Chris' Books September 2021. Image: Christopher Kelly

The Gay and Straight Monthly Book Brag: Sept 2021

No matter how good you are at judging books, you will never really know what’s good or not unless you read it. I’ve loved books with 3-star ratings on Goodreads. And I’ve hated books that everyone loves. 50 Shades of Grey comes to mind…

As the saying goes: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

And it’s the same with people. We all judge others based on general assumptions. Especially around sexuality. Gay men are girly, lesbians are butch, bisexuals are cheaters, and straight people are bigoted twats. This is all unnecessary and terribly wrong! Which is why I’m bringing you my Monthly Book Brag, to challenge your thoughts on sexuality — whether gay or straight.

Every month, I’ll share a great book that is unapologetically gay, and one that is wonderfully straight. The gay book may not necessarily be gay-centric; it could just include a great gay character. Same with the straight book.

And as an added bonus, I’ll share my favourite straight-talking book that will challenge your views on a particular subject.

So come on, stop judging and start reading with these honest books.

Best gay book: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

When I finished this book, I had to take a moment to feel the last words. And cry a little. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a book that grows on you. Its second-person prose makes you feel like you really are the mother of the main protagonist, Little Dog, to the point that you just want to hug him and mother him. But you can’t.

The story is a fictionalised memoir by Ocean Vuong, written as a deep seated letter to his mother. It covers many harsh subjects, namely the nuances around sexuality, the feelings of diaspora, of love, death, grief and what it truly means to be briefly gorgeous.

A worthwhile read for anyone who wants to cry and smile at the same time.

Best straight book: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I read this book faster than any other book I’ve ever read. It’s that good. There’s something about the way Fredrik effortlessly compiles the story together with expertly thrown breadcrumbs. How he can make characters, even one’s that we may not like in real life, seem so likeable. It’s a remarkable read.

The story follows a would-be bank robber who quickly becomes a hostage taker. But there’s more to his hostages than meets the eye. Each of them are filled with their own anxieties — including the bank robber himself — and they craving desperately to be rescued.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll say ‘what the fuck is going on’ every once in a while.

Best straight-talking book: Incognito by David Eagleman

If there’s one thing to learn from David Eagleman’s Incognito, it’s that we are not the centre of ourselves. You are the sum of your actions, not the sum of your thoughts. That’s because most of the thoughts we think are generated under the surface, where the rest of the iceberg is.

David uncovers the secrets of the brain; from the conscious to the ever-stretching unconscious. What are our brains doing behind our backs when we are not looking? He writes so succinctly, in such a way that any novice to neuroscience (myself included) can understand every concept thanks to clever analogies and clear linearity.

Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in what constitutes the real you.

Feature image: Christopher Kelly

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