Happy Pride Month! Please enjoy this list of books and articles by LGBTQ+ scientists and books about queer science issues and history, recommended by your favorite Niels Bohr Librarians and Archivists. From biographies to science popularizations to best practices guides and fiction, there’s a little something here for everyone:
Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny - by Frank Kameny, ed. Michael Long (2019)
“Contrary to popular notions, today's LGBT movement did not begin with the Stonewall riots in 1969. Long before Stonewall, there was astronomer Franklin Kameny (1925-2011), one of the most significant figures in the gay rights movement...In Gay Is Good, Long collects Kameny's historically rich letters, revealing some of the early stirrings of today's politically powerful LGBT movement.” (from Syracuse University Press)
Queer Feminist Science Studies: A Reader - Edited by Cyd Cipolla, Kristina Gupta, David A. Rubin and Angela Willey (2017)
“Queer Feminist Science Studies takes a transnational, trans-species, and intersectional approach to this cutting-edge area of inquiry between women's, gender, and sexuality studies and science and technology studies (STS). The essays here "queer"―or denaturalize and make strange―ideas that are taken for granted in both areas of study. Reimagining the meanings of and relations among queer and feminist theories and a wide range of scientific disciplines, contributors foster new critical and creative knowledge-projects that attend to shifting and uneven operations of power, privilege, and dispossession, while also highlighting potentialities for uncertainty, subversion, transformation, and play.” (from University of Washington Press)
The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) - by Katie Mack (2020)
This first book from astrophysicist Katie Mack showcases her phenomenal ability to communicate complex astronomy to a wide audience. A New York Times review reads, “The End of Everything is a pleasure. Mack’s style is personal and often funny as she guides us along a cosmic timeline studded with scientific esoterica and mystery.” Dr. Mack, who is bisexual, is also one of our favorite scientists to follow on Twitter.
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred - by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (2021)
“The book is for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered how it all works. You don’t need to know any math or feel like you are good at science. As in, the book is for anyone and EVERYONE who is interested in the universe and/or the social phenomena that affect how scientists do the work of understanding the universe in mathematical terms. I wrote it from my standpoint as a Black queer agender woman who could have used a book (20 years ago, when I knew no physics really!) that was loving toward the possibilities that physics represents and also honest about the way white supremacy and patriarchy shape how science is done.” (from Chanda Prescod-Weinstein)
Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning - by Karen Barad (2007)
"Meeting the Universe Halfway is an ambitious book with far-reaching implications for numerous fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In this volume, Karen Barad, theoretical physicist and feminist theorist, elaborates [their] theory of agential realism,” from Duke University Press. Karen Barad is Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz and holds a PhD in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Cruz often writes about science, feminism, and queer theory.
Who Cares about Particle Physics?: Making Sense of the Higgs Boson, the Large Hadron Collider and CERN - by Pauline Gagnon (2018)
“This book explains in clear terms for non-specialists what is happening at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics located near Geneva. It starts from the basics to build a solid understanding of the relevance of current research in particle physics.” (from WorldCat)
Dr. Pauline Gagnon has made explaining particle physics in simple and accessible terms her trademark and gives worldwide presentations on the topic. In this article, she talks about having trouble with the cultural differences between North America and conservative Switzerland, where she moved to work on ATLAS for CERN. She discusses feeling excluded and discriminated against because of her sexual orientation. However, an LGBT social group at CERN helped her feel more included: “Having such a group made a difference; joining the LGBT group was a breath of fresh air.”
The Gravity of Us - by Phil Stamper (2020)
This book is a fun mix of young romance, social media influence, and government bureaucracy - three things that maybe haven’t been used in a sentence together before?! “When his volatile father is picked to become an astronaut for NASA's mission to Mars, seventeen-year-old Cal, an aspiring journalist, reluctantly moves from Brooklyn to Houston, Texas, and looks for a story to report, finding an ally (and crush) in Leon, the son of another astronaut.” (from Bloomsbury)
A Thin Bright Line - by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (2016)
This novel is a fictionalized account of the author’s aunt, Lucybelle Bledsoe, and her experience as both a gay woman living during the Cold War and as a researcher in a male-dominated Army Corps of Engineers team extracting, studying, and publishing about the first ice cores from Camp Century in Greenland. People with experience conducting archival and biographical research will especially appreciate the author’s postscript, where she writes extensively about the process of researching her relatively obscure aunt’s life. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve read this year so far. (from staff member Audrey Lengel)
Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America's Pioneering Woman in Space - by Tam O’Shaughnessy (2016)
One of the Top Ten titles of the 2016 booklist Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18. “This vivid photobiography, written by Sally's life, writing, and business partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy, offers an intimate and revealing glimpse into the life and mind of the famously private, book-loving, tennis-playing physicist who made history.” (from Roaring Brook Press)
The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist - by Ben Barres, with a foreword by Nancy Hopkins (2018)
"Ben Barres was known for his groundbreaking scientific work and for his groundbreaking advocacy for gender equality in science. In this book, completed shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer in December 2017, Barres (born in 1954) describes a life full of remarkable accomplishments—from his childhood as a precocious math and science whiz to his experiences as a female student at MIT in the 1970s to his female-to-male transition in his forties, to his scientific work and role as teacher and mentor at Stanford." (from MIT Press)
LGBT+ Inclusivity in Physics and Astronomy: A Best Practices Guide - by Nicole Ackerman, Timothy Atherton, Adrian Ray Avalani, Christine A. Berven, Tanmoy Laskar, Ansel Neunzert, Diana S. Parno, Michael Ramsey-Musolf (2018)
"We present the second edition of a Best Practices Guide for academic departments and other institutions striving to create more inclusive environments for physicists and astronomers in the LGBT+ community. Our recommendations incorporate new research since the original, 2014 edition, and are designed for anyone who wishes to become aware of -- and help mitigate -- the extra burdens that face members of the LGBT+ community in the physical sciences.” (from the authors)
An Unkindness of Ghosts - by Rivers Solomon (2017)
What’s a science book list without a little science fiction? “Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human. When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother's footsteps.” (from Akashic Books)
Alan Turing: The Enigma - by Andrew Hodges (1983)
“Alan Turing was a British Mathematician and pioneer of computer design whose breaking of the German U-boat Enigma cipher in World War II ensured Allied-American control of the Atlantic. He was also an innocent and unpretentious gay man trying to live in a society that criminalized him.” This is a fascinating account of his life. It is also the book that inspired the film The Imitation Game. (quote from Goodreads)
“LGBT physicists: The Interviews” - by Toni Feder, Physics Today (2015)
Read the real experiences of modern physicists: what was it like to come out professionally, how does sexual and gender identity interface with a physics career, how can STEM environments be improved for LGBT+ scientists? Check out this series of interviews from Physics Today.
Honey Girl - by Morgan Rogers (2021)
This book is another sweet romance novel! This book is about Grace Porter, a recent doctoral graduate and astronomer, who is burned out from years in academia (and the racism within it). The book is about her searching for her next step— while also getting to know the woman she impulsively married in Las Vegas!