2023 book recs

Last year, I started keeping track of the books I read again, which I have done on and off in the past. The good thing about it is that it helps me remember all the good books I’ve read and feel proud that I’ve gotten back into reading quite a lot, even though my attention often feels fractured and Tumblr-addled.

The offset of doing this, is that it transforms reading into a productive hobby. It makes me feel competitive about how many books I read and how fast I read them, which, uh, I hate. Reading has been my happy place since before I could actually decipher words (I would read comics in bed and try to understand the story from the drawings alone), and I don’t want it to become 1) my whole personality 2) my side-hustle hobby booktok booktube Goodreads reviewer-style. I just want to sit down on comfy surfaces and read from time to time. Feel that nice brain-expanding feeling you get when you read something truly mindblowing.

So why am I here, talking about how much I don’t want to turn my reading into a Thing, as I am doing the most booktube thing ever and rec books I’ve read in 2023? I don’t know, man. I am full of contradictions. I contain multitudes etc etc. Anyway. Here are 6 books I read in 2023 which I liked.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This novel is an easy and incredibly compelling read. The story follows a woman in her early 20’s working as a babysitter for a wealthy couple. Behind the fluid style and down to earth point of view, there’s a commentary on class and race that is masterfully executed. This book makes you gasp, makes you cringe, makes you think. And you can’t put it down.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I bought that book back in 2020 because it’s one of my partner’s favourites, but the beginning of the story was a bit difficult for me to deal with in the middle of the first Covid lockdown. I picked it up again last year and I am really glad I did! This book has a precise, dense style that sucks you in. The story is narrated by a young girl in heaven observing her family back on earth experiencing grief in different ways, as well as the man who killed her. Also there’s a dog. This book is empathetic, kind and horrible at the same time. It is one of my favorite books ever, I think, and definitely one I look forward to rereading in a handful of years.

Genderflou by Tamos le Thermos

OMG GENDERFLOU ! A comic in French about a French art student living in Brussels and their journey through coming in and coming out as non-binary. I have read it at least four times since I bought it last May, and I’ve bought copies for my family too. I loved the humor and the drawing style, especially the double pages of city landscapes. But also, this book made me feel so seen, so loved. It makes me feel proud to be who I am. And it’s so goddamn funny.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

I haven’t read the discourse on this book and I don’t care. I picked it up at the Lisboa airport and read it in a week. It was a weird, addicting experience. I loved it. I don’t know how to describe this book. It’s not strange in terms of genre, but because the main character is completely amoral, and it’s hard to know what to make of her actions. I read this book about two months ago, I think about it all the time, and I still have no idea what I think of it, really.

Heartstopper #4 by Alice Oseman

Everyone knows about Heartstopper and its Netflix adaptation. This book in particular though, fucking annihilated me. It’s a lot darker than the previous ones (though, promise, everyone turns out ok), but it is a story told with a lot of truth and care. It made me cry big heaving sobs both times I read it. If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health (who hasn’t?), this is a hard but great read. Bring tissues though.

Hijab Butch Blues, a memoir by Lamya H.

My favorite book I read last year. An autobiographical essay questioning a queer person’s relationship to their queerness, their belonging in the world between the US, the country they were born in and the country they grew up in, and to their Muslim faith. Each chapter bears the name and tells the story of a prominent figure from the Quran, and how the author relates to that story. It’s a brilliant read. It taught me so much about the Muslim faith and culture, the experience of being an immigrant, about different forms of queerness, and about myself too. This is definitely a book I want to put in as many hands as possible. Yours too, if you’re willing.

Good god

If you’re following this site and you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, well. I’ve been here, and I’ve been living with chronic pain for over a year. This is what this poem is about.

I am angry, good god, I am
seething. At the wasted potential
of it all. You don’t understand, I am finally
liberated, free of a prison I have felt the bars of against
my skin my entire adult life.
My shrink, she keeps telling me : you are further
away from these bars than you have ever
been, why do you keep looking
over your shoulder? Why do you keep running?
And so, though it is not easy, I learn
to slow down, look at the view, smell
the proverbial roses. The pace I set is fast, but
I am queer, we do
walk with a purpose. I did not mean
to make this into a poem. My anger, it burns inside
me, or that might be acid reflux carving another hole at
the core of me, and the worst part is that doesn’t even
matter. I am free but still my body keeps
betraying me, calling up all the ways in which it can’t hold
itself up without conjuring an ocean of pain. Waves
upon waves lapping at my endurance my
self-esteem my empathy my
will to live.
Some days the water recedes enough to dry
out the reminders of my own frailty. Invincible,
I inspect the wreckage and ask myself what the
hell happened here, amnesiac
of my own suffering, the absence of
pain exactly that, an absence.
But when the tsunami inevitably hits, and oh,
how I know it will come,
what pity for a body who did not
sufficiently prepare itself, who knew and still
let itself be flooded? What pity, what
kindness? All I have left is
anger. Needling away at my nerves like the
tendrils of fire that inhabit them, not malignant
enough to have the decency of being all
consuming. Mild enough to be slapped
in the face with its randomness. Present enough
that I wish there was a God so that
I could hate them. Pain and anger and a failing,
barely aging body that I was just
learning to love.

Metrophobia – 2023 version

At the end of October, I reedited my zine Metrophobia, with updated versions of some poems as well as some new ones. The goal is to distribute it at a few holiday-themed art fairs in order to promote the poem book I am going to publish next year! Huzzah!

This version of Metrophobia is in color but smaller in size. It contains 7 poems, 2 of them being new. If you want a digital or paper version, please contact me (email address below), they are completely free.

I’ve been working on this new poem book, called Arms Always Open for a few months. I’m almost ready to publish it, basically as soon as the cover art is done. But I also gotta work on finding an audience for it, which is not a simple task. So if you’re interested, keep an eye out for a big announcement here in the coming months! 🙂


Here’s a self-indulgent poem I wrote the day my dog died. Stoemp had been with us since early 2011. My mom and I brought her back from the countryside, and she laid on a pillow on my lap for the whole trip, curled up close to my belly, looking up at me, scared and farting up a storm. She was so tiny. She was a good, anxious, obstinate dog, and I miss her a lot.

All dogs go to heaven,
as the sad 80’s cartoon said.
This I believe.

I believe that there’s a God,
especially for dogs.
And their heaven is full of prairies and mud pits,
big trees with lots of shades
and smelly, comfy cushions to nap on.

In this heaven, there’s a space
away from other dogs, for you
who is afraid of socializing with your kind.

In this heaven,
nodoby watches you while you poop,
nobody scolds you for barking too loud,
and when you scratch at the earth,
a satisfying chunk of dirt detaches itself
and flies at the exact spot you want it to.

In this heaven, someone who smells like me
keeps their hand on your flank at all times,
next to your ribs, the way you like it.

In this heaven, you might meet our other dogs,
the ones who are buried in our backyard,
though is has been paved over now.
Maybe you’ll reminisce together
about the smell of my room,
the feel of my grandma’s hands,
the cool parks we used to take you too.

Maybe in this heaven, they let departed humans
pet their dogs one last time.
If that’s the case,
I look forward to putting my hand on your flank,
the way you like it,
one last time.

November 28

On the eve of this day we sat down on the floor and sang many songs with the friends we made along the way, the friends we fought to keep and foster and this thing together we’re negotiating like a precious new life. I want you to know desperately that every word, every gesture I utter in this place is love. It is hope that carries me toward this unknown future even though sometimes I walk backwards to avoid letting fear propel me forward. I have no choice in whether I exist, here and now, but since I have to, I am glad I can choose to face this moment with you. Beautiful friends make a happy tomorrow and the day after we will breathe relief into each other’s mouths and keep calling them back and making silly hearts with our fingers. Everything I put into these instants is love, and since worry will not stop until everything disappears, I choose to choose you, over and over again. You are the light, and the home, and the hope. And when you don’t want to be, I will be those things so you can catch your breath. It doesn’t matter at all, but it is love, anyway.