Thursday, 15 July 2021

NetGalley Audiobook Review - The Queer Bible

Title & Author: The Queer Bible Edited by Paul Guinness

Publisher: HQ

Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Audiobook gifted by UK publisher in exchange for honest review/reaction

I’m quite lucky that I managed to get approved, listened and finish this audiobook before the end of June 2021 (aka Pride Month). I am going to admit that non-fiction isn’t my normal reading/audiobook area. I don’t mind dipping my toe into non-fiction every now and again, it’s a genre that always intimidates me. So, when I saw the audiobook of The Queer Bible on NetGalley UK, I requested it so fast that even I was surprised over my reaction. As someone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I feel that it’s important for me to know our history. Or herstory, and this was going to be a good place to start, right? I mean, it’s a collection of essays, written from people all over the community (Elton John, Courtney Act, Graham Norton, Tan France, etc) about trailblazers who inspired them (David Bowie, George Michael, Tim Curry, Paris is Burning, Divine, Sylvester, etc), and edited by Jack Guinness, the founder of popular website The Queer Bible (as well as being a model and activist) and with each story illustrated by queer or ally artists (sadly, I didn’t get to see these as I audiobooked it, though I do think that if you buy this via Audible or other audiobook outlets, you might get them as a PDF).

So, where do I fit with this as, like I said, non-fiction and collections of essays aren’t my normal reads (and throughout a good chunk of Pride 2021, I’ve been reading MM romances so I might not have audiobooked this at the right time)? It was interesting listening and I do think collections of essays like this are important to shine light on areas of life we don’t normally look at or think about.

But, like most collections (of short stories, essays, poems, etc), some essays are going to click with readers more than others. I found the essays on George Michael, David Bowie, Harvey Fierstein, Edward Enninful, and a few others (I am not going to list them all!) gripping while others didn’t hold my attention in the same way, but I found what the authors were trying to say interesting.

I do have one or two niggles with the audiobook. Of course I do, this is me we’re talking about here.
The first is narration. Stay with me here. Now, I fully understand that not everyone who wrote an essay for the collection either could find time to record their essay or want to record themselves reading their essay. That’s fine, I get that. But to have only Paul Guinness reading them is a problem because there are occasions where he is reading several essays and author bios back to back and, for me, they began to merge together and made me feel tired and drained, while thinking to “Is this essay ever going to end?!”

Another niggle is something I spotted in a few reviews and, once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. But this collection, while vital, did at times feel very cis gay male heavy in its contributors and subject matter. Now, I know there were authors who are lesbian, bi, trans, drag, intersex and authors of colour, but it’s a feeling I had and couldn’t really escape from.

But I do think this is an important collection and, like Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay and What's the T?, is vital for teens and adults who want to educate and empower themselves around LGBTQIA+ and its history.

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