I really haven’t been a big memoir or nonfiction reader in the past (like….really not at all), and it’s something I want to remedy in 2020! Whilst the first half of the year I’ve completely failed at that goal (I’ve read a grand total of 1 and that was two weeks ago), I’m going to be making a big effort to fix this over the next 6 months. So I thought I’d give a shout out to some of the queer memoirs and biographies that I’m aiming to read in the next few months!
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
In the Dream House is the memoir I’ve read, and I just read it a few weeks ago! I am in awe of Carmen Maria Machado and the strength it must have taken to live through this, but also to relive it when she wrote this book. In the Dream House is a memoir about living through an abusive queer relationship. It is so powerful, every single sentence has been written so carefully. I was absolutely blown away.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
This was a very recent purchase so I haven’t quite had time to read it yet, but I’m so excited to! This is a collection of essays by LGBTQIA+ activist George M Johnson. All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, family and Black joy.
Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno
Releasing on August 1, Tomboyland is an essay collection about gender and identity in the American Midwest, following Melissa’s journey through life and questions gender, queerness and class, and how our upbringing impacts these.
When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
Patrisse Khan-Cullors is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. This is her memoir, about her life growing up as a queer Black woman in America, and the hashtag that birthed the BLM movement.
We Have Always Been Here by Samira Habib
We Have Always Been Here is a queer Muslim memoir. Samira Habib tells of her childhood in Pakistan as an Ahmadi Muslim, a small sect that faces threats from Islamic extremists who believe them to be blasphemous. She talks of her move to Canada, the bullies and racism she faced there, and her journey exploring sexuality, faith and love.
The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
The only biography on this list, The Trauma Cleaner is a book about the life of Sandra Pankhurst, a trans woman, drag queen, sex worker and founder of a trauma cleaning business, who faced a lifetime of transphopbia and hate but fought through to create a business that would help people at their worst.
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, this is a coming-of-age memoir about a gay, Black, Southern man. How We Fight For Our Lives is both a love letter to Jones’ mother and an examination of race and queerness in the US.
Sissy: a Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
I just picked up a copy of this at my local library and can’t wait to jump in! (Update at time of scheduling: okay I’ve actually jumped into this and so far it’s so good, and is very confronting in the way it reveals the horrific impact of enforcing gender norms on young kids). This looks like it will be both amusing as well as a blueprint for transinclusive feminism. It’s described as a memoir about growing up wondering if “you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above”.
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Sister Outsider is a collection of speeches and essays from Black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde. This collection examines class, racism, sexism, homophobia, and ageism.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
And last but very much not least is the only graphic novel on this list, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. I won’t lie, I was highly intrigued over this graphic novel from one sentence in the blurb “bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction”. I’m already sold. But if you need to know more, this autobiography started as a way to help Maia come out to eir family as nonbinary and asexual, and is a guide to the meaning of gender identity and how to think about it.
I hope you’ve found a few books to add to your TBRs! Do you need memoirs often? If you have any recommendations, do let me know in the comments as I’m keen to read a lot more!