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Announcing the NLR Reads Challenge!

Posted on June 09, 2022 by Megan Hines
Summer Reading NLR Library

Stretch yourself a little this year with our monthly reading challenge! Each month, we will encourage everyone to read a book from a different featured category, so that by the end of the year we will all have broadened our reading horizons a little. Watch for monthly prize drawings, where we will give away gift cards and other prizes. Plus, we’ll draw for a Grand Prize Kindle Fire tablet at the end of the year!

How to participate:

  • Each month, read a book from that month’s category. See our suggested reading list below if you need a little inspiration!
  • Once you’ve finished your chosen book, fill out an entry form at either branch or enter online. (Limit one entry per person per month.)
  • At the beginning of each month, we will collect all of the entries from the previous category and announce the prize winners on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We may spotlight some of the books participants chose to read as well!
  • At the end of the year, ALL of the entries we have received will go into the Grand Prize drawing to win a Kindle Fire!
  • Participate in as many or as few months as you would like, but remember, the more you participate, the more chances you will have to win.
  • Have fun, and keep reading!

June Suggested Reading:

June is Pride month, so to celebrate, your challenge topic is to read a book about LGBTQ+ characters or topics! Here are some suggestions of LGBTQ+ books you could choose from our collection. Feel free to read one of these or any of the many other LGBTQ+ books we offer in our physical collection or online! More options can also be found on our NLR Reads display just inside the main entrance of our Laman Library location

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game...

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen

Ten years ago, Samantha Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary. Now she’s a senior Daily Beast reporter happily married to another woman. In Real Queer America, Allen takes us on a cross-country road-trip stretching all the way from Provo, Utah to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip: “Something gay every day.” Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBT people working for change, from the first openly transgender mayor in Texas history to the manager of the only queer night club in Bloomington, Indiana, and many more.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Baldwin’s haunting and controversial second novel is his most sustained treatment of sexuality, and a classic of gay literature. In a 1950s Paris swarming with expatriates and characterized by dangerous liaisons and hidden violence, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender and is confounded and tortured by his sexual identity as he oscillates between the two. Examining the mystery of love and passion in an intensely imagined narrative, Baldwin creates a moving and complex story of death and desire that is revelatory in its insight.

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her. When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland. Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise...at first.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle...

Ace: What Asexuality Reveal Abou Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world. Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too.

Flung Out of Space by Grace Ellis & Hannah Templer

Flung Out of Space is both a love letter to the essential lesbian novel, The Price of Salt, and an examination of its notorious author, Patricia Highsmith. Veteran comics creators Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer have teamed up to tell this story through Highsmith’s eyes—reimagining the events that inspired her to write the story that would become a foundational piece of queer literature. This is not just the story behind a classic queer book, but of a queer artist who was deeply flawed. It’s a comic about what it was like to write comics in the 1950s, but also about what it means to be a writer at any time in history, struggling to find your voice.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

New school, new friends, new crush, same old secret. Simone Garcia-Hampton, a Black 17-year-old, is HIV-positive. And though she’s healthy, she knows how people react when they find out; bullying and other negative reactions are why she left her old school. But just as she’s settling in, directing the school play—Rent, coincidentally enough—and maybe starting a relationship, she starts getting notes threatening to reveal her HIV status. Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on...

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved. So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along.

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo, she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood. Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognizes her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become. As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once, and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe—Ellie for short—lives in an alternate contemporary America shaped by the ancestral magics and knowledge of its Indigenous and immigrant groups. She can raise the spirits of dead animals—most importantly, her ghost dog Kirby. When her beloved cousin dies, all signs point to a car crash, but his ghost tells her otherwise: He was murdered. Who killed him and how did he die? With the help of her family, her best friend Jay, and the memory of her great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother, Elatsoe, must track down her cousin’s killer and unravel the mystery of the creepy town where he lived and its dark past. But will the nefarious townsfolk and a mysterious Doctor stop her before she gets started?

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

A Burst of Light and Other Essays by Audre Lorde

Winner of the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation National Book Award, this path-breaking collection of essays is a clarion call to build communities that nurture our spirit. Lorde announces the need for a radical politics of intersectionality while struggling to maintain her own faith as she wages a battle against liver cancer. From reflections on her struggle with the disease to thoughts on lesbian sexuality and African-American identity in a straight white man’s world, Lorde’s voice remains enduringly relevant in today’s political landscape.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, this is a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Each chapter views the relationship through a different lens, as Machado holds events up to the light and examines them from distinct angles. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction, infusing all with her characteristic wit, playfulness and openness to enquiry. The result is a powerful book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to acquire in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

The first time Daisy Ellery killed a man with a pie, it was an accident. Now, it’s her calling. Daisy bakes sweet vengeance into her pastries, which she and her dog Zoe deliver to the men who’ve done dirty deeds to the town’s women. But when a blackmailer threatens to reveal her unsavory secret sideline of pie a la murder, she’ll be out of the pie pan and into the oven if she can’t discover their identity—and fast! The upcoming statewide pie contest could be Daisy’s big chance to help wronged women everywhere…if she doesn’t meet a sticky end first. Because Daisy knows the blackmailer won’t stop until her business is in crumbles.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world. Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot—if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness

Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so…over the top. From choreographed carpet figure skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule and trauma—yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen. JVN fans may think they know the man behind the stiletto heels, the crop tops, and the iconic sayings, but there’s much more to him than meets the Queer Eye

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a Brooklyn-born painter; Malcolm, a frustrated architect; and enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken. Yet their greatest challenge is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.