Alex’s top reads of the year

Well, dammit, there were so many terrific reads this year, weren’t there? I could wax lyrical about all the books I ran to that made me forget which world I was living on. Ginn Hale’s Lord of the White Hell series is at the top of the list with E M Hamill’s Dali as a close second. And, my goodness, that magical retelling Peter Darling by Austin Chant was AH-mazing.
Then there were the books that took no prisoners.  The new Barons Series by Santino Hassell is his best yet. In addition to lots of hot sex, he’s got plenty to say about what it means to be bi in this day and age. My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame is the sweetest story of a man coming to terms with his dead brother’s queerness by watching his daughter interact with his brother’s husband. Then, there’s The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas–a riveting story that, among other things, tells the story of a teenager shot and killed by a police officer and shares, in a personal way, why the Black Lives Matter movement is essential… and for that has recently been banned. Because… um… drug use.

So, in honor of THUG, et al, and dedicated to those who want to want all books to be white, straight, ableist, classist, and otherwise normative, my Best of 2017 list comprises a selection of antidotes.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom

Thom has out-Thelma’d Louise with this one. Why, oh why, oh why aren’t more people talking about this book? This is magical anger, laying out transphobe after transphobe with red stilettos and thinly veiled metaphor. In all seriousness, 2017 is one of the deadliest for transgendered women, most of whom are women of color. Their stories haven’t received national attention. Why? Well, it’s infuriating and Thom explores what it would be like to lash out, meeting violence with violence. Then, she figures out how to live with the aftermath and the way this happens is glorious.

Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard Series by Rick Riordan

Magnus, an einherji who looks a bit like Kurt Cobain, goes off on adventures with Samirah (Sam)–a Muslim Valkyrie with a magical hijab, Blitzen–the most fashionable dwarf ever, Hearthstone–a deaf elf and wizard, and now Alex Fierro–a genderfluid shapeshifter who decapitates our hero before becoming his love interest. I know. It sounds weird but in context, it totally works. This goes beyond adventure to explore acceptance and inclusivity against the backdrop of families who could just as much love you as they might put you out–or worse. This book deals with very complex issues in a very kind way, all while dishing up ten tons of fun.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is The Queen. Read anything and prepare for the onslaught that is Her: Hunger, Bad Feminist, twitter feed. This book contains a marvelously wry collection of shorts exploring all the means of survival once one’s boundaries have been trounced upon. So many gems in here but my favorite is… wait for it… because, yeah, she actually wrote that… Baby Arm.

Outside the XY, edited by Morgan Mann Willis

Some of the best writing I have ever come across is inside this gorgeous collection of stories, poems, memoirs, and letters about what it means to be queer, black or brown, and masculine. Some selections are expertly crafted, others are messy and emotional. All of them autobiographical. The memoir Victoria Carmen White continues to haunt me, though it’s been almost a year since I read this.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

This book is filled with love and friendship, joy and grief, courage and redemption, and more twists than you can throw a stick at. I loved how this book told the story of Mateo and Rufus who only found themselves by finding each other. I loved how this book featured two queer boys of color and how much each of these boys was accepted by their real and found families. But what snuck up on me was the importance of valuing a life about to be extinguished. This book is truly, truly beautiful.

Alex claims to read more than any normal, healthy adult should though the rest of the Binge on Books team would beg to differ. You can read all of his reviews here.

Connect with Alex on Twitter: @Alex_deMorra



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