By Julia Shaw
My rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.48
Genre: Nonfiction / Historical
Date Published: June 28th 2022
Format Read: Ebook
Goodreads Summary: Despite all the welcome changes that have happened in our culture and laws over the past few decades in regards to sexuality, the subject remains one of the most influential but least understood aspects of our lives. For psychologist and bestselling author Julia Shaw, this is both professional and personal—Shaw studies the science of sexuality and she herself is proudly and vocally bisexual.
It’s an admission, she writes, that usually causes people’s pupils to dilate, their cheeks to flush, and their questions to start flowing. Ask people to name famous bisexual actors, politicians, writers, or scientists, and they draw a blank. Despite statistics that show bisexuality is more common than homosexuality, bisexuality is often invisible.
In BI: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality, Shaw probes the science and culture of attraction beyond the binary. From the invention of heterosexuality to the history of the Kinsey scale, as well as asylum seekers trying to defend their bisexuality in a court of law, there is so much more to explore than most have ever realized. Drawing on her own original research—and her own experiences—this is a personal and scientific manifesto; it’s an exploration of the complexities of the human sexual experience and a declaration of love and respect for the nonconformists among us.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Happy publishing day to Julia Shaw and this book! It comes out today so if you’ve been waiting, make sure to order it now.
Bi: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality is essentially an attempt to document everything there is to know about bisexuality in one place. Shaw, the author, is a bisexual psychologist who found herself discouraged by the lack of information that existed about bisexuality and decided to do it herself. It is obvious how much Shaw cared about making this book both complete and well researched. As someone who has tried to independently learn about queer culture and specifically bisexual culture in the past, this book touched on the areas I already knew about and discussed many things that I did not.
One of the things that makes this book so great is the tone of Shaw’s writing. Books like this too often fall into the trap of overly academic writing that alienates casual readers. Shaw intentionally wrote this book for the casual readers, and did not expect us to have any psychological background in order to understand. The writing stayed deliberately conversational, interspersing jokes and personal opinions at well-timed intervals throughout. I sometimes start to skim read nonfiction books like this because the text becomes too dense, but that was never the case here.
That isn’t to say that this book wasn’t highly informative. Everything that was discussed was research based and cited, and talked about in enough detail that I now feel knowledgable enough to have conversations of my own. I think this book was a great read especially for those looking for an introduction to the more scientific history of queer culture and bisexuality, as well as those who already have a more intermediate knowledge.
This is most definitely going on the list as one of my favorite nonfiction books of the year.