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

Tag: stuff to read

The Wellington Comic Lover’s Guide to… The Bobbinsverse

Welcome to the Wellington Comic Lover’s Guide, where we take you through the Wellington City Libraries’ collection of a comic book character or series. This post is all about the sprawling webcomic-turned-print comic universe, the Bobbinsverse!


What is the Bobbinsverse?

The Bobbinsverse encompasses several comics that all take place in the same universe, centered around a fictional Yorkshire town called Tackleford. Written and drawn by John Allison, the ‘verse’ began with the webcomic Bobbins and continued into two sequel series, Scary Go Round and Bad Machinery. These comics are either slice-of-life stories or supernatural mysteries, all told with a trademark light-hearted tone.

The Bobbinsverse has since expanded into monthly print comics courtesy of BOOM! Studios, as Allison took his webcomic characters and spun them off into new adventures, such as…


Giant Days

Giant Days is about the university life of eccentric goth girl Esther de Groot (who first appeared in Scary Go Round) and her friends, naive archaeology major Daisy and prickly med student Susan. Together, the trio navigates the ups-and-downs of student life, like halls, flatting, study, romance, work-life balance, and what the future holds for them after graduation.

Giant Days reading order

Giant days : early registration / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume one / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume two / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume three / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume four / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume five / Allison, John (also on Libby)

Giant days. Volume six / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume seven / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume eight / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume nine / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume ten / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume eleven / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume twelve / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume thirteen / Allison, John

Giant days. Volume fourteen / Allison, John

Giant Days was also turned into a YA novel, which adapts the early volumes of the comic when the trio first start university.

Giant days / Pratt, Leonie

Read More

A Pestilence of Plagued Books in Celebration of the Fourth Anniversary of Lockdown! Merry Plaguemas!


via GIPHY

Four years ago on this very day, March 26th, in the accursed year of 2020, New Zealand began its lockdown. A tiny little virus, one with the name of a reasonably popular beer, had managed to spread all over the world. Thanks to the swift and decisive action of our government, and our extended unplanned staycations, Aotearoa was one of the first countries able to return to some sense of normalcy.


via GIPHY

While to many of us the ‘rona seems a thing of the past, it’s worth remembering that the virus is still around. With our vaccines and proper procedure, it can feel like we’re invincible and everything is over, but COVID still lurks in the shadows and continues to be a danger to our more vulnerable community members. If you’re feeling those cold-like symptoms, it’s still good practice to do a test, just in case. After four years of dodging it, your beloved blogger managed to catch it, while I was planning this very blog. Being ever the model citizen, I too stayed home to make sure I didn’t spread it further. I now write this wearing a mask, lest I spread my post-plague-germs to any others.

So keep an eye on things, make sure you’re updated on your vaccines, and avoid other humans if you’re unwell. If you don’t know what to do, check official government websites, ready to tell you the important health and science facts.

New Zealand’s health is up to YOU!

YES, YOU!! RANDOM READER!

KEEP US SAFE AND HEALTHY AND WE WILL DO THE SAME TO YOU!


via GIPHY

We managed to get through our plague thanks to our collective willingness to take the important steps to spare the many. Covid 19 is a nasty bugger of an illness and what our lockdown showed, what the following mask mandates, vaccinations, and social distancing showed, was that we as a country care not just for ourselves, but for others. I think that’s really special.

It’s for this reason I think we should celebrate this day, as proof of NZ’s love for one another.

Something something Community something something we are one something something peace and love.


via GIPHY

But this is perhaps getting a bit sappy, so let’s talk of how we should celebrate this wonderous (?) day.

I’m a librarian, so my biases are obvious. What better way to flex our superior dealing-with-plague skills than to read about other people’s (real or fictional) experiences? Who knows, it might give us some weird mixed feeling nostalgia of familiar things. If you’re a fan of these types of books, you may have noticed how they hit different now you’ve been plagued.

So why not mask up, lock the outside world out, and experience another plague-related removal from reality, this time voluntarily!

Give the dark my love / Revis, Beth
“Nedra Brysstain left the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy with only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy.  Greggori “Grey” Astor is taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra. She is deeply invested in her studies because a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities and Nedra is determined to find a cure. When she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Station eleven / Mandel, Emily St. John

“One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Zhara / Jae-Jones, S

“In the Morning Realms magicians are called abomination, and blamed for the plague of monsters that razed the land twenty years before. Jin Zhara already had enough to worry about–appease her stepmother’s cruel whims, looking after her blind younger sister, and keeping her own magical gifts under control-without having to deal with rumors of monsters re-emerging in the marsh. But when a chance encounter brings her into contact with a secret magical liberation organization called the Guardians of Dawn, Zhara realizes there may be more to these rumors than she thought. A mysterious plague is transforming the magicians of Zanhei into monsters, and the Guardians of Dawn believe a demon is responsible. In order to restore harmony and bring peace to the world, Zhara must discover the elemental warrior within, lest the balance between order and chaos is lost forever.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Plague land / Scarrow, Alex
“An unidentified virus wipes out most of the Earth’s population, liquefying their bodies. The virus moves as if it has an agenda– it adapts as it moves quickly across the planet. Leon, his mother, and younger sister Grace, who just moved to London from New York, must run for their lives.” (Catalogue)


This mortal coil / Suvada, Emily

“In a world where people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, gene-hacking genius Cat must decrypt her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague” (Catalogue)


Plague of the undead / Cross, Gary

The boy knew his father was going to kill him. Just like he’d killed everyone else tonight. The boy’s mother, his two older sisters and baby brother, the servants. All of them dead.

When Lucius is ten years old his father returns home one evening as a vampire and destroys his entire family. By luck Lucius is spared. Fifteen years later Lucius has joined the elite group of vampire hunters that saved his life that night. Now it’s his turn to lead the hunt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The merciful Crow / Owen, Margaret
“Fie’s Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin; when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime. But Crown Prince Jasimir faked his death, and Fie’s ready to cut his throat. He offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns. Hawk warrior Tavin, Jas’s bodyguard, magically assumed the prince’s appearance and shadowed his every step, but is beginning to want something to call his own. The trio must form an uneasy alliance to escape Queen Rhusana. — adapted from jacket” (Catalogue)


At the end of everything / Nijkamp, Marieke
“The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named: no one has hope for these delinquent teenagers. When the guards don’t show up one day, the teens are shocked to learn a catastrophic pandemic has occurred outside their walls. Their new-found freedom is now a fight for survival– and there is no one watching out for them. As supplies dwindle, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust– and if they even want to survive in a world that has never wanted them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Bleeding Earth / Ward, Kaitlin

“Between Mother Nature and human nature, disasters are inevitable. Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within twenty-four hours, the blood made international news as all over the world, blood oozed out of the ground, through the concrete, in the water. Lea wishes she could ignore the blood. She wishes she could spend time with her new girlfriend, Aracely, in public. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and her girlfriend however she can.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


All that’s left in the world / Brown, Erik J
“A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population. When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he is injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. And if this new world has taught the two anything, it is to be scared of what other desperate people will do. So why does it seem so easy for them to trust each other? After danger breaches their shelter, they flee south in search of civilization. But Andrew’s story isn’t adding up– and it could cost them everything. Jamie has a secret, too: he’s feeling something more than friendship for Andrew. To survive the long road ahead they’ll have to shed their secrets, face the consequences of their actions, and find the courage to fight for the future they desire. Together.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Wilder girls / Power, Rory
“It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her. It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The enemy / Higson, Charles

“In the wake of a devastating disease, everyone sixteen and older is either dead or a decomposing, brainless creature with a ravenous appetite for flesh. Teens have barricaded themselves in buildings throughout London and venture outside only when they need to scavenge for food. The group of kids living a Waitrose supermarket is beginning to run out of options. When a mysterious traveler arrives and offers them safe haven at Buckingham Palace, they begin a harrowing journey across London. But their fight is far from over-the threat from within the palace is as real as the one outside it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Illuminae / Kaufman, Amie

“The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Elantris / Sanderson, Brandon

“Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. When Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden she finds that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. But Sarene doesn’t suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Dyslexia-Friendly Books in the Collection

The mystical, arcane beings who dwell at the very core of the book-mines of Te Pātaka (you may know them as ‘cataloguers’) were overjoyed to have received a fresh offering last week — a beautiful box of brand-new dyslexia-friendly books for teens. They were so gosh-darn purdy we just had to share them with you:

A pile of YA fiction books sits on top of the cataloguer's desk

Don’t they look so enticing?!

What makes a book dyslexia-friendly, you may be wondering? Well, it’s a combination of a few different factors:

  • Use of a dyslexia-friendly font like OpenDyslexic
  • Generous line spacing (usually at least 1.5x spacing) to prevent pages from becoming too cluttered
  • Printed on off-white, heavier paper, usually with a tint of a warm colour like yellow or orange — evidence suggests this reduces visual stress for some readers

You can find these books on the shelf at your local library by looking for the red spot on the spine, like in the photo above. Or, you can find a list on our catalogue here.

If eBooks are more your thing, you can switch your books over to a dyslexia-friendly font using the Libby app — nifty! Check out our Teen Reading Room on Libby to get started.

Whether you have dyslexia or not, these gorgeous books are bound to tickle your fancy, just as they tickled ours! Check out a list of some of our favourite red-spotted books below, and don’t forget to check out our lists of comics and graphic novels and manga while you’re at it.

Because of you / Ainsworth, Eve
“Poppy’s having a nightmare at home. Her parents have split up and her mum’s new boyfriend is moving in. Dad is the one who’s always been there for Poppy, but now he’s drifting further and further away. It seems like things can’t get any worse until it all goes wrong at school as well and Poppy finds herself being targeted by spiteful bullies. As the vicious online comments keep coming, who can Poppy turn to for help?” (Catalogue)

The Battle of Cable Street / Landman, Tanya
“Life has always been tough on the streets of Stepney, where Elsie and her brother Mikey are growing up in a vermin-infested slum nicknamed “Paradise”. But the rise of anti-Semitic fascist Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts in the 1930s stirs up trouble between families who have lived closely together for years, and Elsie sees friendships torn apart. When Elsie and Mikey attend a Mosley rally, intending to heckle and cause trouble, they soon see how dangerous the situation has become, but out in the streets the fascists find that people will stand and fight against them and against hatred in what becomes the dramatic Battle of Cable Street.” (Catalogue)

Passing for white / Landman, Tanya
“It’s 1848 in the Deep South of America. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means she can ‘pass for white’. With the help of her husband Benjamin, she disguises herself as a young southern gentleman – and Benjamin’s master. In this guise, the couple flee the South, explaining away their lack of literacy, avoiding those they have encountered before and holding their nerve over a thousand miles to freedom. Inspired by the amazing true story of Ellen Craft who escaped a life of slavery through a daring disguise and won freedom for herself and her husband.” (Catalogue)

The family tree / Peet, Mal
“When a man returns to his childhood home and visits the derelict tree house in which his father once chose to live, he recalls the past unravelling of his family, the unspoken strangeness of their lives, and the impact on his own adult life. Beautiful, sparse and insightful storytelling.” (Catalogue)

The harder they fall / Rai, Bali
“Cal’s family are proud to live in an ‘analogue’ world – no wifi in their house , just an ancient black-and-white TV. At school, Cal has no choice but to live in the 21st century, coping with a range of bullies and chancers on a daily basis. When Cal’s mum decides to ‘rebalance’ the family with a stint as volunteers at a local foodbank, Cal inadvertently discovers new kid Jacob’s secret, and Jacob flips.” (Catalogue)

Wrath / Sedgwick, Marcus
“Cassie Cotton has always been unusual, a bit different — but this only makes her more intriguing to her school friend Fitz. Cassie can hear a noise that no one else can, and she believes it’s a sound that shows the Earth is in distress, damaged by human activity that is causing climate change. When this belief leads to her being ridiculed and bullied at school, Cassie disappears. Fitz is determined to find her, but he has no idea where to start looking, or if he’ll be in time to help her”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

The surprising power of a good dumpling / Chim, Wai
“Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen. But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other. A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family, and the surprising power of a good dumpling.” (Catalogue)

Indigo moon / Merriman, Eileen
“Both Rigel and Indigo are Offspring, born to virally optimised parents. With dire warnings about the possible consequences of time travel, they have been forbidden from even thinking about it. But Indigo is bored – what could really go wrong? She longs for excitement, which she might just find with the mysterious stranger Billy Raven. Meanwhile, Rigel has an odd feeling that he can’t shake off. Is it because his dad, Johnno (aka Phoenix), is off on another dangerous mission? Or is it because of what the Foundation did to his mum, Violet? Or is something else going on? Only time will tell”–Publisher information.

The Wellington Comic Lover’s Guide to… Dungeons & Dragons

Welcome to the Wellington Comic Lover’s (WCL) Guide, where we take you through the Wellington City Libraries’ comic collection. This post collects all the comics we have inspired by the premiere tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons!

(via GIPHY)


What Dungeons & Dragons comics are there?

Dungeons & Dragons has inspired many comics since the tabletop gaming renaissance of the 2010s. In addition to the official comics licensed by Wizards of the Coast, D&D has crossed over into other comic franchises, and “actual play” podcasts like The Adventure Zone and Critical Role have started adapting their in-game storylines into graphic novels.

If you were looking for sourcebooks and manuals to run your own campaigns, check out J’Shuall of Jackanapery’s recent post on our Dungeons & Dragons collection here!


Official Dungeons and Dragons comics

These are the official licensed Dungeons & Dragons comics we have, based on the Pathfinder system and Forgotten Realms setting.

Forgotten realms. Cutter / Salvatore, R. A.

Pathfinder. Volume one, Dark waters rising / Zubkavich, Jim

Dungeons & dragons. Infernal tides (only on Libby)


Dungeons and Dragons and Television

Dungeons & Dragons has crossed over into comic-book tie-ins of TV shows, notably Stranger Things and Rick and Morty.

Stranger things and Dungeons & Dragons / Houser, Jody
(also on Libby)

Stranger things : Erica the great / Lore, Danny

Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons and Dragons (only on Libby)


The Adventure Zone

Artist Carey Pietsch adapts the McElroy-starring live-play podcast The Adventure Zone into graphic novels, starting with the ‘Balance’ arc. The storyline follows impulsive fighter Magnus, vainglorious wizard Taako, and grumbling monk Merle as they collect magical artifacts for a secret organization called The Bureau of Balance.

The Adventure Zone [1] : here there be gerblins / McElroy, Clint (also on Libby)

The Adventure Zone [2] : murder on the Rockport Limited / McElroy, Clint (also on Libby)

The Adventure Zone [3] : petals to the metal / McElroy, Clint (also on Libby)

The Adventure Zone. 4, The crystal kingdom / McElroy, Clint

The Adventure Zone [5] : the eleventh hour / McElroy, Clint


Critical Role

Critical Role, the acclaimed live-play podcast helmed by GM Matt Mercer and a troupe of voice actors, has been adapted into comics, starting with their first campaign Vox Machina.

Critical Role – Vox Machina

Critical role : Vox Machina origins [1] / Colville, Matthew

Critical role : Vox Machina origins [2] / Mercer, Matthew

Critical role : Vox Machina origins [3] / Houser, Jody

Vox machina : kith & kin / Nijkamp, Marieke

Critical Role – Mighty Nein

Critical role : the Mighty Nein origins. Volume one

The Chronicles of Exandria : the Mighty Nein

Critical role : the Mighty Nein origins : Fjord Stone / Burke, Kevin

Critical role : Mighty Nein origins : Mollymauk Tealeaf / Houser, Jody

In addition to the comics, there are also Critical Role books about the settings, lore and history of the campaign.

The world of Critical Role : the history behind the epic fantasy / Marsham, Liz

The tales of Exandria : the Bright Queen / Poelgeest, Darcy van


DIE – a comic turned TTRPG

A darker take on the typical D&D story, DIE follows five forty-somethings who return to the tabletop fantasy world they were trapped in as teenagers. Created by Kieron Gillen (Young Avengers, The Wicked & The Divine) and artist Stephanie Hans (Angela: Asgard’s Assassin), DIE was later adapted into its own tabletop RPG.

Die. Volume 1, Fantasy heartbreaker / Gillen, Kieron (also on Libby)

Die. Volume 2, Split the party / Gillen, Kieron (also on Libby)

Die. Volume 3, The great game / Gillen, Kieron

Die. Volume 4, Bleed / Gillen, Kieron (also on Libby)

The entire DIE series is also collected in one volume as Die. [Book 1].


More tabletop gaming-themed comics

Roll for initiative / Walls, Jasmine – On the eve of their college graduation, a group of friends try to complete their unfinished campaign.

D&D Dungeon Club [1] : roll call / Ostertag, Molly – The friendship between two D&D players is tested when they open their two-person campaign to other players.

Modern fantasy [1] / Roberts, Rafer – D&D meets office culture in this comedy series drawn by Henchgirl artist Kristen Gudsnuk.

Rise of the dungeon master : Gary Gygax and the creation of D&D / Kushner, David – A biography comic about the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax.


D&D inspired zines

We also have zines inspired by Dungeons & Dragons in the catalogue by local artists, including Hicksville artist Dylan Horrocks.

Darkest dungeons / Horrocks, Dylan

Saint : a collection of drawings and writings from a campaign of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons / Lean, Alis

Choose your own D&D character. Vol. I, Class / Fey


Comics that ARE roleplaying games

We’ve covered comics based on roleplaying games, but what about a comic that is a roleplaying game? In You Are Deadpool, you play through the comic as the Merc with a Mouth, your journey through the story determined by your dice rolls.

You are Deadpool / Ewing, Al

Invasion of the Interwebs 2! Electronic Boogaloo! Revenge of the Digital Medium!

So, somehow you have managed to survive the hoards of phone wielding teens, being guided your way by the algorithms of multibillion dollar companies. They had bypassed all your defenses, the giant walls of pages and words, of knowledge and facts and all things that require effort. Books based on ș̴̗͌͋ö̶͈́͆c̴̭͐̆͜i̷̊͜a̷̤͂͝ĺ̵̰ ̷͔̂͂m̵͕̟̈́̃e̸̹̤̊d̶̮̆i̴̢̳̋á̶̩̬, disguised as normal literature, hiding among such important topics such as paint drying and car insurance. But you’re safe now, you have defeated them, surely now the library has been cleansed of the internet’s taint.

But you are wrong.

So very wrong….

Not only has social media invaded, but other aspects of internet culture. But J’Shuall, great and almighty, how can there be more to the internet than social media? And you’d be almost right, but in the deep dark depths of the internet, beyond twitter and youtube lies something else…

People making art in different forms? Strange I know.

Sometimes when people make cool things they want more people to see their cool thing, so they make it multi-media and do things like make a book. Then of course we librarians are summoned by the presence of dust and papercuts and find these books, and then like a bookwyrm on it’s hoard, collect these books. So on this episode of Invasion of the Interwebs we shall begin our exploration of these books.

It’s like I’m Listening With My Eyes!

Do you hate the convenience of being able to multitask? Do you desire to eschew the pleasures of modern life, go into the mountains and become a luddite? Are you adamant that everyone knows how erudite and cultured you are by reading books at any and every opportunity, especially in public? Yes! This is the section for you! Podcasts are a brilliant invention/format/hobby to experience literature in, you can learn about stuff, hear people talk about nothing for hours, and experience amazing new ways of storytelling. But let’s be honest, sometimes you just feel like reading a book that you don’t have to charge or detangle. A lot of very popular podcasts have been adapted into the form of books for widespread consumption, and here are a smattering of options. From supernatural stories to supernatural facts to supernaturally a family getting along well enough to run D&D (lots of supernatural stuff, not gonna lie) there’s something for everyone.


The infinite noise / Shippen, Lauren

“Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy-he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist-who seems to know a lot more than she lets on-and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Monstrous creatures / Mahnke, Aaron

“They live in shadows–deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our minds. They’re spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives’ tales, passed down through generations. Yet no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them. In this illustrated volume, the host of the hit podcast Lore serves as a guide on a fascinating journey through the history of these terrifying creatures, exploring not only the legends but what they tell us about ourselves …”– Amazon.com.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Welcome to Night Vale : a novel / Fink, Joseph

“From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves…no matter where we live. Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Alice isn’t dead : a novel / Fink, Joseph

“Keisha Taylor lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country. Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job with a trucking company, and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system–uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.” (Catalogue)

The Adventure Zone [1] : here there be gerblins / McElroy, Clint

“Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided (“guided”) by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it’s based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.” — Amazon.com.” (Catalogue)

A Whole Section on Ducks and Drakes, Because I am a Nerd and it’s My Post

Wow shock horror the guy with the fantasy inspired name likes dungeons and dragons, who woulda thunk. So, Critical Role, online sensation where a bunch of voice actors make funny voices and pretend to be fantasy heroes, kinda big. You can now find so many different books involving the world of Exandria, and so many different kinds. Wanna turn off your brain and see the cool action scenes? Boom! Comic! Wanna read more stories of the characters you know and love? Boom! Novel! Wanna know about behind the scenes info? Boom! History Book! Wanna see all these beautiful descriptions realised visually? Boom! Art Book! Wanna play in Exandria, in your own home game! Bam! Official source book by Wizards of the Coast!

Truly there is no better time to be a basement nerd, don’t you agree?


Critical role : Vox Machina origins [1] / Colville, Matthew

“The band of adventurers known as Vox Machina will save the world. Eventually. But even they have to start somewhere. Six would-be heroes on seemingly different jobs find their paths intertwined as they investigate shady business in the swamp town of Stilben. They’ll need to put their heads–and weapons–together to figure out what’s going on… and keep from being killed in the process. Even then, whether or not they can overcome what truly lurks at the bottom of the town’s travails remains to be seen!”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)


Vox machina : kith & kin / Nijkamp, Marieke

“The drama of Dungeons & Dragons has come to brilliant life via the epic stories played out live on the hit streaming show Critical Role. Now the adventures take all-new twists and turns in the first official novel based on characters from the popular series. Kith & Kin will follow a brand-new story, featuring the cunning ranger Vex’ahlia and the conning rogue Vax’ildan (and, of course, Trinket) years before they meet Vox Machina. “– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The world of Critical Role : the history behind the epic fantasy / Marsham, Liz

“A guide to the massively popular fantasy RPG livestream offers previously unreleased photos and artwork, sharing cast insights into its origins and storylines as well as the diverse array of art and cosplay that Critical Role inspires.” (Catalogue)


The Chronicles of Exandria : the Mighty Nein

“Journey through Wildemount alongside the motley group known as the Mighty Nein! Encompassing the first chapters of Critical Role’s second campaign, this tome illustrates the adventures of our unlikely heroes as they meet in Trostenwald, struggle through a heartbreaking encounter with the Iron Shepherds, and more.” (Catalogue)


Explorer’s guide to Wildemount / Mercer, Matthew

“Create a band of heroes and embark on a journey across the continent of Wildemount, the setting for Campaign 2 of the hit Dungeons & Dragons series Critical Role. Within this book, you’ll find new character options, a heroic chronicle to help you craft your character’s backstory, four different starting adventures, and everything a Dungeon Master needs to breathe life into a Wildemount-based D&D campaign?- from Amazon.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Best Reads of 2022: What Your Librarians Have Read This Year

2022 is (almost) at its end. It’s over and done with. We can hang it out to dry, wash our hands of it, and kick it to the curb.

Or we can cling to the last remaining hours of 2022 and look back over the year that has been. And by “the year that has been” I do of course mean “the books we have read”.

There are many librarians who work for Wellington City Libraries, and these librarians read many books, and many of these books are YA (or YA adjacent), and many of these YA books are actually very good. And people definitely like knowing what their librarians are reading, right?

So I have pestered and poked my colleagues until they have given in and sent me a review of their own personal Top YA Book of 2022. The books in this list may not all have been published in 2022, but they have been discovered by us lofty librarians over the last twelve months, and we think they are worth sharing. So read on, and judge not our reading choices lest you too be judged!

Bridget

The gaps / Hall, Leanne Michelle
If you’re into psychological thrillers which are more than just psychological thrillers I recommend The Gaps! While I really wanted to know who kidnapped Yin, I also appreciated the characters of Chloe and Natalia, their interactions, and how they transform from what could just be school stereotypes into really real people.

Also available as an ebook.

Grace

Cinderella is dead / Bayron, Kalynn

Despite this book being out since 2020 I only picked it up this year, and I definitely did not regret it! In a world where the Cinderella story has become a tool of the patriarchy, women and girls are second-class citizens whose job is to be good wives and mothers. Sophia has grown up wondering why she can’t be the hero of the story, and when the sexist rules of society come between Sophia and her girlfriend Erin she is thrust down a path that will change her life. I loved the fairy-tale retelling vibe of this book because it wasn’t trapped by the original Cinderella story and instead created a captivating world in its own right. Would definitely recommend to YA readers looking for a fantasy book with queer romance, and anyone who loves to smash the patriarchy!

Also available as an ebook.

Gus

Superman, son of Kal-El. Vol. 1, The truth / Taylor, Tom

Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, must take up the mantle of Superman while his father is off on a mission in deep space. It’s a big burden to place upon a teenager, but not only is Jon up to the task, he sets out to be a better Superman than his father, one more willing to tackle today’s issues: climate change, refugee crises, journalism under threat, and the military-industrial complex. Writer Tom Taylor has a great handle on all the characters, and explores some genuinely fresh angles on Superman and his supporting cast that I’ve never considered; speaking as an emigree, I particularly loved Jon and Clark’s conversation about whether one should actively improve or simply make the best of your adopted home. Artist John Timms nails the emotional beats, particularly the landmark issue where Jon is confirmed to be bisexual and gets a new boyfriend in underground journalist Jay Nakamura, and the action scenes demanded of character who debuted in ‘Action Comics’. Superman: son of Kal-El gives us the Man of Tomorrow we need today, one who is unquestionably heroic, unapologetically queer, and always striving to improve.

J’shuall of Jackanapery

All summer long / Larson, Hope

This short little comic is just a wonderfully sweet coming of age story about how relationships and hobbies can change as you grow up. A young teen, having to deal with summer break without her best friend, becomes close to the friend’s sister over a shared love of music. It’s a very nostalgic story that can remind people of their recent past or show how you can deal with these oh so common problems. It has two sequels, about her efforts in making a band and the growing complexity of teenaged life. Great short read.

Also available as an ebook.

Maiph

Firekeeper’s daughter / Boulley, Angeline
I must first admit that I did start this book under a slight misapprehension. I was browsing various queer-related subject headings on our catalogue to find some holiday reading and this book came up listed under “Lesbian teenagers Teen Fiction”. Unfortunately I did discover that there are in fact no lesbians in this book (and subsequently requested that a cataloguer remove this accidentally applied tag), but actually, I didn’t mind.

I listened to Firekeeper’s Daughter while camping with friends out of cellphone reception. At one point I had to walk half an hour along the gravel road back into reception to update my Libby app so I could continue listening. It was worth it: this is a brilliantly immersive book, and it really felt like I had to dig myself out of main-character Daunis’s world as she struggled with family tragedy, murder, Ojibwe tribal enrolment, and her precarious position as an FBI informant investigating a new drug that is harming her community. And that’s a lot to deal with! But this really is overall a heartwarming story as Daunis is a character who just embraces her identity and culture and community so fully and is in turn embraced back – that scene on the ferry with the elders and the cars? Read it and you’ll understand.

Also available as an eaudiobook and ebook.

Stephen

The rest of us just live here / Ness, Patrick
Patrick Ness’s trademark poetic and slightly oblique style is really brought to bear in this YA sci-fi deconstruction to end all YA sci-fi deconstructions. What if something remarkable and improbable is happening in your town (dark and mystical forces colliding; people’s family members disappearing in the woods; extra-terrestrial beings descending from the Great Beyond to wreak terror and destruction, only to be stopped at the last minute by an ordinary teen who just happens to be the only one with the power to stand up to what may or may not be the gods of old made manifest in this realm), but you’re *not* the Chosen One? In fact, you’re just a background character. In most books like this, you’d be among the first to go, possibly before we even got to hear your tragic backstory. And frankly, you’d really like it to stay that way. You’re not trying to save the world, you’re just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself too much. A fun and quick read that has more than a little heart as well, thanks to Ness’s trademark lyricism in prose. Read this book only at night, ideally while listening to Radiohead (but not, like, Kid A or anything, this is more In Rainbows fare). 8.5/10.

Also available as an eaudiobook and ebook.

TackyCardigan

Fat chance, Charlie Vega / Maldonado, Crystal

I’m always on the hunt for fiction that is relatable as well as entertaining.  Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is the story of a popular, funny, smart teenage girl who also happens to be fat.  A fact which people can’t seem to stop reminding her.  Particularly her Mum, who is constantly on her case about it, even cruel sometimes.  When her long time crush asks her to the big school dance, she’s thrilled, but it turns out he’s only trying to get at her best friend, the thin and pretty Amelia.  When Charlie finds out her friend Brian really likes her, she keeps it secret for a while, worried that everyone around her will think he’s pretending too.  Brian tries really hard to reassure Charlie that he really does like her, but when Charlie finds out he once had a crush on Amelia, Charlie isn’t able to cope, feeling like she’s a consolation prize.

Fat Chance Charlie Vega is a sweet, charming story that also holds the realities of living in a world where thinness and whiteness are held up as the ideal.  It’s a relatable story, because when you’re a young fat girl, you’re so conditioned to believing that no-one will love you as you are, that when they do, you can’t believe it’s true.  I also love that it shows how sometimes we’re so bruised by the world around us, that we take it out on the people closest to us even though we know it’s not their fault.

Also available as an ebook.

Tessa

Alex / Duder, Tessa

Had I read this before? Yes. Did I know exactly what was going to happen to Alex? Yes. Did I still miss my bus stop while reading about Alex’s final race because I was so invested? Yes! Alex is about a 15-year-old swimmer working towards qualifying for the 1960 Olympic games. It’s compelling because Alex is so relatable, she’s dealing with school, boys, periods and friends all while breaking swimming records and training for hours a day. By the end of the book you’re just as desperate for her to succeed as she is because you’ve been right there beside her through all the training, hard work and struggles she’s had to deal with. 10/10 a New Zealand classic that’s worth (re)reading!

Also available as an ebook, or read the whole quartet in one volume.

Christmas Cryptids & Festive Folklore: A Librarian’s Guide

Ah Christmas, that delightful season of pine-scented air fresheners, “why yes I love socks”, and Typo’s controversial range of Christmas ornaments. For most of us, Christmas is a fairly vanilla, tinselly affair. We spend time with our family and friends, we eat a wonderfully large amount of food, we exchange gifts. And don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas, but a good part of that love comes from knowing a few of the more dubious, bizarre, and (dare I say?) ooky spooky stories surrounding the festive season.

via GIPHY


Having recently realized the extent to which Santa Claus has become a symbol for Western consumerism perpetuated by a wealthy white man with a problematic labour-force, I am refusing to make a case for SC as a cryptid. HOWEVER, this just leaves more space to introduce you to a far more intriguing cast of Christmas cryptids…

For those new to the Wellington City Libraries Cryptozoological Society, a cryptid is an animal or entity whose existence hasn’t been conclusively proven (to give you an example, the prom king and queen of cryptids would definitely be Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster).

Krampus

The Anti-Santa himself, Krampus (from the German krampen, meaning ‘claw’) is a popular figure in festive European mythology. Depicted as an anthropomorphic half-goat/half-demon, Krampus decided that coal simply wasn’t enough to discourage misbehaviour, and – according to legend – punishes bad children by either a) beating them with sticks and switches, b) dragging them to hell, or c) eating them. Feel free to tag yourself.

Jólakötturinn

The Jólakötturinn (pronounced ‘yola-ka-turin’), or Yule Cat, originates from Icelandic legend, and is another rather ominous figure in the ranks of supernatural beings judging your behaviour. Unlike Krampus, however, Jólakötturinn has a very specific rhetoric for measuring naughty/nice: Have you been given new clothes this Christmas? If so, you’re safe. If not, then you risk being eaten by the house-sized Yule Cat.

In accordance with Icelandic tradition, children who finish their chores in time for Christmas are given new clothing as a reward. Jólakötturinn, peering through the windows on Christmas night and seeing new clothes, may deduce that the child is good. No new clothes = indisputable immorality of child = get eaten by an enormous supernatural cat.

The Yule Lads

First of all, a moment of appreciation for the name ‘The Yule Lads’. I did not make that up.

Originating from the same mythology as the Jólakötturinn (the Yule Lads’ parents are actually the proud owners of the Yule Cat), the Yule Lads are a group of 13 trolls, each of whom has a distinct name and personality, which refers to their favourite way of causing mischief. Special mention to Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper) for coming to steal everyone’s left-overs. Over the 13 nights leading up to Christmas, the Yule Lads take turns visiting households, leaving candy in the shoes of good children, and rotting potatoes in the shoes of bad children.

The Fiordland Moose

I’ve discussed the Fiordland Moose previously, but I figured they deserve an honourable mention for being the closest thing Aotearoa has to a mythical reindeer. To summarise, several moose were released into Fiordland in 1910. The sporadic sightings and evidence found in the past 112 years have been enough to keep people wondering if these elusive moose are still out there. With enough public pressure, maybe we can bully the moose out of hiding and convince them to start leaving candy in our shoes at Christmas.

via GIPHY


And because this is not, in fact, just a place for me to rant about cryptids – come down to your local library to check out our collection of Christmas cryptozoology and festive folklore!

Cryptid Club / Andersen, Sarah
” Do you hate social gatherings? Dodge cameras? Enjoy staying up just a little too late at night? You might have more in common with your local cryptid than you think! Enter the world of Cryptid Club, a look inside the adventures of elusive creatures ranging from Mothman to the Loch Ness Monster. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mystery chronicles : more real-life X-files / Nickell, Joe
“After thirty years of paranormal investigation, acclaimed author and detective Joe Nickell opens his mystery files once again to reveal the truth behind supposedly inexplicable occurrences. Continuing what his popular Real Life X-Files started, Nickell’s new casebook examines the Shroud of Turin, the Mothman enigma, crop circles, alien abductions, and numerous other perplexing mysteries.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Monsters : a bestiary of the bizarre / Dell, Christopher
“From myth to manga, an artistic visual history of the human mind through an imaginative collection of fantastical monsters from around the world.” (Catalogue)

On monsters : an unnatural history of our worst fears / Asma, Stephen T
“”A comprehensive modern-day bestiary.”–The New Yorker” (Catalogue)

Mythical monsters : mad, mischievious, mysterious creatures / Smith, Lauren
“Have you ever met a yeti, or seen Nessie hiding below the surface? There’s no proof that these creatures exist, but just in case, we’ve collected the stories of some of the biggest, baddest and oddest monsters in the world.” (Catalogue)

Unnatural creatures
“Unnatural Creatures is a collection of short stories about the fantastical things that exist only in our minds […] Magical creatures from the werewolf, to the sunbird, to beings never before classified will thrill, delight, and quite possibly unnerve you in tales by E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Gahan Wilson, and other literary luminaries. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Norse mythology / Gaiman, Neil
“Neil Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin, and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ghosts of Christmas past
“A present contains a monstrous secret. An uninvited guest haunts a Christmas party. A shadow slips across the floor by firelight. A festive entertainment ends in darkness and screams. Who knows what haunts the night at the dark point of the year? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The mothman prophecies / Keel, John A
“This true account of the aliens who invaded the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia […] For thirteen months Point Pleasant was plagued by a dark terror that culminated in a major disaster. Unearthly noises and ghostly lights in the sky gave way to mutilated animals, winged monsters, weird flying machines and worst of all, the fearsomely demonic “Bird” – the Mothman. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Chill tidings : dark tales of the Christmas season
“The gifts are unwrapped, the feast has been consumed and the fire is well fed – but the ghosts are still hungry. The ghosts are at the door. Welcome to the second new collection of dark Christmas stories in the Tales of the Weird series, ushering in a fresh host of nightmarish phantoms and otherworldly intruders bent on joining or ruining the most wonderful time of the year. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

 

 

Big Library Read 2022: A Snake Falls to Earth

The Big Library Read is now underway!

Big Library Read is like a worldwide digital version of a book club! Big Library Read is an opportunity for library users around the whole world to read the same ebook at the same time without any wait lists or holds.

This year, from 2 until 16th November, the selected title is A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger.

A Snake Falls To Earth Libby button

Click here to go straight to this book on Libby!

Over 2022, in Wellington, our copies of A Snake Falls to Earth on Libby have been really popular! Big Library Read is your chance to get hold of this book straight away without having to wait in a reserve queue!

Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories.

Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.

Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries.

And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.

– Blurb

Just like a book club, you can contribute to discussion here: https://biglibraryread.com/join-the-discussion/

Keep a look out for a letter with the author, and a discussion guide, coming soon to Big Library Read’s current title page.

If you haven’t already, you can always download Libby on your smartphone as your one-stop-shop eLibrary! eLibrary Help – Getting started (wcl.govt.nz)

Happy reading folks!

Everything Orange!

All of us will surely know by now that we are in Orange, as we have been at this traffic light level for pretty much all of December so far. I’m sure that as avid library users you will already know all about visiting the library under Orange – wear your mask and scan your vaccine pass or exemption if you’re over twelve – but I feel there is more to be explored around the orangeness of Orange than mere alert levels.

In controversial Orange news, I have learned through this recent Spinoff article that while the Covid Traffic Light system uses the colours Red, Orange, and Green, the official colours of the literal physical traffic lights that are liberally spotted around our country are Red, Green, and Yellow.

Three traffic lights in a row. The left has a green light chosing, the centre has an orange light showing, and the right has a red light showing.

Image: Traffic Signals by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence

Look at these traffic lights! This is an instructional picture from the Waka Kotahi website accompanied by the instructional caption “A yellow signal means the lights will soon turn red”. This is very interesting since it is extremely clear that the coloured circle in the centre traffic light is so obviously orange. Like, they made the picture, if they’re calling it yellow why not make the picture yellow as well?

Anyway, while the certainty that orange is orange and yellow is yellow may be falling out from under our feet, let me return to my original subject of Orange in general.

I think Orange is an excellent colour. It’s such a happy colour, it’s the colour of the sun’s rays shining on the iconic Chelsea Golden Syrup Tin, and it’s great for hi-vis vests if you’re a cyclist, contractor, or builder.

Speaking of Golden Syrup, let me bring your attention to a rather orange book:

Edmonds cookery book.
The Edmonds cookbook is a classic, it fits right in here with that orange cover, and it contains a recipe for a Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding. What’s not to like?!

Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding is also a perfect Christmas pudding. Just saying.

In search of other Orange activities to keep you occupied over the summer, I’ve trawled through our vast selection of elibrary resources, but unfortunately not many of them really scream Orange.

We do have a fantastic language-learning service called Mango Languages, a name that just promises orangeness but in actual fact doesn’t deliver much Orange, even in the logo. Still, if you don’t let lack of actual orangeness get in the way of perceived orangeness you could give it a go!

We do have some other actually-orange things in the library that could get you excited…

…while you’re sitting back in the sun, enjoying your Golden Syrup pudding, what better thing to do than get into a good book?

Here’s a selection of books that I’ve grouped together simply based on the orange-ivity of their covers. There’s a wide range of genres here, from New Zealand fiction to romance to classic literature to adventure, but they’re all Orange! Which one are you most interested in?

Is underground / Aiken, Joan
“Bound to keep a promise to her dead uncle, Is travels to the mysterious north country to find two missing boys, one of them a prince, and to discover why so many children in London are disappearing.” (Catalogue)

Felix ever after / Callender, Kacen
“Felix Love has never been in love, painful irony that it is. He desperately wants to know why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. He is proud of his identity, but fears that he’s one marginalization too many– Black, queer, and transgender. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages, Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. He didn’t count on his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Perfect on paper / Gonzales, S.
“Seventeen-year-old Darcy Phillips, a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates, is hired by the “hot” guy at school to help him get his ex back. When Darcy is caught in the act of collecting letters from locker 89– out of which she has been running her advice service– she is blackmailed into becoming his personal dating coach. If word gets out that Darcy is behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light. What could go wrong?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Juggling with mandarins / Jones, V. M.
“Thirteen-year-old Pip finds a talent he never dreamed he had, and is determined it will remain one area of his life his domineering dad can’t touch. Somehow, Pip must find the courage to confront his father and claim the right to live his life on his own terms.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And mandarins are basically smaller superior oranges anyway.

To kill a mockingbird / Lee, Harper
“A young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s learns of injustice and violence when her father, a widowed lawyer, defends a black man falsely accused of rape.” (Catalogue)

Trash / Mulligan, Andy
“Three friends. Raphael, Gardo and Rat. Living on a heap of trash, a lifetime of sifting rubbish. One day they find something extraordinary – a deadly secret. From that moment they are hunted without mercy. With danger snatching at their heels, the boys are chased from the city’s dirty gutters to its wealthy avenues. But they can’t run for ever. They need a miracle.” (Catalogue)

Nice try, Jane Sinner / Oelke, Lianne
“Jane Sinner, a 17-year-old dropout, sets out to redefine herself through a series of schemes and stunts, including participating in a low-budget reality TV show at her local community college”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

First test / Pierce, Tamora
“Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.” (Catalogue)

A tyranny of petticoats : 15 stories of belles, bank robbers & other badass girls
“From pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago, take a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bridge of Clay / Zusak, Markus
“Upon their father’s return, the five Dunbar boys, who have raised themselves since their mother’s death, begin to learn family secrets, including that of fourth brother Clay, who will build a bridge for complex reasons, including his own redemption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And if you’ve made it this far, I hope that by now I’ve managed to remove or weaken the exclusive association of Orange with Covid. I’m sure that you’ll be simmering with rage over the officially-yellow traffic lights, off to bake a tasty snack, diving deep into an Orange read, or some other Orange-related activity!

Let’s ace Ace Week!

We’re now in the middle of Ace Week! Ace Week is an annual week to celebrate and highlight asexuality and all asexual-spectrum identities. So let’s celebrate all you Aces out there!

If you’re wondering what asexuality is, aces & aros has a pretty good introduction to asexuality and aromanticism. Awareness is important, and knowledge is a powerful thing!

Or if you’re after something more local… As part of their More Than Four campaign, InsideOUT created a series of videos that feature and explore the wide range of identities within our rainbow community. Check out their Asexual/Aromantic video below!

And since we’re a library, I couldn’t end this post without giving you some reading recommendations from our collection! Here are some books that feature asexual characters, or asexual authors!

Ace : what asexuality reveals about desire, society, and the meaning of sex / Chen, Angela
“Ace” delves into the lives of those who identify using the little-known sexual orientation of asexuality and shows what all of us can learn–about desire, identity, culture, and relationships–when we use an asexual lens to see the world”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Rick / Gino, Alex
“Eleven-year-old Rick Ramsey has generally gone along with everybody, just not making waves, even though he is increasingly uncomfortable with his father’s jokes about girls, and his best friend’s explicit talk about sex; but now in middle school he discovers the Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities can express themselves–and maybe among them he can find new friends and discover his own identity, which may just be to opt out of sex altogether.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook

Overdrive cover Asexual Fairy Tales / Hopkinson, Elizabeth (ebook)
“A refreshing collection of enchanting fairy tales that reflect the spectrum of human sexuality.” (Overdrive description)

Gender queer : a memoir / Kobabe, Maia
“In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity – what it means and how to think about it – for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.”–Amazon.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

 Elatsoe / Little Badger, Darcie
“Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day. Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe (“Ellie” for short) lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family” — Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Every heart a doorway / McGuire, Seanan
“Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere … else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced … they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter. No matter the cost.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook

8 reasons why you should check out our updated Teen book lists! (Number 3 will shock you)

Hopefully the excitingly click-bait-y title has managed to grab your attention. Let’s get into it!

We are always in the process of updating our Teen book lists. You can find them by clicking that link I just gave you, or by clicking on the “Book lists” tab under the “Teen Blog” header. And I am here to tell you about all the exciting reasons you should go read them!

1. New booklists = new books
When we update our book lists, we make sure we include recently released titles to give you something fresh and exciting to read. Maybe you’re a romance reader who’s read their way through every YA romance published before 2018 and desperately needs to find something new. Well never fear, because in our new-and-improved Romantic fiction book list you will find titles such as The Henna Wars (published in 2020), and Love in English (published in 2021)!

2. We’ve got your genre

Whatever genre you’re into, we’ll have something for you. We have many different lists of individual titles for you, as well as a list of the all the languages other than English we have books in and which libraries you can find them at.

Whether you’re into Horror, Dystopia, or Manga, we’ve got you covered!

3. They can help with your NCEA independent reading

If you’re looking for things to read for school, we can help! Our lists will definitely have something new to you, and you’ve got a lot to choose from. Choosing a book award winner or classic novel will almost certainly impress your teacher, or you could read a Māori author or a book from around the world.

We’ve also got a list specially tailored to those of you who are new to high school which covers many different genres

4. We pay attention to what you’re looking at

Over here on the Teen Blog, we pay attention to what you’re reading (as part of our mission to overtake the Kids Blog readership numbers!). And we noticed that quite a few of you have been browsing the “New Zealand Books” tag. So you didn’t ask, but we have listened and we have created a brand new New Zealand fiction book list just for you!

Yes, you.

5. Get recommendations from the best

While it may be a little proudful to claim that we are the best, this is our job and I think we’re doing pretty well. We work with books, we read a lot of books, and we know books. If there’s a book on one of our lists there’s a high chance it has been read and loved by one of your librarians (like The long way to a small, angry planet. Ugh, so good). So you can trust us! Or at least know that we’re doing our best.

And that leads me towards the next reason which is…

6. We’ve put a lot of work into these

As I’ve said, we try our best to make these lists the best they can be. The best example here is the Books from around the world list. This list features authors who write works set in their own countries, and it is one of our longest lists because our goal is to have at least one book for every country in the world! And what’s more, we’re not just picking books willy-nilly, no, we’re making sure that each book on this list (even if it’s not in the Young Adult collection) features kids or teens in prominent places in the story!

So it’s not that I’m begging you to look at our lists, but we did a useful thing – look at it please?

7. We’re always waiting for your recommendations

While we do rely on our own knowledge and reading preferences, we love hearing from you about what you’re reading and what you think. Whether you’re chatting with the librarian at your local branch or submitting a book review for the Teen Blog, we do want to hear what you think! And maybe your recommendations will make their way onto a list…

And that’s the end of my list of reasons why you should check out our Teen book lists. Like every clickbait article, I have made sure to promise more reasons than I have actually delivered, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not number 3 shocked you.

So go forth! Investigate, issue, reserve, and read!

Lockdown Cryptid-Spotting: A Librarian’s Guide

One of the few big perks of lockdown is getting to see our native fauna thriving and making their way back into our gardens. In fact, this is a great time to keep an eye out for some of the less well-known creatures creeping around our country…. That’s right, I’m talking CRYPTIDS.

For the uninitiated, a cryptid is an animal or entity whose existence hasn’t been conclusively proven. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster (although I saw Nessie when I was 6, and that seems like solid evidence). Everyone has a favourite (or they will after reading this), but most of the biggies are off overseas. So what kind of cryptids can we be keeping an eye out for here in the backyards of Aotearoa?

Waitoreke

Also known as the New Zealand otter or kaurehe, the waitoreke is arguably Aotearoa’s most legitimate cryptid because nobody actually knows what it is (or if it exists at all)! Described as a otter-like creature the size of a cat, sightings of the Waitoreke date back more than 200 years, and some sources suggest that this amphibious good boy was kept as a pet by early Māori. If you’re stuck somewhere in the South Island, keep an eye out around your local waterways for glimpses of Aotearoa’s cutest cryptid.

The Fiordland Moose

In 1910, the Southland Acclimatisation Society introduced a handful of moose into Fiordland. As it turns out, these moose were very good at hiding and were largely forgotten about. The last proven sighting of the elusive moose was in 1952 but evidence has continued to sporadically surface, such as an entire moose antler that was discovered in the early 70s. I’ll admit it’s been a little while since anything conclusive was found, but maybe lockdown will be enough to encourage the Fiordland moose to find their way back into our lives.

The Goatman

Those of you familiar with Buzzfeed Unsolved’s search for the mysterious Goatman may have jumped at the familiar name, but the Goatman which lurks on lonely roads around New Zealand is a local specialty. One of many goat-ish cryptids from around the globe, our Goatman frequently manifests as a blokey hitchhiker, and many of the recorded sightings describe him approaching cars to ask for a lift on dark nights. Despite an ominous (and apparently smelly) demeanor, being approached by the Goatman is a good omen, as he is said to warn travellers of impending accidents and guide them through dangerous stretches of road. The real GOAT.

Mothman

One of the most infamous and beloved cryptids, Mothman technically lives out in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, but what better time for a cryptid to use up those Airpoints than when everyone is cosying up inside their homes? Mothman was first spotted in the 1960’s, and has been cropping up in urban folklore ever since. Described as a 6-8 foot moth-ish humanoid with red eyes and an impressive wingspan, Mothman has reached the highest echelons of cryptid fame by having an annual festival held in his honour, and ‘mothmania’ has inspired a truly magnificent following (including a Mothman anthem set to the tune of YMCA). So, keep your eyes keen and your lamps ready…. 

Mothman IMG_2215“Mothman IMG_2215” by OZinOH is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

So make the most of our quiet streets by keeping an eye out for some of Aotearoa’s more unusual fauna. Even if you’re just spotting some of our beautiful native birds then it’d be worth it. And who knows?

Maybe that tui only looks like a tui when you’re watching……

For more information, check out the WCL trove to prepare for any future cryptozoological adventures.

Cryptid creatures : a field guide / Halls, Kelly Milner
“Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious creatures that fall between the realm of real and imaginary on the scientific spectrum. Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide offers a closer look at fifty of these amazing creatures, examining the best possible evidence for each, including scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and credible eyewitness accounts. The fifty cryptids are arranged in order alphabetically, and in addition to speculative illustrations, include details like when they were first reported, whether they are terrestrial, aerial, or aquatic, and each have a reality rating of 1 to 6, in which 1 means that the cryptid has been confirmed as a hoax, and 6 means the cryptid has been proven as real. This page-turning guide will inspire curious readers to investigate more on their own, and maybe even help to prove if a cryptid is a hoax or is real.” (Catalogue)

Abominable science! : origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and other famous cryptids / Loxton, Daniel
“Loxton and Prothero complete an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on demonstrably false phenomena, presenting both the arguments for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience perpetuating their myths.” (Catalogue)

Monsters : a bestiary of the bizarre / Dell, Christopher
“From myth to manga, an artistic visual history of the human mind through an imaginative collection of fantastical monsters from around the world.” (Catalogue)

Monstrous : the lore, gore, and science behind your favorite monsters / Beccia, Carlyn
“Carlyn Beccia presents werewolves, vampires, zombies and more as you’ve never seen them. Discover the origins of eight scream-worthy monsters, find out how major historical events shaped their creation, and delve into the science behind these fearful beasts. Engrossing (and gross!) timelines, maps, and infographics offer essential information — including the zombie virus life cycle and how to survive Godzilla’s nuclear breath.” (Catalogue)

From the Vaults VI: More Manga Gems

We have already posted in this very blog series about the treasure trove of manga titles that are available for you to reserve — over 170 series or stand-alone titles, for a total of over 4,000 unique volumes to peruse. And though we’ve been buying more manga for our branch libraries so it’s easier for you to browse, there’s still a sizeable chunk of the manga collection on the shelves at Te Pātaka, our collection and distribution centre, just waiting for you to reserve it. Read on to discover some of the library’s hidden manga gems.

Bleach. Volume 1, Strawberry and the soul reaper / Kubo, Tite

What better way to start this list than with iconic shōnen series Bleach? All 74 volumes of the legendary adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki can be found on the shelves at Te Pātaka, and you can reserve them to get sent wherever you like. If you’re still into doing things old-school, you can also find the Bleach anime (movies and series) on DVD on our catalogue. If you haven’t yet descended into the world of Soul Reapers and Hollows, spirits and afterlives, well, now is as good a time as any.

The drifting classroom. Volume 1 / Umezu, Kazuo

The Drifting Classroom is truly a hidden gem in our manga collection. First published in Japan in 1972 by horror mangaka Kazuo Umezu, this series won him the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award in 1974. After a supernatural tremor causes young Sho Takamatsu’s classroom to transport to an otherworldly post-apocalyptic wasteland, he and his classmates find themselves beset by nightmares, monsters, and creeping madness as they try to find a way back to their homes. Side note: this chilling and beautifully illustrated manga was adapted into the film Drifting School in 1995 — the film itself was generally poorly-received, but it did serve to kick-start the career of one Drake Bell, in the role of Kenny Smith!

A drifting life / Tatsumi, Yoshihiro

One of the more ‘literary’ sets on this list, Eisner Award-winning manga A Drifting Life is often read as an autobiographical series chronicling the life of the author, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, in the early stages of his career as a mangaka. Metafictional efforts like this can sometimes come across as a little stilted or forced (“Oh wow, another book about how much of a struggle it is to write a book”) — not so with A Drifting Life. The art is by turns sparkling and muted, the text by turns dense and sparse, as the situation demands. This is a work of art about work and art that you really shouldn’t miss. 

Magic knight Rayearth. [Volume 1] / CLAMP (Mangaka group)

A classic of both the magical girl and mecha genres, CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth sits among the greats of 90s shōjo manga — a feat that is even more impressive when you consider this period contains some of the true stalwarts of the genre — we’re talking like Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura levels here. Action-packed, strong characterisations, and an epic video game-esque story treatment characterise this series. It’s little wonder it spawned no fewer than six video game adaptations in its history.

My lesbian experience with loneliness / Nagata, Kabi

Okay, okay, I know we’ve written about this incredible standalone volume before on this very blog. But look, who could blame us for wanting to highlight it again? It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s expressive, it’s relatable — you definitely won’t regret picking it up. My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness made a massive splash when it burst onto the scenes in 2017 — interestingly, for a manga title, it didn’t just have an impact in Japan, but also in Western media, where it won the Crunchyroll ‘Manga of the Year’ award, was listed among the best comics of the 2017 on both Publishers Weekly and Amazon, also picking up a Harvey Award for Best Manga.

NonNonBa / Mizuki, Shigeru

Shigeru Mizuki’s critically-acclaimed NonNonBa is rightly considered one of the finest examples of gekiga (劇画) style comics, defined by its stylised, dramatic and cinematic artistic style and more esoteric subject matter. NonNonBa is at its heart a story about Mizuki’s childhood, and his complex relationship with his grandmother, which is intersected by their explorations of the world of yōkai (妖怪), the supernatural spirits of Japanese folklore. This was the first manga title to win the coveted Angoulême Prize for Best Album, the Fauve d’Or, in 2007.
Orange : the complete collection. 1 / Takano, Ichigo

What’s not to love about Orange? This is a brilliant story that fuses elements of romance and sci-fi tropes such as time travel into a very compelling slice-of-life package that is very hard to put down. The overall mood is quite sombre in places, as the series definitely doesn’t shy away from exploring some pretty dark places thematically, but the promise of hope is never far from sight. 

Otherworld Barbara. Vol. 1 / Hagio, Moto

Okay, so this is definitely a weird one, but hear us out. This science fiction thriller really throws the whole kitchen sink at the reader. Cannibalistic, murderous nine-year-olds? Check. Eccentric clergyman who possibly holds the secret to immortality? Check. An absolutely wild ride that delivers everything it promises and more? Check. We can’t promise you won’t be a little bit disturbed, but sometimes the best art can take you far beyond your comfort zone.

Ouran High School Host Club. Vol. 1 / Hatori, Bisco

Another one we’ve promoted before in this redoubtable publication. We will never not stan for Ouran High School Host Club. We hear the anime is on Netflix now, but trust us, you’ll want to read the manga first. It’s just so great!

Sakura Hime : the legend of Princess Sakura. 1 / Tanemura, Arina

So Sakura Hime isn’t about to win any major awards for originality. It does what it says on the tin. It’s a shōjo manga series featuring all the usual tropes: cutesy characters with a (slightly bloodthirsty) taste for magical combat, man-eating demons to be defeated, a touch of romance, and a band of friends who together can surely take on any challenge. But it does it so well. And we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the depth and nuance afforded to Sakura, our 14-year-old royal protagonist, and her friends. This is a good one — check it out if this is your kind of thing!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal Volume 1, The name’s Yuma! / Yoshida, Shin

Yes, there is a Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Is it good? Well, you be the judge. We will definitely say that the art is amazing. Like weirdly amazing for a spinoff of a spinoff of an anime that’s a spinoff of a trading card game that’s a spinoff of yet another anime that itself is the spinoff of a manga from the mid-90s. Give it a try; you might just like it!

We heard you like books…

… so we’ve scheduled in a teens-only Open Hour for the Central Library collection at Te Pātaka, our collection and distribution centre in Johnsonville, during the school holidays. Come along on Thursday 22 July at 3.00pm to get lost in the stacks and bring back as many books as you can carry.

You can see the main post about the Te Pātaka open days here, but we thought you, our redoubtable readers, would appreciate the opportunity to occupy the building without those pesky adults (and children) getting in your way. Just make sure to register by clicking here and entering your deets.

You are, of course, very welcome to come along to any of the other sessions on offer as well, but certain parts of the collection will only be on offer at certain times due to the configuration of the warehouse’s rolling shelves. Check out all the times and dates on offer here.

Just look at these absolute angels. Come and hang out with them among the stacks!

New Manga Series Hitting the Shelves Soon!

Manga readers — this one’s for you. The mysterious and powerful beings that dwell deep within the library’s core — yes, the very ones whose mystical and arcane energies power the growth of our collection — have turned their attention once again to manga, and are purchasing new titles and series at an unprecedented rate.

Below is a small selection of the new series currently on order — get in quick to reserve the first copies when they arrive! And don’t forget, you can find a list of all of the manga series and standalones we hold right here. Get in touch if there’s something super important you think we’re missing!

Jujutsu Kaisen / Akutami, Gege
This phenomenon of a manga probably needs no introduction. Its rise to prominence following the incredible popularity of the stunning MAPPA anime (seriously, check it out on Crunchyroll if you haven’t already) during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of legendary. Now, at long last, the gorgeously-illustrated manga is entering our collection. Do yourself a favour and reserve it quickly — we can guarantee it won’t stay on the shelves for long!

Boruto : Naruto next generations / Kodachi, Ukyo
The first seven volumes of this highly-anticipated follow-up to the golden child of shōnen manga are available now on the library catalogue. Borrow and read to your heart’s content — and decide for yourselves if it’s a pale imitation of the original, or if it’s The Real Deal. As for myself, while I think  for the most part Boruto : Naruto Next Generations avoids some of the awkward filler and pacing issues that plagued the Naruto manga, and really comes into its own as a story the further you read.

Komi Can’t Communicate / Oda, Tomohito
This gem of a manga explores some issues that I’m sure will resonate with readers everywhere — social anxiety, friendship, how to bridge that gap between perception and reality. What I dig most about Komi Can’t Communicate is how the inner lives of the loveably awkward Komi and Tadano are given really full explorations on the page. We have the first 12 volumes on order for your enjoyment!

Fangirl : the manga / Rowell, Rainbow
Here’s one that I’m particularly interested in checking out when it arrives: the manga adaptation of Fangirl, a sweet coming-of-age tale of family, fanfiction, and (yes) first love from bestselling author Rainbow Rowell. I’m not familiar with the work of Sam Maggs and Gabi Nam, the team responsible for this adaptation, but at first glance it certainly seems like the premise of the novel is perfect for the manga treatment! Definitely check this out if you’re into Rowell’s work in the expanded universe of Simon Snow.

The way of the househusband / Oono, Kousuke
Regardless of your opinion on the hotly-anticipated-but-ultimately-controversial anime adaptation (streaming now on Netflix), The way of the househusband is definitely one of the more interesting manga series to have broken into the mainstream recently. The premise is simple, if a little wacky — feared Yakuza boss Tatsu (known as ‘The Immortal Dragon’ by his associates and rivals alike) retires from his life of hard-boiled crime to become a stay-at-home househusband to support his career-driven wife. The comedy potential is only too real. 

Keep your eyes peeled for more new additions to the manga collection in the coming weeks. We’ll keep it coming as long as you keep reading it!

From the Vaults V: Books Around the World

This next piece in our From the Vaults series, being an exploration of some of the hidden gems of the library’s vast collections, is a personal favourite of mine. Whether you’re looking for books to add to your reading list for your Connections internal in English, or are just hungering for a range of cultural perspectives and experiences to add to the pile of books waiting to be read on your bedside table, don’t worry folks — we got you. Our Books From Around the World booklist has just undergone its most comprehensive update in *checks notes* a whole decade, and our ambition is for it to contain at least one book by an author from every country in the world. No biggie.

 Just as Lisa doesn't wish to eat solely at Americatown, we don't want to read solely from Aotearoatown all the time either! (Okay yeah it's a stretch but look this is the best I've got)

So anyway, we’re gonna be straight up with you — though our ambitions are great, we haven’t yet lived up to them. There are around 40 countries (Andorra, Azerbaijan, etc.) that, despite our best research, we just can’t find books from — at least, not books that have been translated into English (if you find a book from a country we’ve missed, let us know!). But the vast majority of countries around the world have representation in our master list — from Bolivia and Uruguay, Vanuatu and Kiribati, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, to Albania and Ukraine, Yemen and the UAE, the Philippines and Kazakhstan, Uganda and Angola; and many more besides. We’re pretty chuffed with it, if we’re being honest, and really recommend you check out the full list!

Some of the books we have tracked down are among the first books written by an author from that country to have ever been translated into English — for example, Return to the enchanted island by Johary Ravaloson from Madagascar, published in 2019. Others are part of a long-standing tradition of literary translation that dates back decades or centuries — The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (France, 1844) for example, or I am fifteen and I don’t want to die by Christine Arnothy (Hungary, 1955). Others, like Consuming Ocean Island by Katerina Martina Teaiwa (Kiribati, 2015) or Legends, traditions and tales of Nauru by Timothy Detudamo (Nauru, 2008) are collections of stories drawn from the world’s various oral traditions, written down with permission from indigenous storytellers.

‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what sets your list apart from the myriad of other such lists I can find online?’ Well, for starters, these are all books that you can actually get your mitts on from your local library — just click the title, then ‘Place Reserve,’ then choose the library closest to your house, and the book will soon be yours! But beyond that, there is something else that makes this list special — you! Not you you, but teens in general — we’ve done our best to try and make sure that every book that makes it onto our list is in some way, shape or form about the experiences and lives of teenagers and young people. Taken together, you could see this list as a pretty comprehensive repository of stories about what it means and has meant to be a young person around the world and through history. And we reckon that’s pretty cool.

Anyway, here are some of my favourite books from the list — but don’t forget to check out the whole list (currently sitting at about 250 books!) for the complete picture.

Here the whole time / Martins, Vitor
Country of origin: Brazil
Setting: Metro Brazil; contemporary
Original language: Portuguese
Format: Novel
Themes: body positivity, bullying, coming-of-age, LGBTQ+, single-parent families, school, self-esteem

Year of the rabbit / Tian
Country of origin: Cambodia
Setting: Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 1970s
Original language: French
Format: Graphic novel
Themes: family, government and society, history, political refugees, war

Aya / Abouet, Marguerite
Country: Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Setting: Yopougon (Yop City), Côte d’Ivoire; 1978
Original language: French
Format: Graphic novel
Themes: adventure, community, family, friendship, neighbourhoods 

The field guide to the North American teenager / Philippe, Ben
Country of origin: Haiti/Canada
Setting: Montreal, Canada – Austin, Texas; contemporary
Original language: English
Format: Novel
Themes: coming-of-age, culture shock, friendship, moving countries, relationships, school, single-parent families

Moonstone : the boy who never was / Sjón
Country of origin: Iceland
Setting: Reykjavík, Iceland; 1918-19
Original language: Icelandic
Format: Novel
Themes: coming-of-age, epidemics, globalisation, history, LGBTQ+, masculinity

The forest of wool and steel / Miyashita, Natsu
Country of origin: Japan
Setting: Hokkaido, Japan; contemporary
Original language: Japanese
Format: Novel
Themes: careers, coming-of-age, music, small-town vs. big-city

Things fall apart / Achebe, Chinua
Country of origin: Nigeria
Setting: Àlà Ị̀gbò, Southeastern Nigeria; 1890s
Original language: English
Format: Novel
Themes: British imperialism, colonisation, government and society, history, justice, masculinity

Afakasi woman / Young, Lani Wendt
Country of origin: Samoa/New Zealand
Setting: Samoa (various)
Original language: English
Format: Short stories
Themes: community, everyday life, folklore, Pasifika culture, people and society, relationships, womanhood

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.

New Simultaneous Collections on OverDrive!

We heard a rumour that you guys might quite like books. We also like books. So, we’ve created a new collection of always-available eBooks and audiobooks for you to enjoy any time, anywhere. Check out the Teen Book Club Reads section on OverDrive or Libby for the full list, but for now, here are some of our faves:

Overdrive cover Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan (ebook)
{LGBTQ+, romance, slice-of-life}
Two Boys Kissing is a cornerstone work of queer YA literature. Told from the perspectives of four boys “under the watchful eyes of a Greek chorus of a generation of men lost to AIDS,” this book explores questions of identity and emotion, and the often intimate connections between history and the personal. While you’re drying your eyes and restoring your breathing patterns to normal following this essential book, check out our LGBTQIA+ Fiction booklist for your next literary fix.

Overdrive cover Aspiring, Damien Wilkins (ebook)
{NZ author, small town, coming-of-age}
We’ve already talked about our enduring love for this book, which is a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, on a previous post on this very blog. Trust us when we say that you will not regret immersing yourself in the unforgettably wry and observational voice of 15-year-old Ricky, crafted and shaped by Damien Wilkins’ bold and beguiling prose.

Overdrive cover Monster, Michael Grant (ebook)
{dystopian, science fiction, action}
From the author of the crazily popular Gone series comes this new trilogy, available for the first time on OverDrive as a Book Club read. In the aftermath of the Perdido Beach meteorite and the deadly wave of mutations that followed, Earth is once again being struck by meteorites bearing an even more deadly virus. This time, the whole world is exposed, and humans are beginning to change, again, some gaining unfathomable power. Sound like your kind of thing? We have the follow-ups Hero and Villain available for your delectation as well.

Overdrive cover You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate (ebook)
{non fiction, art, creative writing, comics}
If you’ve ever been interested in the art of creating graphic novels and comics, this nifty guide is meant for you! It starts at the start — with the story — and shows you the ropes as you move through the whole creative process, from drawing techniques and layout/structure tips, to how to deal with creative block and building strong and recognisable characters. Who knows, we may just see your work on our shelves in the zine collections at Arapaki, He Matapihi, and Newtown Libraries!

Overdrive cover Feminism, Nadia Abushanab Higgins (ebook)
{non fiction, feminism, social sciences, women}
This book is a concise and well-written introduction to the concepts and movements embodied by the word ‘feminism,’ which author Nadia Abushanab Higgins describes as “America’s new F-word.” Although it does have an undeniable focus on the history and contemporary definitions of feminism in the United States, it still provides a useful international perspective on the movement through really interesting profiles of pioneers including Gloria Steinem, Rebecca Walker, Elizabeth Stanton, and more. If you’re interested in the intersectionality between feminism and the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements, we have a great introduction for you here.