Sometimes Love is Cooking for Someone Else

I've put up lists of the library's yaoi manga before. Now, most scholars and readers will tell you that most yaoi manga, despite depicting boys love, is aimed at a female audience(check out this book if you're interested in learning more). These series are highly dramatized, romanticized, and on the whole very misleading about relationships between men. Thus I bring to you What Did You Eat Yesterday?

This manga series focuses on Shiro and Kenji, a gay couple that lives in Tokyo. Kenji works as a hair stylist, and Shiro works at a law firm. But no matter how busy their days are, they always share dinner together. The series focuses a lot on the relationship between the two main characters and how they deal with being gay in the conservative city of Tokyo, and how they discuss their difficulties over dinner, which Shiro usually cooks (there are quite a few pages in this series devoted to cooking). This is a more down-to-earth relationship, very believable, with none of the drama or overly romanticized scenes of standard yaoi series. The best part about this series is that it isn't entirely marketed to a female audience! So if you want to see a manga that more accurately depicts a gay relationship as well as a sweet story, check it out!

Then, whether or not you like the series, you can try Antique Bakery. This is a more standard yaoi series, short with only 4 volumes, but it still has an emphasis on food! And the series has even been made into an anime and a Korean drama if you're interested.

George

One of my favorite books published this year is George by Alex Gino. In their debut novel, Gino expertly crafts the story of George, a transgender girl coming to terms with her identity.

In this moving and heartwarming novel, we follow George as she attempts to land the lead role of Charlotte in her school play of Charlotte's Web. There's only one problem: the lead role is a "girl's role". George is not a boy who "wants to be a girl", but a girl in a world where no one can see her. George feels that if she were to play the role of Charlotte, the world would see her as she truly is and not as she appears outwardly. The book brilliantly weaves together George's intensely private and public struggles, and the reactions of her family, friends, classmates and the world at large.

Intended for a middle grade audience (fourth to sixth grade), this simple but important story never comes across as a lesson. Instead, George speaks to the difficulties that transgender members of our community face on a regular basis. Gino approaches the subject with a clear and positive outlook on a sometimes tricky topic, and ultimately delivers a profound story of an individual trying to find their place in the world.

Interested in similar stories? Give Gracefully Grayson a try. This book tells the story of Grayson Sender, a sixth-grader coming into her own as a transgender girl. This novel is intended for a slightly older crowd (for sixth grade and older), but is another wonderful story about discovering your identity and staying true to oneself.

Also check out our Gender Variant Books for Children and Teens public list for more picture book, middle grade and teen book recommendations.

Girls Love Boys Love!

Manga fans rejoice! Below you will find a list of the teen manga in the library that falls under the yaoi or shonen-ai genre (this doesn't include manga in the adult section; hopefully that list will come later!). What is yaoi you may ask? It's when the main relationship in the story involves two male characters. Sometimes this evolves into a romantic relationship, sometimes it's just heavily implied that a romantic relationship could exist between the characters. Forget about looking for yaoi subtext in these series, the love is right in front of you!

La Esperanca - Georges Saphir is the perfect student: good grades, good looks, and beloved by everyone. But his world is turned upside down when Robert Jade shows up. The ultimate delinquent, Robert is annoyed at Georges' act, so he makes it his mission to shatter Georges' perfect image. As Robert pushes Georges to his limits, the two boys realize they may be more similar than they had thought.

Gravitation - When your dream is to become the biggest rock star in Japan, nothing is easy. Especially love. Shuichi Shindou is the lead singer of the band Bad Luck. He's a little goofy and childish, but his band mates find it endearing. When Shuichi accidentally bumps into Eiri Yuki, a cold, stoic, novelist, Eiri criticizes Shuichi's song lyrics. Not one to take that lying down, Shuichi attempts to confront Eiri about his harsh words, and over the course of the story Shuichi keeps finding himself inexplicably drawn to Eiri. Can romance truly bloom between such different people?

Loveless - Set in a world where youth have cat ears and tails and adults don't, Ritsuka Aoyagi has just started attending a new school when he meets Soubi Agatsuma. Soubi turns out to be a friend of Ritsuka's older brother, who had recently been murdered. Ritsuka is determined to find the cause of his brother's death and teams up with Soubi. The two form a duo and compete in magical duels where Soubi is the 'Fighter' and Ritsuka is the 'Sacrifice.' Together they seek the truth and attempt to take down the secret organization, Septimal Moon.

Tokyo Babylon - As a powerful magician and heir to a long line of onmyouji that have served the emperor, Subaru Sumeragi lives in Tokyo and solves occult murders with his twin sister and their mutual friend, Seishiro Sakurazuka. The three face off against magic and demons that plague the world, but not all is as it appears. Seishiro declares his love for Subaru, but will Seishiro's dark secrets prevent the two from being together?

Cantarella - Cesare Borgia is the illegitimate son of an Italian aristocrat. As an infant, Cesare's soul was sold to the devil to ensure his father became Pope. As a young boy, Cesare is shunned by his father and the boy realizes that he has demons and dark spirits that protect him. As he grows older and his life begins to fall apart, Cesare begins to rely on the darkness within him. He uses his skill and seductive looks to manipulate men and women alike, but can he regain his humanity when he keeps pushing away those he loves?

Some other series that aren't specifically yaoi but have those yaoi undertones that fangirls can't get enough of (at least according to the fanbase) include: No.6, Godchild, Petshop of Horrors, and Vampire Doll.

Happy reading!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #560 "When the past has past from you at last, let go.. then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

After the Parade * * by Flannery O'Connor and Rona Jaffe Award winner Lori Ostlund is a deeply moving debut about breaking ties, moving on and taking charge of one's life at any age.

For 20 years, Aaron Englund has lived under the Pygmalion-like shelter of his older partner, Walter whose teaching position took them to Albuquerque. Now the 40 year-old Aaron is finally ready to take control of his life, by moving alone to San Francisco.

Gone are the comforts of a two-income household and Walter's insistence on elegant living. Between a shoddy garage apartment and the absurdly ramshackle ESL school where he teaches, Aaron sees that real freedom will not come until he has made peace with his memories of Morton, Minnesota, and his heartbreak childhood, where after his abusive father's death (falling off a float in the town parade), his mother selfish and enigmatic, ran off with the town pastor.

But it was the larger-than-life misfits of his childhood that he remembers best - the sardonic, wheel-chair bound dwarf named Clarence,; a generous, obese baker named Bernice, a kindly aunt preoccupied with dreams of The Rapture who helped Aaron find his place in a provincial world hostile to difference. When an opportunity presents itself to finally close this chapter in his life, he heads home. "The building blocks of this novel are anecdotes, in all of their illuminating, messy glory. Everything here aches, from the lucid prose to the sensitively treated characters to their beautiful and heartbreaking stories."

"Written with homespun charm and unceasing vitality, After the Parade is a glorious new anthem for the outsider."

* * = 2 starred reviews

Otomen: What if the #1 Kendo fighter in the World Embraced His Feminine Side?

Asuka Masamune is cool, he's the best Kendo fighter in the world and ranked at the top for Judo and Karate too. He is considered to be a a very "manly-man". However, Asuka has a secret that he's been keeping from the world: he loves sweets, cooking, sewing, and all things cute.

Asuka falls in love with Ryu Miyakozuka, a girl who is being raised by her manly-man father after her mother died. Soon, another student notices that Asuka loves Ryu and decides to, for his own personal amusement, to bring them together.

Will Askua be able to show his true self to his new friends or will he forever have to hide who he truly is? Find out by reading Otomen! The library has the whole series of manga so you won't miss a thing!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #518 - “Why aren’t midwives the heroines of society that they should be? Why do they have such a low profile? They ought to be lauded to the skies, by everyone.” ~ Jennifer Worth

I have been unashamedly hand-selling The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth in the past weeks and so far, great reports from everyone who've read it.

Former Australian (Melbourne) Event Planner Sally Hepworth sets her US debut in Providence/Conanicut Island (RI) where three generations of midwives called home. This is a lovely story about family, and at the heart of the matter - "biology was only part of it".

In the 7th month of her pregnancy, Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is still determined to keep the identity of the baby's father hidden from her family and co-workers. Though her mother Grace has a hard time accepting Neva's request for privacy, her grandmother Floss, a retired midwife herself, is handling the news with great understanding, having kept a bombshell-of-a-secret in the front pocket of her handbag for five decades.

As Neva's due date approaches, her decision to raise her child as a single parent turns complicated when her best friend, Patrick Johnson, a McDreamy pediatrician offers to be the baby's father while two other likely candidates (Neva is never quite sure) actually have claims on the title. When a difficult birth threatens Grace's license, and Floss suffers a heart attack, secrets are revealed; and the family rallies to usher in Neva's baby, born during a horrific winter storm.

"This intelligent, well-plotted debut will draw readers in from the very first word and keep them engaged until the end." Readers interested in further exploring the topic of midwifery would delight in Midwives by Christopher Bohjalian; the Hope River series by Patricia Harman; and let's not forget Call the Midwife, a BBC series adaptation of Jennifer Worth's memoir.

Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home, is coming to Ann Arbor

Hugely popular graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama, and many other graphic novels, will be coming to the Michigan Theater on January 22, 2015. Bechdel's work intertwines political and personal spheres. She uses stories of her father's life before gay rights and her mother's life prior to the women's rights movement to portray intimate images of oppression. In Fun Home, her most popular work, Bechdel shares her personal tales of coming-of-age and coming out in the 1950s and 1960s, under the shadow of her parents' unhappy marriage and nation-wide homophobia.

Bechdel's talk at the Michigan Theater will begin at 5:10pm. The event is free and open to the public. You can read more about Bechdel and the event itself here.

New LGBTQ Books

Want to learn more about history, issues, and personal stories relating to the LGBTQ community? You’re in luck, because AADL just got in a bundle of new (and new to us) books on these topics!

For amazing vintage photographs of LGBTQ folks, check out the beautiful new book The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride. Each photograph, which range in date from 1900 to 1960, tells a beautiful and intriguing story. Taken as a whole, these lovely portraits illuminate a part of history that is frequently glossed over. If the photographs make you wish you knew more about early American gay couples, take a look at Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, which details the lives of two women who built a life together in the early 1800s.

If you’re interested in a primer on LGBTQ issues and facts, you will want to check out both "You Can Tell Just By Looking": And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People and Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue. For a more indepth look at these topics, try Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion and Gender Outlaws : The Next Generation.

The titles above are just a sample of the books we’ve gotten in! For a complete list, look here: New LGBTQ Books

Sizzling Summer Reads #4 (& Fabulous Fiction Firsts #478 ) "Summer's lease hath all too short a date.” ~ William Shakespeare

The Last Kings of Sark * by Rosa Rankin-Gee (named one of Esquire magazine's 75 Brilliant Young Brits', and winner of the Shakespeare & Company's international Paris Literary Prize in 2011).

Sark, pop.400, a remote car-less Channel Island, reached only by an all-day ferry ride (or private plane) from Guernsey. Jude, a recent grad (St. Andrews and wrongly assumed to be a guy, as in Law, Hey, and the Obscure), is hired by Eddy, the patriarch of the Defoe family to tutor 16 year-old Pip for the summer before university. Thrown together by necessity, Jude and Sofi, the magnetic, mercurial family cook, quickly bond as roommates and coconspirators. Left on their own away from adult eyes, the three embark on a magical summer of exploring. Years later, as their lives take them to Paris, Normandy and London, memories of the summer they shared on Sark remain.

Debut novelist "Rankin-Gee's tactile, mellifluous prose is on full display here, as the tiniest details help fully immerse readers in the otherworldly island setting." "The fluid sexuality will be a welcome offering for readers of LGBT fiction. "

"Compelling, sensual, and lyrical..., a tale of complicated love, only children and missed opportunities."

Anne Rivers Siddons offers her fans another emotionally gripping, beach-themed read with The Girls of August.

Every August, four women gather for a week of relaxation at a beach house. This started when their husbands met at med school, and the rich Cornelia, married to the party-animal Teddy, invited them to her beach house. Cornelia didn't last, and the annual trip was suspended when Melinda (Mrs. Teddy #2) dies in a tragic accident, and the Girls of August slowly drift apart.

When "Baby," who is half the age of the other ladies becomes Mrs. Teddy #3, she attempts to reestablish the August ritual. As Rachel, Barbara and narrator Maddy gather at a remote beach house on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, the women must come to terms with their differences and find a sense of unity in the midst of health issues, marital conflict, and infertility as they ride out a violent storm.

Not ready to bide the bare-foot season farewell? Try Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky; All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue; The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank; The Island by Elin Hilderbrand; and A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Enjoy these precious last days of summer.

* = starred review

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

Those interested in personal memoirs and stories will love Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. Six honest teens from diverse backgrounds share their inspirational and often heartbreaking experiences in trying to find and identify who they really are. Each teen describes how they first realized they were a different gender and their transitional experiences since then. With a format based on taped interviews, readers will feel as though they are having a conversation with each teen in person. In addition to providing a great introduction to readers first exploring what it means to be transgender or intersex, "Beyond Magenta" would function well in teen book clubs or group discussions on identity. An extensive glossary and resource guide are located in the back of the book for extra clarification and further research.

Susan Kuklin is well-known for her raw and informative nonfiction books, including No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row and Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery. Many of her books, including "Beyond Magenta", feature her own engaging photography. To learn more about Susan Kuklin, visit her website.

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