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Saturday 3 January 2015

This Book Is Gay by James Dawson [Review]

NB - I don't know what took me so long to review this, I read it just after it came out and absolutely adored it and I had meant to review it but my list of things to do grew and grew and overtook me... Oh well, better late than never, right?


Written by: James Dawson.
Published by: Hot Key Books.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 4th September 2014.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, this frank, funny, fully inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read."


Oh James! James, James, James, James, JAMES! You wonderful, wonderful man, you! 

I do not normally read non-fiction. People that know me know that I actively hate non-fiction. I'm not a big fan of biographies, autobiographies, fact books, any books to do with research or anything that that. Generally I find them boring and will only read them if it's something I am particularly interested in (I think to date I only own 3 autobiographies...). I'm more of a fiction kind of guy. I love being in made up worlds, made up situations, with made up people... Characters. And someone who's fiction I love very much is Mr. James Dawson himself. Author of the witchy tale Hollow Pike, sun, sea, sand and murder tome Cruel Summer, and school girl haunting Say Her Name, James has captivated a wide audience. And when I first heard about This Book Is Gay, I just knew I had to break my own reading limitations and read it because coming from James it was bound to be good.

And you know what? I was surprised just how much I enjoyed this book. I thought I might as James had said it was funny as well as informative and this was something I was a bit worried about. Was it simply going to be a big information dump? Fact after fact after fact, that although it was designed for the YA market it would still have the usual non-fiction feel, almost a clinical kind of cleanliness and way of delivering information. But that couldn't of been further from the truth. What is actually contained within the brightly coloured cover is a fun, sometimes gut-wrenchingly funny, well thought out and delivered book that doesn't feel like learning at all. It is informative, don't get me wrong. As a gay male myself I found myself relating to thinks in the book. I read bits and experiences similar to my own and also things that I didn't know, or haven't yet encountered. 

I loved the whole thing. From the section on stereotypes, to gay icons, it kept me glued to the page as much as any thriller ever has. It's so well executed that I cannot thank James enough for its existence and Hot Key Books enough for actually publishing it. The book itself feels so important. If this book had been around 10 years ago, heck, even 5 years ago, I feel like my own adolescence and transition into an adult would of been a million times easier. It's not a secret that I struggled with coming to terms with my own sexuality until as last as the end of 2013 but we never had anything remotely like this. We never had anything that showed it was okay to be gay and that it wasn't that different from being straight, things were just a little different. This book really opened my eyes and actually made me mourn for the years of my life I wasted worrying and hiding - it had almost the same affect on me that David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing did, only this one showed me things I had never imagined! I'd never thought about sterotypes and the like.

The book is also a great form of sex-ed for young gay people, both male and female. It isn't that explicit but it's the sort of information you are NEVER taught in school and I find this so valuable and important. I had a brief twitter convo with George or as you may know him GesterG91 on BookTube/YouTube and we both agreed that the book should become required reading in schools and I couldn't argue this point more if I tried. Whilst I do think the book is very good for LGBT people I also believe it would be a very beneficial read for many straight people too. Gay people are all to often brushed aside by straight people and it is something I see and experience every day and think the book would help give some people a little bit of understanding, a bit of an idea of what it might be like to be a bit different to the norm.

So I am rambling, I am aware. I just cannot express my love for this book enough. It's just... GAH! One of my favourite books I've read yet and the best piece of nonfiction I have ever encountered, that is for sure!

Please, please, please, give this book a go! I promise you won't be disappointed, it is James after all, the man is incredible! 

Thank you so much to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy.


  1. I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, but usually the non-fiction I read are historical or scientific, not much social non-fiction reading ya feel? I think this would be an awesome introduction into that area though! Thanks for the recommendation, it's been added to my TBR :)

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