My Top 15 Books of 2019

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Ah, 2019 is coming to an end and a new year is just around the corner. I for one am looking forward to the new year. Throughout 2019 I have read 86 books, 62 of which were completely new to me.

This blog started out as my five, then my ten, but quickly developed into my top fifteen reads as I couldn't narrow it down more than that. Sex Education, Gender, and, Young Adult are the categories for the list. The books are not listed in any particular order.


Title: Drawn to Sex: The Basics

Authors: Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan

Twitter: @ErikaMoen & @Plustenstrength

Why did it make my list? This is an absolutely beautiful book! I love graphic novels and sex education, this book combines both....I mean come on.....that's fucking cool! Yet, it's not just because it's cool. It also includes wonderful AND accurate information and this can be difficult to find in sex education books. Just because a book claims to be for sex education, doesn't mean that it is. Erika and Matthew blow it out of the water with this one.

Some topics this book covers includes consent, sex positivity, STIs, All manors of birth controls, fantasies, sexual response cycle, masturbating, oral sex, sex toys, and my personal to rock a threeway.

Synopsis from GoodReads

The first volume in a planned, 3-volume, sex-education series.

Erika and Matthew are ready to talk about sex!

Have you ever had a question about sex, but didn't know who to ask? Well, Erika and Matthew have spent years learning, talking, and creating informative comics about all aspects of sex. Using comics, jokes, and frank communication, they're here to demystify the world of sex and answer your questions—including ones you might not even know you had!

In this first book of the Drawn to Sex series, they explore the practical side of sex, from the basics of what defines sex, to barriers and testing, masturbation, and the ins-and-outs of having sex with other people.

Pick up this fun book if you’re looking to learn something new, understand sexuality better, or know someone (maybe you!) who might benefit from some judgment-free education. Erika and Matthew are here to help you out.

Title: Enjoy Sex: How, when, and IF you want to

Authors: Meg John-Barker and Justin Hancock

Twitter: @megjohnbarker & @megjohnjustin

Why did it make my list? If you follow me on Instagram then you already know that I love the work of Meg John-Barker and this book is not the only one of theirs included on my list. Enjoy Sex is unlike other sex advice and guide book. It truly puts the reader's experience at the heart of it. Many books make blanket statements on how sex "is" or "should be." The authors do a wonderful job of speaking directly to the reader and not making broad sweeping statements about sex.

This is also a fully inclusive guide!!! That is rare in the world of sex education and thankfully changing, primarily due to the works of authors like these.

Synopsis from GoodReads

Plenty of books on sex suggest that it has to be done in a certain way, or in a certain kind of relationship, or with certain people. This isn’t that kind of book.

Enjoy Sex is a truly practical, friendly guide through the confusing, and sometimes alarming, world of sex and sexuality. Its radical approach puts your experience at the heart of the book, and invites you to explore what might be enjoyable to you. With the authors’ engaging and thoughtful style, the book challenges the messages we receive about ‘normal’ sex, looks at how to understand and care for yourself, delves into ideas of pleasure for different bodies, ages and tastes, explores relationships, and tackles the tricky topics of communication and consent.

So, throw out the rule book and learn to listen to your own desires. This may just be the most helpful book about sex ever.

Title: The Body Is Not An Apology: The power of Radical Self-Love

Author: Sonya Renee Taylor

Twitter: @RadicalBodyLove

Instagram: @thebodyisnotanapology

Why did it make my list? Personally, body image issues have been something I've dealt with all of my life. Sonya's words are powerful. She teaches people the power of body acceptance and radical self- love. The body love movement is here and The Body Is Not An Apology is a work of art that everyone should read!

Synopsis from GoodReads

A global movement guided by love

Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.

The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world--for us all.

Title: Wait, What? A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up

Authors: Heather Corinna

Illustrator: Isabella Rotman

Twitter: @heathercorinna

Instagram: this_might_hurt

Why did it make my list? As I said above I love graphic novels and comic books with great sex education information! This book is for a younger audience that Drawn to Sex. It was written by Heather Corinna, the founder of Scarleteen. If you've never heard of Scarleteen then I highly suggest you click on the link and let it blow your mind. Wait, What? is chock-full of wonderful information and illustrations that can be easily understood by a wide range of ages.

The main reason this book makes my list is because of the range of topics is covered. They touch on a lot including, puberty, maturity, masturbation, genitals, gender, crushes and dating, consent, readiness, problematic ideas, and more!

Synopsis from GoodReads

Join friends Malia, Rico, Max, Sam and Alexis as they talk about all the weird and exciting parts of growing up! This supportive group of friends are guides for some tricky subjects. Using comics, activities and examples, they give encouragement and context for new and confusing feelings and experiences.

A fun and easy-to-read guide from expert sex educators that gives readers a good basis and an age-appropriate start with sex, bodies and relationships education! The perfect complement to any school curriculum.

Title: Vaginas and Periods 101: A Pop-Up Book

Authors: Christian Hoeger and Kristen Lilla

Instagram: @vaginapopup

Twitter: @VaginaPopUp

Why did it make the list? It's a freaking pop up!! Come on! A sex ed pop up! This is a great inclusive book. Christian and Kristen do not use pronouns throughout this book. That is epic and one of the main reasons I selected this book. The characters are also of all different shapes, races, expressions. It speaks to inclusion and makes the topic extremely approachable.

Synopsis from GoodReads

Vaginas and Periods 101: A Pop-Up Book is a fun and creative way to learn more about ...vaginas and periods! This book uses pop-ups and colorful graphics to normalize anatomy aesthetics and mentruation. It also describes various mentrual product options beyond just tampons and pads. We want all young people to feel comfortable in their bodies thoughout puberty and into adulthood!

Title: Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent, & Respect

Author: Jayneen Sanders

Illustrator: Sarah Jennings

Instagram: @jayneesandersauthor & @sarahjscribbles

Why did it make the list? The topics of body boundaries, consent, and respect are ones that aren't covered with children enough. This translates to adulthood and we see people cross lines all of the time. The author did a wonderful job of discussing these topics in a way I haven't seen similar children's books try to accomplish. The artwork is also amazing and shows people from all different backgrounds and body types.

Synopsis from GoodReads

No synopsis on their website.

Title: Sex is a Funny Word

Authors: Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth

Instagram: @corysilverberg & @fionamythlukkie

Why did it make the list? Because sex is a funny word and the authors acknowledge that as they are they teaching in a style that is easy for children to follow. This is a pretty hefty children's book at 159 pages and it is packed with wonderful information. You can not go wrong with Sex is a Funny Word. I've sent it to so many families and recommend it to even more with great results. This book is wonderful at starting conversations!

Synopsis from GoodReads

A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identies, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers. Much more than the "facts of life" or “the birds and the bees," Sex Is a Funny Word opens up conversations between young people and their caregivers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information about boundaries, safety, and joy.

The eagerly anticipated follow up to Lambda-nominated What Makes a Baby, from sex educator Cory Silverberg and artist Fiona SmythSex Is a Funny Word reimagines "sex talk" for the twenty-first century.

Title: Trans+ Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You

Authors: Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne

Instagram: @thelonestardiva & @karenrayne

Why did it make the list? Because there isn't anything like it out there. I will be completely transparent and say that both of the authors of Trans+ are close friends of mine. The book that Kathryn and Karen created together doesn't exist anywhere else. It's a comprehensive guide written in partnership by a trans-identified person in work with queer youth for decades (Kathryn) and an educational psychologist with over 25 years of experience teaching sex education to youth. You don't want to miss out on this book.

Synopsis from GoodReads

Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Karen Rayne, PhD, and Katherine Gonzales, MBA, is an all-inclusive, uncensored guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or gender-fluid. TRANS+ answers all your questions, easy and hard, about gender and covers mental health, physical health and reproduction, transitioning, relationships, sex, and life as a trans or nonbinary individual. It's full of essential information you need -- and want -- to know and includes real-life stories from teens like you!

Title: Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between

Authors: Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi

Twitter: @megjohnbarker

Instagram: @xtaffi

Why did it make the list? Because it's absolutely amazing. Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi are role models of mind because of the much-needed work that they produce for the world. As I said on my Instagram "Every time these researchers add knowledge to the world I get a little happier because I know the world just got better. As always the authors write in a way that encourages self-reflection throughout the entire book allowing anyone, who is open to it, to change and grow."

Synopsis from GoodReads

Challenging society's rigid and binary ways of thinking, this original work shows the limitations that binary thinking has regarding our relationships, wellbeing sense of identity and more. Explaining how we can think and act in a less rigid manner, this fascinating book shows how life isn't binary.

Title: Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story

Author: Jacob Tobia

Instagram: @jacobtobia

Why did it make the list? Jacob is an amazing person. This book spoke to me right from the very start. Sharing their story in an authentic and vulnerable way, Sissy connects with readers right from the start. As someone who identifies as genderfluid this book meant the world to me and I think everyone should read it.

OH! It's also being made into a television show!

Synopsis from GoodReads

From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put "male" on Jacob Tobia's birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside "male" came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like "masculine" and "aggressive" and "cargo shorts" and "SPORTS!"

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label "sissy." In the two decades that followed, "sissy" joined forces with "gay," "trans," "nonbinary," and "too-queer-to-function" to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world--one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.

From Jacob's Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won't soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into "men" and "women." Sissy guarantees that you'll never think about gender--both other people's people's and your own--the same way again.

Title: It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity

Author: Theresa Thorn

Illustrator: Noah Grigni

Instagram: @noahgrigni & @gender_spectrum

Why did it make the list? I have read a lot of children's books on gender and there are a lot of great ones. However, this book spoke to me above all of the others. Have you ever read a book and could feel the passion and effort that went into it? That is what I felt from this book. The author is connected to the fantastic organization, Gender Spectrum, and the knowledge used in the book is wonderful.

Synopsis from GoodReads

Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between.

This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.

Title: Once & Future

Authors: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Instagram: @amyrosecapetta & @cori_mccarthy

Twitter: @AmyRoseCapetta & @CoriMcCarthy

Why did it make the list? A retelling of King Arthur and Excalibur isn't anything new and can be annoying at times. Not Once & Future! This is the best retelling I have read in over a decade! Ari somehow finds herself on old Earth, with Merlin who is aging backward, and Excalibur chooses her. So, we have time travel, Merlin, and a fresh new retelling of King Arthur with a badass woman in the driver's seat... YES PLEASE!

Synopsis from GoodReads

I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Title: The Witch Boy

Author: Molly Knox Ostertag

Instagram: @molly_ostertag

Twitter: @MollyOstertag

Why did it make the list? The desire to learn magic and be one's self. Yep, this book had a deep personal connection for me. As a young queer kid growing up in rural Kentucky I didn't do "normal boy stuff." This caused a lot of mocking and bullying from my peers and adults. Thankfully, I had a supportive family who encouraged me to explore all sides of myself. So, when reading Aster's story of wanting to become a witch, like the women, and not a shapeshifter, like the men, I instantly connected. Follow Aster on their journey of self-discovery!

Synopsis from GoodReads

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

Title: You Asked For Perfect

Author: Laura Silverman

Instagram: @ljsilverman1

Twitter: @LJSilverman1

Why did it make the list? I will be honest and say that I wasn't sure I was going to like this book when I started. However, I quickly fell in love. I found myself in the characters and saw many of the people I work with reflected in them as well. The main character, Ariel, pushes himself to the extreme to keep the "perfect" facade that he has created. Enter some great friends, family, and boyfriend, but that isn't enough for Ariel, only perfection is.

Also, this book has a bomb ass consent scene between two characters and their first kiss! Who doesn't love a good consent scene?

Synopsis from GoodReads

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard - really hard - to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Title: Slay

Author: Brittney Morris

Instagram: @brittneymmorris

Twitter: @BrittneyMMorris

Why did it make the list? BEST YA read of 2019!! Wow, this book had everything! I don't even know where to start. It's on the list because it's amazing. A powerful black woman, STEM genius, and creator of the game Slay, Kiera Johnson is the main character that every book deserves. Explore a powerful storyline with real-life connections. If you're open to it Slay is much more than a work of fiction. It's a commentary that we all need to hear.

Synopsis from GoodReads

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the "downfall of the Black man."

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for "anti-white discrimination."

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Thank you for reading!

I hope that you enjoyed my top reads of 2019 and maybe they can be added to your list for 2020!

Do you have a book suggestion for me? Contact me and let me know!

Have a great end to your year. I'll see you again in 2020.


Ryan from The Open Book Chat

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All