8 Of the Best Booktokers to Follow

Hello all! As promised, we are back with part two; our list of favorite Booktokkers is here! Proceed with caution, as you will most likely lose many hours to the BookTok rabbit holes (pun intended) these book lovers will lead you down.


First, we have Pauline from @thebooksiveloved, a great place to start if you are only beginning to dip your toe into the world of endless literary content. This Booktokker absolutely loves her romance, as do we all. You will find great recommendations for some swoon-worthy reads on her channel. Check out all the romance novels she read in September alone! But be warned, we make no apologies for the amount of sleep you’ll lose every night while chanting “just one more page” as you try to ignore the sun coming up literally out of nowhere. And no, I’m not speaking from personal experience…


And while you’re at it, do yourself a favor and check out Jaysen at @ezeekat, a great place to visit if you are looking to dive deeper into the bookish lifestyle. Sometimes, you just want someone to geek out with, and watching Jaysen’s content feels just like chatting with an old friend. From manga and anime reviews to toy unboxings, Jaysen has it all. You’ll even find the occasional board game review, or craft idea. Jaysen is one of BookTok’s most bubbly and personable individuals, and even his critiques make you smile. Check out his hilarious non-review of Rebecca Yarros’s popular Fourth Wing (2023).


Next, we have Abby of @abbysbooks, our friend from across the pond. On Abby’s channel, you’ll find content dedicated to depicting the real, everyday life of a book lover. The struggle of choosing between curling up with the latest book on your TBR, or binge-watching your favorite TV show is real. Not to mention the pure annoyance you feel when the dual perspective YA novel you’re reading changes back to the “boring” POV. Abby feels your pain, readers, and so do we. Abby is also an ambitious reader. Check out this video to keep up with her 100 books bucket list challenge. Maybe it will give you the motivation you’ve been needing to revisit that ever-growing TBR list.


@penguinteen is another great place to visit while browsing through BookTok. If you’re not aware, Penguin Random House is a pretty big name in the publishing world, and Penguin Teen is its adolescent branch. But that doesn’t mean it can’t appeal to audiences of all ages. Whether you’re 16 or 36, a teen book is always a good idea. If you want to stay in the loop on all of the recent bestselling young adult novels, or revisit old staples like this timeless classic, this is the perfect channel for you.


Before I go any further, I must make mention of my personal favorite literary influencer, Christine Riccio, known to her longtime Instagram and TikTok followers as @xtinemay, or as polandbananasBOOKS on YouTube. Christine’s “book talks” were my personal gateway into the online book community many years ago, and she is still doing great things to this day. Beginning as a book reviewer on YouTube, she is now a New York Times bestselling author of her own romantic comedy, coming-of-age young adult novels, beginning with Again, But Better (2019), followed by Better Together (2021). Fans are anxiously awaiting her third such novel Attached at the Hip, which will be hitting shelves on May 21, 2024.

Christine is truly one of the best people to grace the internet. She has been cheering hearts and lifting spirits with her upbeat, hilarious videos since forever. She is guaranteed to climb straight to the top of your list of favorite channels, and she offers no shortage of variety. From book-writing vlogs to reviews of Sarah J Maas books to sibling Q+A’s, she has it all. She even occasionally takes us to an Eras Tour concert with her. Either way, it’s always a good time. 


1989 in books (Taylor’s Version) 😆 yall I made this in 2021 and have been waiting to post it with TV’s of the songs ever since, what a ride. here are some titles that came outbangood while ago now XD #booktok

♬ original sound – Christine Riccio


@munnyreads is also a great place to stop for good vibes. Along with being a Booktokker, Kelsey is also a middle school teacher, and a fun one at that. She is always posting videos featuring her students, challenging them to make her laugh with their adolescent antics. It’s a silly goofy time. Kelsey is also a crafty book lover, as some of her videos show her homemade bookmarks and personally painted book edges. She is also not afraid to post an honest, authentic book rant like this, and it’s pretty hilarious. Plus, she has a very aesthetically pleasing bookshelf.


Still, no one’s bookshelf is quite as visually satisfying as Jenna’s rainbow, ombre shelves at @jennajustreads. Any book lover knows the significance of a crafty bookshelf. It can make or break a Booktokker. Jenna’s shelves do not disappoint, and neither does her channel. Visit her channel for reviews and other relatable bookish content, and the occasional trip to Barnes and Noble. Don’t you love it when Booktokkers take us on adventures with them?


Speaking of adventures, Sydney of @sydneyyybooks will take you on a wild ride through all things horror and suspense. With somewhat of a darker, spooky theme to this channel, it is the perfect place to visit during Halloween season. Sydney’s passion for the genre comes out visually, with her signature dark purple lighting and horror-filled bookshelves in every video. She admits there are some books even she is scared to read! (Although, not many.)

With all of these great Booktokkers to choose from, it’s hard to know which channel to visit. It’s a good thing you don’t have to choose. Take these eight names and run with them. Subscribe to them all! They might even take you to channels that are new altogether. You’ll soon find out that the BookTok community is one of the best and most welcoming places on the internet. It’s just one big book club. At the end of the day, we’re all just little book worms that like to chat about our favorite fictional characters. Because when you share them with someone else, they feel even more real.

Meet the Author:

Marissa Armstrong is a Los Angeles native and currently a student at Arizona State University, where she majors in Film and English. Her brand of dark comedy stems from an appreciation of both the light and the dark in humanity. It is her purpose to use her storytelling wiles to celebrate all things tragically hilarious. Or hilariously tragic.

The Best Booktubers To Watch!

Have you ever finished the best, most heart-wrenching, life-changing book in the world, and had no one to talk about it with? No one who gets it? Well fear no more. For you, we have compiled a list of our absolute favorite booktubers on the internet. These bookish individuals will share their enthusiasm for reading and ensure that you never feel alone in loving a book again.


Booktuber, or Booktokker, HaileyinBookland sitting on a stack of books smiling for the camera.

First, we have a lovely Booktuber who goes by HaileyinBookland. Hailey is a 27-year-old Canadian book lover and has been booktubing for almost a decade. She knows her stuff! From hauls to reading vlogs, Hailey’s channel is full of variety. She is not afraid to tell you how she feels about any given work of fiction, so you can count on her for an honest review, even if it’s a hot take. And she doesn’t stop at book-related content. You are just as likely to find a “day in the life” vlog on Hailey’s channel as you are to hear a list of her favorite reads of the month.

Her recent vlog “a friday night in (by myself),” definitely made me feel seen. Bookish introverts assemble! Wait… was that an oxymoron? Anyway, if you’re looking for some good content from a fun, relatable person, HaileyinBookland is a great place to start. 


Booktuber, Jessethereader jumping with his hand up, holding an open book. He's wearing a yellow shirt and black pants. He's in a background with yellow sunflowers, swirled around.

Next on the list is a personal favorite of mine. I have been watching Jesse from jessethereader since I was but a wee lass. I remember staying up late on school nights, binge-watching his young adult book reviews, and walking into my high school’s library the next morning with a purpose. T’was a fun time. Jesse is the epitome of good vibes and a long-time veteran of the booktube community. (Not to age him… or me). And not to mention that his bookshelf backdrop is more organized than my entire life.

Whether Jesse is showing us his latest purchases, playing a fun bookish game, or taking us with him on a real-life adventure, every video is a good time. One such video is a favorite of mine from back in the day, when Jesse took us with him to BEA and BookCon in 2015. Coincidently, this vlog also features the next booktuber on our list.


Booktuber: PeruseProject, in a dress holding a cup of tea and a small plate. She is standing in front of a wall with some art, a picture of green, red and black flowers, a painting of a woman and a bulletin board.

Reagan from PeruseProject was another booktube staple from my teen years. She is, in fact, the reason I wear bright red glasses to this day (see down below). Reagan is all over the young and new adult literary scene. If it’s hit the shelves of Barnes and Noble in the last 10 years, she’s read it and reviewed it.

In her most recent post, she mentioned that she’s read 6 books in the month of August alone. I don’t know about you, but she puts my stats to shame. Also, her videos are just so relaxing to watch. Her chill, welcoming vibe will make you feel like you’re sitting in front of a fireplace talking to a friend. Her recent “cozy home alone reading vlog” is a perfect example of this. Who wouldn’t want to take bookish advice from this gem of an individual?


Booktuber NayaReadsandSmiles, with long, dark curly hair and red lipstick. She is wearing a green sweater and sitting in front of a large, gold bookshelf with a lot of books she has read.

Next, we have the bright and bubbly NayaReadsandSmiles. Naya is one of the most chipper and uplifting people you will find on booktube. You won’t be able to get through one of her videos without smiling.

Her enthusiasm for literature shines through in every word she says, and it’s infectious. You’ll find yourself wanting to redecorate your own bookshelf after watching Naya organize hers, or binge reading romance books after her latest list of favorites. Though she has not uploaded any new content this last year, we hope to see more from her soon.


Image of Booktuber, TheBookLeo, she is reading a paperback book called: "We Have Always Lived in the Castle".

Next up is TheBookLeo, a hilariously snarky booktuber from the Netherlands. Leonie is quick to make a satiric joke about the silly aspects of book life that we all just accept as canon, such as the way all of our fantasy female heroines discover their newfound powers at age 16, and then instantly assemble a cadre to save the world. Like, the next day.

Leonie is also a master of the “I’ll read it so you don’t have to” reaction video. Check out her latest post for one of these, you won’t regret it. This sassy booktuber will make your day, and will definitely make you laugh.


Image of Booktuber: CarolynMarieReads, reading a book called: "The Awakening". She is sitting at a small student's desk, with a lot of books stacked upon it.

If you’re interested in book-related merch, this next channel is the one for you. CarolynMarieReads is a great place to visit around the holidays, when you’re looking for the perfect gift for your bookworm friends.

This booktuber has her own Etsy shop, where she sells everything from sweatshirts to tote bags to framed quotes from classic authors. Everything this girl makes is beautiful. See her gorgeous products, and some pretty cool book-related tattoo ideas like this, on her channel.


Image of Booktuber, Caricanread, who is sitting on the floor in front of a large bookshelf, that appears to be in a library.

Caricanread is also a great channel for bookish lifestyle content, if you’re looking for a break from the everyday book review. She has an abundance of reading vlogs on her channel, where we can basically just read and hang out with her.

But it’s not all fun and games here. This girl is dedicated. She is known to post 2-to-3-hour videos dissecting the plots of entire books so that we can finish them with half the time and effort. And she will keep you laughing along the whole way. Where was this girl when I was in high school?


Image of literary content creator: Jack_Edwards who is holding a cute brown dog in front of a bookshelf and large stack of books on the floor.

Our next creator, Jack Edwards, is a 24-year-old New Yorker from across the pond. With a career in the publishing industry, Jack is uniquely situated for great literary content. He knows what’s going on in the book world. Still, he is not too serious to joke around. His mellow mood will draw you in instantly. And his witty humor comes through in quirky videos such as “books I’d save if my house was burning down in a fire.” Let’s hope he’s not serious.


Image of Withcindy, a YouTube content creator.  holding several books in a series. She is wearing glasses, a leopard print shirt and orange pants.

The next booktuber on our list walks a fine line between comedy, literature and social commentary. And it works. Cindy from withcindy is great at making you laugh while also talking about really important topics. She is a huge advocate of representation, in both the literary and cinematic communities.

In this video, Cindy discusses a book called Yellowface, and its critique on race and representation within the publishing industry. She has also discussed LGBTQ+ representation in media today. For this booktuber, using her platform for social justice is just as important to her as entertaining her audience. And we’re here for it.


Image of Fictionalfates, a YouTube literary personality, or "Booktuber" who is smiling at the camera, while holding a book called "The Secret History", by Donna Tart He is wearing all white with a single gold chain.

Our last, but certainly not least, on this list is Joel from fictionalfates. The ‘about’ section of this booktuber’s channel reads: “welcome to Joel’s cozy corner of books, games & self-care.” And this channel is exactly that. Every video feels like it was made during pumpkin spice season. Check out this cozy vlog, and you’ll see what I mean.

Joel’s videos make you want to literally curl up with your favorite fantasy adventure series, the scent of autumn candles in the air, and read to your heart’s content. And afterwards, you can watch a fun review from Joel. What’s not to like?

Ruby Granger

Image of YouTube literary content creator, Ruby Granger holding a book by William Shakespeare. She is wearing an off white sweater, sitting in an attic, where everything looks vintage.

Well look at that. We have one more bonus booktuber for you. We couldn’t end this list without talking about Ruby Granger, an inspiring content creator from Scotland. Getting her start on YouTube as a student and study-motivation guru, she focuses mostly on productivity and inspiring other students to perform their best. But she still likes to talk about books.

I especially liked her “Bookish Things to Do When You’re Bored,” filled with fun and crafty suggestions I would never have thought of before. And as a film major, let me just say that this girl’s camera work is gorgeous. If she made films, she’d definitely get awards for cinematography. This booktuber is just talented all around.

We hope this list helps you expand your literary horizons. Next time you’re scrolling through YouTube, check out some of these names, and you might just find your next great read. And stay tuned for our next article on our favorite Booktokkers!

Meet the Author

Marissa Armstrong is a Los Angeles native and currently a student at Arizona State University, where she majors in Film and English. Her brand of dark comedy stems from an appreciation of both the light and the dark in humanity. It is her purpose to use her storytelling wiles to celebrate all things tragically hilarious. Or hilariously tragic.

Musical Artists Inspired By Alice in Wonderland

For decades, our beloved Alice has no longer lived only on the page. Artists across the disciplines have taken her story and used it to more artfully tell their own. The universality of Alice’s message has been expressed in many forms, particularly by musicians, singers and songwriters.

Something about the poetry of music allows artists to explore new and expressive interpretations of her traditional, classic tale. So, let’s explore seven different music artists who have put their own unique spin on Alice’s story, and have even created a brand-new meaning all together. 


A person with a pill in her mouth, wearing a rabbit mask, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. From the music video for the Natalia Kills song: "Wonderland".

English singer-songwriter, Teddy Sinclair, also known by her stage name, Natalia Kills, released a pop ode to Alice in 2011, titled ‘Wonderland.’ In her song, she lists all of the classic fairytale princesses we all know and some of us love. From Snow White to Cinderella, she rejects each one in turn. She doesn’t need pretty glass heels or a knight to save her; she is not your typical damsel in distress. “I don’t believe in fairytales,” she chants. Instead, she asks for a trip to Wonderland.

Alice’s story can be interpreted as a fairytale, but definitely not an average one. It does not follow the known formula of the Disney princess. Come to think of it, the story doesn’t really follow a formula at all. Which is perhaps a huge part of its appeal. Alice’s story is a beacon for those incapable of trudging the beaten path. She is the perfect Alternative Princess.


Avril Lavigne, sitting in a black dress around some trees. She is wearing playing card suit socks, reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland. From the Avril Lavigne song: "Alice".

On a similar note, the Pop-Punk Queen herself, Avril Lavigne, released her own nod to Alice in 2010, titled (you guessed it) ‘Alice.’ This emotional ballad is filled with all the angst and maelstrom that endears Lavigne to teenage girls everywhere.

In this song, she is lost, afraid, and in need of stability. Her fear and confusion can be felt as she sings, “Is this real?/ Is this pretend?” She seems to find hope again in the idea of Wonderland. She continues, “I found myself in Wonderland/ Got back on my feet again.” She has found her way despite difficulty. The song ends with strength and self-assuredness. Lavigne is a survivor, and so is Alice. 


A circus tent and ferris wheel and roller coaster in the rain. From pop duo: Neoni, this is the cover art for their album: "Wars in a Wonderland".

Next, we see a different perspective on Wonderland. Neoni, a pop duo formed in 2013, released their own ‘Wonderland’ in 2021. The song seems to be sung from the perspective of Wonderland itself, or its residents. This is a unique spin, given that the focal point of the story is usually from Alice’s point of view.

A powerful line of the song reads, “This is Wonderland, where all your dreams come true/ You gotta go get yours before they come get you.” It sounds like there are two sides to this coin; a realized dream that can easily be taken away. To me, this translates to the sometimes opportunistic nature of the entertainment industry, in which these artists are forced to operate. It sounds as if they take pride in their ability to navigate the array of wily characters they face. 


A group of people in Walrus costumes. Album cover of The Beatles 1967 album: "Magical Mystery Tour". Drawing. paralells between Alice in Wonderland and their songs: "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", and "I am the Walrus", by John Lennon.

Speaking of wily characters, this unsung hero (or villain) from Wonderland is the star of John Lennon’s 1967 song, ‘I am the Walrus.’ Lewis Carroll’s cautionary tale of the Walrus and the Carpenter, it seemed, resulted in The Beatles’ psychedelic classic. In some way, Lennon identified with the Walrus. “I am he as you are he as you are me,” he sings. But… what exactly does he mean? Was it an allegory on capitalism? Is there religious symbolism involved? Did Lennon just really like oysters? With this song, who really knows? 

Some more ambiguous lyrics can be found in his ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ of the same year. But I sense a strong tie to our Alice. She could easily have been the “girl with kaleidoscope eyes” that Lennon references throughout the song. The lyrics follow a similar trajectory as Alice’s descent into Wonderland; the imagery grows stranger as the song goes on. “Cellophane flowers of yellow and green/ Towering over your head” and something about rocking horse people eating pie. With its zany imagery, the setting could very well be Wonderland, and Lewis Carroll’s writing could easily have been the inspiration for this fantastical piece. 


Lady Gaga ddressed in pink Frankenstein garmets and hair, un a black circular background, like the rabbit hole in Lewis Carrolll's Alice in Wonderland. Cover art for her single, "Alice - Take Me to Wonderland".

Lady Gaga’s ‘Alice,’ released in 2020, seems to have a much more straightforward message. “My name isn’t Alice/ But I’ll keep looking for Wonderland,” she chants throughout the dance-worthy pop song. In these lyrics and their repetition, we hear her ache for the nonsensical simplicity of Wonderland, a place without rules. A place where she can be a child again. A place where she can put her rational mind away, and lose herself in the innocent lawlessness of Wonderland.

I would venture to say we were all feeling a bit like this at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, when this song was released. Alice’s adventure once again proves a perfect escape from the trials of a sometimes harsh reality. 


A group of people sitting at a table with food and flowers, dressed like characters from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Red Queen, Mad Hatter and Alice Liddell, herself.  For the rapper, Dax and hiis song: "Searching for a Reason".

Alice’s story does not have to be told through the lyrics of a song in order to share its message. Dax, a Canadian rapper, released a song in 2021 titled “Searching for a Reason,” the lyrics of which have arguably nothing to do with Alice or Wonderland. Which is why it is even more interesting that the song’s music video is filled with references to the story.

The lyrics “I’m surrounded by so many fakes, I stopped counting/ No gravity, but I’m still grounded,” play in the background as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum taunt the singer. The rest of the video follows suit with Wonderland characters and set pieces. The video is the perfect representation of visual storytelling. Alice’s story is so universal that the song’s lyrics do not need to explicitly mention her, but they can still relate to her adventure, and ours.


Rock band: Shinedown's album cover for The Sound of Madnesss, featuring the Alice in Wonderland-themed song: "Her Name is Alice". 
Black background with 4 white bird shapes and white lettering. Looking Glass Wars Author, Frank Beddor gives us this expert's take. by Marissa Armstrong.

Lastly, we have perhaps the most ambiguous lyrics yet. Shinedown’s ‘Her Name is Alice’ is a perfect example of artist – and audience – interpretation. The song tells the story of a girl like Alice. A girl that is innocent, who views the world through her own eyes, and creates her own reality. The tone of the song is equal parts sad and sweet, mournful and longing. It perfectly captures the melancholy of nostalgia, the pain of growing up while trying to hold onto a part of one’s innocence. Which is what Alice’s tale is all about.

Whether you are a fan of pop hits or more alternative gems, Alice’s story can be found anywhere. She brings people together now just as she always has. Differences in age, gender and background cease to matter as we all find a little of ourselves in her. What other story can claim such a vast and universal message?

Meet The Author:

Marissa Armstrong is a Los Angeles native and currently a student at Arizona State University, where she majors in Film and English. Her brand of dark comedy stems from an appreciation of both the light and the dark in humanity. It is her purpose to use her storytelling wiles to celebrate all things tragically hilarious. Or hilariously tragic.

Alice & Dorothy: Similarities of Wonderland & Oz

Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz have long occupied similar space in pop culture. Dorothy and Alice walk hand in hand among our favorite childhood heroes. Their stories are so reminiscent of one another that their names are often uttered in the same breath, alluding to exploration of other whimsical realms, of imaginative adventure, and of budding identity. But each story still holds its own individual charm, while touching on many of the same themes.

Here, we will explore exactly what makes these stories so unique, and still so infinitely universal to audiences everywhere. (Disclaimer: For the purposes of this article, I’ll be referencing the most popular film versions of each story, though they both began as classic storybooks. I’ll be referring to Judy Garland’s 1939 portrayal of Dorothy, and the 1951 animated Alice.)

Though this is not true for the films, Alice in Wonderland actually came first. Lewis Carroll first wrote of Alice in the mid 1860’s, while L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published over 30 years later. One could assume that Carroll’s wildly successful tale influenced and informed Baum’s writings. 

On Left, L. Frank Baum The Wizard of Oz book cover image. Cartoon Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion walk the yellow brick road with the castle of Oz further down the horizon. On right the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland - A tale by Lewis Carroll. Book cover with cartoon Alice wandering through Wonderland, as the flowers and Chesire Cat watching her every move. The Red Queen sits above, looking stern, watching over her kingdom.

Each tale begins in a different, and somewhat opposite way. Dorothy is thrust into her adventure against her will, by way of a freak accident, while Alice enters her tale willingly, as an active participant. Dorothy is swept away to Oz by a tornado (and a bump on the head), while Alice runs off to chase the white rabbit, either in her sleep or awake (it really wasn’t very clear).

Interestingly, they exit their stories in opposite ways. Whereas Dorothy was stolen away to Oz, she finds her own way back. Alice, on the other hand, volunteers to go on her journey and then makes it home by continual boldness.

Either way, both girls eventually find their way home. This is another theme that runs through the currant of each story: a young girl’s desire to return to familiar comfort. Dorothy’s last words in Oz were famously, “there’s no place like home”, while Alice’s sentiment was basically the same.

Examining gender roles through Alice & Dorothy

Though I am possibly projecting my own millennial biases onto these works of fiction, it seems to me that both (male) authors were trying to tell little girls that their place was at home, close to all things domestic, and that going on those pesky adventures will only end in tears. It is little wonder to me that both stories were popularized in 1950’s America. 

On this feminist note, it is interesting to me that both protagonists were female. How would each story be affected if little Alice were Alex instead, or if Dorothy were Daniel? I don’t think that either plot would be greatly changed if either character were switched to her male counterpart. I think the difference here lies in the “how” of the story, rather than the “what”. 

Alice and Dorothy were allowed such vulnerability and tenderness only because of their gender, since these emotional traits are associated with girls. The stereotypical male adventurer is brash, strong and unafraid (at least outwardly). The characters would have been expected to act out their stories differently if they were boys. Here, we see a prime example of typified gender roles in literature, and the unnecessary limits placed on characters as a result of their gender.

Age is another factor that sets these characters apart, and in some ways, defines them. Alice is around age 7, and Dorothy is about 12. This could account for the difference in tone and plot complexity in each story. Alice’s plot is often seen as disjointed and haphazard, while Dorothy’s story is more traditional.

As a 7-year-old, one could expect that Alice’s story wouldn’t make much logical sense, but would consist of a fanciful world filled with fun, zany characters. We could also expect this from Dorothy, but with a bit more maturity, and the logic and emotional depth of an older child. 

As a fun experiment, I made my own family rewatch the films, and asked which story they liked better. Coincidentally, it was the younger ones (myself included) who prefer Alice in Wonderland, and the older generation who most enjoyed The Wizard of Oz, for the reasons I mentioned previously. Only those who remain children at heart can truly appreciate the magic of Alice in Wonderland. For those who need a more traditional story, The Wizard of Oz is a great choice.

Another reason for the difference in tone could be each story’s country of origin. The Wizard of Oz is a distinctly American tale, whereas Alice hails from Victorian England. Dorothy is a classic midwestern farm girl, who soon realizes that she’s not in Kansas anymore. Alice, on the other hand, has to fight the omnipotent monarchy to return home, a very English concept.

The Use of Color Theory in Storytelling

Despite their differences, both films share one artistic attribute in common. They both feature a vibrant color scheme that has tantalized audiences, both old and young, for decades.

A recent obsession with Breaking Bad has turned my mind to color theory, and its use in visual storytelling. Both Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz make excellent use of colors, which tell even more of each story symbolically, between the lines. Alice begins with a theme of white. She lays in a field of white flowers, and is disturbed by a jittery white rabbit, perpetually late. Historically, white is understood to signify innocence, and this seems to be true for Alice. The white rabbit’s preoccupation with time could suggest that the clock is always ticking on Alice’s childhood, and it’s time for her to grow up, whether or not she’s ready.

Animated image, or GIF of Alice laying down in a field of daisies,  while butterflies circle above her head.

In Wonderland, she encounters a wide array of new colors throughout her journey, the most formidable of which is red, which she meets last. The Queen of Hearts, Alice’s adversary and the story’s villain, takes on red as her theme color, symbolizing the opposite of girlhood and innocence, or the loss of it.

In fact, Alice first draws the ire of the Queen by failing to paint one of her white roses red (not pink, not green, not aquamarine). This, to me, is a symbol of vulnerability peeking out through a veneer of false maturity, or a child not quite ready to grow up. 

The Wizard of Oz also uses its own rich color theory, but toward a different end. Many scholars have compared Dorothy’s story to a cautionary tale on capitalism. Think about it. A very lavish, very green city was the story’s destination. Add in a yellow (or gold-ish) brick road. And fun fact: in Baum’s original book, Dorothy’s slippers were silver, not ruby red. So, a path of silver and gold leads to wealth and prosperity?

The symbolism here is almost too on-the-nose. But it is not one-dimensional. We also see the ugly side of capitalism, as another important character is represented by green. The Wicked Witch of the West, the story’s villain, symbolizes the greed and selfishness associated with wealth, as her only concern is stealing Dorothy’s (silver/ruby) slippers. And, well, she is the color of money.

Image of Dorothy Gale, the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man walking down the yellow brick road, towards the Royal Palace of Oz, with The Emerald Throne Room, or Royal Chamber.

Songs of Synesthesia in Oz and Wonderland

Even the film’s theme song, Judy Garland’s famous “Over the Rainbow”, is color based. Alice, too, sings a color themed song of her own.

In the Golden Afternoon”, the song she sings with a choir of brightly-colored flowers, again references youth and its fleeting nature. Gold represents change. The golden hour, sunrise or sunset, bids farewell to one day and welcomes in another. (Think Ponyboy, here). It is a time of change, growth and evolution, of maturing and growing up. Which, like the song, can sometimes be melancholy.

Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz are two stories that can never be imitated or replaced. Alice and Dorothy have stood the test of time as two of the most endearing and loveable fictional characters of all time. And when we watch either of these films again for the 100th time, we can’t help but remember what it’s like to be a child on an adventure.

Meet The Author

Marissa Armstrong is a Los Angeles native and currently a student at Arizona State University, where she majors in Film and English. Her brand of dark comedy stems from an appreciation of both the light and the dark in humanity. It is her purpose to use her storytelling wiles to celebrate all things tragically hilarious. Or hilariously tragic.

The Top Alternate Versions of Alice In Wonderland You Should Read To Be A True Fan

Alice in Wonderland has ever remained a staple in the young adult fiction landscape, and I’m not just talking about the original. Since Lewis Carrol first took readers down the rabbit hole in 1865, authors have continually attempted their own spin on the storied Wonderland, whether they be dark, comedic, or even more fantastical versions. 

But why? Why do young adult authors and filmmakers alike return always to the world of Wonderland? What is it about Alice that stands the test of time? Maybe that’s it exactly: time. Time marches on, with or without our consent. Like Alice is always thrust from Wonderland at the end of her stories, so are we thrust from childhood, ready or not. Innocence is a most rare virtue because it can’t be bottled up and preserved. Our speeding world aches for it and there is so little to be found.

Enter, Alice. A girl frozen in time, perpetually lost, confused and in desperate need of guidance. Isn’t this how we all really feel inside, though we try to appear otherwise? Alice’s encounters with riddling insects and smiling felines represent our own interactions with the unpredictable, unreliable world around us. How many of us have learned the hard way that when two squabbling idiots give you conflicting directions, you don’t listen to either one? And what is our reaction when we listen to a mysterious little bottle that says, “Drink Me”? The same as Alice: it seemed like a promising idea at the time.

We love Alice because we are Alice. She validates the parts of us that ever remain frightened children trying to find our way home. 

Which is why we never stop telling her story. In just the last two decades alone, we can see a plethora of Alice in Wonderland retellings in the young adult genre. And there are always more on the horizon (hint, hint). Let us explore 5 of the best modern retellings out there and discuss exactly what makes them unforgettable.

5.) Heartless, Marissa Meyer

First, we have an instantly recognizable name (although, I am biased on this front). Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles saga, a scientific retelling of various classic fairy tales including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White, also authored a standalone novel titled Heartless, a humanizing backstory to the Queen of Hearts, tyrant of Wonderland.

Heartless is a perfect example of the deliciously romantic and darkly twisted retelling at which Meyer excels. This 2016 novel is perfect for lovers of a villain-turned-hero, and a classic forbidden love story. Catherine, our one-day ruler of all Wonderland, is now only a potential suitor for the King of Hearts, even though her own heart belongs to another. Jest, the loveable and mysterious court jester, draws her away from all she was destined to be, and into a story of true love. This star-crossed tale will remind readers that before she was Alice’s adversary, the Queen of Hearts was just a girl fighting to live life, and find love, on her own terms.

4.) Curiouser and Curiouser, Melanie Karsak

Attention lovers of all things steampunk! New York Times best-selling author Melanie Karsak’s Curiouser and Curiouser sets Alice’s story in a dark, gadget-filled 19th century London. This exciting 2017 read takes us on a mad dash to save the Hatter from London’s criminal underworld, as Alice works together with Caterpillar, the man she once loved… and now only wants to avoid. This story is a perfect joining of the old and the new, chock full of references to Lewis Carrol’s original tale “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland”, while blending modern elements with its steampunk aesthetic. Alice has never seen a more modern revival.

If you loved Curiouser and Curiouser, and you’re dying for more, or if you need extra incentive to start, there is more to the saga. Curiouser and Curiouser is only part one in a four-book series of steampunk fairy tale retellings by Karsak. The series follows the stories of the Snow Queen in Ice and Embers, Isabelle Hawking (or Belle) in Beauty and Beastly, and Rapunzel in Golden Braids and Dragon Blades. Check out this series for more edgy, steampunk classics!

3.) The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor

Speaking of edgy, we can’t list great Alice in Wonderland retellings without talking about The Looking Glass Wars, our very own Frank Beddor’s twisty 2004 trilogy. Lewis Carrol has it wrong, and only we know the truth. The classic story is but a mangled jigsaw of names and places plucked from Alyss’ shaky memory. The real story is that of a stolen throne, a diabolical queen, and our heroine’s rise to power.

Good and evil are at war for the heart of Wonderland, and Alyss is caught in the middle when her evil Aunt Redd overthrows the suited hierarchy to assume power. The young princess, Alyss, is forced to escape to the “real world” with Hatter Madigan, where her memories of Wonderland fail her. Years later, her friends find a way to call her back. She is all grown up now, and Wonderland needs her more than ever. 

This action-packed adventure is not for the faint of heart, nor for the weekend reader. Alyss and her merry band of righteous rogues will draw you in from the beginning, and setting down this series will be nearly impossible. For those long-time fans of the trilogy, Frank Beddor has more recently continued his saga with a spinoff series titled Hatter M., and is ever expanding his Wonderland universe, potentially moving his story to the big screen!

2.) The Wonderland Court Series, Ashley McLeo

If you’re a fan of this page-turning, battle-like feel, you’ll love Ashley McLeo’s 2020 duology, The Wonderland Court. Beginning in Alice the Dagger, our heroine is a spurned princess and an unlikely, but deadly, assassin. As far as she knows, she was born to be a killer, but when a certain white rabbit calls Alice to the Wonderland Court of Faerie, she learns that she is the true and rightful heir to the throne, and the reigning queen is a usurper and a murderer.

Working with the beloved Henri Hatter, a rebel leader who threatens to steal Alice’s heart with his bard-like charms, to assassinate the Red Queen and assume the throne will be the hardest job Alice the Dagger has ever pulled. Find out how this story ends in McLeo’s sequel, Alice the Torch, complete with heartbreaking family ties and a reluctant love triangle. This time, Alice is called on to fight the Wonderland powers-that-be for more than just herself, but for those she loves. 

(If Ashley were to drop in on our All Things Alice podcast to talk with us about her books, maybe we can convince her to add a third installment to the series!)

1.) Blade So Black, L.L. McKinney

Our final exploration into young adult Alice retellings comes with L. L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black, the first book of three in The Nightmare-Verse saga. Alice is a typical teenager living in modern-day Atlanta, Georgia. Her world is rather unremarkable, consisting of school… and not much else. Until she falls asleep. In this version, Wonderland is a place that exists somewhere in the realm between asleep and awake, and only Alice knows how to get there. On this particular night, Alice must dive deep into Wonderland’s underworld to save her mentor from a mysterious enemy, without getting her own head chopped off in the process.

The series’ debut in 2018 was met with widespread and enthusiastic praise. Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Hate U Give, told readers that A Blade So Black was “the fantasy book [she’s] been waiting for [her] whole life. Alice is Black Girl Magic personified.” This read will appeal to the adventure-hungry teenage girl in all of us. 

The thrilling conclusion to this trilogy is set to be released on September 19, 2023. We’d love to have L. L. McKinney visit us at All Things Alice to promote her upcoming release!

We have only begun to skim the surface of the many young adult Alice retellings out there today; this list is only a fraction. With a world so rich in lore and quirky characters, you can’t help but wonder, what if there was always more to the story? Readers have asked, and these authors have answered, returning us to this wonderful land of nonsense where we can remember what it’s like to be young, lost, and curious.

Meet The Author

Marissa Armstrong is a Los Angeles native and currently a student at Arizona State University, where she majors in Film and English. Her brand of dark comedy stems from an appreciation of both the light and the dark in humanity. It is her purpose to use her storytelling wiles to celebrate all things tragically hilarious. Or hilariously tragic.