This year is flying by and with so many new books hitting shelves every day, it’s been a great year for amazing reads. If these books aren’t already gracing your Instagram feed, pick a few up and get to snapping some great Bookstagram shots because these powerful must-reads of 2019 will surely inspire you and your fellow book lovers.
Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg
Pages for You was my first five-star read of 2019. This book immediately swept me off my feet into a whimsical, almost forbidden, romance between an instructor and her student. Though I know that sounds risqué, I can assure you, the romance between these two is appropriate, though it is also complicated, complex and will leave you thinking about it for some time. I would recommend reading this if you enjoy queer romance that isn’t too mushy, has great depth and includes coming-of-age themes.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Three Women… This is a book that is going to stay with me for some time. This breathtaking non-fiction read follows the lives of three different women, focusing in on their varying experiences with desire, sexuality, relationships, self-discovery and identity. Each woman shares the depths and truths to her experiences, down to the last detail. There is love, lust, loss, heartbreak, trauma – all shared in an open and honest format that, I feel, is one of the most validating experiences for the reader, especially women. I caution that there is a moderate amount of explicit content in this book, and I share this not to set boundaries on this book being only for adults, but really because these women deserve to have their stories read with a certain level of respect that I feel may be better held by a mature audience. That said, if you feel you can approach this book with that respect, then I 1,000 percent recommend you read it this July!
The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esme Weijun Wang
Esme does a beautiful job giving you every aspect of herself, while also providing you with thoughtful research as a context to some of what she has been through and/or learned in The Collected Schizophrenias. These stories make such a significant impact in destigmatizing all that comes with the word ‘schizophrenia’ and humanizes the reality of the experience. The way each essay connects to one another and paints a full picture of Esme’s experience is something I wish for you to read through yourself. I hope this book is picked up and shared by those with similar experiences, by those who know nothing about this realm at all and by mental health professionals everywhere – as it is truly an impactful and important collection.
I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott
I Miss You When I Blink is one of the most pleasant, funny, honest and friendly books I have ever had the opportunity to read. Each essay leaves you feeling like you became that much closer with a friend. Philpott has a way of sharing intimate details of her life while ensuring you experience humor, wisdom, truth and authenticity. That authenticity is what made this book a truly valuable experience for me. I felt like I walked away from this having learned information I would like to keep with me to recall in my own life. I experienced moments of laughter, moments of sadness, but the feeling that swept me up the most was not wanting this book to end.
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir by T Kira Madden
There was something so fascinating about the reading experience of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls. Madden has the ability to bring you to the age she was in her stories. You are invited into her perspective, to see from her point of view and feel the depth, the weight, and at times, the trauma of her experiences. With all of the identity exploration in this book – race, sexuality, coming-of-age realness, blended families, experimentation – and the trauma of sexual assault, addiction, rehabilitation… you can’t help but go through the spectrum of emotions while feeling the weight of each story.
Helium by Rudy Francisco
These poems on their own are enough to leave you in tears. Talk about a visceral experience. Rudy paints pain in a way that makes me feel like I’ve lived through it myself, in that moment, regardless of my own experience. His words colored my perspective in ways I didn’t know possible. Rudy has the capacity to bring about that feeling – you know the feeling – like a cold sweat all through your body, but not sweat. Emotion. Feeling. Most closely feels like goosebumps, and yet, that doesn’t quite encapsulate the depth of the experience. The power in his words, his voice – you can feel him. I highly recommend this collection, as it holds many of the fantastic works that he has performed throughout his career.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Dear Martin shares a raw, heart wrenching, painful and powerful story. Knowing around the time this was written, reading the whole story, and then Nic Stone’s author’s note… it is all very real, visceral, and 100 percent worth reading. My hope is that this book is read by many, and in particular teens and young adults, as that is such a vulnerable time to establish morals, values and social norms. The content is digestible for that age, and supports a foundation of facing the harsh realities of our world, and ways we can better recognize injustice, and hopefully make some change. This book will take you there, and guide you through your feelings, hopefully leaving you with so much to think about, and if you’re like me, it will leave you crying on the couch.
My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 1 by Gengoroh Tagame
As someone who can be pretty picky with manga, this one hooked me immediately with both the story and the art. I dare you to attempt to read this and not immediately fall in love with this family. My Brother’s Husband addresses grief, loss, acceptance, ambivalence, differences in families and love within a family. Its complexities and the situations posed throughout have an authenticity that I feel many would find to be validating and realistic. While I tried to pace myself, I couldn’t help it – I devoured this one in two brief reading sessions within one day. Highly recommend if you are new to manga and enjoy queer literature.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
I’m not sure what took me so long to read this book… my only regret is not having read it sooner. I know that my experience reading and reviewing this book as a white woman is coupled with my privilege, and I know that this story isn’t simply a story. Baldwin’s writing is always done with such beauty and authenticity, even when depicting the perspective of a gender different from his own, and it is not lost on me how much truth and reality is embedded in his words. This story is all too real, and all too common, and I don’t mean just Tish and Fonny, but their families, friends and Daniel. Daniel is going to be on my mind for a while, and I hope when other white people read this, they sit with it and lean into the discomfort of knowing a reality different from your own exists, and consider how you may contribute to it. Highly recommend reading this one!
The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson
Tommy’s story is engaging, authentic, raw and relatable, regardless of what your weight or experience is. I feel grateful to have heard about his journey, and demystified some of the myths I had also been holding on to. I walked away feeling hopeful, hungry for more than food – for all the good that life has to offer – and with a bit of a wiser and open mind. This book reminds you to be kinder to one another. Enjoy your food. Be mindful. Make healthier choices when you can, and treat yourself on occasion. Most of all, be kinder, maybe even kindest, to yourself.
The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee
The Body Myth grabbed me with the same intensity that Mira was grabbed by Sara and Rahil. There were moments where I found myself as enthralled by the sickly sultry life, despite knowing how potentially toxic and maladaptive it was. I valued the various elements of diversity within this book, whether it be diversity of culture, relationships or approach to medicine/medical system; I loved the varying perspectives toward each. The writing weaves in such a lovely, philosophical perspective, sometimes while even discussing philosophers. Overall, I feel impressed by the writing, the story and the overall experience of this new release.
A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian
A People’s History of Heaven will leave you thinking about the power and strength within each of the women in this story. With their community being faced with destruction, turmoil, and loss – they stand together, continue to support and build up one another, protect what is theirs and always ensure they are safe and cared for. I’ve never read a book that weaves together a community so beautifully, and I feel so grateful to have experienced this one. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a complicated, complex community coming together and standing up for what they believe in and for what is right (not to mention, some pretty stellar intergenerational women).
*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. These picks are editorially selected, but if you purchase, She Reads may get something in return. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.