October

Recommendations

Looking for some new books for these autumnal months?

Here are our bookseller picks for October.

Uli's Recommendations

  1. Lot by Bryan Washington

  2. It Takes Blood & Guts by Skin

  3. In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-binary Life by Jamie Windust

  4. Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Erica's Recommendations

  1. Cinderella is Dead                    by Kalynn Byron

  2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo                           by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  3. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

  4. No Modernism without Lesbians by Diana Souhami

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Out of the Shadows

by Walt Odets

£10.99

Paperback

Penguin

Even in our modern progressive world, it's not easy to be a gay man. While young men often come out more readily, even those from the most liberal of backgrounds still struggle to accept themselves and experience stigma, shame and difficulties with intimate relationships. They also suffer from ongoing trauma wrought by the AIDS epidemic, something that is all too often relegated to history.

Drawing on a lifetime's work as a clinical psychologist, Walt Odets uses the stories of his patients as well as those of his own deep relationships with other gay men to illuminate how these difficulties may be overcome. From a 74-year-old who only felt able to come out after his wife had died, to the boy raised in a strict religious family who worked his way to San Francisco, to the middle-aged defence lawyer who left everything behind to embrace a new life, the experiences here explore everything from grief to survival, childhood pain to the definition of gay itself. Out of the Shadows shows us how a new way forward is possible through learning to accept ourselves and others as they are, and independently inventing our own lives.

Beneath the Streets

by Adam MacQueen

£8.99

Paperback

Lightening Books

When Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe hired thugs to kill his ex-lover, they botched it. What if they had succeeded? It is February 1976, and the naked corpse of a shockingly underage rent boy is fished out of a pond on Hampstead Heath. Since the police don’t seem to care, 20-year-old Tommy Wildeblood—himself a former ‘Dilly boy’ prostitute—finds himself investigating. Dodging murderous Soho hoodlums and the agents of a more sinister power, Tommy uncovers another, even more shocking crime: the Liberal leader and likely next Home Secretary, Jeremy Thorpe, has had his former male lover executed on Exmoor and got clean away with it. Now the trail of guilt seems to lead higher still, and a ruthless Establishment will stop at nothing to cover its tracks.

 

In a gripping thriller whose cast of real-life characters includes Prime Minister Harold Wilson, his senior adviser Lady Falkender, gay Labour peer Tom Driberg and the investigative journalist Paul Foot, Adam Macqueen plays "what if" with Seventies UK political history—with a sting in the tail that reminds us that the truth can be just as chilling as fiction.

The Deviant's War

by Eric Cervini

£28.99

Hardback

Farrar, Strous, & Giroux

Limited Signed Book Plates

The secret history of the fight for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall.

In 1957, Frank Kameny, a rising astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii, received a summons to report immediately to Washington, D.C. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after a series of humiliating interviews, Kameny, like countless gay men and women before him, was promptly dismissed from his government job. Unlike many others, though, Kameny fought back.

Eric Cervini's The Deviant's War is the story of what followed. This book is an assiduously researched history of an early champion of gay liberation, one who fought for the right to follow his passion and serve his country in the wake of Joseph McCarthy's Lavender Scare. We follow Kameny as he explores the underground gay scenes of Boston and Washington, D.C., where he formulates his arguments against the U.S. Government's classification of gay men and women as "sexual perverts." At a time when staying in the closet remained the default, he exposed the hypocrisies of the American establishment, accelerated a broader revolution in sexual morals, and invented what we now know as Gay Pride.

Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, The Deviant's War unfolds over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington, the group Kameny founded, became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees. It traces the forgotten ties that bound gay rights to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance. Above all, it is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and ultimately victory.

Cow Girl

by Kirsty Eyre

£8.99

Paperback

HarperCollins

An udderly hilarious story of friends, family and four-legged beasts
 

Billie fled her Yorkshire upbringing to pursue her dreams of finding a cure for the illness which killed her mother, yet when her father gets sick, she must return home to save the farm.
 
But the transition from city girl to country lass isn’t easy, not least because leaving London means leaving her relationship with Joely Chevalier, French pharmaceutical femme fatale, just as it was heating up. And when she gets to Yorkshire, Billie’s shocked to discover the family dairy farm is in dire straits.

Battling misogyny, homophobia and the economic turmoil of a dairy crisis, can Billie find a way to save the farm, save the cows and save herself?

Lot

by Bryan Washington

£8.99

Paperback

Atlantic Books

Stories of a young man finding his place among family and community in Houston, from a powerful, emerging American voice. 

In the city of Houston - a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America - the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He's working at his family's restaurant, weathering his brother's blows, resenting his older sister's absence. And discovering he likes boys.

This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston's myriad neighborhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman's affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.

Bryan Washington's brilliant, viscerally drawn world leaps off the page with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot is about love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.

Uli says: A collection of linked and stand-alone short stories about a young biracial man finding his place among family and community in Houston, Texas. Poverty, family, estrangement, drugs, violence and death are artfully explored though a unique mix of street talk, Spanish and urgent, uncompromising prose. Raw, brutal and beyond brilliant.

It Takes Blood and Guts

by Skin

£20

Hardback

Simon & Schuster

Skin, the trail-blazing lead singer of multi-million-selling rock band Skunk Anansie, is a global female icon. As an incendiary live performer, she shatters preconceptions about race and gender. As an activist and inspirational role model she has been smashing through stereotypes for over twenty-five years. With her striking visual image and savagely poetic songs, Skin has been a groundbreaking influence both with Skunk Anansie and as a solo artist. 

From her difficult childhood growing up in Brixton to forming Skunk Anansie in the sweat-drenched backrooms of London’s pubs in the ‘90s, from the highs of headlining Glastonbury to the toll her solo career took on her personal life, Skin’s life has been extraordinary. She also talks powerfully about her work as social and cultural activist, championing LGBTQ+ rights at a time when few artists were out and gay. Told with honesty and passion, this is the story of how a black, working-class girl with a vision fought poverty and prejudice to write songs, produce and front her own band, and become one of the most influential women in British rock. 

Uli says: An uncompromising and deeply satisfying autobiography from the trail-blazing black, queer lead singer of '90s rock band Skunk Anansie, solo artist, campaigner and model. Skin has defied expectations and conventions all her life. Co-written with the excellent music biographer Lucy O'Brien.

In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-binary Life

by Jamie Windust

£12.99

Paperback

Jessica Kingsley Press

Published 21 October

Limited signed copies available for pre-order

There is no one way to be non-binary, and that's truthfully one of the best things about it. It's an identity that is yours to shape.

Combining light-hearted anecdotes with their own hard-won wisdom, Jamie Windust explores everything from fashion, dating, relationships and family, through to mental health, work and future key debates. From trying on clothes in secret to iconic looks, first dates to polyamorous liaisons, passports to pronouns, Jamie shows you how to navigate the world and your evolving identity in every type of situation.

Frank, funny, and brilliantly feisty, this must-read book is a call to arms for non-binary self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-celebration.

Uli says: A vibrant, funny, and articulate memoir/guide to navigating non-binary life from the model, writer, Editor-in-Chief of Fruitcake magazine, and new Contributing Editor at Gay Times. Jamie writes about everything from fashion, dating, relationships and family, through to mental health, work and future key debates. Full of sustaining insight, politics and humour.

Real Life

by Brandon Taylor

£8.99

Paperback

Daunt Books

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.

Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community. 

Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it’s ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.

Uli says: Black and gay biochemistry student Wallace at times struggles to fit into campus life. During one fervent weekend, as he senses the sting of buried wounds rising to the surface, Wallace ends up in bed with someone he probably shouldn't, ushering fresh vulnerability into his controlled existence. Dissecting, dark, intense and beautifully written, Real Life is shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize.

Cinderella is Dead

by Kalynn Bayron

£7.99

Paperback

Bloomsbury YA

It's 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she's tiny until the night she's sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball are forfeit.

But Sophia doesn't want to be chosen - she's in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia's night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella's tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world. 

Erica says: 'This is unlike any fairytale retelling of Cinderella I've ever read. Bayron's Sophia is going to fight for what she believes to be right, and she'll do it for and alongside a woman worth fighting for.'

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

£8.99

Paperback

Washington Square Press

Reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant to write her story, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. 

Determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career, Monique listens in fascination. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s - and, of course, the seven husbands along the way - Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. But as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

This is a mesmerizing journey through the splendour of Old Hollywood into the sobering realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means - and what it costs - to face the truth. 

Erica says: 'Glamourous, scandalous, fabulous--I couldn't put this book down. Refreshing bisexual representation in a book that is deeply concerned with love and logical families.'

Wow, No Thank You

by Samantha Irby

£9.99

Paperback

Faber & Faber

Staring down the barrel of her fortieth year, Samantha Irby is confronting the ways her life has changed since the days she could work a full 11 hour shift on 4 hours of sleep, change her shoes and put mascara on in the back of a moving cab and go from drinks to dinner to the club without a second thought. Recently, things are more 'Girls Gone Mild.'

 

In Wow, No Thank You, Irby discusses the actual nightmare of living in a rural idyll, weighs in on body negativity (loving yourself is a full-time job with shitty benefits) and poses the essential question: Sure sex is fun but have you ever googled a popular meme? 

Erica says: 'Samantha Irby's writing is so funny, so refreshing that my wife stole my copy of the book halfway through reading it after I kept reading parts of it out loud to her. Doubly endorsed.'

No Modernism without Lesbians

by Diana Souhami

£25

Hardback

Head of Zeus Publishing

In the summer of 1945, just after the Nazi occupation, Truman Capote visited Romaine Brooks's abandoned studio in Paris. The portraits there, large and imposing, were of women: Ida Rubinstein, Una Troubridge, Gluck, Elisabeth de Gramont, Renata Borgatti, Bryher. Romaine's lover Natalie Barney said that Paris had been 'the Sapphic Centre of the Western World', and these women defined it. Capote himself called them 'the all-time ultimate gallery of famous dykes'. This book is about that gallery and celebrates the central role they played in the cultural revolution that was Modernism.

Modernism happened in Paris, and these women were Paris. Shocking, free, blatant, they weren't just expats. They'd grouped together to create their own world, far from the restrictions of home. They were talented, often well-off, and lesbian. They answered to no one but themselves. Among them, for example, was Sylvia Beach, the American who set up the legendary Shakespeare & Co in 1919 and published Joyce's Ulysses when nobody else dared to, as well as Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness which was burned in Britain. The shop became the unofficial meeting place of the Modernists. Gertrude Stein, Beach's friend, bought the work of her friends – Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso, Gauguin – when they were young and unknown.

Erica says: 'This is the brilliant culmination of Diana Souhami's career as a biographer of modern lesbians. With the way she demonstrates the beautiful and extensive 'daisy-chain' of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women in Paris from 1900 onward, you'll wish time-travel really was possible.'

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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