STAFF PICK: I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux

Title: I Can’t Date Jesus
Author: Michael Arceneaux
Narrator: Michael Arceneaux

Equally hilarious as it is heartbreaking, Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé will become your new bible and saving grace.

Raised by a raging father and disapproving but well-meaning mother, Arceneaux’s life as a gay, black, sensitive man is made that much harder. His complex feelings with the religion that saved his mother gnaws at their fragile relationship as he navigates dating men who take advantage of his kindness. Desperately wanting to find his place in the world, Arceneaux’s journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is bold, beautiful, and darkly humorous.

“clearly rusty on how to enter a church, much less one of this size, I grabbed my wallet and was about to pull out my ID to show it to the usher that stood before the doors. Yes, as if he were a club bouncer. Yes, as if I were trying to get in free before eleven and rush to the bar to enjoy that two-for-one drinks special.”

I laughed out loud so many times while listening to this audiobook that I often had to pause it and repeat the lines to those nearby. What made it even richer was hearing it in Arceneaux’s own voice. If you choose to read this book rather than listen to it, you’ll miss out on experiencing the extent of his unflappable humor and talent for storytelling. He also does an excellent job of educating the public about Beyoncé in a way that will send the Beyhive swarming with joy.

“A Beytheist is someone who denies the splendor of Beyoncé. I don’t get people like that… I’ve developed a rule to stop dating men who dislike Beyoncé. I have tried to respect other people’s religious beliefs, but sometimes the biases you develop are well-earned.

Can I get an amen?

I Can't Date Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 LGBTQ+ Memoirs For Pride Month

Whether you’re looking for your next favorite listen or looking for more Pride Month celebrations, these nine memoirs capture the spectrum of LGBTQ+ voices and experiences.

 

1. Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride, narrated by Sarah McBride

Tomorrow Will Be Different.

Before she became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention, Sarah McBride struggled with coming out —not just to her family but to her University, where she was student body president. Four years later, McBride was one of the nation’s most prominent transgender activists and married a trans man and fellow activist, who complemented her in every way… until cancer struck.
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2. Logical Family by Armistead Maupin, narrated by Armistead Maupin

Logical Family.

Born and raised in the heart of conservative North Carolina, Armistead Maupin realized the South was too small for him and took off in search of adventure. Reflecting on the profound impact of those closest to him, Maupin shares his search for the people he could call his own. What emerges is a portrait of the man who depicted the liberation and evolution of America’s queer community.
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3. Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock, narrated by Janet Mock

Surpassing Certainty,

Janet Mock is adjusting to her days as a first-generation college student and nights as a dancer at a strip club. Finally content in her body, she vacillates between flaunting and concealing herself while navigating dating and disclosure, sex and intimacy, and letting herself be truly seen, eventually becoming one of the world’s most respected media figures and lauded leaders for equality and justice.
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4. Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello, narrated by Michael Ausiello

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.

TV fans have counted on Michael Ausiello’s insider knowledge to get the scoop on their favorite shows and stars. What many didn’t know is that outside of his professional life, he endured a major personal tragedy: his husband, Kit Cowan, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. In this heartbreaking and darkly hilarious memoir, he tells the story of his last year with Kit while revisiting the 13 years that preceded it.
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5. Note to Self by Connor Franta, narrated by Connor Franta

Note to Self.

In this diary-like look at his life, YouTube star Connor Franta talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment-with others and himself. Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.
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6. Party of One by Dave Holmes, narrated by Dave Holmes

Party Of One.

Growing up, Dave Holmes was the artsy son in a sporty family. At his all-boys high school and Catholic college, he was the closeted gay kid surrounded by crush-worthy straight guys. And in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight, opening the door to fame and fortune. In Party of One, Holmes tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales in the vein of Rob Sheffield, Andy Cohen, and Paul Feig of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a music geek who finally learns to accept himself.
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7. She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan, narrated by Jennifer Finney Boylan

She's Not There.

The provocative bestseller She’s Not There is the winning, utterly surprising story of a person changing genders. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family. Told in Boylan’s fresh voice, She’s Not There is about a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret. Through her clear eyes, She’s Not There provides a new window on the confounding process of accepting our true selves.
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8. Fire Shut Up in my Bones by Charles M. Blow, narrated by Charles M. Blow

Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Charles M. Blow’s indelible coming-of-age takes place in a segregated town in Louisiana in the near-constant wash of violence. One day, his life was split into Before and After when a cousin took advantage of the young boy. Charles’s eventually attended university where he joined a fraternity despite brutal hazing, and then experienced a social and sexual privilege that seemed, at first, like everything he needed.
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9. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin, narrated by Nancy WuRoxanne HernandezTanya EbyNick PodehlSusan KuklinTodd HaberkornMarisol RamirezJanina Edwards

Beyond Magenta.

In Beyond Magenta, Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults (Jessy, Christina, Mariah, Cameron, Nat, and Luke), who share what it is like for them to be members of the transgender community. Touching on pronouns, body acceptance, transitioning, gender rules, perspective, and family issues, Beyond Magenta is a groundbreaking work of LGBTQ literature.
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LGBTQ+ Authors You Should Be Listening To

Happy Pride Month! Whether you’re marching in a Pride parade or celebrating at home, we’ve got nine great listens by LGBTQ+ authors you’ll love.

 

1. Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? by Heath Fogg Davis, narrated by Paul Boehmer

Beyond Trans.

Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are they just mechanisms of exclusion? Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life.
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2. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera, narrated by Bahni TurpinRobbie DaymondMichael Crouch

They Both Die At The End.

A little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo meet up for one last great adventure — to live a lifetime in a single day.
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3. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Makenzi Lee, narrated by Christian Coulson

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as he embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
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4. A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo, narrated by Jennifer Lim

A Line In The Dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, Jess can see it coming a mile away. As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.
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5. Oola by Brittany Newell, narrated by Michael Crouch

Oola.

An insouciant music school dropout and aimless young writer fix on one another, grab hands and fall head-first down love’s rabbit hole. The pair find themselves mansion-sitting all summer, drinking the liquor cabinets dry and emptying wardrobes to play dress-up. But when they play house in a Big Sur cabin, boredom breeds an idea that could extinguish their love and even destroy them both.
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6. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard, narrated by Emma Galvin

Girl Mans Up.

Pen wants to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? Dressing like a girl and listening to her folks will show respect. Taking orders from her friend Colby will show loyalty. But respect and loyalty are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and feelings for other girls means that in order for Pen to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
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7. Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, narrated by Maggie Nelson

Argonauts.

At its center is a romance: the story of Nelson‘s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes her account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.
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8. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, narrated by Ensemble Cast

A Brief History of Seven Killings

On 3 December 1976, just weeks before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions, seven gunmen from West Kingston stormed his house. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert. Not a lot was recorded about the fate of the seven gunmen, but much has been said, whispered and sung about in the streets of West Kingston.
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9. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta, narrated by Robin Miles

Under the Udala Trees.

Under the Udala Trees is a deeply powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly. Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; she is 11 when civil war breaks out in Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child, and they fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, she learns to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.
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STAFF PICK: Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Title: Speak No Evil
Author: Uzodinma Iweala
Narrators: 
 Prentice Onayemi and Julia Whelan 

Speak No Evil is a new release from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation. Protagonist Niru is a successful student. He received early acceptance to Harvard, is a star track athlete, and is gay. The last bit was a secret, but when it’s accidentally revealed to his conservative Nigerian father, Niru’s life turns upside down.

As this plays out, there is friction with his best friend. Niru tries to cope with the World’s expectations and his conflicting desires without the support of the one person he’s always had by his side. The book brims with confusion and pain. He juggles his father’s shame, his pastor’s preaching, and his personal desires. When he begins to find happiness, his family’s words resonate in his head and he distances himself. His torment piles onto the pressure of high school, and despite Niru’s conscientious attitude, it gets to be too much.

The narrators are excellent. I’ve listened to and enjoyed Prentice Onayemi‘s narration before, and his performance here does not disappoint. The transition between American and Nigerian accents is smooth and clear, and he amplifies the story’s emotion. When the perspective changes and Julia Whelan takes over, the emotion is not lost. 

Uzodinma Iweala brings hard topics front of mind, and left me feeling somber but thoughtful. The writing is elegant and despite the difficult subject matter, I rushed through it. Have you read it? Share your thoughts!

Speak No Evil

 

 

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Celebrating Love of all Kinds

This Valentine’s Day, we wanted to give a special shoutout to those of you who don’t feel represented by the protagonists of traditional romance novels. So, we’ve put together a list of audiobooks that celebrate love in all its forms, with representations of people of colour, protagonists with disabilities, LGBTQ love, non-monogamy, and so much more.

Check out this teaser of some of our favorite picks, then browse the full list here!

 

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory

“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel….One of the best books I’ve read in a while.” –Roxane Gay

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist. Now they are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in this fun and flirty debut novel.

 

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity, Kristin Elizabeth Clark

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just never told anyone she was coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe – nicknamed Chunk – is joining her.

Along the way, Jess and Chunk learn a few things about themselves – and each other – which call their feelings about their relationship into question.

 

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her—and she’s forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

Her Two Dads by Ariel Tachna

Her Two Dads, Ariel Tachna

Srikkanth Bhattacharya is a quintessential gay bachelor–until a tragedy brings his best friend’s newborn daughter into his life.

His housemate and friend, Jaime Frias, volunteers to help, never guessing he’ll fall in love with both the baby and Sri. Everything seems perfect until a visit from Social Services sends Sri into a tailspin, feeling like he has to choose between his daughter and a relationship with the man he’s coming to love.

 

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer's Voice, Mia Sheridan

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice.

 

A Word for Love by Emily Robbins

Word for Love: A Novel, Emily RobbinsA mesmerizing debut set in Syria on the cusp of the unrest, A Word for Love is the spare and exquisitely told story of a young American woman transformed by language, risk, war, and a startling new understanding of love.

With melodic meditation on culture, language, and familial devotion. Robbins delivers a powerful novel that questions what it means to love from afar, to be an outsider within a love story, and to take someone else’s passion and cradle it until it becomes your own.

 

 

 

Water Under Bridges by Harper Bliss

Water Under Bridges, Harper Bliss

Louise Hamilton has returned to Sydney after her long term relationship broke down in Brisbane, and she’s loving her new job and her new friends. She feels like her life is finally back on track. Until a figure from her past unexpectedly comes back to haunt her.

What happens when a dark past comes back to slap you in the face? And can people ever truly move on from a deeply traumatizing experience?

 

Browse the full list to your heart’s content right here!

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