October Reading Round-Up
Happy autumn and welcome back to this random and delightful assortment of books read last month by some of our Queerly Reads contributors! -Hannah
I read Pride by Ibi Zoboi. (I picked it up a little while ago, after seeing the author tweet about a truly terrible review.) When I finally got around to starting it, I initially meant for it to last a little while, but I ended up de vouring it in practically one sitting. It's a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but also stands just fine on its own. If you are familiar with Jane Austen, there's plenty going on to keep you guessing, too—mainly, for me, because the story somehow manages to stay loyal to the original while also being deeply loyal to itself. Bold, thoughtful, and delicate, it’s one of the best adaptations I’ve ever come across.
So many gems. P. Djèlí Clark’s The Black God’s Drums is a New Orleans steampunk novella with the queer lady ship captain of my dreams. Margaret Rogerson’s magical YA An Enchantment of Ravens is one of the few m/f romances I like, and it is very autumnal. I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men and What I Had On by Khadijah Queen is probably going to be my favorite poetry collection I read this whole year. It calls out famous men by name and explores sexual harassment, rape culture, the male gaze, and sexism that spans generations. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is a short story collection about race, violence, and consumerism in America. It was disturbing, entertaining, and incisively insightful. Recommended for readers of Etgar Keret.
Wendy Moffat’s A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster was the first biography to make Forster’s homosexuality the spotlight and foremost consideration of his life—which, after reading this biography, I’m convinced he would have wanted. It was a wonderful read that was meandering in the best ways, teaching me a lot about the Bloomsbury writers and queer history. I’ll leave you with this Forster quote: “I am 85 and how annoyed I am with Society for wasting my time by making homosexuality criminal. The subterfuges, the self-consciousness that might have been avoided.”
I've been reading the Grisha trilogy this October, which is the first trilogy in the world of Six of Crows, which I reviewed earlier this year. It's a fantasy series based in Tsarist Russia, and features a fascinatingly original take on magic.
I also had the pleasure of reading the second book in the Imperial Radch trilogy, the first of which I have also reviewed for this website! It's about this really awkward and structured sci-fi culture where everyone's behavior is super restricted by decorum, and the one artificial intelligence who has to navigate it after being separated from the rest of its hive mind.
Finally, I read Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow. It's a post-death transhumanist book in the tradition of writers like Phillip K. Dick, about a guy in the transhumanist future who uses his deathless and capitalism-free existence to be a cast member at Disneyworld. He works at the Haunted Mansion using futuristic technologies to improve the ride along with a collective of other people who are all obsessed with the Haunted Mansion. They begin making bigger plans to improve the Mansion when the collective who runs the Hall of Presidents becomes their rivals.
In October I read a very cute f/f romance: Small Town Secrets by Katrina Jackson. I think I would actually consider it more of a contained family drama than strictly a romance, but that’s part of why I liked it as much as I did. (I love family dynamics, biological or found, and there’s a lot of both here that worked for me.)
It was my first story by the author, and despite being third in a series, I felt as if I already knew, and cared about, all the characters. Because I’m greedy, I wish we had spent a bit more time on Sully and Bria’s relationship, especially in the beginning; I would’ve loved to bask a little more in the tenderness of their pining, a little more in them simply being together, but all their scenes (or moments they think about each other) are a joy. Food-themed romances are forever my favorites, and Bria courting Sully via bagels has to be one of the most delightful I’ve read yet (“Could Bria spend the entirety of the next week making only bagels for her? Would that be too obvious?”).
As a side note, it’s been a while since I read a book that didn’t make me feel bad about myself, in which there are no microaggressions of any kind; I’m always bracing for at least that one line that is going to hurt, but this novella is just very, very kind.