Bi+ Book Club
First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger
Summary: "Born in New York City in 1935, Peggy Seeger enjoyed a childhood steeped in music and politics. Her father was the noted musicologist Charles Seeger; her mother, the modernist composer Ruth Crawford; and her brother Pete, the celebrated writer of protest songs.
After studying at Radcliffe College, in 1955 Peggy left to travel the world. It was in England that she met the man, some two decades older and with a wife and family, with whom she would share the next thirty-three years: the actor, playwright and songwriter Ewan MacColl. Together, Peggy and Ewan helped lay the foundations of the British folk revival, through the formative - and controversial - Critics Group and the landmark BBC Radio Ballads series. And as Ewan's muse, Peggy inspired one of the twentieth century's greatest love songs, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
Peggy's life comprises art and passion, family and separation, tragedy, celebration and the unexpected - and irresistible - force of love. It would by any standards be an extraordinary story, but what elevates her account is the beauty of the writing: it is clear-eyed and playful, luminous and melodic, fearless, funny and always truthful, from the first word to the last."
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
"Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella “Especially Heinous,” Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls-with-bells-for-eyes. Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious...."
The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski
"Double your chances for a date this weekend with the ultimate handbook. Organized by experience level, this no-holds-barred, irreverent guide is for anyone—bisexual, queer, pansexual, or none of the above—who wants the best of both worlds. Increase your Bi-Q now!"
Refusing to be a Man by John Stoltenberg
Since its original publication in 1989, Refusing to be a Man has been acclaimed as a classic and widely cited in gender studies literature. In 13 eloquent essays, Stoltenberg articulates the first fully argued liberation theory for men that will also liberate women. He argues that male sexual identity is entirely a political and ethical construction whose advantages grow out of injustice. His thesis is, however, ultimately one of hope - that precisely because masculinity is so constructed, it is possible to refuse it, to act against it and to change. A new introduction by the author discusses the roots of his work in the American civil rights and radical feminist movements and distinguishes it from the anti-feminist philosophies underlying the recent tide of reactionary mens movements.
Irrepressible The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham by Emily Bingham
"Bingham was offered the helm of a publishing empire. Instead, she ripped through the Jazz Age like an F. Scott Fitzgerald character: intoxicating and intoxicated, selfish and shameless, seductive and brilliant, endearing and often terribly troubled. In New York, Louisville, and London, she drove both men and women wild with desire, and her youth blazed with sex. But her love affairs with women made her the subject of derision and caused a doctor to try to cure her queerness. After the speed and pleasure of her early decades, the toxicity of judgment from others, coupled with her own anxieties, resulted in years of addiction and breakdowns. And perhaps most painfully, she became a source of embarrassment for her family—she was labeled "a three-dollar bill." But forebears can become fairy-tale figures, especially when they defy tradition and are spoken of only in whispers."
The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj
On the brink of interstellar war, life continues. Humans, aliens and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge... and self-knowledge... but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multi species mecca is in question. Some will rush home to make love to their wife. Or wives. Or husbands. Or indeterminate gender human and/or alien partners. Others will be forced to decide where they stand -- what is worth fighting for, or maybe even worth dying for. A thought-provoking work on sexuality and the connections between people--whether male or female, human or alien--The Stars Change is part space opera, part literary mosaic of story, poem, and art.
Getting Bi. Voices of Bisexuals Around the World by Robyn Ochs and Sarah Rowley
Is the broadest single collection of bisexual literature available today. Getting Bi collects 220 essays from around the world that explore bisexual identity. Topics include coming out, relationships, politics, community, and more. The book also addresses the intersection of bisexuality with race, class, ethnicity, gender identity, disability and national identity. Authors from 42 countries discuss bisexuality from personal perspectives and their own cultural contexts providing insight into societal views on bisexuality from countries ranging from Colombia to China.
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Summary: Karim Amir lives with his English mother and Indian father in the routine comfort of suburban London, enduring his teenage years with good humor, always on the lookout for adventure—and sexual possibilities. Life gets more interesting, however, when his father becomes the Buddha of Suburbia, beguiling a circle of would-be mystics. And when the Buddha falls in love with one of his disciples, the beautiful and brazen Eva, Karim is introduced to a world of renegade theater directors, punk rock stars, fancy parties, and all the sex a young man could desire.
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
"First it's her mother's missing gold brooch. Then, a blue and white dish she hasn't seen in years. Followed by an entire grove of cashew trees.
When objects begin appearing out of nowhere, Calamity knows that the special gift she has not felt since childhood has returned-her ability to find lost things. Calamity, a woman as contrary as the tides around her Caribbean island home, is confronting two of life's biggest dramas. First is the death of her father, who raised her alone until a pregnant Calamity rejected him when she was sixteen years old. The second drama: she's starting menopause. Now when she has a hot flash and feels a tingling in her hands, she knows it's a lost object calling to her.
Then she finds something unexpected: a four-year-old boy washes up on the shore, his dreadlocked hair matted with shells. Calamity decides to take the orphaned child into her care, which brings unexpected upheaval into her life and further strains her relationship with her adult daughter. Fostering this child will force her to confront all the memories of her own childhood-and the disappearance of her mother so many years before."
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
"Me Talk Pretty One Day is a bestselling collection of essays by American humorist David Sedaris. The book is separated into two parts. The first part consists of essays about Sedaris’s life before his move to Normandy, France, including his upbringing in suburban Raleigh, North Carolina, his time working odd jobs in New York City, and a visit to New York from a childhood friend and her bumpkinish girlfriend. The second section, "Deux", tells of Sedaris’s move to Normandy with his partner Hugh, often drawing humor from his efforts to live in France without speaking the French language and his frustrated attempts to learn it. Prior to publication, several of the essays were read by the author on the Public Radio Internationalprogram, This American Life."
The City and the City by China Mieville
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.
House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter
From Passionate Plume award finalist Elizabeth Schechter comes a steampunk novel of dark passion. In a respectable neighbourhood, on the top floor of a beautiful house, crouches the Succubus; by design, and by temperament, she is all that men crave and fear. To the wealthy and privileged men of London, the Succubus is a test they must pass to gain access to the House of Sable Locks, the most exclusive brothel in town. However, to William, a wealthy young man born and raised in India, she is the very essence of his desires.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
"The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent — from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war. The tale begins with Anjum—who used to be Aftab—unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her—including Musa, sweetheart
and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be.
As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts."
Hild by Nicola Griffith
In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods are struggling, their priests worrying. Hild is the king's youngest niece, and she has a glimmering mind and a natural, noble authority. She will become a fascinating woman and one of the pivotal figures of the Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby.
Corona by Bushra Rehman
Razia Mirza is a Pakistani woman from Corona, Queens who grew up in a tight Muslim community surrounding the first Sunni masjid built in New York City. When a rebellious streak leads to her ex-communication, she decides to hit the road. Corona moves between Razia’s childhood in Queens and the comedic misadventures she encounters on her journey, from a Puritan Colony in Massachusetts to New York City’s Bhangra music scene. With each story, we learn more about the past she’s escaping, a past which leads her to constantly travel in a spiral, always coming closer to but never quite arriving home.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
"Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic."
Bi Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
Bi takes a long overdue, comprehensive look at bisexual politics—from the issues surrounding biphobia/monosexism, feminism, and transgenderism to the practice of labeling those who identify as bi as either “too bisexual” (promiscuous and incapable of fidelity) or “not bisexual enough” (not actively engaging romantically or sexually with people of at least two different genders).
In this forward-thinking and eye-opening book, feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist Shiri Eisner takes readers on a journey through the many aspects of the meanings and politics of bisexuality, specifically highlighting how bisexuality can open up new and exciting ways of challenging social convention. Informed by feminist, transgender, and queer theory, as well as politics and activism, Bi is a radical manifesto for a group that has been too frequently silenced, erased, and denied—and a starting point from which to launch a bisexual revolution.
Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway
"Born into a magical Cree world in snowy northern Manitoba, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis are all too soon torn from their family and thrust into the hostile world of a Catholic residential school. Their language is forbidden, their names are changed to Jeremiah and Gabriel, and both boys are abused by priests.As young men, estranged from their own people and alienated from the culture imposed upon them, the Okimasis brothers fight to survive. Wherever they go, the Fur Queen — a wily, shape-shifting trickster — watches over them with a protective eye. For Jeremiah and Gabriel are destined to be artists. Through music and dance they soar."
The Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
"A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations both pre- and post-transition to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole. Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this "feminine" weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire. In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today's feminists and transgender activist must work to embrace and empower femininity in all of its wondrous forms."
Go The Way Your Blood Beats. On Truth, Bisexuality and Desire by Michael Amherst
"Using bisexuality as a frame, Go the Way Your Blood Beats questions the division of sexuality into straight and gay, in a timely exploration of the complex histories and psychologies of human desire. A challenge to the idea that sexuality can either ever be fully known or neatly categorised, it is a meditation on desire’s unknowability. Interwoven with anonymous addresses to past loves - the sex of whom remain obscure - the book demonstrates the universalism of desire, while at the same time the particularity of each individual act of desiring. Part essay, part memoir, part love letter, Go the Way Your Blood Beats asks us to see desire and sexuality as analogous with art - a mysterious, creative force, and one that remakes us in the act itself."
For Sizakele by Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene
Taylor, a queer Nigerian college student, is in a passionate relationship with Lee, a black American basketball-playing pianist. When Taylor develops romantic feelings for Sy, a Cameroonian photographer whose similarities make them instant family, Taylor battles Lee’s jealousy. As Taylor encounters challenges to her femme and African identities, she finds ways, through the kinship of her friends, to define herself on her own terms. For Sizakele addresses transcontinental identity, intimate partner violence, queer gender and how we love as illuminators of who we are.
Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood
"Black Girl in Paris winds its way around the mythology of Paris as a city that has called out to African American artists. Like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Josephine Baker before her, Youngblood's heroine leaves her home, in the American South, nurturing a dream of finding artistic emancipation in the City of Light. She experiments freely, inhabiting different incarnations - artist's model, poet's helper, au pair, teacher, thief, and lover - to keep body and soul together, to stay afloat, heal the wounds of her broken heart, discover her sexual self, and, finally, to wrestle her dreams of becoming a writer into reality."