NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour (itself a consistently awesome podcast) focused on pop culture firsts this week, which got me thinking about my own (kind of) pop culture first – first “adult” book.
An extended version of my comment:
It’s not exactly pop culture, but bear with me. The first “adult” book I ever bought, purchased at the Friends of the Library bookstore for the high, high price of .50 cents, was Joanna Russ’s On Strike Against God. It’s Russ’s only non-SF novel, adamantly feminist, and long since out of print. It was also just what I needed.
As a scared, largely friendless queer kid in Alabama, I latched onto this book. It was a lifeline to people who were (kind of) like me. I haven’t read it in quite awhile, but I still take it with me when I move, just in case I have a bad day and I need to take a peek.
Later on, thanks to the internet, I found and practically memorized every LGBT YA novel my high school library – not exactly an easy task in the state that produced Rep. Gerald Allen. In these books, I was able to prove (who I thought I was – lesbian) I existed- not as an amorphous construct, but a real, live person who got books (books!) written about them.
I’ve since graduated college and left Alabama, but I always keep an eye out for the books that kept me going (Deliver Us from Evie, Empress of the World, Am I Blue?) in used bookstores. Though I never was able to own copies as a teenager, they’ve since become, in a sense, my own treasured “collection.”