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OUTtv’s 19 Best Reads of 2019

Published On: December 4, 2019
Written By: Josh Singler

In the great tradition of Paris Is Burning, get out your library cards! Because reading is what? Fundamental! With the new year fast approaching we’ve made it a point to put together a list of our favourite LGBTQ+ books released in 2019. Need a gift idea for your best Judy? Or perhaps it’s time that you take a break this holiday season from binging the latest episode of RPDR on OUTtvGo to cozy up and read a new book? Well either way, we’ve taken the guess work out of the holidays and complied 19 of the very best queer books that 2019 has graced us with.

| QUEER HISTORY |

Drag: The Complete Story

by Simon Doonan | ISBN: 978-1786274236 | Drag is transformation, communication, and, above all, exaggeration, where gender non-conformity is the plat du jour. This fearless book observes this increasingly complex world by exploring drag’s journey – from the surprising, to the sophisticated, to the utterly bizarre – through the twentieth century and up to the present day.

With witty text, dazzling photography, and corralled into thematic chapters, this is the first flamboyant and poignant survey of drag culture. Drag is not just for fabulous queens and drag enthusiasts, but for anyone interested in gender fluidity and the culture surrounding it. CDN$ 57.00  $ 43.82 (23% OFF) | BUY

| GRAPHIC NOVEL |

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell | ISBN: 978-1773063638 | Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need. CDN$ 19.95 | BUY

| FICTION |

Find Me

by André Aciman | ISBN: 978-0374155018 | In this spellbinding exploration of the varieties of love, the author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name revisits its complex and beguiling characters decades after their first meeting. In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.

Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic. CDN$ 36.50  $ 27.10 (26% OFF) | BUY

| GENDER + SEXUALITY |

Seeing Gender

by Iris Gottlieb | ISBN: 978-1452176611 | Seeing Gender is an of-the-moment investigation into how we express and understand the complexities of gender today. Deeply researched and fully illustrated, this book demystifies an intensely personal-yet universal-facet of humanity. Illustrating a different concept on each spread, queer author and artist Iris Gottlieb touches on history, science, sociology, and her own experience. This book is an essential tool for understanding and contributing to a necessary cultural conversation, bringing clarity and reassurance to the sometimes confusing process of navigating ones’ identity. Whether LGBTQ+, cisgender, or nonbinary, Seeing Gender is a must-read for intelligent, curious, want-to-be woke people who care about how we see and talk about gender and sexuality in the 21st century. CDN$ 39.95  $ 36.16 | BUY

 

| MEMOIR |

How We Fight For Our Lives

by Saeed Jones | ISBN: 978-1501132735 | Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.

This book isn’t just for the fabulous queens and drag enthusiasts out there, Drag: The Complete Story is a beautifully designed resource for anyone interested in the unique history of Drag, gender fluidity, and the rich culture surrounding it. CDN$ 32.00  $ 29.06 | BUY

| ANTHOLOGY |

Genderfail: Reader I

by Be Oakley | 2nd POD Edition of 100 | GF Reader 1 is a compilation of six essays by GenderFail founder Be Oakley compiled together for the first time. This publication features previous released essays from GF titles including Stonewall was a RiotThis is not another photo of a cis gay white manMy Pronoun (Card) #1 and In Defense of the Softcover Books in the GenderFail Archive. The GF Reader also includes Failure as Futuremaking, a new manifesto written in collaboration with artist Noah LeBien.
| BUY

| MEMOIR |

A Year Without A Name

by Cyrus Grace Dunham | ISBN: 978-0316444965 |For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life was a series of imitations–lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman–until their profound sense of alienation became intolerable.

Moving between Grace and Cyrus, Dunham brings us inside the chrysalis of gender transition, asking us to bear witness to an uncertain and exhilarating process that troubles our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we are constituted. Written with disarming emotional intensity in a voice uniquely theirs, A Year Without a Name is a potent, thrillingly unresolved queer coming of age story. CDN$ 32.08 | BUY

 

| GRAPHIC NOVEL |

Bloom

by Kevin Panetta, Savanna Ganucheau | ISBN: 978-1626726413 |

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom…that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow. CDN$ 23.50  $ 17.59 (25% OFF) | BUY

| MEMOIR |

High School

by Tegan + Sara Quin | ISBN: 978-1982112660 | From iconic musicians Tegan and Sara comes a nostalgic memoir about high school, detailing their first loves and first songs in a compelling look back at their origin story.

High School is the revelatory and unique coming-of-age story of Sara and Tegan Quin, identical twins from Calgary Alberta, growing up in the height of grunge and rave culture in the 90s, well before they became the celebrated musicians and global LGBTQ icons we know today. While grappling with their identity and sexuality, often alone, they also faced academic meltdown, their parents’ divorce, and the looming pressure of what might come after high school. Written in alternating chapters from both Tegan’s point of view and Sara’s, the book is a raw account of the drugs, alcohol, love, music, and friendship they explored in their formative years. A transcendent story of first loves and first songs, it captures the tangle of discordant and parallel memories of two sisters who grew up in distinct ways even as they lived just down the hall from one another. This is the origin story of Tegan and Sara. CDN$ 32.00  $ 23.76 (26% OFF) | BUY

| GENDER + SEXUALITY |

A Quick & Easy Guide To Queer & Trans Identities

by Mady G & J.R. Zuckerberg | ISBN: 978-1620105863 | A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys!

In this quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, cartoonists Mady G and JR Zuckerberg guide you through the basics of the LGBT+ world! Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples. A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys! CDN$ 12.86 (23% OFF) | BUY

| BIOGRAPHY |

Sontag: Her Life and Work

by Benjamin Moser | ISBN: 978-0062896391 | No writer is as emblematic of the American twentieth century as Susan Sontag. Mythologized and misunderstood, lauded and loathed, a girl from the suburbs who became a proud symbol of cosmopolitanism, Sontag left a legacy of writing on art and politics, feminism and homosexuality, celebrity and style, medicine and drugs, radicalism and Fascism and Freudianism and Communism and Americanism, that forms an indispensable key to modern culture. She was there when the Cuban Revolution began, and when the Berlin Wall came down; in Vietnam under American bombardment, in wartime Israel, in besieged Sarajevo. She was in New York when artists tried to resist the tug of money—and when many gave in. No writer negotiated as many worlds; no serious writer had as many glamorous lovers. Sontag tells these stories and examines the work upon which her reputation was based. It explores the agonizing insecurity behind the formidable public face: the broken relationships, the struggles with her sexuality, that animated—and undermined—her writing. And it shows her attempts to respond to the cruelties and absurdities of a country that had lost its way, and her conviction that fidelity to high culture was an activism of its own.

CDN$ 49.99  $ 37.12 (26% OFF) | BUY

| SHORT STORIES |

Shine of the Ever

by Claire Rudy Foster | ISBN: 978-1-945053-87-0 | By turns tender and punk-tough, Shine of the Ever is a literary mixtape of queer voices out of 1990s Portland. This collection of short stories explores what binds a community of queer and trans people as they negotiate love, screwing up and learning to forgive themselves for being young and sometimes foolish.

USD$ 17.95 | BUY

 

| QUEER HISTORY |

When Brooklyn Was Queer

by Hugh Ryan | ISBN: 978-1250169914 | Hugh Ryan’s When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBT history of Brooklyn, from the early days of Walt Whitman in the 1850s up through the queer women who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, and beyond. No other book, movie, or exhibition has ever told this sweeping story. Not only has Brooklyn always lived in the shadow of queer Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Harlem, but there has also been a systematic erasure of its queer history―a great forgetting.

Ryan is here to unearth that history for the first time. In intimate, evocative, moving prose he discusses in new light the fundamental questions of what history is, who tells it, and how we can only make sense of ourselves through its retelling; and shows how the formation of the Brooklyn we know today is inextricably linked to the stories of the incredible people who created its diverse neighborhoods and cultures. Through them, When Brooklyn Was Queer brings Brooklyn’s queer past to life, and claims its place as a modern classic. CDN$ 38.99  $ 34.76 (11% OFF) | BUY

Photo Courtesy of The Dusty Rebel LLC

| MEMOIR |

In the Dream House

by Carmen Maria Machado | ISBN: 978-0771094507 |

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.

And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope―the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman―through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.

Machado’s dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be. CDN $ 24.95 | BUY

 

| MEMOIR |

Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen

by Amrou Al-Kadhi | ISBN: 978-0008306076 |My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to.

Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jerry Springer: The Opera. And that was just the beginning.

This is the story of how I got from there to here: about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender identity; about my two-year scholarship at Eton college, during which I wondered if I could forge a new identity as a British aristocrat (spoiler alert: it didn’t work); about discovering the transformative powers of drag while at university (and how I very nearly lost my mind after I left); and about how, after years of rage towards it, I finally began to understand Islam in a new, queer way.

Most of all, this is a book about my mother. It’s the journey of how we lost and found each other, about forgiveness, understanding, hope – and the life-long search for belonging. CDN$ 18.05 (23% OFF) | BUY

| MEMOIR |

A Wild and Precious Life

Edie Windsor with Joshua Lyon | ISBN: 978-1250195135 | Edie Windsor became internationally famous when she sued the US government, seeking federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in Edie’s favor, a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the US. Beloved by the LGBTQ community, Edie embraced her new role as an icon; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades.

In this memoir, which she began before passing away in 2017 and completed by her co-writer, Edie recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village’s electrifying underground gay scene during the 1950s. Edie was also one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing, working her way up the ladder at IBM and achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software. In the early 1960s Edie met Thea, an expat from a Dutch Jewish family that fled the Nazis, and a widely respected clinical psychologist. Their partnership lasted forty-four years, until Thea died in 2009. Edie found love again, marrying Judith Kasen-Windsor in 2016.

CDN$ 37.99  $ 33.33 (12% OFF) | BUY

| ANTHOLOGY |

Rebent Sinner

by Ivan Coyote | ISBN: 978-1551527734 | Ivan takes on the patriarchy and the political, as well as the intimate and the personal in these beguiling and revealing stories of what it means to be trans and non-binary today, at a time in their life when they must carry the burden of heartbreaking history with them, while combatting those who would misgender them or deny their very existence. These stories span thirty years of tackling TERFs, legislators, and bathroom police, sure, but there is joy and pleasure and triumph to be found here too, as Ivan pays homage to personal heroes like Leslie Feinberg and Ferron while gently guiding younger trans folk to prove to themselves that there is a way out of the darkness. Rebent Sinner is the work of an accomplished artist whose plain truths about their experience will astound readers with their utter, breathtaking humanity. $ 19.75 (23% OFF) | BUY

| QUEER HISTORY |

We Are Everywhere

by Matthew Riemer & Leighton Brown | ISBN: 978-0399581816 | A rich and sweeping photographic history of the Queer Liberation Movement, from the creators and curators of the massively popular Instagram account @lgbt_history, released in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Through the lenses of protest, power, and pride, We Are Everywhere is an essential and empowering introduction to the history of the fight for queer liberation. Combining exhaustively researched narrative with meticulously curated photographs, the book traces queer activism from its roots in late-nineteenth-century Europe–long before the pivotal Stonewall Riots of 1969–to the gender warriors leading the charge today. Featuring more than 300 images from more than seventy photographers and twenty archives, this inclusive and intersectional book enables us to truly see queer history unlike anything before, with glimpses of activism in the decades preceding and following Stonewall, family life, marches, protests, celebrations, mourning, and Pride. By challenging many of the assumptions that dominate mainstream LGBTQ+ history, We Are Everywhere shows readers how they can–and must–honor the queer past in order to shape our liberated future. CDN$ 54.00  $ 42.43 (23% OFF) | BUY

| MEMOIR |

Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story

by Jacob Tobia | ISBN: 978-0735218826 | As a young child in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia wasn’t the wrong gender, they just had too much of the stuff. Barbies? Yes. Playing with bugs? Absolutely. Getting muddy? Please. Princess dresses? You betcha. Jacob wanted it all, but because they were “a boy,” they were told they could only have the masculine half. Acting feminine labelled them “a sissy” and brought social isolation.

It took Jacob years to discover that being “a sissy” isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s a source of pride. Following Jacob through bullying and beauty contests, from Duke University to the United Nations to the podiums of the Methodist church – not to mention the parlors of the White House – this unforgettable memoir contains multitudes. A deeply personal story of trauma and healing, a powerful reflection on gender and self-acceptance, and a hilarious guidebook for wearing tacky clip-on earrings in today’s world, Sissy guarantees you’ll never think about gender – both other people’s and your own – the same way again. CDN$ 35.00  $ 31.63 (10% OFF) | BUY