Alpha Recs: B

Last week, the wonderful Dahlia Adler did a thread on Twitter where she recommended five good books for each letter in the alphabet. She suggested I might do a similar set of recs, and that sounded like a lot of fun to me, so I have decided to do a weekly series of alphabet-based book recommendations. Here is last week’s list. (I’m going to do six recs, because it formats better in a post that way.) For this, I’m going to strive to rec across many genres, and rec old faves alongside newer ones, with a focus on backlist.

Six Good Books That Begin with B

  • Behind These Doors by Jude Lucens (polyamorous queer historical romance novel) I loved so much about this romance, particularly the open polyamory, the central m/m relationship, and the way the story illuminated and engaged with misogyny and class differences. It’s gorgeously written and intensely engaging, and it’s so rare to find this kind of polycule represented in any romance, but especially historical. I also just fell really hard for the characters, and enjoyed spending time with them.
  • Blood and Silver by Patrick Califia-Rice (queer kink erotica) This book contains many of my most beloved Califia stories, and draws from his collections Melting Point (1993) and No Mercy (2000). The erotica centers queer women, genderqueer folks, and transmasculine folks, and it contains some of the best descriptions of pain play that I’ve read; it helped me find language to describe pain play. It is one of the core books to read if you want to get a sense of queer leather fiction from the early 90s-early 00s, but it definitely is dated at this point (especially wrt the language it uses to talk about gender), so its best to be read as “classic” queer leather lit and placed within that historical context.
  • A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (contemporary m/genderqueer romance novel with a trans man MC) This is a seriously beautiful, radical, trans and non-binary centered romance that blew me away. I fell so hard for this book because it felt like it held my experience more closely than any other trans romance I’d read, that it was written for me as a non-binary trans reader. If you are hoping for a billionaire romance that centers trans and/or non-binary people getting their financial dreams come true, this book is for you.
  • Belly Up by Eva Darrows (contemporary YA m/f romance novel) I am lucky enough to have been an early reader for this wonderful YA romance centering a teen girl who is trying to date while pregnant from a one-night stand. It’s full of heart, and full of humor, and the characters are wonderfully complex and deeply drawn. I loved it so much. I especially appreciated the fat representation, and the hero Leaf in particular. He’s a total dreamboat.
  • The Black Notebooks by Toi Derricote (memoir) This memoir is one of the books I carry with me, that has shaped my thinking and is a touchstone for what I know. It draws heavily from the author’s journals about searching for and finding housing in a white suburban neighborhood as a Black woman who was often read as white, with a Black husband who is generally read as Black. It explores her experience of internalized racism in depth. Derricote is a poet, and the memoir is beautifully written.
  • Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault (fantasy novel) This fantasy novel does a superb job of taking the classic romance trope of enemies to lovers and reframing it for a non-romantic relationship between a fat bigender allosexual aromantic MC and a demisexual biromantic woman MC. I loved it so much, so many aspects of the representation resonated for me, and it left me feeling so hopeful. Also the fat bigender superhero on the cover makes me so happy!
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