10 Books Written By QTPOC Authors For The Resistance

I hope these give you as much inspiration as they have me!

When the world feels like a hopeless place I tend to go inward and reflect on why we are where we are. With these moments of retreating to my room, I try to continue my activism and work of resistance. One way I do this is through educating myself. Reading, reading and more reading. I soak up information from our elders and my peers. I take in knowledge from those who have been resisting against oppressive systems for decades. It’s often said that history repeats itself, so we have to be equipped with the knowledge of those who have been doing the work in order to keep trudging forward.

Since November 8, 2016 our world has felt downright terrifying in the most visceral of ways. There has been a constant uptick in violence from white supremacists and fascists ever since Trump was on the campaign trail with his racist rhetoric. While direct action is definitely an amazing way to combat these hateful messages, sometimes we may need a break or some of us may not have the ability to go out to protests every week. An alternative is to read. You can read by yourself and then use this newfound knowledge to continue your activism. Or you can create a resistance monthly book club with friends and community. However you want to go about it—more knowledge can only empower the movement.

Here are my top 10 favorite books written by queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) authors for the resistance. Some novels, some poetry, some short essays, and some purely non-fiction education. I hope these give you as much inspiration as they have me!

“Dirty River” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Review: This book is all about radical vulnerability and how to find the path home to yourself. Poet Leah Lakshmi Piepza-Samarsinha navigates running away from home in 1996 to discover queer anarchopunk and revolution in Canada. Though this comes with its own set of struggles for her life and she finds herself running yet again. The way Piepza-Samarsinha narrates her story as a disables queer woman of color and abuse survivor gives you hope in seeing the flowers lining the dirty river that may be life sometimes.

Recommendation: 4 stars

Who it’s for: Everyone! This book is particularly amazing for survivors of abuse or sexual violence. It would be great for a book club because it’s raw and emotional while still providing important talking points in our current political discourse.

“Another Country” by James Baldwin

Review: This book brought me to tears more than once. I devoured it within a couple of days. Reading on the trains of NYC, I was filled with a nostalgia for a New York that I’d never know. The authentic NYC of the 70s. This is a book about passion, about love and loss, about desire and how it’s politicized in our country. A small group of friends becomes stripped of their masks of race and gender as Baldwin explores the best and worst intentions of how politics play out realities on our bodies.

Recommendation: 5 stars

Who it’s for: Everyone should read this book. Black, white, gay, straight. It’s a must read, especially for Americans. While it’s a novel that pulls you into a different world than your own, it discusses politics in a way that is relatable still today. If you have a book club with this one, you better be up for some long and heated discussion nights.

“The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir” by Staceyann Chin

Review: Stacyann Chin’s story is chilling and energetic. When Stacyann’s mother gave birth to her one Christmas day, it was unexpected for everyone in the room. The only person who believed she would live was her grandmother. Her story encompasses the love from her grandmother and how family can be defined by each person. Stacyann’s story follows her childhood in Jamaica as she goes back to live with her dysfunctional parents and covers unsettling memories of coming out as a lesbian and drifting from home to home until she found herself. I can’t wait for her next book. 

Recommendation: 4.5 stars

Who it’s for: This is an amazing book for young lesbians, especially women of color. Stacyann’s story gives life to so many lived experiences we all know too well. She puts to words emotions that we can all relate to. If you bring this into your book club, be prepared for tearful and heartfelt discussions. 

“Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class and Gender” by Mia McKenzie

Review: Mia McKenzie is a fierce voice representing Black queer women. She originally began the wildly popular website Black Girl Dangerous to write about race, queerness, class, and gender. She provides a critical lens in times when we need more representation for the underserved. She finds the nuanced analysis in issues many people can’t begin to wrap their heads around. This book compiles her collection of work which you can no longer find online. I found the way McKenzie tackles the issues of our generation clear, concise, and unforgiving to the powers that be. Her voice gives me hope while also talking about the harsh realities.

Recommendation: 5 stars

Who it’s for: Everyone! The language McKenzie uses is accessible to everyone—academics and non-academics—which I loved. This book is important for white people to read. It provides a voice to how race intersects in other identities.

“Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis

Review: If you haven’t read the brilliant words of Angela Davis yet, this is the book to start with. David never shies away from what others are afraid to say. She radically pushes the boundaries within social movements and in this book, she makes a call for abolition from the American prison system. Pulling from past abolition movements in America, Davis argues that what once seemed impossible becomes our reality when activists push forward. I love the way she gives readers hope for a brighter future while also being realistic about the fight before us to get the work done.

Recommendation: 4.5 stars

Who it’s for: This should honestly be required reading for all Americans. It’s such a succinct analysis of how the prison industrial complex perpetuates oppressive systems and provides tangible resources for how to reach abolition. If you bring this to your book club be prepared to take notes and then form an action group!

“Make Love to Rage” by Morgan Robyn Collado

Review: Be ready to get the feels with this beautiful compilation of poetry. The transformation from the first page to the last will leave you feeling cleansed of toxins and fueled by your righteous anger. The book is set up in three sections: Rage, Making, and Love. Rage communicates so well the rage and anger caused by injustice in a visceral and tangible way. Making brings up the messy beauty of moving through life with a full breadth of human emotions. Love closes by leaving you a sweet taste in your mouth; poems filled with empathy and soothing for your rage. 

Recommendation: 4 stars

Who it’s for: This book is for the tender queers, the strong femmes, and those who want to turn their rage into action. The daily oppressions that so many of us face can literally debilitate even the strongest of us. This book recognizes that rage and helps you feel seen and validated in your anger. 

“Juliet Takes a Breath” by Gabby Rivera

Review: This story follows Juliet Milagros Palante, a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx on her journey out west to Portland, Oregon. Readers follow her coming out story filled with anxiety and fear that her mom won’t ever talk to her again. Palante has a plan to figure this all out though, she’s going to intern with her favorite author to study feminism, women’s bodies, and other super-gay stuff. This novel is a heartwarming and stunning story that navigates family, race, coming out, sexuality, and so much more. You won’t be able to put it down. 

Recommendation: 4 stars

Who it’s for: All lesbians. Baby gays, old dykes, femmes, butches, any queer woman. This riveting story is something that we can all relate to. You’ll be going “Awww” and sobbing into the book as you walk home from work (not that I know from personal experience or anything). 

“Queer Heartache” by Kit Yan

Review: Kit Yan is an amazing slam poet, and their written work jumps off the page as you read. Kit’s poetry delves into the nuanced experience of his identity as transgender, queer, Asian American from Hawaii, all while asking what queer hearts are made of. This book of poetry is a testament to queer love in all its resiliency, vulnerability, and radicalness. Love between cis and trans siblings, lesbian lovers, pride parade attendees, and so many more complex and beautiful relationships. 

Recommendation: 5 stars

Who it’s for: If you’ve ever had your queer heart broken then this book is for you. It will wrap you up like a cozy blanket on a winter night and hold you through the pain of it all. For book clubs: be prepared to host circle reading nights and deconstruct the complex beautiful of each and every poem. 

“Queering Anarchism” edited by C.B. Daring, J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, and Abbey Volcano

Review: What would it look like to queer the world around us? Have you ever wondered what exactly anarchism is? This book provides a series of short essays on desire, power, politics, and collective liberation. The essays range in a variety of topics each person takes on from disability and social structures to sexual practice and interpersonal relationships. Each essay brings forth a new argument of how we might envision a new lens of seeing the world. A queerer lens. 

Recommendation: 4.5 stars

Who it’s for: I would go as far to say that this book is even for the straights! Everyone can learn from what each of these essays put forth. It’s a nuanced and powerful take on what anarchism can do for the bettering of humanity. Since they are split up into different essays, this book is perfect for commuters who sit on the train. 

“Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature” edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti

Review: There is such little content out there representing the two-spirit community. This book was so needed and provides such a beautiful space for two-spirit stories to be heard and seen by the world. This collective gives life to Native American LGBTQ2 community in a way that has never been done before. Every contribution is different. It has fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays discussing topics like memory, sexuality, indigenous culture, friendship, love, and loss. As your reading this book, you’ll feel every emotion known to humans. Each writer brings you into their world.

Recommendation: 5 stars

Who it’s for: This should be required reading for every American. We see so little representation of the people who are native to this land, and even less from their LGBTQ2 community. I can’t stress enough how needed this literature is. You will learn, cry, laugh, and bond over this book.