Summer books in review

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Book cover
"My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing And Hope" by Karamo Brown

Cookies book reviews for great beach reads

My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing And Hope, by Karamo Brown 

Queer Eye has once again exploded on our television sets and in our hearts, with season three streaming on Netflix, and season four already in production. Karamo Brown may be the “culture” expert on this incarnation of the show, but if you ask many viewers, he is the true heart of the Fab Five. With an ability to help people open about what is truly holding them back, he is now able to inspire readers all over the world with his book Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing And Hope.

Not only is Karamo going deep on the path he took to get to Queer Eye, but he is also dropping some very personal moments of his own, with stories of addiction and race being what has helped shape and create the man Karamo has become. Brown is also very sure to not let circumstances serve as an excuse of any kind. Owning who you are, and the steps it took to get you there are crucial parts of Brown’s journey. We get to learn a bit about Brown’s experience as a parent, and how he balances that as a gay man raising boys of his own. Brown’s story is told with the signature and well-balanced recipe of heart, humor, and straight talk that Brown has quickly become known for. Brown continues to be all love, and the story that has shaped him shows us exactly why.

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DRAG: Combing Through The Big Wigs of Show Business, by Frank DeCaro

Book cover of "DRAG: Combing Through The Big Wigs of Show Business" by Frank DeCaro
“DRAG: Combing Through The Big Wigs of Show Business” by Frank DeCaro

I have said for many years that drag queens are the superheroes of our community. Whether they are turning the looks at Paradise and making their way into New York City to make their dream come true (Jolina Jasmine) or they’re rocking it in Philadelphia and having a whole day named after them (Brittany Lynn), these queens are, and always have been, the most colorful and outspoken members of our community. I cannot think of a better person to showcase this cavalcade of divas in his new book DRAG: Combing Through The Big Wigs of Show Business than the raucously wonderful comedian/talk show host/bon vivant Frank DeCaro.

DeCaro takes a litany of these luminaries and breaks down exactly why so many of have undying adoration for them. Chapters like “Broads On The Boards” (featuring drag queens and the like on the silver screen) to “Pyramid Scheme” (featuring some of New York City’s most famed and notorious queens) to “Sashay Your Way Across The U.S.A.” featuring queens from all over our now glitter-filled country. Throughout the book, there are photographs from snapshot masters from Magnus Hastings to Alexander John Ortiz to Wilson Models, and each one is more striking and color filled than the next. And yes, there is a chapter on RuPaul’s Drag Race (appropriately titled “Born Naked”) that features some of our favorite queens of that famed runway.

The best part of this book though, is the history that it showcases. As the legendary comedian/writer Bruce Vilanch says in the foreword of the girls paid homage to in this book, “if you’re going to put them in an encyclopedia, you have to give them as much dignity as the heels can support.” DeCaro does that and so much more.

Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ Heroes From Past & Present, by Arabelle Sicardi 

Book cover of "Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ Heroes From Past & Present" by Arabelle Sicardi 
“Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ Heroes From Past & Present” by Arabelle Sicardi

LGBT history being taught to children is a constant discussion in our country’s school systems, but with books like Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ Heroes From Past & Present author Arabelle Sicardi is crafting her own curriculum. The book is vibrantly stunning, filled with colorful illustrations (by the talented Sarah Tanat-Jones) that give us 52 weeks of some of the most heroic, dynamic and trailblazing LGBTQ heroes. From prolific writers like Sappho and James Baldwin, visionary fashion designers like Alexander Wang, and LGBTQ heroes like Larry Kramer, Marsha P. Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera, the illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the detailed profiles of each of these heroes.

Whether you are educating yourself about our amazing and diverse community or you are giving a lesson to the younger generation, this is the perfect book to help showcase why our community is so amazingly diverse and truly wonderful. In some way, each and every one of the people showcased in this gorgeous book is one of the reasons why.

Yay You’re GAY! Now What? by Riyadh Khalif 

Book cover of "Yay You’re GAY! Now What?" by Riyadh Khalif
“Yay You’re GAY! Now What?” by Riyadh Khalif

Upon coming out, so many of us look to the internet, social media, or even various dating apps in an effort to find some sort of a map of how we actually start out venture down the lavender path. Thankfully, broadcaster, YouTuber, and LGBT advocate, Riyadh Khalif, brings us Yay You’re GAY! Now What? Written with the countless young and slightly confused queer guys in mind, this book is an invaluable read.

It goes through the entire gamut of the LGBTQ experience, not leaving one rainbow-tinged stone unturned. From the first thoughts that so many of us had that something is definitely “different,” to the coming out process, to our bodies, and of course, any extended and very detailed section on sex (which I suggest reading twice—always be safe kids). Sprinkled throughout the book are heartfelt vignettes from our community speaking about their own advice to their younger self. From writer Matthew Todd to RuPaul’s Drag Race star Courtney Act (Shane Jenek), there are words from these people that so many of us can relate to in one form or another. This book, during Pride season or otherwise, is a great conversation starter or could serve as the gift to someone that you think may be having difficulty starting a conversation that may need to be had.