Since forming in Calgary, Canada in 1995, indie pop-rock duo Tegan and Sara have been heralded for their unique blend of acoustic and electronic sound, introspective lyrics, and signature harmonies. Fronted by identical twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin, the duo began writing songs at 15, using an old guitar they found in their basement. They released their first album, “Under Feet Like Ours,” in 1999, and have come out with nine studio albums since.

Alongside their music, Tegan and Sara are also known for their activism within the queer community. Over the years, they’ve collaborated with organizations like The Trevor Project and GLAAD to raise awareness about important LGBTQ+ issues, and were honored with the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for their advocacy work.

Books saved me. They gave me a way to imagine a future for myself. Sara Quin

In 2019, the sisters released the memoir High School – a coming-of-age story of their adolescence in ’90s Alberta, covering their musical beginnings and first, awkward relationships as queer teens. The book was widely acclaimed and adapted into a Amazon Freevee series of the same name, released to rave reveiws in 2022.

To celebrate their memoir’s publication, Tegan and Sara sat down with CBC to discuss the books they treasured in high school. In alternating recommendations, the two spoke on their penchant for strong female leads and the importance of queer love representation. Check out their reading list below, from Irvine Welsh to Margaret Atwood, and dive into the bookshelves of other iconic musicians here.

Tegan and Sara’s Reading List

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (also rec’d by Liz Phair)

“This is a classic story about medieval times, but told through the perspective of a female character.” -TQ

Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig

My mother had a copy of Kiss of The Spider Woman. I remember not understanding much of what was in the book. But I remember feeling very cool reading it.” -SQ

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

“This book made me laugh. The movie adaptation came out when we were in high school. We asked for the book for Christmas and consumed it. The soundtrack also was deeply influential.” -TQ

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

“I remember this book so vividly. It was the first time I’d ever read a book that included a queer love story. In the book, one of the protagonists goes to New York City and becomes involved with a woman who is a musician. There was also something that was compelling about that. It allowed me to imagine a world where I might be able to have a romance, or that I might be able to fall in love or be loved. It gave me an opportunity to sort of imagine my own future.” -SQ

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel (also rec’d by Hillary Clinton)

“I can remember in Grade 10 being profoundly moved by The Clan of the Cave Bear series. I don’t read anything like that now, but at the time I became really consumed by it. There was so much focus on the female characters. That was probably why my mom read it —and then she would give us anything that she bought.” -TQ

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (also rec’d by Emma Watson, Gloria Steinem & Jane Elliott)

“My grandmother was obsessed with Margaret Atwood. She loved, loved her books. I remember reading The Handmaid’s Tale and not understanding why my grandmother was so compelled by the writing. She always seemed so buttoned up, conservative and conventional. Now as an adult, I can see that she was using books and reading as a way to escape the life that she was supposed to live, which is sort of heartening to me now.” -SQ

(via CBC)

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Categories: Activists Musicians