above) – I definitely tend to read a lot more image heavy stuff during exam periods because I’m spending all my time reading blocks of text anyway.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Also I can recommend some surprisingly (and some not-so-surprisingly) text-heavy video games in case the child prefers video games over reading books but you still want to encourage them to read, though that’s probably getting far away from the original question so I’ll hold off on that unless you ask me for them.

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              Sure! As it’s late in the weekend, here are the games/genres that I can think of at the top of my head – I’ll try to get a more comprehensive list together by next week, as well as ask the people in the gaming thread if they have other recommendations. Keep in mind this is a list off the top of my head and thus will heavily reflect my personal gaming preferences.

              – Pokémon! Someone using these games to get their child who had trouble reading to read more is what originally pointed out to me that games can be used this way. The plots are usually relatively simple (even if they can get quite dark – the villain of Black & White basically abused his own son to ensure his son would be capable of summoning a legendary pokémon with the end goal being no one but them could use pokémon, and the villain of X & Y is so obsessed with beauty he’s trying to destroy humanity). Admittedly, this does lock you into the Nintendo eco-system, though the Gameboy Advance ones should still be relatively easy to get even with the retro market being as out of whack as it is right now.

              – Adventure games (and their various subgenres): these can also double as helping kids with problem-solving skills. Adventure games and their subgenres are relatively simple and thus cheap to make (and buy), and are often available on a variety of platforms nowadays. Depending on the funds the developer/publisher had, these can also contain voice acting. I’m personally rather fond of the Nancy Drew series of adventure games (at least the ones before Midnight in Salem, which missed the mark on so many levels) and the delightfully silly Monkey Island series. A good Youtube channel to check out if you want to look around more is AdventureGameFan8, which as the name suggests is a channel focusing solely on walkthroughs (without commentary!) of adventure games. I also like the professor Layton series, though like Pokémon that series is only available on Nintendo consoles. The Ace Attorney games are also available on PC.
              One of the subgenres of adventure games is Hidden Object Games, which are even cheaper to make and you might even be able to find some for free. A good developer you might want to look at is called Artifex Mundi. Their games are even available on smartphones if I’m not mistaken.
              Another subgenre that may be interesting are Visual Novels. These are essentially Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books combined with comics/manga in video game format, and thus one of the cheapest genres to make with many visual novels being available for free, though of course this comes with the caveat that you’ll probably need to do a lot of research into the specific titles to make sure they’re suitable. Because they don’t need to worry about physical space like a cyoa-book does, they can also have longer, more complex plots. A good free one (though there is also a paid version) is Doki Doki Literature Club, which is very short (roughly three hours) and 100% not the game you expect it to be, though it does come with trigger warnings. Another good one, though not free, is Steins;Gate, which also has an anime. I’m personally also fond of Hakuoki and Code: Realize, though those are dating sims aimed at women, though I’m finding a surprising amount of men enjoy them too.

              -RPGs in all their various forms. While most of the major modern ones will have voice acting, which may or may not be what you want, there is still a lot of reading to be done to find out more about the world and figure out what your options are. For Western games, fairly fond of Fallout: New Vegas (yes, specifically New Vegas) and the Witcher series. Japanese RPGs (JRPGs, which pokémon is an example of) often feature teenage protagonists, which may be more relatable for teenagers. The most famous one here is the Final Fantasy series, but I’d also suggest you take a look at Dragon Quest (a series that hasn’t changed much at all over the years aside from some quality-of-life improvements) and the Persona series (4 and 5 especially as they’re easy to get, being relatively recent and with 4 even being out on PC) as this series is also set in high school and is in fact part social sim. Shin Megami Tensei, of which Persona is a subseries, might also be worth a look. For strategy RPGs (SRPGs), Fire Emblem is a good start, though once again this locks you into Nintendo consoles.

              -Life sims. This includes games like the Sims as well as farming simulators like Stardew Valley, Story of Seasons (formerly known as Harvest Moon – any Harvest Moon game made after A New Beginning is not actually made by the original developer and is instead the former publisher for the West trying to capitalise on the name and the fact that a lot of players are not aware of the name change), Deiland and Graveyard Keeper (which is a dark humour take on the genre). These are also often not voice acted (or not entirely) and usually contain some form of social simulation as well.

              I hope this can at least get you started – like I said, I’ll see if I can have a more comprehensive list for you by next week and ask around in the gaming thread I normally start weekly. Of course I’m no expert in the matter so you’ll have to determine the suitability of these suggestions yourself, but I hope they are at least of some use to you!

      3. The Other Dawn*

        My sister is as foster parent and I agree with the points about low literacy. A good mix of reading ages would be good, including a few picture books. Also, given these will be teenagers, they may not even like to read at all. Two of my sister’s current fosters won’t touch a book at all unless it’s required for school. And even then, it’s a huge struggle. It’s not that they can’t read or have trouble reading. They just greatly prefer electronics, music, etc.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Love the “picture books” idea, and these don’t have to be books aimed at young kids, necessarily — they can just be books that have a lot of pictures relative to the amount of text. I had a teen cousin who loved dogs, so I gave her a big old book about all the dog breeds — full of photos, but there was text there too to get her reading. An art book with lots of pictures of art, a sports book with lots of sports photography, a car book with lots of photos of cars. . . .

        2. tangerineRose*

          I’ve noticed that some people who “don’t like to read” make exceptions when the subject is something they’re interested in.

          I sometimes think that schools frequently spend so much effort trying to get kids to read “good” books, they can kill some of the love of reading. In junior high, I learned that if my teachers recommended a book, I should avoid reading it because it would be depressing.

      4. heckofabecca*


        It might be nice to have a small preselected amount of books, then you could take your new foster to buy books as a together-activity (or do it online/check out the library and then buy their favorites) and then repeat with the next foster so you have a growing library—bonus points if you encourage leaving notes in the margins for the next kid (once they’re well settled) XD

        PSA: I am not any kind of childcare/foster youth specialist and this may be a terrible idea XD

      5. Second Breakfast*

        I am glad you pointed out that low literacy skills might be an issue.

        The Bone graphic novels were a big hit with my 6th grade students, but I also enjoyed them as an adult. The Hilda graphic novels might be good to consider as well.

      6. RosyGlasses*

        Yes to the graphic novels. My son who struggles with dyslexia really enjoyed some of them; including Artemis Fowl, which is a fun series in “traditional”book form. Also there is a partial series called Maximum Ride (I think) that he really enjoyed.

        He also loved books on CD and in school he had an audible account for any other reading needed. I know there are varied opinions about Harry Potter, but between that story and a couple of others, my son listened to those practically on repeat from middle school thru about sophomore year.

      7. Clisby*

        The Bone series of graphic novels might be good for kids in that category. My son read the entire series over the summer after 2nd grade. His 5-years-older sister was reading them, which led to my husband reading them, and their talking about the characters got my son interested enough to take them on, even though he was not a great reader at that time.

      8. Seeking Second Childhood*

        El Deafo.
        The Invention of Hugo Cabret
        Cosmo Knights by Hannah Templer (queer sf comic)

      9. Quandong*

        Thank you Batgirl for raising this very important point.

        For some low literacy teenagers, having access to audio books & podcasts as well as image-heavy books would be great.

    19. Still*

      This isn’t really YA but you’ve already got a ton of good recs for that (seconding Becky Chambers and Red, White and Royal Blue!), so I hope you won’t mind me going slightly off-topic.

      I thought I’d mention that one of the books that I’ve found extremely helpful as a young teenager was “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health”. They’ve just come out with a new edition that’s updated to include information about being transgender (though I haven’t read all the way through yet so I don’t know how well they’ve handled it).

      What I loved about the book is that it explained sexuality in a very open, non-judgemental way, and allowed me to learn without any shame or awkwardness of having to search for answers myself or ask my parents or peers.

      So I don’t know if it would be appropriate in a fostering situation but I thought it might be nice for a teenager to have some kind of a factual, non-judgemental source of information on sex and the changes they might be going through. I think Scarleteen has come out with a book as well, and I’m sure there must be some great books around written by LGBTQ+ authors.

      1. Squidhead*

        I was coming here to suggest something similar! I grew up with my parents in a supportive household and I *still* preferred to get this info from books (that my parents bought and made readily available) versus ask questions. Granted, this was the 80’s-early 90’s so pre-internet.

    20. English Rose*

      Congratulations, that’s great news!
      For older teeneagers, Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea series, for sure. So full of imagination and sweeping lush storytelling.
      More recent books I’d recommend include The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, a fable of how Russian aristocrats would take wolf cubs for pets but when they grow larger they have to be turned out of doors and taught to become wild again. It’s the story of a young wolf wilder and the wolves. The first chapter begins “Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl… Her name was Feodora.” In essence it’s about friendship, bravery and hope.
      Also, Sophie Anderson’s The House with Chicken Legs, the story of the young girl Marinka, whose grandmother is the fabled Baba Yaga.

    21. The Dogman*

      The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

      Also goodreads have a “100 top YA fiction books” list, so might be worth having a browse through there too.

      Personally the Discworld will always be my goto recommendation since it is so accessable, very funny and the jokes that go over your head as a teen are much funnier when you reread them all as an adult. The Simpsons on TV has a similar effect with some of it’s jokes I think.

      Good on you for fostering too!

      1. Clisby*

        My daughter read most if not all of the Discworld series and loved it. There are at least a couple of movies made from two: Going Postal and the Hogfather, both of which are quite funny. Bonus if you were a Game of Thrones fan – if you watch Going Postal you can see Charles Dance as Lord Vetinari, in training to play Tywin Lannister.

    22. Ghost Teacher*

      I teach high school and the Bluford series are books with teen themes, but written at about a 5th grade reading level. A lot of our more reluctant readers really enjoy those books.

      YA that I’ve been enjoying lately: Karen McManus’s YA thrillers, A Deadly Education, the An Ember in the Ashes series, Clap when you Land, You Should See me in a Crown, Becky Albertalli books, the Scythe books by Neal Shusterman and Angie Thomas’s books

    23. KnittingUpStorms*

      You might like to get some comics or non-fiction for kids who aren’t big readers. Amulet is a great graphic novel series. The DK Eyewitness non- fiction books are really appealing and cover lots of interests from space, to soccer and mythology – they’re a favourite with my daughter who has a reading delay.

    24. FD*

      Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl
      Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patrica Wrede
      Basically everything by Gail Carson Levine
      Rick Riorden books
      Beauty by Robin McKinley
      Blue Sword / Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
      Dreadnaught by April Daniel

    25. Susie*

      The children of Blood and Bone
      The hate U Give
      Poet X
      Star girl

      I work in an underfunded school with special ed kids with mental health diagnoses…so I have had a number of kids in foster placements over the years. So I agree with previous comments about having a wide array of reading levels. Please make sure the demographics of your bookshelf are representative of the identities of the kids in foster care. You are unlikely to get a kid who loves reading (though it happens…my most recent kid in the system went through a book a day provided the book wasn’t assigned by school, but they were definitely the exception), so your book curation is signaling whether or not you’re a safe person. Also, I think you can make a really powerful statement about reading if you buy a book for the kid to own in the first few days.

      1. Emma2*

        How exciting (and I am sure a bit nerve wracking)! I hope everything goes well with your new role as a foster parent Alison.
        I was also thinking about The Hate U Give (the same author also published On the Come Up) and Poet X – both excellent YA options.
        I realise THUG (along with some of the other books recommended on this thread) has some difficult themes, but I think kids self-select the books that appeal to them. A lot of kids are really drawn to challenging books and others are not. I think they will pick them up if they are interested and put them down if they are not.
        I completely agree with Susie’s suggestion about considering the demographics of the bookshelf – there are so many brilliant writers from so many different backgrounds at the moment that it is really easy to have an amazing collection of books by a diverse group of authors. If you are thinking about the demographics of the books for the foster children, you might also want to reflect on the demographics of the books the kids will see you reading – I think there can be a silent but fairly powerful message about how we see the world in what kids see us do, who they see us pay attention to, etc.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        On the note of “if you buy a book for the kid to own,” maybe think about taking your teen to a bookstore (if you can do so COVID safely; otherwise, I guess an online bookselling site) and letting them know you’ll buy them any books(s) they want — even just browsing as they try to decide what they want is really good for them, and you know they’ll choose something they’re into. I’ve done this with little nieces, and I’m always surprised by what they pick — I couldn’t have possibly guessed that that’s what they’d choose.

    26. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wow, lots of books I would have suggested! I can still add Carl Hiaasen’s YA books — I started reading his fiction, then found out he also wrote some YA novels; Hoot, Flush, Scat, Chomp, Squirm, and Skink – No Surrender. The ones I’ve read also have an ecological bent like some of his other books do. But you hardly notice, he’s a great writer that really pulls you in.

      1. sequined histories*

        Read with enthusiasm by guys and girls, weak readers and strong readers, avid readers and reluctant readers.

    27. Nisie*

      Something to consider is the functional reading level of the kids. Due to trama, it may be lower than expected. I would have some Rick Riordan for diversity and disability representation and include some of the Rick Riordan presents to continue the diversity. Dragon Pearl by Yon Ha Lee is a book that has been a real hit in my house. It’s a Korean-based space opera with nonbinary characters. I also highly recommend the book lists from two homeschool companies- build your own library and Torchlight curriculum. Those are highly diverse book lists. Harry Potter (maybe because the writer is problematic)/Winkle in Time/ The outsiders are also books I’d include.

    28. Llellayena*

      Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series
      WWW: Wake series by Robert J. Sawyer
      Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes
      Heidi by Johanna Spyri
      The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Weiss
      Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (and the rest of the series…)
      No one noticed the cat by Anne McCaffrey
      A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (reads a little younger but it’s about Korean pottery, homelessness and adoption)
      Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series

      I would normally recommend Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series but she uses some stronger themes that might be troubling depending on where the foster kid comes from.

        1. Generic Name*

          Yeah, I have to agree. And the newer ones written by McCafrey’s son have a strange sex focus. I stopped reading any new ones he wrote after I read 2 or 3 of his.

          1. allathian*

            I never even read those.
            To be fair, AMC wrote bodice ripper romances in a soft sci-fi guise, so some romance tropes are pretty obvious in her books.
            The Harper Hall trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums) was written as YA, so it’s less troublesome in this regard.

    29. ecnaseener*

      I see a few recs for Tamora Pierce’s books but I want to double down on that because they’ve got EXCELLENT found-family themes that might resonate especially well with a kid in the foster system.

    30. I heart Paul Buchman*

      My teens’ faves:
      Rick Riordan
      John Flanagan (my favourite)
      Terry Pratchett (I like the disc world guards best).
      John Marsden
      Tim Winton
      The Cherubs series

      As tweens they liked beast quests, Emily Rodder, goosebumps, choose your own adventures, Ripley’s believe it or not, MythBusters style books, Horrible Histories. Diary of a Wimpy kid. 13 story tree house Series. Guinness book of records is the most borrowed book in our school library, perennially popular! None of these have much literary merit but they are easy to read both academically and emotionally.

      I work with foster kids. Be aware that many have disrupted education (so lower reading levels) and/or trauma that can hold them at a stage of development younger than their chronological age. Some may never have read for pleasure so won’t have a schema to follow. Just meet them where they are at and you will be fine!

      Also: audio books!

      1. I heart Paul Buchman*

        Sorry, just to be clear. My comment is in reference to books not behaviour and development in general.

      2. Crop Tiger*

        I am a librarian and I hate the idea that books have to have literary merit. We get so many parents coming in and only allow their kids to check out books they think are worthy because they’re award winners, or so deep and meaningful, that will teach their kid a lesson or open them up to wisdom, when the child in question is begging for Captain Underpants. After a while you can tell the kids don’t even want to be in the library, because reading has become a boring chore.

        Let them read what they want! Maybe later on they’ll decide to read some of those classics! And maybe they won’t. But that’s ok too. We want our kids to love reading but it doesn’t have to be War and Peace all the time.

        1. Felis alwayshungryis*

          That’s so true – I saw the same during my stint as a librarian. I liked the kid whose mum wouldn’t let him get out a book, so he just came and read it at the library on his own.

        2. Jackalope*

          The author Peter Dickinson wrote a splendid short essay once called “A Defense of Rubbish” which addresses this very point. (You can find it fairly easily on Google if you’re interested.) He talks about how everyone needs to spend time sorting through a certain amount of rubbish in order to figure out what they really enjoy, and that we all need a bit of rubbish in our lives. He says it much better and more eloquently than I did here, of course, and I encourage everyone to read it. I suppose I’m particularly drawn to it because I’ve spent most of my life primarily interested in genre fiction and that has long been looked down upon by people who read Serious Books. I’m big on sci-fi/fantasy, YA, and recently a friend has been getting me into romance, which is even lower in the hierarchy of Good Literature as far as the world looks at things. But there’s a LOT of good stuff in genre fiction.

      3. Not playing your game anymore*

        I was just going to suggest audiobooks. They can open so many doors.
        When I was a teen back before the Earth had cooled I loved Elizabeth Peters · Crocodile on the Sandbank series. I was a huge Egypt / King Tut fan. Also, P.G. Wodehouse.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          YES to audiobooks! That’s how I first “read” *Pride and Prejudice* — I think they were reading it aloud on NPR.

          I adore most P.G. Wodehouse books too, and they are also on the list of books I give teens, but you might want to pre-read any particular one to make sure it is a safe choice — there are a couple that include depictions of blackface and that play fascism for laughs that I would steer far away from.

    31. Workerbee*

      A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) – I think this has life lessons for any era
      Allegra Maud Goldman (Edith Konecky) – delightful coming-of-age story
      The Penderwicks series (Jeanne Birdsall) – great characterization and plot
      A Room With a View (E M Forster) – fast-paced and lush at the same time
      The Neverending Story (Michael Ende) – so much more involved than the movie
      The Mote in God’s Eye (Niven and Pournelle) – superb science fiction with personality
      The Wanderings of Wuntvor (series; Craig Shaw Gardner) – Funny! Follows a hapless apprentice in a slightly tilted fantasy world
      Mary Stewart’s Merlin books – her depiction of Merlin is so…human. It’s wonderful.
      The Once and Future King (T H White) – this book has everything in it.
      Jane Austen – the whole set!
      Quest for the Faradawn (Richard Ford) – enchanting and thoughtful; stimulates empathy.
      Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series – great to curl up with
      Tamsin (Peter S Beagle) – pure delight, teenage protagonist, real life concerns such as moving to a new country with a stepfamily are wrapped up with a heartfelt supernatural story.
      The Phantom Tollbooth (Norman Juster) – more life lessons wrapped up in a fantastic journey.

    32. the round file*

      Congratulations! Here are my recommendations:
      – A lot of people have recommended Tamora Pierce, but not my favorite series of hers, which is a bit more adult: the Beka Cooper Trilogy
      – Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series
      – I also read a lot of shojo manga as a teen and my favorite series was Skip Beat! (somewhat dark and quirky) and Shugo Chara (much lighter)
      – Others have recommended books in Spanish. For native speakers, this is probably good, but for someone who’s a heritage speaker (only spoken at home) maybe not so much – literacy level in Spanish can vary a lot among heritage speakers. I’m a heritage speaker and it’s taken me years of studying to get to a level where I can read (8th grade level) books in Spanish. That said, I see Isabel Allende’s books recommended a lot for the teen level.

    33. Chilipepper Attitude*

      So many replies – but I hope you will go to your local library. The librarians there will have a good sense of what is popular where you are.
      And you might not know but, at least in my area, the schools assign novels/readings that the students have to purchase and they tend to repeat each year. Your library might have a list of those so you can built a library for the students so they can do their homework. That can be a big help!

      1. curly sue*

        My tween and teen are super-into Warriors, and the similar-level Wings of Fire series (dragons rather than cats). It’s not a demanding reading level, but the stories and characters are engaging.

      2. Pinky Sally*

        Yes! My teen daughter loved the Survivors, Warriors, and Bravelands! They are probably ‘easier’ reads than typical YA and great for animal lovers. (But they do contain violence, could be problematic for anyone, especially teens dealing with trauma)

      3. Clisby*

        My daughter loved the Warriors series, as well as Guardians of Gi’Hoole.

        One that both she and I loved is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – it won the Newbery Medal back in 2008? 2009? It’s obviously inspired by The Jungle Book, but instead of a little boy wandering off into the jungle and being raised by wolves, a little boy wanders into a graveyard and is raised by ghosts.

    34. Lonely Aussie*

      Can I add Ally Carter and Scott Westfield to the suggestions?
      Ally Carter writes about teenage girls as spies or thieves (but good thieves, recovering stolen art work from WWII)
      Scott Westfield has broad range of YA, one series is a sci-fi adventure with surgically altered humans, one story is about vampires/parasites, sort of and another is about trends and influencers before they were even a thing (pretty sure it was written before Instagram existed)

      1. Lonely Aussie*

        For picture books that teens might also be interested in, Graham Base and Shaun Tan both have (wildly different) illustrated books that aren’t super childish.

    35. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’d think you’d want to pick books by category, so that you get a sampling of as good a range as possible. You can always get more for a particular kid. The categories I can think of, with a few of ones I loved:

      Animal books: White Fang, Black Beauty, Jungle Book
      living in the wild books: Swiss Family Robinson, My Side of the Mountain
      Spunky girl books: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Caddy Woodlawn
      Fantasy: Prydain Chronicles, Chronicles of Narnia, anything by Brandon Sanderson
      Fantasy in our world (like Percy Jackson)
      Murder mystery: Agatha Christie
      Moody teenager books: I didn’t like this, but I know a lot of teens do. Paperdolls is the only one I think I’ve read
      Dystopian Future (like Hunger Games)
      Classics: Pride and Prejudice
      Graphic novels
      cowboy books
      Actual picture books: Bill Peet

      I’m sure I’m missing some major categories that other people will think of.

      I also think it might be more tempting if there is a visual variety, with yellowing dogeared paperbacks and crisp new ones, glossy new hardcovers and fancy aged leatherbounds, fat books and skinny books. There really is something to be said for judging a book by its cover, and you don’t know what will intrigue or intimidate your kids.

      1. the cat's ass*

        second the graphic novels. My kid loved the GN versions of the Rainbow Rowell books; Laura Dean Keeps breaking up with me by Mariko Tamaki; The Prince and the Seamstress by Jen Wang; she’s now 16 and reading Maus tho i’m no the fence about recommending it to just anyone as it’s wicked dark.

    36. Paris Geller*

      You’re getting a lot of great replies, but I also recommend looking at the YALSA (Young Adult Libraries Services Association) lists. They put out a lot of great lists every year of recommended reads. Lists & links:

      2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults: https://www.ala.org/yalsa/2021-best-fiction-young-adults
      2021 Great Graphic Novels for Teens: https://www.ala.org/yalsa/2021-great-graphic-novels-teens
      2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers: https://www.ala.org/yalsa/2021-quick-picks-reluctant-young-adult-readers

    37. hmmmmmmmmmmmm*

      You’ve received a lot of good recommendations, but of course, I’m a public librarian for teens, so I must add to your pile of recs. ;)

      You might want to try some manga. Almost every teen these days is familiar with manga and anime, if not a fan. I’d recommend Demon Slayer (violent historical horror-action), Yotsuba&! (all-ages, very funny contemporary), One Piece (all-ages-ish fantasy-adventure), and My Hero Academia (superhero high school). Junji Ito is also a great choice for horror fans, especially since his books are some of the very rare single-volume mangas out there. (Horror probably seems like a weird rec for foster kids, but horror fans often legitimately find horror to be a great form of escapism and even relaxation, if you can believe it. Also, with the age group you’re fostering, they’re generally old enough to leave the scary book on the shelf if they don’t like being scared, so you’re not really likely to accidentally traumatize anyone. But of course, I’m not a trained foster parent, case by case basis, etc etc etc)

      There’s also Western comic books, of course. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (fantasy), Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (horror), In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (video games), Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (younger, paranormal), anything by Raina Telgemeier (contemporary and very very popular), Into the Game by FGTeev (video games), and New Kid by Jerry Craft (contemporary, diverse).

      For fiction books, I second the previous recs for Discworld, Diana Wynne Jones (she’s technically for younger audiences but she doesn’t READ like it, so a great choice for kids who aren’t reading at their age level), The Hate U Give, and The Poet X. I’d also point to On The Come Up by Angie Thomas, Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and Pet by Akwaeke Emezi.

      For non-fiction, there’s Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen (about sexual health–I’m sure your foster care training will give you more insight about whether this is appropriate to provide, but I thought I’d throw it out there), The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (true crime), Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes (foster memoir), and Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

      1. Ali*

        YES, I was scrolling down to find this. Buying a couple of manga would be my number one recommendation for a teen you don’t know yet.

      2. Koala dreams*

        I would also recommend some manga and comic books. They are not just for “weak” readers either. Case closed / Detective Conan is a lot of fun. Library Wars is perhaps more fun for people who like libraries already.

        Themed fact books for young people are also good. Sadly I don’t remember any titles, but I’m thinking of things like the body, technology, the law, democracy, banks…

        1. Clisby*

          My son is a sophomore in college and still likes manga. He liked One Piece, Death Note, One Punch Man, My Hero Academia … those are the ones I remember.

      3. Ursula*

        I agree on the manga, but all the ones you’ve got there are shonen (action/superpower stand-off oriented, for those who don’t know). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love a good shonen every so often. Some good non-shonen manga:

        Kimi Ni Todoke (From Me to You)
        Fruits Basket (lots of everyday trauma in this one)
        Akagami no Shirayuki-Hime (Red Haired Snow White)

        And here are some technically shonen ones that aren’t very shonen-y:

        Haruhi Suzumiya
        Fullmetal Alchemist
        Case Closed (Detective Conan)

    38. Podkayne*

      The two Dread Nation books by Justine Ireland
      Two books by Angie Thomas: The Hate U Give and On the Come Up
      Daniel Woodrell’s book, Winter’s Bone
      Douglas Adams’ classic: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and its companion books)

    39. Podkayne*

      The two Dread Nation books by Justine Ireland
      Two books by Angie Thomas: The Hate U Give and On the Come Up
      Daniel Woodrell’s book, Winter’s Bone
      Douglas Adams’ classic: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and its companion books)

    40. *daha**

      Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce. You’ll want to read this for yourself too because it works just fine as an adult read with a teen protagonist. The book has one giant fault, and that’s the title. First you think it will be in Spanish, and then you think it is the second in a series. But it is the story of Flora, a girl about to turn fourteen in a society where kids grow up a lot sooner. She was named after her sister Flora who was lost in war, so she has trouble escaping comparisons and establishing herself as her own individual and not a replacement for someone else.
      The setting is an alternate California in a city-state called Califia where magic works and underpins society. There’s lots of great world-building behind Flora’s adventures, including a lost war to a native population with much stronger magic and armies. The society has Hispanic roots and is matriarchal. Flora’s parents live in a house that is enormous and out of control and difficult to live in, particularly because her father, who came back damaged from the war, has banned the magical butler/daemon that makes it work.
      I’m leaving out her buddy/sidekick, and the true-life hero of the spy-adventure books Flora reads and quotes from, and her mother the General of the Armies, and her upcoming fourteenth birthday celebration at which she will be expected to wear a dress she sews herself, and the way magic flows, and so much more. There are two sequels and a collection of stories from the same setting. Full title: Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog

    41. Adhoc Librarian*

      School librarian here.
      -Marvel comic books – Miles Morales Spiderman, Black Panther, Ms Marvel are diverse and easy to follow; agree that One Piece and My Hero Academia do not stay on the shelves.
      -Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
      -Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence
      -Looking for Alaska (or others by) John Green
      -Every Day by David Levithan
      -Seconding (thirding?) Mallory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series
      -The Hate You Give, On the Come Up, and Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
      -A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (and the sequel)
      -One or two Warrior Cats books, or Varjak Paw – it’s easier sometimes to read about animals
      -Some old Goosebumps, Beastquests
      – I don’t know if these are a thing in the US, but the Horrible Histories and Horrible Science books are funny and informative.
      So many! Buy some used if you can – if the books look casually frayed then they won’t be too intimidating.

      1. Adhoc Librarian*

        Forgot they do Manga Shakespeare so if you know what’s on the curriculum in your area you could get one or two for those whose education may have been interrupted.

        1. Clisby*

          When I was growing up, Classic Comics were a thing. I’m not sure whether these are still published, but they were sort of like the comic book versions of Cliff’s Notes for literature. I got a 25-cent-a-week allowance, and on Sundays my parents would stop off at a little grocery store that carried, among other things, comics. I bought a lot of the Classic Comics (I think they were 15 cents each, leaving me a dime for a small ice cream cone.) I sometimes bought a Marvel/DC comic, but mostly it was the Classics. That was my first introduction to David Copperfield, Last of the Mohicans, Three Musketeers, and many others.

    42. Elizabeth West*

      If you’re dealing with a teen, they may already have preferences for a particular series or literary genre if they’re a reader, or they might prefer manga or something like that. Once they’re settled, a trip to the bookstore might be worth exploring.

      I think it’s wonderful that you’re doing this and that you’re focusing on teenagers. Everyone wants to help a baby but most people forget that older kids need stability as much as little ones.

      1. Pinky Sally*

        Yes, a trip to the bookstore could be very special! It may be quite meaningful for them to get to pick their own book and know that it is theirs to keep. An aunt always gave my kids a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, and they looked forward to it every year, going to the bookstore and picking a book that was all ‘theirs’!

    43. Decidedly Me*

      Honestly, Stephen King novels kept me sane as a foster kid. The Talisman in particular is a good YA gateway, but I personally read any that I could get my hands on :)

      I see a lot of topic warnings mentioned in replies. Yes, be aware of it, but foster kids are not fragile pieces of china. In fact, they are some of the strongest kids you’ll ever meet. Reading about hard topics can be better than good topics. For me, reading super happy novels was more likely to trigger bad feelings.

      If you get a reader, definitely take them to a library or book store. I love that you’re setting up a bunch of books for them!

      Another recommendation that I haven’t seen here yet is The Shades of Magic trilogy by VE Schwab. It’s not specifically YA, but a really fun read that I think a teen would enjoy.

    44. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks, all! There are so many great suggestions here for me to check out. And yeah, we’re very aware that kids may not want to read at all, which is fine — the books are there if they’re inclined but it’s totally fine if they’re not — and that literacy levels will vary (I’ve got a bunch of lower reading age books in the mix too). And yes, making sure there’s lots of representation on the shelf. I appreciate all this help!

      1. Bibliovore*

        High interest reads for all kinds of kids.
        Hi interest for struggling readers- Kwame Alexander- the Crossover (and his other titles) Adam Gidwitz. Nancy Springer, Jacqueline Woodson.
        Self-selection is important- A sense of belonging can be had with a library card-
        Second graphic format- also great are books by Brian Selznick.
        Wordless books like The Arrival.
        Audio books- great for in the car or waiting times.
        I am sure your classes are preparing you- perhaps a visit to a bookstore with a dollar amount they can spend to own a book- that will always be theirs.

      2. Michelle*

        I just finished Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and it is beautiful. Wonderful story, simply written with complex Latino and LGBTQ+ characters. There’s a sequel that I’m excited to read too!

      3. PSU RN*

        So many great suggestions, have add Amulet graphic novel series and Kimberly Baker Bradley The War that saved my Life and the sequel.

      4. Sandan Librarian*

        Possibly someone mentioned this already and I missed it while skimming, but if you find that your foster is not a confident reader, but has interest in reading, you might want to ask your librarian about high-low books, which are highly engaging age-appropriate subject matter at a lower reading level for struggling readers. A lot of publishers who produces high-low books have lines on a variety of topics, from realistic fiction to fantasy (though I’ve found they’re weaker on fantasy and science fiction).

    45. Hen*

      If you don’t know the reading level of the young person, I recommend adding some beautiful picture books as well. Anything that can be comforting / reassuring without requiring a high level of reading comprehension

      1. RagingADHD*

        Aaron Becker has a beautiful trilogy of stories without words: Journey, Quest, and Return.

        The illustrations are so detailed and immersive, any age can enjoy them by getting the jist of the plot, or going deep into the nuance.

    46. Piano Girl*

      I loved From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by EL Konigsburg. My granddaughter (11) loves The Click graphic novels by Kayla Miller, my grandson (9) loves the Dogman books.
      Good luck!

    47. Cruciatus*

      So many good suggestions–some were on my list–Tortall series, Ranger’s Apprentice (LOVE this series and I’ve only read them as an adult), but one I haven’t seen listed is something I know kids and adults also liked–Pendragon by DJ MacHale. I’m surprised I don’t see people mention it more but I loved reading about teenager Bobby Pendragon’s adventures to different worlds where he and his friends have to try and stop Saint Dane, whose ultimate goal is to bring down all of these different worlds so he can rebuild them his own way for his own purposes.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        I’d forgotten Pendragon! I also liked the Garth Nix days of the week books (Mister Monday etc.) which are a bit odd and high concept, but really interesting.

    48. nectarine*

      this won’t be really feasible till you get a person: but don’t forget non-fiction. There’s no guarantee your person will like fiction. Once you have a person: find out their interests, then both biographies and technical books in whatever subject.

    49. GoryDetails*

      Loads of great recommendations so far; I’ll second Pratchett, the Ryan North choose-your-own-Shakespeare books, T. Kingfisher, and Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children”.

      In the manga-and-graphic-novel section, I’d recommend Chi’s Sweet Home – adorable episodic manga about a kitten and her new family. While there’s an ongoing storyline it mostly consists of short strips – Chi learns to use a litterbox, Chi discovers the sock drawer, Chi sees a butterfly, etc. – so it’s easy to start and stop.

      For something a bit more elaborate, the manga series Heaven’s Design Team is fun: it deals with the wild variety of lifeforms on the planet, as if they were being designed by a quirky team of experts with their own biases. The “heaven” aspect might be problematic, I admit; it’s a kind of secular version of God-and-angels as client-and-R&D, but doesn’t really have any religious elements other than that. But the thought processes behind the development of, say, a giraffe or a sea turtle or a Venus flytrap are spelled out in entertaining form, and in between each chapter is an info page showing the real-world lifeforms from the stories. (There’s an anime version of this with a very lively theme song; kids who prefer video might like that, and might be tempted into the manga. Or vice versa?)

    50. RagingADHD*

      My teen is into fantasy and sci fi. She recommends:

      Six of Crows by Liegh Bardugo
      Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufmann
      Etiquitte and Espionage by Gail Carriger
      Warcross by Marie Lu
      Bluescreen by Dan Wells
      Sylo by DJ MacHale
      Diamond City by Francesca Flores
      Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
      Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
      Cinder by Marissa Meyer
      Renegades by Marissa Meyer
      The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

    51. marvin the paranoid android*

      A few favourites, although they might not be for everyone:

      Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: A really sweet story about a trans Latino boy who accidentally summons a ghost he can’t get rid of.

      The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline: A dark but indescribably moving story about a group of Indigenous companions who are trying to escape being hunted for their ability to dream.

      Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson: A gothic West Coast story about a Haisla girl who tries to find her missing brother and gets drawn into the magic and history of the land.

    52. American Job Venter*

      Elijah of Buxton. It’s about a kid born into a settlement of escaped slaves, and how he both deals with his community’s past and his present.

    53. Rara Avis*

      My 13 yo loves graphic novels. Raina Telgemaier is a favorite author.
      Keeper of the Lost Cities.
      Kristin Cashore.

    54. MaxKitty*

      Gail Carriger’s Finishing School YA series
      Elizabeth Acevedo, With the Fire on High
      Ellen Raskin, The Westing Game
      The Mysterious Benedict Society-recently adapted for Disney+

    55. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I would make it a point to pick up some graphic novels and/or manga to add to the collection – you never know what reading level a person is at, and a lot of teens find the art + story more stimulating/engaging than just words on a page.

      Gaiman’s Sandman was a perennial favorite of mine, in the graphic novel field. For manga, I’d aim at something which that has relatively wide audiences (the stereotypical naruto/fruits basket/etc), just because chances are good it will also be a cultural touch stone with other kids at school and the like. There’s a lot of less common stuff out there that can be amazing, though.

      For novels – Maybe something by Naomi Naovik? I’ve had a lot of kids say they enjoyed Spinning Silver. Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillian has been popular with kids going through a bit of a rebellious phase as well.

    56. Kirsten*

      My teen loves John Flanagan! My preteen loves Rick Riordan and the Wings of Fire series currently. Another series that the preteen loved was the Land of Stories. It’s more for the 3rd-5th grade reading level but I like the suggestions of having a range of levels.

      When I was a teen I was already reading adult books. I started reading Sue Grafton when I was in middle school and love her books to this day.

      1. allathian*

        I also started reading Sue Grafton in middle school, and then my mom would buy every new book as they came out, although I admit that the last few books weren’t as good as the early ones, and I never managed to finish Y is for Yesterday. That said, I do think it’s a shame she didn’t live long enough to write the Z book…

    57. Figuring it all out*

      Jumping in to add a couple of graphic novels. Anything by Shaun Tan (his books are beautiful, and with minimal words) and Nimona and Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson (of SHE-RA fame).
      Lots of Calvin and Hobbes of course, for bathroom reading.

    58. Mimmy*

      No recommendations, I just wanted to say how awesome it is that you’re going to do foster parenting. I saw below that you’re specifically focusing on treatment foster parenting, which I’d never heard of before. Wishing you all the best with this!

    59. Stitching Away*

      I don’t read much YA, but one of my absolute favorites is Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville. It turns tropes on their heads (which is a thing I love) by taking your typical hero’s quest and then removing the hero from the action very early on. Now it’s up to the plucky sidekick to save the day, but she doesn’t have time to go through all 27 steps, can’t she just skip to the end?

      And don’t worry, while his adult fiction can be terrifying, this definitely isn’t.

    60. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Reina Talmagar anything and Miss Peregrin are pretty popular amongst my crew (11-12). I have a lot of kids who love manga and Warriors is always a perennial favourite. I struggle with recommending Harry Potter because of the issues mentioned upthread, but there are still a lot of kids who love them. Simple comics like Garfield and Archie or brightly illustrated trivia books tend to catch my most reluctant readers.

    61. SG*

      Oh, and I know Sherman Alexie is controversial, but The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is phenomenal — I loved it as an adult but would have loved it even more as a young adult. I can’t think of any other book that I would say this about, but wish it had been around when I was a teenager so that I could have read it then. It’s a special book and so relatable.

    62. Free Meerkats*

      In case they might be interested in graphic novels, Ursula Vernon’s Digger. I think it’s out of print, so you’ll have to find them in the used market. 7 paperbacks or the Complete Omnibus Edition, which weighs in art almost 4 pounds.
      There is a minor DV subtext in part of it, though; so read it first.

    63. Retired(but not really)*

      For nonfiction I remember being fascinated by astronomy, birds, animals of all kinds, travel, architecture, interior design, art history…
      The coffee table books others have mentioned were gifts reflecting some of these topics as I was growing up.

    64. Observer*

      2 that I didn’t see that I and my sisters enjoyed.

      Mrs. Pollifax. It’s a series about an older widow who becomes a spy for the CIA.

      The Wizard of Oz and the entire series. It will work pretty well for kids with lower reading level. To some extent it’s dated, of course, but it was very fun reading.

    65. Biology dropout*

      I’ve been loving the Julie Murphy books (lots of diversity in size, race, class, and super LBGTQ-positive)!
      These are meant for younger readers in terms of level but enjoyable by all ages – Christopher Paul Curtis’s books, especially Bud Not Buddy/the Mighty Miss Malone and Elijah of Buxton/The Madman of Piney Woods. (I’d steer clear of Bucking the Sarge for trauma reasons)
      I’d be careful with some of the classics – there are some super problematic things I’ve found in those books as I’ve gone back to read them while vetting them for my kids (ie some super racist stuff in The Secret Garden, racist and anti-Semitic stuff in LM Montgomery, etc.)

    66. Radar’s glasses*

      I recommend “Tales from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: Short Stories for Young Adults”. 17 tales of mysteries, detection and suspense. My favorite is Clark Howard’s “New Orleans Getaway.”

    67. ronda*

      a couple books from my time (way back in the 80s) that I enjoyed

      the warrior’s apprentice by lois mcmaster bujold
      teenage miles space adventures

      on a pale horse by piers anthony
      guy kills death and becomes death

      both of these authors have many more books if anyone manages to get hooked on them. I didnt read a lot of Piers Anthony but am under the impression that his Xanth series appealed to teenage boys. (the one I mention is a different series)

      oh.. and the sharing knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold. – this is a fantasy with an American Indian / European settler vibe…. but not, cause it is a fantasy novel. This one you kind of need to read all 4 books to get the story tho.
      I actually really liked to re-listen to these books to sleep after I had read them. If I woke up I would be like, oh… that is where we are in the story :). I rather liked the readers voice.

    68. LittleBabyDamien*

      I would like to second (third?) Black Beauty, which isn’t just a nice animal story, but a very approachable treatise on animal welfare and social justice, and way ahead of its time.
      Magazines on topics that teens are interested in (music, pop culture, tech, sports)
      Neil Gaiman, who also co-authored with Terri Pratchett, and Dianna Wynne Jones, wrote a great short story called “Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” that was published as a graphic book. A good segue from that into slightly more advanced reading could be one of his short story collections, or one of his kids/YA books such as The Graveyard Book. He also wrote Coraline, which was made into an animated movie.
      And I once read a children’s picture book called ‘Nothing’, by Mick Inkpen, to a group of adult friends, who came from some very diverse and difficult situations, to very positive response. Mostly I read it to them because I really liked the story and the characters, and because I enjoy reading out loud to people!
      You might also consider audio books. I had one playing in the vehicle while waiting for a ferry, and I thought the kids had fallen asleep, until it got to the end and one kid said, ‘Can we listen to the next one now?’ Normally there would have been an actively hostile situation in the back seat after such a long wait, so it was a wonderful interlude. It was a mystery by an author called Dick Francis.
      And finally, the one thing that turned that kid into a fluent reader was reading for information. Bus schedules, to use transit to visit friends, sports card guides to evaluate their collection of cards. Electronics manuals, presumably to be able to rewire anything that ran on electricity. Movie theatre listings.

    69. i will do it anon*

      Also to add to my previous post, since some other manga has been recommended: at that age my favorite manga was Azumanga Daioh, which is basically just Japanese girls in high school being girls in high school. It’s very funny and surprisingly relatable as an American, and it was originally published in a shounen magazine (directed at young-ish/teen boys) despite being about girls.

    70. Quinalla*

      The Earthsea Cycle by Ursala K LeGuin
      The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
      Others already mentioned Tamora Pierce, but she is great!
      I really like the Harry Potter books as well even though JK Rowling is loudly bigoted against trans folks. I put it in context for my own kids personally, just like I do with Asimov and others who I like their works but who are problematic too. I also own the books from when they came out, so I’m not having to buy new books supporting her more at this time which can make a difference too.

    71. Lbd*

      On the comic end of things, most of the teen and preteen readers who encountered them went back again and again to the Asterix series. Bound like a large soft cover book, they are about Asterix, his friend Obelix and little dog Dogmatix and their run ins with the Romans at the nearby Roman camp.
      Also compilations of comic strips. Calvin and Hobbes was a favourite along with The Farside. The nephew who read those also had us in stitches with his readings from joke books.

    72. curious*

      I would like a future post (or entire offshoot blog?) about your journey to foster care. It is something I have always been curious about, but just not sure where to start. Congrats and good luck!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’ve wanted to do it for years! I was never interested in having biological children but I really like kids, especially teenagers, and there’s a huge need for foster homes willing to take teens. Most people who foster want babies and little kids and won’t take teens. So a lot of teens end up in residential facilities because there aren’t enough homes for them to go to. There’s also a huge problem with older teens aging out of the system and having no support network so ending up homeless or otherwise really struggling. (There are also, frankly, just a lot of not-great foster homes.)

        If you’re interested in exploring it yourself, google for foster care agencies in your area. You can also go through your city/county, but private agencies will usually give you more support if you go through them instead. (I think this depends on your location though, so it’s good to check out both options). They’ll all have an initial orientation call or session for you to get more info (nearly all being done by Zoom right now, at least in my area).

        And I’m happy to answer any questions about it! Once we have a kid(s) with us, I’m unlikely to be able to share specific experiences because of their privacy, but I’d be glad to answer anything you’re curious about now!

    73. Chaordic One*

      The other commenters have provided excellent suggestions, but I’m going to play Debbie Downer here. You also need to be prepared for the possibility that your foster teen might be someone who doesn’t like to read. Or who maybe doesn’t read well or who has difficulty doing so (dyslexia?) or who reads below grade level. (A teen who reads at a child’s grade level won’t want to read books intended for young children.)

      If that is the case, after you know more about the teen, you might consider providing coffee table picture books, comic books, graphic novels, and various magazines geared to her or his interests.

    74. Teen books*

      I love YA, my son and I went through some fun series at that age:

      Artemis Fowl – Colfer
      Septimus Heap – Sage
      Sea of Trolls trilogy – Farmer
      Charlie Bone series – Nimmo
      The Overlander series – Collins (my favorite)
      Golden Compass series – Phillip Pullman

      My daughter on the other hand only read books by bloggers (caution required depending on age/experience):
      Binge – Tyler Okley
      Dan and Phil go Outside
      Self-Help – Miranda Sings

      And we have some good ”older” comics- the thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, and John Lewis’s March trilogy and Trapped In A Video Game.

    75. Broadway Duchess*

      The Arc of a Scythe series. Three books, quick reads, great story. For reference, I’m not at all the YA demo and I thought it was fantastic!

    76. Yet another librarian!*

      I highly recommend any Jason Reynolds books. The Track series is a middle school level but emotionally intelligent and interesting to an older teen. It features diverse characters (not to mention an own voices author) and one character was adopted by family members even though her mom is alive but has medical needs. Long Way Down is another great one by Jason Reynolds. I haven’t read it, but I wonder if Tiffany Haddish’s memoir The Last Black Unicorn would be relatable since she grew up in foster care – and is a great storyteller. Another set of books that I found had broad appeal including with reluctant readers is the Humans of New York coffee table books. Good luck!

    77. Anono-me*

      Please consider having books in multiple languages. It is possible that some of the foster children staying with you will come from homes where a language other than English was spoken at home.

      Graphic novels, factoid books, books on how to do something (especially drawing), and auto/biographies tend to be gateway books to reading for the non reader.

      Lots people discover poetry when they hit their teens. Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, and Maya Angelou are some that I have loved for a long time. And of course Amanda Gorman is fantastic.

      Also, if possible, please try to have multiple copies of books so you can gift the books and if the kids have access to a smart phone or other device, try to set them up with an ereader and free ebooks. Bookbub often has free ebooks listed (quality varies). Baen books has lots of free ebooks that can be downloaded or read online. (I know there are concerns about Baen, but sharing older books is something that they get right.)

    78. The Rat-Catcher*

      This thread is really long so apologies if this has already been said, but very often kids in the system have had gaps or delays in tbeir education. So you might consider throwing in a few things that you might think of as being more middle-school level (Judy Cleary, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc).

    79. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      Perhaps consider audio books as well if that’s an option?
      I loved Neil Gaiman’s reading of The Graveyard Book.

    80. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      Everyone has great recommendations here, and I know I’m a few days late, but I’d just like to add this. Teens this year, in my school, are really going in for what my boss is calling “nostalgia reads,” as in, things they read as kids and middle schoolers. I think it has something to do with a year on pause and comfort reading to deal with all the trauma we’re all going through.

      So, ideally you could find out what the nostalgia/comfort reads for the individual kid are. If you wanted to bulk up ahead of time, I would recommend:

      Diary of a Wimpy Kid (or alternate similarities, like Geek Diaries)
      the Warriors series
      The Bluford High series
      Wings of Fire (I had never heard of this one, but kids are asking for it)
      the Amulet comic series (same)
      And perennial requests:
      Percy Jackson (or other Rick Riordan series)
      Harry Potter

      Obviously there are a lot more, because it varies wildly with individuals and micro-generations, but these are the most requested that I’m seeing. Maybe get your old nostalgia reads (for me this would be Princess Diaries, Artemis Fowl, Ella Enchanted, and Harry Potter).

      There are also a LOT of really good diverse comics and graphic novels coming out right now that kids are eating up. (Comics, graphic novels and manga are also big comfort reads.)

      We’re also big on poetry right now, but I think that might be unique to us. I’m pretty sure a single student is driving it.

    81. Portia Longfellow*

      I adore Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, beginning with The Wee Free Men. I might be a little more cautious recommending The House in the Cerulean Sea. I loved it when I first read, but then I discovered the author publicly discussing his inspiration being Canadian residential schools and the 60s Scoop, when indigenous children were forcibly stolen from their families and stripped of their language, culture and history. (You can Google Klune’s name + “residential schools” and it’s the first result.) Unfortunately, that tainted the book in hindsight for me, and I thinks readers deserve to understand the context going in.

    82. Robin Ellacott*

      It really depends a lot on the kid, of course….

      Seconding Tamora Pierce because her heroines all succeed by working hard in addition to talent and passion. Also the books are full of found family and tolerance.

      The Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld is a steampunk retelling of WWI and it’s a delight.

      For a younger person the Fablehaven books might appeal. Or Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series.

      Terry Pratchett is one I regret not discovering as a kid, and still love. Probably Wee Free Men or the first book in any of the character cycles (witches, guards, etc.) would be an easy introduction.

      I really liked Spinning Silver by Naiomi Novik, and also Uprooted although that one felt darker. SS has found family, three women who are all strong in different ways, and an underlying sense of justice. CW for antisemitism.

      Mysteries are kind of comforting because they tend to end with the baddies being unmasked. Ditto fairy tale retellings.

      Just read The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison… I would have loved it as an older teen too. It’s essentially very well-written Sherlock wingfic, with some great twists around identity, and like the Holmes stories it’s intertwined short stories about different cases. There’s some gore and violence though.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Should have said, Spinning Silver deals with antisemitism but the book is NOT antisemetic.

        Rumi’s poems might appeal too, or a book of or about blackout poetry.

  3. Romeo Delight*

    Music Gear Thread!

    Let’s talk about any new gear you recently bought, gear you want, lesson recommendations, home recording tips, anything musical instrument related.

    I recently bought an EBS MicroBass pre amp pedal for playing at home through the laptop/studio monitors and it is amazing! I can get any tone out of it I want and it has enough features to be used at a gig.

    1. pcake*

      I just ordered a Fender Pure Vintage ’63 Precision Bass Pickup Set, but couldn’t decide what bass to put it in. I love my cheapest bass, a Squier Bronco, too much to route it, and most of my other basses have pickups I’m happy with, but I don’t have anything with just a split P pickup. So I ordered a cheapie Glarry P bass (in yellow, because why not?), as many of my friends have them and say they’re lightweight and decent. A couple months ago, I got a Phil Jones CR-2 cab (in red), and every bass I own sounds like a million bucks through it.

      I’m considering the EBS MicroBass as I’m not happy with my Zoom. How’s the compression on the EBS or do you use a separate compressor or no compressor?

      1. Romeo Delight*

        I think the built in compression is pretty decent for a one knob. I have the MXR mini compressor for my practice rig with the band and that one is really good, too.

        One thing that really helps the EBS is the Mooer Radar pedal. It has some pretty good cab and power amp IR’s that really bring out the best of the preamp.

    2. The Dogman*

      I need new DJ headphones… My Sonys are over 20 years old and finally starting to fail a bit, but I don’t want to spend loads on high hype, low quality headphones… So no suggestions for beats, headcandy or any other “fashionable” ones…

      But with said anyone with recommendations of a brand or model I should try please let me know!

      For reference my Sonys were about £100 20 years ago, so I would be ok with spending maybe up to £200 if the next ones are really good!

    3. Cormorannt*

      I recently started cello lessons – adult beginner taking lessons with a friend. The cello and bow are rentals but I have acquired a music stand and an adjustable musicians chair. Plus a few little things, like a pencil with a magnetic top that sticks to the music stand and a little sponge thing that keeps the cello happily humidified in dry weather. Also downloaded the Total Energy (TE) Tuner app for my phone. I am contemplating buying a clip-on light for the music stand but it hasn’t seemed necessary yet.

    4. wingmaster*

      Partner and I were just gifted some sound proofing foam panels for our new place! He plays electric guitar, and I play bass. Right now we are just trying to figure out the best way to put these up. Each foam panel is 12x12x1…the room is 8×10 layout, so we definitely would need to trim some foam squares. Some of the walls have things (plug outlet, lightswitch, etc) so we need to work around that too.

      We’re also brainstorming about the window. If it’s fine to just close it or also put a panel to cover it when we jam. Oh, and the door too!

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Mine was free: a ukulele app. I used to play mandolin, melody line, but my hands are wrecked. I currently play a simplified version of mountain dulcimer, which I love. I wanted something portable, though, and I’m having fun converting standard ukulele notation to something between mandolin and dulcimer to play melody. I also have a kalimba app on my phone, so now I’ve got two “instruments” to enjoy playing while away from home.

  4. Aphrodite*

    Bookmarks–the real ones, not digital–are a book lovers’ delight. Some of us are serious collectors and are looking for a quality museum or library that would be interested in starting a collection of this ephemera. A number of places have been contacted with, surprisingly to us, no response even when they have serious and valuable book collections.

    Bookmarks may be a small part of literary collections but they offer huge historical potential like stamps and postcards. Sadly, we have been unable to find a potential home for preserving them until they get the recognition they. deserve. Does anyone know of a place that would value the donation of them? We seem unable to interest libraries and museums in them as a permanent collection and I don’t know why. I’m talking primarily antique and vintage here but modern ones are certainly part of it and not all are paper.

    1. RagingADHD*

      That sounds like the sort of collection that would do well with its own social media account, the way Postcards From History does on Twitter. I’m sure there are equivalents on Instagram, but I haven’t seen them.

      Interest tends to beget interest.

      1. AGD*

        I’m reminded of BrandNamePencils or Stuff in Old Books.

        Or maybe (this is moderately fanciful, but) the Library Hotel in NYC?

    2. Not A Manager*

      Are they relevant to a particular geographic area? I’ve seen collections like that in smaller regional museums, especially ones that have a special room devoted to “what life was like in this location in the 19th century” kinds of things.

      County seats and state capitols are especially likely to have public art museums that also have exhibits of this type. I’ve also seen collections like that in children’s museums.

      I think that unless your collection really includes historically antique items (bookmarks from Elizabethan England or from colonial America, for example), you are better off marketing them as “Americana” or “New England special interest” than you are as a museum collection.

      1. another_scientist*

        That’s an intriguing idea. I think there is a general mismatch between objects we find worthy of note and preservation (huge number), and the space, funding and audience for museums (limited).
        I once peeked into the back room of a natural history museum and they had stashed over 20 stuffed ostriches there. How they got them, I don’t know, but why would you exhibit more than 2 or 3 of a species. And once you have them, it somehow seems wrong to throw them out?

    3. WellRed*

      Why? Because preservation and physical space equal money, both of which are in short supply at museums and libraries.

    4. Skeeder Jones*

      This seems like such a great idea for a collection. I could totally see this in the Library of Congress, though I imagine it is super hard to get their attention or get some kind of exhibit there. When I went to DC, I expected to just kind of be in and out of the LOC but there were so many interesting exhibits there. I wonder if maybe some place like Powell Books in Oregon would be willing to display some? I imagine they can’t give up too much of their space because they need to display items that will make money for them. I hope you are able to find a home for this collection.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      The more serious and valuable the collection, the less a library wants bookmarks. We used strips of acid-free paper and nothing else was allowed. Our books did not circulate.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Possibly, if it’s a place with a decorative paper collection. But that’s a pretty specific specialty. Possibly an art museum with a print collection would be interested.

    6. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have a nice collection of bookmarks including two metal ones (one copper with turquoise) and several made from textiles (handmade bobbin lace and embroidery). I would love to see an exhibit of bookmarks. I never knew other people were interested in collecting them. My embroidery guild has made bookmarks for our local library’s summer reading programs for kids.

    7. Grits McGee*

      Hi, I’m an archival appraiser in my day job, here are my suggestions-
      -Museums and libraries are probably not great homes for collections of bookmarks. You’re more likely to get interest from archival repositories, esp. those that already have ephemera collections.
      -All libraries/museums/archives have collecting policies, including the scope of what they collect. You probably will not be able to find a repository that wants a hodge-podge collection of bookmarks, but you might get interest for bookmarks that fit within an archives’ collection specialization (locale/demographic/period of history/etc).
      -You might get more interest if you offer to donate money to offset the cost of accessioning and storing the bookmarks.
      -When you’ve been turned down by museums and libraries, have they given you any suggestions for other institutions that might want them? If not, reach out and ask- at least where I work, we often have a good idea of what other nearby repositories are interested in and give suggestions when people come to us with donations that are outside our collection scope.

  5. Double A*

    What are you best tips for meal planning? I don’t mean recipes, but do you have any resources or strategies you use for actually planning your meals for the week/month?

    I find both planning *and* cooking is a real drag; if I could do one or the other I’d be fine with it, but for Reasons I’m pretty much always going to be responsible for both.

    I bought a meal plan from Budget Bytes a couple of weeks ago and it was really helpful to just have it all laid out and it meant we tried some stuff we wouldn’t otherwise. However, I’m working with some restrictions so something a bit more customizable would be better.

    Basically I’d love it if someone else would just tell me what to cook. Is there, like, an app for that? How do you meal plan?

    1. RagingADHD*

      We’re in a season of multiole kid activities with schedules that change week to week, so I only plan a week at a time (because if I will be driving carpool after practice, that cuts into dinner prep time).

      I also tend to keep the kitchen stocked with staple and favorite ingredients, and favor recipes that feature them. That makes it easier, because I can rough out ideas for the week without always having to make a new, specific grocery list.

    2. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      I numbered all our meals (we kept a lot of the recipe cards from gousto & hello fresh). Every week I pick 5 numbers at random, that’s what we’re eating this week… sounds weird but it does work. I do 5 because fresh veg doesn’t always seem to last very long so I buy it weekly, and there is always pasta or ‘freezer surprise’ for back up.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I was going to suggest numbering your recipes and then using a random number generator to select the recipes for you.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, or I wrote each meal and its grocery list on index cards and I make one of the boys pull cards from the “deck”.

    3. Freezer Meals*

      I’m a visual person so I literally print out the recipes I want to try. I’ll jot down edits on the printout after I cook them. If it’s a keeper, it joins the pile on the fridge. When I’m organized, I going though the pile and choose my meals for the week (veggies never last more than a week except maybe brussel sprouts). I build in some grace for a night when we do takeout or a freezer meal or cereal. Homemade frozen breakfast burritos are a surprisingly tasty dinner. Or just a rotisserie chicken covered in salsa or shredded into fried rice. I like to aim for single pot meals that have a protein, veggies, and a carb so we eat a lot of rice with cauliflower rice plus protein and then some kind of sauce. Changing the sauce but not the actual food bowl makes things feel new but not overwhelmingly so.

    4. Moira*

      I add recipes we’ve liked into the paprika 3 app. It does shopping lists, lets you scale recipes up or down and you can add your own notes, edits and tags (eg freezes ok, vegan, dessert etc) to easily categorise and search. It makes it easier to find the chicken thing from 2 weeks ago that everyone liked. It’s easy to c&p from websites but you can also add manually if needed. It’s made my life heaps easier (1 kid with allergies, 1 without, husband who regularly changes his eating patterns etc). I get to cook one base recipe without allergens, add them back in for child 2, lose the carbs for husband as needed etc

      1. Moira*

        Plus I stick to a template – leftovers for lunch for everyone so always cook extra. Fish x times a week, beef mince x times (faster to feed kids mince than steak) etc and then vary how the base ingredient gets cooked eg mince can be meatballs, bolognese, taco filling etc. Plus I always have a basic soup in the freezer and some other easy quick meals.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I really like the paprika app too – its the only app I have ever spent money on and it has been worth every penny!

      3. Double A*

        I love Paprika and it’s definitely expanded the recipes we use! I use it mostly for storing recipes and grocery lists, and the add ingredient to list feature is super helpful. I’ve never really made the meal planning part work for me, I think it’s just too much clicking.

    5. FD*

      How OK are you with repetition? When I’m low on spoons, I find it easier to just have one fallback meal that’s easy that I can make and eat indefinitely until I have the spoons to make something different. Like, three weeks of taco salad for dinner sort of thing. Then I only have to get up the energy to do the meal prep, not to think about it.

      1. FD*

        Also, I find that for me, actually going to stores is a very draining experience form a sensory perspective, so I try to break it up a bit, e.g. go to one store, then go home and wait a couple of hours to go to another (if I have to hit multiple stores).

      2. Double A*

        Ha, the problem is actually I am a little TOO ok with repetition so meal planning is a way to mix it up!

        But I like the idea to repeat more week to week, or maybe do the same meal twice in a row. Then maybe I can designate one day a week to try a new recipe.

    6. Washi*

      Instead of thinking of repeating meals as boring, can you reframe a couple meals/week as traditions? Like Taco Tuesday and or breakfast for dinner Sunday or something. Growing up we always had pizza on Fridays which I loved because pizza is delicious, but also now as an adult I realize it meant one less meal for my mom to think about.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Came here to say this! Or you could spend the time to think out a month of menus (say, 4 -5 a week, allowing for leftovers a couple of nights or maybe eating out/carrying in one night), and just go thru them.

      2. Double A*

        I’ve sort of tried this before but I think I need to formalize it a bit more because it would work really well for us. We really don’t mind eating the same thing all the time, and we have a few meals that we pretty much eat every week anyway. So if I was like, “Pizza is Tuesday” rather than just a random day, it would help. Thanks!

    7. heckofabecca*

      I haven’t used it because I have *too* many restrictions, but SortedFood has a Meal Packs app that offers up various packs of meals for a single week, provides shopping lists, and has some flexibility in terms of restrictions from what I can tell. They might have a free demo week?

    8. Not A Manager*

      The New York Times cooking site (cooking dot nytimes dot com) has a “what to cook this week” column, along with a number of recipes that are tagged as “weeknight cooking” etc. You could start with “what to cook this week” and pick a few meals that work for you.

    9. Bozo dubbed over*

      I found that ordering groceries to be delivered made it all a lot less annoying and time consuming. You create the order in a calm moment at home, where you can check what you already have or not, and can consult cooking books. I’ve found that the delivery fee is more than accounted for by the lack of impulse purchases!

      1. WellRed*

        I rarely order grocery delivery , but when I do, it’s to free up physical time and mental energy to do the rest of food stuff.

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I used to meal plan based on whatever I wanted to eat and I’d ask for my husband’s input. We eat different things so he’d prepare some of his meals on his own and we’d make allowances for eating out and leftovers. So really maybe 2-3 things a week?

      Nowadays, I have a better stocked kitchen & pantry and I’ve made a list of things we have, so at night when I’m browsing on my phone I’ll just go through my list and come up with ideas.

    11. Sunshine*

      I love skinny taste (except for the name). The recipes are not too difficult and are delicious. They have a free weekly menu with shopping list. I think you can buy some kind of journal too. https://www.skinnytaste.com/
      Two of my favorite recipes from this include broccoli tots, and Mediterranean pork chops with spiral zucchini.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I weny over to check them out and found I had everything on hand for one of their fish dishes. I can tell from the ingreduents that it will be delicious, and it’s just “new” enough to be interesting.

        Thanks for the rec!

    12. Tib*

      Another version of a menu plan is a cycle menu. Plan out meals for 2-3 weeks and rotate through the plan until you’re ready for a change. This can really help with special diets and as you develop favorite meals. Once you’ve got the concept down you can start including meals that lead to leftovers or involve prepping ingredients for several meals, leaving space for new recipes, take-out, or unexpected changes. You can also adjust for changes in produce and sales cycles. But the first step is to just start at whatever level you’re able and grow from there.

      When I got back into meal planning I put a white board on the fridge and only planned that day’s meal around lunchtime. I didn’t add more days to my plan until I had a good habit going. Now I have a week of spaces on my white board but I still tend to plan on the fly but I can also write in meals as I think of them and mark out days I know we’ll need something special. I know the days I need easy meals and the days I’m likely to have more time to cook. I also have space for lists of veggies on hand, meal ideas, and a shopping list. You could also start with a list of meals your family likes to eat or a list of meals you could make without a trip to the store.

      I also do what’s known as reverse meal planning where I plan meals while I’m shopping for groceries. I do my best meal-related thinking when I’m in the store and usually have a good handle on what I already have. I write ideas down as I’m shopping and then put them on my whiteboard when I get home.

      1. Double A*

        The cycle menu is a cool idea! I think I am mostly not in a place where it’s what I want to do– toddler, infant, and husband who’s got some food sensory issues mean I need to keep it pretty simple, so just repeating every week with a few variations is about where I’m at. But I’m going to put this idea into my back pocket for when I’m feeling kind of stuck in a rut with cooking and want to mix things up more and try new things.

    13. CatCat*

      I use Cook Smarts because I need someone else to tell me what to cook. You get a plan each week for four dinners (for each meal, there is an original, paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian version). I can add in or sub recipes from the extensive archive if I want (I now have many recipes saved as favorites and those are my go tos). I’ve been using it for years.

    14. Lazy cook*

      I’ve used eMeals for over 5 years now and love it. Like you, I just wanted someone to tell me what to cook, and that’s exactly what they do. They’ve got a lot of different options to prioritize cuisine, dietary restrictions, budget, etc. It turns out that when I get rid of the hassle of meal planning and organizing shopping lists, cooking actually becomes somewhat enjoyable. And it cuts down on waste, too.

      1. Double A*

        Definitely going to check this out too. I feel the same way, where I don’t really mind JUST cooking but when I’ve but all the mental labor into it beforehand I’m basically already burnt out by the time I get to the cooking. The week I used the Budget Bytes plan I was enjoying cooking more because I knew what I was making and that I had everything and I just got it all out and started cooking.

    15. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Unless something comes up, we always have the same dinner every week on Saturday and Sunday.

      During the week, we usually decide the night before, during dinner prep or clean-up, what we’ll have for dinner the next day. The decision usually rides on what’s in the fridge that needs to be used up, and what we have a lot of in the pantry.

      We’ve got about a dozen go-to meals, plus “casserole des restes de dîner d’hier” (leftovers casserole) and “fend for yourself.”

    16. Kirsten*

      I have a couple house meals that I can always whip up without needing to go to the store because we always have the ingredients. They tend to be things that are quicker to make or that I can make ahead if needed, and are favorites of my kids. I also try to make things that will last a few nights. So one night I might make roast beef, and then the next night I’ll plan on French dip sandwiches with the leftover beef.

      I get my meat delivered monthly so I’ll plan out meals based on what I have in the freezer. I have a ton of spices so sometimes I’ll look for a meal using a spice that I haven’t used in awhile. I’d say half of our meals are repeats, and the other half are new recipes that I’ve found. I’ll search for things like ‘good pork recipe’ or ‘what dishes use garam masala’ and see what looks good. More complex meals happen on the weekend. Pasta or pancakes are my default meals when I can’t muster the energy to make what’s on my list.

    17. 00ff00Claire*

      I’ve tried several of the apps and meal planners and I think it depends on what you want out of them. The problem I had with most of them was that you often got new recipes each week and I didn’t want to make sure they worked for us (I also have to work with restrictions) and then figure out if I could get all of the ingredients. If you’re OK with that and just need something to tell you what to make, the two I liked best were eMeals and Platejoy. I didn’t use either of them long, and if I went back to one it would probably be eMeals because they had meals that are less.. “fancy” I guess. I don’t mind making something restaurant-esque, but I don’t want to do it for every meal, and that’s kind of where Platejoy lost me. Others that are well-known and well reviewed but weren’t a fit for me are Prepdish (paleo, gluten free, and low carb) and Cooksmarts. There’s a newer one called RealPlans that offers plans for several types of diets and you are supposed to be able to customize by dietary restrictions, but I have not tried that one. If you have your own collection of recipes or if you like to find them online, there’s a service called Plan to Eat where you can save your recipes and insert them into a template. It will generate a shopping list based on the meals you put into the template for that week. There is some additional work involved since you have to build your recipe library, but it sounds like it works well for some people.

    18. Emily Elizabeth*

      I LOVE the Workweek Lunch Program and recommend it to everyone I know. The site and Instagram have a bunch of free recipes, but for a small monthly subscription, you get a free pre-made meal plan delivered by email every week with a generated shopping list. You also get access to all of the recipes and meal planning tool on the website, from which you can easily create your own meal plan and generate a printable shopping list. The whole site is based around intuitive eating, so no problematic diet culture talk, and everything is highly customizable – every single recipe has a vegetarian and omnivore version, and notes on how to sub for dairy free, gluten free, etc. Lots of shopping and cooking tips on the Facebook and social media as well that make the whole process less intimidating. It’s made my life so much easier than trying to figure out all the food stuff myself!

    19. Carlottamousse*

      We typically plan week by week, where we have leftovers for lunch that we make on the weekend (our “lunches for the week”) and try to do some bulk cooking to prep for the weeknights if we can. We use omelets and pasta for back up meals when we haven’t planned well, and we’ve been trying to get better at cooking for the freezer and having stuff ready to pull from there (quiche being a favorite). Modern Freezer Meals by Ali Rosen could be a good place to start with a ton of ideas. I also follow Kids Eat in Color on instagram, and she has a couple of meal prep guides that she talks about (and sells), like “real easy weekdays.” I haven’t bought it, but it seems like it could be a really good resource for meal planning with kids.

  6. Laura H.*

    Little Joys thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I’m going to watch a marching band contest today. So excited. Just gotta remember and use the sunscreen.

    Please share your joys.

    1. allathian*

      My son’s class went on a 4-day school trip this week. He was really reluctant to go, because he hasn’t been to any overnight camps before, and because of Covid he hasn’t been able to invite his friends over for sleepovers, or spend nights at their homes, either. But I’m glad we persuaded/forced him to go, because he really enjoyed himself there. They have a great class spirit in his class. He got the chance to try a lot of new things, like archery, wall-climbing, and kayaking, and he particularly enjoyed archery.

    2. StellaBella*

      many little joys…all related to my shoulder fracture healing well. I was able to do a few small grocery trips, walk an hour every day, get a bath mat/stool, take a shower unassisted, do a load of laundry, and stretch my arm out a few times. also this morning I have yet to take pain meds.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I made spiced apple jelly with apples from my own trees. McIntosh. I threw in a few crabapples to add a little tartness. It was delicious and tasted like apple pie filling. (And the house smelled like hot mulled cider at Christmas.) I also made plain apple jelly, which was very light-tasting. And it was pink because of the crabapples. I’m making blackberry this weekend.

    4. FD*

      I’m taking piano lessons! I desperately wanted to take them as a kid, but I’m the oldest of six kids so money was tight when I was younger. I was able to secure an old but good quality electric piano and start taking lessons from a local teacher. I’ve been practicing obsessively and I love it as much as I thought I would.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m going hiking on a new (to me, it’s existed for years) trail with some friends today. It turns out to be perfect hiking weather! And I haven’t seen these friends since…well, we all know!

    6. CTT*

      I went roller skating last night for the first time (I have been doing some small space drills in my apartment but it’s not the same) and I didn’t fall once! There were some teetery moments, but I recovered and ha da blast. Although I am soooo sore today.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Got my 2nd Pfizer shot. It have me bilateral kidney pain for a day and has increased my horrible tinnitus, but still happy I’m protected.

    8. AGD*

      I accidentally combined a particular blouse and a particular skirt from my wardrobe in a new way and they match each other ridiculously well.

    9. Voluptuousfire*

      I slept 8 continuous hours on Thursday night. That’s a minor miracle.

      I put a hoodie on to go get the garbage can this morning. It’s wonderfully sunny and cool this morning. Also my fall slippers are now good—not too warm or itchy. They’re a pair of wool clogs with a Birkenstock like bottom I got on clearance at DSW last year and they’re so comfy.

      My cat was a feisty wench this morning and discovered a piece of something hanging down between the window and the screens FB attempted to play with it, nearly bringing the window down on herself. LOL She’s fine, just being super silly today. She’s my silly sausage.

    10. the cat's ass*

      always love/and am grateful for this thread.

      Finally got an appointment to have little stinker kitty neutered and microchipped;

      Am excited to be eligible for new healthcare insurance in 2 weeks;

      We actually got some rain and more is due next week. Take THAT, fire season!

    11. Wishing You Well*

      I had been searching for my “grail” collectible for years. It showed up on ebay this week and I won it! It’s here and I’m so glad I have it!

    12. Velawciraptor*

      I’ve been attending the National Association for Public Defense Women’s Conference the last few days. It’s been a joy to come together with so many amazing women. This morning there was a loving-kindness meditation session that was just what I needed.

    13. Romeo Delight*

      Learning a song for a cover band on bass much quicker than I thought I would. It’s totally not in my wheelhouse and figured it would take me a week or more to get it down. It took less than an hour and now has become my favorite song to play in our set.

    14. GoryDetails*

      A rainy afternoon, with two of my cats sprawled across my lap sound asleep. (There’s usually one cat there at a time, but it’s nice when they snuggle.) It does make it hard for me to web-surf, but on a rainy afternoon I get all dozy anyway, and the snoozing cats combined to give me a beautiful drift-off-to-the-sound-of-rain nap…

      1. Stitching Away*

        I had to read this three times before I realized you weren’t baking, and hadn’t had an accident and made a mess on your first prayer shawl. I was so confused trying to figure out how this was a happy thing!

    15. I take tea*

      Maple trees in autumn colours against a blue September sky. It was intensly beautiful, in that slightly aching way that a beautiful autumn day is, when you know it won’t last long.

    16. nectarine*

      managed to sew breast pockets on thw winter jacket I’m making and they were neither upside down nor backwards.

    17. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Just got to spend the afternoon with my aunt and her husband, had pizza, and introduced them to “The Ghost and the Darkness” with Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. It was a good day.

    18. Girasol*

      Canned chunky applesauce made from Jonagolds from the farmer’s market, with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It makes the house smell so good.

    19. Retired(but not really)*

      Getting some things done that helped someone else feel much better about how things in general are going.

    20. WoodswomanWrites*

      I spent a week at a campground and the first night watching the full moon rise and fill the meadow and forest with light was stunning. And by the end of the trip, it was wonderful to see the night sky with no light at all and so clear the milky way was visible. One night there was a spectacular shooting star that changed colors as it streaked above. So beautiful all week.

    21. Honoria*

      I am finishing up a wonderful and relaxing weekend (I am virtually incapable of relaxing) in Kesnsburg, NJ, a scruffy little town on the Raritan Bay just about an hour by ferry from NYC. My best friend is considering getting a place there someday, so we’ve just been wandering aimlessly up and down streets, one of our favorite leisure activities (this is how I relax/exercise back home in NYC too)
      It reminds me so much of the Jersey Shore of my 70s childhood, before everything got popular, rebuilt, rich, and Trumpy (pretty much in that order, sigh).
      I haven’t had a nice, relaxing break in a long, long time.

  7. FallwhentheleavesbeingtoFall*

    Any Claims Adjusters that handle product liability claims in the thread that might be able to answer some questions?

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    I’ve come to the realisation I need to work out my characters a bit more before I continue writing this project.

    1. The Dogman*

      Total wall…

      And head on into it it seems too!

      I have been sick (ear infection) and that is taking weeks to clear up, but I was not making much progress before that anyway…

      It is a pain to know what I want to write but not have the energy to write it down, been mostly watching youtube recently.

      Good luck with your characters, I hope you are on track soon!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ooh, I know the feeling. Hope you feel better soon.
        And thanks! They’re coming along nicely, but I still have some kinks to work out. I realised that the issue I was having last week was actually caused by me not knowing enough about the characters, so hopefully working on them more will help solve things.

        1. The Dogman*

          Thank you.. getting into the thoughts of one of my characters is harder than the others for sure, so I feel your pain!

          I am healing up, so hopefully will be more inspired soon.

          I was considering opening a patreon and publishing a few chapters and excerpts to see if I can build a fan base, but not sure how any future publishers would feel about it really…

          Not a lot of solid info on what to do regards getting an editor or publisher interest really too, so that part is pretty annoying!

          I have had the first chapter published (free but I retained copyrights) so technically I am an author,m albeit a very low in the pecking order one, but accurate info on what to nexxt in the modern publishing world is hard to find.

          1. Maryn B.*

            If people can purchase your writing by donating, in the US it meets the legal definition of publication. That means you cannot offer it to paying publishers except as previously published, even if you only released a few chapters this way. (You can still self-publish, of course.) You can offer it as original only if you make substantive changes–more than just character names and location, for example.

            “What next?” is answered by knowledgeable and friendly fellow writers at AbsoluteWrite.com/forums. (You can read nearly all the boards there without joining if you prefer.) What’s next depends on what you want–commercial (“trade”) publication, which will get you the most promotion and the highest number of sales; small-press (“indie”) publication, which has far less promotion and lower sales figures, often aimed at niche markets; or self-publication (which is NOT “indie”), where you do all the promotion as well as arrange for pro-grade edits, cover art, and everything else a publishing house does.

            Disclosure: I moderate a board at AbsoluteWrite and have been commercially published. My publisher went out of business, but thanks to AW, I knew I needed to get my rights back, and I did.

            1. The Dogman*

              ahh thanks for the info… I am in the UK so will see if those laws differ at all, but will not do any patreon type things til I know…

              Perhaps I could do some peripheral stuff… Artworks based on the universe/setting etc… worth looking into at least I think.


              And thanks for the link I will check them out. Searching online for “how to get an editor” gives loads of results but most are pretty useless really, even using non-google engines is not much better.

              Thanks so much for responding Maryn B, I think at least a bit of the apathy (mostly covid caused I think) was due to not having one single earthly idea of what to do even if I get a finished book!

              1. Maryn B.*

                My pleasure. The people there have been nothing but helpful to me. (Lots of people in the UK are members and might know the law.) There’s information about editors as well as a board where you can ask editors questions.

    2. Exif*

      I realized my ADHD requires panic to get writing done. Even if I plan ahead, I just stare at the monitor and write bits of drivel until the deadline creeps up and I get a ball of anxiety in my stomach, which lets the words flow.

      I’ve hacked my creative writing by choosing a contest to submit to (though I don’t actually submit) but I’m still struggling to hack my freelance work.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This kinda happens to me; I’m more inclined to write when I have less time to do so. A surplus of free time tends to slow me down to the point where I don’t get a lot done. It’s like a week of Sundays and I can’t decide what to do next.

        1. The Dogman*

          And that would describe the last 18 months for me in some ways… When busy I can at least squeeze in a paragraph or two, and a few tweaks… with all the time in the world I literally couldn’t think of a thing!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m still trying to decide whether to slam through Book 3 or take a detour to something else. Recently I opened the something else and read through my notes, and I really want to go there. I definitely want to take another stab at traditional publishing with it. It might be better to get that one done and then work on Book 3 while I’m querying. Plus, I need time to flesh out my conlang.

      I also reversed the color on my story collection cover from a white ship on a black background to the original picture, a black ship on a white background. The black cover did not print well in paperback and it bugged me. Lightening the color did not fix it.

      No one is buying it anyway but I hope this will eliminate that quality issue. I’m supposed to get a proof copy today, so we’ll see. I didn’t do one last time—I don’t know why (lesson learned). Nor do I know why I thought flipping the picture to a negative image was a good idea. This one looks better all around and I can’t understand why I didn’t do it this way before! Nothing inside has changed, so I don’t have to republish it as a new edition; yay for keeping my ISBN. This is the fourth cover this poor thing has had and I am done messing with it!

  9. Book reader*

    So… what is everyone reading this week? Anything interesting or new? Anything fun?

    I also have a random book recommendation request. For a reading contest at my library, I have to read a book that’s about DIY or crafting. It can be either fiction or nonfiction. My personal experience is that I do NOT enjoy reading a nonfiction DIY book unless I’m on a specific, related project, so I’m hoping for something that’s fiction. It can be about any sort of DIY or crafting; cooking, sewing, weaving, building a house, making paper, carving/whittling…. Whatever it might be, it just has to play a prominent role in the book. Any ideas? And anyone else looking for a book recommendation of some sort? What do you want to read?

    1. Weegie*

      Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray is about a home baker whose cakes are so excellent that her family force her into starting a business. Fun read, and lots of cake description!

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      This week, I read
      “The Killing Hills” by Chris Offut – a short, well-written novel about an Army CID investigator who returns to his home in Kentucky when he finds out his wife is many months pregnant, and he ends up helping his sister, who is the town sheriff, solve a murder.

      “Bath Haus” by PJ Vernon – tense and suspenseful story of a guy who goes to a bath house while his partner is away and ends up seriously assaulted. He tries to hide the assault from his partner while the assailant escalates. It’s scary in more ways than the obvious.

      “When You Find Me” by PJ Vernon – A woman wakes up after a rough Christmas Eve of blackout drinking to discover her husband missing. Lots of twists in this beach read thriller.

      And I’m currently reading “And She Was” by AL Gaylin – It’s hard to describe in a sentence or two, but it’s about an investigator who has a condition of perfect and recallable memory ever since her sister disappeared who is investigating what looks like a series of somehow related disappearances. It’s really good so far.

    3. Emma2*

      It is a very long time since I read it, but I believe quilting plays a significant role in Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (it is something the character does, but also has a symbolic role). My recollection is that each chapter was named after a quilt motif and my copy had an image of the motif with the chapter heading. It is not a book about quilting so may be a bit of a stretch for your theme, but might just about get there is you don’t want to read something more craft-focused.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Another book like this is Like Water for Chocolate, only this one has recipes for every chapter. It’s a really good read (and is in fact the only book I’ve ever read in both Spanish and English.)

      2. Imtheone*

        The Tzil Cafe—A novel featuring a young man whose parents are each professional cooks. Different recipes embedded in the book, most with some connection to Mexican or southwestern cuisine.

        Sadie Shapiro’s Knitting Book—Also a novel. Sadie is an energetic retiree who matchmakers, and also gains fame for her knitting designs. Fun and light reading. Sadie also may find true love.

    4. The Dogman*

      I am rereading the Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffery. I highly recommend them, she was a good author!

      For a recommendation perhaps “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”? It is a fictionalised account of a nonfiction motorcycle journey. So both options covered lol!

      I thought it would be dull, but found it pretty engaging and def worth a read for most people I think.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I’m diving into Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. So far, so good. Before that, the sci-fi romance Winter’s Orbit, by Everina Maxwell. And I’m eagerly anticipating The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik, which comes out this week.

    6. Bobina*

      I’ve been re-reading some PG Wodehouse classics (Blandings castle rather than Jeeves) and its so nice. Funny, uncomplicated (ish), simple problems, fun use of language. Highly recommend!

      1. Clisby*

        Anything that involves the Empress of Blandings and Galahad Threepwood in the same book is bound to be a hit.

    7. heckofabecca*

      Okay, this is technically nonfiction, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a plug for How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North. It’s exactly what it sounds like.

      Patricia Polacco’s The Keeping Quilt, Thundercake (illustrated children’s books )
      Yoko Kawashima Watkins’s So Far From the Bamboo Grove (the sister’s sewing abilities are memorable 15 years later, so arguably that might be major??? But it’s mostly a war narrative. TW: war, violence, sexual assault, rape, death)

      1. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed How To Invent Everything too – I like Ryan North’s work in general, and that one had a good mix of science and history-of-science and snarky time-travel humor. (The “prerequisites” sections were great, showing which other inventions needed to be in place before you could take the next step towards, say, making a steam engine. Reminded me of the old “Connections” TV series.)

    8. Llellayena*

      Tamora Pierce has an entire series on craft mages. Sandry’s Book is the first one. They are young adult reads (the characters are age 10 when you meet them. But it gets pretty deep into the actual crafting part.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh Circle of Magic is a good one. I’d suggest reading all 4 because they’re short enough, and the story arc is worth it.
        I was thinking about suggesting one that get shelved with romance–Debbie Macomber’s “The Shop on Blossom Street”. A woman starts a yarn shop as a career change after surviving cancer, and the store brings people together.

    9. Chilipepper Attitude*

      The book of 2 ways by Jodi Picoult. I love the concept (multiverse, sliding doors movie) and that it includes Egyptology makes it fun!

    10. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison. I was looking forward to it and it was well written, but I ended up being disappointed. It’s a very specific thing that disappointed me, it was nothing to do with the plot, but has to do with the main character.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        I just read this too, as well as Angel of the Crows. I didn’t know either existed until I randomly found out on Twitter. I enjoyed it a lot, but I would take anything in the Goblin Emperor world.

    11. Voluptuousfire*

      I read the memoir of Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) on Tuesday and it was great. She’s less a fascinating life.

    12. the cat's ass*

      How about Apron Strings by Jan Wong? Its a nonficton book about the author and her adult son traveling for a last bonding experience and cooking with different families in France, Italy and China. It has MANY recipes (hence the DIY).

        1. the cat's ass*

          It wasn’t widely released was not available on Kindle 9only paperback) and i had to get it from Amazon Canada. Worth it, though!

    13. Imtheone*

      Also A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking. Fun YA novel where the young wizard’s skill is animating and encouraging baked goods to cook well. Her gingerbread men dance, her sour dough starter is a bit of a monster. She saves the kingdom with some help from a few other wizards.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The whimsy is strong with this one! Crafting by the seat of your pants in a magic world.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      I am finally, for the first time, reading The Stand. The unabridged edition. I almost didn’t, after my Kindle informed me it would take 24 hours.
      I am enjoying it greatly so far.

    15. RosyGlasses*

      I loved reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. A great memoir about family and includes recipes at the end of each chapter. Another could be Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver that is a memoir of their family moving to an Appalachian farm and learning to only eat what they grew (also includes recipes for seasonal eating and gardening tips). Simply Living Well by Julia Watkins is a handbook of homemade living and lots of DIY recipes about craft and making items for use in the kitchen or home.

    16. GoryDetails*

      Re crafting: Monica Ferris has a cozy-mystery series based in a needlework-crafts store, with each book themed on a different type of craft – often explicitly called out in clues and evidence. The stories usually feature the regular craft-club folk meeting to work on their various skills. (The earlier books focused more on crafts and crafters than some of the later ones, I think, but it’s always a running theme – including the practicalities of running a craft shop and trying to keep it in the black!)

    17. GoryDetails*

      Recent reading includes some good ones, including:

      SHAKESPEARIAN WHODUNNITS, an anthology of mystery stories based on different Shakespeare plays, with the authors often finding very inventive ways to fit their plots into the plays themselves. Some are re-imaginings, some are prequels or sequels to the events of the plays, or – in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”-style – fit in behind the scenes or between the acts, and many of them are marvelously done.

      YOKOHAMA STATION SF by Yuba Isukari is speculative-fiction set in a future Japan, where the titular station has somehow become alive – or at least self-replicating – such that it has extended streets, buildings, corridors, elevators, etc. around and atop most of the land mass of Honshu, leaving humans to either live inside – brain-chipped – or to attempt to survive on the still-open coast. Very strange story indeed, inventive and bizarre.

      SUPER POWERED by James Schannep is another in his series of choose-your-own-path books for adults; this one has three main storylines, as the viewpoint character can choose one of three experimental pods from which to receive a superpower. Which power you get and what you do with it drives the action, with fates ranging from sudden death (if your telekinetic powers only handle a couple of hundred pounds, do NOT try to catch a thrown automobile) to delicate negotiations with the government and/or other super-folk, to forming a superhero league and saving the world – or choosing the path of wealth or glory and becoming a supervillain. The author has the mechanics of a choose-your-own book down pat, so the choices always make sense and construct decent narratives no matter which choices are made.

    18. wingmaster*

      I’m reading Dune. I haven’t picked up a book in years..so it’s a bit of an adjustment with this book.

    19. CatCat*

      I’m reading “Hooked,” a book about highly processed foods and its associated industry. Fascinating and eye-opening.

      1. ampersand*

        Along those same lines: The Poison Squad, by Deborah Blum. It’s about the evolution of food safety in the late 1800s to early 1900s. I thought food used to be fresh and organic and not full of preservatives back in the day—wow was I wrong. It’s a fascinating read.

        1. CatCat*

          That sounds like something I would really enjoy reading. Just checked it out from the library based on your rec! :-)

    20. Buni*

      ‘The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees’ by Robert Penn – author carefully selects and cuts down one single tree and then sets about seeing how many lovely / useful things he can make from that one tree. Really good!

    21. ccr*

      I’ve been reading The Mirror Visitor series by Christelle Dabos, and looking forward to the 4th one, out next month!
      Crafting: As a knitter, I recommend Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World, by Clara Parkes, and Sweater Quest: My Year of Living Dangerously, by Adrienne Martini. All fun and entertaining to this reader, anyway.

    22. twocents*

      I just started Press Reset by Jason Schreier. It’s about how game companies fail and, more importantly, what happens to the real people behind them. Very interesting to see the reasons being the usual suspects (eg ran out of money) all the way to unusual things, like the main face of the company wanted to move on, so the owner fired everyone. Fascinating stuff. Highly recommend his first book too: Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.

    23. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’d recommend Sourdough by Robin Sloan (fiction). As you may have guessed, it’s about making sourdough bread, but it’s also about San Francisco, elite craft fairs, magic, and a secret society of women named Lois. It’s a lot of fun!

      1. marvin the paranoid android*

        And I’m currently reading A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, which is a collection of short stories by Russian masters with attached essays on writing by George Saunders. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who likes to write short stories, or even anyone who would like to appreciate really well written short stories in more depth.

    24. Camelid coordinator*

      Folks here recommended Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, so I got it from the library. The language was beautiful, and I realized I could probably do all right reading it in Spanish. Reading in Spanish is much slower going, of course, and I keep forgetting the word for bookcase, but I am enjoying myself.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        +1 I randomly found this book in a “take-a-book, leave-a-book” library in my neighborhood and really enjoyed it!

    25. Pool Lounger*

      Craeft by Alex Langlands! Nonfiction book by an archaeologist about traditional crafts—herding sheep, keeping bees, spinning wool, and more.

    26. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Nothing crafty, but I’m rereading Anya Seton’s biographical novel “The Winthrop Woman,” published in 1958. It’s set in 17th century New England, and shows the early settlers as very human with many flaws. Seton was a notoriously deep researcher, and her historical novels are top-notch.

    27. Radar’s glasses*

      I recommend MURDER MIST CRAFTY edited by Maggie Bruce. This is a blend of handicrafts and murder or detection short stories. Instructions for DIY come at the end of each story. My favorite is Margaret Maron’s Bewreathed.

    28. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Jennifer Chiaverini writes fiction (some historical) books about quilting and sewing that include a lot of how-to in them. Very good author.

    29. Overbooked*

      Laurie Colwin’s “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking” are lovely. See if you find yourself making – or at least wanting to taste – Caribbean black cake after reading about it from her.
      John McPhee’s “The Survival of the Bark Canoe” has something of a cult following. The author agrees to accompany the difficult, perfectionist preserver of Native boat-building techniques on a paddle trip into the wilderness, only to find that he’s never actually taken his craft on the water. Surprisingly funny.

    30. The Rat-Catcher*

      Currently reading The Other Bennet Sister from one of Alison’s lists. I did not expect to identify with this character that much.
      I’m about to start Bear Town which was a recommendation from a friend.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    I haven’t been playing much this week due to being busy, but I am very tempted to get the Switch version of the Castlevania Advance Collection – anyone on here who happens to have it already (either on Switch or any other platform) and willing to share some experiences?
    At any rate it’s a better deal than what some of the physical GBA cartridges go for right now…found a cart-only version of the Castlevania Double Pack (Harmony and Aria on one cart) for over €100 which uh…how about no.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ve continued with my Fire Emblem: Three Houses journey (I’m now on house 3, Dimitri’s house); I’ve been a *tiny* bit obsessed with it the last several months! But I actually also played Skyrim for the first time in many months. I’d gotten a bit burnt out – I don’t like the Skyrim dungeons, and just about all of the quests I have pending right now involve dungeons – but I’ve been listening to the Skyrim music recently and was nostalgic. I made it through step 1 of a quest; the first of the Dawnguard quests (where you find Serana). It was fun, although I nearly died because I’d forgotten how to use the controller in fights!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’ll let this be a reminder that I really need to buy that game one of these days.
        Also, yeah, I feel you on Skyrim. For me it’s become something like the Sims – don’t touch it for ages and then you binge it for several weeks straight.
        Also, in all these years I’ve never once finished the main quest…woops.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve been playing Eastward!

      It’s very charming, although at the moment I’m stuck at a point where I have to have good coordination/speed :( I’ll have to try to get past it this weekend – so far, this type of coordination has not been a major issue (I’m very bad at that).

    3. Holly the spa pro*

      Im also playing Eastward and enjoying it. The cut scenes are a little excessive for me personally. Luckily they are super short i just feel like im constantly in them.

      I also started a new fire emblem:fates game on the 3ds. I would absolutely love to see that game get a switch port.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      Waiting on the Standard meta game to shift so that the price on W7 comes down from the stratosphere. I need another 5-drop to replace Golos post-ban, and I plan on using Augur of Autumn to replace Esika/Bridge, which will helm the 5c cycling deck.

      Sent some cards off to Scott Murphy for signing. It’s not a lot in the scheme of things, but I’m glad I’m able to show support to artists who are missing out on conventions/large tournaments.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I’m trying to decide if my next video game purchase will be Hades or Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For what it’s worth, my dudes have been playing Wrath of the Righteous and really enjoying it.

      2. twocents*

        Hades is legit. I don’t even like the rougelike genre, and Hades manages to knock it out of the park.

    6. Lonely Aussie*

      One of my Minecraft server mates and I have spent several hours over the last few weeks moving about fifty horses several thousand blocks. I swear, it was such a process. Wanted all seven coat colours from spawned horses (you actually start going backwards speed/jump/health wise after a certain point breeding) and where we wanted them was a desert surrounded by plains and savanna biomes with a forest and extreme hills on one side.
      For things that can be both ridden and led, you’d think it would easy. For things that allegedly* spawn in plains and savanna biomes you’d think they’d be common. Both of those assumptions would be wrong.
      Leads break all. the. bleeping. time. Like if you don’t look behind you every thirty seconds, you’ve probably lost at least like one horse. Oh, you moved too fast? broken lead. Horse got hooked on something you went around? broken lead. Accidentally clicked a horse? broken lead.
      Ridden horses aren’t much better, for starters, you can only ride one horse per player which is not great when you’ve got heard of six. Going through water? dismounted if its more than a block or two deep. Need to go through a forest? good luck. Ridden horse faster than the horses you’re attempting to lead? broken leads.
      It should also be noted that nether portals at standard size pose a suffocation risk for horses.
      For whatever reason the server hates spawning horses in plains biomes… We had enough cows, pigs, sheep and chickens for a packed out BBQ convention but only three small herds actually near where we needed them, hence the many thousand block hikes.
      Also the number of tamed, saddled horses we found wandering the place was rather high for a server of 7 people who pretty much exclusively use wings and go through fireworks like loo roll.
      I now finally have a decent amount of all the coat colours (and I really wish Jappa would give them an over hall when he does the textures) and can now start sorting out the racers from the jumpers from the super healthy. Hopefully we won’t have to scour the server for more of them. Please let us not have to find more of them.
      All I wanted was to repurpose the mining desert into something pretty (like a horse racing track) after we stripped all the sand off it.
      That said, anyone who get the chance, should breed at least one mule. OMG the mule foals are adorable.

      *the wiki says they spawn in savanna biomes. We did not find any in any of the savanna biomes in a 10k block radius of spawn.

    7. wingmaster*

      I have been playing AC Valhalla. I picked up playing this after a long break. A few weeks ago, Xbox decided to delete my saved progress, so I had to start all over again. I’m mad, but at the same time, it gives me a 2nd chance to do better!

    8. Smol Book Wizard*

      Spiritfarer! I have some trouble wi the non linear nature of the plot, because of how certain materials can only be gained once you have some spirits (looking at you Stanley…who is probably going to break my heart with backstory)… but it is the perfect step after Stardew and also hits my platforming buttons quite nicely. I really just love going around and jumping from place to place and solving peoples’ problems…

    9. twocents*

      I’m currently playing Monster Hunter Stories 2. It’s… okay. I’m about 20 hours in, maybe around halfway through. I’m debating if I want to keep playing it. The story keeps getting in its own way, and I hate the protag. I think I’ll finish the current region and reassess.

    10. Stitching Away*

      I have been playing a few color by number apps, which is about all I can manage down my dominant hand. Gives me something to do while I slowly lose my mind from being unable to cross stitch or regular game.

    11. Here for the Randomness*

      Played “A Short Hike” on the Switch which was delightful in a low stress zen sort of way. It was indeed short (2-4 hours), and it was priced that way. Exploration was reminiscent of Breath of the Wild but there is no combat or cooking.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I used to play gomoku with friends for years. I recently dug my board out of storage but can’t get my family to play. This is just so sad!

    13. Liz*

      I have discovered Valheim and the joy of co-op play! May have become marginally addicted, but there is a strange satisfaction to be found in huntingg monsters for thrills and resources and using the spoils to build a replica viking longhouse. This is also my first experience of gaming with other people over the internet, so it’s been a delight teaming up with my friends elsewhere in the country to take down giant trolls.

  11. tangerineRose*

    Now that the Siberian tiger has been renamed to be the Amur tiger, I wonder if other animal names are going to be changed.

    For example, some animal names, like the blue-footed b00by and the wild a$$, are kind of awkward to say in polite company. Would the Lesser Flamingo and the Common Giraffe be insulted if they knew they were called lesser and common respectively?

    Then there are names that are misleading:
    – The white rhino is gray. “White” is a misinterpretation of a word meaning “wide”. They should be called the wide-mouthed rhinos.
    – The black rhino is also gray.
    – Black bears and brown bears come in multiple colors.
    – Killer whales aren’t whales; they’re dolphins.
    – Whale sharks aren’t whales; they’re sharks.
    – Jellyfish aren’t fish. Some people call them Jellies, but that could get them confused with the type of jelly that goes on a sandwich.

    If you could change some animal names, what would you change?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      The Dutch name for a leopard…it’s luipaard, which literally translates to “lazyhorse”.
      Also, meerkats in English are a different thing from meerkats in Dutch – what is called a meerkat in English would be stokstaartje in Dutch, which literally translates to “stick-tail” which is a much funnier word of you ask me. The animals called meerkat in Dutch are a type of primate (Cercopithecini).

      1. Blue Eagle*

        I’ve always been disappointed that the Baltimore Oriole was name-changed to the Northern Oriole and the Baltimore Oriole as a bird has ceased to exist. It always seemed to me to be such a slap in the face to the baseball Baltimore Orioles.

        1. Here for the Randomness*

          Yes, but it was split again later. Rest assured that there are Baltimore Orioles in Maryland.

      2. tangerineRose*

        lazyhorse is such an odd name for leopards but very cool to know! I guess leopards probably sleep a lot, but I don’t think they’re very horse-like. Then again, I’ve heard that hippopotamus means “river horse”.

        1. Rara Avis*

          It does! Potamus also appears in Mesopotamia (the land in the middle of the rivers) and hippos in Philip (one who loves horses).

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          The pronunciation is fairly similar to leopard/léopard, so I think it’s just a word we took from English or French and applied Dutch pronunciation to.
          Also, hippopotamus in Dutch is nijlpaard (nilehorse) and rhinoceros in Dutch is neushoorn (nosehorn). Basically we’re really good at descriptive names so lazyhorse is really the odd one out there.

    2. Invisible Fish*

      Tabby, as in tabby cat, which is what the vet puts down when you don’t have a “purebred” cat. How insulting!! They just throw this label on any cat they encounter? Do they not realize the majestic creature in front of them is actually a portable tiger? A lap sized lion? A stalwart defender of window sills? Surely we can do better! ;)

      1. londonedit*

        That’s funny – where I’m from, tabby is only used to refer to actual striped tabby cats. ‘Moggy’ is what we call non-pedigree cats!

        1. GraceC*

          My moggies have all been down on their vet paperwork as “domestic shorthair” – haven’t had any “domestic longhairs” yet.

          And yes, also UK, and would be very surprised to hear someone call their cat a tabby when it had a different colouration!

          1. londonedit*

            You’re right, that’s the vet term for a moggy – we had some domestic longhairs that happened to be tabby too!

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Same in Canada. A tabby is a stripey cat. My definitely-not-purebred-anything cats are “domestic shorthair” and “domestic longhair” in their paperwork. There’s a separate little slot for “colour” which is where the vet writes tabby, black, calico, tortoiseshell, whatever else.

    3. Reba*

      I’m in favor of the movement to do away with person-names for species (like “Swainson’s thrush” or whatever) in favor of descriptive names. Like, even “brown” would tell me more than “Swainson” when I’m trying to tell what species I’m seeing! For the most part this is only in reference to the common name, as I think there is a lot more resistance to changing the scientific name, even when they have absurd, long faux latinized terms. In Aotearoa NZ some of the scientific community has proposed changing both common and scientific names to reflect indigenous knowledge rather than colonizers,’ which makes a lot of sense! To show the inconsistency of my position, I was delighted that a newly classified lichen species was named for Dolly Parton.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Swainson’s thrush: tells me that a guy named Swainson is associated with this bird.

          Japewiella dollypartoniana: tells me that this lichen is on the job from 9-5, barely gettin’ by, waiting for the tides to turn and the ship to come in.

    4. allathian*

      There are lots of funny animal names, although I’m not sure I’d change them.

      The Agra family of ground beetles includes species with names like Agra cadabra, Agra phobia and Agra vation [!].

      The aye-aye is a lemur found on Madagascar. Arr!

      I wonder what the scientific community was thinking when it named a fungus beetle Colon rectum?! I’d like to change that one, but to what, I don’t know.

      The sarcastic fringehead is a cool looking fish, although how it’s sarcastic, I have no idea.

      The strange-tailed tyrant is a cool looking bird, and the sparklemuffin is a funny looking spider with an even funnier name.

      You can find more of these by googling 30 funny animal names. I’ll post a link below. CW for a closeup of a big spider for arachnophobes.

    5. Jules the First*

      But if they rename the blue footed booby, our “I heart Boobies” onesie (featuring said birds) will no longer be funny!

    6. Littorally*

      Whale shark as a name makes sense to me. ‘Whale’ is acting as an adjective modifying ‘shark’ because whale sharks have similarities to whales in temperament and feeding.

  12. Freezer Meals*

    Freezer meals! My partner will be taking a six week work trip next month and I’m trying to prepare my deep freezer with single serve meals. Examples of things I have that reheat deliciously.

    – Baked mushroom risotto
    – Chickpea curry with rice
    – Chicken tikka masala with rice
    – Thai peanut chicken with rice
    – Lentils with smoked ham and rice
    – Fried rice
    – Baked ziti
    – Banana pancakes
    – Breakfast burritos

    Other than the ziti I add a hearty helping of cauliflower rice to most dishes to amp up the veggies with no discernible impact on taste or texture. What are your go-to meals to eat straight from the freezer? Bonus points if it’s something my toddler will be interested in trying!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would do a big bbq pork butt in my crockpot, shred it and freeze it in portions – good on a bowlful of cauliflower rice or on sandwiches or mashed potatoes. Ditto bbq chopped/pulled chicken. Also a sloppy joe mix, which you could do with beef, ground turkey, lentils or a combo.

      Mac and cheese freezes and reheats a treat, and I put mixed veg and diced ham or smoked sausage in mine. (It reheats better in smaller portions – big pans take a while to heat all the way through. I do mine in a round container that holds about four servings and reheat it in a crockpot.) Chili does well, and beef stew. If you like meat loaf, freeze it in patties like burgers (either cooked or uncooked works, just note which :) ) – put parchment paper between, and you can easily just get out a couple patties at a time. They’re good either as sandwiches or as pre-portioned slices depending on how you feel.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Thank you for the meatloaf suggestion! I tried – ONCE – making individual meat loaves in mini-loaf pans, but didn’t adjust the cooking time properly. This sounds much better.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have found that if I don’t prep the meat loaf in single serving portions – if I do it in a regular loaf shape and let my boys serve themselves – they will eat three pounds of meat loaf between the two of them in one sitting without realizing it and my plans for leftovers will be totally shot.. (I don’t even KNOW.) But if I do a six pound batch, and make it into 4 ounce patties for the freezer, I get 4-5 meals worth of meat loaf out of it. :P (They’re not that bad with ANYTHING else, just meat loaf. It baffles me.)

          I personally freeze them pre-cooking, and cook them in the oven from frozen for about 20 minutes at 350, as I recall. (Or sometimes I just cook them on a pan like hamburgers.)

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Thai green curry with chicken and vegetables. Lasagna or similar layered pasta. Mixed vegetable sambar. Chicken and sausage stew with tomatoes and onions. Moroccan lamb stew with chickpeas. Cabbage rolls. Beef barley vegetable soup.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Mini-quiches pre-baked in muffin trays: I make mine with tomato, mushroom, bacon or chicken, cheese and herbs. They’re quick to make, freeze really well and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner in easy portion sizes.

      1. Clisby*

        Also, if you like spaghetti, make 3-4 times as much as you need for one meal, and freeze the rest in ziploc bags or tupperware-type containers.

    4. Pop*

      I do a ton of soups, almost all of which freeze well. (I really like Gimme Some Oven’s soups in particular.) Vegetable chili. Make veggie burgers (or meat ones), freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then wrap them individually. Same goes for falafel.

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      Not a complete meal, but often if something calls for making a simmer sauce (say, mole or butter chicken), I will double the sauce and freeze half so that all I have to do is defrost the sauce and throw in protein. It takes up less space in the freezer and I feel like the protein tastes better that way.
      I also make and freeze a lot of bean soups.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Agree with soup – chili, potato, tomato, etc, although if any have pasta in them, add that as you heat it up – it’ll get mushy otherwise.

      1. Freezer Meals*

        I’m probably a weirdo but I don’t mind slightly mushy pasta with my meat sauce. An excellent reminder for folks who do prefer their pastas more al dente though!

    7. June First*

      I had a tater tot casserole recipe from Pinterest that froze well. It’s from a site called raining hot coupons dot com. Make half and freeze half.

      Note for next summer if you have a garden: I shred fresh zucchini in the food processor and freeze it in muffin tins. Add it to sauces, soups, ground meat for extra veggies.

      1. Freezer Meals*

        I learned about freezing zucchini this year. I steam and purée it and then freeze in 2oz molds (like for ice cubes or baby food). Then I store them in a giant ziploc bag in the freeze. They melt beautifully in to pancake batter, waffles, any soup or stew etc. It makes sneaking in veggies so much easier because there’s no real flavor or texture change.

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      Kind of an add-in suggestion for you. I buy frozen riced veggies i different combos like sweet potato & cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, or butternut squash, then I roast all of them for about 2o minutes with some garlic powder. I can then throw them into a lot of things I’m making to amp up the veggies/fiber in a dish. When I make fried rice, I use these roasted riced veggies with jsut a little bit of brown rice and I also found some rice-shaped pasta/rice made with chick peas and lentils and all of those together help turn my fried rice into a healthy dish. Sometimes I’ll throw some white rice in it too but it never seems to improve it.

      An actual dish suggestion is chicken enchilada casserole made with cut up corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken, corn, cheese and black beans. It’s pretty easy to make and it does freeze and reheat easily. I can’t do most meal kits because of weird food sensitivities so I can relate to that. I make 95% of my meals from scratch because of that but since I live alone, one dish lasts me quite a while.

      Another suggestion is to buy the fresh pizza dough at Trader Joes (it’s only a little over a buck). I freeze them and then just put one bag in the fridge to defrost. I’ll pull off a bit of it and just make an individual pizza. It’s so flexible because I can just use whatever I have around as toppings. Sometimes I use pesto and sometimes a tomato sauce. One of my faves is ricotta with pancetta. I’ve also used the same dough to make kachapuri (basically, bread baked with a kind of bowl like shape filled with cheese and eggs – soooo delicious) as well as calzone.

    9. Girasol*

      Pot roast with root vegetables. Roast chicken in gravy to go over instant mashed potatoes. Spaghetti with meat sauce. Beef or chicken stew or any really thick soup with veggies.

    10. Stitching Away*

      Loaded mac and cheese (add cooked protein and veggies of your choice into the mix, bake, then cut into portions and freeze).

      Stews of all kind free really well, and just get better over time.

  13. Just want a dog pal*

    I am getting a puppy! He’s a poodle. I get him in 4 weeks. His breeder is lovely and caring, has done all the recommended health testing and is following a great socialization program for him. The pup already seems inquisitive but chilled. He came towards me and fell asleep in my arms. I love him already.

    This has been a long time coming for me and I have done loads of research. I am not having any serious doubts but I am struggling a little with a voice in my head at 3am that likes to point out that puppies are a huge amount of work and will upset my nice, ordered life. I am on my own so that feeling can leave me feeling a bit lonely and really quite anxious. The problem is that life is also a bit dull (for me) and lacking some joy. I would love to hear from people who have got a dog or puppy and whose lives have been immeasurably enriched by the experience! It would help in those wee hours of the night when the enormity of this decision hits and I get a bit scared. Anyone care to tell me what their dogs bring to their lives and reassure me that the pluses outweigh the minuses?

    1. merope*

      I don’t have a dog myself (I am owned by a cat), but my parents got a poodle puppy (mini) shortly after they retired. They had been small business co-owners (construction) for most of their lives, so all their sleeping and waking time was pretty much work-oriented, and my sibling and I were quite concerned about their ability to actually retire and enjoy the experience. The puppy made a HUGE difference in their quality of life, so much so that they added another within a few years. My mom has said she’s never laughed so frequently and they always have a story of some scampiness (the 2nd puppy is more of a rascal than the first) to tell when I call. More than that, the dogs get them out of the house (for walks, on a regular schedule), give them a conversation topic with people, helped them meet their neighbours (everyone with dogs knows everyone else with dogs in the area), and just generally increased the amount of physical contact and affection in their lives. I don’t think that you will regret adding this little bundle of love to your life.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      Hello! I literally just brought my puppy home two weeks ago! She is 13 weeks now and she is exactly what we wanted. We waited a year for her and were careful to choose a breeder who values temperament and health (goes above and beyond required health testing for the breed). It will be worth the wait :) for now we are primarily focusing on her being comfortable and happy- so potty training, socialization, handling for vet care, and basic training like recall, touch etc. Enjoy your new puppy!! Also, Not sure what age you’ll be bringing them home but if you can wait until 10-11 weeks to do so, your life will be so much easier. They are far easier to potty train, less mouthy, and sleep better when they’re that age compared to 8 week.

    3. Susie*

      We have had our puppy for a couple of months now. We previously had a rescue who we adopted at a year and a half.

      We love our puppy. While it is important to not over exercising puppies, she’s at the age we can take her on longer walks so we’re going to local parks. Being outside really helps my mental health so having the requirement I need to get outside daily is super helpful. She isn’t a snuggler, but she does like to sleep near my feet, which I find super endearing. Ours is a poodle mix and super smart, so I’ve enjoyed seeing what she is able to figure out.

      Puppies benefit from structure and routine, so your life can continue to be nice and ordered, just with more dog focused routines and the benefit of doggy playtime.

      1. Puppy!*

        search the site for all the advice I got October a year ago.
        I was over exercising my puppy and she was cranky and mouthy.
        Once I followed the advice from the commentators things got SO much better.
        Crate train if you can.

    4. Southern Girl*

      I did not have dogs till I was middle aged. There is nothing like the adoring look a dog will give you just for existing. Our first dogs died of old age and we felt so lost we adopted sibling puppies 2 weeks later. They are now 6. Best wishes for your new baby.

    5. Just want a dog pal*

      Thank you all! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I think I’ve been spending too much time on scary threads (on other websites) about puppy regret. Now I just want to hear all the good stuff!

      1. Invisible Fish*

        Puppy regret? This is a thing? How is this a thing? Puppies make every day better. Dogs make your life complete. If folks who are so foolish as to not plan and prepare for the changes required by puppy companionship, then shame on them!! (I say this as someone whose multiple cats and dogs seem to be working together to ruin all the rugs and furniture in the house – no torn up material item or interrupted night’s sleep compares to the joy they bring you every day.)

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Yes! It’s usually called puppy blues- people can go through a sort of short depression like period after getting a puppy and being overwhelmed by them

          1. WellRed*

            My friend got her first dog as an over 40 adult. She got a puppy. It was a bit challenging for a while and she wondered if she’d made a mistake.

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          Regret is often a thing. I got my pup from a rescue at 13 weeks old, and apparently the first owner couldn’t keep up with the care after having him two weeks. I foster a lot of larger-breed pups that are 5-9 months old, which is about the time when a lack of training starts to become a problem, as the jumping-up-on-strangers and separation anxiety stops being cute. I spend a lot of time reinforcing good behaviors, and training them to enjoy a crate.

          It is also the time when behavioral genetic problems start to surface. This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone who gets their pup from an easy breed from a good breeder, but rescues don’t get asked to help pups from good breeders (because they would take their pups back, and take ownership of the problem). I know of someone who got a power-breed pup from a great home, and they are very conscious of the fact that every interaction in that pup’s life is critical for the first 6-12 months. Although their situation is also a bit unique as they work to rehabilitate that breed, so they know some of the worst possibilities and are extra cautious with their pup.

          I don’t mean to be negative just for the sake of it! I think it’s really good that Just Want a Dog Pal has a poodle from a reputable breeder, and is doing all the research ahead of time. And there will be times when you regret it, but they should be relatively infrequent and brief. As mentioned I foster a lot of dogs and pups (and kittens and cats) and yet when I’d had my own pup for a few days and was desperate to sleep through the night, all I could think at 2am was “I’m stuck with this one, aren’t I?!” When my fellow foster friend showed up to introduce me to her new pup that she’d had for a week, she had the same look in her eyes. I mention this because it’s very normal, and it passes quickly if you expect it and do the right things. Getting good sleep definitely helps, and I invited my friend over to have our pups play together, and we both worked on crate training so that we could leave our pups at home without worry. You can ask questions on this page, and talk to other dog owners you trust.

          A few things I would strongly recommend based on experience:
          – look for posts by Puppy! (not sure how many !!) from about a year ago in these open threads. There was a lot of good discussion about how to adjust to life with a new pup
          – walk them 5 minutes per month old, so a 2 month old pup should walk at most 10 minutes at a time, a 6 month old pup 30 minutes max, with naps in between
          – if they are bitey and nutty with energy then they are overtired, and longer walks won’t fix this. Do more naps, with short walks and training
          – get them used to a crate, or use a baby gate to put them in a different room, so that they learn to be calm on their own. Even if you don’t have to go out often, or can always bring a dog with you, it’s still good for both of you if the dog can spend an hour or two per day out of your sight. I also used the crate overnight when puppy was about 6 months old and felt that they couldn’t hold their bladder outside the crate, but held the pee just fine if crated, which helped with both my sleep and their training (I knew it wasn’t a physical thing because pup wouldn’t rush to toilet when I let them out in the morning)
          – poodles are very bright, so it is very important to exercise the mind more than the body. Basics like Sit and Down and Come initially, but also scent training (or as simple as a snuffle mat or throwing kibbles into the grass for them to use their nose to eat) or agility or anything that helps tire them out mentally. If you can let them out every hour or two then you should be able to toilet-train them immediately if you keep a close eye on them initially

          There is a saying in rescue that I think applies to me as much as the dogs and cats, and hopefully it will give you context. It takes 3 days to get over the shock of the change, it takes 3 weeks to get comfortable with the schedule, and it takes 3 months to feel like the new pet is home. No matter how many times I foster, I still have the exact same “What did I agree to?!” reaction at 2am on days 2-4, but it gets better after that. And if it doesn’t then reach out to your support network!

          Some of the positives: my pup is now a year old and is such a great little sibling to my older dog, and all of my hard work has paid off. Pup loves to be crated for a nap, snuggles constantly on the couch, sleeps quietly in bed overnight, loves balls, enjoys mental games, and makes my neighbors very happy. I tell new adopters that they should look forward to training their new dog, rather than have it feel like a chore, because that is one of the fun parts about having a dog. With that frame of mind every day is an adventure with a best friend!

    6. Not A Manager*

      Puppies are a huge amount of work, but they grow up. You already love the puppy. In my opinion, love is worth the inconvenience.

      I do strongly suggest that you and the puppy take some reputable dog training classes together. It will make both of your lives more enjoyable in the future.

    7. Generic Name*

      Yay, congrats! I got a puppy a few years ago, and she’s made me so happy. Yes, the first months of when they have to potty in the middle of the night are hard, but it passes quickly. Having pets in your life really does bring joy and helps ease loneliness. Before my husband moved in, it was just me and the cats the weeks my son was at his dad’s, and they really helped me to feel less alone. A dog would have been even better. Dogs are helpful in they are a great topic of discussion, whether they are with you or not. People love talking about their dogs!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Scene, 3am. Brought to you by biphasic sleep.

      Me: *shifts, moving phone into a different angle*
      Puppy wedged into my ribs: *sits bolt upright, looking around suspiciously *
      Me: “It’s fine, bebe, just, mama is bad at sleepin.”
      Puppy: “Here, I show you how.” *plonks her head back down on my shoulder and starts snoring tiny puppy snores in my ear*

      (NB: she is only a puppy in the sense that all dogs are puppies; she turned seven on Thursday.) Also – she has been a bit of a pain the last couple weeks because she doesn’t like change but we lost her big sister Labor Day weekend, so she’s having to adjust to being an only dog for the first time in her life, plus my husband is gone on a two week work trip. But while I was typing this, she came over to me on the couch, patted me with her paw until I rearranged how I was sitting, and climbed into my lap where she curled up like a cinnamon bun.

      As I mentioned, we lost my Elder Statesdog recently, but I have put down a deposit on a pick from a spring litter (normally I would prefer to adopt, as we did with Junior Ambassador, but we had some specific things we were looking for this time and decided a reputable breeder was the best way to meet those) so there will be more puppy in my life sometime after the first of the year :) (husband has more work travel coming up, and since Junior Ambassador already doesn’t like change, we wanted to hold off on adding a puppy into the mix until he was going to be home to help me help her adjust.)

    9. Stephanie*

      We got Daisy,our whippet-greyhound mix in January of 2020. We already had two greyhounds, but we seem to be a three dog family, and the greyhounds are very, very low-maintenance, chilled out dogs. Both kids were away at college, and the house was just too quiet for me. Daisy was three when we adopted her, and she was very lively, and way more active than our greyhounds. She had just started to settle in when the pandemic happened. Both kids moved back home, I was not working (due to the pandemic), and my husband was working from home. I had a pretty rough time, emotionally, like just about everyone did, with the upheaval of the lockdown. Daisy kept me from completely losing it. She and I spent lots and lots of hours snuggled together on our screened porch. And we had lots of walks together around the neighborhood.
      She can be annoying, she’s pretty demanding, and there’s a lot of letting her out and then letting her back in and then doing it all again ten minutes later. But she’s very very sweet, and she’s really smart and funny. I am very, very happy we got her, and that we got her when we did, because I really needed her.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I lost my old boy after my husband passed. I decided to get another dog even though I would be raising it by myself.

      Pups look up to us as protectors. We feed them, water them, let them out and play with them but they really want to know will we protect and take care of them. I think the “worst” part with a pup is very short in comparison to how long they can stay with us.

      This dog I have now is part husky. And he’s got all the husky traits. I was so UNprepared. I do relate to those thoughts at 2 am, “What am I getting into here?”.
      My suggestion is to develop a plan of what you will do if you hit some bumps in the road.

      1) One of my favs is to ask a good friend to play with the pup even if it’s just a short bit once or twice a week. Pick someone who is a dog person and has some experience with pups.

      2) You can post questions here.

      3) You can check in with your vet.

      4) Get a favorite pet store and go there routinely. You can ask them questions, also.

      Lots of people are doing life on their own and doing it with a dog. I see a lot of single people offering to help each other with their dogs- because they know it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Or sometimes you just need an extra set of hands.

      The dog I have now is my fifth dog in my life. He is totally unlike the other dogs. And we managed to work through it all. (I adjusted to having a dog that is smarter than me.) Dogs fill up a home, they make us laugh, and some days they push us forward when laying in bed sounds like a better idea. They are amazing in their ability to express joy and their ability to detect our own sadness or physical pain.

      Yes, it will upset your nice orderly life. Any time we invited another being into our lives we can expect some disorder. It’s all trade offs. For all the disorder they cause, they also save our butts. One dog let me know the field out back was on fire. He let me know the neighbor’s house was being robbed/trashed. He caught mice for me.
      I can never prove it but I am almost sure that my childhood dog saved young me from a predator. The guy thought twice about coming near me when my135 pound dog stepped between us. I lied and told him the dog bites strangers.
      You will have a companion who will be very loyal to you. Sometimes I think their loyalty is exemplary- a lesson for all of us.
      The pluses way, way out weigh the minuses. Put the stuff you cherish a way for a bit until the pup is older and quits cuts new teeth. Limit the pup’s ability to wander around your home. Take him for walks, pups have lots of energy to burn off. Teach the pup what “nap time” means so you have a time out when you need it. (I would take naps with the pups beside me on the couch. They learned “nap time” very well.)

      I think you will be a good dog parent. You will watch what you are doing each step of the way and be thoughtful and careful. A dog cannot ask for better than that.

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      We adopted Best Good Dog about 5 years ago when he was about 7 years old. I also worried at first that maybe I wasn’t up for the challenge (I struggle with depression and anxiety) but he has turned out to be the best thing for me. He’s a working breed, and he’s assigned himself the job of walking me daily, providing soft fur for me to run my fingers through when I’m anxious, and sitting quietly by my side when I’m feeling down.

    12. CSmithy*

      My dog brings lots of chaos into my life (3am chihuahua bladder calls are fun) but I wouldn’t give her up for anything, nor can I imagine life without her now. In the more difficult moments, just try to remind yourself that in about a year at least 50% of the puppy chaos will have waned, and they only get better as they get older. :)

      In other words, totally worth it, and just know that periods of frustration are suuuper normal. Puppies are learning how to be dogs and it takes time!

    13. Sunshine*

      It will upset your life but it will get less difficult as it grows out of puppy age. On the flip side, in my experience, having a dog brings so much positive. And some of those added responsibilities can pay off for your mental health ( being responsible to something, regular walks, petting, an absolute nonjudgmental listener, maybe a dog social circle.) If it’s feasible for you maybe check out dog daycare to offset some of that puppy energy in the beginning. And find a fav dog park.

      1. HoundMom*

        Puppies are so cute in order to keep you from losing your mind. I got my “soul dog” as a pup and she was a handful but she was my co-adventurer for 14 years. I will always love her.

        My husband and I are now on dogs 8 and 9 and we lasted less than three days without one. Dogs bring so much — eases heartaches and depression, get us walking together and always a source of conversation.

        Enjoy your née friend!

    14. SofuaDeo*

      I have a service animal I trained myself, with lessons from a certified trainer. I have an education background, so was used to teaching/training.
      Some comments I have regarding puppies:
      1) I know they are super cute when really small, but most breeds will have less emotional issues if you can wait 12-16 weeks until you take them home. 8-10 weeks really is quite young. They will be less likely to have separation anxiety from Mom/littermates, they will be socialized more from the breeder who spends time doing this properly.
      2) Try to remember you will have a permanent 2 year old when fully grown & trained. They want to please, they can grasp some concepts, they will forget, and they respond much better to praise than punishment.
      3) As part of the “2 year old concept”, remember this when training. You may feel silly initially “overly praising” your dog when it pees on command(like people do potty training kids), or poops outside, or comes to you, but having a dog that will wait to poop in front of you (you need to see the poop for health reasons) just to get praise, even if it means whining, etc. if they are sick to go out if you aren’t using pads is waaay better than finding “hidden” poop, especially gross ones, in a closet somewhere.
      4) Always go get your dog when you want to do something you know it doesn’t care for much. Grooming, brushing teeth, bath, whatever. Your dog coming when you call should always be a pleasant thing for it.
      5) In the spirit of over-exaggerating, when your puppy start teething and those incredibly sharp teeth nip you, do an exaggerated whine/cry, immediately leave the room, refuse to continue playing. You only need to do this “run away” for a few minutes before re-engaging, but I guarantee your dog will learn very very quickly to not nip so hard if it means you run away! If you just go “ow” or “no” but continue playing they won’t learn.
      6) Regarding things they may not like, if you start them early and make it a playtime if you can, there won’t be resistance later. Brushing teeth or coat, handling feet for clipping, checking/cleaning their butt, taking a bath…..do it often and/or make a playtime “reward” after. Baths at my house mean playtime for 20 mins or so after the bath. I didn’t put clothing on my puppy initially, I didn’t want to waste the $ since they grow so fast. But it gets below freezing and coats are needed in winter. I should have just purchased Used, in retrospect, because he did resist
      7) Regarding baths….I have a command “let’s wash your feet” and I only do their feet/belly when muddy or wet. They don’t fight it. And do their head last (if at all), it seems many breeds hate the water in their ears/eyes. I will wait until conditioner is on my Bichon before doing a quick head wash/condition.
      8) Most Important, YOU must be the Alpha. Some of the things we think make sense as humans, are Bad in Doggy Language. Alphas alway go first. So, until they are trained and you TELL them to go first through a door, or up the stairs, or on a walk, or who eats first…it HAS to be you. Even though it’s a pain to open the door, puppy rushes ahead, you MUST say “no”, bring the dog back, walk through the door first, then call it out. It will drive you crazy a bit, u til they are trained. Same thing when going up/down stairs, and going in/out of elevators. And like a 2 year old, they will “test” you intermittently, even after they learn it. Only after your dog is fully trained, doesn’t pull ahead on the leash (you MUST teach it to heel), can you open the door and say “go ahead” when leaving, or once out on a walk. Alphas always go first, and if you allow your dog to “be first” it won’t listen to you, and is actually a root problem of dogs being aggressive on walks as well as other misbehaviors.
      9) Finally, you are in for a most joyous time of your life! After 9 years, I will admit there were a few times I wished I had never had to get a dog. Or wished I didn’t have the responsibility. But that pales in comparison to the manymany Many MANY times I was filled with joy, laughter, and love!

      1. SofuaDeo*

        I had another thought….the trainer to,d me to “praise my dog a lot” when it was doing what I wanted, properly. She didn’t say this exactly, but….I started praising my dog when it was lying in one of it’s beds (there’s a spot or bed of some sort that’s just for the dog in all major rooms except kitchen, bath, and laundry. Except the bathroom with the potty pad). So now I have a dog that will lie quietly a lot, because I make a point to give it the “praise reward” every hour or so as a puppy (less now) when it was craving attention, but was lying in its bed instead of acting out.

    15. Cabin Fever*

      My dog sitter used to say, “Dogs are fun; puppies are work.” That might be true, but it’s the most joyous work I’ve ever experienced. Watching my puppy learn new things constantly and figure out how to interact with the world, seeing her personality develop more and more every day – I wouldn’t give those early days up for anything. We brought her home 10 years ago and I still remember her new puppy smell. Yes, your puppy will be a lot of work. Sometimes it won’t feel like work at all. Sometimes you’ll want to tear your hair out. But it’s so, so worth it. You’ve got this. You and your dog are going to have so much fun together.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, god, new puppy breath. I thought it was just a saying, but from 8 weeks to about 4-5 months, it really was a whole thing, and I didn’t realize it until she hit five months old and her breath turned into regular doggy breath and then I missed it.

    16. Puppy!*

      So the puppy is 13 months old now.
      She IS a joy.
      What I did right.
      I invited about a 1/2 dozen friends who helped socialize her. Playdates with people. We made friends with the neighborhood puppies.
      One friend has become co-parent. She comes almost everyday at 3:45 and stays until 5:15. She will be in my will.
      We have been to puppy class and obedience class.
      She has a puppy playdate every morning from 7:30 to 8:00.

      What I did wrong or was unsuccessful:
      Too much exercise- this site was great for how to not do that.
      The crate training. No matter what- JUST DIDN’T Work. Finally gave up. Made us both miserable. When I leave the house, she is gated in the kitchen.
      Don’t forget to feed more as they grow!

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Thank you for the update. I remember how you were unsure about getting her, how you would even get her from the breeder, and yet all your plans worked out and you have the best pup. I know there were learning curves along the way, but you are a great example of how making plans ahead of time with friends and asking questions really worked out for the best. I’m so happy for you that everything continues to go well!

    17. Blythe*

      I have a 16 month old standard poodle and he IMMEASURABLY improved my life. There is literally nothing I regret about getting him. He is a lot of work and a ton of responsibility, but he gives back much more than he takes in terms of energy and joy.

  14. I need tea*

    Any adult ballet dancers here? How long have you been dancing for/how much time do you spend dancing (or on activities that help with dancing, like stretching)? How do you structure your ballet practice? Does anyone take exams/do intensives/compete/perform? Anyone know of either in person or online intensives, competitions or performance opportunities for adult dancers that are likely to continue over the next few years? I’m starting to look to external goals I want to meet and trying to figure out what’s actually feasible!

    Other than that, what have your best experiences dancing as an adult been, whether it’s doing barre for the first time or learning a variation or anything?

    1. Reba*

      I take classes at the Washington School of Ballet. If there is a ballet company in your area, they probably offer adult classes and likely intensives! I know there were quite a few on offer this summer.

      Outside of schools, Lazy Dancer is a subscription dance technique/fitness thing. I haven’t used it but people seem to like it! Kathryn Morgan’s youtube channel is one of the best, I enjoy her “themed” technique classes because they hold my interest a bit better than other online videos. And I believe Misty Copeland has done a Masterclass :)

      For me, dancing in the studio is so worth it and really a different thing than working at home. I love dancing with a live accompanist. Not to mention with space! I haven’t been good about dancing regularly during the panini but I do stretch and do some releves at a minimum almost daily.

      I haven’t done anything billed as an intensive as an adult student, but have most enjoyed weekend-long workshops or short series of longer classes focused on a particular goal: an aspect of technique, or working with a particular variation. I guess these are short of an “intensive” but work well for my schedule.

      I love have a chance to perform something with my class, which sometimes the intensives or workshops offer, though just in the studio. Most adult classes are drop-in so that means building up a work to perform isn’t in the cards. I have never had any interest in competitions, so can’t help you there!

    2. German Girl*

      Over here!

      I danced as a young adult for about three years, then took a ten year hiatus and have been back at it for three and a half years now. I currently take two classes (intermediate and pointe) a week and one private a month to offset the fact that I can’t fit a second technique class into my schedule, which would be recommended for someone dancing en pointe.
      I stretch daily – most days just five minutes for “maintenance”, but I do try to get in a longer session every now and then. Recently I’ve started to also try to do 10 minutes with a Pilates App several times a week.

      I do performances with my studio. We have a big recital every other year, and the ensemble group will come together for small performances at least once a year – we even managed to do the ensemble performances during covid.

      Anyone know of either in person or online intensives, competitions or performance opportunities for adult dancers that are likely to continue over the next few years? I haven’t done anything online, but I know a few people on Reddit r/Ballet have – so you might want to ask there.

      The best experiences as an adult:

      * Getting approved for pointe again. And then after two frustrating years including a baby break and my feet totally changing finally finding the right pointe shoes to be confident enough to actually do serious stuff in the center en pointe – I volunteered to do ballonnee in the center yesterday at the end of class, I never thought that would happen.

      * Finding a superb teacher – it’s such a joy to work with her that I’m seriously considering keeping the privates even when I have time for more classes. And she’s wonderful in class as well.

      * Being more in tune with my body, noticing how ballet makes my body feel better, noticing how better technique not only makes dancing easier but also translates to better posture and less body problems in my day to day life.

      The performances have been nice as well, but I honestly enjoy the rehearsals much more than the actual performance.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      Pre-pandemic I took some adult ballet classes for fun – a local dance studio offered them. Since it was just for fun, there wasn’t too much emphasis on exams, etc., but I think more serious studios might offer that? I really thrived under the low pressure environment, though. I took one ballet class and one contemporary class each week.

      Personally, it was also very important that I found somewhere that didn’t have going en pointe as a goal for students, since I like having toenails, and I did have to switch classes at one point because I hated feeling pressured to do pre-pointe training. But I know that some people really love/aspire to pointe shoes, so YMMV!

      1. German Girl*

        You can absolutely dance en pointe without loosing your toenails. I’ve lost three due to ill fitting shoes but since finding pointe shoes that work for me, my toe nails are happy and healthy. But you do have to keep them short.

    4. Lazy cook*

      Lifelong recreational ballet dancer here. For my early adult life, I took 2, sometimes 3 classes a week, including pointe technique, and performed occasionally. These days (I’m 40 now), my schedule only allows for a weekly class at best, so no more pointe, and with a growing number of small but nagging injuries (degenerative arthritis in my right big toe, and some hip nerve issues), I’ve shifted to other outlets for my performance fix (namely, aerials). But I still love ballet class for its meditative repetitiveness, and the way it combines athletics and art, and even a weekly class keeps me in good shape. The classes I take include a nice mix of pre- and post-professionals as well as recreational dancers with anywhere from a few years to a few decades of experience, and I like being middle of the pack in terms of skill… keeps me motivated to improve even without external performance outlets.

  15. Bobina*

    Gardening thread!

    I just spent an hour pottering in the back, watering plants (because even though its been threatening to rain, it hasnt actually rained so uh, oops – sorry plants for letting you go about 3 weeks without water!).

    I think I’ve decided how I’m going to try and plant some of the bulbs I have. Now my next quest will be looking for a deep window box (ideally also heavy enough to deter theft) so that some of the taller flowering bulbs might be a bit happier and in the sun.

    Yet again, I’ve procrastinated on buying the bulbs I want. Procrastinating between going to a local garden store (they might have cool things and also a suitable window box) or just ordering online (shipping costs are expensive so it often makes me overbuy so I can get ~value for money~)…

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I just spent a week off in a national park gaining inspiration for my Future Garden, and getting blown away by the stunningly perfect landscape arrangements that mother nature devises of her own accord. I feel like it’s impossible to recreate that kind of casual perfection in your own garden, but would love to hear from anyone who’s tried!

      1. Bobina*

        I can only aspire to have such a garden, but from watching a bunch of gardening shows – its definitely doable! Personally, this is where I’d be willing to pay a landscape gardener for instance to help give ideas and do the initial foundation work, but there are definitely garden styles which are classed as “wild” or “natural” that aim to mimic what you’d find in nature.

      1. londonedit*

        I was just coming here to mention my Christmas cactus cuttings! I have two of them, taken from my old Christmas cactus that in turn was a cutting from my grandmother’s. I potted my cuttings up a few weeks ago and they seem to be doing well, though I am dealing with a very annoying infestation of little gnats from the compost. Currently trying cinnamon to get rid of them, and I have some fine gravel coming next week to put on top of the soil, which apparently stops them laying eggs. Fingers crossed!

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Fungus gnats? I’ve had luck getting rid of them with a good spray of pyrethrum over the soil and letting them dry out a little more between watering.

          1. londonedit*

            That’s the ones! I’m trying to leave them without watering, but I’m slightly worried about the balance between no water and not killing the plants! Will look up pyrethrum, thanks for the tip!

            1. Expiring Cat Memes*

              Fungus gnats are super freakin’ annoying in your house! I’m a reformed over-waterer who used to get heaps. I’ve tried the gravel/sand trick, and it does help somewhat, but it also acts as a mask for problems and makes it really hard to gauge when to water your plant if you can’t easily see or feel the soil.

          2. Reba*

            For fungus gnats you can add Mosquito Bits to the top of your soil to control them. It is bacteria that kills their larvae! I don’t know why it’s so exciting to me, but like, biological pest control, in my own home!

  16. Blue Eagle*

    Gratitude thread
    What are you grateful for that you learned from your Ask-A-Manager friends on this Saturday open thread?
    I’ll go first. I am very grateful to the person who asked about inflatable stand-up paddleboards and to the person who suggested the Body Glove Performer SUP. On their recommendation I purchased it last summer and not only have I enjoyed using it the past two summers, but also it has helped alleviate pain in the foot with the dislocated bone that never healed fully. Thank you so much!

    1. Laura H.*

      Mentioned this last week but it’s opened food prep options for me and makes a great component to a meal- the Barilla Ready Pasta that you just zap in the microwave.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’m really grateful for the insight and depth of thought that other commenters put in to their responses to questions.

      A couple of times I’ve asked what I thought were relatively mild questions about challenges in how I’m relating to my special peeps and it’s absolutely blown me away how other readers can 1) read between the lines and see the bigger picture, 2) have lived experience in The Thing that I don’t, and 3) give me advice that is spot on and supportive.

      Asking a question here is like consulting a psychic crystal ball that’s buried in an applied science textbook with output filtered through several independent voices of reason.

      1. the cat's ass*

        +1000! So many kind and thoughtful individuals in this commentariat. Dang, I should have put my gratefulness to you all in the little joys thread!

    3. allathian*

      I really appreciate the diversity of the commentariat here. I truly value the way that people posting here have made me aware of and able to question some of my own unconscious biases. I also appreciate Alison’s way of making this a safe environment for everyone to post, except bigots.

      My social circle in meatspace is the opposite of diverse in the sense that I’ve known most of my good friends since middle school or high school, so we’re all of a similar age. All of my close friends are women, most of us have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most of my friends are married with children, like I am. AFAIK all of us are cis-het and NT, although some of us, including me, have struggled with depression, and one of my best friends was forced to retire on disability following a psychosis in her early 20s.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      Some time ago, someone on here posted about making your bed up with clean sheets and a fresh duvet cover and pillowcases the night before or morning of a house move. You then pack the sheets, duvet and pillowcases (with the covers still on) in a separate clear bag. When you arrive at your new place, you can literally just put the sheet on the bed, throw the duvet and pillows on to the bed and then it’s ready whenever you want to go to sleep! I had a lot of house moves in 2020 (for various reasons) and this tip was an absolute game changer in that regard.

  17. Dwight Schrute*

    Anyone have an AAM dream before? I had one last night that involved someone asking about puppy and dog stuff and I replied saying I do dog sports with my dogs but I had a puppy with kennel cough and everyone replied scolding me for taking my sick puppy out and about when I was referring to my older dogs. I woke up and thought, huh that was weird

    1. Double A*

      Oh my gosh I was going to post this thread!!! I woke up this morning from a dream where Allison had updated the commenting system so any threads you had replied to were shown under the post and the rest were hidden. It was actually pretty snazzy, and I’m assuming inspired by Slate’s update to their commenting section. Which is not so snazzy.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      I had one Thursday evening, actually! I’m trying to remember what the dream-letter Alison received was about, I think it was akin to the bird letter, but what I remember was that I was scrolling to get to the comics because it was just “Run.” repeated over and over again.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yep. I’ve had one of those too. I was so amused at having an advice column dream that the content of slipped out of my mind completely. But I assure you that everyone here was brilliant.

  18. Dwight Schrute*

    I’ve got two separate questions that are totally unrelated:

    1) I’ve been wondering how younger people afford to have children lately? My partner and I make a combined 130k, which to me is a decent amount of money but there is absolutely no way we could afford to have a child right now in our mid twenties. I know people who have several kids by my age and don’t make nearly the same amount and I’m wondering how they can possibly afford kids?? They are just so expensive it seems.

    2) has anyone here swapped SSRIs? How did the transition go for you? I’m on week 2 of a new one (Lexapro to zoloft) and the first few days were great, then I had several really bad days, and it seems to be plateauing a bit now? I’m not seeking advice but want to hear how your experience went with swapping!

    1. Not A Manager*

      I know this sounds flippant, but I promise it isn’t. The answer to your first question is really all contained in the meaning of “afford.” Maybe break down the ways in which you feel that children are so expensive, and think about which of those expenses are based a particular societal expectations that don’t *have* to apply to everyone in order for a child to thrive, and which are true necessities.

      But then I think the next step is to think about what’s important to you in terms of your own lifestyle and what you want to provide for a child. Children don’t *have* to have their own bedrooms, and in fact they don’t have to have any bedroom. My mother slept on the living room sofa for her entire growing up in the Bronx, and she was none the worse for it. But it’s completely reasonable for you not to want to have children if it means a crowded home environment, or moving somewhere distasteful for the quality of public education, etc.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I guess I was just thinking of the cost of formula, diapers, childcare, toys, crib, health visits etc and it all adds up pretty quickly! Plus a lot of parents save for college which is wildly expensive at the moment

        1. Not A Manager*

          Those are very different categories, though. Childcare and college are huge ongoing expenses that I think one really needs to carefully think through in terms of lifestyle and expectations. Toys and cribs come in a wide variety of costs and styles, without any difference in actual safety or educational value. Formula and diapers are short-term expenses.

          It can seem overwhelming when you lump everything together because then it feels like “I must provide All The Things All The Time.” I think that if you pare it down, you only *have* to provide some version of some of the things some of the time.

        2. I heart Paul Buchman*

          Diapers and formula are the least of it. Other than childcare (huge expense) infancy is the cheapest time of life.

          We have had the lifestyle that we want with four kids (married at 22, first at 23). But, our lifestyle goals are modest. We aim to pay off our 3 bed, one bath home, save for a modest retirement and put our kids through state schools (with some tutoring when needed). We have a wonderful life and I wouldn’t change it but to fund it there are few luxuries. We have no new furniture, I have never been to a salon, our holidays are off season and budget. So, it is achievable if compromises are made. Very much wanting children and this type of family life has made it easy. It would be hard if it was all done resentfully I think.

          1. Enough*

            Similar for us. Although we were 30. The biggest thing was buying the biggest house that we could afford for the family we wanted with the intent to never move. Still there 37 years later. So when the house was paid off we had that money to put toward college expenses. Also while not planned this way having children spaced out was helpful. Mine are now 26, 32, and 36. It is easier to pay for things (even though they get costlier over time) when you only have to pay for one at a time.

        3. Epsilon Delta*

          A lot of that expensive stuff you can request at a baby shower, or in the worst case it’s a one-time expense like the crib. For stuff like toys, clothes, etc you don’t actually need a lot or really expensive ones. Many parents do clothes-swaps. We got most of our daughter’s clothes for free from friends until she was about 11 or 12, and regifted those clothes to other parents later. Most of it is a matter of re-prioritizing your spending, especially at higher income levels. My husband and I didn’t buy a lot of stuff for ourselves for many years or go on vacations until I got a good job. Parents who make less may end up going into debt or not saving money for emergencies or retirement in order. Some parents get a lot of help from grandparents or extended family.

          Saving for college, while a really great thing to do if you can, is completely optional. That should be way down the priority list, and should not come before things like retirement saving and paying down high interest debt.

      2. twocents*

        My economics professor used to comment that there is a difference between simply affording a child and affording the quality of life you want your children to have.

        1. ampersand*


          There’s some amount of just making it work because you don’t have any other choice once you have a child (or children). You make sure their needs are met, and if you have leftover resources to put towards other things, great! If not, those things don’t happen.

          In my experience, having a child can also mean you don’t have the time to do things that require more disposable income, so those things are also on hold until you have more free time and the money again. All your resources (financial and otherwise) are put towards raising the new human, until they’re not.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      It takes about $300,000 to raise a kid to age 18, which averages to $16,666 a year, $1,388 a month, $320 a week, $45 a day and $5.62 an hour.

      Seems doable to me, especially when you consider your income growth over time. I raised my son on $40,000 yearly salary starting in 1985; by the time he was 18, my income increased to $90,000.

      He went on to become a carpenter at age 20, then became a journeyman be age 26 and a Forman at age 38. He now makes $135,000 a year, including health care and a union provided pension.

      It can be done if you want to. Just think how many raise multiple children on much less.

      1. Clisby*

        I’ve seen figures like that, but I have no idea how they come up with them. We were solidly middle-class, and I don’t think we spent $16,000 extra a year for two kids.

        1. Epsilon Delta*

          I have seen a breakdown of this figure. It includes buying a bigger house and bigger cars. I rolled my eyes at that. Some people do those things, but it feels disingenuous to call it part of the expense of raising a child.

          1. Clisby*

            Exactly. The problem with some of these (like the USDA reports) is that they seem to equate “What parents are spending on their children” with “What it costs to raise children.” We never bought a bigger house or car because of our children (we had only 2 – obviously if we had had 8 we’d have needed something bigger).
            Here’s an example I saw from one article that was analyzing the USDA reports: “Food. As we mentioned earlier, food can account for 18% of the cost of raising children. You could spend anywhere between $99 and $183 per month to feed a 1-year-old child.” That is utterly ridiculous. A normal, healthy 1-year-old can eat an awful lot of the same things you do – it’s not like you have to buy a bunch of completely different food for a child, although you might need to spend a little time mushing it up more. And I guarantee you, a 1-year-old doesn’t anything like as much as an adult.

            If you can buy a decent new car for $25,000, the fact that there are people who will pay $50,000, or $80,000, or whatever, is irrelevant. Just because someone with more money than sense will pay $80,000 for a car does not mean “the cost of buying a car in the US is $80,000.”

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I nearly choked laughing. My husband and I never made anywhere near those amounts (actually, our family of three lived on less than those child-raising numbers), but we managed. Our son did two years of community college before university, and we paid as he went. We’ve never had a large house or more than one car. No cable or streaming. Vacations have been budgeted road trips. We never felt we had to do without; our priorities were just different.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      We raised a child on very very little money – one income, one car, he slept in our bed or a side car (no expensive nursery to decorate), I breastfed and we used no formula or bottles, I made my own baby food (its so easy really, we just blended/mashed up single fruits or veggies or our food before the spices), I shopped in thrift stores for most of his clothing and toys, etc.

      We did not really know any better, we just worked with what we had and it all worked out.

      1. Imtheone*

        For contemporary safecsleep recommendations, no sleeping in bed with the baby, and no sidecar. But a simple crib with nothing fancy works fine.

        1. Observer*

          For contemporary safecsleep recommendations, no sleeping in bed with the baby, and no sidecar. But a simple crib with nothing fancy works fine.

          It’s a whole lot more complex than that.

          But, I agree – you do NOT need a high end, expensive crib.

        2. Jules the First*

          This is very US-centric. There are safe ways to sleep with your baby (whether that’s a cot designed to sidecar or bedsharing) that are mainstream in Europe and have no statistically significant impact on infant mortality. All baby needs to sleep safely is a firm flat surface clear of bedding and toys; if sharing a sleep surface with mom, then mom should be sober, non-smoking, and (ideally) breastfeeding. And some babies (like mine) *need* to bedshare for health reasons – for example, they may have trouble regulating their own breathing or heart rhythm.

    4. WellRed*

      For kids, you quickly learn to prioritize what you need and what you don’t. Millions upon millions of parents make far less and make it work. Fortunately, you’ve got a little time, being so young.

    5. Generic Name*

      When you make that kind of money, it’s very easy to spend without thinking. If you really want children, I would start tracking your spending to see where the money goes. Also, things like entertainment expenses drop drop drastically when you have babies/small children because most people are not out clubbing or hitting the bars, which can get very expensive very fast. Same with eating out. It’s very easy to drop $75 plus on a dinner out, and multiply that by how often you eat out. For comparison, I make less than half of what you make and I am overwhelmingly supporting my teenager who lives with me most of the time. It is quite possible.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        That’s good to know! Most of my money currently goes to loans from undergrad and grad school, rent and my pets. I have 3 dogs who I do a lot with and pet rats. My dogs are all constantly in training and sporting classes so it’s not uncommon for us to spend hundreds of dollars a month on stuff for them. We are also saving for a house so a fair amount of money into savings too

        1. Generic Name*

          Yeah, you likely won’t have the time/energy to do all that stuff with the dogs once you have a little one. Kids can be great fun for dogs. My son and my dog basically play like littermates. :)

        2. Blackcat*

          “My dogs are all constantly in training and sporting classes so it’s not uncommon for us to spend hundreds of dollars a month on stuff for them.”
          You probably will not have the bandwidth to do that with the dogs with little kids. Just walking/providing basic care for 3 dogs is hard with little kids. Once kids are older it gets easier (an 8yo can walk an obedient dog). But it’s rough when they’re young.
          Far and away, the primary expense with my kid is childcare. Once Kid2 is in care, it’ll be 43k/year in childcare/preschool costs.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      Thanks everyone! I think I was thinking children are significantly more expensive than they are in reality? I was imagining several thousands of dollars a month for their lifetime

      1. Tib*

        The articles you read about the costs of raising a child are pretty fluffy and are likely based on a lot of cultural assumptions and full retail prices at the time the estimate is made. And your pet expenses would seem pretty high when totaled at the end of their lifetime, but it may not seem like much to you now because it’s expected and they’re important to you.

        1. Jackalope*

          I think some of them also include full prices of things that may not cost that much. For example, how much does it cost to house kids? I’m guessing that cost is included, but if my husband and I have kids we have room for them in the house we have now, so wouldn’t have extra housing costs. Not everyone has extra rooms in their homes, but most people could squeeze kids in if they had to. Extra utilities? It’s not that much more than what we pay for ourselves. Babies have a steep initial cost, but baby showers can help with a lot of those things – car seats, high chairs, etc., are things other people will often get for you (or pass down when their kids have outgrown them). Clothing kids can be expensive because they need new clothes so often, but the upside to that is that used kids clothes can be in better condition than used adult clothes because they’re in each size for less time. Health care is also a higher expense, but that depends a bit. In my case, my health insurance for a family vs. me & my husband is the same (although more than for just me). For other insurance companies that wouldn’t be the case, but there’s often a family cost (instead of going up for each child). Etc.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I’ve looked at the cost breakdowns from those estimates, and the biggest ticket items are increased housing costs (and as you say, that’s one where people often make do with what they have), daycare, and health insurance premiums.

      2. Begin at the beginning*

        We’re currently raising three kids on a bit under $75k/year.
        It’s actually not that hard. Make good decisions on spending. Buy used. Kids don’t need brand new, top of the line stuff. Cut random expenditures you dont need. You don’t needs thousands and thousands per month.

      3. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Infant and toddler childcare can be in the thousands per month, but once you are out of that stage everything becomes more manageable. My husband and I created a “baby fund” before we had kids to pay for any labor/delivery costs and help pay for the first three years of childcare. That took some of the sting of paying for our kid!

    7. ThatGirl*

      I can answer the SSRI question from a spousal perspective, my husband switched a couple years ago. The short answer is give it time – you’re changing gears in your brain and it has to get used to a new thing. Will probably take another 1-3 weeks to really feel adjusted.

    8. Pop*

      I guess, where is your money going now (that you could cut if necessary), and what specifically are you worried about for kids with cost? I see you have an expensive hobby. Honestly, little kids are pretty time consuming, so that may be on the back burner for a few years anyway. Not necessarily, though! I’m nine weeks postpartum and getting back into my hobby next week. My husband and I generally live pretty frugally: we live in a one bedroom (yes, it would be nice to have a nursery, but infants are supposed to sleep in your room for the first 12 months anyway to reduce the risk of SIDS). We eat out once a week maximum (we like to cook). We don’t spend money on clothes (our wardrobes mostly have come from goodwill, and baby’s is all hand me downs or from our Buy Nothing Group). My husband is going down to part time at work re: childcare, as he has less of a “career” job and this won’t impact him long term. We’re cloth diapering with diapers we got on FB marketplace for less than $100 total, and haven’t needed formula. Generally we try to focus on what we actually need and then skip the stuff we don’t. Do I have the $500 stroller that my other new mom friend has? No, but mine is safe and functional and it’s fine.

    9. Tiny Houser*

      My partner and I together make $130k, and we both feel like we have gobs of money to max out retirement, donations, savings, etc. No kids, no debt apart from mortgage. We both are surprised that so many people at our income level are on tight budgets or even in debt, but we know that the way we think about money and spending is (evidently!) quite different from most. We spend on what we decide we need, and any income beyond that is extra — for us, $ spent is unrelated to $ income.

      However, it is our impression that in American society spending usually matches or exceeds income, regardless of income level. So under that perspective it makes sense that you would feel hard-pressed to add a major expense category (child) under your current situation. But that perspective also says that since people’s spending on what they want/need to spend money on ends up matching their income, if you add something you want to spend on (a child) it would end up working out as all expenses are re-prioritized to reach an equilibrium. That assumes, of course, that the income is sufficient to not live in poverty, which $130k certainly is; of course there is a level of income too low for expenses to shift around and still yield a comfortable life.

      (PS your raw $130k is quite different depending on your area’s cost of living, and may not mean the same as our $130k an hour outside of a major city.)

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        That makes sense! I think a big part of it for me is my massive student loan debt and saving for a home. I have about 150k in debt from school and houses are crazy expensive in our area right now.

        1. Imtheone*

          Also, you don’t need to own the archetypal 3 bedroom, yard, garage house before having kids.
          But I see how burdensome the student debt is.

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      So when we got married, our priest (Catholic, so take that how you will) said to us, “Children are expensive no matter how much money you have. So don’t wait until you feel financially ready to have kids because you might never have them.”
      But I echo what everyone says- people just somehow figure out how to shift spending priorities when you have to keep a human alive. But yeah, the cost of childcare is one of the main thing that limits middle class growth.

    11. Macaroni Penguin*

      Ah, kids and money.
      I’m in my mid 30s and pregnant with our first baby. My partner and I earn about 100k in a higher COL province. We had to wait a while for our salaries to get to the point where parenting was reasonable. Finances are definitely a factor to consider. We made absolutely sure that we could afford a child and keep a modest lifestyle. Having a sustainable budget really helped us. We have one car and no debts. Most of the daily stuff like diapers will come from our previous fun money. (But we’re still keeping some fun money for ourselves). And the vast majority of baby gear was gifted or bought at a thrift store. (Hello $15 play mat!). Child care is going to be based on what we can afford. Again, a budget here is critical. We already know that a certified day home is going to be a more affordable option than a day care. Education is another fun topic. We’re going to take advantage of an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) for kiddo’s schooling. But the kid is likely going to have to pay for a lot of his education himself. Since we live in Canada, this is a less horribly expensive option than some places in the world. We parents won’t be able to set our kid up with a paid for education. He’ll figure it out, just as I did. There are a lot of financial factors involved with parenting. Sometimes I’m amazed by 20 something parents.

    12. Koala dreams*

      1) From what I see around me, parents get help from family, friends, neighbors, church… There are clothes swaps, toy swaps, selling and buying of cribs and strollers to make the most of limited resources.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      I also wonder how some of my relatives can afford kids. One had 4 boys in 5 years! They’ll all need jeans and cellphones and be eating like bottomless pits at the same time!
      People have kids (or not). People work with the budget they have (or not). The determining factor on having kids is seldom ever about a budget. I would recommend you think about the kid/no kid issue by itself, without considering the expense. That thought experiment might help you realize if you want kids or want to wait for kids or not have them.
      You do you. I am wishing you well.

    14. Double A*

      We just had our second baby. We make about $110k in a medium COL area (well, it’s high for the country, but medium for California).

      To be honest, we get a ton of help from family for child care. We probably would have paid for child care sooner but, you know, pandemic. That would have been a chunk of change but manageable. Other than childcare, kids don’t cost a ton more money at this age. My health insurance premium went up a little when we had our first but didn’t change with #2 (although we did have to pay for his birth of course; I hit my out of pocket max for that).

      The biggest challenge for kids for me is logistics. It’s worked really well with one, but as I project forward with two, I get kind of worried. However, we live in a more rural area so it’s a long drive to a lot of stuff. At the same time, we just…make it work one phase at a time.

    15. nectarine*

      My partner & I have a combined income significantly less than yours & manage to have kids in one of the highest COL areas in north america. We can’t afford a house, so live in an apartment. We economise everywhere we can. But we’ve saved for college (kids should be able to graduate with no loans), have *some* retirement savings, and don’t really *want* for anything. Our dishes don’t match, we don’t do vacations very often (as much a function of catsitting as anything – but we couldn’t afford a go-away-and-stay-in hotel vacation anyway. It would be camping). We library instead of bookstore for most books. I buy a lot of imperfect fruit.

    16. Biology dropout*

      We make somewhere between 90-100k (it varies year to year), 2 kids, small house, one car, medium COL city. We are always living paycheck to paycheck it seems, and we don’t even have to pay for childcare as we work opposite schedules. It’s really tough. We have some emergency fund money that we save, but the idea of saving for college just isn’t happening right now. I’d pay close attention now to where your money is going – the things you mentioned weren’t the expensive stuff for us (we breastfed, used old cloth diapers for some of the diapering, got stuff used/for free) but what kills us is the cost of feeding the kids well and the emergency stuff that comes up seemingly every month (oh shit, car repair! Oh no, sick pet! Oh my gosh, the medical copays this month…)

    17. Anona*

      I have a toddler. The most expensive thing, by far, has been childcare. We currently pay $1000/month, though previously paid $1100 when they were younger. This cost will fluctuate depending on where you live, but it will always be significant, just because the amount of time they need care if you work full time.

      Pre potty training, diapers were maybe $60/mo? We didn’t use formula, but I think that’s similar.

      Everything else isn’t that bad. We did a lot of secondhand purchasing, or using secondhand stuff from friends, and that’s fine. You can definitely spend a ton if you want, but as long as the basic needs (childcare, diapering, feeding) are taken care of, you really don’t have to.

      1. Anona*

        Oh, and our health insurance did go up to add a dependent. Maybe $50/mo, though this will obviously depend on your plan.
        They have so many checkups at the beginning, but if you’re in the US, those should be free because of the ACA. Our kid did get sick a ton with things like ear infections at the beginning (maybe once a month), so we did have to pay the copay for those.

      2. Anona*

        And to be honest, at the beginning we couldn’t really afford childcare. We went in the hole maybe $200/mo for the first year. We cut back a lot of things, but honestly we could have gotten rid of more if we really wanted to. Like we could have unsubscribed from Netflix and cable, and could have eaten cheaper food/downgraded vehicles.

  19. Thinking, Thinking*

    This week’s “Ask a Reader” question was “How do I not feel jealous of my wealthier coworkers?” The question and many of the replies were both sad and sobering. For those of you who have been/are in rough circumstances, is there a certain amount of money/thing that could have/could turn things around for you? Please describe. (Examples could range from paying all your student loans of $X to having $x for a past-due mortgage payment.)

    1. Exif*

      I just emptied my savings to pay for my FIL’s (minimalist!) funeral, because he was an irresponsible selfish ass that refused to make a will, despite us all begging him for a decade to get his affairs in order.

      Having your own financial house in order isn’t enough. If your family is a disaster, they can drag you down with them.

      (Also, this is only one small piece of a nightmarish years-long legal snarl he created, so please refrain from offering advice. Multiple lawyers are involved.)

      1. WellRed*

        I’m sorry this happened. My father left will, life insurance and general wishes). My brother… did not. Needless to say, we did our best, but…

      2. The Other Dawn*

        My in-laws are both 80 years old and still do not have a will. FIL takes care of all the bills and MIL knows nothing at all about their finances other than where the bank accounts are. It drives my husband insane knowing we’ll be stuck dealing with everything after they’re gone. My SIL is useless in this department–and most others–so it will fall to us. My husband says he’s going to just let the bank take their house and let the state deal with everything else (not sure how that works). He doesn’t want it (really bad neighborhood these days and it’s in bad shape), SIL would never in a million years be able to buy it, and no one else could handle it due to financial reasons and just being irresponsible in general, even FIL’s younger sibling. MIL’s sibling is out of state and would have no interest.

        1. Exif*

          “Let the state deal with it” was also our goal. Then came dementia.

          Your husband’s plan only works if his parents suddenly die in their sleep. Diminished mental capacity or need for assisted living will blow everything up.

    2. Enough*

      This is what I think of when the Lottery gets really high. You don’t need millions of dollars. Think of all the benefit if all that money was used to pay off student loans, mortgages and cars. To me these are the big 3 items that can make the most impact going forward. and $10,000 in the bank for emergencies.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This assume that x dollars eliminates problems and it doesn’t. People who face financial issues often times have more than one thing going on that drives the cash flow problems. I think that nailing down a dollar amount overly simplifies very complex situations.

    3. Thinking, Thinking*

      I’m a regular commenter going anon for this and NOT writing an article, etc. I’m really interested to know where giving money and how much would help people. (For example, there is a charity in our metro that works with other organizations to give one-time help to people who, for example, have had hardship and can’t make their rent payment one month – does something like that really help someone long-term who is on the edge? Or if you had $5000 that would pay for someone’s tuition at community college, would that make a huge difference in their life? If someone was given a decent car that would last them 5 years, could that change their financial trajectory? Would the availability of free financial counseling have helped you? I don’t want readers to answer these questions specifically and there are too many questions to ask. Each person’s experience is different and I’d like to get a picture of an individual’s take on this v. an organization’s.)

      1. Generic Name*

        If someone could give me $60-100k to pay off legal debt, take care of upcoming legal fees which are surely coming (my ex’s hobby seems to be filing motions with family court and not paying child support), and assist with my son’s sizable medical and other expenses, that would make a huge difference in my life.

      2. Mstr*

        I think tuition at a community college is significant. I got a tuition scholarship for my first year at one, and without that might not have been able to embark on higher education at all or would have been delayed. My parents also refused to fill out a FAFSA so I was ineligible for other assistance including student employment. It’s really unfair to the youth of America to expect them to have responsible parents and gatekeep us out of opportunities because we do not. But that year’s worth of community college was impactful (however much that would be at your local community college these days).

        1. Mstr*

          Also, haha I see that you didn’t actually want anyone to answer the specific questions you asked & I guess you’d have to do your own math to get a dollar amount out of my response … so good luck with that.

      3. matcha123*

        This was my family’s experience with charities:
        Most make recipients jump through a ton of hurdles and staff can get judgmental with the people they are supposed to be helping. For example to be eligible for a used car donation, one place wanted copies of bank statements for the past six months to a year, a drug test, a criminal history, letters speaking to character, and a few other things.
        It would be one thing if the person had a known history of substance abuse and criminal behavior, but for people who need a car for work and to help their kids get to school, it’s insulting that you are automatically assumed to be a criminal. I can understand their perspective, but again, it sucks.

        If you are looking to donate, I commend you. At the same time, I know it’s very hard to find the right way to get items to people in need. Giving someone an envelop of cash can be a bad idea.
        My suggestion would be to ask around your community and try to identify specific people or families in need and from there find a way to help, if you are so inclined. For example, with college, telling a student their grades make them eligible for an XYZ scholarship is motivating.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely if student loans went away. And to earn enough money where I won’t always worry I’ll end up homeless because the rent went up or some irresponsible douchecanoe burned down the apartment building. I would feel more secure if someone besides me were bringing money into the household.

      I liked having my own house, but after a while, caring for it alone became onerous. It would be nice to have someone to share the load as well as provide companionship. That’s a rant for another day, I suppose.

    5. matcha123*

      If, upon graduating college, I had been gifted $200,000, that would have wiped my college debt, my parent’s college debt, and left a small amount to put into savings.
      I didn’t see that question, but it sounds interesting.

      If I get to be “greedy,” $500,000 would be a nice amount. With that much, I could have immediately paid my college loans, my parent’s college loans (over $150k), AND we could have bought a modest house in my hometown, maybe even bought a newer used car. Renting in low income, section 8 neighborhoods sucks. Your bank accounts are checked multiple times a year; your rent is tied to income, so if you get a job, your rent goes up; if you try to save and save over a certain amount, your rent goes up; property staff are gossipy about residents, etc. It would have been nice to have a place to call “home” rather than a “hope they don’t decide to kick us out for a family that can afford market rent.”
      Offices are reluctant to hire mothers with children. They are more reluctant to hire mothers with children who don’t have a car. Regardless of how educated they may be. That stability translates to job access.

          1. Mstr*

            Out of curiosity, why are you specifically requesting dollar amounts without context? How does one make meaning out of that?

            1. Thinking, Thinking*

              Well, this was going to be another thread for later, but… Our kids are doing ok and while we give good donations to many causes we were thinking/wondering if there would be one thing we could do to really help one individual or family turn things around in a meaningful way, what would it be and how much would it take? And I didn’t want to float numbers out there and have people fit their ideas to the numbers, but wanted a feel for what that might be.

              1. Dolly was Right*

                This is going to be so wildly different for every person and their own situation. Generally paying off debt or making a big purchase (house, car, etc) is going to be the most impactful- but there are tons of different dollar amounts attached to those.

                It would be impossible to put a dollar amount on that. For example, someone may be 30k or 300k in debt. While giving either of those people 30k will obviously help, the person who is now debt free will probably feel more impacted.

                I’d start by seeing if these charities have wish lists for families they support.

              2. Generic Name*

                Ah, interesting. My husband grew up very poor. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food. His mom often went hungry so the kids could eat. When she would get a better paying job, their assistance would get cut accordingly. His dad rarely paid child support. I’m sure there were times when getting an unexpected $20 would be the difference between eating and not.

                If you are wanting to give directly to a needy family, I’d ask a local schools or churches if they have families they know need assistance and make a personal gift to them. Honestly, even a relatively small amount like $200 would make a lot of difference for many families. Our social safety net is basically nonexistent.

              3. Jacqui*

                I don’t want to discourage kindness but this does sound a little like a ‘white savior ’ mindset – perhaps without the racial side. Wanting a pet project who will make you very proud and need to be very grateful for your help…
                In my opinion it is more useful to pick a cause and fund it eg a homeless or women’s shelter, scholarship fund, medical charity etc

                1. Thinking, Thinking*

                  (Sighs) yeah, this is why I didn’t put my regular user name on here…first people are wary that I am c0llecting research for an article, now this. I understand what you mean (and yes, there is a sense that we would want to feel somehow that we made a real difference to someone; the intent is for the donation to be anonymous to the recipient, so yes, a scholarship fund would be fine, or a number of other things, but really wondering if to make a real difference to someone would take…$100K? $10K? A good used car? A year’s scholarship at community college? I mean, the food pantry definitely helps people (and we give them money), but it won’t change someone’s life trajectory like paying all their student loans (which we can’t do) would do.

                2. NYer*

                  People are wary because of the way you framed it, or didn’t frame it. You can probably understand that with no explanation it rang alarm bells.

              4. ampersand*

                This is an intriguing idea—I think paying off debt (in the US, this is often student loans) is beneficial. Mine were paid off by my ex while we were married—it was generous, and his idea— and having ~55k in debt disappear pretty much overnight was a huge relief. I didn’t have to think about paying off years and years of student loans ever again! Of course, people have different amounts of debt so this would vary by person. I think that’s what I would do in your position—pay off someone’s debt.

                And obviously you’d need to be mindful of the tax implications; you don’t want to put someone into debt if they were to then owe taxes on your gift to them.

    6. Disabled Anon*

      Going anon as well.

      This is an ongoing terror for me. I have a number of chronic major health issues, including a need for unpredictable, but fairly regular, expensive surgeries. The doctors who have the best odds of doing them? Few and far between, and they don’t take insurance. These surgeries can cost me between 50 and 75k a pop, and I have them about every other year. That’s just the surgeon’s fee, by the way, not the hospital, anesthesia, etc etc. Yes, I have out of network coverage, and no, it doesn’t actually help.

      On a non surgery year, my medical costs are around 30k. Surgery year? I don’t even want to think about it. And that’s with “good” health insurance. Everything is more expensive when you’re disabled. Need to go see one of my doctors? Well, the copay is $50, but transport to get to them? $150 if it’s not rush hour. Before I lost my job earlier this year, I was making under 70k, that’s not good math.

      My expenses are basically, rent, food (quite expensive because I have severe restrictions on what I can eat), and medical. I don’t really spend money on anything else, and yet, because of mainly genetic disorders, I live in fear of not being able to pay my daily expenses and getting fired from yet another job because I’m disabled.

      What would it take for me to exhale? 125k a year salary, minimum. But really, I know there will be long periods where I won’t be able to work, and I know there will be long periods where I’m waiting for FMLA eligibility, etc. So I have to overearn and save for those periods, so I need a much higher salary when I can work to make it function long term. It’s terrifying.

    7. RitaRelates*

      It would be about $70K for me. To pay off student loans and bills for a while to come back from playing “catch up.”

    8. Isaio*

      I am looking for a way out of an abusive marriage. The sticky net I am trapped in can not be penetrated without a legal team (multidisciplinary issues), forensic and few other kinds of experts. They are expensive, 100-150k would be life changing (and saving).

    9. Disco Janet*

      100k would allow me to pay off my student loans, put some money in savings, and replace my car that’s on its last leg.

    10. Anonymous Gift*

      I don’t know if you’re still checking this, but a few years ago when a friend got laid off and her husband needed chemo, I gave them $8,000 as a gift. They are doing well now and she said that money allowed them to avoid disaster and get their lives back on track. So, would say maybe $5,000-10,000 for someone who is normally financially stable and has a need to get througha temporary setback. For someone who is already has repercussions from a financial crisis and has been struggling for years, something closer to $50,000 would probably be needed for a longer term solution. Just my opinion, of course.

  20. New shows?*

    I am subscribed to a number of services but am having a hard time keeping track of new shows. Are there any new ones you like or wanted to like but did not?

    I’m enjoying Ted Lasso, Only Murders in the Building, Nine Perfect Strangers, What We Do in the Shadows.

    I’ve tried to like The Morning Show but as much as I like the cast… no. I keep hoping it will have some funny moments but nope for me.

    Hacks and Reservation Dogs are on the list to try.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t think Mornings Show ever was billed as comedy. Couldn’t deal with nine perfect strangers ( loved Big Little Lies) and the chair is disappointing. At this point , I’m psyched that network tv is beginning to premiere old standbys.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Netflix has several new shows and seasons of old favorites – most recently the newest season of Great British Baking Show, which I adore. [That said, episode 1 starts with a rather goofy song-parody featuring the judges and presenters all made up as Billy Ray Cyrus – yes, including Prue – singing a parody of “Achy Breaky Heart”; the pastry-themed lyrics were amusing and the people seemed to be having fun, but I found it a bit cringe. But the episode itself was great fun, with a new set of bakers in the expected variety of ethnicities, ages, pets and hobbies, and I’m happy to be back in the tent with them.]

      There’s a new season of Nailed It as well, the very goofy and over-the-top Not Good At All baking show where contestants are lucky if their results resemble food, never mind the luscious goodies they’re trying to copy. Not sure why I enjoy it so much but I do.

      And Metal Shop Masters is a new short series, a contest of metal-fabrication, a bit of a change from the baking/sculpting ones, though with some intriguing and impressive results of its own.

      Several new anime series and films on my to-watch list but I can’t recommend them until I’ve seen them. But if you like buddy-cop/dark-horror/mysteries, the Korean series Guest is a really good one.

      1. Meh*

        I couldn’t handle the opening to GBBO, it was so cringe. That said, I am super excited for the rest of the season. There are some great bakers

      2. RosyGlasses*

        I tried to like Nailed It but the host makes me cringe – I don’t know if it’s her voice or over the top personality but something just irks me when I try it.

    3. LemonLyman*

      I think you’re making assumptions based on the actors’ previous work. The Morning Show was never supposed to be funny. It’s dramatic and actually very intense.

    4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Schmigadoon on AppleTV is brilliant, especially if you like musicals. I so hope it gets a second season!

      I really wanted to love Kevin Can F*ck Himself on AMC because I thought the concept was awesome, and think Annie Murphy is a phenomenal actress. But ultimately it proved to be too dark and depressing for me and I never made it past the 4th episode. I’ve recently had some scary health issues (newly discovered cancer and subsequent surgery), so it’s possible I just haven’t been in the right headspace for it though.

      1. Bobina*

        Thank you for reminding me to finally get round to Kevin Can F.. Himself – I just binged the first 4 episodes and while its very good, it is definitely very dark and way more depressing than I anticipated based on the premise.

      2. Rara Avis*

        We watched Schmigadoon with my 13 yo daughter. The human reproduction DoReMi parody was amazing! Now she’s all set for the sex Ed unit scheduled for the spring of 8th grade. (I met my husband by volunteering to paint sets for the production of Brigadoon he was building, so we all enjoyed it very much, even my daughter between cringes.)

    5. Bobina*

      I need to catch up on Sex Education and actually finish Mr. Robot. And I’m very much looking forward to the final season of Insecure.

    6. Elle Woods*

      It’s not new, but it’s new to me: Last Tango in Halifax. It’s from the BBC and is about a couple that reunites after 50+ years and decides to get married. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I like that things feel like real life and don’t necessarily neatly resolve themselves.

    7. Stitching Away*

      I’ve watched the first couple of eps of Rutherford Falls on Peacock and like it so far. It’s got actual indigenous writers and actors, which gives me hope for it being thoughtful.

      1. Water Everywhere*

        Rutherford Falls blew me away with how good it is (wait till you see episode 4), although it could do with less Nathan.

  21. Epsilon Delta*

    This is a tad early, but: holiday gift ideas for adult family members?

    My husband and I, his parents, his sister, and her husband have historically bought gifts for each other. There are also 3 kids in the mix, but they’re easy to buy for because they’re kids. Buying gifts for the adults is so hard though, from a standpoint of knowing what to buy. No one has any inexpensive hobbies or collects anything. I make photo calendars every year which are a big hit, but one calendar per family isn’t “enough” of a gift. There’s an expectation of something for each individual, so we end up buying clothes that might fit/they might like, random crap, or gift cards too.

    A few years ago, before covid, we did a long weekend at a waterpark instead of gifts for the adults, which was excellent. An experience still doesn’t feel like an option now though due to covid (but I’m open to ideas if there are any).

    How do you handle holiday gifts for adults who are hard to buy for? Also, for the purpose of this thread, let’s assume the “skip the gifts for the adults” conversation has been had and rejected (I may give it another go but in the past it hasn’t worked). There is an expectation of gifts. Experiences are okay too, but they have to work with covid.

    1. Oy with poodles*

      I tend to give consumables for hard to buy people. There is usually a food or drink the recipient likes so I get them a nice version of that. Whether it is meat, cheese, coffee, alcohol, pasta, pancakes, etc. someone has a gift basket or a gift certificate for a gift basket for it.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        This is what I do. A set of fancy teas for the tea drinkers, cheese, other foods.
        People eat, and also don’t need to store the gift somewhere forever.

      2. ecnaseener*

        That’s what my sister and I have done for our grandparents the last couple years – a big basket of fun artisanal foods/ingredients. They love it! (Like so many things, it worked better pre-covid because they were always having friends over for dinner…but even so)

      3. Grits McGee*

        That’s what I’m planning to do for my dad this Christmas- buying him a case or 2 of a soda he really likes, but is too much of a splurge to justify buying regularly.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          We have a local brewery that also makes soda and it’s hard to find it sold anywhere out of our area. It’s specialty soda has become a traditional gift for birthdays and Christmas for our family. I’ve also used it to unofficially welcome new Significant Others to the family.
          When I visit my out-of-town family, I bring a mixed case of soda for sharing and a case of their favorites for after I leave.

    2. I need tea*

      Books, subscriptions or films/documentaries about their hobbies or interests might work. For experiences, there are actually quite a lot of options for at-home versions – self-care boxes, night-in craft supplies with instructions on how to make a thing for individuals, couples or families, fancy meal box deliveries that you make at home. If it’s something everyone is interested in, you could get one for yourselves and one for the other households and arrange to do the thing at the same time on video. Nice versions of things people have to have and use but would usually get a cheaper version of can be good too – artisanal soap has been a big hit in my family and it definitely gets used and appreciated.

    3. Not A Manager*

      It is possible to unilaterally decide what works for you in terms of gifts. In an ideal world, one in which you want to mark the holiday with a sincere expression of your love, what would that look like? You make the photo calendar which presumably you enjoy doing and it feels loving to you. If your family said, “please just do as you like,” or even “we don’t need a gift,” what would your instinct be? I personally like to bake, so I make a big cookie assortment every year and send that to folks. (Warning: this is neither cheap nor easy, so I’m not suggesting it as a cost-cutting measure or a time saver! I just personally like doing it.)

      In any event, whatever your preference is, you can give your family a heads-up that this will be your loving holiday practice from now on, and they are welcome to mark the holiday for you however feels right for them.

      I also happen to notice that this is your husband’s family. While I’m sure that your marriage means that “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine,” that might not extend to emotionally-fraught family traditions. How about if you tell your husband that you will continue to make the calendars, and he can manage the remaining gifts however he likes?

      1. heckofabecca*

        HEAR HEAR to the final paragraph :)

        A good solid handwritten card goes a long way imo, and then… your husband can just ask! Or maybe suggest that people wait on the presents this year so you can do something extra-cool (finances allowing) as an event next year.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Ditto on the last paragraph – I don’t do a THING about gifts or cards for my husband’s family, and I don’t have the foggiest idea if he does either. I do all the planning and shopping for mine (except that my go-to for my dad is a six pack of assorted interesting beers and I don’t speak beer so husband helps me pick those out based on dad’s taste). I don’t actually put a “from” on them most of the time, so I suspect they assume they’re from both of us, but that’s fine with us.

    4. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I think I got the idea from a similar threads. Letterjoy was a bit with my mother (letters from historical figures through the post).
      My FIL is on a tight budget so I get some nice meat for him to top up his freezer. It stretches his pension more and is better than he buys for himself.
      Bulbs or seeds.
      Craft supplies (there are lovely kits on Etsy so they can try something new).
      I’m getting mum a subscription to Britbox this year. She doesn’t normally stream so it’s like magic to her lol.

    5. Wrench Turner*

      I bet you know some artists. Ask them. Supporting artists while they’re still alive is what keeps us going and creating. Literally. It’s food on our plates, roofs over our heads. If we can’t make something that’s appropriate for your folks, I’d bet my paintbrushes that we know someone who does. Original art doesn’t have to be expensive or a big colorful burden the recipient has to deal with. I bet there’s something out there for them (from you). You’d be surprised how lovely it is to receive an original something – small print or poster of their favorite fictional characters- made just for them, and no other like it in the entire world.

      1. Imtheone*

        Society 6 has lots of items by artists. We get a heads up from our daughter’s artist friends to check out their items.

    6. AY*

      My SIL makes a photo calendar every year, and I would not think to expect anything else from her! It’s a huge labor of love.

      If you feel that something else is absolutely necessary, a box of homemade cookies, a cookie mix in a jar, or something similar would be great. If your family likes wine, we’ve had great success with giving virtual wine tastings.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do family gifts – a dvd and/or board game and a goody basket of popcorn, candy, stuff like that. If that’s not enough, pad it out with stuff in-theme – fuzzy slippers for everyone, or a couple throw blankets, pillows, whatever sounds good for a family night in.

      (My go-to for a wedding gift in normal times is similar – date night in a card, a gift card for a movie theater and another one for a decent restaurant.)

      1. Imtheone*

        Date night is great for any parents, too. Re the question above about affording children —we really skimped on date nights, which was too bad.

      2. Sleepy*

        I’m going to steal your family gifts idea. Really cool that you give them something that’s like an experience gift but that they might be able to be used more than once.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Personally, my favorite DVDs for these are either The Princess Bride or Clue – they’re both entertaining for a wide range of ages (more TPB than Clue, but I think my brother’s kids were 8 and 11 when I gave them Clue and my brother said they got enough of the jokes to enjoy it and the ones he didn’t want them to get mostly went over their heads) and fairly inexpensive due to how long ago they were released.

    8. Aphrodite*

      If I were to be asked what I want I would say an oil change or a tire for car. (I need new tires.). Maybe they could take what they plan to spend and give it to the upcoming exterior paint job on my home. Or perhaps an oversized planter with a few small passion fruit plants in it or a pomegranate tree I can put in a large pot? These are all very expensive and I’d be so grateful for any of them..

    9. Hey y’all*

      I have gotten positive feedback on the portable phone chargers and on the Yeti cups.

      Most everyone has a cell phone and a way to charge it when you are out and about is helpful. And no matter whether you are a coffee person or a tea person or a water person, a large cup that can keep your drink hot or cold is a great thing.

    10. twocents*

      Big fan of things that are useful/consumable. Nice soap, hand sanitizer, bath bombs, candles, sugar scrub, nice pens/journals, fun cooking ingredients (e.g. my Penzey’s frozen pizza seasoning blend turned out to be useful af), coffee beans, nice food mixes (e.g. hot chocolate, soup), treats for their pet…

    11. Ranon*

      Everyone’s getting alpaca felt insoles this year whether they like it or not, lol. But honestly, for folks in cold climates they’re awesome, a wool felt insole can upgrade a fall boot to a winter one in a flash. We’ve all been giving each other wool socks for a while, too, a pair or two a year adds up to a full winter’s worth of nice socks reasonably quickly.

      I like to send pragmatic gifts (or food, if food counts as a gift in your family). Stuff for stuffs sake at the stage of life most of my family is in just isn’t what folks want.

    12. Sunshine*

      I signed up for happily a monthly date box. We have had limited date options. It’s great. There is always something food to make. And an activity. And question prompts. It’s been really nice for parents navigating a pandemic but would be fun for singles too.

    13. Disco Janet*

      I look for cute gifts related to things they like. My brother’s girlfriend is a musical fan and Wicked is her favorite, so I went on Etsy and found a cute hoodie referencing the school from it. My brother likes to play Dungeons and Dragons, so I got him a blanket that is shaped/looks like one of the multi-sided die you use for that, along with some new die. My parents like The Great British Bake-off, so I got them a cute new set of baking utensils (spatula, whisk, etc.) with little slogans from the show burned into them from Etsy.

      For my boring relatives (kidding…sort of) or those who I know are very minimalist, I agree with those suggesting consumable gifts.

    14. Koala dreams*

      I ask my family for wish lists. I also do consumables, for example jam, tea, coffee, special pasta. Or textiles like socks or bedding, but not every year.

      Perhaps you can do gift cards for your people. Take out food, online shopping, streaming services…

      Expectations isn’t orders, at some point you’ll have to accept a compromise. The same goes for the others. People being disappointed with their gifts is a small thing. If it’s too much work to find additional gifts, let them be disappointed.

    15. Generic Name*

      Ughhhh, I dread gift buying for my family every year. Plenty of high income and hard to buy for people spread across the country. Shipping costs more than the gifts themselves sometimes. Plus the time it takes to shop for everyone. I tried convincing everyone to do a gift exchange one year and no dice. My mom and aunts love shopping for gifts, I guess. Maybe I’ll give everyone books this year.

      1. BadCultureFit*

        Word of wisdom from a publishing pro: but gift cards to their local bookstores! Or, if you know which books you’d want to get each of them, order now. Books will have a HUGE BACKLOG due to COVID-related printing issues.

        All book buyers: please buy/order your books for the holidays now!

    16. Observer*

      You’ve gotten a lot of good ideas. But, seriously, if it’s more than you want to deal with, use gift cards.

    17. beach read*

      I bet the older family members like the long weekend idea. Time together is itself a terrific gift! In our family everyone brings a nice gift and then we play a swap game. Gifts are generic but it is fun playing the swap game.

    18. Chuck*

      My solution is funny socks. Every adult gets a random pair of brightly coloured socks. If you don’t like your pair you can swap it with someone else. I always wrap extras in case any partners or friends are unexpectedly attending.

  22. Shipmate*

    Can anyone suggest fiction books that feature realistic depictions of relationships (partnership/marriage relationships)?

    What results when two people with all their own history, faults, desires, expectations, assumptions, etc. come to be together is a fascinating and somewhat unlikely story, for any relationship. My partner continues to look for novels that include this element, but finds surprisingly few, and would be glad for recommendations.

    For example, Sally Rooney’s Normal People is surely on the topic, but while it was a good literary book the two characters acted like teenagers (which they were) and withheld information from each other. It didn’t quite make sense as a story of people doing their best to have a close, honest, adult relationship.

    What books are not about how people got together (see: every romantic story ever), but about how people are living AFTER they fell in love? There are many stories about different people NOT communicating well and thereby generating enough drama for a literary narrative, but are there stories about two different people who ARE trying to communicate well, who ARE doing their best, and yet given their own history, character, personality, etc., still there is enough content to fill a novel?

    1. heckofabecca*

      It’s epic fantasy and the first two books have the main characters as teenagers (third book is set 10 years later), but the relationships—romantic and otherwise, successful and not—in the Godserfs series by N.S. Dolkart feel very real despite the often unusual circumstances.

    2. Llellayena*

      I think the Kushiel series by Jaqueline Carey does a very good job of it, but you have to get all the way to the third book before the “fully committed and making it work” stage. But the concepts of each bringing baggage and different perceptions into the relationship is a huge theme. The third book is where outside influences make a dent in the relationship instead of communication issues aggravating things. However there are some VERY strong themes about religion and kink (sometimes at the same time) and I usually only recommend it to people who are not repulsed by the themes of 50 shades of grey.

      The sequel series to Ender’s Game (starting with Children of the Mind) also does well with this. The baggage they bring in is ultimately what causes relationship issues but they do try.

    3. AY*

      Hamnet, in addition to being a marvelous book, is a wonderful depiction of how a married couple deals with the loss of a child both separately and together. Yes, one half of the couple is Shakespeare, but the couple could be any set of parents dealing with a huge loss.

      If you like classics, try Howards End! Or If Beale Street Could Talk

      It’s a memoir, but Julia Child’s My Life in France is a beautiful ode to her marriage.

    4. Forrest Rhodes*

      It was a pleasant surprise to see that in J.D. Robb’s In Death series. The books’ presentation of mid-21st-century New York City and the mystery/crime aspect are all interesting and absorbing, but the books also show three relationships that work: Dallas and Rourke, Peabody and McNab, and Louise and Charles.
      All three pairs have disagreements, major and minor; all three manage to work those out while maintaining the relationship; and as the series progresses, the reader gets to see all three begin and evolve over time.

    5. Imtheone*

      Some of Joanna Trollope’s novels. They all are psychologically in depth and reasonable. Some are more positive on the marriage front.

    6. Susie*

      It’s about friendship, but Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda fits your parameters otherwise from what I remember

      Also I think one of the Irene Nemirovsky novels does has a story like you’re looking for, but I forget which one

    7. SofiaDeo*

      The following aren’t books or stories about “relationships” per se, but the character development/interactions I find very real & enjoyable. Author John Sandford has a series of detective/police novels with excellent character development IMO. His main protagonists, and their relationships, are very realistic. These are “whodunits” and his foreshadowing is excellent, also. Which is to be expected, since “John Sandford” is the pseudonym for Pulitzer Prize winner John Camp:


    8. Pool Lounger*

      Kate Zambreno’s Drifts—there’s a lot in there about being married, loving each other, and just having a pretty normal marriage with small disagreements, conversations about common interests, what it’s like to be married and having a kid for the first time, etc.

    9. ronda*

      the sharing knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold.
      the 1st book is the meeting / romance, then the next 3 books are their 1st year of marriage.

    10. Sunflower*

      ‘Tell Me Lies’ by Carola Lovering. This one is about a toxic college relationship (vs marriage) that has gone on for too long but man it’s realistic! Read this if you’ve ever dated a guy for too long who won’t give you what you want. Don’t read if you hate books with unlikable characters.

    11. Pool Lounger*

      A Ghost In the Throat. It’s by an Irish author who’s a writer, wife, and mother, and writes about her marriage and motherhood in the midst of her obsession with an old Irish lament. The author is a poet and the book is gorgeous.

  23. blue*

    I’m re-learning my DSLR camera after years away and wondering what the best beginner software is to process pics? I don’t want to drop a ton of money on professional level software for possibly mediocre photos but need something more than IG filters. I’m working on a mac laptop for reference. TIA!

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Try Lightroom? It’s professional software, but easy to pick up with a short tutorial and I think you can get a lite version? If you get into it seriously it’ll be easier to parlay what you’ve already learned into the full version and Photoshop.

      1. blue*

        If you cancel the subscription down the line, can you still access your edited photos? I haven’t used a program like that before.

        1. Daffodilly*

          Yes, you can. You just can’t edit in the program.
          But you can view, keep your keywording, collections, organization, etc. Export from RAW to jpg. But the Develop module is locked.

    2. OyHiOh*

      My partner is a serious hobbiest photographer. He uses Photoshop, Lightroom, and Portrait Pro. He says Lightroom is the easiest to work with but also uses PortraitPro pretty regularly.

    3. Usually a Lurker*

      There’s a free website called PhotoPea that’s basically a recreation of Photoshop. I haven’t investigated every function, but what I’ve tried works really well.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). Free and open source, cross-platform. I don’t know exactly what you want to do but I used it extensively for manipulating photos for a research project years ago.

    5. hmmmmmmmmmmmm*

      I’d highly recommend Pixelmator. It has a few different price points for different features–the highest is $40 I think?–but it’s pretty dang good for the price. It’s got all the sliders and fine-tuned control that you don’t get from an Instagram filter, but with a more beginner-friendly interface than something like Gimp.

  24. Victoria, Please*

    I’m on vacation for two weeks (well, once I send a few last emails, sigh; couldn’t *quite* finish yesterday). I need to do some very intentional *somethings* to ensure that it results in recovery of creativity, energy, appreciation, etc. We are taking a couple of short trips. What do people suggest?

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Get out in nature, away from screens and “connectivity” and spend quality time with your special humans and reconnecting with the earth? Cutting yourself off from all the manufactured immediacy and the depressing influx of information we’re subjected to every day – even just for a short time – can really change your perspective.

    2. Bobina*

      Try something new while you’re away. Focuses the mind on the “present”. Sleep lots.

      Also agree with ditching technology/internet for as long as you can and if being outdoors is something you enjoy, spend as much time as you can in it!

    3. WellRed*

      Honestly even just having those short trips planned will be huge to help with your vacation goals. I also recons day if doing absolutely nothing (however that looks to you).

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I highly recommend cleaning your house before you leave, or having it clean. Nothing saps my energy after vacation more than coming home to a messy house. And ordering take out for the first night back.

    5. A*

      I just finished 2 weeks off, unpaid as I exceeded my vacation entitlement for the year but desperately needed a break.
      I felt guilty going away or spending money so I made a list of chores, errands, weird phone calls that I had let slide, sort of a justification of taking the time.

      By far, the best two days where when I took myself outside for a walk/run in a location I had been meaning to visit for ages.
      I live near a popular tourist destination but obviously visitors are down, so I took son to work and played tourist, walking all over the strip to my hearts content. my only cost was parking ( and I treated myself to Starbucks tea and treat, but that could have been skipped)

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a fan of museums who hasn’t stepped foot in one since 2019, and I’m thinking of going to one on a Tuesday morning. Few visitors, hopefully, and a lot of museums are closed on Mondays so theoretically well filtered air.

  25. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Broccoli straw poll: love, hate, neutral, or tolerable under certain conditions?

    Generally, when I tell people I don’t like it because smells like fart, has a disgusting texture, and ruins any other food it touches, they look at me like I just sprouted a second head. Wondering how deep in the minority opinion I am.

    1. heckofabecca*

      Haha, well, more for me! I like it when it’s COOKED WELL. My favorite is roasted with garlic, S&P, and olive oil—crispy and delicious—or just boiled in a saucy pasta dish. Stir-fried is okay, but generally gets a bit too mushy. It’s VERY easy to cook broccoli badly, and it definitely isn’t for everyone.

      That said, I think coffee, peppers, soda, alcohol, and tomatoes are all nasty, so….

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I like it, but I don’t go out of my way to eat because if I eat it raw, my stomach doesn’t like it, and I always overcook it at home. So, if I go to the restaurant and it’s on my plate, I will eat it.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Wasn’t it Reagan who would not eat Broccoli, or Bush?
      I agree with heckofabecca that the cooking method is important.

      My mom boiled the hell out of it and it was truly disgusting. IDK why because she prefers raw veggies.

      We often have it lightly steamed with a red pepper cheezy sauce. I also love it roasted and a bit crispy.
      My son always hated it but now loves it very very lightly steamed.

    4. Enough*

      It took we a while before I could eat broccoli and I had to start by having cheese on it. I can take it or leave it and. It is the favorite vegetable of one daughter and disliked (except in Chinese food) by the other.

      1. I heart Paul Buchman*

        A straw poll… about broccoli. :)

        I like it. Pretty much any old how except raw. Good stuff.

        I hate bananas under every known circumstance. Disgusting things.

      1. Llellayena*

        Took me a minute too, but it’s a “straw poll” about broccoli. Basically a quick read on opinion, nothing formal.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Gently, are they looking at you like that just because you don’t like broccoli, or because of your explicit description of why you don’t like it? You might get a less extreme response if you limit yourself to something like, “no thank you, I don’t care for broccoli.”

      I personally like broccoli, but there are plenty of other popular foods I don’t care for. Biscuits and gravy, for example. I *could* describe why I don’t like them in some pretty colorful terms, but I generally refrain.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I do appreciate the ‘Gently’ :-D

        My explicit descriptions are reserved for later conversations with friends.

        It’s when a plate of broccoli is passed round a table of acquaintances and I decline, or I’m dining out and ask wait staff to have it excluded. Going by their expression I might as well have said “I prefer not breathing air, thank you.” They just look at me dumbfounded.

    6. Bobina*

      Love broccoli. As heckofabecca said though, it should be cooked well (ie not boiled to death) but its absolutely one of my go to vegetables (along with many others in the family).

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I love it, but it has to be cooked (not overcooked). Raw broccoli tastes like dirt to me. And it is a sulphurous vegetable, so I see where you’re coming from in your description of it.

      But remember: just like color looks slightly different to everyone, everyone processes the tastes of elements of food slightly differently. Nobody has to like broccoli, because there is a wide range of delicious vegetables to choose from.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Broccoli clearly does taste different to different people! But it seems that to the overwhelming majority it tastes pleasant or neutral, yet the only one other person I’ve found who’s as adverse to it in all forms as I am is my husband.

      2. Cauliflower is better than broccoli*

        Broccoli tastes like dirt to me, too! I don’t like it – raw, cooked, whatever – it’s a big no for me. So many restaurant dishes ruined with broccoli…

    8. WellRed*

      I hate broccoli so much I’m always surprised that other people do! It’s the only food I think that way about, even other foods I hate.

      1. Farm Girl*

        I’ll take your stem ends, I don’t like the florets. I also like broccoli slaw, which features no florets and lovely raw broccoli shreds.

    9. Dino*

      I only like it cooked, preferably tempura-ed. Raw broccoli is disgusting, the texture of all the knobby heads on my tongue and in my cheeks is *shudder*.

    10. Valancy Snaith*

      Love broccoli in all its forms. Roasted, boiled, steamed, raw, cooked to death or crunchy on a veggie tray. We eat broccoli probably three times a week in my house. However, I love all varieties of all the cabbages and grew up eating cabbage probably twice a week, so I may be disposed to like it more than the average person. I’ll take all the broccoli.

      1. AY*

        Agreed! Broccoli is a vegetable even when it’s cooked badly or not at all. I think it’s basically impossible to ruin broccoli–it’s always good. I particularly like making broccoli pesto to put on pasta with more broccoli.

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I like raw broccoli (in salads, with dip, etc. also I find that many people who don’t like cooked veggies don’t mind them if they are raw) AND cooked broccoli, although just plain cooked broccoli (with a dab of butter) is not as good as broccoli with cheese sauce, or in a stir-fry, or BROCCOLI-CHEESE SOUP.

    12. Come On Eileen*

      Strongly dislike it. I’ll it it if I’m at a friends house and they serve it to me, but I don’t seek it out and don’t make it for myself. Yeech.

    13. A Girl Named Fred*

      Add me to the list of haters. I’ve tried it so many different ways and I just cannot get over the texture – the florets and the stems both bug me for different reasons, lol. If it’s tiny enough in a pasta dish or something I can usually get a few bits down, but eventually my body realizes what’s happening and goes into “Absolutely not” mode on them.

    14. Rebecca Stewart*

      I can cook it so it is tasty, but raw or cooked, my IBS has Violent Opinions on the matter, and therefore I do not consume it. (It also has similar opinions towards cauliflower, cabbage of all colors and sorts, spinach, and most legumes. I always say I’ll stop eating meat when my gut lets me eat vegetables and beans.)

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, I feel you on that- my gut says NO to high-residue foods, so if I stopped eating meat I would die of starvation (literally- I burn more calories than I gain from vegetables or whole grain foods). You can join me and my lamb chops in the Carnivore Corner.

    15. GoryDetails*

      I’d rather thought that an antipathy to broccoli was common – as with Brussels sprouts – but perhaps your social circle just slews more broccoli-positive? I suspect that, as others have suggested, your vehemence may be what’s startling your friends, but if I were dining with you and you told me that I’d just nod and then refrain from offering you any of my broccoli!

      For myself, I do love broccoli, and all the other cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, etc. – though it does depend on how they’re prepared. I can nosh on raw broccoli in a crudite platter, but my favorite preparations are: oven-roasted (the florets and the peeled stems); sauteed (same); steamed (acceptable, especially with a good sauce, but roasted is best); pureed in soup; an ingredient in frittatas… Oh, and the broccoli-stem slaw is my favorite slaw-variant.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      I always liked broccoli, especially when doused in cheese sauce, heh heh. Unfortunately,
      after a long-ago course of warfarin for a year due to a DVT, I now have a permanent intolerance to it. They told me not to eat broccoli or spinach because of the vitamin K in them. Once I was off the med, I went for them again. The spinach I’m fine with, but alas, the broc was not to be. And it’s in EVERYTHING. Every vegetable medley is half broccoli, it’s in pilafs, etc.

      It’s not an allergy. If I just flip it out of something, I won’t die, but eating it gives me a terrible stomachache that lasts for hours and it’s just not worth it. No more broccoli and cheese stuffed potatoes for me. :(

      Cauliflower does not affect me the same way but I don’t like it. I’ll eat it if it’s buried in something but not by itself. I tried broccolini and I can’t eat that either.

    17. Koala dreams*

      I like broccoli, but it’s often THE example of boring vegetable, along with mushy peas. (I like peas too. And spinach.) Oven baked broccoli with cheese is just great!

    18. Generic Name*

      I wonder if you’re overcooking broccoli? It can be eaten raw or very lightly steamed. Roasting gives it an almost nutty sweetness. I love the flavor of broccoli, so I don’t cover it up with seasonings, but drowning it in cheese always tastes good to me. Raw broccoli dipped in cheddar fondue is pretty good.

    19. RagingADHD*

      I like it most ways but love it roasted.

      The texture changes a lot (crispy florets!) and if you get good caramelization it isn’t so bitter/sulfurous.

    20. marvin the paranoid android*

      I like broccoli :) But I don’t think you’re necessarily in the minority. Cruciferous vegetables don’t appeal to everyone. What I really hate more than anything is hard-boiled eggs, but try convincing anyone else of that. Everyone loves those rubbery orbs from hell.

    21. tangerineRose*

      “don’t like it because smells like fart, has a disgusting texture, and ruins any other food it touches,” This! I totally agree.

    22. Wink the Duck*

      Love broccoli! Raw, steamed, roasted, stir fried or deep fried, it is a fave. That said, celery is disgusting and I do not understand why people like it.

      Ahh, tastebuds. Weirdos for everyone.

    23. Dancing Otter*

      I’m just really tired of broccoli. I used to like it a lot, but then I overdid it. (Good source of iron etc., etc.) I haven’t tried roasting it, though; maybe that would be interesting. Mostly, I eat vegetables because they’re healthy, not enjoyable.
      Now, if you want to talk about stuff that ruins a whole meal, consider peppers.

    24. ronda*

      I like it cooked (but not raw unless it is slawed– cut small & marinated)

      but I was served it when I was in the hospital and was “o my god, what smells like shit!!”
      couldn’t eat anything til they got that dam meal out of my room.

      but I do feel that melons are evil and contaminate all the good fruit in a fruit salad.

    25. allathian*

      I like it, but it has to be steamed rather than boiled to a mush, I like it al dente like pasta. My mom makes great broccoli au gratin, just cover it in cheese and cook it in the oven.

    26. Chaordic One*

      For some reason, it does seem to be one of those foods that people seem to like more as they grow older. As a child I pretty much hated vegetables in general and now I really love almost all of them (broccoli, cauliflower, broccolini and asparagus included). This seems to be pretty common among people in general, to gradually grow to like vegetables more as one gets older, but I’m not really sure why.

    27. Tris Prior*

      It is one of the few vegetables I absolutely will not eat, and I hate how broccoli taste/smell takes over whatever dish it is in!

    28. Hrodvitnir*

      A bit late to the party, but: love it! Hated as a child. The typical story of raised with overcooked broccoli, ruining the texture and bringing out the bitterness. Broccoli basically just needs to be heated through and that’s it (though I also enjoy it raw).

      I think people just have varying degrees of sensitivity to bitterness. Rocket is also hands down my favourite leafy green, so my palate obviously appreciates bitterness – I have friends who hate anything on that spectrum.

    29. SnappinTerrapin*

      The less it is cooked, the more palatable it is to me.

      I prefer it as the base vegetable in my tossed salads.

    30. Expiring Cat Memes*


      Lovers and Lovers*: 72%
      Haters: 21%
      Take it or leave it: 7%

      (Assuming I interpreted everyone’s answers correctly!)

  26. No Longer Fencer*

    13w pregnant as of tomorrow(!) Early on, I was miserable unable to eat anything but ice cubes (I gagged ginger and crackers back up and Gatorade gave me the runs) so I ended up on Diclegis. I still feel horrendous 3-7 pm most days. When did MS end for folks?

    Also, telling parents today and they’ll likely be excited. Dreading telling MIL though, my hubs even admits she’s very self-centered and cares only of her own needs. Forgets to greet me since she’s lost in her own thoughts. Wants hubs all to herself (hubs sets limits TG). Hubs once said I needed him one weekend afternoon. Her response? I don’t care, I need you too. How did self-centered fam react to preg news? I’m a realist but hubs thinks she’ll miraculously care. I doubt it.

    1. Invisible Fish*

      Oh, she’ll care you’re pregnant- in terms of what it means for HER. I’m not saying that to be snarky, but to note you’re most probably right. Keep on taking good care of yourself, and when you can, smile sweetly at her, secure in the knowledge you care about other human beings and that helps you to have a better life.

      1. WellRed*

        100%. Expect drama over everything from what she gets to be called to whining that your parents “get” to see it more.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yeah, be prepared for a crappy reaction and to comfort your husband about the letdown. Then use that as context moving forward for setting superboundaries about pregnancy and baby things! Think about things like: when can she visit during/after delivery and how to make that happen (if you don’t want her at the hospital, will you need to hold off on telling her the baby’s arrived?), will she have an opinion on baby names, what kind of “help” will she offer and what will it “cost” you etc. You and your husband need to be a team, and while you’re pregnant/recovering it is YOUR team, not Team Baby.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      “Morning” (and noon and night…) sickness didn’t end for me until middle of the 3rd trimester. However, everyone is different and I hope yours ends soon!
      My SIL was devastated when we announced our pregnancy to the family, as she felt that SHE was meant to provide the first (and presumably best) grandchild on both sides of the family. My niece is 6 months younger than my son as a result. She told another relative that she wasn’t ready yet, but “had to” hurry things along, because maybe I’d lose the baby and she could still be first. Not surprisingly, she and my brother were divorced shortly after the baby came.
      For the record, my niece is awesome and nothing at all like her mother!

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Yup. She had less than zero tact! Fortunately I was able to ignore her most of the time. It helped that she didn’t like me; I doubt it ever occurred to her that I was happy not to have to spend time with her. She also didn’t want me to come to Her Wedding because I didn’t have the right look to match her theme. I’d have been happy to skip it, but since the groom was my brother we both had to just suck it up and do our best to ignore each other.

          1. Observer*

            This reminds me of the Reddit AITA question about a bride who was upset that her relative (cousin?) wouldn’t dye her red hair for the wedding. The bride “had” to have Relative in her wedding party and Relative’s red hair was not going to “match” the color scheme that Bride had chosen. Not even true – the color scheme was kingfisher blue, which is a gorgeous color for most redheads. Which lead most commenters to point out that Bride was not only a bridezilla but also probably lying through her teeth and not worried about the color scheme but about being outshone by a gorgeous bridesmaid.

            In any case, to me these are MAJOR red flags. It sounds like in your case the red flags turned out to be real warnings.

      1. Observer*

        She told another relative that she wasn’t ready yet, but “had to” hurry things along, because maybe I’d lose the baby and she could still be first.

        I’m curious how your brother didn’t realize that he was married to a really awful, stupid and possibly insane person. This goes weeeeeell beyond “no tact”.

        1. ampersand*

          Right?! Having tact=don’t let everything you think come out if your mouth.

          Most of us would never, ever think anything so cruel. This isn’t a tact problem.

    3. Exif*

      In your situation I would wait as long as possible to tell people, just so you can enjoy the pregnancy without MIL’s interference.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I was on Diclegis for my entire first pregnancy and B12 the entire second one, with Zofran for backup as needed.

    5. sick as a dog*

      In week 11 and still no appetite for anything other than chocolate bars but I’m on zofran for a bit so I can actually keep things down and stop losing weight. My other 2 times I was able to eat relatively normally by 18 weeks and it improved from there. I wish you luck and you have my sympathy!

    6. Daffodilly*

      She’ll be so happy the you are GIVING HER a grandchild.
      And her campaign to overshadow you in the child’s life will begin.
      Source: I have family like this.

    7. allathian*

      I was very lucky in that I had almost no nausea, unless I smelled brewing coffee (normally one of my favorite scents). I made my husband drink instant until my discomfort passed.

      Normally I drink 6-8 cups of coffee per day, so the nausea was the only thing that ensured that I didn’t get too much caffeine. The recommendation here is no more than 2 cups per day, I’m in Finland and we are the champion coffee drinkers of the world, if you tried to ban all caffeine here, Finns would stop having babies.

      I started drinking one cup of coffee in the morning when I hit the second trimester and my nausea passed. It helped with my exhaustion. It felt like I had temporary narcolepsia during my early pregnancy, I could fall asleep any time, anywhere. I can’t count the numer of times I fell asleep while sitting on the toilet, for example. And I told my boss far earlier than I had planned, because she found me asleep at my desk one day. I’m lucky in that I commute by public transit, so I didn’t have to drive. I stopped driving for the duration of my pregnancy when I fell asleep at work.

      I’m sorry about your MIL. I sure hope that you can enlist him to help you maintain the boundaries you’ll need with her. I was very lucky there, too. My MIL respected our boundaries and she was a great support person for me when I was at home with our newborn. She had to retire early due to some health issues that didn’t affect her anymore when she’d retired, my mom was still working and couldn’t help as much as she would’ve wanted. My husband took 2 weeks paternity leave, but after that he had to return to work for a few weeks, until his summer vacation started.