Need to read: Wednesday Book Column

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Every Wednesday, Culture Clash will feature a few must-reads across different genres. Dive in with a good book. (Illustration by Kathy Hagedorn)

Michael Herrera

Title: Valencia

Author: Michelle Tea

Genre: Lesbian Fiction

Pages: 250


Related reads: “The Price of Salt,” “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit”

Michelle Tea’s autobiographical novel follows one girl’s search for love in San Francisco during the grunge-filled era of the 1990s. Tea introduces a variety of lovers she falls for, each with their own dark pasts and wicked addictions. The lovers she surrounds herself with drag her deeper into the world of wild, latex-gloved sex, drugs and drama. Throughout the novel, Tea analyzes the complexities of love and the subculture she’s immersed in while tackling issues of depression along with alienation. With every lover Tea has, she also examines the stages of what it’s like to be in love, fall out of love and hate love all at the same time.

Title: Tipping the Velvet

Author: Sarah Waters

Genre: Queer Romance, Fiction

Pages: 488


Related reads: “Affinity,” “Rubyfruit Jungle”

Set during 1890s England, this novel is about a girl named Nan who falls for Kitty Butler, who travels while making a living as a male impersonator for entertainment. Waters’ play on gender roles in the novel critiques the ways in which men and women are seen in society, but she does so in a rich, beautiful and erotic language. She does not leave out a single detail as she documents the complex relationship between Nan and Kitty which is viewed through the lenses of class, gender and sexuality. The theme of sexuality dominates the book as it is also about Nan coming to terms with her sexual identity in a time when homosexuality was not discussed as much as it is today.