Panel Recap: Refill Your Hearts: Fandom Librarians Recommend Stories to Get You Through the Bad Times
Not going to lie, when I first read the description for Refill Your Hearts: Fandom Librarians Recommend Stories to Get You Through the Bad Times, I was a little skeptical. The panel was meant to be a group of fannish librarians providing personalized reading and viewing recommendations for the audience. According to the description, they would focus on uplifting fanfiction, online and self-published fiction, webcomics, tv shows, movies, and other media created by and centered on women; queer, trans-, and nonbinary people; people of color; neurodiverse people; and other marginalized groups. As someone who has read fanfiction for over sixteen years, I was specifically doubtful that the panelists would have read enough fanfiction in enough fandoms to make useful recommendations to the audience. I did love the idea that they might have a couple story suggestions that would fit my preferences, though, and I wanted to see how the panel would play out, so I gave it a try.
I’m so glad I did.
Refill Your Hearts began with each attendee receiving a piece of paper with spaces to write their name and/or twitter handle and some examples of stories, fanfics, or media that they found satisfying. The paper also had a bunch of story characteristics that attendees could circle to include in their recommendations or cross out to avoid. For mine, I circled fast-paced, awesome friendships, romance, superheroes, and humor, and I crossed out literary, high fantasy, and epic. I also wanted to see what the librarians could come up with when given two very different examples of stories that I enjoy, so I chose Megan Whalen Turner’s young adult fantasy series The Queen’s Thief, which you should absolutely read if you love character development and plot twists, and spitandvinegar’s post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier Steve/Bucky fanfic Ain’t No Grave (Can Keep My Body Down), which you should absolutely read if you love character development and emotional rollercoasters that end well. This fic is rated Mature, though, so read at your discretion.
As those of us in the audience were filling out our sheets, the panelists introduced themselves as children’s librarian Claire Scott, librarian Kate Sellers, young-adult librarian Sunny Kim, and fanfiction enthusiast Piper Lewis. Claire explained that giving live recommendations is one of librarians’ favorite things to do, so they turned the concept into a panel. Once we handed in our papers, she explained, the panelists would begin reading them and offering live recommendations. However, she added, because time was short and they wanted to both get to everyone and give audience members a chance to add some recommendations of their own, they would finish offering their recommendations on a Pinboard and on a twitter feed.
When audience members began turning in their forms, the panel came alive. I was shocked at just how many fanfiction recommendations the panelists gave—some I had already read and adored, and many I scribbled down to go back and check out later, along with their recommendations for webcomics, books, authors, and shows. The excitement in the room was palpable—people would shout or cheer in agreement with recommendations they liked, and by the time the panelists opened the floor to audience recommendations, attendees were jumping out of their chairs to share stories, books, webcomics, and authors that they loved.
Although they didn’t get to my form during the panel, within a couple of weeks Claire had compiled a list for me. She wrote:
YAY ATTOLIA!! Also assuming explicit fic is ok b/c of the one you mention (which I also love).
Have you read Greater Seasons, a Kamet/Costic Attolia fic by jibrailis?
cancel all your reservations (no more hesitations) by notcaycepollard: a Captain America/MCU fic featuring Sam and Bucky undercover, as a couple, at a vineyard. Tropey goodness.
Maggie Fitzgerald and the Saltwater Drip by antistar_e (kaikamahine)
If you read [Harry Potter fanfiction]: Stately Homes of Wiltshire by waspabi
Definitely Becky Chambers if you haven’t read her yet.
I was surprised to find that I hadn’t read a single fic Claire had recommended. I started with cancel all your reservations (no more hesitations), which was an absolute delight, and I am working my way through the rest of the list. Refill Your Hearts did exactly what it said on the tin: it introduced the audience to new, uplifting reading material and gave us the opportunity to bond with our fellow geeks over our shared love of fandom.