Your LGBT History Month reading list
James Gregory-Monk, Deputy-Chair of our LGBT+ Staff network, has compiled a reading list. So, if you’re looking for a new book this month, why not pick something from the list below?
This Queer Angel by Elaine Chambers
Spectacles by Sue Perkins
Cheer Up Love by Susan Calman
The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain
Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd
Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
How to Survive a Plague by David France
Undivided by Vicky Beeching
You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr
Trans Britain by Christine Burns
The Gender Games by Juno Dawson
To celebrate LGBT History Month, we’ve also been asking colleagues to get in touch with their reading recommendations. Here are some of your suggestions and reviews:
Dr Michael Bonshor, Department of Music, has compiled a list of trans-related literature and film
Below is a list of some of the must-reads (including seminal works as well as more recent publications) for anyone interested in this area. My list also includes some literature with intersex and gender-fluid protagonists:
Sacred Country by Rose Tremain (female to male transition)
Michael ne Laura by Liz Hodgkinson (female to male transition)
Trumpet by Jackie Kay (female to male transition)
Conundrum by Jan Morris (male to female transition)
The Danish Girl by David Ebershof (male to female transition)
The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein (male to female transition)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (intersex experience)
Fanny and Stella by Neil McKenna (gender fluidity)
Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin (trans, bi, and gay protagonists)
If anyone is interested in films on trans lives, I would start by recommending:
Second Serve (biopic of Renee Richards, starring Vanessa Redgrave)
The Danish Girl (good adaptation of the book)
Sam Carnall recommends three books by Becky Albertalli
Three books I would recommend are Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda, Leah on the Offbeat and What if it's Us. They could easily be dismissed as too teen-ish but I have read them all in my early 20s and really enjoyed them. I would also recommend anything generally by Becky Albertalli.
Regarding Leah on the Offbeat, I believe that it first and foremost tackles an issue which is not prevalent enough in society - women’s sexuality. It is what stood out to me about this read that separates it from its counterparts. Dealing with LGBT+ matters in fiction is fantastic in itself, but we seem to be slipping into a habit of covering 90% gay men’s issues and barely a fraction of popular culture encompasses the experiences of the rest of the spectrum.
It covers this spectrum exceedingly well because the plot is extremely easy to follow for anyone, no matter how they identify. Friend drama is extremely safe ground for the basis of a book, as it has undoubtedly aided countless amounts of books in their quest for sales, and this is a key aspect of Leah on the Offbeat. Following on from Love, Simon, in which she is a key part of Simon’s big secret, Leah finds that her own position within the group is not so sure either and commences a big journey of self-discovery. Deep down, we all love a bit of gossip and what better way to explore new horizons of LGBT+ issues whilst doing so?
In summary, I would recommend this book as it tackles so-far relatively unchartered horizons in modern popular literature and does so in a way that is not taxing, nor revolutionary, making it an educational joy to read for the audience. For LGBT+ History Month, give it a try.
Pete Green, Department of Journalism Studies, has compiled a list of poetry recommendations for this month's theme of poetry, prose and plays
Mary Jean Chan, Flèche (Faber, 2019)
This stunning debut collection – my favourite book of last year – mulls the complexities of the poet's identity and circumstances as a queer woman of Hong Kong Chinese heritage living in the UK. Its measured tone and super-precise diction and imagery give Flèche incredible emotional power. Read it. Then read it again and talk about it with me.
Ian Humphreys, Zebra (Nine Arches, 2019)
Humphreys' wonderful collection has been feted as an elegy for the gay club scenes of the 1980s and the beautiful lost boys who inhabited them. It also nails the homophobia that persists in today's cultural mainstream, explores contrast and otherness more widely, and records the humble minutiae of urban and not-quite-urban dereliction. I love it.
Stephanie Burt, Advice From The Lights (Graywolf, 2017)
In the same year as she transitioned, influential critic and Harvard professor Stephanie Burt published her fourth collection of poetry. Touching, playful and keenly observed, Advice from the Lights is notable for episodes from the poet's imagined girlhood and cultural references that range from Callimachus to Taylor Swift.
Let us know your recommendations
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