It’s only halfway through November, but I’m already done reading books published in 2018. I’m exhausted. Plus, I’m already diving into 2019 publications.
Narrowing my favorite books to ten works of fiction with an additional ten non-fiction books was hard. Normally, I cop out and just list a few dozen books in alphabetical order. This year, I attempted to rate the books in some semblance of an order. I considered books I fawned over during my initial read, ones I recommended the most since reading, and the ones I looped back to the most to find a breathtaking passage or standout line.
I was looking for a specific type of book in the summer of 2017. I asked the subreddit Suggest Me a Book “History of Drag. Any suggestions? Not biographies. But a cultural/sociological look into Drag Queen history and such. Thanks!”
I wanted a definitive history to read like explored in the documentary Paris is Burning. I got a few upvotes and two responses – My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones and Sex Change, Social Change by Viviane Namaste – but nothing I was particularly looking for. I didn’t even ask to think of looking for a good literary fiction book about queer, trans, and drag queens during the 1980s and early 1990s because, well, I had a feeling it didn’t exist.
At some point I got an advanced copy of a book. Upon a quick glance it just seems like a romance. It has Beauties in the title and has a glamorous shot of a woman.
I glance at it a few days later. It’s a man with make up on. In drag.
This is the book I was waiting for. Joseph Cassara wrote The House of Impossible Beauties and I am going on record by saying this is going to me one of the books of 2018.
Queer Eye is no longer about tolerance. It’s about acceptance. Over the course of eight episodes, five new hosts and experts transformed eight men in and around Atlanta ranging from straight white conservative men, hip men of color, and they even helped a gay black man come out to his stepmother after his father passed away.
— I have a friend that would be perfect for you.
— Yeah, he’s amazing.
— Thanks but I’m not gay.
This is one of the many occurrences of people mistaking me as gay. It’s not something that offends me even though people think it should(?). I am a white, straight, CIS male who only has sex with women who all look the same; maybe I should dive into why with my therapist. That’s beside the point.
The point is: I connect a lot with the LGBTQ community. Not just because people assume I’m gay. For numerous reasons. The official synopsis of my favorite podcast Nancy explains it best.
Reading is probably the least sexy part of pop culture. If there is a ranking it would go: keeping up on Peak TV, catching the latest Oscar bait, and hearing the newest band before the rest of the world does. Yet literature is the longest, strongest pillar of culture, pop or not.
Here are 25 works of fiction – in alphabetical order – that made me laugh, cry, shiver, and think.