Our reading challenge for November is to read a book by an author who identifies as LGBTQIA2S+. Whether you’re reading outside your identity or within it, it’s always a good time to read books from marginalized voices. But lately it seems particularly apropos to highlight queer authors (I’ll use that as an umbrella term for simplicity’s sake). It’s hard not to be concerned about the storm brewing below our border; book bans (or more accurately, attempts at them) are on the rise, the target of which is largely books with queer themes (and books that deal with race—doubly so if a book contains both, such as George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue). PEN America compiled a detailed report earlier this year investigating these attempts at censorship, for those who would like to learn more. Across the pond we’ve also seen an alarming uptick in transphobic rhetoric, a sort of transphobe-mania gripping the UK, famously spurred on by She Who Must Not Be Named.
Books can be tools for exploring the human condition, tools for advocacy and for empathy, for validation and support—and also, just for fun. In June, Vogueasked “Is this the golden age of queer literature?” While the answer is basically “not really”, it’s still certainly a better literary landscape than in the past. Queer authors have always existed in all genres, though not as openly (or as mainstream) as today. We’ll go over some of these genres paired with some recommendations!
Welcome to the last post in this series created in honour of VPL’s ongoing Reading Challenge and this year’s Summer Reading Club. Today I wanted to talk about fanfiction! The name itself is basically self-explanatory, but for clarity’s sake: it’s fiction inspired by someone else’s source material. This can be anything under the sun, including movies, tv shows, video games, books, other fanfiction, art, and even people (which is a subgenre known as RPF, or Real Person Fiction) and can feature bands, celebrities, historical figures, and more.
Fanfiction is not just about written works, either. It belongs to the broader category of fanworks, which include fanart, fan videos, fan music, etc.
Sometimes, fanfiction’s connection to the source material is clear and obvious. Other times, were it not for the names of the characters, you might never know what original work inspired it.
You may be wondering how legal this is, and the answer is…complicated. It depends on the source material’s copyright restrictions, how relaxed the original creators are about derivative works (see Anne Rice, who was famously ruthless about it), and whether any profit is being made off it (short answer: no profit means it’s usually fine).
Here’s an article on that aspect of fanfiction, as well as how it relates to censorship and free speech, if you’re interested in learning more.
The theme of this year’s Black History Month is February and Forever. This month, we are invited to not only remember and celebrate the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities, but also their contributions in the here and now, which enrich the multithreaded tapestry of our country. I thought this would be a great opportunity to list some recent and current works by Black Canadian authors, all of which you can borrow from VPL!
Desmond Cole shatters the assumptions that Canada is a post-racist nation by chronicling the events of a single year (2017), which was also Canada’s 150th as a country. It was a time of, among other things, calls for borders to be tightened against Black refugees from the States crossing through Manitoba, Indigenous peoples fighting for land and water protection against invasive and damaging pipelines, and police rallying around an officer accused of murder.