challenging reading biases

2017 is the year where I want to smash my reading biases/reading comfort zone. I’ve talked a bit about this on my twitter, but basically – I want to learn about experiences that I could never have, and probably never will. Neurodiversity and marginalised cultures and intersectionality are some of the many areas that I want to

However, in this post I’m going to focus on LGBT+ comfort zones. As I’m sure most of you are aware, I’m bisexual. (I’ve got a post coming up about it, actually!) I’d like to say I’m pretty knowledgeable about the LGBT+ community. I try to learn, and to stay in my bisexual lane.However, even now when I’m reading diversely year-round, I find myself reading M/M, and very little else. This has to do with the publication of LGBT+ books, because M/M is seen as the most marketable (which probably has something to do with the fetishisation of gay men by straight women), but I’m not trying to excuse myself. There are LGBT+ books out there that are not M/M – and I need to read them.

So here is an (unofficial) list of books that I want to read to smash these comfort zones:

F/F:

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

I know, it is ridiculous that I haven’t read this yet. So many people have raved about it, but I just didn’t get around to reading it last year! Luckily, I saw it was available on NetGalley, so I requested it. I’m really excited about its intersectionality, especially because it seems to frankly discuss modern feminist issues. After the Women’s March the other day, I’ve been thinking a lot about intersectional feminism, and I hope this sheds some light on that.

The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis

After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.

But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?

This sounds so cute! I loved the fluffy F/F relationship in Not Your Sidekick, so I thought that I would continue in that snuggly area. Also, bookstore romance screams my name.

Trans:

Dreadnought by April Daniels

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book, so I am very excited about it! Last year I read a couple LGBT+ superhero stories (Not Your Sidekick and Hold being the main two) and I loved them, so I am definitely going to continue with this particular genre. I’ve also got this on my NetGalley, so you should expect a review soon-ish!

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.

Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.

This sounds fluffy and romantic and I am wayyy too excited to read it. Most of the trans narratives I’ve read have to do with younger teenagers, so I thought this would switch it up a bit.

Asexual:

How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune

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?

Apparently this is a really funny novel that represents asexuality quite well. A lot of reviewers have said that it is a toned-down version of Klune’s normal quirkiness, so I think that’ll be a good way to start reading this author. (One note, though: I really don’t like the title. I know that it is probably going to say that normal is overrated, etc etc, but eh. It just doesn’t do it for me.)

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Guests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Again, in 2016 I read quite a few SFF books that had LGBT+ characters. I had previously thought that SFF just wasn’t for me, because it predominantly featured straight white, male characters. I am so glad to say that I have seen the light! This sounds like such an interesting fantasy, I can’t wait to read it.

Non-binary/gender-fluid:

Ida by Alison Evans

How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?

Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.

One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.

How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?

This is a new Australian YA novel that I am ridiculously pumped about. Ida herself is mixed race and bisexual, and her partner is genderqueer. There are also two other genderfluid characters. Again, this is diverse SFF, which is quickly becoming my new favourite genre.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

I’ve wanted to read this books for literal ages. It sounds a little bit like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but without the parts that I found annoying. I’ve also never read a book with a gender fluid character, and apparently this is quite a good place to start.

Aaaaand we’re done! If you have any recs, please let me know! I know that I left out some other parts of the LGBT+ community such as intersex and aromantic, but I thought this post was long enough as it is. I’ll probably do another post that includes them.

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20 thoughts on “challenging reading biases

  1. onlyfragments says:

    You should check out literally anything by S.E Diemer. She (and her wife) usually focuses on queer female leads, but everything she’s published is fantastic. She also just published the first half of a duology about a dystopian future US where being queer can get you killed. It’s super dark, but a wonderful and chilling read.

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  2. Rita C. says:

    This is a great list. I’ll definitely add these to my TBR list, this year I really want to read more LGBTQ+ books, and I totally agree with you on the M/M thing in literature — I don’t think I’ve ever read more than two books which fell into the LGBTQ+ category but weren’t M/M.

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  3. Huntress of Diverse Books says:

    I just finished reading Finding Your Feet by Cassie Lennox for DiverseAThon. One of the main characters is on the asexual spectrum, the other is transgender and biracial. I am so in love with it (maybe because I’m also a dancer and there were scenes in which people weren’t conforming to traditional dance roles). It’s book 2 in a series but I feel like you can read it as a stand-alone. Book 1 focusses on an asexual character as well. The series is called The Toronto Connections. I’ve got a review coming up soon – I love this book so much!

    Dreadnought is on my TBR as well. I love superhero stories.

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    • whatthelog says:

      Ooh fantastic, thanks so much for the rec!! What a fabulously diverse book 😀 Like I said in my post, this is really something I need to work on – especially because one of my best friends is asexual, and I really should learn more about her experience.

      There’s something about LGBT+ superheroes that makes me INCREDIBLY happy!!

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  4. Read Diverse Books says:

    I loved this post so much, Wendy. I still have many reading gaps and unconscious reading biases I have to get over and will try to address them this year. It’s important that we acknowledge them and take measured actions to rectify. You’ve got some great books on this list!

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    • whatthelog says:

      Thank you! I think that even people in the diverse book community have biases – and if we don’t talk about them, then the regular book blogger community won’t either!
      I am so incredibly excited to read these ❤

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  5. ceearrbooknerd says:

    Awesome-sauce post! 🙂 We all need to work on plugging the gaps – I think the first step to that is accepting that we have gaps!

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