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Lesbian Classics to Check Out for this Year’s LGBTQ Pride Month

31 May

June is LGBTQ Pride Month!  For this year I decided to celebrate with three classics of lesbian literature, each of which capture a moment in queer history.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

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Patricia Highsmith is probably best known for Strangers on a Train and other suspenseful thrillers, but her 1952 lesbian romance novel The Price of Salt (originally written under the pseudonym Claire Morgan) is considered a classic of the genre and is notable for having a much happier ending than many of the novels with LGBT characters had at the time.  It is set in this area, in both New York City and New Jersey.  It was later retitled Carol which was also the title given to the 2015 movie adaption staring Rooney Mara as the bored stage designer who falls for a suburban housewife portrayed by Cate Blanchett.  You can borrow an eBook or a streaming audio copy of the book from Hoopla. You can also borrow a Spanish language translation from BCCLS libraries.

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

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Image via Goodreads

Cozy Mystery lovers likely know Rita Mae Brown as the New York Times bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series which she “co-writes” with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown.  Rubyfruit Jungle is Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 novelization of her own coming of age story of as a lesbian writer and chronicles the journey of Molly from her childhood in small town Florida to New York City.  In 2015 Brown received the Golden Crown Lee Lynch Classic Book Award for Rubyfruit Jungle.  Created in 2004, Golden Crown recognizes and promotes lesbian literature.

DTWOF

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DTWOF or Dykes to Watch Out For was Alison Bechdel’s comic strips published between 1983 and 2008.  You can checkout compilations at BCCLS libraries.  The women portrayed are a diverse group and the cartoon manages to merge politics and the drama of their lives in an engaging and often funny way.  Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragic Comic, about her father’s death and her exploration of her own sexuality was adapted into a Tony Awarding winning Broadway Musical (you can borrow the cast recording on CD).

You can read about two of my favorite authors, Jeanette Winterson and Sarah Waters who both have written landmarks in lesbian literature in a previous Pride Month post.

Celebrate LGBTQ History at the Hoboken Public Library!

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Join us for our special Pride Month event on Thursday June 15 at 7 PM!  You can learn about Hidden Heroes of the Gay American Experience and how they made profound contributions to arts, history and culture.  John Catania and Charles Ignacio, producers of In the Life (America’s first and longest running LGBT national TV newsmagazine) take you on an entertaining and provocative journey into the past and explain how these trailblazers’ efforts continue to reverberate to the present and beyond.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

It Came from the Interwebz: Books that Started Out as Online Phenomena

10 May

Since we are a blog about books, and I love all things meta, I thought it would be fun for this blog post to look at print books that started their life on the internet that I’m going to suggest online that you go read in print (though you can enjoy some of them in digital format too if you don’t want to leave your computer).

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

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In Valente’s novel, Palimpsest, she had a character discuss a book they read as a child, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (at the time the book did not exist). Valente then began what would become Fairyland as a crowd-funded project and published the story online about a lonely young girl, whose father is off fighting and mother is busy working at a factory to help the war efforts, while she is lured to fairyland.  Although appropriate for middle graders, the story equally charms teens and adults with its wildly imaginative description of a fairy land which feels both fresh and modern and yet hearkens back to earlier fairy tales.  It reminded me of the magic and wit of the Oz books.  You will also want to check out others in the series including: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home.  You can borrow several of the books as digital audiobooks from Hoopla.  I had previously blogged about Valente’s fantastic adult novel Radiance in a previous post and dubbed it one of my favorite books of that year.

Welcome to Night Vale, by Fink Joseph

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If you are fans of podcasts you have probably at least heard of Night Vale which reached the top of the iTunes chart and well deserves its popularity.  In the small desert town of Night Vale odd things like floating cats and mysterious disappearances are recounted as ordinary daily events by the host of a local radio broadcast.  I love that podcasts like this one bring back the storytelling of radio dramas for a new age.  Just be forewarned the librarians in Night Vale aren’t the helpful, friendly staff you will find at HPL, but creatures to be feared.  Welcome to Night Vale expands on the events of the podcast.  You can also borrow Mostly Void, Partially Stars : Welcome to Night Vale episodes, Volume 1 and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2 which include material from the podcast as well as art, commentary, and a peek behind the scenes.  You can borrow eBook and digital audiobook copies from eLibraryNJ.

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, by Jen Yates

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The award winning blog Cake Wrecks started out when Jen Yates saw an unintentionally funny cake reading “Best Wishes Suzanne Under Neat that We Will Miss You.” She found other cakes that were misspelled (like my son’s fourth “birthay” cake), poorly (and therefore hilariously) iced, and just plain silly. Although the cakes are funny in and of themselves, it is Yates witty writings that brings back readers for more delicious helpings. Like the blog, the book includes pictures of cakes with her commentary (75% of which is not also featured on the blog). If you need to take a quick laugh break from holiday stress, checkout the sequel Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets “Festive.”   You can borrow Wreck the Halls as an eBook on eLibraryNJ.

Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them, by Jillian Venters

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Jillian Venters took her popular Gothic Charm School site and transformed it into a Miss Manners guide for those who want to be both darkly spooky and polite.  It includes such practical information as what to wear on a job interview and how to handle disapproving family members.  My husband and I attended the book launch potluck tea party in Green-Wood Cemetery when it came out back in 2009.  Although obviously the years have passed and some reference may not be as au courant, there is still some solid timeless advice in the book for the alternative set.

John Dies at the End, by David Wong

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A recommendation from my husband, David Wong’s comic horror novel, John Dies at the End, began life as a free web serial by Cracked writer/editor David Wong (aka Jason Pargin). My husband was a fan of the humor site Cracked (which arose from the ashes of its print counterpart) and introduced me to it around the time of my son’s birth, a period where being up for what seemed at times like 24 hours made a good laugh a necessity.  Think of the novel as what would happen if the raunchy, clueless characters of Clerks or Harold and Kumar were living in HP Lovecraft’s Innsmouth. A sequel This Book Is Full of Spiders, was published in 2012. John Dies at the End was adapted into a 2013 movie which you can borrow from Hoopla. Scheduled to be released in October will be What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror.

Want more?  You can also read several previous posts were I discussed books that were birthed from blogs including:
Voracious
based on Cara Nicoletti’s blog Yummy Books
Molly on the Range for fans of Molly Yeh’s blog My Name is Yeh
Adulting How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps based on Kelly Williams Brown’s blog, Adulting
Bon Appétempt based on Amelia Morris’s blog Bon Appétempt
Eating Wildly arose from Ava Chin’s Urban Forager blog for the New York Times
My Berlin Kitchen comes from Luisa Weiss’s blog, The Wednesday Chef
Plus you can read about fanfiction inspired books and DVDs to checkout in a previous post. 

Have other picks for books that made the transition from the internet to print?  Share them in the comments!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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