I would argue that gifs and memes have become their own language. How many times have you typed not even a single word response to someone but rather said everything you had to say with a gif? Maybe you expressed your current mood, day, or even a moment with a meme. So many thoughts and emotions can be conveyed with a single gif and/or meme, which makes it a perfect segue into giving book suggestions — at least if, like me, you believe books pair with everything.
I always want to read lists that pair music with books, and I often write about books you should read based on your favorite films/TV shows. So I was pretty surprised that I had yet to pair gifs and/or memes with books — outside of my head, I mean. I do these pairings all the time, quietly for myself. But it’s only fair to share the little evil/genius book pairer in my brain with others. So here are a bunch of popular gifs and memes and the books you should read if you want that vibe but in a book. There are graphic novels, romance, YA, adult, crime, nonfiction — so basically, a little something for everyone, depending on reading mood.
Gravity Falls: Emergency Hug
Check, Please! Volume 1 by Ngozi Ukazu
You may not be able to physically reach out and hug someone on the Internet, but you can send a tactical hug gif, and Check, Please! is my — and many readers’ — emergency hug. It’s just in the form of a graphic novel series, and doesn’t contain a pig. It will, however, feel like someone tackle hugging you, especially if your heart and soul feel fragile. Follow a lovely college hockey team (you can hate sports and adore this graphic novel, I promise) as the newest member is just a cinnamon roll who loves being in the kitchen baking things like cinnamon rolls (and pies!). Not only do we watch him grow into adulthood as a player, baker, and friend, but we see the loveliest romantic relationship blossom with a fellow teammate. Excuse me, now I have to go reread this series again.
The nope nope nope nope octopus
How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler
The nope nope nope nope octopus was one of the first things I thought of when I discovered Imbler’s gorgeous book. Not because the book is a “nope”, it is the biggest “YUP,” but because the sea creatures Imbler explores are all creatures that have had to survive in inhospitable living conditions — which they amazingly tie into humans, and their own life as a queer, mixed race writer.
Knives Out: It Makes No Damn Sense. Compels Me Though.
Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
I love this weird, darkly funny novel about a man who literally gets trapped inside his work Slack. So how can it not pair perfectly with a meme from the film Knives Out that is basically I’m confused, but impressed? Because again, a man is trapped inside his work Slack and trying to convince his co-workers that this is not a gag and actually happening — while the company wants him to know he should keep doing whatever he’s doing, because his productivity is up.
Always Be My Maybe: Keanu Reeves’s Thank You
So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Okay, this one may be a bit of a cheat, but there was a fancasting of Keanu Reeves as Michael and it got praised as dream casting from the author, Rebekah Weatherspoon, so really these two things are now forever linked, and someone get on that adaptation already! For now read this romance novella that pairs a needs-rent-money-now young woman with an Internet billionaire silver fox.
That’s So Raven: Nervous
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
This book has Gossip Girl vibes, a pinch of I Know What You Did Last Summer, and a dose of Get Out, which as a mix of comps should be enough to explain the gif matching this book. Chiamaka and Devon are two students with nothing in common other than going to the same prep school when they find themselves the target of a person referring to themselves as Aces, who has started texting the school private things about them. Who is Aces and why are Chiamaka and Devon their target?
Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship: the ’80s
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Nothing makes me pick up a book faster than it being a manifestation of ’80s vibe. Now add in the setting that was historically once the origin of the Salem Witch Trials and an Emilio Estevez notebook, a field hockey team pledging to the dark forces, and a girl with bangs referred to as “the claw,” and you have a funny, fun, smart, and super entertaining book with some ’80s aerobics dancing vibes.
K.C. Green’s Gunshow comic #648: This Is Fine
Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan
This is a neighborhood drama with crime that bites, and the less you know going in the better. So all I’ll say is the “everything is fine” gif matches this book, which starts in the future looking back at a Long Island suburb after a sinkhole opened up, which was the catalyst that began to explode all the simmering tension amongst the neighbors…
Mochimochi Land: Gnome Making Hearts
Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman
I love no other gif more for sending pure love out into the world than this little gnome knitting hearts to send up into the sky. If you’ve already read Heartstopper, then you understand this pairing. If you’ve yet to pick up Heartstopper, I cannot recommend this graphic novel series enough for just swaddling you in a world where against the very real, daily, crappy things marginalized people are faced with, they can also find love, friendship, and kindness with some cinnamon roll characters. Bonus: the Netflix adaptation somehow put the spirit of this novel, and the exact characters, on screen.
Lila Kalis YouTube: Kid Drift In Toy Car
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
“She had a teddy bear in her arms and murder in her eyes.” That’s the quote that has forever stuck with me from this book about Polly, an 11-year-old girl who is basically on the run with her just-released-from prison father because the family is under threat of murder by the aryan brotherhood. It’s a white knuckle read with a girl that I fiercely love.
Now I’ll leave you with some Mesmerizing Book GIFs for When You’re Too Stressed to Read.