LGBT+ History Month – February 2022

Hello there! My name is Jordan. I’m currently a Library Assistant at Winchester Library and today I’m guest-writing for the blog to talk to you about LGBT+ History Month.

Throughout February, Hampshire Libraries will be celebrating and spotlighting LGBT+ history and culture, as well as recognising the achievements of LGBT+ pioneers from all fields of life. LGBT+ History Month started in 2005, and is supported by a network of various charities, organisations, and schools.

This year’s theme is ‘Politics in Art’, with the aim of highlighting the importance of art and artistic expression in furthering LGBT+ rights and challenging injustice. It is easy to forget that only a few decades ago, creating art that was outside the norms of society would have been heavily censored and criticised, and continues to be this way for many parts of the world today.

Despite this, there were many bold pioneers. Artists such as Keith Haring generated awareness and activism about AIDs in the 1980s. Poets such as Audre Lorde spoke of gender and sexuality in an era where such topics were not widely accepted.

Art in all its forms has the power to inspire, educate and provoke. There is a rich history of defiantly challenging oppressive attitudes with the power of the written word. However, I feel art also fosters a sense of community. Art draws us together and provides space to see society – and ourselves – reflected in it. Underground zines allowed oppressed LGBT+ communities to communicate and be themselves during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Even today, book clubs allow all types of people to relax and feel safe while talking about their favourite novels.

On a personal level though, art helps us make sense of ourselves and where we fit in. It’s so important for art to reflect everyone in society, and while it hasn’t always been the case, in recent years I’m really proud that a wider range of diverse books are being printed and finding their way into libraries.

For a young teenager exploring their sexuality and finding the strength to come out, to the older person wishing to read about the history they lived through, Hampshire Libraries has a range of books available to read and reserve, either in branch or on BorrowBox, our eBook and eAudiobook service.

We have produced a book list, featuring a range of talent whatever you’re looking for. Below are a couple of my personal selections, but I encourage you to look through the whole list and find the book for you!

To reserve the books below from our catalogue, just click on the book image.

My recommended books are:

  • Pride: The Story of the LGBTQ Equality Movement by Matthew Todd
    Pride documents the milestones in the fight for LGBTQ equality, from the victories of early activists to the passing of legislation barring discrimination, and the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics, sport, culture and the media. Rare images and documents cover the seminal moments, events and breakthroughs of the movement, while personal testimonies share the voices of key figures on a broad range of topics. Pride is a unique celebration of LGBTQ culture, an account of the ongoing challenges facing the community, and a testament to the equal rights that have been won for many as a result of the passion and determination of this mass movement.
  • Queer Intentions: A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ + Culture by Amelia Abraham
    Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, in Queer Intentions, Amelia Abraham searches for the answers to these urgent challenges, as well as the broader question of what it means to be queer right now. With curiosity, good humour and disarming openness, Amelia takes the reader on a thought-provoking and entertaining journey. Join her as she cries at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, loses herself in the world’s biggest drag convention in L.A., marches at Pride parades across Europe, visits both a transgender model agency and the Anti-Violence Project in New York to understand the extremes of trans life today, parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene, and meets a genderless family in progressive Stockholm.

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
    This is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born. It tells of Vietnam, of the lasting impact of war, and of his family’s struggle to forge a new future. It serves as a doorway into parts of Little Dog’s life his mother has never known – episodes of bewilderment, fear and passion – all the while moving closer to an unforgettable revelation.

  • The Whispers by Greg Howard
    Before she disappeared, Riley’s mama used to tell him stories about the Whispers, mysterious creatures with the power to grant wishes.
    Riley wishes for lots of things. He wishes his secret crush Dylan liked him back. He wishes the bumbling detective would stop asking awkward questions. But most of all he wishes his mother would come home . . .
    Four months later, the police are no closer to finding out the truth – and Riley decides to take matters into his own hands.
    But do the Whispers really exist? And what is Riley willing to do to find out?
  • The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
    When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants – as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, which only gets harder once Flávia walks into her life.
    Beautiful and charismatic, Flávia takes Nishat’s breath away. But as their lives become tangled, they’re caught up in a rivalry that gets in the way of any feelings they might have for each other.
    Can Nishat find a way to be true to herself… and find love too?

Books and me: On my shelves with Jordan Cleary

Jordan Cleary from Winchester Library tells us about his favourite Young Adult (YA) books, LGBTQ+ stories, and the importance of representation in our reading.

Where is your favourite place to read?

I don’t read as often as I would like, but when I do get a chance to read, I like to do it in what I call a reading nook. It’s actually just a chair in the guest bedroom next to a bookshelf, but I like to call it that so it sounds more elegant than it actually is. I’ve tried reading in bed before, but I just can’t get comfy. Whichever side I lean on, one of my arms goes dead, so I usually just go to the nook.

Before I worked at Winchester Library, I was at New Milton Library which meant an hour commute on the train every day. I used to get through so many books because there’s not much else to do on a train and it was a good amount of time to just sit down and get stuck in a book. Now I work in Winchester and my commute is about 5 minutes. It’s much more convenient for me but I do miss having that dedicated reading time.

How do you read?

In an ideal world I would read about 20 maybe 30 books a year. We don’t live in an ideal world, so I read roughly 5 books a year. I don’t like reading in small chunks, I like to have proper sessions where I can just get my head in a book. I don’t like dipping in and out of a story because I like to really spend some proper time with the plot and the characters. I usually finish a book in three or four sittings, so if I don’t think I have enough time to read, I just won’t. I have tried audiobooks before, but I always find myself having to skip back because I’ve lost track of what’s going on in the story. So, for me, it can end up being more stressful than just reading. I do always carry a book with me though in the hope that I might find an hour spare.

I personally would never dog-ear a book; I really like to treat my books with care. Though I did once have my collection of the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries by Robin Stevens displayed on a windowsill before I knew how badly books can be sun damaged. Each cover is a different bright colour, so they looked really nice all in a row on the windowsill. But the sun aged the paper and bleached all the colourful covers. Never again have I put a book on a windowsill. But I’m pragmatic in so far as, if you have bought a copy of your own book, I don’t care how you treat it. It sounds sentimental, but I actually think it’s really nice how we leave traces of ourselves in the books we read. Whether it’s a note in a margin, a coffee stain, or a folded page, the book can take on qualities of us and almost become a memory in itself.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve been getting into graphic novels a lot because that’s one of my stock areas at work and YA is one of the genres that I really love. I’m reading the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman at the moment. It started off as a webcomic and is actually running as one still, but it became so popular that it began being published in volumes as a graphic novel. It’s a really sweet love story about two teenage boys in a British sixth form. There’s a lot of YA romance out there but I found Heartstopper quite different because it takes the story at quite a deliberate pace. I think where it started as a webcomic, the relationship is allowed the space and time to evolve in a far more realistic way. It also carries on after they fall in love as well and it’s really far more about their relationship after getting together which is quite rare in YA I think. It touches on a lot of different topics that are so important for us to learn from, from eating disorders and mental health, to homophobia, it’s the kind of book I wish I had as a teenager.

Reading patterns

My reading goes in cycles. I’d say I’m primarily a fan of fantasy, crime, and YA, though I do like natural science and true-crime books too. I picked up my interest in true crime mainly from my mum. Before I went to university, we would quite often stay up watching forensic documentaries and true crime stories. Right now in my genre cycle I’m in a YA phase, but I’ll probably come back to reading crime soon, it’s dependent on my mood.

I often check book blogs for recommendations, especially because I like LGBTQ+ novels and books that are quite off the beaten path. Although I don’t really believe we should pigeonhole a book based on its cover, it is often the first thing that jumps out at you about a book and covers often do a good job of telling you what kind of a read it’s going to be. If a crime novel has a dark, gritty aesthetic then you know that’s going to be quite a different book to the fluffy one next to it. It’s a good way to pick a book if you don’t have much time.

First loves, best loves

When I was younger my favourite author was Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series. They’re beautifully written, setting heavy novels and they have maps to help the world building in the front too; I love a good map in a book! Dragon Rider is another one of her novels that I loved when I was a bit younger. It’s about a boy trying to help a dragon find its home and they fly all over the world together, it’s very sweet and probably where my love of fantasy came from.

The lack of variety of books when I was growing up was a big problem in the early to mid-noughties. I grew up in a time where Section 28 was still enforced which meant that local authorities and government-maintained schools couldn’t promote or endorse LGBTQ+ content or represent those families. Even though it was repealed in 2003, it took quite a long time for schools, libraries, and councils to catch up and take up an equality angle. So, even in secondary school, I don’t remember being taught or shown stories that reflected me or others from the LGBTQ+ community. I’m sure they were out there somewhere if you knew where to look, but when you’re that age and coming out you don’t really know where to turn. I think unless those things are shown to you it’s quite easy to think that there are no books anywhere that actually represent who you are. But publishing houses are improving greatly at that and I think it’s great that schools and libraries are able to wholeheartedly promote these books and showcase these stories now. I didn’t have that growing up and it’s something that I feel like I really missed out on. I’m 26 now but I’m still reading a lot of YA fiction, I feel like I’m catching up on the books I would have read growing up if I had had the chance to.

Overlooked delights

I think children’s books are quite an odd genre because often it becomes dominated by celebrity authors who are marketed really well but aren’t necessarily popular for the quality of the books. I would really encourage people to explore some of the lesser-known children’s authors that are writing incredible books. The last children’s book I read was Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston. Many people may not have heard of him because he’s a debut novelist, but it’s a brilliant urban fantasy about the ‘bureau of supernatural affairs’. One of things I love about this book is that it features a black girl, Amari, as the main character. Too often when people of colour are included in books it’s as a supporting role. But Amari is prominently shown in centre stage of the front cover as the main character. It’s a children’s book, of course, so it doesn’t get too heavy, but it does touch on classism and bullying in a really interesting way and it explores that through some of the fantasy elements too. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an alternative to Harry Potter.

Another I would recommend is Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series which is aimed more at young teens. It’s set in an alternate London where, because of something they call “the Problem”, ghosts appear at night and attack the living. Young people are the only ones able to sense the spirits so agencies are set up for them to investigate “the Problem” and fight the hauntings.

For me, I would like to get into horror. I don’t really enjoy horror films because I find them too scary, but I’d really like to try the book alternative. I’d love to read some of the classic horror novels like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Jordan Cleary is a Library Team Assistant at Winchester Library and the Vice Chair of Hampshire County Council’s LGBTQ+ Staff Network. Jordan was speaking with Isaac Fravashi.

Books and me: On my shelves with Sam Peters

Honest autobiographies, elegant crime fiction, and Disability History Month. We caught up with Library Manager Sam Peters to hear about the books that are most important to her.

Where is your favourite place to read?

As a child I used to love reading on the stairs. One of the houses I grew up in had this curved staircase with a sunny spot part of the way down, and that used to make a perfect little place to read in. I also have a really vivid memory of reading the Harry Potter series one Christmas at my friend’s home in Amsterdam. It was the first time I had been away for Christmas and whenever I reread Harry Potter now, certain parts of the story transport me straight back to that sofa in Holland. These days it’s more about when I can find the time to read, so that is often in the staff room on my lunch breaks.

How do you read?

I love an audiobook and Borrowbox is brilliant for that, I think we’re so fortunate to have something like Borrowbox available to us.  I think if you’re not a big reader, or you find reading hard, or you just don’t have that much free time, audiobooks are a brilliant way to still have access to those stories. I enjoy the stories that have been dramatised and sound like radio plays. I listen to a lot of the older detective stories because I find the period really interesting, the Paul Temple series is one of my favourites, but I’m a big fan of Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey stories too.

If I’m not listening to an audiobook, I like to read a paperback book. Every now and then I’ll come across a great book that I really enjoy and it’s so hard to put it down. I had that with both of Richard Osman’s books, The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice. I just carried them around the house and kept reading. They’re just so funny and I love the setting of the retirement village.

What are you reading at the moment?

I definitely read more fiction than non-fiction. For me, reading is a way to escape to somewhere different as much as anything else, but I have been reading some interesting autobiographies lately. Ellie Taylor’s My Child and Other Mistakes talks about her becoming a mother and her introduction to motherhood in a really funny and feminist way which was nice to read.

Right now, I’m juggling two autobiographies but they’re both really quite different. I’m reading The Storytellerby Dave Grohl and My Unapologetic Diaries by Joan Collins. Dave Grohl’s book is quite a structured look at the bands and music that influenced him, whereas Joan Collins has literally published her uncensored diaries across a certain period of time. So, although they’re both autobiographies, they read totally differently.

I’ve also just finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo which I just couldn’t put down. It’s a perfect read for anyone that loves a strong female lead. It’s very much about the character of Evelyn and her life, her husbands are a very small part of her story. 

Reading patterns

When I was younger, I would just go to the section of the library with surnames that matched the authors that I liked to see what books were there, but I think now I’m quite comfortable with what I like to read. I’m a fan of what I call ‘elegant crime fiction’. I love crime fiction, but I don’t like all the gory bits. I stick to the more mainstream books from the genre because I don’t want to risk reading something I won’t enjoy as my reading time is very precious. I don’t like leaving a book unfinished so I’ll always keep reading in the hopes that it will get better.

First loves, best loves

I was given a copy of Jane Eyre for my eleventh birthday and I just loved Jane. I thought she was so brave and strong, and her story is so interesting. Reading it as an adult I definitely pick up on parts that went over my head as a child. But it’s all about her choices and what she wants, and, for the period it was written, I think that’s actually really significant.

Another one of my favourites when I younger was An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley which I had to read for my GCSEs. I absolutely adored it and over the years I’ve seen it performed three or four times. It’s one that I always try to introduce people to if they don’t know it and about two years ago, I took my teenage children to see it and they loved it too.

As a crime fiction fan one of my favourites has to be Agatha Christie. I liked that she wrote female murderers, though the idea that a woman could do such wicked acts caused some controversy at the time. She allowed women to be complex and central characters and I think that’s a lot of why her books are still relevant today. If you compare Thursday Murder Club with Miss Marple, Richard Osman has clearly taken inspiration from Christie.

I went to Burgh Island in Devon a few years ago which is where And Then There Were None was set. Much of my bucket list is about visiting the places that Agatha Christie set her books, going on the Orient Express is pretty high up on the list.

Another author I love is Simon Brett. When I first started off with Hampshire Libraries, we sent him an email just to test the water and see if he would consider doing an event with us. He replied and was really excited and offered to do the event for free because he said he really wanted to support the library. I met him at Lymington Library and was the nicest he could have been I really enjoyed seeing him.

Overlooked delights

As it’s Disability History Month I’ve been reading Take Up Thy Bed and Walk by Lois Keith. It talks about the issues with how disability is presented in society and the histories of these ideas. Like in stories such as Pollyanna, where the disabled character is punished for wrongdoing, or the disability that the lead character has must be cured for the story to be resolved. I think it’s really important to talk about how these views in the world are formed because we’re still having to fight a lot of them. As someone with what would be classed as a hidden disability, it’s something that’s close to my heart and I’m glad that we can enable these conversations in the library with some of the brilliant books we have. I think reading can be a great way to challenge our pre-conceived notions or unconscious bias.

Sam Peters is a Library Manager covering the libraries within the Avon and forest areas of the New Forest. Sam was speaking with Isaac Fravashi.

Winter Reads

10 perfect winter reads

There’s nothing better than shutting the door against a bitter winter’s evening and curling up in the warm. All you need is a good book to settle down by the fire with, but don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are 10 books perfect for getting you through the long cold nights.

1. Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson

A special collection of 12 imaginative Christmas stories and 12 recipes from the renowned author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Frankissstein.

Ghosts and jovial spirits, chances at love and tricks with time. Jeanette Winterson’s stories are unfailingly brilliant and filled with wonder. These short stories make the perfect read before bed.

2.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

No seasonal reading list would be complete without an honourable mention of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas – it’s all humbug to him. But one Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, and then by three more spirits – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. Will the things they show Scrooge be enough to make him change his miserly ways and learn the true meaning of Christmas?

Nostalgia, a haunting , and a cold heart that melts, what more could you want from a winter’s night?

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.”

3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

4. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

When James wakes to see snow falling one December morning, he is delighted and rushes outside to make a snowman. With coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf and a tangerine nose, he is perfect, and James can hardly bear to go inside and leave him. In the middle of the night, he wakes and creeps out to see his snowman again – and to his amazement, the snowman comes to life!

5. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

A magical, wintery tale of friendship, love and adventure. Join Gerda on her epic journey to the mysterious, snowy lands of the frozen North. Meeting fairy-tale princesses, talking crows and wise old women with enchanted gardens, on her quest to rescue best friend Kai from the Snow Queen’s icy palace.

6. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Late on Christmas Eve, after the town has gone to sleep, a boy boards a mysterious train that waits for him: the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives there, Santa offers him any gift he desires.

“Seeing is believing, but, sometimes, the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

7.  Winter Wedding by Dilly Court

The brand new novel from the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author.

Rosalind Blanchard’s husband Piers is gravely wounded in a shipwreck, and she finds herself head of crumbling Rockwood Castle once more. Pregnant with his unborn child and alone, she turns to the only man who has ever made her heart sing. His brother Alex. Alex was her old love, but Piers must be her future. Until shocking news of Piers changes everything. As the first snowflakes begin to appear, so too does another chance of happiness for Rosalind.

8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss

The classic tale of the disgruntled Grinch and his fiendish attempts to steal Christmas from the citizens of Whoville. With wacky rhymes and zany illustrations, this book has been a seasonal favourite for over 40 years.

“Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

9. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

It’s the night before Hogswatch. And it’s too quiet. Where is the big jolly fat man? There are those who believe and those who don’t, but either way, it’s not right to find Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho. Superstition makes things work in Discworld, and undermining it can have Consequences, particularly on the last night of the year when the time is turning. Susan the gothic governess has got to sort everything out by morning, otherwise, there won’t be a morning. Ever again…

10. The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled. But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone.

Written by Isaac Fravashi

Earth Matters

Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed, yet the report also identifies the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events such as extreme heat waves and heavy rainfall events for the first time.

Stabilising the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and net zero CO2 emissions, challenges delegates are meeting to discuss at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow at the end of this month.

In recognition of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, we have created the ‘Earth Matters’ collection of fiction and non-fiction books, eBooks and eAudiobooks, to compliment our existing Earth Heroes environmental collections for children and young adults.

Fiction books

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Set in the not-too-distant future, in the aftermath of a catastrophic event that has wiped out human civilization as well as most humans, Oryx and Crake is a novel about the pitfalls of genetic modification.

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

In a world wrecked by climate change, Hubert, Seth and Natalie turn their back on the world of rules, jobs and ‘walkaway’ into the empty lands – lawless places where predators, human and animal flourish. Their journey brings them into contact with the initial pioneer ‘walkaways’ who are building a post-scarcity utopia.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. ‘The Overstory’ unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-20th-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, revealing a world alongside our own – vast, slow, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us.

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

On the Appalachian Mountains above her home, a young mother discovers a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature. As the world around her is suddenly transformed by a seeming miracle, can the old certainties they have lived by for centuries remain unchallenged?

The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin

The first book in the award-winning Broken Earth trilogy, Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, there will be war for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night, but Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard

This fast-paced narrative by the author of ‘Crash’ and ‘Empire of the Sun’ is a stunning evocation of a flooded, tropical London of the near future and a foray into the workings of the unconscious mind.

Non-Fiction books

How to Save Our Planet by Professor Mark Maslin

How can we save our planet and survive the 21st century? How can you argue with deniers? How can we create positive change in the midst of the climate crisis? Professor Mark Maslin has the key facts that we need to protect our future. ‘How to Save Our Planet’ is a call to action, guaranteed to equip everyone with the knowledge needed to make change.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Silent Spring is Rachel Carson’s bestselling, passionate exposure of the effects of the indiscriminate use of chemicals. She describes how pesticides are applied to farms, forests and gardens, with scant regard to the consequences.

We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

Climate crisis is the single biggest threat to human survival. And it is happening right now. We all understand that time is running out – but do we truly believe it? And, caught between the seemingly unimaginable and the apparently unthinkable, how can we take the first step towards action, to arrest our race to extinction? We can begin with our knife and fork. With his distinctive wit, insight, and humanity, Jonathan Safran Foer presents the essential debate of our time as no one else could, bringing it to vivid and urgent life and offering us all a much-needed way out.

Earthshot by Colin Butfield

The Earthshot concept is simple: Urgency + Optimism = Action. We have ten years to turn the tide on the environmental crisis, but we need the world’s best solutions and one shared goal – to save our planet. The Earthshots are unifying, ambitious goals for our planet which, if achieved by 2030, will improve life for all of us, for the rest of life on Earth, and for generations to come. This book is a critical contribution to the most important story of the decade.

The Garden Jungle by Dave Goulson

The Garden Jungle’ is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet. Dave Goulson explains how our lives and ultimately the fate of humankind are inextricably intertwined with that of earwigs, bees, lacewings and hoverflies, unappreciated heroes of the natural world.

How to Repair Everything: A Green Guide to Fixing Stuff by Nick Harper

Not everything has built-in obsolescence – as this fantastically handy guide to fixing everyday objects proves! Whether you need to repair a strap on a favourite handbag or mend a leak in a washing machine, this book is packed full of tips and tricks of the trade for the person who likes to do-it-yourself.

You can also find these books on our BorrowBox shelf: Earth Matters | Hampshire Library Service – BorrowBox.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2021

What is the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance, on November 20, to honour the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender, transphobic violence, and from suicide.

Transphobia is the fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles. Transphobia can prevent transgender and gender nonconforming people from living full lives free from harm.

Transphobia can take many different forms, including:

  • negative attitudes and beliefs
  • aversion to and prejudice against transgender people
  • irrational fear and misunderstanding
  • disbelief or discounting preferred pronouns or gender identity
  • derogatory language and name-calling
  • bullying, abuse, and even violence

Transphobia can create both subtle and overt forms of discrimination. For example, people who are transgender (or even just thought to be transgender) may be denied jobs, housing, or health care, just because they’re transgender. Transphobia also negatively affects mental health, with rates of depression higher among trans people who’ve experienced a hate crime.

Some people hold transphobic beliefs because their parents and families encourage negative ideas about trans people or hold strict beliefs about traditional gender roles. Other people are transphobic because they have misinformation or have no information at all about trans identities.

We have created a list of 11 books that look at transgender lives, either through real stories or fiction. These are a great place to start if you wish to learn more about the lives, experiences and opinions of transgender people.


Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices
by Freiya Benson

Adult Non-Fiction

A ground-breaking anthology of writing on the topic of love, written by trans and non-binary people who share their thoughts, feelings and experiences of love in all its guises. The collection spans familial, romantic, spiritual and self-love as well as friendships and ally love, to provide a broad and honest understanding of how trans people navigate love and relationships, and what love means to them. people.

My Brother’s Name is Jessica
by John Boyne

Teen Fiction
Available as eBooks, eAudiobook and physical book

Sam Waver has always been a loner: bullied, struggling at school, with parents who have very little time for him. The one person he has always been able to rely on is his beloved older sibling – but when they announce that they are transitioning, Sam’s life is thrown upside down. He’s convinced nothing will ever be the same again – but as Sam is about to discover, nothing is more constant than love.

One in Every Crowd
By Ivan Coyote

Young Adult Non-Fiction
Available as eBook

Comprised of original stories and a hand-picked selection of Coyote’s best work, this collection is aimed at young adults. Included are stories from Ivan’s own tomboy past, where playing hockey and wearing pants were the norm; and her adult life in the big city, where she encounters both cruelty and kindness in unexpected places.

Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman
by Laura Kate Dale

Adult Non-Fiction

In this candid, first-of-its-kind memoir, Laura Kate Dale recounts what life is like growing up as a gay trans woman on the autism spectrum. From struggling with sensory processing, managing socially demanding situations and learning social cues and feminine presentation, through to coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, Laura draws on her personal experiences from life prior to transition and diagnosis, and moving on to the years of self-discovery, to give a unique insight into the nuances of sexuality, gender and autism, and how they intersect.

Freshwater
by Akwaeke Emezi

Adult Fiction

The story follows Ada who is born an ogbanje—an malevolent Igbo spirit living inside a child, whose goal is to torment its family by dying young and then reappearing in the next child. But Ada does not die, so we learn how someone, with multiple spirits occupying their mind, lives.

Akwaeke Emezi writes masterfully, exploring themes of mental health, trauma, sexual violence and gender identity, drawing on their own experience of being gender non-binary and trans, and having different identities.

George
by Alex Gino

Children’s Fiction

A bright, bold debut about a girl who happens to have been born a boy but refuses to let that stand in the way of her dream, ‘George’ is a pertinent and poignant read for kids aged 10+. George was Alex Gino’s first novel. George was a winner of the Children’s Stonewall Award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Children’s Choice Book Awards.

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
by Andrea Lawlor

Adult Fiction

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown, to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure. Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early 90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation.

Birthday
by Meredith Russo

Young Adult Fiction

Meet Morgan and Eric: born on the same day, at the same time and bonded for life. In this moving dual narrative, we meet them every birthday from the age of 13, as Eric figures out who he is, as Morgan decides to live as her true self, and as they realise they are inextricably part of each other.

I’m Afraid of Men
by Vivek Shraya

Adult Non-Fiction

Toxic masculinity takes many insidious forms, from misogyny and sexual harassment to homophobia, transphobia and bullying. Vivek Shraya has first-hand experience with nearly all of them. As a transwomen she grew up experiencing aggression for displaying femininity, and is haunted by the violence of men. ‘I’m Afraid of Men’ is a culmination of the years Vivek spent observing men and creating her own version of manhood. Through deeply personal reflection, she offers a rare and multifaceted perspective on gender and a hopeful reimagining of masculinity at a time when it’s needed more than ever.

Non-Binary Lives
Edited by Jos Twist

Adult Non-Fiction

This wide-ranging and powerful collection of essays gathers together leading non-binary figures to explore how their gender identities intersect with multiple aspects of other identities including race, class, age, sexuality, faith, community, family, disability and health.

The Art of Being Normal
By Lisa Williamson

Young Adult Fiction

David is funny and quirky and has always felt different from other people – but he also has a huge secret that only his two best friends know. Ever since he can remember, he has felt like a girl trapped in the body of a boy.

Books and me: On my Shelves with Vicky Duffell

Parenting poetry, picture books, and memoirs on mental health, Eastleigh Library Team Manager Vicky Duffell tells us about her favourite reads.

Where’s your favourite place to read?

I like to read on the train, it gives you a nice time out from the world. I’m often on the train with my son though so we read a lot of picture books. Sometimes when I’ve been reading aloud to him, the story has brought over other children on the train who were listening, and they want to look at the pictures too! I have dyspraxia so I don’t drive and there’s a lot of waiting for public transport. I always have a book with me in case there are delays, reading is a great way to reclaim that time.

Whenever I go on holiday, I always like to read a book that’s set in the place I’m visiting. I read Elena Ferrante’s novels while on my honeymoon in Italy, the books have a really strong sense of place so they were perfect. I also read Tales of the City when I visited San Francisco, it was really interesting to see the city through the eyes of someone coming to the city for the first time just when I was doing the same.

How do you read?

I prefer traditional print books; I do have an e-reader, but I like the physicality of a book. You don’t get that new book smell with an e-reader. That’s a great thing about working at the library, we get to check through all the crisp new books that come in.

I usually only read one book for myself at a time, but I read to my son every night. We went through a phase of constantly reading Zog and the Flying Doctors because it’s one of his favourites, though I vary it as much as I can because it gets a little boring. Reading for my own pleasure is quite sporadic, I would love to sit down and finish a book in one sitting but that’s quite a luxury when you’re a parent. I try to find books with shorter chapters that don’t require long periods of reading to really get into, poetry’s great for that too.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading Nobody Told Me by Hollie McNish, it’s a book of poetry about the small things you never thought about until you become a parent. I don’t often read poetry but it’s a brilliant way to look at something we don’t often talk about. For example, one of the poems is about having to hide in the toilets while you’re breastfeeding, and I think the condensed language makes it really impactful. It’s a book I would recommend to everyone, even if you don’t have children or never want children, it offers a very real and honest insight into the ups and downs of parenthood.

Reading Patterns – Do you follow any specific authors or genre?

I do follow some authors, but I mainly like to read based on subject matter and I really like books that look at mental health. When I had my son I suffered from post-partum psychosis, a rare illness that only affects about 1 in 1,000 mums. One of my favourites is Inferno by Catherine Cho which is amazingly written. It’s interesting to read about someone who went through an experience that you’ve had. Being able to compare how it was similar and different to my experience, I felt very connected to the book.

I also recently read David Harewood’s book Maybe I Don’t Belong Here. I saw his documentary Psychosis and Me on the BBC about his experience of psychosis in his 20s. I’d never really seen anyone talk about psychosis on TV before, so I was really looking forward to reading his biography. He talks about how race and gender can come into your experience with mental health

First loves, best loves

I remember reading a lot of Roald Dahl when I was younger, but it wasn’t really until I was a teenager that I properly got into reading. I remember at the turn of the millennium we had the Everyman’s Library collection in my school, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to read so I just worked my way through all of those. They were lovely hardbacks with quite plain covers, and I think I liked that I was going into the books without any expectations.

I read so many picture books that I’ve really grown to love them. Nadia Shireen’s books are some of the best ones and I particularly loved The Bumblebear. It’s about a bear who dresses up as a bee to sneak into the bees’ school. It’s just such an adorable book and the illustrations are lovely too. Sometimes I think I enjoy the picture book more than my son does and I think some of them are written to be enjoyed by the parents as much as the children.

One of my favourite authors is Elif Shafak, she wrote The Forty Rules of Love which I really enjoyed but her memoir Black Milk is about her experience of post-partum depression and about how she struggled with writing after having a child.

Vicky manages the team at Eastleigh Library, which is located at the top of the Swan Centre. Vicky was speaking with Isaac Fravashi.

Books and me: Carly Harrod

Carly Harrod from Hampshire Countryside Service tells us about the books that inspired a career with nature and why adults should read more children’s books.

Where’s your favourite place to read?

I like to find a nice sunny spot in the garden to sit and read my book, so I tend to read more in the summertime. Usually as soon as I finish work, I like to get out in the garden to read something. I have a wood fire in my living room so it can be nice to curl up in the evening and read a bit of a book there too.

How do you read?

I went through a stage of reading on my kindle until I filled my kindle up, but I actually really like the feel and smell of a real book, so I tend to read more physically.  If I’m really into a book I can’t stop reading it. I need to read it until it’s finished. So that might mean I read constantly for two days if I have time, but that can be hard when you have a seven-year-old running around. I find if I leave a book for too long, I get a bit lost and I might move onto something else and forget about it, so I like to read in one hit.

I like an easy read that I can just get completely lost in. There are some books that I just cannot get into though, and I’ll just stop and move onto another book if I’m not enjoying it. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien is one that I keep trying but I just can’t get through. I love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit,but I get about 5 pages into The Silmarillion and just can’t go further. But I will never get rid of a book, I will always keep it in case I want to come back to it another time because it might not be that I will never like that book, it might just be the way I’m feeling on that day or that I’m just not into that genre at the moment.

Books are quite precious to me, I would never fold a page over or leave a book open and face down to save a page either. I have a few books that are really special and they sit in their dust jackets on my shelf to keep them safe.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series which I re-read all the time, especially in the summer. They’re just nice books to return to because I can get through one of them in a couple of days and I love to just get lost in that magical world.

Reading patterns

Fantasy is a big love of mine and I really enjoy authors like Tolkien and Pratchett, but I also love a bit of Scandi-noir. They’re crime novels that tend to follow the police trying to solve a puzzling case and I love the twists and turns, but they can be a bit darker. I think because they’re set in cities covered with snow, the crimes feel so far removed from here and I find them easier to read about. Samuel Bjork’s novels are some of my favourites but those are as dark as I can go with reading now. I used to be really into horror writing, I loved Stephen King and James Herbert, but I can’t read them at all these days. I used to love the Point Horror book series when I was growing up and R.L. Stine was my absolute favourite Point Horror writer but I think as I get older I prefer reading books that leave me with a nice feeling at the end.

First love, best loves

I have older siblings and a lot of what I read came from them. They had this lovely bookcase filled with some really old-fashioned books, like Swallows and Amazons and Enid Blyton and other books that can be quite outdated now. But I loved these stories about children going out into the countryside and having adventures. I think that’s probably why I do what I do now. As I got older, I began getting into the Point Horror books, I did enjoy them them but it was what everyone was reading at the time. What really stands out in my memory is when my sister bought me The Hobbit. I absolutely loved it. It’s still one of my favourite books and I go back and re-read it constantly. It was one of the first more adult books that I had ever been given. The writing was so immersive, I really felt like I was going to Middle Earth.

A series of books that I really love is by Monica Dickens, the series starts with The House at World’s End. It’s about this group of siblings who get sent away to live on a farm on their own and end up looking after all the stray animals in the area. They’re just such nice books, there’s nothing horrible in them, just very sweet escapism.

I also spend a lot of time looking through ID guides as part of my job and they can be really interesting. One that I absolutely love is called The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, the pictures in it are all hand drawn. It shows plants and animals all throughout the seasons and it’s just beautiful. Another brilliant one is Janet Marsh’s Nature Diary which is all about the Itchen Valley and the nature you can find throughout it. They’re both brilliant because even though they’re really old, it’s still plants and animals that we recognise. For anyone who wants to get out and become more involved with nature I would really recommend Francis Rose’s book on wildflowers, it’s a brilliant book to get started identifying flowers and I would really recommend Joseph Cornell’s book of activities for something to do as a family too.

But my all-time favourite book is A Fly Went By from Dr Suess. It’s just a long poem. I still have the copy that was read to me as a child and I still read it to my kids. Our oldest kids have children of their own now and we bought the book for them to read to their children as well.

Overlooked delights

I think adults should read more children’s books. They’re just simple pleasures with nothing bad happening. I like the positivity in life, and I think children’s books show us that. One I really enjoyed recently was Oi Frog! There are some fantastic kids’ books out there that can teach you stuff as well as teaching your kids stuff and I think we forget that. It reminds us of when things were easier, and I think we all need that sometimes.

Carly Harrod is a Project Manager for the Countryside Service, as part of her role she looks after the Countryside Service social media account and supports the volunteers who work throughout Hampshire. She regularly speaks on the Looking After Nature podcast. Carly was speaking with Isaac Fravashi.

Make! Book collection

Do you consider yourself creative or do you think that you haven’t got a creative bone in your body?  Either way, Hampshire Libraries has put together a collection of titles for you.  The Make! collection has arrived in selected branches to empower you in your creative skills.  This selection has titles from macramé to song writing, sour dough baking to embroidery, water colours to anime illustration. 

Inspired by Get Creative and the way the population turned to arts and crafts during the lockdowns, this collection has inspiration for everyone from children and their caregivers to teens and adults.  You are never too old to learn a new skill!  Creativity has been shown to improve your mood, self esteem, cognitive function, alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety and now that the world is opening up to us again, joining a creative group can improve your social life.  Hampshire Libraries run many different creative courses – why not give one of them a try? Have a look at and search for a course near you Learning in Libraries

Michael Rosen’s Book of Play
These days, we seem to have less and less time for play. At school, children are focused on exams, while at home we’re all glued to our phones and iPads. Here, Michael Rosen shows us why we need more play in our lives. He explores the influence of play on everyone from Shakespeare to Dickens and Dali, delving into the history of play via puns, nonsense, improvisation and physical toys. He also explains why play is a core part of child development, proven to bolster creativity and resilience. Above all, play should be fun – and this book is full of silliness and laughter. Every chapter features exercises and prompts for creative indoor and outdoor play for all the family, with specially designed pages for scribbling, word play and more

The Art of Repair – Molly Martin
For Molly Martin, it all started with a pair of white woollen socks. Her favourite pair. When the heels became threadbare and a small hole appeared on the right toe, her mother got out her grandmother’s old darning mushroom and showed her how to mend them. In ‘The Art of Repair’, master repairer Molly Martin explores the humble origins of repair and how these simple sewing techniques offer not just a practical solution but a philosophy for life. Using her own charming illustrations, she teaches us the basics of the craft – Kantha, the running stitch used by Bengali women to sew together discarded cloth scraps, saris and dhotis; and Sashiko, the ancient Japanese practice of repairing workwear using a ‘boro’ or ‘little scrap’ – and shows how the art of mending can turn something old and worn into something new and meaningful.

Paint Play – Katie Rose Johnston
Forget everything you think you know about traditional watercolour painting – ‘Paint Play’ will show you how to experiment with paint, use it spontaneously, and have fun, no experience required! Through a series of 21 simple, achievable activities, artist Katie Rose Johnston demonstrates different ways of mixing colours, experiments with textures using salt and cling film, makes spatter art, animal print patterns and much more.

Knit Yourself Calm – Lynn Rowe and  Betsan Corkhill
The therapeutic benefits of knitting have long been recognised and holistic health expert Betsan Corkhill, together with knitting designer Lynne Rowe, create beautiful projects designed to calm and soothe. Suitable for beginners and more experienced knitters, discover how the repetitive process of knitting can relieve stress and improve your well-being.

Quilt Petite – Sedef Imer
Quilt Petite’ contains 18 sweet small quilts designed by Sedef Imer. Learn how to make mini quilts, cushions, table toppers, doll quilts, place mats, potholders, and lots more. It includes detailed instructions on a wide range of techniques such as patchwork, hand and machine quilting, English paper piecing, foundation paper piecing, raw edge applique, free motion applique, and hand embroidery. A range of projects are suitable for both beginners who wish to learn new techniques and for advanced quilters who wish to practice more challenging ones.

Look out for these titles at your local library, you can also find a selection in eBook and eAudio format on BorrowBox.

Written by Ali.

Books and Me: On my shelves with Jayne Mushore

Jayne Mushore, Project Support Officer at Hampshire Libraries, speaks with us about empowering reads, childhood joys and the complexities of international identities.

Click on any of the book images to reserve that title.

Where’s your favourite place to read?

I used to commute between Middlesbrough and London so a lot of my reading happened on the train, but I love listening to audiobooks in the car too – you can just put something on and drive, it’s a great way to pass the time. But for me, the best place to read is on holiday. Looking out across the sea without a care in the world, just getting completely lost in the book. I’m not rushing to get here or there I’m not rushing to do anything. There’s just that chilled vibe, knowing I don’t have to put the book down until I’m quite ready. I can just get lost in the pages.

How do you read?

I always read a fiction and non-fiction book at the same time. Sometimes the non-fiction becomes too much and I’ll need something more exciting and that’s when I’ll switch to the fiction book. With fiction, you have to conjure those images in your mind to picture how the scene would look and so I can’t read two fiction books at the same time. In an ideal world, I would love to start a book and finish it in one sit-in, but with work and home life, I really have to make time. So I take any chance I get to just sit down and read.

I love audiobooks and I use BorrowBox a lot. I would say my reading is about 50/50 between audiobooks and physical books. When someone is reading the book aloud to you, they will put the emphasis on parts that wouldn’t necessarily stand out to you. But when you read something yourself, you can pause on the parts that resonate with you personally. So while I love audiobooks I do really like to read a book myself when I can.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading Slay In Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene. It’s a non-fiction book of black British women telling the story of their experience stepping on the career ladder. It talks about the challenges that they faced and how they navigate the working world. For example, one of the women talks about how they created a lingerie line for women of colour, producing tights that work for different skin tones. If it isn’t something you think about it can seem small, and if you don’t have the option, it may not be something you think you need. But actually, being able to wear something that works with your body is great and it’s really important for somebody to have that option.

“The quest for good is a marathon and not a sprint; it is measured over years, not fleeting moments; over failures and missteps and, of course, successes.” – Slay In Your Lane

The other book I’m reading is Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. I haven’t finished it yet but it’s quite out there and the cover really caught my eye. It’s about a girl who is communicating with spirits but is cursed by her community as her conception was from rape. It’s set in Africa and over the last year a lot of the novels I’ve been reading are Africa-based. I love reading about Africa in fiction, it’s always brought to life so differently each time, particularly in Who Fears Death. It’s quite different from any book I’ve read.

Reading patterns

I don’t really follow a genre or author in particular, I usually pick my books by going onto the library’s online catalogue to see what’s new and what catches my attention. Book covers really do grab me, they make me curious and tempt me to find out more. That may sound like a weird way to pick what you read but I always find something interesting by just having a browse. My friends and I always make recommendations to each other when we’ve read a really good book too. Slay In Your Lane was one that was a recommendation, I think it stood out because it’s such an empowering read for young black women.

I tend to read with my mood so if everything is going well, I will read quite uplifting books but if I’m going through something they’ll take a darker turn. Last year with the pandemic I was in the headspace of questioning a lot of things in my life and I couldn’t really be in “the now”. My friend recommended The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and it really kept me going through lockdown.

First love, best loves

I’m from Zimbabwe so most of what I remember reading at a young age was in my native language. When I started learning English, I remember I used to read a lot of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven series. Fantastic Mr Fox is the book that really stands out from my childhood. A talking fox sneaking around being mischievous was hilarious to me. The world in the story was so different from our way of life in Africa I found it so intriguing. When I was a bit older one of my school friends had the Harry Potter books, I remember we read a few chapters of the prisoner of Azkaban and started asking ourselves “should we be doing this?”. With my African background and the Christian culture I grew up in, reading about witches wasn’t really acceptable. It shows how different attitudes can be as well because that was quite a big thing and we felt so wrong we didn’t end up finishing it!
The Devil Wears Prada was one of my favourites too, I remember being really excited to get a hold of the second book when it came out. The Hunger Games series was another big favourite of mine as well, but I remember reading a lot of John Grisham novels too. He was a lawyer before he became a writer, and The Firm is one I really remember enjoying.

The series of books I used to really love was The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – I used to read the books over and over again, I think I know them by heart! Reading about this strong African woman who’s doing exciting things was really thrilling. They hold real sentimental value to me, I remember thinking “I want to be that woman who’s out there getting stuff done!”

A book I really connected with recently was We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. Bulawayo is from Zimbabwe too and reading the book brought back so many memories. In the book, she writes about being playing ‘countries’ outside as children like I used to growing up. I can really understand the perspective she writes from. The main character, Darling, witnesses the violence happening in Zimbabwe as she’s growing up and doesn’t really understand what’s going on and then she moves to America. Something that made me quite emotional when I was reading the book is when she’s in America and calls a friend back home. The friend says that Darling can’t say ‘our country’ when talking about Zimbabwe because she decided to leave. I can relate to that because the friends and all the things you used to hold dear that built your friendship are no longer there. You don’t belong in Zimbabwe anymore, but you don’t feel as if you belong in this new world yet either. You’re in limbo. You’re very grateful for the opportunities you’ve found in this new world but trying to fit in parts of your old life with it is really hard. Then when you try to connect with the people back at home to say, “I’m one of you still”, they reject you and so you don’t know where you stand. It was very bittersweet to read about that through the story of Darling in We Need New Names. Everyone I know who has read the book and has migrated has agreed that this book perfectly tells the story of how it feels.

Overlooked Delights

Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter was extremely endearing and touching to me. I think the message of teaching a girl-child to be independent and themselves. That message of keeping going and finding your strength really resonated with my upbringing and some of what I witnessed as part of my cultural background. Reading a book like this, where somebody is really holding out their heart and saying, “things happen and life is hard but you do need to keep moving because there is light at the end of the tunnel”, is just so powerful to me.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Letter to My Daughter

Jayne Mushore is the Project Support Officer for the digital initiatives of Hampshire Libraries, working to deliver services such as the publicly accessible computers and the procurement of audiobooks. Jayne was speaking with Isaac Fravashi.