“There’s a feeling I remember which has to do with the seriousness of play, when you were completely absorbed in playing a game with your toys and fully believed in the world you’d created, and it really mattered,” Jane Housham says. “I look longingly back at that imaginative space.”
A writer, artist, and self-described accumulator, Housham continually returns to the engrossing joys of childhood through a vast collection of found objects. Stickers and plastic doll hands, a pantry of non-perishable goods, and a menagerie of animals on wheels are the catalysts for her flat lays. Precisely categorized by color, shape, or theme, each composition highlights the varied styles, functions, and contexts of similar items and becomes a useful and approachable entry into the history of design. “If I’ve acquired a new (to me) little object, that often nudges me to revisit the category it belongs to—a new tiny seahorse or radio will subtly alter the pre-existing set, and the arrangement is always fresh in any case. Seahorses and radios are particular favourites of mine,” she says.
Housham’s mother was a dollhouse enthusiast and passed on her love of miniatures, which inspired the artist to keep a box of treasures as a child that she would frequently sort and arrange. That early experience is the root of her current practice, which is the result of rummaging through massive stores—she estimates there are thousands of objects in her possession at the moment—of vintage toys and tiny items.
Because many of the pieces in her collection are antiques and sourced secondhand, sometimes they’re rusty, scratched, or broken, and a considerable number are made from plastic. Housham adds:
I’m not really interested in new plastic things as I don’t want to encourage the continued spewing out of unnecessary plastic bits and pieces, but I like to save old plastic toys and other secondhand bits and bobs and to celebrate their colours and the ingenuity of their design. Although it’s now understood to be so bad for the world, plastic was a beautiful material in its heyday.
Housham shares a trove of miniature finds and color-coded compositions on her Instagram, Found and Chosen, and sells prints of the flat lays on Etsy. As she amasses more objects and engages with the childhood curiosity and imagination she so deeply values, she does find herself asking one recurring question: “Where will all this collecting end, I wonder?”
Sometimes I’m looking for something online - often “how to” articles - and I want to filter for - like - a website that was clearly built in 2010 at the latest, which may or may not have been updated since then, but contains a vast wealth of information on one topic, painstakingly organized by an unknown legend in the field with decades’ worth of experience.
I don’t want a listicle with a nice stolen picture in a slideshow format written by a content aggregator that God forgot. I want hand-drawn diagrams by some genius professor who doesn’t understand SEO at all, but understands making stir-fries or raising stick insects better than anyone else on this earth. I don’t know what search settings to put into Google to get this.
thank you for articulating this cri de coeur for me
ngl these days i’m just happy when it’s not a video
The search engine calculates a score that aggressively favors text-heavy websites, and punishes those that have too many modern web design features.
This is in a sense the opposite of what most major search engines do, they favor modern websites over old-looking ones. Most links you find here will be nearly impossible to find on a regular search engine, as they aren’t sufficiently search engine optimized.
“It is a search engine, designed to help you find what you didn’t even know you were looking for. If you search for “Plato”, you might for example end up at the Canterbury Tales. Go looking for the Canterbury Tales, and you may stumble upon Neil Gaiman’s blog.
If you are looking for fact, this is almost certainly the wrong tool. If you are looking for serendipity, you’re on the right track. When was the last time you just stumbled onto something interesting, by the way?
I don’t expect this will be the next “big” search engine. This is and will remain a niche tool for a niche audience.“
It’s weird, Gentle Reader, to try to figure out what people like about one’s own books. But after ten years I have some idea, so I hope you’ll humor my list attempts.
I believe that people read my stuff for comfort, because I’m gentle to my characters, and light and fluffy and funny. People come back to my books because I have queer representation, and because they know there will be romance, found family, and an HEA – basically lots of Heroine’s Journeys.
I tend to think of my stuff in terms of what it is not: gritty, dark, tragic.
So with that in mind, I have some book recs for you that I tried to organize loosely by what you might be looking for next. I chose two per category to focus on, but there’s also longer lists at the bottom.
In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Scott Westerfeld called this book:
“A sinewy mosaic of Haitian sky pirates, wily street urchins, and orisha magic. Beguiling and bombastic!”
Based in an amazing alternate historical USA world. Worth checking out for the world building alone, her characters are also immensely tough, charming, and queer AF. She also has a cozy mystery series (start with Mise en Death) featuring, you guessed it, FOOD! I mean come on, what is not to love? She knows what she’s talking about too, she is ALSO the genius behind Belle Monde Chocolates. Which are, without question, my favorite chocolates in the world.
Something with strong tricky female main characters?
Is a thrilling YA urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland, if you or your teen reads Marissa Meyer, then this series is for you.
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Cole writes romantic historical, scifi, and contemporary with lots of queer rep. Honestly she has something for everyone. Her historical series is period-drama-delightful full of machinations and spies, so if the Finishing School was your jam, try this series.
Witchmark (followed by Stormsong) with more to come, was described as “a stunning, addictive fantasy that combines intrigue, magic, betrayal, and romance.” Polk’s novella The Midnight Bargain is described as a “fantasy of manners.” Yes please!
This is the first in a Western shared town series all of which feature different interracial couples and groupings, fluffly alt-history of the best kind. This first one is two men who love each other and their mail order bride, the second features is a mail order groom, and the third a best friends to lovers romance.
Fun & Sexy?
If what you really love of my books is when I get all over with the sexy, then here are some authors who bring on the heat with a side of humor and romance.
Via’s gay romances featuring tough military-types with soft squishy centers are some of my favorites, I chronically reread. The sex scenes are numerous and extremely hot, and written with such skill. I would take a master class from her on how to do sexy and emotional at the same time. If you’re a chronic romance reader Via will have hit up at least one of your favorite tropes. I happen to be a big May December fan, so the first Promises book is one of my favorites. Tough bounty hunter with self-worth issues is pursued by a much younger lawyer who came back into town expressly to reconnect with the man of his dreams. Gah, so good.
Guillory’s rom coms are (so far) het central, but her supporting cast of characters is always super representative and queer friendly. Lots of found family themes and a ton of humor. Start with The Wedding Date:
“A swoony rom-com brimming with humor and charm.” ~ Entertainment Weekly
“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel….One of the best books I’ve read in a while.” ~ Roxane Gay
Okay if you like Hunger Games or The Selection then you need to read these books RIGHT NOW. No, seriously, start with the first one and just keep going. If you have a teen who liked either of these, hell I’ll chuck Maas into “also like” mix, they should be reading these books. They are THAT GOOD.
“Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther – inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers.”
For lovers of the San Andreas and Supernatural Society series…
Already on this list once, here Cole is again, this time for her reluctant royals series. More light-hearted than her historical stuff and mostly with het central characters, I would start with the adorable lesbian novella, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy.
Seriously, what does this woman not write? She’s amazing. Whatever your preference, she’s probably written you the romantic joy you crave: scifi, paranormal, contemp with poly, menage, gay, het). I like scifi romance a lot, so I would start with Wager.
There tends to be more romance on my lists than other books because I gravitate so strongly towards the heroine’s journey, and romance is a guaranteed HEA. These days I read more romance than ever before, so I have a better understanding on what’s happening in this field.
Skyy – only one book so far but it’s an AMAZING lesbian romance so I’m hoping for many more
Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar – have one co-authored book and there is some question as to whether it qualifies as romance (it’s on my TBR) but it’s getting rave reviews particularly from within the LA and BlaQ community: In Case You Forgot
Buy books with POC on the cover! Read amazing romance author Naima Simone‘s article about this. I’ve noticed it in my own sales and it is a horrible, rarely discussed prejudice in buying behavior (and publisher reactive behavior).
Write to and urge major book bloggers and taste makers (I’m looking at you BookBub) to consider more books by Black authors.
(Hot link not permitted, you’ll need to copy and paste into your browser, and you need to be a member of the group. Sorry, it was the best way to organize the fans, I do pull from there to update my lists here.)
Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),
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This is a map of the range of all giraffe species. By my count that puts them in just 16 countries out of the 54 in Africa (of which 5 are island countries with no territory on the continental mainland). That’s 30%, quite a long way shy of all, and as you can see many of those countries that do have giraffes only have a tiny portion of their territory within giraffes’ habitats
Wow, I knew they weren’t in “every African country”, but I didn’t realize just how restricted their range was
Good teachers don’t mind saying “I don’t know” or that they need to look it up and will get back to you.
Not only that but giraffes in different areas have different patterns and it’s so cool
If you are on the search, you’ve come to the right place! First, have you seen my extensive tumblr post of queer books? Check that out. Now, some faves.
I will put a * next to the ones with POC leads, and feel free to message me about any titles! Are you looking for…
…Soft contemporary romance vibes?
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (gay mc, m/m)
Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (trans guy mc, m/m)
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (lesbian mc, f/f)
Chord by Chelsea M. Cameron (queer girl mcs, f/f)
Style by Chelsea M. Cameron (lesbian mcs, f/f)
Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger (gay mcs, m/m)
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (multiple POV, one half is a bisexual girl with f/f)*
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (bisexual girl MC, m/f)*
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (biromantic ace girl mc, m/f)*
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (lesbian mc, f/f)*
The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (lesbian mc, f/f)
…More intense/emotional contemporary vibes?
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (lesbian mc)*
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (all queer guy mcs, lots of m/m)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (gay mc, m/m)*
Nevada by Imogen Binnie (trans woman mc)
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren (bisexual guy mc, m/m)
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (lesbian mc)
How To Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (bisexual girl mc, f/f)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (trans girl mc, m/f)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth (lesbian mc)
Radical by E.M. Kokie (lesbian mc)
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (bisexual girl mc, gay demisexual side)*
…Sprawling historical fiction vibes?
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (lesbian mc, f/f)*
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (bisexual woman mc, f/f & m/f)*
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (subtle f/f)
All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Through the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell (every story is narrated by a queer teen!)
…Sci-Fi & fantasy vibes?
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (lesbian mc, f/f)*
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (multiple POV both queer girls, f/f)
Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant (multiple POV, both trans m/f)
Axiom: The Last Hope by R.M. Pearcy (lesbian mc, f/f)
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (bisexual girl mc, f/f)*
Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee (sequel to above, trans guy mc)*
More Than This by Patrick Ness (gay mc)
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (multiple POV, more than half the cast are queer girls, f/f & m/f)*
…Fantastical retelling vibes?
Peter Darling by Austin Chant (trans guy mc, m/m)
Ash by Malinda Lo (lesbian mc, f/f)*
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (multiple POV, one half is queer girl mc with f/f)
…Honestly just super bizarre vibes?
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly (gay mc, m/m)*
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (gay mc, m/m)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (ace girl mc, trans guy side - and this whole series is full of other queer characters)