Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing well! I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, but over the past few months I’ve found myself reading quite a few, particularly those focussing on anti-racism and queer culture. I was approved for all of the following books on either Netgalley or Edelweiss, however that has not impacted or influenced my thoughts on any of them! I hope that my mini reviews encourage you to pick up one of these books where possible!
Queer Intentions was the first queer non-fiction book that I picked up this month, and I thoroughly enjoyed it for the wide variety of perspectives it covers. It is quite literally a journey through LGBTQ+ culture, as the author travels all over the world to experience what being queer is like for many different people. The book offers a wide range of voices on a variety of important topics, such as the commodification of queer culture, cultural appropriation, the role Black and trans people play in the drag community, and the debate surrounding corporations and pride. What I really liked about this one was the personal feel of it, it was very conversational and extremely accessible in its language and I feel that it is an extremely important book if you are looking to widen your perspective on the queer community from the very Western-centric view we are often shown.
The Book of Queer Prophets was the only anthology I picked up this month and, sadly, it was my least favourite of the four books. It features a plethora of well known writers and their commentary on what it means to be both queer and religious, including their own personal stories. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time reading this book and it is definitely a very important read that did offer some hope among the pain that these authors have obviously faced. However, I can’t help but notice that the majority of the essays are written by white, cis Christians and are written from a very Western-centric point of view, and I just wish there was more nuance. I also, unfortunately, found Juno Dawson’s essay to be a bit pointless…it only lasted a couple of pages compared to the rest and was basically ‘I’m not religious but others are and that’s okay’, and it felt, to me, like a bit of a strange inclusion. Ruth’s essay at the end was a real stand out to me and actually made me tear up a bit! I would recommend picking this one up but, if you do, I urge you to pick up another queer non-fiction book that has more of a diverse array of viewpoints.
Juno Roche’s Gender Explorers is a book that I’ve had my eye on for a while and so I was very excited to see that I had been approved for it on Netgalley! It is an extremely poignant and beautiful collection of interviews with trans and nonbinary children and young adults, and their family that explores what it means to be growing up as a trans youth today. This book was heartbreaking at times but overall was very hopeful to see this younger generation being so proud and confident in their trans-ness! This book, like The Book of Queer Prophets, also made me tear up on a couple of occasions, and I really want to urge everybody to pick this book up!
This final book is one that I think is increasingly important that you pick up, but that I also have a few issues with. This is much more of an academic book which features a lot of quantitative research, which for a nerd like me who really loved writing their dissertation research, was quite a joy to read! Despite never having visited New York, and therefore not really knowing the areas being talked about, I never once felt out of the loop while reading this book. It features a lot of excellent discussion on gentrification of and within queer spaces, transphobia within queer spaces, the difference in experiences of white and BIPOC queer people, and the focus on white, cis gay men in activism and queer communities. As such, I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick up this book as part of any anti-racist reading or if you are interested in queer history. However, it is not an extremely accessible text – not only is it difficult to find even in online bookstores, but it is the most expensive of these four books, and the language used is very academic, but in the sense that at times it felt like ‘fancier’ words were being used just for the sake of using them, than the fact that the text necessitated their use.
Overall, I do highly recommend all four of these books if you’re looking to pick up some queer non-fiction, and I’d love any queer non-fiction recommendations you have for me!