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NHPR Reads: June 2024

Sara Plourde

As two queer women who spearhead this monthly series, Pride month selections are always special. It’s a chance to create more visibility around our own community, and to invite people in. In a time when LGBTQ+ rights are still being debated and fought over, it feels especially important to shine a light on underrepresented voices, and to share the stories we tell about ourselves.

If you’re looking for more recommendations, we suggest checking out what your local library has displayed this month or reading a bit more about the winners of the Stonewall Awards from American Library Association know as “the first and most enduring award for LGBTQIA+ books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association's Rainbow Round Table.”

Happy reading and happy Pride! - Zoë and Sara

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Coming of age memoir about a young Black gay man in the 1990s in Texas. Honestly, I recommend just about anything from Jones, including the podcast Vibe Check, where he is one-third of a queer, Black superhost trio that includes Sam Sanders (formerly It’s Been a Minute and Into It), and Zach Stafford (journalist and formerly of Advocate Magazine). At the end of many episodes, Jones, a poet, will read aloud another poet’s work that fits the moment, and if you’re “not into poetry,” I dare you to give it a listen, and follow along with the poem in front of you, to train your own reading ear. His own poetry is full of grief and joy in equal measure (try “The Blue Dress”). - Christina Phillips (she/her)

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Less is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that explores the age old question: can one really run away from their problems? The story follows Arthur, a poignant and hilarious novelist looking to both fall out of and in love. One of my favorite authors of all time, Ann Patchett reviewed this one and said "Excuse me for interrupting, but I found the book I’ve been looking for, and it seems quite possible it’s the book you’re looking for too....I recommend it with my whole heart." I agree, Ann! - Zoë Kay

When I Heard at the Close of the Day by Walt Whitman

Lots of people, like myself, love Walt Whitman’s poetry, but I’d never read this poem before until recently. In this poem, Whitman capture the simple sweetness of knowing, “The one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,

In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me,

And his arm lay lightly around my breast – and that night I was happy.” - Jackie Harris 

Gay Science: THE TOTALLY SCIENTIFIC EXAMINATION OF LGBTQ+ CULTURE, MYTHS, AND STEREOTYPES by Rob Anderson

Author and internet famous comedian Rob Anderson uses the science textbook format of our youth to examine queer stereotypes and LGBTQ+ culture with hilarious explanations borrowed from real scientific principles in this silly and shiny coffee table book. - Zoë Kay

Late Bloomer by Mazey Eddings

A sweet and breezy queer romance, featuring two women, a struggling flower farm, and some lottery winnings. A lovely light choice for spring/summer! - Sara Plourde

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Okay, so this is sci-fi, but it’s also hopepunk, a style of storytelling that is like a space opera where everyone is just trying to do their best. There are enemies, sure, and some plot, but most of the book (and the broader series, Wayfarer) is about creatures (human and alien alike) learning to understand, love, and forgive each other. I found it curiously comforting once the expected bigotry failed to surface. It made me realize how often I read stories with clenched teeth, waiting for the plot or characters to kick me in the gut. This book feels gentle in a way I rarely see in sci-fi. -Christina Phillips (she/her)

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

This queer classic is a meditation on shame, love, and the limitations that we set for ourselves. It’s a true gut punch of a story - as one should expect from an author as prolific as Baldwin with language and themes worth studying for decades to come. -Zoë Kay

Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date by Ashley Herring Blake

Apparently, it’s the year I recommend queer romances! This book, the third in an ongoing series, features the charming couple of Iris and Stevie, boisterous and shy, respectively. A classic opposites attract situation, complete with meddling friends and near disasters! Each one of the books in this series has won me over, and this might be my favorite so far. - Sara Plourde

Notebooks by Tennessee Williams with editing by Margaret Rose Thornton

This collection contains the personal notebooks of great American playwright Tennessee Williams written from 1936 to 1981. The notebooks explore Williams' intimate personal life, professional relationships, anxieties and fears, his struggles with addiction, and myriad unpublished stories. I was worried when I began this giant text that I would feel untethered and lose track of the larger timeline, but Thornton’s detailed footnotes keep even the most anxious reader grounded. -Zoë Kay

Legendary Children: THE FIRST DECADE OF RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE AND THE LAST CENTURY OF QUEER LIFE by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Legendary Children centers itself around the idea that not only is RuPaul's Drag Race the queerest show in the history of television, but that RuPaul and company devised a show that serves as an actual museum of queer cultural and social history, drawing on queer traditions and the work of legendary figures going back nearly a century. In doing so, Drag Race became not only a repository of queer history and culture, but also an examination and illustration of queer life in the modern age. It is a snapshot of how LGBTQ folks live, struggle, work, and reach out to one another--and how they always have--and every bit of it is tied directly to Drag Race.”

My Autobiography of Carson McCullersby Jenn Shapland

Jenn Shapland discovers love letters written to legendary author Carson McCullers by another woman, recognizes herself in them, and writes this intertwined memoir of love, queerness, self-discovery, and the stories we tell about ourselves and others. Discovering a hidden side to one of her idols leads to a moving examination of self. It’s beautiful! - Sara Plourde

Zoë Kay serves as the Marketing and Event Coordinator for the station. She is focused on working within and alongside the communities of New Hampshire to promote the mission of NHPR.
Sara has been a part of NHPR since 2011. Her work includes data visualizations, data journalism, original stories reported on the web, video, photos and illustrations. She is responsible for the station's visual style and print design, as well as the user experience of NHPR's digital platforms.
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