Guest Blogger

10 Books Every Bisexual Should Read

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 27, 2007 8:02 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, The Movement
Tags: bisexuality, reading lists

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post is by Sarah Stumpf. Sarah is a 24 year old bisexual feminist who just finished her Master's Degree in Library Science at Indiana University. She enjoys volunteering with the GLBTSSS Library in Bloomington, IN and spending time with her girlfriend and their two cats.

Since folks seem to be having fun making lists of their favorite influential GLT books (check out 10 Books Every Gay Boy Should Read, 10 Books Every Lesbian Should Read, and 10 Books Every Transperson Should Read ), I wanted to add my two cents. And since there was no list for bisexuals, I decided to make one.

I’m a librarian (just finished my MLS, looking for a job) so to say that books are important to me would be a gross understatement. Books saved me as 15 year old bi girl growing up in conservative Catholic Wisconsin, where I didn't know any GLBT people and thought there was something wrong with me for thinking my boyfriend was hot and female friends were too. They helped me understand that I was not alone. They were my friends when no one understood, my rock when I needed support, and my joy when I read something particularly smart, funny, or just wonderful. I wouldn’t be as well adjusted and intelligent if not for queer books in general, but as a bisexual, the books on this list represent some of the finest nonfiction I have ever encountered on a subject near and dear to myself.

1. The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, And Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski

This books is not only the first winner of the first Bisexual Lambda Literary Award in 2006, it is friggin’ hilarious. It is divided into sections, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced, so it really has something for everyone. It includes the authors own personal experiences along the way, so it never becomes dry or academic. There is also all sorts of useful content, like a guide to Bi film, that you won’t find elsewhere. And because it is written for bisexuals by bisexuals, bisexuality is not just a token mention, it is the real focus. And it is very very funny, sarcastic, snarky, and generally just fun to read.

2. Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu

One of the most famous books about bisexuality, and still one of the most important. In 1991 this book shattered the idea that there was a ‘typical’ bisexual by challenging the stereotypes that still plague us today (namely that some people think we’re very very slutty). The book is a collection of personal stories, and you can hear from bisexuals in their own words about bi invisablity in the GLBT community and among straight people. It includes a history of bi activism in the USA (until 1991) and while it is getting a bit dated, it was one of the first books I read that made me feel like home, like I had found my people.

3. Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others edited by Nathan Alexander and Karen Yescavage

I’m only halfway through this book, but already I love it. This book is very eclectic. It s essays includes personal stories, poems, academic research, theory, film criticism, and history. But it confronts head on controversy of the term bisexuality – is it inclusive or does it exclude transpeople? Does it revolutionize gender or just reinforce binary? How does the term bisexuality interact with queer? And where do transpeople and other genderbenders fit in the bisexual world? Great questions, great anthology, and so far, I have more questions then answers.

4. Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World edited by Robin Ochs and Sarah Rowley

Confession: I totally love Robin Ochs. Not only because she is the tireless face of bi activism, but because when she does something, she does it WELL. This book is done well. The essays in this book, written by bisexuals from around the world, give an international context to discussions about bisexuality that are so often limited by a Western (and American) world view. In reading them, I felt like I began to understand myself not just as one lone bi girl, but as a part of something bigger and worldwide. But it also confronted my particular white American bias when people spoke about conditions, situations, and cultures that challenged my assumptions about bisexuality and about the countries where the authors lived.

5. Bi Lives: Bisexual Women Tell Their Stories by Kata Orndorff

Bisexual women have issues of their own, namely an American culture that values female bisexuality if it exits for the pleasure of men, but denies female bisexuals their own sexual agency. The author interviewed numerous bisexuals of different stripes, including women of color and disabled bisexuals. The transcripts of these interviews make up this wonderful collection that hits all sorts of issues around bisexuality in the lives of every day women. Some interviewees are out, some are not. Some have been victims of abuse. Most have faced discrimination from the Gay and Lesbian portions of the community, and sexism from their straight friends and family. And even though it can tread on the depressing, the diversity of the bi community (good and bad) is important to understand.

6. Bi Men Coming Out Every Which Way edited by Pete Chvnay and Ron Jackson Suresha

Bi men have their own issues, namely exclusion and derision by Gay men and the utter invisibility of bisexuality in men outside of the pervasive ‘sleazy married guy’. The men in this anthology come to bisexuality from various life paths, some previously identified as straight, some as gay. Some came out as bisexuals at an early age and others are still closeted, even to their closest friends. They talk about bisexuality in the era of AIDS and the intersection with bear culture (the authors previously did a bear anthology). As a bi woman, this book helped me understand the male half of the bi community better.

7. Current Research on Bisexuality by Ronald Fox

This book is a bit dry and academic, collecting the results of various scientific studies about bisexuals, bisexuality, non-monogamy, and cultural perceptions of these ideals. But it is important to understand how science works for us and against us. Since bi people are usually excluded from many scientific studies (apparently we’re too much of a variable for research in genetics, parenting, and pretty much anything else), Fox tells us what science does know about bisexuality. Great resource if you have a homophobic/biphobic relative, friend, or coworker that keeps insisting science is on his side.

8. Bi America: Myths, Truths, And Struggles Of An Invisible Community by William Burleson

This book specifically looks at the bisexual community, by going to bi picnics, conferences, support groups, and performances. It also looks at bi history. Especially if you feel like you are the only bisexual you know, this book is great. I think I always knew there must be a bi community out there somewhere, but this book showed me where it was, why I couldn’t find it on my own, and how to find it for myself. It made me feel less lonely.

9. Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, and Visions by Naomi Tucker

This book brings the theory. It can get boring to listen to the same stories of invisibility, stereotypes, and coming out over and over again. So this book gives a series of explanations WHY we face these things and how to overcome them. It is more academic then some of the other books on this list, but it is also vital because it includes multicultural issues that often are overlooked when we focus solely on biphobia.

10. Eros: A Journey of Multiple Lovers by Serena Anderlini-D'Orofio

We spend so much time trying to combat the stereotype that all bisexuals are slutty, that I think we inadvertently condemn sex, sexuality, and any bisexual who is not monogamous. This autobiography of a bisexual polyamorous women challenges the idea that there is something wrong with wanting male and female partners simultaneously, and that a person who wants such things cannot be successful and happy. This controversial book asks the reader to challenge their own feelings about monogamy and hopes that there can be a space for bisexuals of all stripes, not just the monogamous bi poster children.


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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 27, 2007 8:56 PM

Sarah,

Thanks for putting out this great list of books by and about bisexuals. It is sure to be a fine resource for LGT people looking to find out more about bisexuality and for B people looking to understand more about bi history, culture and politics.

Thanks for adding in the missing set, Sarah. I haven't read any of your suggested books, so I'll add them all to my wish list now!

I've met Robyn Ochs and she's wonderful....I've corresponded with Ronald Fox and Ron Suresha (Suresha wrote me one of the sweetest and most encouraging rejection letters...lol). And Lani & Lorraine are both fabulous!

Sarah, thanks for this list. I haven't read a damn thing on it, so I'm grateful for the resource. CHEERS!

Thanks, Sarah! I'm surprised that Look Both Ways, by Jennifer Baumgardner isn't on here. I'd also like to put in a plug for Bisexual Health, published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. This is the first book of its kind to be published by a national LGBT nonprofit organization, and is available as a free PDF download on their website, www.thetaskforce.org. It is a comprehensive look at the physical and mental health of bisexual people; research shows that we have poorer health* than people of any other sexual orientation, and that biphobia is more prevalent and more virulent than even homophobia. There is a lot of work to be done, to improve our health!

* higher rates of smoking, drinking, drug use, depression, mental illness, domestic violence victimization, etc.

that book about bisexuality and transgenderism looks awesome awesome awesome.

also, i very much enjoyed jennifer baumgardner's Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics. it really focuses mainly on bisexual women, but it is way cool.

Zach Adamson | December 29, 2007 9:55 AM

Bisexual...? whats that?

Sarah,

As a librarian, do you know any good tricks to locate bisexual books published, or scheduled for publishing, in 2008? We are trying to round up bisexual books for our Lammy nomination committee We contact publishers and authors of bi books to remind them to nominate their books for the Lammy Bisexual book award category.

So far we have:

Non-Fiction

1.Best Sex Writing 2008 by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Editor)
2.Bisexuality and Same-Sex Marriage Edited by M. Paz Galupo, PhD, Haworth, Jan 25, 2008

Fiction

3.A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
4.West of 16W by Mark Slomiany, Outskirts Press, Jan 25, 2008
5.Secrets So Deep by KG MacGregor.

Do you know of any others or know of secrets for finding them?

Sheela Lambert
Bi Writers Association

Sarah,

As a librarian, do you know any good tricks to locate bisexual books published, or scheduled for publishing, in 2008? We are trying to round up bisexual books for our Lammy nomination committee We contact publishers and authors of bi books to remind them to nominate their books for the Lammy Bisexual book award category.

So far we have:

Non-Fiction

1.Best Sex Writing 2008 by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Editor)
2.Bisexuality and Same-Sex Marriage Edited by M. Paz Galupo, PhD, Haworth, Jan 25, 2008

Fiction

3.A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
4.West of 16W by Mark Slomiany, Outskirts Press, Jan 25, 2008
5.Secrets So Deep by KG MacGregor.

Do you know of any others or know of secrets for finding them?

Sheela Lambert
Bi Writers Association
www.biwriters.org

well i just want to no how you get this book and were do you get it from.

Thank you Sarah! Now our bi book club finally has something to read! I see it has been a year since you posted the list--hopefully the job situation has worked out for you in the past year. Best, K

Sarah,

Thank you for the great list of books that I never heard of and should.

As a gay man, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get my peers to start a national dialog on bisexuality. It seems that the 'B' in LGTB aren't very vocal nor welcome in either the gay or straight community. The term I hear a lot is, 'pick a team'.

I am most grateful to you and the list and if you are interested in joining me on my quest to start a national dialog I would most enjoy hearing from you.

Here is my personal email davyd56@yahoo.com

I live in Los Angeles and I am hoping I can get some high profile people to join me.

PLEASE contact me...many thanks,
Davyd

Thanks so much for this list. My uni bookstore's LGB section is very LGT, but not very B at all, so it's nice to see a list of books directed at me. :)

Hey! thanks.... It's difficult to find books about bisexuality