February Patreon Update: Thanks For Supporting Me My First Year of Using Patreon!

Happy February!

It’s been over a year since I started this Patreon and I am so grateful for all your support! Many of you have been patrons since the very beginning when I hesitantly dove into the whole Patreon thing in January 2017 and I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH. Your support has really motivated me to keep this little ol’ book blog going when I might not have with all the other work and non-work stuff going on in my life. Can you believe I’ve been doing this blog since 2012?!

I hope you have been enjoying the two Interview With A Queer Reader posts a month! I changed it from one to two a month after hearing from many of you how much you liked that series. I love getting that kind of feedback from you, so please feel free to comment on the blog or send me an email at stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com if you have any other suggestions. If you participated in my reader survey last year and asked for specific topics to be covered, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you! I have them recorded and am planning to get to them.

This month’s winner of a free queer book is Chantelle. Congrats, Chantelle! Here are the choices this month:


I haven’t done an update since December, so there are lots of posts to remind you about in case you didn’t see them the first time around. The post I’m most proud of from December is “Reading and Re-Reading Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald”, which is kind of a hybrid personal essay about the experience of re-reading a heartbreaking book, review of the audiobook version read by Cassandra Campbell, and musing about the prevalence of dark traumatic stories about queer people.

In January, I wrote two posts about my 2017 reading year: Looking Back at My 2017 Year of Reading: A Bookish Survey and The Best (Mostly) Queer Books I Read in 2017. I read so many amazing books last year! I also wrote a review of Trish Salah’s stunning poetry collection Lyric Sexology Vol 1, where I talked about how Salah writes about gender, love, mythology, religion, sex, and trans ancestors (both real and mythical) through the lens of the idea of the self, of becoming and “I.”

And as always I want to individually thank all of the people who’ve signed up to be patrons. You lovely humans are: Danika, Leigh, Anna Marie, Jane, Jakelene, Emmet, Madeline, Heather, Carla, Laurita, Jason, Jillian, Shelagh, Priscila, James, Seed, Julie, Katherine, Rachel, Samuel, Amy, Sarah, Daniel, Sarah, Chantelle, Al, Undertheteacup, Karen, Nicole, Leora, Loretta, Mandy, Kate, and Elisabeth!

Last but not least, are you following me on the social media of your choice? Find Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian (or the ‘real me’) on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!


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Three New Must-Read Queer Canadian Poetry Books

Don’t miss these collections! If you get them soon, you may even finish reading them before me—I’ve currently got All Violet and This Wound Is A World on my bedside table and just recently posted my review of Lyric Sexology Vol 1.

All Violet by Rani Rivera

This posthumous collection of poetry was published in late 2017 by Caitlin Press, which beautifully describes the book:

“In All Violet, a young woman chronicles the experience of living on the margins, in spaces and places where body and mind are flayed by guilt, disappointments and betrayals. Her poems record the shattering trauma of struggling to survive through periods of doubt, fear, rage and pain, creating a narrative of disconnection, indignation, alienation and emptiness, the extremes of suffering and desperation. Employing lyrical free verse, Rani Rivera has skillfully employed the short line to pinpoint moments of acute perception. Unadorned, taut and precise cries of pain, loss and fury draw the reader deeper and deeper inside this in-your-face confrontation with a dark world of foreboding alleviated by flashes of mordant wit and grace under fire.”

Check out an excerpt from “Night and Day”:

I’m getting off the 501 streetcar

and stomping my big black boots into the sidewalk.

Surprisingly, my posture is perfect,

unburdened by a knapsack full of poems

and one vintage men’s Burberry trench coat.

I’m heading home on Queen West West

in an asymmetrically zippered coat

and a Northbound Leather shopping bag in tow.

Carrying war wounds and forgotten accessories.

Feeling confident, cocky even, assured.

This Wound Is A World by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Published in fall 2017 by Frontenac House Poetry, Cree poet Belcourt’s debut book of poetry is:

“Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to “cut a hole in the sky to world inside.” Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where ‘everyone is at least a little gay.’ ”

I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Belcourt and some other Indigenous poets and this is the beginning of a poem “Sacred” I distinctly remember:

a native man looks me in the eyes as he refuses to hold my hand

during a round dance. his pupils are like bullets and i wonder what

kind of pain he’s been through to not want me in this world with

him any longer. i wince a little because the earth hasn’t held all of me

for quite some time now and i am lonely in a way that doesn’t hurt


you see, a round dance is a ceremony for both grief and love and each

body joined by the flesh s encircled by the spirits of ancestors who’ve

already left this world. i ask myself: how many of them gave up on

desire because they loved their kookums more than they loved


lyric sexologyLyric Sexology Vol 1 by Trish Salah

In its new 2017 edition, Lyric Sexology Vol 1 is described by its publisher Metonymy Press like this:

” ‘That’s the bones of Lyric Sexology—that poetry can be a philosophical argument.’
—Trish Salah

Mostly written before the current cultural visibility of trans lit, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 was Salah’s prescient contribution to a canon of self-determined literature that explores transness. In this case, the author sidesteps the ‘I’ in the text and instead draws on archives—sexological, anthropological, psychological, among others—to demonstrate the shifting and shifty nature of our identities, affiliations, and narratives.”

I recently reviewed it and shared an excerpt from my favourite poem:

I masturbate in lunar cycles

with your bleeding agile thighs,

big tits in red mesh crushed.

The gravity of your love

and our doom, in mind.

At Club Super Sexe, you’re the new favourite:

corkscrew blonde curls, ballerina body

except those tits you hate—

why you’re not a ballerina—

and a face too young to be legal.

But best, with brains, they like that:

one of the regulars brings this magnetic chess set.

On slow nights the manager lets him play you

while other girls vamp on stage

You gunk up my face and put me in your dress,

ripped fishnets. I look awful. I cut my face

in the bathroom mirror. You suck the glass out,

smoke me up and promise

someday I’ll have tits like yours…

Posted in Canadian, Gay, Indigenous, Lesbian, list, Montreal, Poetry, Queer, Toronto, Trans, Trans Feminine, Transgender | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Should Come to the Grand Opening Party of Out On The Shelves, Vancouver’s LGBTQ2IA+ Library

Are you a bookish LGBTQ2IA+ person living in Metro Vancouver? Well you’re in luck, because an awesome event right up your alley is coming up in February: Out On The Shelves LGBTQ2IA+ Library is having a Grand Opening Party!


You might have missed it, but I have talked about Out On The Shelves a few times already on my blog: once back in October 2017 when we had our soft open, and again in December when we had a holiday book drive. (The book drive was really successful, and if you had a hand in that by sharing the info about the drive or donating books, thank you!). I’m the co-coordinator of the library. Now that we’ve got ourselves sorted, we’re having a celebratory Grand Opening Party which I would love to see lots of people at!

Out On The Shelves is an entirely-volunteer run library whose history goes back to the early 1980s in Vancouver! After losing our downtown space two years ago, we’ve finally re-established ourselves on UBC’s West Point Grey campus in the Student Nest building. Although we are now located at UBC, you do NOT have to be a student or staff to get a library card. Our library cards are free for everyone! Our library’s mission is:

Out On The Shelves aims to foster a free, accessible, and safe space for LGBTQ2IA+ people and their allies to discover and share stories and resources centring LGBTQ2IA+ experiences. We understand that LGBTQ2IA+ people stand at the intersection of multiple communities and identities, and we seek to empower and support them by providing access to materials that reflect their realities.

Our values include accessibility, social justice, decolonization, intersectionality, own voices, and more! Check out the Out On The Shelves website for more info on values and practical details like our hours, how many books and DVDs you can check out, and other important stuff.

Arsenal Pulp Press queer books

Recent donations from the amazing Arsenal Pulp Press!

We’re really excited about introducing people to our new space and (re)-introducing people to our diverse collection of books and DVDs at the Grand Opening Party. We have received a ton of amazing donations recently that we would love people to take out and appreciate (see above photo!). Of course, there will an opportunity to get a library card and check out materials at the party, but also special things like music, snacks, a fundraiser raffle with queer book prizes (among other things!), and a used (queer) book sale. You can drop by anytime between 6pm and 8pm, or come for the full two hours!

RSVP to the Facebook Event if you’re planning on coming. Hopefully see some of you there! If you want to keep up to speed with what Out On The Shelves is up to, follow us on your social media of choice: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Where: Room 2112, AMS Student Nest, 6133 University Boulevard, UBC West Point Grey Campus, Musqeaum Territory

When: February 15th, 6pm – 8pm

How Much: Free! But bring cash to buy used books and raffle tickets in support of the library if you want.

Posted in Canadian, News, Queer, Vancouver | Tagged | Leave a comment

“I didn’t mean to become an I”: A Review of Trish Salah’s Poetry Collection LYRIC SEXOLOGY VOL 1

lyric sexologyOnce again, Trish Salah has written a collection of poetry that somehow manages to make old, familiar topics—this time: the self—brand new. She also again somehow made me feel like I was getting smarter every minute I was reading the book and like she is so much smarter than me I will never fully catch up to her.

Lyric Sexology Vol 1 is Salah’s follow up book of poetry to Wanting in Arabic, which was originally published in 2002 and re-issued in 2013, when it won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction. Like Wanting in Arabic, Lyric Sexology takes on topics so many other poets have tackled that it feels like a wonder that she has made something unique and fresh. Lyric Sexology too has already been re-issued in a second (Canadian) edition with some additional poems not included in the first edition by Metonymy Press, which is fast becoming one of my favourite publishers. (The first American edition was published in 2014, with Metonymy’s edition coming out in 2017).

I can’t put what this book does in better words than Michael V. Smith does in one of the reviews on the back cover: “Lyric Sexology Vol 1 makes a perfect mess of so much human experience that’s been too tidily categorized.”

Salah’s poems are about gender, love, mythology, religion, sex, and trans ancestors (both real and mythical). But the idea of the self permeates most corners of the book and informs its interrogation of the other themes. She begins in a prelude:

I didn’t mean to become an I.

I didn’t mean to be.

But, I got caught up, predictably, in a subject, History, yours

From there, the collection presents poems written from the perspective of Tiresias (a male figure in Greek mythology who was transformed into a woman for seven years); about religion and god(s); poems addressed to Lili Elbe, Michael Dillion, and other trans people of the past; and so many poems about being / becoming a (gendered and otherwise defined) person. How do you become a person? How do you become an I?

In “You Were Not Born Here,” Salah writes:

You were not born.

I began in a swamp, I was made of muck, I was made to run off, to pool

sit still and stye …

We were made at home in a hut, of thatched possibilities like beach grass, plump with sweet water and razor sharp to keep the mares delicate and aware of where they trod. We were made in blue shadow so our skin might pull the light, swirly into us chitinous kids, blooming loosely and elastic cellmates with stellar equivalents. And I mean that bit literarily, star parts stretched from macrophage to deep beyond the prominence.

Contrary to the many dominant narrow narratives on how to be a trans person and how to be the right kind of trans person (“trapped-in-the-wrong-body”) and how to be the kind of trans person accepted by and understood by the cis majority, Salah’s poems are an amazing interruption of complexity. In a cisnormative world where certain types of exploitative and reductive transition stories (“the-man-transforms-into-a-woman”) are gobbled up by cis readers, Salah creates a whole book of entirely different kinds of stories, of crawling out of some kind of primeval muck and being home made out of stars and possibilities and light.



Trish Salah / image via velamag.com

In another poem called “Lili, Inc.”, Salah addresses an historical trans person—Lili Elbe’s—complex idea of a multiplicity of gendered selves, occurring within her own body, that doesn’t at all conform to 21st century mainstream understandings of being trans:

 On the train to Berlin, Lili wrote to her friends. I don’t exist here. I don’t exist yet. Einar will die for me. Heroic Einar will give up his body so…

Salah also addresses the medicalization and institutionalization of transness, in “Careers in Transsexuality: Case Studies”:

So, love, in love with your surgeon, your endo, is it really so different from your girlfriend who really sees the skin you need to make matter to make yourself matter and the support group who will maybe cut you up and maybe not. We have such small distances between our skins.

I craved the impersonality of the doctor. His arrogant projections, and clinical curiosity.

“Halving and Being” addresses the intersections of gender and sexuality in the self. Speaking in particular to Quebec lesbian feminism, Salah writes

‘Who is writing in the feminine on whose body?’ I asked, not the first

and of course it was self-interested.

Interested in having a self. What dyke isn’t? It seems like the double

significance of the feminine, repudiated by the patriarchy, constructed by

the patriarchy, repudiated / constructed as the patriarchy, is not lost on us still.

Probably my favourite poem in the entire book is “Teenage Trans Vamp Montreal, Fall 1987”:

I masturbate in lunar cycles

with your bleeding agile thighs,

big tits in red mesh crushed.

The gravity of your love

and our doom, in mind.


In the donut shop

we argue over which one of us

should wear the dog collar,

go down on the other.

In a room full of cops

speedy acid lets you dance for hours.

Round the corner at the Thunderdome

I make out with fourteen-year-olds from Verdun,

Dorval, the outer limits.


At Club Super Sexe, you’re the new favourite:

corkscrew blonde curls, ballerina body

except those tits you hate—

why you’re not a ballerina—

and a face too young to be legal.

But best, with brains, they like that:

one of the regulars brings this magnetic chess set.

On slow nights the manager lets him play you

while other girls vamp on stage


You gunk up my face and put me in your dress,

ripped fishnets. I look awful. I cut my face

in the bathroom mirror. You suck the glass out,

smoke me up and promise

someday I’ll have tits like yours…

But also, I really loved “Interlude 4: The Voice”:

The voice is not something I can do something with. The voice is a doing of something to me.

It is rasping slut and hopefully toward the curve of being. It is singed with a sun of sums

and dividing, it is singed with rays arrowing into the world the work of discrimination,

the slice, sluice, dice of quotas quoted and rotary motions in and out of virtual spheres,

fleshy lumps, bones and scrota and menstrual rain. The voice impermeable, the voice

undecided, the voice falsetto, castrato, undecided in declension. The voice is dressed up

fancy, the voice is dangling a hard-on. The voice is flying into you ready for resurrection,

reanimation, rivets. Make me up already, the voice declares, declaims, decals with spiffy

stuff sported by those kids today. The voice is your poem, Tim, Trace, not mine, but

Trace, Tim, your voice is in my mouth and I’m acrossed by it. Don’t be cross with me.


Janice Raymond interrupts to say: The voice is male-identified.


Don’t be too cross with her either; it is all she knows how to say, and her historical

moment more or less forced those words into her mouth.

As you can probably tell, this is a dense, frequently referential collection of poetry. I had many aha! moments where I realized what she was referring to (often other writers or books or essays but sometimes historical figures) which added a lot of richness to certain poems for me. At other times, I knew I was missing something because I hadn’t been able to identify the reference and wished that which reference was being made had been more clear, if not in the poem itself then in an editorial note. There is a great list at the back of the book of the works cited that Salah writes she “rips riffs off.”

That said, the denseness and referentiality and emphasis on intertextuality make Lyric Sexology Vol 1 the kind of book I know would be fruitful to reread many times, which is its own kind of gift. You’d get more and more from each reading, and more and more the more other books from Salah’s bibliography you also read. So read this, and then read it again, and then read some other books, and then read Lyric Sexology Vol 1, again.

Posted in Canadian, Lesbian, Montreal, Poetry, Queer, Trans, Trans Feminine, Transgender, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Queer Can Lit Newsflash: New Arsenal Pulp Press Books, Queer Canadian Books on 2017 Best Books Lists, and More!

Is this December’s Queer Can Lit Newsflash or is it January’s?? Only time will tell! Here are some things that have been happening in Canadian LGBTQ2IA+ bookish world:

Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press has some new books coming out in 2018, two of which are by two of my favourite authors: Amber Dawn and Casey Plett.

Plett’s novel is called Little Fish and it sounds AMAZING! You can read an early excerpt of the novel as a work in progress from Plenitude Magazine. Here’s the publisher’s description:

In this debut novel by the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning story collection A Safe Girl to Love, Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman in Winnipeg who comes across evidence that her late grandfather–a devout Mennonite farmer–might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, having other problems at hand, but as she and her friends struggle to cope with issues in their increasingly volatile lives–which range from alcoholism, to sex work, to suicide–Wendy grows increasingly drawn to the lost pieces of her grandfather’s life, becoming determined to unravel the mystery of his truth.

Alternately warm-hearted and dark-spirited, desperate and mirthful, Little Fish explores the winter of discontent in the life of one transgender woman as her past and future become irrevocably entwined.

little fish casey plett

Amber Dawn’s new novel is called Sodom Road Exit and you can now read an excerpt of the first chapter at Room Magazine’s website. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1990, and Crystal Beach in Ontario has lost its beloved, long-running amusement park, leaving the lakeside village a virtual ghost town. It is back to this fallen community Starla Mia Martin must return to live with her overbearing mother after dropping out of university and racking up significant debt. But an economic downturn, mother-daughter drama, and Generation X disillusionment soon prove to be the least of Starla’s troubles: a mysterious and salacious force begins to dog Starla; inexplicable sounds in the night and unimaginable sights spotted on the periphery. Soon enough, Starla must confront the unresolved traumas that haunt Crystal Beach.

Sodom Road Exit might read like a conventional paranormal thriller, except that Starla is far from a conventional protagonist. Where others might feel fear, Starla feels lust and queer desire. When others might run, Starla draws the horror nearer. And in turn, she draws a host of capricious characters toward her―all of them challenged to seek answers beyond their own temporal realities.


Remember last year when I was telling you about the new imprint and mentorship program headed by Vivek Shraya in conjunction with Arsenal Pulp Press? Their first writer, whose book will be published in spring 2019, is Téa Mutonji. She is:

a writer and poet in Scarborough, Ontario. She has been awarded and published by The Scarborough Fair Magazine in fiction and nonfiction and by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization as a Scarborough Emerging Writer in the 2017 “What’s Your Story?” contest. Her poem “Après Viol” won excellence in poetry at the University of Toronto’s 2017 English Undergraduate Conference. She is currently finishing her minor in Creative Writing, and her debut collection of short stories will be released in Spring 2019. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @teamutonji.

Apparently I am very slow on the uptake because The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, which won the 2017 Governor General’s award for young people’s literature (it’s a YA novel), has queer characters? I obviously need to get my hands on this book asap, and you probably should too! Its description:

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

Quill and Quire published a short Best of 2017 Canadian Books List chosen by their reviewers and there two queer books on it: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez and Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson. I also read and reviewed and liked Scarborough and Next Year For Sure!

The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best 2017 Books also featured Scarborough and Next Year For Sure! In a section on the list devoted to small press books, Ahmad Danny Ramadan’s The Clothesline Swing also came up (my review here). I also counted two books about trans people not by trans people, which is … unfortunate, although both of the writers are parents of trans kids? (The books are The Unfinished Dollhouse by Michelle Alfano and This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel).

Book Riot’s Best Queer Books of 2017 also featured a few Canadian picks, including 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac, The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, and Meanwhile Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett (that one was one of my picks, obviously!).

Got some news you think I should cover in the next Queer Can Lit Newsflash? Email me at stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com!

Posted in Canadian, Emma Donoghue, Fantasy, Fiction, Indigenous, Lesbian, Queer, Queer Can Lit Newsflash, Sex Work, Trans, Trans Feminine, Young Adult | 5 Comments

The Best (Mostly Queer) Books I Read in 2017

I recently published a lengthy post reviewing my 2017 year in books, but I thought my top eight deserved a post all to themselves. Here are my absolute favourite books that I read last year (many published in 2017, but some others older). Let me know if you read any of these last year and what you thought of them!

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

I just absolutely LOVED THIS. I can’t believe it took me this long to read Irby’s work! This collection of memoir-ish essays is perfectly up my alley. I didn’t even know she was bisexual until I was partway through the book. Where have I been? The book’s hilarity was matched only by its unwavering frankness while Irby tackles topics as diverse as growing up poor, awkward strap-on sex, depression, reality TV, dating, race, her bitchy cat, being fat, her parents’ deaths, changing relationships in your 30s (ie, your drinking pals become suburban moms), etc. I found myself laughing out loud a lot but also wowed by how she gets to the heart of things and voices emotional truths. It was also really cool to actually see Irby’s life develop as the essays moved (or so it seemed to me) from earlier parts in her life to closer to the present. I listened to the audiobook which is read by Irby herself and I would definitely recommend this format. She has a great expressive voice and her dry delivery totally adds something to the experience. In 2018 I am hoping to get to her previous essay collection Meaty.

Things to Do When You’re Goth In The Country by Chavisa Woods

This stunning collection of short stories was mind-blowing: beautifully written with honesty, generosity, insight, inventiveness, and a strong sense of voice. These stories hit me in that sweet spot that the rarest of fiction does for me, where the characters and the world and the feel seem at once intimately familiar and as if I’m seeing them for the first time. Most of the stories feature queer characters although refreshingly none are focused on queerness. (Including the most speculative of them, which is about a trans guy who wakes up one morning with a miniature version of a piece of the Gaza strip happening on his head). It’s so lovely to read strange, sometimes science fiction stories about various stripes of queer characters that aren’t about coming out or being queer, where most often being queer is entirely incidental, but also casually present when it’s relevant. Here’s a taste of what these stories are about: Baptists over 60 talking sex. Tweens make friends with a homeless woman living in a cemetery mauseleom. A queer writer returning to her Midwest home to crime and strange floating green orbs. A lesbian takes ecstasy with her schizophrenic girlfriend at a Mensa gathering of people with super high IQs. (Goodreads review here with my favourite quotations from the book)

Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson

Next Year For Sure was one of those books that I devoured, unwilling to leave the world of the novel for the “real” one unless I absolutely had to, and resentful at the daily existence of life like making food and going to work that interrupted my ability to read non-stop. Next Year For Sure is about a long-term cis straight(?) couple named Kathryn and Chris in their early thirties. They’ve been together for nine years and are the kind of couple others envy. But something isn’t right, in both their relationship with each other and in their own senses of self. This begins Peterson’s really luminous, complex look into an intimate, romantic relationship and how Kathryn and Chris’s journey leads them to exploring polyamory and other kinds of relationships to deal with their shared loneliness. I also read Chris as exploring being on the asexual spectrum, which is another layer to the journey. If you like character-driven novels, Next Year For Sure is perfect: full of authentic, nuanced, flawed characters, richly drawn with compassion and generosity. (Full review here)

Meanwhile Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy by Transgender Writers edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett

What a knock-out of an anthology with a huge variety of incredibly inventive, hilarious, and moving science fiction and fantasy stories by trans authors! I was totally blown away by how great the stories in here were. There were honestly only a few that I didn’t love in this 500 page book. It’s an astoundingly good collection. I must accept that I will never be able to express in words just how great it is. From tear-inducing sci fi stories about an epidemic and a wonder drug that brings people back from the dead to futuristic BDSM erotica to zombie revenge stories, there is a little bit of something for everyone who likes speculative fiction. Other stories include: an alien spawns from an egg and is an exact replica of the non-binary person who found it; body switching takes on new significance for a queer trans woman and her disabled cis partner; a salty trans woman is the first recipient of a uterus transplant and finds herself mysteriously pregnant; and more! (Full review here)

A Place Called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom

An incredibly powerful and beautifully written and conceptualized collection of poetry, this book is. They’re the kind of poems that feel alive on the page; you can tell they have strong roots in oral poetry traditions and spoken word performances, but they’re also not the kind of poetry that doesn’t translate to paper. They are tough and tender meditations on family, race, being trans, femininity, trauma, relationships, community, sex, books, and love; basically, all of that really difficult and really beautiful stuff in the world, and everything in between, Kai Cheng Thom writes about it from her specific position as an Asian Canadian trans woman. Some of the most impactful and gorgeous poems are addressed to her fellow trans femmes. She writes:

“dear white gay men:
you are neither the face
of my oppression
nor the hands
of my salvation”


“All i want is to turn my lungs into a glass instrument and let them sing glory to my sisters”

(Full review here)

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

This is the kind of character-driven SF that I love: heartfelt authentic characters, interesting tech, unique and imaginative world-building, and a story that kept me never wanting to put the book down! I find the alien species Chambers invented so fascinating (and decidedly queer in how it questions every assumption we have about what is humanity and what is normal). There’s a lot in this second book in the “Galactic Commons” aka Wayfarers series about artificial intelligence, but more about what any sapient being has in common: a quest for purpose. The two main characters are Lovelace, an AI who has ended up rebooted in a pseudo-human body despite the fact that she was made to live in a spaceship, and Pepper, a cheery human engineer with a past as a genetically engineered slave for an alien species. Chambers’s narrative is mostly internal, not-action based as some people might assume for science fiction, and it is beautifully moving and optimistic. While Lovelace’s story in the present is trying to figure out how to live as a ‘human’ who was made to be something else, Pepper’s story is escaping her horrible situation in the past and reckoning with one part of that journey that was never resolved. The ending made me cry, but tears of joy.

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

Son of a Trickster is Haisla and Heiltsuk author Eden Robinson’s first fiction book in seven years. This novel is SO worth the wait. It’s about Jared, an Indigenous sixteen-year-old burnout who drinks too much and smokes too much pot and lives with his complicated mom, who he can’t trust to not bail on him and the bills or to not beat up guys who admittedly deserve it. But Jared is not a stereotype and not what an outsider might think: he’s an incredibly compassionate person, to the point that others take advantage of him, and a person simply in search of not wanting to hurt or be hurt. All this coming-of-age story is incredible in and of itself, but the small magical touches that Robinson has sprinkled throughout the story suddenly burst to the forefront of the narrative in a totally unexpected way at the end, making you glad this book is the first in a new trickster trilogy. Son of a Trickster is, like all her other books, hilarious, in Robinson’s trademark dark way. It contains startlingly beautiful passages like

“Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath. Remember that you were not always earthbound. Every living creature, every drop of water and every sombre mountain is the by-blow of some bloated, dying star. Deep down, we remember wriggling through the universe as beams of light.”

Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (including The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky)

What can I say about this trilogy that is one of the best (possibly THE best) series I’ve ever read? I didn’t plan it but I ended up reading all three books in 2017, which made for a great experience because I didn’t even have to wait for any of the books to come out. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy is an incredibly unique, inventive fantasy series with a cast of complex, fascinating characters (human and sort-of-human); the cherry on top is its incredible diversity, with queer and trans people nonchalantly included and majority Black characters. I especially appreciated the degree of unlikable the main woman characters was. I almost hesitate to even call it fantasy, since it’s leagues ahead and more innovative and imaginative than any other fantasy I’ve ever read that it’s hard to even compare to any of the run-of-the-mill medieval Europe inspired fantasy. It’s expertly plotted, with breath-taking twists and turns, and is wrapped up in what I would definitely say is the best final book in a trilogy I’ve ever read.

Runner ups for my favourite books I read in 2017 include: The Change Room by Karen Connelly (blog review here), It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sigiura (Goodreads review here), Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang (blog review here), Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers (Goodreads review here), The Albino Album by Chavisa Woods (Goodreads review here), Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Goodreads review here), and I’m Just A Person by Tig Notaro (Goodreads review here). Can you tell I read so many amazing books last year?

Posted in Asian, Bisexual, Black, Canadian, Fantasy, Fiction, Indigenous, Lesbian, memoir, Non-Canadian, Poetry, Queer, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Uncategorized, Vancouver | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Interview with a Queer Reader: Vigdis Talks Reading Boy-on-Boy Yaoi Manga as a Lesbian, Trying to Find Good Queer Books in Norway, and More!

Meet Vigdis, a lesbian reader and writer from Norway! She gave me a really lovely and detailed answer to my “introduce yourself question,” which I thought I would reproduce here:

Well, what can I say? Firstly, I didn’t ‘realize’ I was gay until less than three years ago. For a long time I considered myself bi-curious; I was interested in girls but never knew if I could actually fall in love with one. I fell in love with guys, but I was never comfortable with them, especially in intimate settings, and I guess my feelings wasn’t true love, but just the love you might get for, an actor you really like? Or just someone you find interesting. At the time I just thought I hadn’t found the right one. But then about three years ago I started actively to look for girls to date, and 2.5 years ago I met Siv, and I fell heedlessly in love. That’s when all the pieces fell together. I finally understood why it never worked with guys, and I realized I could never ever go back to them. I had found myself. That relationship didn’t last long though, but shortly after I found the girl of my life, and we are now engaged. My life couldn’t be happier than it is right now.

I’m not actually in any LGBTQ2IA+ communities even so. There was a gay setting where I now live we interacted with for a while, but they seem to have disappeared. I joined the Pride Parade one year and that was great fun, and I would like to do something like that again, and meet other queer folks, even though I do have a few queer friends.

I do not lack hobbies though. After I moved north with my girl, I realized how much I LOVE fishing. When it’s the season, we go fishing all the time. Sadly we have winter a long time up here, and practically go into withdrawal in the winter months as it’s not so easy to go fishing here then. We are however considering making a fishing blog, which would be great fun.

Obviously I also love to read. I’ve always had a huge collection of books, and wish I could have a whole library in my house – which is tricky now as we live in a smaller apartment. In addition to that I love to write, and want to be a published author one day. Even though I am Norwegian I read and write mainly in English, as I find this language so much easier and better. I’ve yet to finish something to publish though, as I’m not always motivated to write, and tend to start on new stories rather than finish other ones. But the hope is there!

As a last mention I’ll say I’m also a gamer. The game I go to the most is World of Warcraft, but I also play lots of other games when the time allows it, like Final Fantasy, Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed.

You can find Vigdis on Facebook and on Twitter.


Keep reading to hear Vigdis talk about reading boy-on-boy (yaoi) manga as a lesbian, how hard it is to find queer books you’ll really like, looking online for book recommendations, and more!

What was the first LGBTQ2IA+ book(s) you remember reading? How did you end up reading it (i.e., were you searching for queer books or did you just happen across it?)

The first thing I read was actually a longer fan fiction a friend of mine wrote. It was yaoi (boyxboy), and my first introduction to that world. I loved it, and quickly looked up more yaoi stuff. What I mainly read was drawn yaoi, i.e. manga. Is it weird a lesbian girl likes yaoi? I loved it anyway.

What is/are your favourite LGBTQ2IA+ books, and why?

To be honest, I haven’t read many queer books. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I am not sure how to find any good ones. What I have read are mostly collections of short stories, and I haven’t found anything very good there (sadly I do not remember the name of them). So this is a question that is hard to answer. I would love recommendations though!

If we count Manga books though, I have read a lot. This is mainly yaoi again, as I find it so hard to find any good yuri (girlxgirl) manga.

One of my favourites here must be Crimson Spell by Ayano Yamane, a series that is sadly not finished as far as I know. Yellow by Makoto Tateno is also a very good one. Oh, and of course Gravitation by Maki Murakami. Lots of angst but I really like it.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book have you read that best reflects your experiences as an LGBTQ2IA+ person?

As with the question above, I haven’t read much. I’ve written a few short stories/scenes though, that reflects my own experiences.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book do you wish you could read but can’t because it doesn’t exist yet?

Maybe it does exist and I just haven’t found it yet? I guess I would want to read something where the queerness so to speak feels all natural. Where it’s not weird or looked down on. Something that is very enjoyable to read.

How do you find LGBTQ2IA+ books? How easy or hard is it in your experience finding the ones that you want to read?

In Norway, I do not think these books are exactly mainstream. I’ve found a couple in bookstores, but it’s hard to find good ones or any at all. I turn to Amazon when I try and find these books, but as I’ve mentioned before I find it difficult to find something I think I’ll enjoy. I read the reviews there, but the few I’ve tried do not meet my expectations. I think there are a lot of books there though, so if I get a recommendation I can download it to my Kindle, which would be very good.

Do you know other LGBTQ2IA+ readers or participate in any LGBTQ2IA+ reading communities (in person or on the Internet)? What’s it like? Why or why not?

I actually haven’t stumbled – or really looked – for any reading communities. I guess I would like to join one if I found a good place though. Of my friends – both queer and not – I don’t think many read these books, as far as I know. My fiancé loves to read, but I’ve yet to see her read a queer book. Though she did have one with short stories she considered throwing away when we moved, but I kept a hold on and am planning to read.

Thanks for sharing with us Vigdis! Okay readers, she is asking for your recommendations (especially ebooks available on Kindle)! Which books do you think Vigdis should read after hearing about her reading tastes?

Posted in Fiction, Graphic, Interview with a Queer Reader | Tagged , | 2 Comments