Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: stuff to do Page 1 of 2

Free Photography Workshops Coming to a Library Near You

Welp, 2020 is finally over. New year, new me, fresh slate, blank page, all that. We thought we’d celebrate the beginning of a brand new year by inviting you along to Click Happy Live, a series of free photography workshops in our libraries, run by master photographer Mandi Lynn, winner of NZ Creative Photographer of the Year 2017. Here’re all the deets you need to know:

Where and when?

Te Awe Library, Tuesday 19 January 2021, 6 – 8pm
Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library, Saturday 30 January 2021, 10am – 3pm
Johnsonville Library, Sunday 11 April 2021, 10am – 3pm

What even is it?

Free photography workshops for young creatives aged 10-22 with an award-winning photographer! These workshops are especially for those who believe that photography and the creative arts can be used as a tool to make themselves — and the world — better. You’ll learn practical photography skills while taking part in creative challenges that will help you to build your personal style as a photographer or as a creative activist. You’ll also get a chance to win a scholarship to participate in a one-term masterclass and one term of professional mentorship with master photographer Mandi Lynn.

So how do I do the thing?

What are you waiting for? To find out more, and to register to take part, just click right on here. We can’t wait to see you there!

Photo of a smiling young man holding a DSLR camera

You could be as cool and chill as — if not cooler and chiller than — this guy! Photo courtesy of clickhappy.org.

What’s your Marae?

Kia ora e hoa!

Recently I have been reading the library’s copy of Marae: te tatau pounamu, giving an insight into Māori custom, and how rangitahi and kauheke come together in these special places.

I am lucky to call two marae to be important places for me. The first is Te Herenga Waka, at Victoria University Wellington.

I recently was welcomed there as being a student, and as part of my library work. It holds a poupou of my Iwi’s shared tipuna Kahungunu, a  mighty chief. The marae is a very welcoming space for all students, and its name means ‘The Hitching-post of Waka’, a fitting testament to the many tribes coming together at the university.

The image is of the marae of Victoria University Wellington, called Te Herenga Waka

Te Herenga Waka, the marae of Victoria University Wellington

The second marae is now called Takitimu. Its original name was Te Wai-hirere after the small mountain where Māui’s canoe, Tama-Rereti, rested when snagging the North Island with his fishing hook, on the East Coast Hawke’s Bay area.

Image of Takitimu marae, named after the spot where Māui grounded his waka

The Takitimu marae, at Wairoa, was originally named after the spot where Māui grounded his waka.

Takitimu marae entrance, looking from the roadside

Takitimu marae entrance, looking from the roadside

Image of Patrick John Cosgrove, aged about 34, he is my tipuna.

Patrick John Cosgrove, my tipuna (ancestor).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the place where my tipuna, Patrick John Cosgrove was a prominent young Māori, in Wairoa during the late 1800s. He was Christian, and the relationship between local Māori and the church helped construction of the marae due to the assistance of Māori during the Easter festival the year before. It has many ancestral panels and is highly decorated. It is a place of mana for many. My tipuna also married a chieftain’s granddaughter, the niece of the first Native minister Sir James Carroll.

The whakatara, or challenge, to you is to look into your local marae and tell us about them! They can be your marae, or the ones in your area that you want to get to know.

Kia kaha in your journey through te ao Māori! 🙂

Information Literacy and You: Part 3

Using trusted sites and books

The trick for information literacy skills from Gandalf is to keep reading, reading and reading.

And the follow-up skill for reading, is searching, searching and searching. Knowing how to do an information search is critical for accessing and disseminating the appropriate information. Having information needs, i.e. finding out who is in that music video you’re covering for a Music studies report or finding that one massive reference to use in your History essay can make the difference in your exams and assessments. It also helps you discover awesome things when you’re surfing the net or getting books out of the library. There are various reference collections for important areas of knowledge such as the Māori reference and loan collection, or the standard hard-copy dictionary or thesaurus, maps and atlases collection. Not all library’s have extensive access. but they are spread out over the branch’s for you to use.

the follow-up skill for reading, is searching, searching and searching

Doing Google searches for instance in a reference-style, is a great starting way of looking for sources and information. Using the Library catalogue is another search engine function where you can group together keywords, such as relevant subjects or authors you want to explore about. These searches will bring up a list of results, and then with the short blurbs displayed will give you an idea as to the relevancy of the material being resulted. The same principle is used to sort out Google search results and other search engines, such as those within the history archive Recollect from the library website.

The library has several services that you can use to gain reliable information, all with your library card! Just log into the eLibrary section of the Wellington City Library website and scroll down to More Resources, where you will find the section entitled Rauemi ā-ipurangi (the My Gateway online resources https://wcl.govt.nz/mygateway/).

Image of the database frontpage, showcasing the various subjects that databases are to be found within.

The library’s many databases collection. Find the subjects you are interested in today!

There is also available the WCL Recollect platform (https://wellington.recollect.co.nz/), which helps you history buffs access a treasure trove of information, curated by the Library’s resident historian Gábor Tóth. Remember to apply your Info Literacy skills to the search results to further expand your knowledge, also remember if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. If it’s not relevant, then there’s no need to read it.

Image of the library's historical research database, Recollect.

Screenshot of the Recollect service offered by the library. Use this for historical research.

if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t

Government-listed websites are also important sources of information, and can contain really useful information, such as on te taiao – the environment. Using places like DOC to find your information, it can make a difference to your understanding and the reports that you write. It also helps you to be a better Aotearoan.

Image of the Department of Conservation website, front page

Screenshot of the official Department of Conservation website.

So, now you have the skills to analyse greater amounts of knowledge specifically, and to withstand misinformation in its many guises. Don’t be fooled by the media and unlimited access to ‘information’, always read beyond the page and think critically about what is being said.

Tūhono: Ideas to Kick-Start Your Poetical Musings

We’re now half-way through the month of November, which means we’re also half-way through the submission period for Tūhono, our new poetry journal for kids and teens! We’ve received so many radical entries already, but we’d love to have more. If you’re experiencing some writer’s block, or just aren’t sure where to start with your next poetical masterpiece, we thought we’d give you some starters here.

Your challenge is to take one of the following single lines of poetry and include it in your work, either at the beginning or the end. All of these lines come from real poems, but it’s totally fine to use them as inspiration or as a poetic springboard. If any of them speak to you, we really encourage you to read the full poem — most of them can be found in our collection:

  • Till human voices wake us, and we drown. (T.S. Eliot, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
  • He came home. Said nothing. (Wisława Szymborska, ‘Going Home’)
  • Petals on a wet, black bough (Ezra Pound, ‘In a Station of the Metro’)
  • I gazed–and gazed–but little thought (William Wordworth, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’)
  • Here is no water but only rock (T.S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’)
  • Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold (W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’)
  • here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud (e.e. cummings, ‘[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]’)
  • This city, in plague time / knew our brief eternity (William Gibson, ‘Beloved: Voices for Three Heads’)
  • I eat men like air (Sylvia Plath, ‘Lady Lazarus’)
  • I am not the heterosexual neat freak my mother raised me to be. (Chen Chen, ‘Self-Portrait as So Much Potential’)
  • This city will always pursue you. (C.P. Cavafy, ‘The City’)
  • laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful (Louise Glück, ‘Vita Nova’)
  • Maybe it’s time to stop swimming. (Porcupine Tree, ‘Stop Swimming’)
  • until the smallening world became absurd (e.e. cummings, ‘a clown’s smirk in the skull of a baboon’)
  • As light welled / that could devour water (Louise Glück, ‘The Egg’)

If you choose to put the line at the beginning, see how you can take the image and with each successive line, either expand on it, or confound it in some way. If you choose to put your quotation at the end, try to imagine what combination of images might lead up to that climactic point.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Don’t forget to submit your poems for Tūhono before the 30th of November to have them included in the inaugural publication!

Hooked on NZ Books; Or, How to Get Free Books and Write About Them, Too!

Dear readers, we are guessing that since we have encountered one another amongst the digital pages of this most redoubtable publication, you are probably fairly keen book-readers as well. But how much do you choose to read books by New Zealand authors? Well, whether your answer was “Um, I LOVE to read books by New Zealand authors!” or “Not much, but I’d like to read more!” we have quite the opportunity for you.

Our friends at Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the New Zealand Book Council) have put together an amazing programme called Hooked On NZ Books / He Ao Anofor young New Zealand readers to engage with new Kiwi literature and have their writing professionally edited and published, all while getting to keep swathes of ~free~ books for themselves. Curious to know more? Read on to hear what Read NZ have to say about the initiative.

 If you choose to take up this challenge, you'd better prepare yourself for a serious case of new-book-smell-induced bliss.

We Want to Know What You Think About New Zealand Books!

The American art critic Barbara McAdam writes that the ‘true calling’ of criticism is to start a discussion. Building a community of readers who discuss books, and growing the next generation of critics is what Hooked On NZ BOoks / He Ao Ano is all about.

Here are Read NZ / Te Pou Muramura (formerly the NZ Book Council), we’ve adopted the programme and are looking for passionate readers to review the latest NZ books for us.

First of all, we match readers aged 13-19 with new books. Most of the books we have to choose from are novels, but we also have some non-fiction, poetry and essays. We ask for the reviews to be emailed back within a month, and the reader gets to keep the book.

Our editor works with the reviewer to edit the piece so it’s the best it can be. Then we publish the review on the website, and share it with our wider community. The best review from each month is published on the official Read NZ website.

Our reviewers have the opportunity to respond personally and critically to the latest reads while together building an online resource about NZ books and a genuine platform for their voice.

Established four years ago by the NZ Review of Books journal, Hooked On NZ Books is already a useful archive of reviews, author interviews and other writing resources for younger readers. When the journal ceased publication in late 2019, its editors invited Read NZ to adopt the work.

Read NZ CEO Juliet Blyth says the purpose of Hooked On NZ Books is to grow the audience for home-grown literature, to provide another space for young writers to be published, and to nurture the next generation of critical readers in Aotearoa.

“Anyone can say that they loved or loathed a book, but it’s much harder to say why. Reviewing is important because well-argued reviews can influence what gets published and what gets read,” she says.

Tawa College student Hannah Marshall has submitted reviews to Hooked On NZ Books in past years. In a recent article about reviewing for Tearaway magazine, she describes the programme as a “springboard for a critical conversation.”

A chance visit to my school from the organisation opened my eyes to a world of opportunities. I had barely read a Kiwi-written YA [novel] in my life; today, most of my favourite books are by New Zealand authors. […] I gained valuable skills from the reviewing process and improved myself as a writer. I even found my name in print

— Hannah Marshall, Hooked On NZ Books reviewer

Read NZ is now looking for young readers and writers aged around 13-19 to participate. Interested reviewers can sign up on the Hooked On NZ Books website, or contact Read NZ to get involved. Read NZ also hopes to offer review-writing workshops around the country next year.


So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get involved! While you’re at it, why not follow Read NZ and Hooked On NZ Books on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, for more delicious literary content, delivered right to your screen?

From the Vaults IV: Printed Music

Heads up, music nerds, this one’s for you! This week’s post in our From the Vaults series features some of the more niche content we hold in the vast warren of shelves that is Te Pātaka, our Collection Distribution Centre — printed music.

In the time since the Central Library closed, you may well have forgotten that it contained a massive collection of music scores and songbooks, covering all styles and genres of music from pop to classical, jazz to musical theatre, and much more. Whether you need a score for a music exam or NCEA performance at school, or just want to chill out at home learning some new tunes, there’s bound to be something in our collection for you.

How our classical, jazz, and popular sheet music collections are often[citation needed] described!

But how to find it, you ask? Sadly, it’s not quite as easy as just typing “classical music” into the catalogue search and hoping for the best. Your best bet is to know a little about what you want before hitting the keyboard. Here are a few different ways you can go about it:

1. Search by Composer

This is probably the most straightforward way to go about finding sheet music in our catalogue. First, go to our catalogue. Go to the “Advanced Search”, and click in the “author” field. Here you can type the name of the composer — it doesn’t matter what order you put their names in. For example, “Bach, Johann Sebastian” and “Johann Sebastian Bach” will return the same set of results. If you’re looking for guitar tabs for your favourite band, the band name itself is the “author,” e.g. “Green Day” 0r “Ed Sheeran.”

Once you’ve done your search, you may be confronted by an intimidatingly long list of results. Fear not! Your next step is to filter by format. Click on “Format” on the left-hand side, and then select “Score.” Now, your results will show just printed music, and you can browse and reserve the items to your heart’s content! The librarians/gremlins/mystical shelf beings at Te Pātaka will hunt down that score and send it wherever it needs to go.

Behold, the magic of catalogue filtering!

2. Search By Instrument

This feature is a little less reliable and a little more clunky than the above, and it can only be used for classical music and jazz, but it can still be useful if you’re looking for pieces to learn for school or leisure! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to our catalogue homepage
  2. Click on “Advanced Search”
  3. Using the drop-down arrow, select “Call Number” from the list and “begins with” in the middle column
  4. Type “score” followed by the following numbers (or you can click the links below to take you right there!):
    1. Vocal music — 780
      1. Part songs — 780.4
      2. Sacred music — 780.5
      3. Choral scores — 780.6
      4. Musical theatre and Opera — 780.7
    2. Instrumental music — 781
      1. Flute and piccolo — 781.11
      2. Recorder — 781.112
      3. Oboe — 781.12
      4. Clarinet — 781.13
      5. Bassoon — 781.14
      6. Trumpet — 781.15 (jazz trumpet 781.1598)
      7. Horn — 781.16
      8. Trombone — 781.17
      9. Saxophone — 781.18 (jazz sax 781.1898)
      10. Bagpipes and accordion — 781.19
      11. Harp — 781.2
      12. Lute — 781.24
      13. Guitar — 781.25
      14. Violin — 781.3
      15. Viola — 781.34
      16. Cello — 781.35
      17. Double bass — 781.37
      18. Piano — 781.4 (jazz piano 781.48)
      19. Harpsichord — 781.5
      20. Piano duets — 781.6
      21. Organ — 781.7 and 781.8
      22. Percussion — 781.9
    3. Chamber and orchestral music — 782
      1. String trios — 782.1
      2. Piano trios — 782.2
      3. String quartets — 782.3
      4. Piano quartets — 782.4
      5. String quintets — 782.5
      6. Wind ensembles — 782.6
      7. Orchestral scores — 782.7
      8. Miniature scores — 782.77

3. Virtual Shelf Browsing

If you’re the kind of person that likes wandering through the shelves, revelling in the possibility of serendipitous discovery, there’s some good news — with our online catalogue, you can (sort of) replicate that experience! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to our catalogue homepage
  2. Click on “Advanced Search”
  3. Using the drop-down arrow, select “Call Number” from the list
  4. Enter “score” or “songbook” in the search
  5. When the list of results come up, select “View As: Flow” in the top right corner
  6. Finally, select “Sort By: Call Number” in the top left. The result will be all of the scores and/or songbooks held in the library collection, organised in order of where they would be on the shelf. If we have an image of the book cover, you will see that as well (but a lot of these books were added to the library catalogue before computers or the Internet existed, so we don’t have cover images for all of them!)

Just the same as browsing a physical library shelf… right?

So, if printed music is your jam, make sure you check out this veritable cornucopia of shtuff. It’s there for you to enjoy!

Tūhono — We Want Your Poems!

We are excited to announce that Wellington City Libraries is launching its very own poetry journal for kids and teens — Tūhono! All throughout the month of November, we will be accepting submissions of poetry from young writers aged 5 – 18 in Wellington City. Unlike some other poetry journals, having your work accepted in Tūhono is not a competition — as long as you follow the rules of submission, every piece of work that gets submitted will be published. Tūhono itself — the collection of poetry from young people all over Wellington — will be published as an eBook on OverDrive, so that everyone with a library card can borrow it and bask in your talent and glory!

Let your poetic thoughts take wing!

Here is all the information you need to submit a poem for inclusion in Tūhono 2020:

When?

  • Submissions will be open from 1 – 30 November 2020.
  • The journal will be published and available to borrow from the library in December 2020.

Where?

  • Submissions for Tūhono have now closed.

Who?

  • Everyone between the ages of 5 and 18 who lives in the Wellington region may participate.

What?

  • Theme: We want you to write a poem on the theme of “Tūhono — Connection.” Exactly what this means to you is up to you — you could write about your family; friends; your connection with history or your place in the world; disconnection during lockdown — anything at all. We can’t wait to see what you create!
  • LengthYour poem should not be longer than one A4 page typed, with size 12 font and 1.5 line spacing. Only one poem per person will be accepted.
  • Language: Your poem may be written in English or te reo Māori.

Why?

  • We want to give all young people in Wellington the opportunity to have their work published in an accessible platform. We think everyone deserves a platform and the chance to see something they created be part of the library’s collection, alongside all the great authors and poets represented on our shelves. We hope that Tūhono grows into a uniquely Wellington collection of writing, capturing the thoughts and emotions of kids and teens from all over the city and region across time. We are so excited to see what you come up with!

Throughout the month of November, we will be posting regular updates providing inspiration for your writing — so keep your eyes peeled! If you would like more information about Tūhono, you are more than welcome to contact the editors here. Happy writing, everyone!

Looms, flags, and a lot of (queer) yarn

If you’ve visited Johnsonville Library recently then hopefully you’ll know that we have a space downstairs that’s packed with all kinds of exciting stuff. It’s called Tūhura/The HIVE, and it’s a makerspace full of tech and toys, lasers and Lego, robots and recording equipment, and, most excitingly (or so I think, but I may be biased), a loom!

Since we opened the new Johnsonville Library we’ve tried to keep the loom warped up so anyone can come in and try their hand at weaving a few rows. We’ve had almost everyone, local Johnsonvillians, a Paralympian, even the WCC Chief Executive, come in and have a go. And just last week I took the latest scarf off the loom and tied up the ends in tassels.A newly finished scarf lies folded on the small loom in the Johnsonville makerspace. The stripes on the scarf go (from left to right) blue, pink, white, pink, blue.

Isn’t it beautiful? Admittedly, we did strategically fold it to only show the neatest end of the weaving, but it’s still beautiful when unfolded and laid out. Look at those warped stripes! The lovely colours! Wait a minute, those colours look familiar. Could that be the Transgender Pride Flag?

Why yes, yes it is!

Claude, a grey, green, and yellow caterpillar is sitting on a cushion crocheting the last row of a scarf. The stripes of the scarf are, in order, yellow, white, purple, and the last one is black.

And that’s not all! Claude, our favourite crocheted caterpillar, was so inspired after seeing this scarf come off the loom that they decided to crochet a creative scarf of their own. Is that colourful close-to-completed scarf there another Pride Flag? Of course! It’s the Non-binary Pride Flag.

But I digress.

When we warp up the loom (attach the vertical threads to the loom. There are two yarn components you use when weaving. The warp goes up and down. The weft goes from the weft to the wight. Yes, I know that’s bad), we get to choose what pattern we put on. And if we want to show our support for trans people then we will damn well do that! And write a blog post about it too.

Now, I hope that this particularly excellent scarf shows you that knitting, weaving, crocheting – fibrecraft in general – is pretty cool. And there are so many cool things you can do! There are more things to create than these (undeniably amazing) scarves. Crochet your own Claude! Knit a political hat! There are so many free patterns available online, not to mention the books available through your local library. You could try your hand at some Subversive Cross Stitch, or create yourself some Literary Knits. Literary crocheting is also available.

OR you could get into something a bit bigger and a bit more public. Have you ever heard of yarn bombing? If you haven’t, then you are in for a treat! Yarn bombing, guerrilla knitting, knitted graffiti, whatever you want to call it, is when you create a carefully crafted cover for something out in public. It could be for a pipe, a tree, a statue, or whatever you feel would benefit from a bit of beautification. We’ve got a few books about yarn bombing, or you could just wander around Wellington and keep an eye out for artfully decorated bollards and poles.

A picture taken looking down the street towards the Tawa Community Centre entrance. It is a sunny day. Lining up with the left side of the picture is a pipe attached to the building, that has is wearing a rainbow cover.There’s a particularly fine example of yarn-bombing outside the Tawa Community Centre, just around the corner from the Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library. Yes it’s a rainbow. Did you really think I would let go of the queer thread weaving this post together?

Speaking of queer threads, that wonderfully proud scarf that you may remember is now on display in the HIVE at Johnsonville Library. And speaking of the HIVE, I can highly recommend dropping in there on a Friday evening for our fibrecraft HIVE 101. If you ever feel like learning a bit more about weaving, talking to someone about knitting, or just settling down for an evening with some crochet, come on by!

Newly 18? Not 18 yet but want to know more about the election?

Hello to the newly 18-year-olds (and anyone else) who wants to know a bit more about the upcoming election…

2020 is an ELECTION year for Aotearoa/New Zealand! The election is on SATURDAY THE 17th OF OCTOBER.

Voting in the election is one of the main ways that you as a person who lives in Aotearoa/NZ get to have your say about what happens in your country. Everyone has different priorities, backgrounds, beliefs and opinions which inform how they vote in the election.

This year as well as voting in the General Election you get the chance to have your say on two REFERENDUMS, the Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendum and the End of Life Choice referendum. You get to have your say on these at the same time as you cast your vote in the General Election.

It can be really exciting voting in your first election but it can also be kind of daunting. The best thing you can do for yourself, so that you know that you’re making a vote that aligns with the things that are important to you, and for the wider community by making an informed vote, is to get some information about the POLICY each of the political parties is putting forward. A good place to start can be going to each of the parties official websites and reading through their policy section, this is a good way to gauge what each party stands for and what ideas they each have about Aotearoa/NZ’s future.

Make sure you also put some time and thought into learning more about the referendums and reading through them. There are some great resources that outline what these referendums mean in straight forward terms and answer some common questions about them.

Make sure you’re ENROLLED TO VOTE, KNOW WHAT YOUR ELECTORATE IS (what region of the country you are voting in),  KNOW WHERE YOUR LOCAL VOTING PLACE IS and have done some solid information-seeking so you’re ready to cast your vote on the day!

For bonus credit, if you’re 17, you can actually fill out an enrolment form now, and then the moment you turn 18, you’ll automatically be added to the electoral roll. Find out how here!

Vote.nz or Elections.nz are key places to get information

https://vote.nz/

https://elections.nz/

Information on Both Referendums

https://www.referendums.govt.nz/

Out On The Shelves: Rainbow Stories at Your Library

It is now officially the 2020 Out On The Shelves campaign week! All around the country, libraries, bookstores, schools and other organisations are putting on displays and events to celebrate LGBTQIA+ stories, and to help connect rainbow people to those stories and to each other.

Rejoice, for this year Campaign Week is not one week, but two, from 17 — 30 August. And there’s all kinds of things you can do! You can participate in the Rainbow Writing Competition — your writing could be featured in the Rainbow Zine, and you could be in to win some sweet book voucher prizes, courtesy of the Women’s Book Shop! You could head into one of our libraries, enjoy one of our Out On The Shelves displays, and pick yourself up some excellent reading material from our collection. If you’re more e-inclined, or not super keen on leaving the house, you could visit our LGBTQIA+ Reading Room on OverDrive, or learn about your rainbow history in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender, which WCL was the first public library in the world to provide full access to. Once you’ve done all that, don’t forget to tell us what you think of what you’ve read by writing a review and submitting it to the good folks at Out On The Shelves.

Keep an eye out for more Out On The Shelves content hitting this blog and your local library. Soon we’ll be posting some gorgeous photos of our libraries getting dressed up all fancy and colourful to celebrate Out On The Shelves along with you — sometimes our shelves can be quite bashful; not so during Campaign Week! For now, though, here are some of our favourite rainbow titles from our collections to whet your appetite:

Sometimes we tell the truth : a novel / Zarins, Kim
{reps: intersex}
{content warnings: sexual assault, ptsd}

Look, we’re suckers for contemporary re-imaginings of classic literature. Some might say it’s the reason we got into this business. So this re-telling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is as fun as it is compelling and moving. It’s the kind of book that gets you to think about the stories we tell, not just to others, but even to ourselves, and the ways in which those stories themselves can sometimes assume the structure of a fiction. At the moment, we only hold this book in our vast Central collection at the Te Pātaka Collection Distribution Warehouse, so reserve it now to get sent to the branch of your choosing!

Every day / Levithan, David
{reps: non-binary}
{content warnings: violence, substance abuse, dysmorphia}

Surely every queer person remembers what it was like the first time they read a David Levithan novel. His works (including Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson) are now so central to the LGBTQIA+ canon that it’s hard to imagine the landscape of contemporary fiction without him. Every Day is one of his most interesting stories. You’ll meet A, a mysterious being that each day inhabits a new body, a new life. Every day they need to become accustomed to a new way of living, a new set of relationships, learning and re-learning over and over again how to be. A’s conception of their own gender identity, sexuality, and indeed personhood is mutable, changeable, flexible as it needs to be. Strong though they are, it is truly their inner voice that is most compelling and relatable as they play through all of the narratives of confusion, defiance, frustration, love, dysmorphia, terror, and acceptance that will be so familiar to so many in our rainbow community. Trust us, and give this a read — you won’t regret it.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
{reps: gay}
{content warnings: discrimination, violence}

We know, we know, this isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted this gem of a novel on this very platform. We’re sorry, but we can’t help but trumpet the importance of this book every time we have the opportunity! Sáenz’s extremely spare, almost poetic, prose sets out in pointillistic detail the agony and anticipation of leaving childhood behind and moving on to somewhere new. At times surreal, but always searing straight through to the heart (yours, mine, the characters’), this story picks you up and never lets you go until what we would class as one of the most perfect endings to a YA novel in recent memory. Even then, it doesn’t truly let you go. Ever. He has a way of setting out the most expansive ideas in the most devastatingly simple of words. Read a segment below to get a sense of what we mean:

There was a tear running down his cheek. It seemed like a river in the light of the setting sun.

I wondered what it was like, to be the kind of guy that cried over the death of a bird.

I waved bye. He waved bye back.

As I walked home, I thought about birds and the meaning of their existence. Dante had an answer. I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea as to why birds existed. I’d never even asked myself the question.

Dante’s answer made sense to me. If we studied birds, maybe we could learn to be free. I think that’s what he was saying. I had a philosopher’s name. What was my answer? Why didn’t I have an answer?

And why was it that some guys had tears in them and some had no tears at all? Different boys lived by different rules.

When I got home, I sat on my front porch.

I watched the sun set.

— Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Simon and Schuster (2012).

All out: the no-longer-secret stories of queer teens throughout the ages / Mitchell, Saundra (ed.)
{reps: lesbian, trans*, asexual, gay}
content warnings: violence, discrimination}

This gorgeous collection of historical short stories is like the perfect fiction companion to Sarah Prager’s biography collection Queer, there, and everywhere: 23 people who changed the world. Oftentimes historical fiction containing LGBTQIA+ representations focusses on the difficulties of life for queer people ‘back in the day,’ or worse, just contains tokenistic references to queer people. This collection is not that. The stories, while they are mostly* accurate portrayals of their respective eras, feel more authentic, the depictions of the characters and their surroundings crystallised through the patented queer lens. The characters are without exception deftly sketched, their circumstances relatable, their relationships real, and their experiences — adventures, first loves, heartbreaks, self-discoveries — speak to a broad universality in queer experience while acknowledging the singularity of each individual’s lived reality. The stories collectively stand and say “Hey, we were here too! We were real, and we lived and loved and ate and cried and went to work and participated in history, just as everyone else did!” And that, friends, is exactly what good fiction should do.

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