12 LGBTQ2 books you won’t want to miss in 2020

From dystopian dramas, comedian memoirs and a queer spin on fairytales, you’ll be doing a *lot* of reading this year

There’s still time to make reading a part of your New Year’s resolutions, because you won’t want to miss these LGBTQ2 books. With a memoir from comedian Cameron Esposito, a dystopian queer spin on Cinderella by Kalynn Bayron and a children’s book from Scarborough author Catherine Hernandez, this year guarantees a variety of LGBTQ2 books to add to your reading list.

A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

The youngest winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize, Billy-Ray Belcourt has turned his hand to memoir. A History of My Brief Body details his early years in Joussard, Alberta, on the Driftpile First Nation reserve navigating a legacy of colonialism while exploring love, sex, queerness, grief and joy.

Book Docile KM Szpara

Docile by K.M. Szpara

On Twitter, queer author Carmen Maria Machado has called this dystopian sci-fi novel by the Hugo and Nebula award-nominated trans author, “Disturbing, kinky & queer af.” Elisha Wilder becomes a “Docile,” someone who sells themselves to pay off their family’s debts. Elisha is bought by Alexander Bishop III, a handsome, ultra-rich man whose family makes Dociline, the dangerous drug that Dociles must take. When Elisha refuses to take it, Alexander is determined to make him the perfect Docile anyway.

Book Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby  

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby

The Michigan-based author of Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life is back with another book of essays, Wow, No Thank You. Samantha Irby continues her legacy of raw, hilarious and relatable prose based on the particulars of her life—from living in a Democratic town with her wife, to meeting L.A. television execs who moonlight as astrologers, to struggling to adult, even as a 40-year-old woman.

book Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Hugo and Locus award-winning author Sarah Gailey’s anti-fascist, super-queer dystopian novel Upright Women Wanted feels like real life. In this neo-Western story set in the near future, Esther is running from a marriage that her father has arranged for her. But here’s the twist: The man she is expected to marry was previously engaged to her best friend—the best friend she was in love with, who has just been killed for possessing resistance propaganda. Even though it’s fiction, Upright Women Wanted feels like something that could happen tomorrow with its “Bandits, fascists and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.”

book I Promise by Catherine Hernandez and Syrus Marcus Ware

I Promise by Catherine Hernandez and Syrus Marcus Ware

Catherine Hernandez made waves in Scarborough literature with her award-winning adult novel about the eastern Toronto suburb, Scarborough. Now, she’s making a return to children’s lit with I Promise, a loving and tender book about parenting’s beautiful and bittersweet moments. With illustrations by artist and activist Syrus Marcus Ware, the picture book showcases the range of sizes, shapes, colours and identities that families come in.

book You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

In this YA novel by Brooklyn-based writer Leah Johnson, Liz Lighty feels she is too black, too poor and too socially awkward for her small, rich midwestern town where everyone is obsessed with the local high school’s prom. She wants to escape and become a doctor, and she has the perfect plan: Attend the elite Pennington College. But after her financial aid falls through, she remembers that her school offers a scholarship to the prom king and queen. But there’s one other problem: Mack, her friend, is also running for prom queen, and Liz is in love with her. Will this keep Liz from getting into Pennington?

book Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

In the gripping novel Real Life by Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading editor Brandon Taylor, Wallace, an introverted Black man from Alabama, is having a hard time fitting into the small Midwestern university town where he is pursuing a biochemistry degree. He even keeps his queer friends at a distance, many of whom are feigning straightness just to fit in. But an encounter with a young straight man, and a series of confrontations with his colleagues, threaten to unearth deeply buried pain and disturb the peace that Wallace has tried so hard to create for himself.

book The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

Eighteen-year-old Brian escaped Appalachia, the small town where his family still lives, to find sexual freedom in New York City. But six years later, AIDS has claimed his new friends and lovers, destroying the life he had created. Left with memories of death in New York, and now living with the virus himself, Brian tries to reconnect with his family so that he can return home to die. The Prettiest Star is set in 1986, the year after Rock Hudson’s death shone a light on the public’s understanding of the AIDS epidemic. Written by Carter Sickels, winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer award, the novel fuses past, present and future to explore what it means to forge a path in a world that can be unkind.

book We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul

We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul

Everyone thinks that Taylor Garland is living the dream: She’s beautiful, sought-after by boys and she wins homecoming queen. It won’t be long before she settles down with a nice guy, has kids and lives a mundane life in her town. But what people don’t know is that Taylor doesn’t want that life—she wants her best friend Susan. How will Taylor break free from this perfect, comfortable life to have the one she actually wants? This YA novel by New Orleans–based author Lindsay Sproul forces us to look at our own ideas of what the perfect life really means.

book The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Muslim girls aren’t lesbians—at least, that’s what Nishat’s parents think when she comes out to them. She wants to be herself, but she doesn’t want to lose her family either. Enter Flávia, a girl at school who Nishat immediately falls for. As part of a school competition, both girls create henna businesses, unaware the other has done the same. Even though they scheme against and sabotage each other, Nishat can’t shake her crush on Flávia—and realizes there might be more to her than just being the competition. The Henna Wars by Bangladeshi/Irish writer Adiba Jaigirdar is a queer rom-com that you won’t want to miss.

book Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

In this gripping YA novel by San Antonio writer Kalynn Bayron, 200 years have passed since Cinderella found her prince and lived happily ever after. But for other women, the fairytale is over. At the compulsory annual ball, teenage girls are chosen by men to become future wives—and the girls not chosen are never seen again. But 16-year-old Sophia wants to marry Erin, her best friend, so she decides to flee—hiding out in Cinderella’s mausoleum instead of attending the ball. It’s there that she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella. The girls team up to bring down the kingdom and start a revolution—learning secrets about Cinderella along the way.

book Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito

Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito

Lesbian comedian Cameron Esposito (known for her sitcom Take My Wife) would like to tell you the queer herstory of her life. Save Yourself details her funny, cringeworthy and insightful recollections, from joining a circus to become a better comedian, to coming out at a Catholic college and having period sex in Rome. Esposito’s memoir is about growing up and making it—not just as a comedian but as a human.

Eternity Martis is an award-winning journalist and editor who has worked at CBC, CTV and Xtra Magazine. She is the author of the bestselling 2020 memoir They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up, the course developer/instructor of "Reporting on Race: Black Communities in the Media" at Ryerson University and UBC's 2021 Journalist-in-Residence.

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