Saddle up, babes. It’s time for another book roundup! Where I take the best of the seemingly one jillion books that make their way to my mailbox and curate them for your reading pleasure. Because reading is what?! A natural sign of intelligence!!
And ladies and theybies, we have some good ones. Of all the queer and queer-adjacent titles, we have an absolutely filthy release from a one Mr. John Waters, a stunning novel by Pajtim Statovci, and a much-anticipated comic book from the iconic Vivek Shraya. Here are our picks from this month, which you should swiftly “add to cart,” if you’re smart.
The historians behind your favorite Instagram account @lgbt_history, which documents the lives and stories of queer and trans people throughout time, are taking on a book project. After archiving the tens of thousands of images, the two storytellers took on the task of showing us an intersectional portrait of queer liberation — from the Stonewall era, but also far before and after that. This amazing coffee table-sized book is a perfect gift for Pride season, or honestly just a treat yourself kinda moment. (And, not to brag, but I did help them pick the title of this book).
Vivek Shraya is such a blessing to us, y’all don’t even understand. Following her seminal work I’m Afraid of Men, as well as other stories that pull from her experiences of violence as a transfeminine person, Shraya is now giving us a graphic novel. Documenting the hate mail that Shraya gets, she is using satire, surrealism, and the illustrations of Ness Lee to bring online dangers to life and provide life-saving visibility to the dangers trans people face everyday.
Over the years, The Prince of Puke has bestowed many books on us mortals. While his lack of invitation to the Met Gala’s Camp-themed red carpet was a travesty, he is still the reigning Mother of Camp, and all queers know that. Speaking of knowing, his new book shares delectable, campy wisdom in a series of essays documenting his time creating iconic films like Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby, and Hairspray, and other anecdotes from Hollywood and growing up. The star-studded book is delightfully funny and readable, yet still revelatory.
Longtime Out writer Tim Murphy, author of the 2016 New York City saga Christodora, has a new novel out telling the story of a Boston-area Irish-Arab family that has ascended from poor immigrants to the coastal elite. The bright and driven daughter, Rita Khoury, charts an ambitious path to a prestigious newspaper, where she is stationed to Baghdad during the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. There, her fate becomes forever intertwined with that of her interpreter, Nabil al-Jumaili, a young Baghdadi who is closeted even to himself. Full of unexpected twists and turns in Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and the U.S., Correspondents is a fast-paced, suspenseful, funny and often heartbreaking look at what it means to be an immigrant in post-9/11 America.
Everyone is talking about this incandescent new novel from the acclaimed author of My Cat Yugoslavia, following Bujar, who, in the wake of his father’s death, deals with growing pains in communist Albania. His best friend, and budding queer, Agim, faces adversity alongside him as they venture to Italy, in a story about feeling at home in a foreign country, and the danger of burgeoning identities. To be honest, I haven’t read it yet, but my good friend Judy Garth Greenwell described the prose as “longing and rage compressed in a single sentence at once sweepingly plangent and rooted in granular detail. . . . The novel memorably portrays the pain … labels can cause; it also suggests that we may not be able to live without them.” Sign me up please!
This is my confession. I am a sucker for queer young adult books. Queer teens! Queers love queer teens! This is a cardinal rule. Goslee’s newest contribution to the queer YA canon is absolutely exceptional, serving you a deeply gayer version of To All The Boys I've Loved Before that follows Nolan Grant, a very single, very gay high schooler who’s never been kissed, and never had a boyfriend. His junior year spins out when his older sister intervenes and stages an elaborate prom proposal to another boy on his behalf. This is the feel-good summer beach read you deserve.
If you were not around to discover the truly groundbreaking and life-saving work of Original Plumbing, the pioneering transmasculine magazine that thrived for 10 years and twenty issues before its graceful end, then you are in for a treat. The editors have taken the best of the publication and curated featured writing on both playful and political topics featuring icons like Janet Mock, Silas Howard, Margaret Cho, and Ian Harvie. Photo selections are in full color, with an introduction by Tiq Milan.
Following quite a few accolades from the likes of Oprah, Cosmopolitan, and Entertainment Weekly, Out East is a an incredible debut memoir. The book follows John’s story of a share house in Montauk. This is a very summery book, centering self-esteem, home, friendships, love, transformation, and a whole other lot of things queer people go through in their twenties.
Formatted as if it were a five-act play, the novel centers a queer wedding from the 22-year-old Clem and her bride-to-be. As the two plan a wedding with their whole family in the small town of Rundle Junction, the story comes to a halt when the format of the wedding becomes a point of contention. Shenanigans follow in this serious yet joyous comedy, reminiscent of the Pulitzer-winning Less, as it tackles issues of racism, anti-semitism, zoning, and pollution with a satirical edge. Cohen’s demonstration of a modern family, and the hopes it may have, are a triumph and well worth your read.