Hello Book Friends!
June marks not only Pride month here at OTB, but also the launch of our two newest book clubs - the Bad Romance Book Club and True Story - A Nonfiction Book Club. To celebrate, we’re reading Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston for Bad Romance Book Club and The Stonewall Reader for True Story.
I’ve compiled some of my favorite LGBTQ lit below to celebrate Pride - come into the shop and pick them up!
Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness - Everyone should read this memoir of resilience and being proud of who you are. Janet does a wonderful job telling the story of her adolescence with grace and elegance. It is a deeply personal story, but she also contextualizes her experience growing up as a Black and Hawaiian transwoman of color very well, and frequently ties back to themes of sisterhood, oppression, and intersectionality. I couldn't put this book down.
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy - Nicole Dennis-Benn has an unparalleled ability to craft complex characters the reader both loves and hates in equal measure. I was deeply invested in the lives of Patsy and Tru as Dennis-Benn examines how the world has set these characters up to fail - simply because they are poor, queer, immigrant, Black, and dark-skinned. The book scrutinizes how these circumstances impact their personal relationships, and how they continue to seek freedom on their own terms.
Alexander Chee’s How To Write An Autobiographical Novel - These essays are masterfully crafted and touch beautifully on family, identity, sexuality, and living as a writer. I’m already desperate to reread it. “On Peter” made me cry. “The Guardians” made me cry. I appreciate Chee so much for sharing his stories about being an activist during the AIDS epidemic and how that shaped his experience as a young gay man. These stories need to be remembered.
Sarah McBride’s Tomorrow Will be Different - Sarah McBride’s memoir is so many wonderful things in one book - a story of bravely coming to terms with one’s identity, a fast-paced recounting of her work passing marriage equality and anti-trans discrimination laws in Delaware, a heartbreaking love story, a manifesto of hope, a love letter to the Obama era, and (hopefully someday) a campaign book! I also appreciated how often she checks her own privilege (“I knew more sitting US Senators than I knew trans people”). I was familiar with Sarah’s story of being widowed just weeks after her 24th birthday, and yet I still sobbed like a baby. This book was exactly what I needed - tears and hope in equal measure.
Gabby Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath - Gabby Rivera’s young adult novel follows Puerto Rican New Yorker Juliet through her journey coming out and moving across the country to work for a famous feminist in Portland. This book celebrates the value of self-care, includes some fantastic breathing exercises, and challenges you to make your feminism intersectional. Juliet’s voice is authentic, and you’ll fall in love with her while you learn how to develop your own identity and core values even in the midst of competing expectations from your friends, family, and society.
NEPANTLA: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color edited by Christopher Soto- this collection is full of gorgeous, necessary poems about joy, resilience, love, struggle and more. It includes poets like June Jordan, Jericho Brown, Audre Lorde, Tommy Pico, Ocean Vuong, and the most incredible poem by Madison Johnson about the TV show Chopped. This collection is stunning and I'm so grateful I can return to it whenever I want.
Lastly, a few new releases that are on My TBR for this year’s Pride month…
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
In At the Deep End by Kate Davies - described as a “lesbian Bridget Jones”, this book sounds perfect for June days at the pool
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
All these books and more are available this month and every month at Old Town Books, so make your way down and pick one up!
Happy Pride, and hope to see you in the shop soon!