5 Queer Non-Fiction Books You Should Read

As part of Pride Month, today we’re pointing out some new queer non-fiction that has caught our eye.

Oh, and today is Dublin Pride! A Happy Pride to one and all!

Queer City by Peter Ackroyd 
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*** A Sunday Times Bestseller ***

In Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay population.

In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure.

Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS.

Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.

‘Peter Ackroyd is the greatest living chronicler of London’ Independent

Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter by Heath Fogg Davis
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Goes beyond transgender to question the need for gender classification.

Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.

He examines four areas where we need to re-think our sex-classification systems: sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports; sex-segregated public restrooms; single-sex colleges; and sex-segregated sports. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage.

For anyone in search of pragmatic ways to make our world more inclusive, Davis’ recommendations provide much-needed practical guidance about how to work through this complex issue. A provocative call to action, Beyond Trans pushes us to think how we can work to make America truly inclusive of all .

Homintern by Gregory Woods (23 Aug 2017)
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A landmark account of gay and lesbian creative networks and the seismic changes they brought to twentieth-century culture In a hugely ambitious study which crosses continents, languages, and almost a century, Gregory Woods identifies the ways in which homosexuality has helped shape Western culture. Extending from the trials of Oscar Wilde to the gay liberation era, this book examines a period in which increased visibility made acceptance of homosexuality one of the measures of modernity. Woods shines a revealing light on the diverse, informal networks of gay people in the arts and other creative fields. Uneasily called “the Homintern” (an echo of Lenin’s “Comintern”) by those suspicious of an international homosexual conspiracy, such networks connected gay writers, actors, artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, politicians, and spies. While providing some defense against dominant heterosexual exclusion, the grouping brought solidarity, celebrated talent, and, in doing so, invigorated the majority culture. Woods introduces an enormous cast of gifted and extraordinary characters, most of them operating with surprising openness; but also explores such issues as artistic influence, the coping strategies of minorities, the hypocrisies of conservatism, and the effects of positive and negative discrimination.

Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars by Stephen Bourne (30 Jun 2017)
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In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‘enigma machine’ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream historians. This book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin (5 Oct 2017)
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“A book for any of us, gay or straight, who have had to find our family. Maupin is one of America’s finest storytellers, and the story of his life is a story as fascinating, as delightful and as compulsive as any of the tales he has made up for us.”–Neil Gaiman

“I fell in love with Maupin’s effervescent Tales of the City decades ago, and his genius turn at memoir is no less compelling. Logical Family is a must read.”–Mary Karr

In this long-awaited memoir, the beloved author of the bestselling Tales of the City series chronicles his odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco, and his evolution from curious youth to ground-breaking writer and gay rights pioneer.

Born in the mid-twentieth century and raised in the heart of conservative North Carolina, Armistead Maupin lost his virginity to another man “on the very spot where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.” Realizing that the South was too small for him, this son of a traditional lawyer packed his earthly belongings into his Opel GT (including a beloved portrait of a Confederate ancestor), and took to the road in search of adventure. It was a journey that would lead him from a homoerotic Navy initiation ceremony in the jungles of Vietnam to that strangest of strange lands: San Francisco in the early 1970s.

Reflecting on the profound impact those closest to him have had on his life, Maupin shares his candid search for his “logical family,” the people he could call his own. “Sooner or later, we have to venture beyond our biological family to find our logical one, the one that actually makes sense for us,” he writes. “We have to, if we are to live without squandering our lives.” From his loving relationship with his palm-reading Grannie who insisted Maupin was the reincarnation of her artistic bachelor cousin, Curtis, to an awkward conversation about girls with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, Maupin tells of the extraordinary individuals and situations that shaped him into one of the most influential writers of the last century.

Maupin recalls his losses and life-changing experiences with humor and unflinching honesty, and brings to life flesh-and-blood characters as endearing and unforgettable as the vivid, fraught men and women who populate his enchanting novels. What emerges is an illuminating portrait of the man who depicted the liberation and evolution of America’s queer community over the last four decades with honesty and compassion–and inspired millions to claim their own lives.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #118

hit makers
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
What makes a hit a hit? In Hit Makers, Atlantic Senior Editor Derek Thompson puts pop culture under the lens of science to answer the question that every business, every producer, every person looking to promote themselves and their work has asked.

Drawing on ancient history and modern headlines – from vampire lore and Brahms’s Lullaby to Instagram – Thompson explores the economics and psychology of why certain things become extraordinarily popular. With incisive analysis and captivating storytelling, he reveals that, though blockbuster films, Internet memes and number-one songs seem to have come out of nowhere, hits actually have a story and operate by certain rules. People gravitate towards familiar surprises: products that are bold and innovative, yet instantly comprehensible.

Whether he is uncovering the secrets of JFK and Barack Obama’s speechwriters or analysing the unexpected reasons for the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, Thompson goes beyond the cultural phenomena that make the news by revealing the desires that make us all human. While technology might change, he shows, our innate preferences do not, and throughout history hits have held up a mirror to ourselves.

From the dawn of Impressionist art to the future of Snapchat, from small-scale Etsy entrepreneurs to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson tells the fascinating story of how culture happens – and where genius lives.

 

The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

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Gloria Harkness lives in a ramshackle cottage with only her aging dog and cats for company. The cottage lies within the grounds of a care home in which Gloria’s teenage son lives.  Her life is quiet, her days filled with work as a registrar and her evenings spent visiting her son and trying to keep the cottage in a habitable condition.  All this changes one night when a childhood friend turns up at her door.  He claims that he is being stalked and has been coerced into meeting his stalker nearby.  Gloria finds herself in the middle of a situation which she fears could threaten the very future of the care home and her son.

I found this book fairly slow to get moving but it was very atmospheric and Gloria is a very likeable character. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that the care home was briefly used as an alternative school until the death of a pupil resulted in its closure.  The fate of its former pupils becomes intrinsically entwined in the current mystery.  I must confess to having some difficulty keeping track of who was in the school at the start but just as Gloria becomes familiar with their stories, so do we.

I would recommend The Child Garden if you enjoy a tense, slow-burning mystery.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New Film Books

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Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies by Ann Hornaday (13 Jun 2017)
Whether we are trying to impress a date after an art-house film screening or discussing Oscar nominations with friends, we all need ways to watch and talk about movies. But with so much variety between an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and a Nora Ephron romantic comedy, how can everyday viewers determine what makes a good movie?
In Talking Pictures, veteran film critic Ann Hornaday walks us through the production of a typical moviefrom writing the script and casting to the final sound editand explains how to evaluate each piece of the process. How do we know if a film is well-written, above and beyond snappy dialogue? What constitutes a great screen performance? What goes into praiseworthy cinematography, editing, and sound design? And what does a director really do? Full of engaging anecdotes and interviews with actors and filmmakers, Talking Pictures will help us see movies in a whole new lightnot just as fans, but as film critics in our own right.

pwoerhouse
Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency Paperback – 29 Jun 2017
A New York Times bestseller

An astonishing—and astonishingly entertaining—history of Hollywood’s transformation over the past five decades as seen through the agency at the heart of it all, from the #1 bestselling co-author of Live from New York and Those Guys Have All the Fun.

The movies you watch, the TV shows you adore, the concerts and sporting events you attend—behind the curtain of nearly all of these is an immensely powerful and secretive corporation known as Creative Artists Agency. Started in 1975, when five bright and brash employees of a creaky William Morris office left to open their own, strikingly innovative talent agency, CAA would come to revolutionize the entertainment industry, and over the next several decades its tentacles would spread aggressively throughout the worlds of movies, television, music, advertising, and investment banking.

Powerhouse is the fascinating, no-holds-barred saga of that ascent. Drawing on unprecedented and exclusive access to the men and women who built and battled with CAA, as well as financial information never before made public, author James Andrew Miller spins a tale of boundless ambition, ruthless egomania, ceaseless empire building, greed, and personal betrayal. It is also a story of prophetic brilliance, magnificent artistry, singular genius, entrepreneurial courage, strategic daring, foxhole brotherhood, and how one firm utterly transformed the entertainment business.

Here are the real Star Wars—complete with a Death Star—told through the voices of those who were there. Packed with scores of stars from movies, television, music, and sports, as well as a tremendously compelling cast of agents, studio executives, network chiefs, league commissioners, private equity partners, tech CEOs, and media tycoons, Powerhouse is itself a Hollywood blockbuster of the most spectacular sort.

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I Lost It at the Video Store Paperback – 11 Jul 2017
Selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best indie books of 2015.

“This is a book that was waiting to happen, and fortunately it was Tom Roston who wrote it. After we lost it at the movies, a later era of cinephiles lost it at the video store, and this is their story in their wordsnostalgic, vivid, and important, because video germinated a new generation of great filmmakers.”
– Peter Biskind, author of Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film

In I Lost it at the Video Store, Tom Roston interviews the filmmakersincluding John Sayles, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell and Allison Anderswho came of age during the reign of video rentals, and constructs a living, personal narrative of an era of cinema history which, though now gone, continues to shape film culture today. This expanded edition includes an introduction by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and a new appendix of conversations between Roston and various actors, directors, producers, and programmers (including Tim Blake Nelson, Paul Dano, Angela Robinson and more) about the past and future of film distribution and culture.

Tom Roston is a journalist whose work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Spin, The Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter, among other publications. A former senior editor at Premiere magazine, he also writes a weekly blog about documentaries for PBS award-winning POV website. He lives in Brooklyn.

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Lights, Camera, Game Over!: How Video Game Movies Get Made Paperback – 28 Jul 2017
Since 1993, Hollywood has been rendering popular video games on the silver screen, mainly to critical derision and box office failure. While a few have succeeded, many have been hailed as the “worst movie ever” and left gamers asking: how did that get made? Super Mario fans expecting plumbers jumping on Goombas got an inter-dimensional battle between humans and evolved dinosaurs. Players expecting to see Ryu, Ken, and the rest of the World Warriors compete in the Street Fighter Tournament instead got a live-action GI Joe movie. This in-depth and entertaining work recounts the production histories of many of these movies, revealing the sometimes inspired and convoluted path Hollywood took to turn pixels into living flesh, with insights from more than 40 industry insiders, including film directors Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil), Simon West (Tomb Raider), and Steven de Souza (Street Fighter).

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Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American ’70s Hardcover – 24 Aug 2017
“Movie criticism’s Dostoyevsky . . . Taylor reveals a national identity forged from the innocence we claim to have lost but never had in the first place.” –Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville

When we think of ’70s cinema, we think of classics like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and The Wild Bunch . . . but the riches found in the overlooked B movies of the time, rolled out wherever they might find an audience, unexpectedly tell an eye-opening story about post-Watergate, post-Vietnam America. Revisiting the films that don’t make the Academy Award montages, Charles Taylor finds a treasury many of us have forgotten, movies that in fact “unlock the secrets of the times.”

Celebrated film critic Taylor pays homage to the trucker vigilantes, meat magnate pimps, blaxploitation “angel avengers,” and taciturn factory workers of grungy, unartful B films such as Prime Cut, Foxy Brown, and Eyes of Laura Mars. He creates a compelling argument for what matters in moviemaking and brings a pivotal American era vividly to life in all its gritty, melancholy complexity.

The Good Father by Noah Hawley

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This is such an epic book!

It tells the story of Dr. Paul Allen who lives a happy, near-idyllic life with his second wife and their twin boys. Then a knock comes on his door which blows his world apart: a popular presidential candidate has been shot and they say the person who pulled the trigger is Daniel, Paul’s son from his first failed marriage.

How could this have happened? Daniel was always a good kid and Paul is convinced his quite boy is not capable of murder. Ask yourself how would you react if this happened to you?

Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, evasive son, The Good Father is an emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities—and limitations—of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.

A definitive recommendation.

Riveting, moving, unique. This novel deserves to become a classic”… Sophie Hannah

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

 

6 Asexual/Intersex Books to Watch Out For

I’d advertised that this would be posted yesterday, sorry for the lateness!
As part of Pride Month, today we point out three asexual books and three intersex books to keep an eye out for.

For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino & E.J. Russell 
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Thirty-seven-year-old Nate Albano’s second relationship ever ended three years ago, and since he’s grace — gray asexual — he doesn’t anticipate beating the odds to find a third. Still, he’s got his dog, his hobbies, and his job as a special effects technician on Wolf’s Landing, so he can’t complain — much.

Seth Larson, umpteenth generation Bluewater Bay, is the quintessential good-time guy, content with tending bar and being his grandmother’s handyman. The night they meet, Seth’s looking for some recreational sex to escape family drama. But for Nate, romantic attraction comes before sexual attraction, so while Seth thinks they’re hooking up, Nate just wants to talk . . . genealogy?

Dude. Seriously?

So they declare a “just friends” truce. Then Seth asks for Nate’s help investigating a sinister Larson family secret, and their feelings start edging way beyond platonic. But Nate may want more than Seth can give him, and Seth may not be able to leave his good-time image behind. Unless they can find a way to merge carefree with commitment, they could miss out on true love —
the best time of all.

How to Be a Normal Person by T. J. Klune
how to be a normal person

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox
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While on holiday in Toronto, Evie Whitmore planned to sightsee and meet other asexuals, not audition for a dance competition. Now she’s representing Toronto’s newest queer dance studio, despite never having danced before. Not only does she have to spend hours learning her routine, she has to do it with one of the grumpiest men she’s ever met. Tyler turns out to be more than a dedicated dancer, though — he might be the kind of man who can sweep her off her feet, literally and figuratively.

Tyler Davis has spent the last year recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. So he doesn’t need to be pushed into a rushed routine for a dumb competition. Ticking major representation boxes for being trans and biracial isn’t why he went into dance. But Evie turns out to be a dream student. In fact, she helps him remember just how good partnering can be, in all senses of the word. Teaching her the routine, however, raises ghosts for him, ones he’s not sure he can handle.

Plans change, and people change with them. Learning a few steps is one thing; learning to trust again is another entirely.

Intersex (For Lack of a Better Word) by Thea Hilman
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“In Hillman’s world, the surer you become about who you are, the more vulnerable you get.”—The San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Hillman’s writing is sexy because it’s smart and refuses to simplify things.”—Fabula Magazine

“Hillman’s utterly unabashed memoir…showcases both the personal, embodied realities of intersex, and the social and political milieus that shape them… Intersex, too, is gorgeously written.”—Women’s Review of Books

“It’s utterly impossible to not be spellbound by performer-activist Thea Hillman, in person or in print … A must-read.”—Curve

“There’s nothing else in print like this amazing and courageous book.”—Patrick Califia, author of Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism

“An important and wonderfully disarming book. Poetic, political, and deeply personal.”—Beth Lisick, author of Helping Me Help Myself

Intersex (For Lack of a Better Word) chronicles one person’s search for self in a world obsessed with normal. What is “intersex”? According to the Intersex Society of North America, the word describes someone born with sex chromosomes, genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that are neither clearly male nor clearly female. In first-person prose as intimate as a diary, Thea Hillman redefines memoir in a series of compelling stories that take a no-holds-barred look at sex, gender, family, and community. Whether she’s pondering quirky family tendencies (“Drag”), reflecting on “queerness” (“Another”), or recounting scintillating adventures in San Francisco’s sex clubs, Hillman’s brave and fierce vision for cultural and societal change shines through.

Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria 
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“Fierce, brave, and a clarion call to celebrate our differences.”—People

From one of the world’s foremost intersex activists, a candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love.

My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing–but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it–and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
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‘I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974.’

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and her truly unique family secret, born on the slopes of Mount Olympus and passed on through three generations.

Growing up in 70s Michigan, Calliope’s special inheritance will turn her into Cal, the narrator of this intersex, inter-generational epic of immigrant life in 20th century America.

Middlesex won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

 

 

 

Brilliant Book Titles #117

scrummy
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries here.

Blurb:
‘Honest, gutsy and laugh out loud…. Do your pelvic floor exercises before reading as you may pee your pants’ – Kathy Lette

A celebration of parenting failures, hilarious confessions, fish fingers and wine!

This is a book for anyone who’s ever dealt with a poo in the pool, cleaned up a sick in the supermarket, or gone to an important meeting without realising there’s weetabix stuck to their bum.

Because let’s be honest no matter how much we love our kids, or how good we are at parenting, everyone’s a Scummy Mummy sometimes.

 

5 Trans Books to Watch Out For

As part of Pride Month, we point out five Trans books that have caught our eye:

Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques
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In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery, a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national newspaper column. Trans tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics. Fresh from university, eager to escape a dead-end job and launch a career as a writer, she navigates the treacherous waters of a world where, even in the liberal and feminist media, transgender identities go unacknowledged, misunderstood or worse. Revealing, honest, humorous, and self-deprecating, Trans includes an epilogue with Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
if i was your girl
Selected as the launch title for the Zoella Book Club 2017.

‘So powerful and poignant… I honestly just think this book will change a lot of people’s lives.’ –Zoella

Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school. Like everyone, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with. Amanda has a secret. At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.

A book about loving yourself and being loved for who you really are.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom
fierce femmes
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom is the highly sensational, ultra-exciting, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents’ abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom. Striking off on her own, she finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles.

Tranny by Laura Jane Grace
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ONE OF BILLBOARD’S “100 GREATEST MUSIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME”

The provocative transgender advocate and lead singer of the punk rock band Against Me! provides a searing account of her search for identity and her true self.

It began in a bedroom in Naples, Florida, when a misbehaving punk teenager named Tom Gabel, armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a headful of anarchist politics, landed on a riff. Gabel formed Against Me! and rocketed the band from its scrappy beginnings-banging on a drum kit made of pickle buckets-to a major-label powerhouse that critics have called this generation’s The Clash. Since its inception in 1997, Against Me! has been one of punk’s most influential modern bands, but also one of its most divisive. With every notch the four-piece climbed in their career, they gained new fans while infuriating their old ones. They suffered legal woes, a revolving door of drummers, and a horde of angry, militant punks who called them “sellouts” and tried to sabotage their shows at every turn.

But underneath the public turmoil, something much greater occupied Gabel-a secret kept for 30 years, only acknowledged in the scrawled-out pages of personal journals and hidden in lyrics. Through a troubled childhood, delinquency, and struggles with drugs, Gabel was on a punishing search for identity. Not until May of 2012 did a Rolling Stone profile finally reveal it: Gabel is a transsexual, and would from then on be living as a woman under the name Laura Jane Grace.

Tranny is the intimate story of Against Me!’s enigmatic founder, weaving the narrative of the band’s history, as well as Grace’s, with dozens of never-before-seen entries from the piles of journals Grace kept. More than a typical music memoir about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll-although it certainly has plenty of that-Tranny is an inside look at one of the most remarkable stories in the history of rock.

Life Beyond My Body by Lei Ming and Lura Frazey
life beyond my body
Born in a rural Chinese village and identified as a girl at birth, Lei Ming, is barely cared for during his childhood. Often lonely, terrified and abused, he learns early to fend for himself and look within for answers, but there he discovers a paradox that threatens to undo him. Although he does not yet know the word “transsexual,” at 16, Ming sets out on a secret mission to find relief. Life Beyond My Body tells the true story of his quest to find answers in a society that is closed-mouthed about men like Ming. Along the way, Ming finds solace and judgement in the Christian church, loves and loses a woman, begins his physical transition using black market testosterone, is jailed over his identity, and arranges for top surgery without blowing his cover. But ultimately, understanding the true meaning of being a man will require reckoning with God.

Brilliant Book Titles #116

love letters angels
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
A breathtaking literary debut, Love Letters of the Angels of Death begins as a young couple discover the remains of his mother in her mobile home. The rest of the family fall back, leaving them to reckon with the messy, unexpected death. By the time the burial is over, they understand this will always be their role: to liaise with death on behalf of people they love. They are living angels of death. All the major events in their lives births, medical emergencies, a move to a northern boomtown, the theft of a veteran s headstone are viewed from this ambivalent angle. In this shadowy place, their lives unfold: fleeting moments, ordinary occasions, yet on the brink of otherworldliness. In spare, heart-stopping prose, the transient joys, fears, hopes and heartbreaks of love, marriage, and parenthood are revealed through the lens of the eternal, unfolding within the course of natural life. This is a novel for everyone who has ever been happily married — and for everyone who would like to be.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

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This mystical work is a classic that rewards return visits. It is a book to keep close and dip into when you are in need of refreshment for your soul and spirit. Gibran manages to provide nourishment for those who believe in organised religion and those who do not. If you are a person who has any kind of inkling that there is more to the universe than what we can experience materially, then this timeless book will speak to you. It will resonate with you in joy and sorrow, triumph and disaster. Gibran was born in Lebanon, he was a poet, artist and philosopher. His illustrations for “The Prophet” are evocative of the English poet and artist William Blake. I have found many times that this book, published first in 1923, says exactly what I want to say but can’t find the words to express. This book will provide you with apt quotes for many life situations. I leave you with just a taste of the treasures to be found in this profound book:

On Love:

“Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love,for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.”

On pain:

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you can not bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain”

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.