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Great Reads for Latinx Books Month!

Graphic 1 of 2. Entitled "Our Favorite Queer Latinx Books," this graphic features six book covers over a faded-out rainbow striped background. The six book covers are: Sordidez by E. G. Condé, The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes, The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl, The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas, She Wears the Midnight Crown, and Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote.
Graphic 2 of 2. This graphic features 12 book covers over a faded-out rainbow striped background. The books are: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes, Cemerary Boys by Aiden Thomas, Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz, The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older, The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz, Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa, Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier, The Last 8 by Laura Pohl, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa, and If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich.

May is Latino Books Month, and here we are as always with some of our favorite books! We asked our usual book recommendation list contributors for their favorite books starring latinx characters, written by latinx authors, or – most often – both! The Duck Prints Press creators who contributed to this rec list are: Terra P. Waters, Sebastian Marie, Nina Waters, Shadaras, May Barros, Annabeth Lynch, Neo Scarlett, Tris Lawrence, and an anonymous contributor.

Honorable Mentions: Several of the books on last week’s Speak Your Language Day recommendation list also fit the theme for this list! These books are:

View this list as a shelf on our Goodreads account!

See a book you want to read? You can check out this list, and our other recommendation lists, on Bookshop.org – and make us your regular Bookshop.org affiliate bookshop!

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Round Table: Poetry Month

A graphic over a pale blue background. Text reads: National Poetry Month DPP Round Table. There is clipart of a fancy green-covered book, the cover lifted, with a quill pen and a page of notes below it.

April is National Poetry Month. Duck Prints Press has to date only published prose fiction, and while some of us do write poetry on the side, it’s generally not our focus. Thus, we thought it’d be fun and interesting to have a discussion about poetry, how poetry has impacted us, and our favorite poems. The people who joined in on the round table chat are: Nina Waters, Tris Lawrence, Shadaras, Zel Howland, boneturtle, E C, Shea Sullivan,  theirprofoundbond, and an anonymous contributor.

1. What are your favorite types of poems?

Nina Waters: I tend to like either extremely free form or extremely structured poetry, with nothing in between. I always loved silly poetry (Shel Silverstein…) especially.

Anonymous: Same. I generally like either narrative poems or poems that are about a specific moment. I’m especially fond of reading haiku, though I don’t know how good I am at writing them.

Tris Lawrence: I tend to have favorite writers more than favorite styles. I love the cadence of Shakespeare. I love the imagery of Emily Dickinson (I cannot even count how many times I read the book of poetry of hers that I received for Christmas as a young child). I adored Robert Frost as a child. For modern poetry, Amanda Gorman‘s book was an incredibly wonderful kick in the gut.

Zel Howland: I’ve always had a mixed relationship with poetry – I struggle with understanding figurative language, so often the meaning of poetry escapes me, but I love the technical forms of poetry. This means that I end up being better at writing poetry than reading it. That said, I love silly poems and nonsense poems because they are more about the form than the content! Shel Silverstein and Lewis Carroll come to mind first.

E. C: I love seeing/hearing poetry read aloud. Slam poetry or Shakespearean monologue, the way the act of speaking them gives additional meaning to the words is just *chef’s kiss*. I also love poets (like Silverstein, as Zel mentioned) who use the form to play with the words. Prose can do this, too, but reading or hearing good poetry… it’s like I can feel the words rewiring my brain in real-time.

Shadaras: +1, poetry when performed is absolutely incredible. And it doesn’t need to be slam or a monologue; most poetry when read aloud is fantastic! (Shape poems might lose something, but… that’s aiming for a different style)

Shea Sullivan: I love poetry that viscerally evokes feeling with word choice and has rhythm. I love Rainer Maria Rilke first and last, but also Seamus Heaney and Mary Oliver.   I struggle with so many popular poets because the work doesn’t scan for me and I can’t make sense of the rhythm. But the poems that hit take me out at the knees.

Tris Lawrence: Coming back to this discussion this morning, I remembered I should add song lyrics to this… for me, really excellent songs are the best poetry, and some writers (like [Bob] Dylan) I remember more for the poetry of the song than the performance of it. Much like how poetry when performed comes alive, music is that taken to even further down the line. As for poetry being performed, that’s why Shakespeare is so awesome when staged. Sometimes it’s easier to hear the lyricism than to read it. I also often recommend when reading a book of poetry, take it slow, and read one poem aloud  per day. This is how I savored Amanda Gorman’s book and how I really got the most out of every poem in that book.

theirprofoundbond: I want to echo what Shade and captainhaterade were talking about with regards to poetry and sound. I took a poetry class in college and when the professor had us read “Player Piano” by John Updike aloud it awakened something in my brain. I have never forgotten that experience and the absolute delight I felt, reading that poem.

When I went to university and took another poetry class, my instructor stressed that we should try reading poetry aloud – to slow you down a bit, to experience the sounds, to get just a little more out of it. He recommended reading it a little more like prose, not pausing at the end of a line if there’s no end-line punctuation. I always do these things now and it’s made poetry feel more accessible to me, and helped me enjoy it more.

Alfred Tennyson also does some great things with sound—no standout favorites just yet because I’m still exploring, but I like “Break, Break, Break”

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman is really wonderful book of children’s poems about insects, meant to be read aloud by two or more people.

I also love poems that have some specific structure. My favorite is the haiku, but I also really enjoy villanelles, sestinas, and pantoums. Not only do they have specific rhyme schemes but some lines must be repeated in specific places; I admire the skill they take to craft. “Villanelle for the Middle of the Night” by Jacqueline Osherow is a lovely example.

And narrative poems, because it’s so cool to get a story in a small, unique format. “Letter to the Person Who Carved His Initials into the Oldest Living Longleaf Pine in North America” by Matthew Olzmann is one that I found recently that really stands out to me

Nina Waters: Maybe the “best listened to” is why I struggle with it. Understanding and processing spoken stories like that is one of my weaker tricks.

theirprofoundbond: That may be it! It’s not for everyone, but I know it helped me. And I started reading academic stuff aloud to help me focus, and then I started reading my own writing aloud which has helped me improve it in many ways (dialogue, flow, style), and I read my editing assignments aloud because it helps me pick up on little things I might not, if I read silently. But yeah, everyone’s brains work differently so it might not be the trick for everyone – just something to try, perhaps, if it hasn’t been tried before or recently

2. What inspired/convinced you to start reading poetry and did you have any preconceived notions and biases about it before?

Shadaras: as far as how I started reading poetry… well, the thing is that a lot of children’s books are poetry, right? They’re written in rhyme because it’s a good way to help kids learn! So in that way, simply by being someone who loved reading (from a family who loved reading), I was always surrounded by poetry as a kid by the nature of early reader books. I know that I was also introduced to poets who are thought of as poets as I grew up, and generally liked poetry even if I didn’t seek it out much. I wrote poetry as a kid just as much as I wrote prose!

Nina Waters: I’ll own I had some preconceived notions about poetry and reading poetry hasn’t really dispelled them? I’ve always found most “high literary” poetry quite inaccessible. Things like epic poetry (such as Homer) I love and can read no problem, and things like silly poetry (Silverstein, Dr. Seuss) I also love and can read no problem, but the kind of poetry that’s ~deep~ and tends to win accolades, I often feel like my eyes glaze over when I try to read it. I just really struggle with it.

Shadaras: I feel like that’s almost more a problem with the idea of “high literary” mode in general? Because I feel like that about a lot of different kinds of media. It’s like people think that if they struggle to understand what a piece of media is about, that means it’s ~higher art~ or something. (There’s a certain style of movie I call “award bait” and I think it is adjacent to what you’re thinking of with poetry here.) And yes, deep and thematically complex art is fantastic and deserves praise, but there’s also something to be said for praiseworthy works being enjoyable/accessible to the majority of people who encounter it? and that doesn’t seem to factor in to those “high literary” assessments.

Nina Waters: That’s definitely true, and something I used to talk about when I was still doing academic reading and writing. This idea that these ~great minds~ would write these papers, and they weren’t good, they were jargon-laden bullshit. Their sheer inaccessibility would always convince a subset of people that it must be genius, because the alternative would be to admit they didn’t personally understand it and no one wanted to confess that.

With poetry it’s harder but there’s definitely that line between “this is so eloquent and deep” vs. “this literally means NOTHING.” (And with poetry, there’s the added “sometimes the line that is eloquent and deep to one person is exactly the same line that means nothing to someone else and because of the nature of poetry that’s kinda the point and both interpretations are ‘correct'”)

theirprofoundbond: I have been, and still am, a bit intimidated by poetry. A lot of it can be really inaccessible, whether it’s classical or modern. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly grasp the meter stuff, lol. But as with any other written work, poetry can be for anyone. Even if I can’t understand a poem on all levels, it’s okay because it’s still worth exploring and I might find something that resonates with me, or teaches me something, or inspires my own (prose) writing.

3. What can a prose writer learn from reading poetry?

Tris Lawrence: It’s really all about the way the words taste, and how that evokes imagery and sensation and emotion for me. Which is also what I take from it as a prose writer – I’ve always been about the way words feel in my mouth when I write.

Shadaras: I might mostly write prose now, but the poetic instinct is still in my head; it’s very visible (audible?) in descriptive passages I write, because I think about rhythm and shape and sound all the time even in my prose writing.

theirprofoundbond: Reading poetry has inspired me to think more carefully about choice of word, pay attention to how certain emotions are evoked or impacts achieved, and to play with sounds.

Shadaras: I think that reading poetry is a fantastic way to think about metaphor/simile and descriptive language more generally. It also emphasises the rhythm/shape/sound of words and asks for a focus on specificity and thoughtful word-choice to maximize the impact of any given piece. Those elements are just as useful to prose writers as poets! Poets might be able to sustain that in-depth focus across a whole piece (since they usually work in shorter forms), but even if a prose writer only uses that specific attention at points of intense emotion where they really want to ensure there’s an impact, it’s still fantastic.

Anonymous: So I guess what I’m saying is that is that reading poetry will make you a better short story writer.

Shadaras: Yeah, the dividers between poems, prose poems, and prose is… sometimes about framing/intent?

Anonymous: Often I find short stories are structured like poetry, in that the narrative is kind of intentionally picked apart and rearranged to evoke emotion rather than straightforward understanding of the narrative.

Shadaras: And then there’s epic poetry, which is a long-form narrative as well as being poetry!

Anonymous: It’s harder to do that kind of thing with long-form fiction but it does happen occasionally.

Nina Waters: I think reading poetry can really help a prose writer with lyricism and flow.

Zel Howland: Seconded what everyone has said about reading poetry helping with lyricism and rhythm. I think having a good understanding of poetry technique can really develop how your prose manipulates (for lack of a better word) the reader beyond what is in the content – building tension in horror, for example. Great for genre work in general!

Shea Sullivan: From a writing standpoint, poetry helps me improve metaphor and simile by encouraging me to look beyond common comparisons and really dig into the question of what I want to evoke. I agree with everyone else that it helps with rhythm as well.

Anonymous: One thing I will note is that a short story can be very close to poetry and vice versa. Some of my favourite poems are in fact short stories that blur the line between stylized prose and outright poetry. Neil Gaiman has a few short stories that are especially good in this way, for example.

4. Our favorite poets

Many of our favorite poets were already discussed and linked in the above discussion, but here’s a few more…

Nina Waters: I’ve especially enjoyed Silverstein, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and T. S. Eliot. I went on a big Eliot kick when I was young cause I saw the musical Cats, and while I didn’t care much for the musical it made me curious about the poems that the musical was based on. I loved Silverstein so much that I memorized a couple of his poems for school. I also memorized a [J. R. R.] Tolkien poem and performed it at a school talent show when I was in middle school, so those plus reading Eliot because of Cats (which I was probably in early HS for?) is how I got started reading poetry for fun instead of just cause I had to.

Shadaras: Some other poets I’ve appreciated whose names haven’t come up yet: Mary Oliver, Ursula Le Guin, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, Robert Graves, W. B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Carlos Williams (I once wrote a short essay about “The Red Wheelbarrow” for a poetry class wherein I attempted to argue it could be about aliens/ritual sacrifice, because it was funny and I thought the professor would enjoy it, and I was correct about that).

Nina Waters: Langston Huges is i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. W.E.B. Du Bois too. (Not his focus but there are a few)

boneturtle: Seconding Rilke. I will also add Annie Dillard.

How about you, dear blog post reader? How would you answer these four questions?

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6 Queer Books for Autism Acceptance Month!

A graphic showing six book covers over a muted background of rainbow stripes. The graphic is entitled "6 Queer Books with Autistic Characters." The six book covers are: The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes; May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor; Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White; The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor; The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu; and An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon.

April is Autism Acceptance Month, so the group of folks at Duck Prints Press who suggest titles for these rec lists dug into personal favorite queer reads to find these six titles that include queer characters who are explicitly or implied to be autistic. Our picks are:

The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes

Ariana Ruiz wants to be noticed. But as an autistic girl who never talks, she goes largely ignored by her peers—despite her bold fashion choices. So when cute, popular Luis starts to pay attention to her, Ari finally feels seen.

Luis’s attention soon turns to something more, and they have sex at a party—while Ari didn’t say no, she definitely didn’t say yes. Before she has a chance to process what happened and decide if she even has the right to be mad at Luis, the rumor mill begins churning—thanks, she’s sure, to Luis’s ex-girlfriend, Shawni. Boys at school now see Ari as an easy target, someone who won’t say no.

Then Ari finds a mysterious note in her locker that eventually leads her to a group of students determined to expose Luis for the predator he is. To her surprise, she finds genuine friendship among the group, including her growing feelings for the very last girl she expected to fall for. But in order to take Luis down, she’ll have to come to terms with the truth of what he did to her that night—and risk everything to see justice done.

May the Best Man Win by Z. R. Ellor

Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdate school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise–and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King? 

Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend–who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign. 

When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding–and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

Hell Follows With Us by Andrew Joseph White

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.

But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.

Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor

Sam Sylvester’s not overly optimistic about their recent move to the small town of Astoria, Oregon after a traumatic experience in their last home in the rural Midwest.

Yet Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, the pretty neighbor. However, Sam can’t seem to let go of what might have been, and is drawn to investigate the death of a teenage boy in 1980s Astoria. Sam’s convinced he was murdered–especially since Sam’s investigation seems to resurrect some ghosts in the town.

Threatening notes and figures hidden in shadows begin to disrupt Sam’s life. Yet Sam continues to search for the truth. When Sam discovers that they may be closer to a killer than previously known, Sam has a difficult decision to make. Would they risk their new life for a half-lived one?

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

Wei Wuxian was once one of the most outstanding men of his generation, a talented and clever young cultivator who harnessed martial arts, knowledge, and spirituality into powerful abilities. But when the horrors of war led him to seek a new power through demonic cultivation, the world’s respect for his skills turned to fear, and his eventual death was celebrated throughout the land.

Years later, he awakens in the body of an aggrieved young man who sacrifices his soul so that Wei Wuxian can exact revenge on his behalf. Though granted a second life, Wei Wuxian is not free from his first, nor the mysteries that appear before him now. Yet this time, he’ll face it all with the righteous and esteemed Lan Wangji at his side, another powerful cultivator whose unwavering dedication and shared memories of their past will help shine a light on the dark truths that surround them.

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 organised 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.

What are your favorite queer books with Autistic rep? We’d love to hear about them!

You can access this list as a bookshelf on Goodreads!

Did you know? Duck Prints Press has an affiliate shop on Bookshop.org – and you can access all our rec lists (including this one!) there to facilitate purchasing the books. If you buy with us as your affiliate book store, authors get royalties, Bookshop.org gets a cut, and we get a small percent of the purchase price too – everyone wins!

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Happy National Haiku Day! Enjoy These 15 Poems

Today, April 17 2024, is National Haiku Day! We celebrated by writing some poems. 😀 Not all adhere to the syllable count correctly but hey, it’s the spirit that counts…we had fun writing them, and we hope you have fun reading them!

Graphic 1 of 15 for National Haiku Day. This, and all subsequent graphics, bears the label "Haiku Day" and has a blue artsy circle over a white background. Within the circle is the text of a haiku and the name of the author, and the circle is accented with clipart that aligns with the topic of the poem. On this graphic, the poem reads: "A quiet minute to gather my thoughts, and then I get back to work." Author: Nina Waters. The clipart is of a melty-looking clock.
Graphic 2 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "A huge between friends - close and secure, safe and warm - nothing can beat it." Author: Nina Waters. The clipart is of a of two disembodied arms, one light skinned, one dark skinned, embracing.
Graphic 3 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Take a character. Take another character. Then, hehehehe." Author: Xianyu Zhou. The clipart is of an emoji making the suggestive "hey..." smirk expression.
Graphic 4 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Sleep now, little one. Nothing hides beneath the bed. It comes out at night." Author: Rhosyn Goodfellow. The clipart is of a scary face with large eyes, a triangle nose, and jack-o-lantern squiggly mouth.
Graphic 5 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "UST, angst, desire. The heart longs, desperately. Who can hear its cry?" Author: Kelas. The clipart is of a pink heart with an eye in the middle of it, the eye shedding a single large tear.
Graphic 6 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Colors in the sky. When the sun winds kiss the earth, a rainbow at night." Author: Alessa Riel. The clipart is of an aurora borealis in all colors of the rainbow.
Graphic 7 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Strangers to lovers. There was only one bed. Must have been fate." Author: Alessa Riel. The clipart is of a bed with pink and gray pillows, one shaped like a heart.
Graphic 8 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Bookshop meet cute and they were roommates. Love at first sight." Author: Alessa Riel. The clipart is of a cupid bow with a red heart arrow shedding additional hearts.
Graphic 9 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "stupid fucking taxes. US, why are you so dumb? just the worst system." Author: E. C. The clipart is of a a paper labeled TAX with stylized money atop them.
Graphic 10 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "wealth-hoarding, greedy, crime via complexity. time to eat the rich." Author: E. C.. The clipart is of a guillotine.
Graphic 11 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Sometimes, when it rains a bloated pigeon's body falls from the drain pipe." Author: boneturtle. The clipart is of a a bird, but it's in jagged black lines and heavily stylized.
Graphic 12 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Golden pockets there while mine are filled with ashes. Life just isn't fair." Author: Cedar. The clipart is of a pair of hands reaching out to open a brown wallet to show the money compartment bare save for a single coin and a cobweb.
Graphic 13 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Trickle down a lie. A puddle at your bootstraps. Try to lift them up." Author: Cedar. The clipart is of a spurred boots standing in a puddle.
Graphic 14 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "Fear consumes me, love, but flees when you grab onto my soft, trembling hand." Author: Terra P. Waters. The clipart is of a pair of hands, one brown, one peach, reaching toward each other.
Graphic 15 of 15 for National Haiku Day. On this graphic, the poem reads: "A tall tree offers one tiny cluster of blooms, patiently tended." Author: Shea Sullivan. The clipart is of a tree with three colored flowers blooming on it.

Why not take a moment and join us by writing a haiku of your own in the comments? We’d love to read yours!

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Round Table Discussion: Grammar Pet Peeves

Today, March 4th, is National Grammar Day! Last year, we celebrated with six of our favorite grammar quirks. This year, we’re going to the other end of the spectrum: we had a conversation with our editors and blog contributors about grammar things we hate. They may be technically correct, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make us crazy. Eighteen people, many anonymous, contributed to this discussion.

Dangling Modifiers

boneturtle: Dangling modifiers, hands down. Even when I can decipher what the writer meant based on context, it viscerally hurts me every time. When I am editing I have to stand up and take a lap around my apartment when I hit a dangling modifier. Remind myself that I am here to help. Learn more about dangling modifiers.

Commas

anonymous: Commas are not difficult! Commas end phrases. Full stop. That’s all they do. Is a phrase necessary to the grammatical coherence of the sentence? if the answer is yes, no commas because that phrase hasn’t ended. If the answer is no, commas! comma hug that bish if it’s the middle of a sentence. The difference between grammatical and informational is whether or not the sentence makes sense without the phrase. 

Examples: 

The man who ordered the six double anchovy pizzas claims to have a dolphin in his pool. 

You need “who ordered the six double anchovy pizzas” because you need to identify which man you’re talking about. The world is full of many men. 

The ancient Buick, which Madeleine purchased via Craigslist, belched black smoke whenever she pressed the accelerator. 

We don’t need to know how Madeleine purchased the car for the sentence to make sense. You don’t even meed “Madeleine” for the grammar to make sense. Therefore, hug that phrase! 

(a comma on each side of the phrase) or give it a dramatic send off with a comma and an end punctuation. (i could go into conjunctions, too, but those are a little more complex, and if you were taught them properly, i understand not getting the comma use 😂 ) 

Prepositions at the End of Sentences

Tris Lawrence: There was a dictionary (Merriam-Webster? Oxford? idek) that posted recently on social media about how the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition came from English scholars trying to make English line up with Latin, and that it’s totally okay to do it… and I’m just wanting to point to it to yell THIS because uhhh trying to rework sentences to not end in a preposition often creates clunky awkward things (my opinion, I recognize this).

D. V. Morse: Ending sentences/clauses with a preposition. Well, not doing that is supposed to be the rule, but depending on the sentence, it can be a convoluted mess to try and avoid it. Winston Churchill famously told someone off after they “caught” him breaking that rule, saying, “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.” (Yes, I had to look that up.)

Pronoun Confusion

anonymous: I hate playing the pronoun game when reading. I hate it in life when someone comes up to me and tells me a story involving 2 people of the same pronouns and stops using names halfway through, and I hate it while reading too. Nothing makes me fall out of scene more if I don’t know who just did/said what. Use names. That’s why we have them.

Nina Waters: epithets. If I know the characters name…why? Also, when people use “you” in third person writing. There are times I’ll allow it as an editor/times when I do think it’s at least acceptable but not gonna lie, I absolutely hate it.

anonymous: My pet peeve … I read hundreds of essays in a given month for work, plus a whole lot of fanfic for fun. A rising issue that I have noticed in both places is incomplete sentences (lacking subjects, typically). I think it’s because people rely on Google’s grammar checker to tell them if something is wrong and…Google doesn’t check for that apparently. I’m increasingly convinced that my high schoolers simply weren’t taught sentence structure, because when I ask them to fix it they almost universally say some variant of “I don’t understand what you’re asking me to do.” Therefore, it might be punching down a little to complain about it. I’m not sure. It does drive me nuts though. Lol

“Would Of”

Neo Scarlett: Not quite sure if that falls under grammar, but I hate hate hate when people use “should of” instead of should’ve. Or “would of.” It just makes my toe nails curl up because it may sound right, but it looks wrong and is wrong.

Semi-Colons

Shea Sullivan: I saw a list punctuated by semicolons recently and that made me froth at the mouth a bit.

anonymous: I think any editor who’s worked with me knows that I have a pet peeve about using colons or semi-colons in dialogue. Or really, any punctuation mark that I don’t think people can actually pronounce. Semicolons can live anywhere that I don’t have to imagine a character actually pronouncing them.

English isn’t Dumb!

theirprofoundbond: As a former linguistics student, it bugs me a lot when people say that English is a dumb or stupid language because it has borrowed from so many languages. What people mean when they say this is, “English can be really difficult (even for native speakers).” But I wish people would say that, instead of “it’s dumb/stupid.” Languages are living things. Like other living things, they adapt and evolve. English is basically a beautiful, delightful platypus. Let it be a platypus.

Dei Walker: I remember seeing somewhere that English has four types of rules (I’m trying to find the citation today) and everyone conflates them. And I guess my pet peeve is that everyone treats them equally when they’re NOT. There are rules but not all of them are the same – there’s a difference between “adjectives precede nouns” (big truck, not *truck big) and “don’t split infinitives” (which is arbitrary).

And, because we couldn’t resist, here are some of our favorite things, because when we asked for pet peeves…some people still shared things they loved instead of things they hated.

Oxford Comma

Terra P. Waters: I really really love the Oxford comma.

boneturtle: me: [in kindergarten, using oxford comma]

teacher: no, we don’t add a comma between the last two objects in a list.

me: that’s illogical and incorrect.

anonymous: I will forever appreciate my second grade teacher’s explanation of Oxford comma use: Some sentences are harder to understand if you don’t use it, but no sentence will ever be harder to understand because you do use it. Preach, Mrs. D

anonymous: I am definitely Team Oxford Comma. I even have a bumper sticker which says so

Other Favorites

Shea Sullivan: I adore the emdash, to every editor’s chagrin.

Shadaras: zeugmas! I think they’re super cool!

Shea Sullivan and Hermit: I use sentence fragments a lot. Fragments my beloved.

English Grammar vs. Grammar in Other Languages

anonymous: so in English my favourite thing is the parallel Latin and Saxon registers because of how that affects grammar, but in Japanese my favourite grammatical thing is the use of an actual sound at the end of the sentence to denote a question, as opposed to how in English we use intonation? Also how in Japanese the sentence structure requires reasoning first and action second in terms of clauses. So rather than go “let’s go to the cinema because it’s raining and I’m cold,” you’d go “because it’s raining and I’m cold, let’s go to the cinema.” (My least favourite thing is the lack of spaces between words in the written form but that’s purely because I find that level of continuous letters intimidating to translate.)

I also love how Japanglish in the foreign communities in Japan starts to develop its own grammatical structure as a way of situating yourself in this space between the two languages. It’s used as a call-sign of belonging to that specific community, because in order to make some of the jokes and consciously break the rules of English or Japanese grammar and/or choose to obey one or the other, you’re basically displaying your control over both/knowledge of them. Like, the foreign community in Japan is often a disparate group of people with multiple different native languages who are relying on their knowledge of at least one non-native language but often two to signify their status in the group as Also An Outsider and I think that’s really interesting.

Nina Waters: Chinese and Japanese both drop subjects, and Chinese doesn’t have like… a/the… Japanese doesn’t have a future tense… Chinese kinda sorta doesn’t have tenses at all… (these are not pet peeves, btw, I love how learning a language with such different ways of approaching these things reshapes my brain). Chinese also doesn’t really have yes or no.

There’s a joke somewhere on Tumblr about that, though I actually think it’s about using “a” versus “the,” like, someone was giving a Russian speaker a hard time after they said “get in car” and they were like “only you English speakers are dumb enough to feel this is essential why would I be talking about getting into any random car of course I mean our car wtf.”

anonymous: on the subject of other languages, epithets are also something that happen differently in other languages. In French repeating a word (names included, and sometimes even pronouns) is considered bad writing. As in, way more than in English. Going by how grating the English translation of the Witcher books was to me when the French one was fine, I’d say it’s the same with Polish, at least. It’s also very interesting how brains adapt to writing styles in other languages.

What are some of your favorite and least favorite grammar quirks, in English or in the language of your choice?

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Happy Black History Month! Check Out 15 of Our Favorite Queer Reads by Black Authors

A graphic with a white square over the colors of the Philadelphia Pride flag. Text in the square reads "15 Queer Books by Black Authors for Black History Month" and beside this text is cllipart of two stacked books and an open book. Below this are five book covers: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, A Necessary Chaos by Brent Lambert, The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden, and So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow. Graphic 1 of 2.
A graphic with a white square overlaid with 10 book covers, all against a backdrop of the Philadelphia Pride flag. The ten book covers are: Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk; You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson; Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson, The Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass, The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson; How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole; Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers; My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron, and Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Graphic 2 of 2.

February is Black History Month in the United States, and Duck Prints Press is joining in the celebration by sharing 15 of our favorite queer reads by Black authors! The contributors to this list are Shadaras, boneturtle, Tris Lawrence, Sebastian Marie, Shea Sullivan, Terra P. Waters, and an anonymous author.

  1. An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

  2. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Trilogy) by N.K. Jemisin

  3. A Necessary Chaos by Brent Lambert

  4. The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

  5. So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix (Remixed Classics Series) by Bethany C. Morrow

  6. Nothing Burns As Bright As You by Ashley Woodfolk

  7. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

  8. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

  9. This Poison Heart (This Poison Heart Series) by Kalynn Bayron

  10. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

  11. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

  12. How to Find a Princess (Runaway Royals Series) by Alyssa Cole

  13. Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

  14. My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix (Remixed Classics Series) by Kalynn Bayron

  15. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

What are YOUR favorite reads by Black authors? We’d love to find more to add to our to-be-read piles!

Want to chat your favorite reads with us? Join our Book Lover’s Discord server!

You can view this list as a bookshelf on Goodreads!

Love reading queer books? Our Queer Book Challenge is running on Storygraph through the end of 2024. Come join us!

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Our Favorite Words for National Word Nerd Day!

What are a bunch of writers if not a huge collection of nerds who love words? So we at Duck Prints Press thought we’d celebrate National Word Nerd Day to share some words we love!!

The main banner for National Word Nerd Day. It reads "Our favorite words for National Word Nerd Day. Logophile. a lover of words. Banner 1 of 10.

Seventeen of our authors contributed to this list, many offering up multiple favorites cause dang it we just love words that much! Definitions are from Merriam-Webster unless otherwise specified.

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sequelae. an aftereffect of a disease, condition, or injury

onomatopoeia. the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it

bodzermoggl. (franconian) pinecone (definition provided by neo scarlett)

petrodraconic. a word created by australian rock band king gizzard & the lizard wizard (source: wikipedia)


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sequelae. an aftereffect of a disease, condition, or injury

susurrus. a whispering or rustling sound

ascetic. practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline; austere in appearance, manner, or attitude

時々 [tokidoki]. japanese; sometimes (source: wictionary)


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ipsedixitism. dogmatic assertion or assertiveness

flibbertigibbet. a silly flighty person

oscillating. to swing backward and forward like a pendulum; to vary between opposing beliefs, feelings, or theories

fomite. an object that may be contaminated with infectious agents and serve in their transmission


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flabbergasted. feeling or showing intense shock, surprise, or wonder: utterly astonished

rapscallion. a person who causes trouble, rascal

fiddlesticks. something of little value, trifle

liminal. of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold: barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response


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vestigial. remaining as the last small part of something that existed before

gloaming. the fall of the evening as the time of dusk or gloom; the twilight (source: wordnik)

insouciant. lighthearted unconcern, nonchalance

squamates. any of an order (squamata) of reptiles including the snakes and lizards and related extinct forms


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petrichor. a distinctive, earthy, usually pleasant odor that is associated with rainfall especially when following a warm, dry period and that arises from a combination of volatile plant oils and geosmin released from the soil into the air and by ozone carried by downdrafts

sanguine. marked by eager hopefulness: confidently optimistic; consisting of or relating to blood

hydrochlorothiazide. a diuretic and antihypertensive drug

eyjafjallajökull. a volcano in Iceland (source: wikipedia)


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consanguineous. of the same blood or origin – specifically: descended from the same ancestor

nacreous. possessing the qualities of, consisting of, or abounding in nacre; iridescent

pareidolia. the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

defenestrate. a throwing of a person or thing out of a window; a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office)


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bubkes. the least amount; nothing

vituperative. uttering or given to censure: containing or characterized by verbal abuse

lugubrious. exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful

antithetical. being in direct and unequivocal opposition: directly opposite or opposed


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hurkle-durkle. scottish; to lounge in bed long after it’s time to get up

认床 [rèn chuáng]. (chinese) the feeling of having difficulty sleeping in a bed other than one’s own (definition from duchinese)

ubiquitous. existing or being everywhere at the same time: constantly encountered

plaudit. an act or round of applause

What are YOUR favorite words? Tell us in the tags or comments!

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32 of Our Favorite Sci-Fi Reads for National Science Fiction Day

A graphic showing a space background with a rainbow nebular. Text over the background reads "Our Favorite Sci-Fi Books for Sci-Fi Day. Graphic 1 of 4 for this event.
A space background with a rainbow nebula, with 11 books displayed. The books are: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots; Little Mushroom by Shishi; Always Human by Ari North; More Than We Deserve by Nicola Kapron; Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho; Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell; Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff; Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao; Crash Course by Wilhemina Baird; and Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki. Graphic 2 of 4 for this event.
A space background with a rainbow nebula, with 10 books displayed. The books are: We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen; Emergent Properties by Aimee Ogden; Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders; Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir; The Fever King by Victoria Lee; All Systems Red by Martha Wells; Infomocracy by Malka Older; Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang; Binti by Nnedi Okorafor; and Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliot. Graphic 3 of 4 for this event.
A space background with a rainbow nebula, with 11 books displayed. The books are: A Pslam for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers; This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone; Trigun Maximum by Yasuhiro Nightow; Legend of the Galactic Heroes by Yoshiki Tanaka; In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune; Mega Man by Ian Flynn; Mega Man Megamix by Hitoshi Ariga; Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow; Once & Future by A. R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy; Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott; and The Big Sigma Collection by Joseph Lallo. Graphic 4 of 4 for this event.

Duck Prints Press LOVES kicking off the new year with one of our favorite annual recommendation lists: science fiction stories (ideally queer, but it wasn’t required) to celebrate National Science Fiction Day! For this year, 14 Duck Prints Press contributors suggested a whopping 32 awesome science fiction books. Note that there’s no overlap with last year (by design) so make sure you also check out Our Ten Favorite Science Fiction Reads of 2022 for some more titles to add to your 2024 TBR.

Our 2024 Science Fiction Recs:

  1. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
  2. Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
  3. Little Mushroom by Shisi
  4. Always Human by Ari North
  5. More Than We Deserve by Nicola Kapron
  6. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  7. Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell
  8. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman
  9. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
  10. CrashCourse by Wilhelmina Baird
  11. Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
  12. We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen
  13. Emergent Properties by Aimee Ogden
  14. Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
  15. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
  16. The Fever King by Victoria Lee
  17. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  18. Infomocracy by Malka Older
  19. Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang
  20. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  21. Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
  22. Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
  23. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
  24. Trigun and Trigun Maximum by Yasuhiro Nightow
  25. Legend of the Galactic Heroes by Yoshiki Tanaka & Katsumi Michihara
  26. In the Lives of Puppets by T. J. Klune
  27. Mega Man by Ian Flynn & Pat Spaz Spaziante
  28. Mega Man Megamix by Hitoshi Ariga
  29. Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow
  30. Once & Future by A. R. Capetta & Cory McCarthy
  31. Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott
  32. The Big Sigma by Joseph R. Lallo

Want to come read some of these books with us? Join our 2024 Queer Book Challenge on Storygraph! One of our challenges there is to read a queer science fiction book, and there’s a lot on this list that’d count!

You can check out all our sci-fi recs on this Goodreads shelf.

Wish you could contribute to these lists? Back our Patreon, join our Discord, and you can!

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Calling All Artists!

A graphic in shades of tan and brown, with a border made of ornate swirls. At the bottom, artwork shows two women in historical (19th century Western) clothing conversing on a couch. Text on the image reads: "Duck Prints Press seeks Artists to contribute to our forthcoming anthology A Truth Universally Acknowledged: Queer Fanworks Inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice."

In celebration of January 1st, 2024, and Public Domain Day, Duck Prints Press is thrilled to announce that we are doing open recruitment for artists to contribute to our next fanfiction and fanart anthology A Truth Universally Acknowledged: Queer Fanworks Inspired by Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”!

Are you an Austenite? Do you love Regency romance but lament how, well, straight most of it is? Do you wish Mary Bennett found a partner? Are you positive Charlotte Lucas deserved better? Do you pity Miss de Bourgh? Do you dream of Darcy and Bingley OT3s? Well you are NOT ALONE! We at Duck Prints Press are right there with you, and we’re here to say: this is your moment to shine! We want your wlw pairings, your new happy endings, your P&P ot3s and ot4s, your “but what if they’re trans,” your queer art and fanart inspired by this beloved story! This story has such a lovely main and supporting cast, the possibilities for taking Pride and Prejudice and MAKING IT QUEER are endless!

This is the third in our Queer Fanworks Inspired By… series, publishing legal fanfic and fanart inspired by popular works in the public domain. It builds on the success of our first two, And Seek (Not) to Alter Me (inspired by Much Ado About Nothing) and Aim For The Heart (inspired by The Three Musketeers). This is a paid arting opportunity; artists will be asked to complete one full-page (A4/210 mm x 297 mm), full-color piece, and we may have space for some artists to complete more than one page and/or short comics. Base pay is $50 per page, with the potential for raises up to $400 per page depending on our success during the eventual crowdfunding campaign.

Want to Learn More? OF COURSE YOU DO!

Ready to apply? YAY! Follow this link to the sign up form! Applications close at midnight, January 15, 2024!

Interested in writing for this anthology? Unfortunately, author applications are only open to writers already involved with Duck Prints Press. Sorry! If you’re on our private Discord server, be on the lookout for the announcement with sign-up forms there.

Interested in buying this anthology once it’s available? Make sure you follow us on social media and/or sign up for newsletter so you hear the latest!

Eager to see how this project develops, read sneak peeks and see art previews, and more? Back us on Patreon! Patrons also selected this anthology theme – you can have a say in our future anthology themes, too, just by backing us at any level!

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National Non-Fiction Day: 31 Titles to Get Your Queer Learn On!

A graphic (one of three) with text that reads "31 Queer Non-Fiction Books for National Non-Fiction Day." There are six book covers on the graphic: "Fine" by Rhea Ewing; "Gender Born, Gender Made" by Diane Ehrensaft; "Dear Senthuran" by Akwaeke Emezi; "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel; "Ace: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex" by Angela Chen; "Here For It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America" by R. Eric Thomas; and "Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians" by Austen Hartke. The background of the graphic has indecipherable words in classic fonts overlaid with a rainbow, with red at the top, then orange, yellow, green, blue, and finally purple at the bottom.
Graphic Two (of three) of recommendations for non-fiction day - this graphic is a continuation of the first image in this series, though this one doesn't repeat the label. It shows the covers of 12 books. These books are:
"Bitch: On the Female of the Species" by Lucy Cooke
"Unmasking Autism" by Devon Price
"My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness" by Kabi Nagata
"Transister: Raising Twins in a Gender-Bending World" by Kate Brookes
"Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons" by John Paul Brammer
"Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century" by Graham Robb
"London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885 - 1914" by Matt Cook
"Queer Your Craft" by Cassandra Snow
"Female Husbands: A Trans History" by Jen Manion
"The Ethical Slut" by Janet W. W. Hardy and Dossie Easton
"The New Queer Conscience" by Adam Eli; and
"Before We Were Trans" by Kit Heyam.

The background of the graphic has indecipherable words in classic fonts overlaid with a rainbow, with red at the top, then orange, yellow, green, blue, and finally purple at the bottom.
Graphic three (of three) of recommendations for non-fiction day - this graphic is a continuation of the first image in this series, though this one doesn't repeat the label. It shows the covers of 12 books. These books are:
"Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society" by Cordelia Fine
"Peculiar Places: A Queer Crip History of White Rural Nonconformity" by Ryan Lee Cartwright
"Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference" by Cordelia Fine
"Queer Budapest, 1873 - 1961" by Anita Kurimay
"LGBTQ-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care" by Kimberly D. Acquaviva
"Queering Colonial Natal: Indigeneity and the Violence of Belonging in Southern Africa" by T. J. Tallie
"Handbook of LGBT Elders" edited by Debra A. Harley and Pamela B. Teaster
"LGBT Transnational Identity and the Media" by Christopher Pullen
"Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations" by Serena Nanda
"LGBTQ Cultures: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know about Sexual and Gender Diversity" by M. J. Eliason and P. L. Chinn
"The Terrible We: Thinking with Trans Maladjustment" by Cameron Awkward-Rich
"Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community" edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth

The background of the graphic has indecipherable words in classic fonts overlaid with a rainbow, with red at the top, then orange, yellow, green, blue, and finally purple at the bottom.

In the past year, we’ve posted a lot about our favorite queer fiction titles. We wanted to take Non-Fiction day to talk about the non-fiction titles that have impacted us! Whether self-help, memoirs, psychology, history, sociology, or a different non-fiction genre, these are books that have helped us learn, helped us teach, helped us improve, helped us see and be seen, and helped us be more informed. So join us as we introduce our thirty-one recommendations for National Non-Fiction Day!

You can view this list as a shelf on Goodreads!

It can be so difficult to find good non-fiction resources on queer topics. Which titles to DO you recommend?