I don’t know about you, but these days I’m in need of some serious self-care, which for me and I’m sure many of you, means reading comfort books. You know, fluffy books, books that you make you feel like you’ve been wrapped in a big blanket, books that are the literary equivalent of a cupcake or a big dollop of mashed potatoes. Here are some options of the queer and Canadian variety for your escapist pleasure. There’s no dark stuff in any of these, or if there is it’s quite minimal.
Imagine a comic that spans the L, G, B, and T parts of the rainbow and is the best possible combination between the Pussy Cat Dolls and Archie and you’ll have something of an idea of what Band Vs. Band by Kathleen Jacques is. This comic could not be more fun if it tried: Band Vs. Band is up-beat, adorable, femme-centric, and hella queer. You can probably tell from the name that it’s about band rivalry: girl bands to be exact, both led by femmes of very different varieties. Band Vs. Band is available in one print volume so far as well as an updating web comic. Honey Hart is the leader of The Candy Hearts and she couldn’t be more different from Turpentine and her band The Sourballs. Pretty much all you need to know about the bands’ members and their music is in their names. What you’ll also want to that Honey and Turpentine’s frenemy relationship is a slow, slow burn romance and that this comic is laugh-out-loud funny. Did I mention the gorgeous, retro-inspired blue and red-pink drawings?
I’ve talked about Landing by Emma Donoghue in many different corners of the internet and I’m gonna talk about it again here because I just love it so much. People, it is everything that is good about romantic comedies, but in book form with queer and POC characters! It’s a book about the kinds of people you know, in situations you can relate to, in places you recognize, but Donoghue’s talents for dialogue, characterization, and old-fashioned storytelling make this opposites-attract story exceptional. Jude is a twenty-five year old archivist born, raised, and still living in a small town in Southwestern Ontario; Síle is a thirty-nine year old Indo-Irish flight attendant from Dublin who considers herself a citizen of the world. The funny thing is, Jude is really an eighty-year-old in disguise, whereas Síle still has the stamina of an eighteen-year-old. Jude is a rural butch, and Síle is an urban femme. Can they overcome these obstacles to be together? Well of course they can, but the journey there is pretty awesome, and hilarious and full of side characters that I loved just as much as the main ones.
100 Crushes by Elisha Lim is essentially a long, beautifully illustrated love letter to queer and trans people of colour. What is not to love about that? It’s a compilation of comics that Lim has worked on over five years. It starts off with a section about their own crushes, where they talk about and draw their own real-life crushes and historical legends. Basically they’re trying to figure out this: “How do you explain the moment when you just get knocked out by someone? How do you describe that effect, when you just think, whoa, baby.” Later it moves into pieces that are kind of portraits of people Lim has encountered all over the world on their travels. In the text, people speak in their own words about their personal stories, along with a lot of interesting and complex thoughts about racial, sexual, and gender identities and words. Then of course there are Lim’s totally stunning, gorgeous illustrations. So much of this book is frankly adorable, but there is also such a depth in what Lim and the people they’re quoting are doing that it makes for a heart-warming, affirming read that is also super smart. It’s great to read slowly to savour each story.
Have you ever wished you could read a 21st century queer story that had everything you loved about 50s lesbian pulp and none of the horrible stuff? Don’t Bang the Barista by Leigh Matthews is your answer. I had so much fun reading this book, which is the sexy drama-filled romp you might expect given its pulp inspiration but also smart and funny and so true to its East Van roots. Like Landing, it’s kind of like reading about the queer people in your life but everyone is a bit funnier and hotter and the drama is a little more over the top. So the book is about British ex-pat, Kate, living in Vancouver, trying to sort out her sorry love life. She’s still heart-broken over her ex, but she’s pining after Hanna, the barista at the coffee shop she and her friend Cass frequent. When it seems like something might actually take off with Hanna, though, things start to get weird with Kate and Cass, who is the tough-girl lady killer type. Who really has a crush on who? And who is going to hook up and how? You’ll have to read to find out.
Bonus! Did you enjoy this review or find it useful? Consider supporting me on the Patreon for Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian that I launched last month! Patreon is a site where creators of all sorts of things can make some money via subscription payments from their readers/etc. It can be as little as a dollar a month! Help me continue to be able to devote time to this site and you can win stuff like queer books and postcards with personalized book recommendations! Click on the link for more details and to sign up. I’m currently at $54 a month, working towards my next goal of $75!