A Reading List for Pride Month

Pride Month (also known as LGBT Pride Month) is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn staged an uprising to protest the police harassment and persecution to which LGBT Americans were commonly subjected. This began of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBT Americans.

The American Library Association has also named June GLBT Book Month, celebrating the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Whether you are a part of the LGBT community or not, finding your self in one of these books or going outside your comfort zone, these books about the LGBT experience can help to foster a greater understanding of the diverse world we live in.

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932Lovers at the Chameleon Club by Francine Prose  by  Francine Prose. At the Chameleon Club in Paris, Lou Villars, a star athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among its patrons, and as time passes, she experiences a transformation that warps her earnest desire for love and approval into something dangerous.

When Katie met Cassidy When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perriby Camille Perri. A romantic comedy about gender and sexuality follows the experiences of a traditionally minded Midwesterner who, in the aftermath of an ended engagement, finds herself in a transformative relationship with a self-assured New York businesswoman.

MiddlesexMiddlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides by Jeffrey Eugenides. In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls’ school in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking strawberry blond classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them – along with Callie’s failure to develop – leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The Danish Girl  The Danish Girl by David Ebershoffby David Ebershoff. Set in 1920s Copenhagen, this tender tale of love and marriage in the midst of fundamental crisis introduces a man who discovers he’s a woman and the woman who will do anything for him.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor. A thirteen-year-old girl on the run with her mother from her father revisits her mother’s former foster care homes to repay old debts and keep promises, learning astonishing truths along the way, in a novel that strikes at the heart of a mother-child bond and the exploration of gender identity.

If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson  by John Green & David Levithan. When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.

Prudence by David Treuer. A haunting and unforgettable novel about love, loss, race, and desire in World War II–era America, about the secrets we choose to keep, the ones we can’t help but tell, and who—and how—we’re allowed to love.

Becoming Nicole : the Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt. The true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.

Believe Me : a Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard, with Laura Zigman. Writing with the same candor and insight evident in his comedy, Eddie Izzard reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running and philanthropy.

 

The 10 Most Romantic Movies EVER!

A bold claim, I know. But if you’re in the mood for love, these  movies are guaranteed to make your heart go pitty-pat. The best part is, you can check them out from the library and watch them at home with your own true love, snuggled up in front of the TV, (maybe throw a glass of wine in there – romance!). I stand by my ranking of these movies as the most romantic, but I’m willing to concede that romance is in the eyes of the beholder – share your favorites in the comments!

screenshots from Casablanca, Brokeback Mountain, and Say AnythingCasablanca (1942). Former lovers Rick and Ilsa are unexpectedly reunited in north Africa during WWII.  The old feelings are still there, though Ilsa is now married to the gallant resistance hero Victor. Lots of yearning, lots of  smoldering looks and “will they or won’t they get back together?” moments.  A romantic classic for good reason.

Brokeback Mountain (2005). This film has a lot of the same elements that make Casablanca great, except it’s two cowboys in the 60’s. Stay with me here: Ennis and Jack are helplessly drawn to one another and remain so over decades of clandestine meetups. Lots of yearning, lots of smoldering looks, lots of and “will they or won’t they get back together?” moments.  It’s an emotional roller coaster, and the last scenes of this movie completely gut me.

Say Anything (1989). He’s a slacker, she’s a brain. She’s way out of his league, but they fall in love anyway. And there’s Lloyd’s big gesture with the boombox to declare his undying love to Diane, despite the odds against them, (Peter Gabriel likely made a mint off of that song). Teenagers-in-love perfection, written and directed by Cameron Crowe.

screenshots from When Harry Met Sally, Wall-E, and Silver Linings PlaybookWhen Harry Met Sally (1989).  This movie was written by Nora Ephron, and stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, so you know it’s not one of those angsty romantic dramas, it’s a witty romantic comedy. This friends-to-lovers romance navigates the many bumps in the road to love hilariously, and is a real feel-good movie.

WALL-E (2008). Yes, it’s an animated movie about a trash-collecting robot, set hundreds of years in the future, but Pixar has totally made an epic romance here. WALL-E is all alone collecting trash on the now-deserted Earth when another robot (“EVE”) crash lands nearby. So delighted to see another being of any kind, WALL-E “courts” her enthusiastically. Things go very wrong before they right themselves, and for a story about robots, it has a lot of heart.

Silver Linings Playbook  (2012).  A funny and touching look at romance through the eyes of two pretty mentally unstable people. Love has broken both of them, and love will eventually put them back together, but what a crazy ride it is from point A to point B. Five star performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (both pretty easy on the eyes –  just saying) seal the deal on this one, and the dance scenes are the icing on the cake.

The Way We Were (1973). Meeeemoriesss … light the corners of my miiiiind. Sorry, I got distracted there. Speaking of easy on the eyes, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford screenshots from The Way We Were, Ghost, and An Affair to Rememberare looking pretty fetching in this one. A tale of opposites attracting, but will the friction pull them together of push them apart? Katie and Hubbell try to make it work, but it all turns to misty water-colored memories by the end…

Ghost (1998). No one knew pottery was sexy before this movie. But boy howdy, it is! Hot young wife Molly is mourning the loss of her hot young husband Sam, who was killed in a mugging. Demi Moore‘s tears should get separate billing, they’re on screen so much, but what could be a real downer of a movie is instead a sweet story of love and finding a way to move on. Whoopi Goldberg provides some welcome comic relief as the medium who helps Sam communicate with Molly from beyond.

An Affair to Remember (1957). Playboy Cary Grant meets nice girl Deborah Kerr on a transatlantic crossing. They are both engaged to others, but hopelessly drawn to one another. And then, well, it’s an affair to remember! At the end of the cruise, they agree to go back to their regular lives, and meet in six months at the Empire State Building if they truly can’t forget each other. The ending is totally tissue-worthy.

screenshots from animated and live action versions of Beauty and the BeastBeauty and the Beast (1991) and Beauty and the Beast (2017). Whether it’s the original animated film or the newer live action version, this love story is a tale as old as time. And a musical! She’s bookish, he’s brutish, yet somehow they connect. True love breaks an evil curse, and they live happily ever after. And ladies, any man that gives you a library is a keeper!

The Best Audiobooks of 2017 (a subjective list)

The editors of AudioFile Magazine have released their selections for Best Audiobooks of 2017. AudioFile is a publication that reviews and recommends audiobooks, taking into account all the things that make an audiobook enjoyable: a great story, of course, but also the skillful pacing, structure, and narration that make them worth listening to.  (Full disclosure: I am a reviewer for AudioFile, mainly for romance books, and I have received free audiobooks from them to provide honest reviews). I have perused the dozens of audiobooks selected as “best”, and winnowed them down to three favorites in six categories, click on the titles to read more about each one. Consider this a jumping off point, audiophiles!

GENERAL FICTION

  • Beartown by Frederik Backman, read by Marin Ireland.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, read by Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Rutina Wesley, Chris Chalk.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, read by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris and George Saunders, with a full cast that includes Carrie Brownstein, Don Cheadle, Kat Dennings, Lena Dunham, Bill Hader, Miranda July, Mary Karr, Keegan-Michael Key, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Mike O’Brien, Susan Sarandon, Ben Stiller, Jeffrey Tambor, Jeff Tweedy, Bradley Whitford, Patrick Wilson, and Rainn Wilson.

MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

SCI-FI, FANTASY, HORROR

ROMANCE

YA FICTION

MEMOIR

Our staff’s favorite books of 2017

What was the best book you read in 2017? This is the question I posed to my fellow staff members at CPL. Interestingly, I got no duplicate answers! We have a wide variety of reading preferences among our staff, which means there’s something for everyone in this list. Maybe your next great read is below:

Our Library Director Ramona  picked the audiobook edition of  News of the World by Paulette Jiles, read by Grover Gardner. In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction.

Teen Librarian Kelley really liked Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. In this urban fantasy, Jenna, who died  too soon, works to regain the years that were lost to her. But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Bill is our Head of Adult Services, and he picked the Bruce Springsteen autobiography Born to Run as his favorite read of 2017. In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s half-time show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it, which is how this extraordinary autobiography began. Springsteen traces his life from his childhood in a Catholic New Jersey family and the musical experiences that prompted his career to the rise of the E Street Band and the stories behind some of his most famous songs.

Children’s Librarian Lauren went with The Sun is Also a Star, a young adult novel by Nicola Yoon.  In this story Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American on his way to a prestigious college admissions interview, cross paths in New York. They unexpectedly fall in love during an intense day in the city.

 

More books our staff loved last year:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Illusion Town by Jayne Castle,  The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead, Border Child by Michael Stone, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman, Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Three Pen Names, One Romance Author

Did you know Jayne Ann Krentz , the author of numerous of New York Times bestsellers, uses three different pen names?

As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic-suspense.

When All the Girls Have Gone
When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames–literally.

She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much
In 1930’s Hollywood, rookie reporter Irene Glasson (who found her previous employer murdered) discovers the body of an actress at the bottom of a California hotel pool. She investigates and finds herself drawn to Oliver Ward, a former magician. As the mystery deepens and more women die by drowning, Irene struggles to keep her own past a secret while she and Oliver hunt for the killer.

Jayne Castle (her birth name) is reserved for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense.

Illusion Town
Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coopersmith, her new husband. All either of them can remember is that they were on the run. The coolly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity and interest. And even her dust bunny likes him! Set on the planet of Harmony in the future.

“I am often asked why I use a variety of pen names,” Krentz says.  “The answer is that this way readers always know which of my three worlds they will be entering when they pick up one of my books.”

Krentz’s three worlds often intermingle. Her Arcane Society series, books about men and women with paranormal power, spans all three of her worlds. Second Sight, written under the Amanda Quick pen name,  takes place in Victorian England at a time when the very old, very secret Arcane Society is about to run head-first into the 20th century. Flash forward to Jayne Ann Krentz’s White Lies, a tale of the Arcane Society in the 21st century. And then jump all the way to Jayne Castle’s Midnight Crystal, an Arcane society novel that takes place on the planet Harmony in the future. Characters from the novels that take place in the past are often referenced in the modern-day stories and the futuristic tales.

Not all her novels involve the paranormal. Many of her contemporary romance novels are stories of suspense in which the main characters must unravel a mystery that usually involves tracking down a killer.  Secret Sisters, River Road and Trust No One are three recently published works that fall into this category.

 

The library owns many of Krentz’s titles. if you enjoy romance and love romantic suspense and the paranormal, then any of Krentz’s three worlds will delight you.