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Shelf Care at The Blue Bench- September Reading List

Welcome to the Shelf Care reading list by The Blue Bench! Every month, we will curate a reading list of books showcasing powerful voices and talented storytelling. These books delve into topics related to sexual assault, sexual identity, trauma, healing, hope, community, and resilience.

The books highlighted in this month’s list are written by Latinx authors in honor of Latinx Heritage Month. [TW/CW: These books may contain topics related to sexual assault, domestic violence, drug use, and others that some may find triggering]


Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz

                Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz is a gritty and unflinching memoir that explores childhood trauma and triumphant coming of age. Growing up in the housing projects of Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz writes of her own battles with depression and sexual assault, intertwined with the history of colonialism in Puerto Rico. This raw yet refreshing memoir shows the strength it takes to move oneself towards love and hope.

                Jaquira Díaz is a Puerto Rican native and now lives in Miami Beach. She has been published in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Longreads, The Fader, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine


In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

                In the Dream House depicts the struggle of a relationship gone bad and dissects her psychological abuse in a toxic queer relationship. In a unique telling Machado describes the harrowing relationship and the way she struggles with what happened to her and how it shaped who she is. The book has a unique structure that puts each chapter in a different narrative trope, including the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman. The result of this unique and highly stylized approach is a gut-wrenching book that challenges what our idea of a memoir can be.

                Carmen Maria Machado is an award-winning short story author, essayist, and critic. She has been published in The New Yorker, Granta, Lightspeed Magazine, and other prominent publications.


For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez

                For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color is truly that- a love letter to Brown girls and women who have faced the powerful forces of sexism, racism, classism and feel alone in the fight. Rodríguez empowers women of color while challenging them to decolonize the way they view their world and defy the white narratives by telling their own stories. This is a book filled with sisterhood, inspiration, and pride.

                Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez is the founder of Latina Rebels- a platform dedicated to educating and empowering people on the different facets of the political climate and Latinx existence through comedy and story-telling.


Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

                Sabrina & Corina is a set of eleven stories set in Denver, Colorado that depict the lives of Latina characters of Indigenous ancestry as they navigate life in modern America. Following various women through life- leaving prison and coming back to a gentrified city, a sex worker leaving their ancestral Colorado home only to find life in California hostile, and in the titular story of Sabrina and Corina – a Denver family that falls into a cycle of violence against women, only coming together through ritual. This book remains a moving narrative that eloquently describes the unrelenting power of the feminine experience.

                Kali Fajardo-Anstine is from Denver, Colorado. She has written for The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, The American Scholar, and others. Sabrina & Corina was a finalist for the National Book Award.


Las Biuty Queens: Stories by Iván Monalisa Ojeda

                Las Biuty Queens: Stories features the stories and lives of trans Latinx immigrants in New York City, as they navigate confrontations with police, survival sex work, drug addiction, and the day-to-day realities of life in the LGBTQ+ community. Every character in this story chooses a different path of defiance, but all with unwavering solidarity with each other. This book displays life not often depicted in the literary world and gives voice to a group of people often overlooked by society.

                 Iván Monalisa Ojeda is a playwrite, author, and performer from Chile. He/she has been involved in the queer community in New York for over two decades. He/she identifies as both male and female and uses both masculine and feminine pronouns.


The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina: A Novel by Zoraida Córdova

            The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina: A Novel by Zoraida Córdova is the debut adult fiction novel by Córdova. It follows the life of the Montoya family, as they seek to uncover the secrets that the family matriarch, Orquídea Divina, left behind. This book contains elements of mystery and fantasy and explores what we unknowingly inherit from our ancestors.

                Zoraida Córdova is a critically acclaimed author of other short stories and young adult novels, including the Brooklyn Brujas series and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate. Córdova also serves on the board for a nonprofit called We Need Diverse Books, an organization that advocates for change in the publishing world to produce and promote literature that honors and represents the lives of all children.

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