Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Every team behind a book-to-film adaptation has hard choices to make. But one of the trickiest is taking a book that’s very much embedded in a character’s head and putting those moments on screen in an interesting way. Voice-overs can only go so far in conveying the way authors capture specific thought patterns.

That’s the cchallenge in adapting a book like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s YA queer coming-of-age novel, which soars on the page because of the main character’s internal monologue.

The film adaptation from Hara Kiri director and writer Aitch Alberto stumbles a bit in conveying the book’s adolescent angst and poignant longing, often feeling like a collection of snapshots instead of one cohesive movie. Nevertheless, the lead actors carry the film, and the individual scenes are strong, though it never quite captures the deep longing that is threaded throughout the original.

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Heartstopper is the tamest queer media you can imagine. It still gets hit with bans.

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The Heartstopper book ban proves once again that you can sanitise queer content all you want, make it wholesome and devoid of any sex to please the straights, you will never live up to their idea of “good gays.” Because good gays, to them, are invisible and full of shame.

The graphic novel series Heartstopper will no longer be available in the teen section of a Mississippi public library after a group of parents claimed the books were pornographic. The Heartstopper books, which tell the story of two teen boys who fall in love, were removed from the teen section of the Columbia-Marion County public library and placed in the adult section after complaints.

The library moved the graphic novels from the teen section after a meeting on 9 August in which a group of parents claimed the books were pornographic, with one reportedly claiming homosexuals were using the series to “recruit” children into the LGBTQ+ community.

One mother also reportedly cited 14 other books that they found “objectionable”, asking for the board to remove them from the teen section in order to “protect our children”, The Mississippi Free Press reported. Other titles described as objectionable included Dress Codes for Small Towns, by Courtney Stevens and Luna, by Julie Anne Peters, both of which have LGBTQ+ themes.

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America’s most challenged & banned books right now

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The American Library Association (ALA) is out with their latest list of the most banned and challenged books, a dubious honor accorded books in library collections in the United States enduring the highest number of attempted bans and demands for censorship.

The list is aggregated by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom from reports filed by library professionals and community members, as well as from news stories published throughout the U.S. Because many book challenges go unreported, the ALA Banned and Challenged Book List is only a snapshot. The organization says a challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in a collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from a library.

The most recent list covers bans and challenges in 2022. ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources last year, the highest number of attempted book bans since the group began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 challenges reported in 2021.

A record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship. Seven of the top 13 most challenged books contained LGBTQ+ themes and/or characters, including the most challenged title, author Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer. The graphic novel/memoir faced 151 formal calls for censorship in libraries across the country. Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay rounds out the list with 48 formal challenges.

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Heartstopper among books facing ban in the land of the free

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Alice Oseman’s seminal graphic novel series Heartstopper has joined the growing list of LGBTQ+ books banned in certain parts of the US.

Heartstopper is one of many books US conservatives want banned because they mention that queer and black people exist. Because banning books is totally normal in a democracy and definitely not a fascist hallmark.

According to the Florida Freedom to Read Project, more than fifty books were banned in the Clay County school district in Florida last week (24 March), many of which are written by LGBTQ+ authors or discuss sexuality or gender identity.

The list of banned books includes the first three volumes of Heartstopper, as well as Oseman’s 2016 novel Radio Silence, which features a number of queer characters. Other books removed in the latest round of book bans in the district include LGBTQ+ young adult romance novel One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva, and comic A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.

The Florida Freedom to Read Project shared that a total of 355 books have now been removed from the school district since July 2022. Along with LGBTQ+ books, the bans are impacting Black authors and books about and racism and racial justice.

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I Like Me Better, a tale of queer joy

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Hope you’re ready to start planning your summer reading list, because I Like Me Better is the tale of queer romance and joy you absolutely need in your life. Autumn might have just arrived, but as anyone with a BookTok account and TBR pile knows, there’s no time like the present to start prepping for your next great. Lucky for fans of  swoon-worthy and fun in the sun, Robby Weber, the author behind If You Change Your Mind, is back with a brand new book.

I Like Me Better doesn’t arrive until May 2, 2023, but Teen Vogue has your first exclusive look at a cover. The very queer rom-com centers on Zack Martin, a soccer-star. Per a press description of the book, Zack’s plans for summer are thrown out the window, after he’s forced to take the blame for a team prank.

Now he’s trading parties and beach days for community service at a seaside conservation center—fair enough. But thanks to his new reputation, the cute intern, Chip, won’t even give him a shot. Still, Zack finds himself falling for Chip between dolphin encounters and shark costume disasters, which means he suddenly has way more on the line than he ever expected. Zack may be good at winning on the field, but can he keep up the lie without losing himself?

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History’s Gayest Vampires

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Interview With the Vampire is one of the most influential vampire stories ever told, and also one of the gayest. Originally published as a novel in 1976, the book spawned 12 sequels, a wildly successful film (and one less-successful one), graphic novels, a Broadway musical, and now a TV series – each one dripping with blood, debauchery, and fanged monsters whose passion for each other spans centuries.

But this tasty tale didn’t just spring into being by itself. The saga builds on queer vampire stories going back 150 years, through exploitation films of the 70s, early motion pictures, and Victorian novels full of forbidden gay encounters with creatures of the night. So, where did Interview with the Vampire come from, why was it such a hit, and how did an aspiring writer’s scandalous debut novel change vampire stories forever?

Queer YA books see record sales despite US book bans

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When Phil Stamper was growing up in the early 2000s, he couldn’t go into a Barnes & Noble and find an LGBTQ+ section for young adults.

“There weren’t enough books to fill those shelves,” Stamper, a popular author of contemporary, queer young adult (YA) novels, told The 19th. His latest book, “Small Town Pride, released in May, is deeply rooted in his own lived experience of being gay in a rural community which now, thanks to books like his, might feel less isolating.

“Now, you can go into any bookstore or library in even the smallest and most conservative town, and you will find a section. It’s crazy to go home to rural Ohio, where I was raised, and find my book in any bookstore there.”

But Stamper recognizes that this meteoric rise in popularity, visibility and scope of representation for queer authors and characters in queer YA has also created a backlash, one evident in state governments and school boards across the United States.

“It’s not a coincidence that increases in queer visibility are going to be tied to more legislation against this kind of visibility and more opposition to it as well,” Stamper said.

Book bans and restrictions are going into effect across the country with school districts limiting the access of books with LGBTQ+ subject matter. An April report by the PEN America Foundation found there were 1,586 individual instances of books being removed from shelves between July 2021 and March 2022, and books that have a protagonist of color or LGBTQ+ themes were disproportionately banned.

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If You Change Your Mind

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Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.

But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything. To complicate things further, new-in-town Logan is charming and sweet, making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As Harry tries to manage his feelings for Grant and Logan, he realizes life doesn’t always follow a script.

When author Robby Weber set out to write an LGBTQ+ romcom, he had a clear goal in mind for his YA novel: Write the story he would have loved to read as a teen. Weber’s YA debut, If You Change Your Mind, follows aspiring screenwriter Harry, who is set on winning a writing competition that will solidify his admission to his dream college.

“Harry is determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script,” reads the book’s official description. “After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway. But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything. To complicate things further, new-in-town Logan is charming and sweet, making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As Harry tries to manage his feelings for Grant and Logan, he realizes life doesn’t always follow a script.”

The Importance of Being Earnest

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Jack, an upstanding socialite, Victorian gentleman, and a perfect moral citizen! That is until he gets to London where he lets loose and becomes Earnest! The unruly brother that tears around the city. But Jack’s double life will inevitably become VERY complicated as his loved ones begin to discover his duplicity.

Oscar Wilde’s play is not only a brilliant deconstruction of Victorian hypocrisy but also reflects some of his own struggles of living a double life as a married author and socialite in public and a gay man in private.