Brave Books: A Zinester's Reading List

Want to nerd out on zine-making, culture, and history? Curl up with an award-winning YA novel about a middle-school zinester? Peruse a list of zine writing prompts? Here are five of our favorite zine-related books! They're available on the Brave Books shelf at the Poetry Center--you're welcome to come by and browse them whenever we're open.

The First Rule of Punk, Celia C. Pérez

This young adult novel, which won a 2018 Pura Belpré Honor, is about Malú, a middle schooler who relocates to Chicago with her mom. Malú loves zines and punk rock—passions she shares with her dad, who lives states away. Malú’s story, told in both prose and cut-n-paste “zine” pages, chronicles how she navigates a new school, finds a crew of misfits to hang out with, and takes on her school’s administration, which is opposed to punk music at school events. Even though it’s written for middle schoolers, the PC education teams knows of many adults who absolutely adore this book.


Notes from the Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, Stephen Duncombe

Duncombe’s classic, originally published in 1997, covers zines within the United States from a history and cultural studies perspective. This book examines everything from sci-fi fanzine culture to the relationship between zines and the anti-war movement through themes like community, work, and consumption. In Duncombe’s new afterword, “Do Zines Still Matter?,” he writes, “Zines have always been more than words on paper: they are the embodiment of an ethic of creativity that argues that anyone can be a creator.” We agree!


Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Resource for Zines & Zine Culture, Alex Wrekk

This pocket-sized how-to guide from Lunchroom Publishing shows you how to lay out a zine, as well as how to distribute it, figure out issues around copyright, and even set up a table at a zine fest! It’s laid out in a fun, accessible cut n’ paste style, and includes writing from other contributors like Barnard zine librarian Jenna Freedman. Check out the Stolen Sharpie Revolution website here.



Whatcha Mean What’s a Zine?: The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics, by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson

This anthology, which includes work from over twenty contributors, contains almost everything you’d ever want to know about zine-making! With a grab bag of sections including, “Copier Tricks,” a guide on screen printing zine covers, comics about zine history, and an interview with Bust Magazine’s co-founder Laurie Henzel, it even feels like a zine. “What’s the Big Idea?,” a list of writing prompts, includes such fun and thought-provoking ideas as making a zine on the worst song ever created and crafting a manifesto on menu design. It even includes a tongue-in-cheek (we hope!) suggestion called, “A Yard Sale Zine,” which suggests that the maker, “Chop up everything you own and bind it.”


Zines in the Third Space: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric, Adela Licona

While a bit more academic than our other suggestions, we’re huge fans of this book by Tucson’s own Adela Licona. It focuses on feminist and queer-of-color zine-making practices, exploring how these practices can subvert dominant ideas of authority and expertise, imagine and construct communities, and give voice to too-often-silenced histories and perspectives. Licona’s writing is interspersed with pages from the zines she discusses, including Bamboo Girl by Sabrina Margarita Sandata and Borderlands: Tales from Disputed Territories Between Races and Cultures, edited by Nia King.


You can learn more about Brave Books 2021-2023: Zines and Zine Libraries here.