For years queer bookstores have served as community centers for members of the LGBTQ+ community to meet and discuss literature, films and other art forms in a safe space created just for them. Now, as more queer writers produce more and more queer literature, these bookshops remain a place to gather and find a community for members of the community and allies alike all around the world.
Gay’s the Word, London
Image via Diva Magazine
Opening in 1797, Gay’s the Word has hosted the Lesbian Discussion Group and the Gay Black Group for years. Located in Central London’s Bloomsbury, this shop continues its mission of inclusion and discussion. The catchy name comes from a 1951 West End musical produced by Ivor Novello and Alan Melville.
Les Mots à la Bouche, Paris
Image via VINGT Paris
Located in the heart of Paris’ queer neighborhood is Les Mots à la Bouche. This book shop (roughly translating to “at the tip of the tongue”) focuses on archival material. In addition to its large selection of current fiction and nonfiction, Les Mots à la Bouche also houses historical relics including comics, DVDs and magazines. Tourists rejoice as many of these relics are offered in English so Americans on a queer lit holiday may rejoice in these relics with their French counterparts.
Prinz Eisenherz Buchladen, Berlin
Image Via GayCities Berlin
Located in the central Schöneberg area, Berlin’s resident queer bookshop was opened in 1978 as a way to make queer literature and content commonplace in Berlin’s book scene. After three moves and a constantly growing collection, the center now prides itself on its extensive collection of fiction, zines, autobiographies, and films that serves as the center of Germany’s queer scene.
This cafe is built in an old theatre, now filled to the brim with books. The cafe is on the stage, so you’re the star drinking your coffee. The ceiling is packed with original frescoes, and the stage used to host tango, and then the first sound films shown in Buenos Aires. Now, feel like an ingenue from the theatre’s building in 1919, leaning off the balconies and looking at the books.
Do you like books? Do you like plants? Check out this gorgeous bookstore in Mexico City. Vaguely deco, and packed with books, this honestly looks the way I want my house to. Who cares about the walls? They’re covered in books anyway. #goals. Anyway, gotta plan a visit ASAP, with an empty suitcase for all my MISTAKES.
Unfortunately this is no longer a bookstore, but the space does still involve digital media, and a cafe. They also redid a lot of it, which is unfortunate, but we can respect bookstores we’ve lost. Just look at that ceiling! *sigh* RIP bookstore cafe. Look at those chandeliers. Ten out of ten, would have bought a book and read here for hours.
In celebration of International Children’s Book day, we look at eleven countries, from Saudi Arabia to India, and their most popular children’s books.
All across the globe are stories to share with our young generation. Focusing on countries with the most amount of reading overall, according to research found by online publication The Independent, we picked these countries listed below.
Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.
Meet Vuk, the little fox cub whose family has been killed by the “Smooth skins”. He is not alone, though, his uncle Karack takes good care of him, takes him to his own home and teaches him to hunt. By the end of winter after surviving a dangerous fox-hunt Vuk himself is an experienced hunter, not only can he protect himself but frees his sister from the Smooth skins’ captivity. When Chelle, his future mate comes along, Vuk is a grown up fox, one of the bravest in the woods.
9. From France: Pomelo Begins To Grow, written by Ramona Bandescu
Image via Amazon
What happens as a little one begins to grow? Do parts of the body grow unequally? If the outside grows, does that mean the inside is changing too? Children love it when they begin to grow! But they also have questions and maybe even worry a little too. Pomelo Begins to Grow explores this rich material with playfulness and humor, without undercutting the importance of the questions.
8. From Sweden: The Grand Expedition, written by Emma Adbåge
Image via Amazon
They have made a very serious decision―they are going on an adventure. All by themselves, just the two of them. Dad might offer a suggestion or two, but this expedition is just for them!
Of course, they will have to bring coffee and pickles and blankets and a cozy tent. And, just in case, a jump rope to use as a lasso. They set up camp in the lee of a small mountain (or, in their backyard) and get ready for an evening of fun. But when the pickles are gone and the mosquitoes come out, what’s to be done? The Grand Expedition is the quietly comic story of two kids and their dad and the everyday adventures that make life great.
This amusing and fascinating children’s book is often called the Russian “Thousand and One Nights.”
Who is the old Genie Hottabych?
This is what the author has to say of him: “In one of Scheherazade’s tales I read of the Fisherman who found a copper vessel in his net. In the vessel was a mighty Genie -a magician who had been imprisoned in the bottle for nearly two thousand years. The Genie had sworn to make the one who freed him rich, powerful and happy.
“But what if such a Genie suddenly came to life in the Soviet Union, in Moscow? I tried to imagine what would have happened if a very ordinary Russian boy had freed him from the vessel.
“And imagine, I suddenly discovered that a schoolboy named Volka Kostylkov, the very same Volka who used to live on Three Ponds Street, you know, the best diver at summer camp last year . . . On second thought, I believe we had better begin from the beginning . . . “
With the same wit and perception that distinguished his charming books on London, New York, and San Francisco, here this famous Czech painter presents his impressions of Paris in This Is Paris, first published in 1959 and now updated for the 21st century. We see its famous buildings, its beautiful gardens, the museums, the sidewalk cafes, and the people who live there — artists, the concierges, the flower girls, and even the thousands of cats. Take a tour along the banks of the Seine, or through the galleries of the Louvre, or to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Elegant, vivid pictures of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, This is Paris!
With a series of books entitled, This Is…, Sasek makes his own artistic impressions of various cities.
The Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade into a novel written in his own imaginative, spellbinding style. Here are genies and flying carpets, Aladdin and Sinbad, Ali Baba, and many other familiar stories from the tradition of The One Thousand and One Nights, made new by the magical pen of the acknowledged dean of Arabic letters, who plumbs their depths for timeless truths.
4. From the Philippines: Tall Story, written by Candy Gourlay
Image via Amazon
Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London where he belongs.
Then Andi’s biggest wish comes true and she’s minutes away from becoming someone’s little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he’ll turn out to be tall and just as crazy as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he’s tall all right. Eight feet tall, in fact—plagued by condition called Gigantism and troubled by secrets that he believes led to his phenomenal growth.
In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.
3. From China: Guji Guji, written by Chih-Yuan Chen
Image via Amazon
Guji Guji is just your ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill duck…um, crocodile…um, duck… In this engaging story about identity, loyalty and what it really means to be a family, Guji, Guji makes some pretty big decisions about who he is, what he is, and what it all means, anyway.
Vivid ink and cut paper illustrations accompany the bedtime story in rhyme of one mother’s efforts to keep all the animals from the mosquito to the elephant quiet when their noise threatens to wake up her baby.
And last but not least, the country with the most reading and their most popular children’s book is…
Even when Amar Kishen-better known as Butterfingers-isn’t stumbling through misadventures, he sure has disaster tailing him every step of the way.
And now that he’s back, his ‘brilliant’ ideas land him in trouble (as usual), whether it’s messing around with an Egyptian mummy, playing cricket with an all-girls team, dropping a watch in a swimming pool or saving a rock star’s life!
Join the irrepressible Butterfingers in this exciting new installment of side-splitting short stories.
Each of these books would make a great addition to your child’s library, no matter what country they are from.
Together let’s enjoy the love of reading with our kids, without any borders.
Founded in 2016, The Man Booker International Prize exists to spread fiction in translation to worldwide audience. The Man Booker Prize itself, established several decades earlier in 1969, “guarantees a worldwide readership” and an enormous spike in book sales; the international version aims to offer the same visibility to an international author whose work may otherwise remain lodged behind the language barrier—tragically inaccessible to the general populace. The Man Booker International Prize aims to change that.
Given the nature of the award, its winners are inherently diverse: drawn from throughout the world and writing in languages that may be less accessible to a Western audience. While some nominees are from Western Europe and South America, many are also from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia, regions whose languages are not taught as frequently in Western schools. The publicity surrounding this prestigious award typically grants its winner an international readership whose value cannot be understated—for instance, a novel written in Polish, a less widely-spoken language, may have an incredibly limited audience regardless of the quality of writing. Poland also has a lower population density than a larger country like China, further limiting the market of possible buyers.
This year in particular, the award’s diversity is more than a matter of geography. Women comprise eight of thirteen longlisted nominees, and all but two books are small press publications. In the age of self-publishing and indie bookstores—an age of increasing ability to shirk the confines of tradition—these nominations are deeply reflective of the increasingly diverse (and increasingly individualized!) nature of publishing. Of course, it’s a matter of geography as well—translated languages include Polish, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, French, German, Chinese, Swedish, and Dutch.
This year, the group of five judges is comprised entirely of women and people of color (though no women of color), each a respected academic or writer. The full list of nominees is now available; the shortlist is anticipated for April 9th. In the award’s tradition of respecting translation as an art form, both the author and translator will receive an even half of the £50,000 prize.