Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Book Round-Up. I know, I said I was taking off for June but I’ve run across some incredible books and I wanted to share them with you. June is Pride Month and many of you know, I’m a huge LGBTQ+ supporter. I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, love is love and everyone has the right to be who they are no matter what the world thinks. So, here’s my choices of must-read LGBTQ+ reads. I’d love to know yours so please share in the comments below.
Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson
National Book Award Finalist
New York Times Bestseller “Another Brooklyn is a sort of fever dream, containing both the hard truths of life and the gentle beauty of memory. I loved this book.” —Ann Patchett “Full of moments of grief, grace, and wonder, Another Brooklyn proves that Jacqueline Woodson is a master storyteller.” —Angela Flournoy, author of the National Book Award Finalist The Turner House “Another Brooklyn is another kind of book, another kind of beautiful, a lyrical, hallucinatory, heartbreaking, and powerful novel. Every gorgeous page leads to another revelation, another poignant event or memory. This is an incredible and memorable book.” —Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
For August, running into a long-ago friend sets in motion resonant memories and transports her to a time and a place she thought she had mislaid: 1970s Brooklyn, where friendship was everything. August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled their neighborhood streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, brilliantly talented, with a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappeared, where fathers found religion, and where madness was a mere sunset away. Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood—when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up. In prose exquisite and lyrical, sensuous and tender, Woodson breathes life into memories, portraying an indelible friendship that united young lives.
Stray City: A Novel by Chelsey Johnson
A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.
“Engrossing . . . a thoughtful and joyous literary experience, one that celebrates its characters and liberally rewards its readers.”—New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice
All of us were refugees of the nuclear family...
Twenty-three-year-old artist Andrea Morales has escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.
A decade later, when her precocious daughter, Lucia, starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.
A thoroughly modern and original antiromantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.
Whatever...Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves by Maria Bello
The acclaimed actress and dedicated activist shares her personal journey of discovery, and reframes outdated ideas about partnership, love and family that will resonate with everyone who lives “outside of the box”
“Actress Maria Bello’s gutsy memoir/manifesto advocates dispensing with the labels we use to describe our mental health, our sexuality. . . . The volume is rich with candid, provocative ruminations.”—O, the Oprah Magazine
“Whatever . . . Love is Love isn’t your typical celebrity memoir. . . . Instead, each chapter, through charming candor and humor, challenges a series of “labels” that represent impossible standards to which we hold ourselves.”—Marie Claire
Am I damaged? Am I a good mom? Am I Catholic? Am I resilient? Am I enough?
Questioning the labels we wear when it comes to partnership, career, love, and sexuality is at the heart of Maria Bello’s Whatever . . . Love Is Love.
Written as a series of provocative questions and thoughtful answers, Whatever . . . Love Is Love is filled with deeply personal, often funny, and even passionate stories, stories in which Maria bares her soul and shares what she’s learned—not only about romantic love, but also about her relationship with her parents, her feelings about spirituality, her sexual identity, the highs and lows of her career, her humanitarian work, and her worth as a mother.
Using her experiences as a gateway to a larger conversation, Maria encourages you to think about the life you lead, who you love, what you do, what you believe in, and what you call yourself . . . and helps you to realize that the only labels that matter are the ones we place on and accept for ourselves, even if they don’t fit the mold of “typical.”
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North by Blair Braverman
A rich and revelatory memoir of a young woman confronting her fears and finding home in the North
Blair Braverman fell in love with the North at an early age: by the time she was nineteen, she had left her home in California, moved to Norway to learn how to drive sled dogs, and worked as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to make a life for herself in the North, she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her.
By turns funny and sobering, bold and tender, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube charts Blair’s endeavor to become a “tough girl”—someone who courts danger in an attempt to become fearless. As she ventures into a ruthless arctic landscape, Blair faces down physical exhaustion—being buried alive in an ice cave, and driving a dogsled across the tundra through a white-out blizzard in order to avoid corrupt police—and grapples with both love and violence as she negotiates the complex demands of being a young woman in a man's land.
Brilliantly original and bracingly honest, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube captures the triumphs and the perils of the journey to self-discovery and independence in a landscape that is as beautiful as it is unforgiving.
Blackfish City: A Novel by Sam J. Miller
“Miller gives us an incisive and beautifully written story of love, revenge, and the power (and failure) of family in a scarily plausible future. Blackfish City simmers with menace and heartache, suspense and wonder. Plus, it has lots of action and a great cast of characters. Not to mention an orca and a polar bear!” —Ann Leckie, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Clarke Awards
After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption has set in, vast economic inequality spawns unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.
When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. “The orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented of acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves.
Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.
Jimmy Neurosis: A Memoir by James Oseland
From a celebrated figure of the food world comes a poignant, provocative memoir about being young and gay during the 1970s punk revolution in America.
Long before James Oseland was a judge on Top Chef Masters, he was a teenage rebel growing up in the pre–Silicon Valley, California, suburbs, yearning for a taste of something wild. Diving headfirst into the churning mayhem of the punk movement, he renamed himself Jimmy Neurosis and embarked on a journey into a vibrant underground world populated by visionary musicians and artists.
In a quest that led him from the mosh pits of San Francisco to the pop world of Andy Warhol’s Manhattan, he learned firsthand about friendship of all stripes, and what comes of testing the limits—both the joyous glories and the unanticipated, dangerous consequences.
With humor and verve, Oseland brings to life the effervescent cocktail of music, art, drugs, and sexual adventure that characterized the end of the seventies. Through his account of how discovering his own creativity saved his life, he tells a thrilling and uniquely American coming-of-age story.
Openly Bob by Bob Smith
As an openly gay comic, Bob Smith broke barriers with an appearance on "The Tonight Show." Now Smith offers up his own original, whine-free perspective on being grown up and gay.In OPENLY BOB, the acclaimed comedian candidly, and humorously, tackles issues facing grown-up gays as they make their place in an overwhelmingly straight society. From bringing your boyfriend home to your father's funeral, to being the only gay couple at a family wedding, to surviving couples counseling, Smith's decidedly wry spin on the events of our lives resonates with keen observation and hilarious truth."So Mom says to me on the phone, 'Just because you're coming home for your father's funeral doesn't mean we can't have fun!'"Sex education, meteor showers, lesbian ventriloquist dummies, fleamarket shopping, body piercing, pot -smoking drag queens, environmental correctness, Judgment Day, Samuel Beckett, Newt Gingrich, Coco Chanel, Sigmund Freud--nothing and no one escapes Smith's incisive eye in this very human collection of comic essays.
Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is by Abigail Garner
“In this insightful, warm and groundbreaking work of reporting, Abigail Garner addresses the most challenging issues that arise among gay parents and their families.”—Noelle Howey, author of Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhood-My Mother’s, My Father’s, and Mine
Abigail Garner was five years old when her mother and father divorced and her dad came out as gay. Growing up immersed in gay culture, she now calls herself a “culturally queer” heterosexual woman. As a child, she often found herself in the middle of the political and moral debates surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parenting. After college, she began to speak publicly about her family and has since become a nationally recognized advocate for the estimated 10 million children growing up with LGBT parents. The creator of FamiliesLikeMine.com, Garner has written a deeply personal and much-needed book based on eight years of activism combined with interviews with more than fifty sons and daughters.
More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson
A collection of award-winning stories about four outsiders whose unruly lives intersect on the back streets of New Orleans
“These are stunning stories. Barb Johnson is the kind of writer whose work I dream of finding and rarely do. Yes, precise and gorgeous language. Yes, a wonderful sense of humor, and another of pathos made over into something much more effective--a vision of all these people just doing the best they can and along the way becoming the best kind of stories--the kind that reveal, enlarge and make living seem worth the trouble.”
- Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
From the rural Gulf Coast to a rough-and-tumble New Orleans neighborhood known as Mid-City, these stories pulse with an anxious inner life set down in the chaos of the street. Closely linked tales introduce us to teenaged Delia, who experiences first-love jitters atop an oil storage tank where she tries to work up the nerve to kiss a girl. Dooley’s music career takes off when he moves to the city, but some devastating news points to divorce and an impulse buy ends in tragedy. A sensitive alcoholic named Pudge survives his fat-boy childhood with an abusive father and then hides out from his own son, Luis. On the eve of his confirmation, the fatherless Luis drugs his mother’s evil boyfriend. It is a Mid-City laundromat that serves as home base for this cast of powerfully drawn characters who must all unite to save Luis from a violent end. Funny and haunting by turns, Johnson’s unforgettable characters are driven by something fragile and irresistible, a sputtering drive to love and be loved.
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MRS N, Book Addict