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LGBTQ+Pride! Newer Fiction and Nonfiction Titles

posted: , by Elizabeth
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teen Reads | Readers Writers

Our staff members share newer fiction and nonfiction ideas from authors who explore love, identity, family, bodies, history, magic, and more. You could also check out the announced 2018 Lambda Literary Award or Stonewall Book Award winners, including Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. 

Children’s Services Staff Picks: Picture Books 

Emily C’s Staff Pick 

Jessica Love’s Julián is a Mermaid is lushly illustrated story of a young boy and his abuela riding home from the swimming pool. Julián sees some mermaids on the subway and knows, on the spot, that he is a mermaid, too. So many of the stories out now about boys dressing in non-gender-conforming ways feature conflict, bullying, and shame — this one stands out as a having only acceptance (and mild annoyance at some defaced greenery). My children love this story of affirmation and pride, and they especially love the parade at the end with a dizzying number of sea creatures proudly marching together, reminiscent of Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. The story is especially sweet to read to my two-and-a-half-year-old son, who has recently discovered the joys of wearing dresses and some of the pushback from others that entails. 

Teen Services Staff Picks: Fiction 

Carrie’s Pick 

Rarely does a book surprise me, and even more rarely does the surprise cause me to feel relief, joy, and sadness simultaneously. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway is my pick for June not only because it is an expertly woven tale of love and loss that will be sure to touch your heart, but also because it portrays ever expanding families that embrace and support their children without question. 

Books that portray LGBTQ youth in the same light as their counterparts were like rainbow unicorns when I was growing up: fervently sought but never seen. Far From the Tree is a book that I would have coveted in my youth and that I will share with teens for years to come.  

Cindy’s Pick 

“Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”  

My choice is a little older title, from 2015, Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell.  It reads much like a fanfiction of the Harry Potter series, and is equally fun.  This love/hate romantic LGBTQ++ novel takes us from castles and magic to vampires and the Insidious Humdrum, the threat to the entire magical world in Simon Snow and Tyrannus Basilton “Baz” Grimm-Pitch live and breathe.   

You will not be able to put this book down, and if you do manage to, you will be compelled to think about it every waking moment until you come to the last wonderful pages.  

Kelley’s Picks 

The two most recent LGBTQ+ titles I’ve read and really enjoyed are People Like Us by Dana Mele and We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. People Like Us has everything I need in a book — boarding school, unreliable narrator, and tons of murder. It is not an issues book and was never classified as LGBTQ+; as my favorite YA blog stated in their review: “In People Like Us, Mele creates this magical world in which just about everyone is a little gay. This wasn’t a coming out story, or a story about teens who are bullied for being LGTBQ+, it was just a world in which bisexuality was totally normalized, and that was refreshing” (Forever Young Adult, April 2018). 

“I could say the night felt magical, but that would be embellishment.  

That would be romanticization. 

What it actually felt like was life.” -Nina LaCour 

 We Are Okay is a slim, heartbreaking novel about a young California woman’s lonely first year in college in Upstate New York. While the present tense chapters move the narration forward, the past tense chapters tell a story in reverse, revealing the reasons behind Marin’s self-chosen isolation on the East Coast. Spare but loaded with beautiful human detail, I would recommend this book to anyone who is heading off the college for the first time, anyone who’s been there, and anyone dealing with the aftermath of either first love or profound loss. Yes, LaCour accomplishes that much in 234 pages. 


Adult Services Staff Picks: Nonfiction, Film, and Fiction  

Raminta’s Pick 

Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation is a new nonfiction title that chronicles the Up Stairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans in 1973 and its aftermath. This devastating fire snuffed out the lives of 32 souls, the largest mass murder of gays in the United States until the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. Many of the victims were not even claimed by their families, and gay communities across the States, including Maine’s, raised funds for burial services.  

Tinderbox is getting fantastic reviews and the author, Robert W. Fieseler, is one of the Auditorium Speakers at this year’s American Library Association Annual Conference. I cannot wait to get my hands on this important work of gay history. 

For more nonfiction ideas from our adult collection, check out our library booklist LGBTQ+ Nonfiction.

Nate’s Pick 

Xavier Dolan’s third feature film, Laurence Anyways, focuses attentively on the relationship between two individuals, Fred and Laurence, as Laurence becomes open about her female gender identity and begins her transition. It’s an epic story that takes place over the course of a decade in 90’s Montreal. How Laurence’s transition is experienced and dealt with both individually and collectively with Fred, her girlfriend, provides the powerful, nuanced, and deeply-felt heart of this film. Dolan presents a view of the prejudices and injustices experienced by transgender people within a highly relatable story about the way challenges are handled and confronted between people in romantic relationships. Beyond the appeal of Fred and Laurence’s story, I would recommend this movie because of the setting. Montreal, especially in the summer, is a dream and I love the way the city is highlighted in many of Dolan’s longer takes. 

Elizabeth’s Picks 

Journalist and activist Darnell L. Moore shares his story in the new memoir No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America. As Moore observes in the introduction: “Black queer, transgender, and gender nonconforming people in America are bearers of narratives of struggle and triumph…our stories, like our lives, are complex, bountiful, profound, disappointing, hopeful, varied, and often disregarded. We have always been here…And we birth freedom, but many of us are still denied our rightful place in the master narratives of Black history and American life. Even in these progressive, Afro-futuristic-oriented times, our life stories and contributions are still refused. And that is why we must tell as many of our stories as we can. No Ashes in the Fire is mine.”  

Body Music by Julie Maroh is a recent graphic novel in our adult collection that explores the stories of lows and highs of love and passion through different characters and their relationships. With vivid, moving illustrations.  

One of many highlights of fantasy author JY Yang’s Tensorate series is the memorable new silkpunk world they’ve built for readers. In Ea, immense dragon-like naga are born in fields of low gravity, characters practice slackcraft (manipulation of a magical field called the Slack) and ride velociraptors, and as children and young adults they choose gender identities if, when, and as they wish.  In Yang’s first two novellas we follow the hardships and adventures of twins, Akeha and Mokoyo, who are born to a ruthless leader. While The Black Tides of Heaven builds a world and gives us characters to root for, The Red Threads of Fortune shades in the dimensions of that world and its characters, showing us what deep changes might come out of loss. I’m looking forward to the next volume in their series, The Descent of Monsters, out in July 2018.  

For more newer fiction ideas from our adult collection, check out the library booklist Recent Fiction: LGBTQ+ Pride.

Eileen M’s Pick 

I picked up the novel This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel not because of its plot, because I didn’t bother to see what it was about.  Nor did a friend suggest it.  No, the author’s name wasn’t familiar either.  Call me shallow; I picked it up because of the promotional quote on the cover: “It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think.”  I do all three of those things all the time, I thought.  This book is for me. 

And in I fell.  

The characters are appealing; I enjoyed time spent mired in their confusing lives. I loved their sprawling doubt and their heart-anchored goodness.  The story is told in the exact opposite of a vacuum; it is told in the midst of myriad competing reactions, viewpoints and contexts.  It is a story of many parts, just like life.  By the last pages of Frankel’s surprising story of transgender child Poppy and her loud, loving family, every character is still transitioning in their own way, works in progress all.  

In real life we can’t see from every direction, so maybe fiction is the best vehicle for whatever truth is out there, our best chance to understand and to be understood.  Perhaps it is unfair to wonder, as I often do, if a novel—by definition fiction— has its facts straight.  Does this story ring true?  Can I trust how it makes me feel?  Is it honest?  Can it be counted on?  

Laurie Frankel’s novel felt trustworthy even before I read the Author’s Note: 

“It’s true that my child used to be a little boy and is now a little girl.  But this isn’t her story; I can only tell my own story and those of the people I made up.” 

Frankel closes her Note with two lines that speak achingly of how things are and how they could be:  “I know this book will be controversial, but honestly?  I keep forgetting why.” 

Why, indeed? 


 

As always, thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more reading (or watching or listening) ideas, contact our trusty library staff at readersadvisory@portlandpubliclibrary.org.


A Guide to Resources for Maine Entrepreneurs

posted: , by Williams Bandoma
tags: Recommended Reads | Adults | Business | Government

         

A Guide to Resources for Maine Entrepreneurs

Greetings. This guide is a starting point for entrepreneurs seeking resources in the state of Maine. It is also designed to help individuals and organizations that support and guide entrepreneurs and startups and are looking for ways to match resources with those in need. The following categories of resources are included:

  • Training, Technical Assistance & Mentoring
  • Financing & Capital
  • Incubators & Workspaces
  • Libraries
  • Networking & Advocacy
  • State & Regional Economic Development
  • Recurring Conferences & Events in Maine

The Maine Small Business Guide, published by the Small Business Administration (SBA), is another resource of value to entrepreneurs and startups. It includes resources for all small businesses, success stories and how-to’s along with additional industry-specific resources.

For the Guide

Maine Small Business Resources Directory

 

resources.


The 1968 Project – May

posted: , by Raminta Moore
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture

The 1968 Project aims to highlight some of the historic events of the year. From protests and famous battles to chart-topping popular hits and box office smashing film, 1968 was a huge historical year with reverberations that we still feel today. The 1968 Project looks to grab snippets of these events on a monthly basis and list them here with links for further exploration.

May of 1968 was extremely tumultuous in France. Students in Paris were bringing the country to the brink of revolution and the country witnessed some of the largest general strikes in its history. Information on some of the daily events will be highlighted below. For a quick overview, click here.

May 2nd
Staff Sergeant Roy Benevidez of the U.S. Army’s 5th Special Forces Group was wounded four different times whilst saving the lives of 8 men under heavy gunfire. Benevidez was awarded the medal of honor in 1981.

May 3rd
A group of 500 students from the Sorbonne in Paris protested against the closure of the University of Paris at Nanterre. As police arrived to disperse the students, the first riots of May began.

May 9th
Harold Gray, the creator of the comic strip, Little Orphan Annie passes from cancer.

Mercedes de Acosta, poet, novelist, playwright and former lover of Greta Garbo, passes at the age of 75.

May 10th
The French government orders the state run television station, ORTF to stop televising the student protests. Later that evening, students begin erecting barricades in the Latin Quarter of Paris to keep the police out.

May 11th
The Paris police storm the Latin Quarter to disperse the students. It was this event, that brought the news of the civil unrest to the rest of the world.

May 12th
On this day, pianist Reginald Kenneth Dwight decides to co opt the names of his Bluesology bandmates, saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry.

Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads the National Welfare Rights Organization’s Mother’s Day mobilization. This mobilization leads to protests and sit ins all across the country.

May 15th
The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster is released.

May 17th
A group of anti-war protesters enter the selective services offices of Catonsville, Maryland, steal the draft records and destroy them with napalm. This group is later dubbed, the Catonsville Nine.

May 18th
The first Miami Pop Festival is held at horse racing grounds in Hallandale, Florida. Headliners included The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Blue Cheer.

May 19th
Nigerian troops capture Port Harcourt and surround Biafra. This blockade leads to severe famine in the country.

May 21st
Two million workers walk off their jobs in France, this brought the number of striking workers to close to 8 million. On this day in France, banks closed fearing cash runs and the French stock exchange in Paris does not open. President Charles De Gaulle uses his powers to pardon student protesters.

Members of the Poor People’s Campaign came to Washington, DC and built a camp, named Resurrection City, on 15 acres of the National Mall.

Henry Zbyszynski – Flickr: Resurrection City Washington D.C. 1968

May 23rd
Henry Dumas, an African American poet from Harlem, is shot three times by a New York City Transit officer, killing him instantly. Dumas was only 33 at the time.

May 25th
Negotiations begin between the Prime Minister Georges Pompidou’s government, trade unions and students.

May 27th
The results of the above negotiations become the Grenelle agreements. These agreements would lead to the end of the massive strikes, a 35% increase in minimum wage and an overall 10% wage increase.

May 28th
The Detective, starring Frank Sinatra, is released.

Frank Sinatra and Horace McMahon, The Detective

May 29th
President De Gaulle postpones a meeting with the Council of Ministers and removes all of his personal papers from his office, a sign that a new government could be formed soon.

May 30th
Prime Minister Pompidou suggests that President De Gaulle dissolve the National Assembly, call a new election, and then resign. De Gaulle refuses to resign, but calls for elections on June 23rd. All parties agreed to the election.

 

Be sure to come back at the end of next month for events from June 1968!

April 1968
March 1968
January & February 1968

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