Tag Archives: Young Adult

Read Proud: Books for Pride Month

image of pride flagAs we all know, June is Pride Month. And as we continue on our educational journeys in this electrifying time of social upheavalcelebrating marginalized populations feels more necessary than ever. We’ve seen a lot of ugliness rise up particularly in the last few years—a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down, what with the all-too-recent repeal of trans rights in the US—and it’s enough to make you feel helpless sometimes. While we continue to be let down by those we idolized (cough JK Rowling), we can turn to more positive examples (cough Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson) to shape how we want our future to look. As I talked about in my last post, the idea of joyful expression can be a salve against the wounds inflicted by society, a way of pushing back against a force that wants you beaten down and depressedBut more than just joy, allowing marginalized stories to take whatever form they want—allowing artistic voices to flourish regardless of origin—is what we should be fighting for!  

For Pride Month, I put together a list of LGBTQ+ titles that span genres and identities, to give a taste of the kind of variety that’s out there. No doom and gloom here (but maybe some delicious heartbreak). And while VPL doesn’t currently have some newer titles due to Coronavirus-related delays (look out for Something to Talk AboutYou Exist Too MuchBroken People, and Love After Love in the future), we do carry plenty of others! This list was only supposed to include ten titles, but apparently I wrote eleven, because I can’t count. So now it’s a list of eleven titles, in no particular order

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

When’s the last time you laughed – a hearty, can’t catch your breath, rib-tickling – kind of laugh? Maybe it’s been a while. Maybe you just don’t think there’s anything to laugh about these days, during this challenging, tiring, and seemingly endless monotony we are living in. Maybe you feel guilty to laugh knowing that people in your community are struggling and suffering, knowing that life may not return to the way you remember. Maybe you are still reeling from the unforgivable atrocity against George Floyd, and rightly so (please see Karen’s enlightening blog post on allyship and anti-racism).

Yes, even with all these sorrows, our collective anger and outrage, we must make room for laughter. Humour can lighten our mental load, provide a much-needed respite from the unrelenting flow of bad news, and help us cope with this new world in which we find ourselves.

We have much to be grateful for. Many of us are surrounded by a loving circle of comrades who are enduring quarantine right alongside us. We have seen so many of our community members dedicate their time, resources, and energy to help those less fortunate. And we have prevailed, finding new and innovative ways to connect, exercise, relax, and nourish our souls (#TogetherVaughan). We are gonna get through this!

I’m here to tell you that laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s a scientific fact! Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, and thereby actually improves your resistance to disease. Take a moment to let that sink in. Laughter, yes, plain old-fashioned heart pumping laughter, is actually a disease-fighting superhero!

Below are some of my tried and true favourites to ease the doldrums, put a smile on your face, and warm your heart. Most are available in digital form, however, if you prefer a physical copy, Vaughan Public Libraries has you covered with curbside pickup at select branches. Continue reading

Jazz Age Ghosts and New York City: The Conclusion of The Diviners Has Arrived

Image result for diviners original book coverYes, it’s the ’20s again! Except unlike the last round of years ending in 20-something, there’s not much “roaring” about our decade so far (I like to joke that it’s more like we’re starting this decade in 1929—dancing on the edge of economic collapse). I’m not usually a fan of head-in-the-sand coping tactics, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not enjoying everyone’s determination to recreate—albeit quite sadly—the golden lustre of 100 years ago. How many 1920s-themed New Years parties did you hear about, or possibly attend? Like that one meme says, “My inner Jay Gatsby is about to pop off. Might fuck around and throw parties for an unrequited love. Might die in a pool. Who knows. It’s the 20s, bby.” The cult of Gatsby is alive and well, and we are determined to have a good time (let’s just ignore the actual themes of the book for the time being). A century later and we’re still seduced by the glamour of flappers and jazz and illicit rumrunners. 

If you’re a fan of that Great Gatsby vibe, let me call your attention to a criminally underrated book series, whose final installment The King of Crows hit shelves this past February. It’s called The Diviners by Libba Bray. Every time one of these books drops, it periodically consumes my life. Each one is roughly 500 pages long, and packed to the brim with everything a reader could ask for: 1920s New York, magic powers, ghosts, ridiculous Jazz Age lingo, wild parties, social commentary, even more ghosts, and all the POC and LGBTQ+ representation your heart desires. (Every time I tell someone what these books are about, I feel like Stefon from SNL. “This club has everything…”) Our main girl is Evie O’Neill, the “Sweetheart Seer”; a Midwestern transplant turned New York “Jazz Baby”, who makes a name for herself as a radio psychic. Her new friend Theta Knight is a chorus girl, dancing for the Ziegfeld Follies, while her will-they-won’t-they love interest Sam Lloyd is a charming pickpocket from a Russian Jewish family. Memphis Campbell is a Harlem poet caught up in bookkeeping for the menacing crime bosses of the neighbourhood nightclubs. Ling Chan is the dutiful daughter of Chinese and Irish immigrants, crippled by an illness but no less strong for it. And Henry Dubois IV is a New Orleans runaway, a talented musician at the Follies who escaped his old money home after his father found love letters from another boy in his pocket. This colourful cast of characters fills out the alluring hodge-podge personality of New York, but the best part of all? They all have their own unique powers, coming together under the umbrella term “Diviners” to fight evil, like early 20th century Avengers. The evil in question is the titular King of Crows, a menacing figure from the underworld looking to use Diviners to open a portal between his world and ours. Or something. It’s complicated.  

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