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Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

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

Tag: stuff to read

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 3,000 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, compelling its soul always to look upwards — 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.