Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Katie @ Doing Dewey): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).
This is a week that I always look forward to during Nonfiction November even though I overthink it every year! Turns out that this is actually the fourth year that I’m participating and so far I’ve chosen to Be The Expert every time. This year is no exception I’m afraid. It’s partly that I think I know everything 😉 but mostly it’s that I get so excited about books that I’ve read that I want to tell everyone about them so that they can read them too. And Be The Expert us such a great opportunity for that!
In years past I’ve done Royal Women, Movie Stars and Authors and legitimately had read so much on those topics that I was pretty close to an expert. This year I’m picking a little from the Be The Expert column and a little from Ask The Expert because I would love to find more titles on my chosen topic which is:
In my opening post I wrote that I like to read about experiences that aren’t mine. As a ci-gendered hetero (white) woman, I think it’s important to educate myself on the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. The part about educating myself is particularly important as the burden for educating me to be an effective ally should not rest on the community.
Here are some of the nonfiction books about LGBTQ+ people I’ve read and loved.
Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family by Amanda Jette Knox. I know, I’m kind of cheating because I already mentioned this book in my first Nonfiction November post. But it’s that good. And although it wasn’t written by someone who is transgender – something that was rightly pointed out to me – the author’s experience of loving two members of her family who are is one that should be more widely read. This is a memoir of love and understanding and of not knowing all the answers but willing to work to find them.
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones. This debut from poet Saeed Jones will take your breath away. It just won the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction and Marlon James, Roxane Gay, and Jacqueline Woodson have all sung its praises. It is the story of Jones growing up as a gay black boy in Texas, with a mother who knew he was gay but never wanted to hear it spoken aloud and a grandmother who slapped him across the face when she realized his truth. Jones’ writing is raw and perfect and beautiful. How We Fight For Our Lives is an incredibly honest book, with descriptions of sex that I’ve honestly never come across before – and I mean that in the best possible way. I love love loved this one.
Darling Days by iO Tillett Wright. I read this one when it came out in 2016 and I still think about it. Darling Days tells the story of the way that Tillett Wright grew up, namely in absolute poverty with a mother who was fighting demons of her own and a father who wasn’t always present. Somehow through all of that trauma, Tillett Wright came out of his childhood with love. I was remind of iO Tillett Wright via the podcast My Favorite Murder – he was a part of a weekend event they hosted, as the host of his own true crime podcast, The Ballad of Billy Balls.
Me: A Memoir by Elton John. Taking a bit of a different direction with this last one and I haven’t finished reading it as of writing but feel confident recommending it. Elton John’s memoir is unflinching in its honesty and he strikes me as someone who has benefited greatly from therapy – his memoir is incredibly introspective. And aside from the seriously great gossip in this book (he was friends with Billie Jean King! John Lennon! He and Rod Stewart are in a decades long prank war and call each other Sharon and Phyllis!) it is almost casual in descriptions of his sexuality and encounters. And I mean that in the most positive way. Elton John didn’t have a big coming out moment, he just realized it, the people around him realized it and when he officially came out via a Rolling Stone interview, he barely thought about it. And considering all of that happened before 1985, it’s kind of mind-blowing. I am *loving* the time I’m spending with Sir Elton John.
So that’s it, that’s my list! Do you have any LGBTQ+ that I should read ASAP? I’ll take fiction as well, honestly. Ones that I’ve loved have included Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne and The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai…
17 thoughts on “Nonfiction November 2019: Be/Ask/Become The Expert”
What a great idea for this topic! How We Fight For Our Lives sounds realy good.
I just finished Carmen Maria Machado’s new memoir In the Dream House, about her relationship with an abusive and manipulative woman. It was excellent, a really unusual style of incorporating all these different literary and cultural elements around the concept of a house and how it fits into different genres, and telling her story, or parts of it, to fit each of those constructs (it’s hard to describe, really, I don’t even know if that makes sense.) But she draws attention to how little research and writing exists about the topic of domestic abuse in LGBTQ relationships. I think you might like it!
I recently heard Saeed Jones speak at the Texas Book Festival. Fascinating.
I listened to him on an episode of Death, Sex & Money and he was so great. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.
I already have two of these on my list because of you… And now I have two more!
I would love to know more about Elton John!
I read it while wearing his concert t-shirt with his music on repeat. Very immersive experience! It was SO GOOD.
I’m interested in all of these titles, but the one I’m dying to read *right now* is the Elton John one. But I keep missing it at the library, darn it. 😉
I finished it last night and the whole thing was amazing. I’m going to miss spending time with him!
Now I really can’t wait to get this!
I’m reading Me by Elton John too and you’re right- he’s got such insight! It’s been a really fun read so far. I struggle with this post every year- something about not really feeling like an expert about anything!
I loved it so much. I’m sad I’m finished.
Some time ago I read No House To Call My Home, which discusses the struggles of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth of colour in America’s foster system. You might also be interested in Barracuda by Christos Tsolkais, Growing Up Queer in Australia edited by Benjamin Law and Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories Ed. Michael Earp
Thanks for sharing your recommendations.
Please stop by to see my NonFicNov: Become The Expert
Oh thank you for these!!
These all sound fantastic, and very powerful. Thanks for sharing your list!
This is a great topic, thank you for the recommendations! I haven’t read any of these, but I loved The Great Believers. I’m putting Saeed Jones on my TBR list.
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I also like to blend Be the Expert and Ask the Expert 🙂 I feel like compiling a list of suggestions is a good way to help other people find awesome books and I love the opportunity to get suggestions too!
Good point. It kind of shows what types of books you’re looking for!