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Leah Rachel von Essen

By day, Leah Rachel von Essen is the editor-in-chief of Chicago Booth Magazine at the University of Chicago. By night, she reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

How to Find First Edition Books

I bring my own long history of book collecting to walk you through how to find first editions online and in-person.

Can You Match the Collective Noun with the Animal Group It Describes?

A roll of armadillos. A raft of otters. A shrewdness of apes. See how many correct collective noun–animal matches you can make!

Just 9 Great Dutch Books in Translation

From a queer, eerie novella to a book about a bazaar and mosque in Iran, here are 9 great Dutch books in translation.

10 Books on Healthcare Inequity and Misogyny in Medicine

I recommend 10 books on the way the healthcare system treats fatness, race, queerness, disability, and so much more.

Quiz: What Book Should I Read Next?

You won't have taken a quiz like this before — take my unusual quiz if you've asked yourself "what book should I read next?"

Read These Feminist Sci-Fi Dystopian Novels

Read these nine feminist sci-fi dystopian novels that deal with issues of bodily autonomy, reproductive justice, incarceration, and more.

Who Was Tessa Kelso? A Feminist History of the Librarian Pioneer

Learn more about the Los Angeles librarian who took on Dewey, fought against book bans, and tried to make the library a place for everyone.

11 Books in Translation from East Africa, from Mauritius to Burundi

I've gathered 11 excellent books in translation from East Africa — featuring reads by Scholastique Mukasonga, Ananda Devi, and more.

10 Nonfiction Books by Trans, Nonbinary, and Drag Performer Authors to Educate and Entertain

Educate yourself on trans, nonbinary, and drag performers' lives as gender outlaws with these 10 excellent queer nonfiction reads.

Describe Your Perfect Summer Day & We’ll Give You a Matching Queer SFF Read

Summer is on the horizon! Take our quiz and we'll give you a queer sci-fi or fantasy book to dig into this summer.