Reading Projects Past and Reading Projects Present: A Year of QTPOC Books

skin folkSo I’ve had a look at the books I read last year, and found some surprising and some not so surprising results. One thing that was pretty interesting is that I read more books by and/or about bisexual women than lesbians: 22 compared with 19.  Since I just came out as bi last year and was consciously seeking out these books, that’s not too unexpected, but it is pretty cool.  I discovered some really great bi writers, like cartoonist Ellen Forney whose memoir about her art and bipolar disorder totally blew me away.  Nalo Hopkinson is another non-monosexual author, and I read two of her books last year, one of which is, I think, one of my favourite books of all time, Skin Folk.  It’s a fan-fucking-tastic collection of sci-fi/fantasy short stories that are mind-blowingly original and fascinating.  I’ve even read a few of these stories out loud to my partner, because I just had to share them.  I also really enjoyed My Education by Susan Choi, which was the Lammy winner the year before last for bi fiction.  It’s filled with deliciously juicy, wordy, beautiful prose and memorable characters.

IGTB-COVER-front-only-600pxwide-300x463I also read 7 books this year either by trans authors or featuring main trans characters: 2 novels by Canadian trans women—Casey Plett and Sybil Lamb, as well as American Julia Serano’s latest non-fiction book.  On the trans masculine side, I read two books by cis queer women featuring trans guys—Zoe Whittall’s Holding Still for as Long as Possible and Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab—as well as Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s collaborative multi-genre book Gender Failure, which was a troublesome book for me in the ways that it interacted with trans femininity and trans women.  The comments on this article are definitely some of the most thought-provoking and emotionally charged that I’ve seen on my site, which is very rewarding for me!  Also, I read Letters Lived: Radical Reflections, Revolutionary Paths which was a really cool anthology featuring a variety of activists—including lots of people of colour and trans men and women—writing letters to their past selves.

cupThe last piece of data I came up with is that I only read 16 books by people of colour compared to 35!! by white people—a few books I didn’t count because they were anthologies where the ratio was roughly even or the authors were anonymous.  At any rate, this is abysmal and has got to change.  Ideally, I’d at least like the amount of books I read by people of colour and white folks to be roughly even, but clearly I have some catching up to do.  So that’s why I’ve decided to read only books by people of colour this year, with pretty much all of them by LGBTQ women with a few exceptions.  I am pretty excited to read some classics I haven’t gotten around to yet, like Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple and Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, as well as some brand new ones like Daisy Hernandez’s memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed.  I would love some suggestions for this reading project, especially books by trans women.  You can check out the list I have so far here (keep in mind this is NOT an exhaustive list of QTPOC books , just ones that were particularly appealing to me and of course that I haven’t read yet).

Anyone else starting exciting reading challenges or projects in the New Year?

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About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and future librarian who holds an MA in English literature and is currently studying for an MLIS in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle, Book Riot and Inside Vancouver. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
This entry was posted in Anthology, Asian, Bisexual, Black, Canadian, Fiction, Ivan E. Coyote, Lesbian, Nalo Hopkinson, News, Postcolonial, Queer, Science Fiction, Shani Mootoo, Short Stories, South Asian, Toronto, Trans, Trans Feminine, Trans Masculine, Zoe Whittall and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Reading Projects Past and Reading Projects Present: A Year of QTPOC Books

  1. Have you tried Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber or Brown Girl in the Ring. Those were my introductions to her.

    I haven’t read the book of Mootoo’s that you mentioned in your post , but one of my all time favorites by her, probably because it was the first book that I read by her, was Cereus Blooms at Night. Maybe you want to try Valmiki’s Daughter if you haven’t read that yet.

    • I haven’t read Midnight Robber yet, but it is on my list. I should bump it up! I’ve read Brown Girl in the Ring too–her later writing is stronger, I think, but I did like that one.

      I LOVE Cereus Blooms at Night! It’s definitely one of my all-time favourites. Valmiki’s Daughter was good too, but had quite a depressing ending. Mootoo has a collection of poetry I haven’t read, so I may move that to the top of my list too!

  2. Pingback: Link Round Up: December 29 – January 3 | The Lesbrary

  3. M says:

    Have you read Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo by Ntozake Shange? I don’t know if she’s Canadian, but I noticed a book by Alice Walker on your Goodreads list, and the book deals heavily with love and desire between women and how race complicates those dynamics.

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