It’s that time of year!! I’ve been working a lot and I just started an online class, so I’m kind of busy (hence why this post is so late), but I’ve also been loving reading this summer. In fact, I read quite a few LGBTQIAP+ books already in May that I loved and might as well just recommend right here. And some of these books I might read after the month ends! I read queer books all year. The only difference is I’m trying to focus exclusively on #ownvoices queer books this month, though there are a couple of exceptions.
This isn’t the ultimate Pride TBR. I’m trying to be inclusive and intersectional as possible, but I’m also focusing on reading the books that I’ve bought, and particularly the physical books, since it’s easier to bring my Kindle to school and (next spring) abroad when I do some of my student teaching in Wales. So please realize this is almost entirely a “what books do I have?” list and not a recommended, representative Pride reading list. These are just my reading plans!
Pride month…Ashley Herring Blake, Deposing Nathan, We Are Okay, What if It’s Us, This is Not a Love Story, I Wish You All the Best, Red White and Royal Blue, Anna-Marie, Drum Roll Please, Little & Lion
Books I Already Read in May
- Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson: I LOVED THIS MEMOIR of this YA author’s struggle growing up in the early 90s when there was limited queer representation and it was almost entirely tragic or stereotypical. He discusses his depression and suicide attempt, his internalized homophobia, and his not-yet-completely-understood asexuality with so much nuance, care, and even funny anecdotes. Read my review.
- Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake: My first YA read from Blake (I read her MG Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World last year on Pride month, which I loved), and I loved how she handled this story about trauma and sexual assault with specific characters and setting. Everything was so well-done, including the relationships the bi main character has with her genderfluid ex and her best friend-turned-maybe-destructive-fling.
- Less by Andrew Sean Greer: I actually haven’t read much literary fiction yet this year and started really missing it, so I picked up last year’s Pulitzer Prize winner which also happens to star a mediocre gay novelist having a mid-life crisis. It’s partially a satire about Americans abroad and the literary world (and it’s so funny it won this award, since it picks on the luck involved in literary prizes, how the mainstream straight audience views queer stories as inspirational, and how a white gay middle-aged man wandering around isn’t that exciting to read about), but it also has joyful and thoughtful examinations of life and love that I really connected to.
- Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley: An absolutely gripping read about bisexuality, relationships, abuse, and faith. I read this in like three days because I JUST HAD TO KNOW. Any time this got close to a harmful trope it was subverted or commented on.
- Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: My second McLemore book, and like Wild Beauty, this is a gorgeous magical realism tale that is both contemporary and timeless. As I said on Goodreads after finishing it: the bar for fairytale retelling is RAISED. This is all about storytelling, colorism, gender, class, trauma, healing, family, and daring to defy what society has determined for you.
- (I also finished listening to On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, which features a major side gay character, and let me just say: Thomas is a master of character.)
New Books I’ve Bought
- I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver: I’ve actually finished this one by the time of writing this post, and I’ll save my thoughts for the wrap-up, but I LOVED this story about a nonbinary teen and their friendship and then more with a boy at their new school. So many YESSS moments where Deaver just gets it because they are also a part of the community right now.
- Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemain: I started this book, which just came out on June 4th, as my next read, because this is set in during 1989 and 1990 in New York with gay characters (including one originally from Iran, like the author) who get involved in ACT UP and love Madonna, and that makes it the PERFECT prep for Season 2 of Pose which comes out on June 11th. (It’s one of my favorite shows. The first season is on Netflix now!!)
Physical Books I Already Own
- The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake: I haven’t gotten a chance to read this yet, but I’ve just got to honor the tradition I started last year of reading Blake’s new MG queer girl adorable book in June. I know it’s going to warm my heart.
- Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow: I got an Amazon gift card from a survey I did and so of course I used it to buy like the only the recent (published last June) middle grade book featuring a queer girl main character I don’t have yet. And then it can go in my future classroom, of course. Also, this one involves music!
- When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: More McLemore!! This one is shorter and features a trans boy love interest. This is the last of her books I own that I haven’t read, and I think her first book–the only one that’s out that I don’t have–isn’t explicitly queer anyway. (But I still want to read it, of course!)
- What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera: This is a (rather long) romance between boys in NYC and I LOVE both authors and musicals (though Dear Evan Hansen I’m not really a fan of). I read parts of the opening chapter at the end of Albertalli’s Leah on the Offbeat last year, and I really enjoyed the characterization!
Ebooks I Own
- Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston: Okay, I haven’t bought this yet but I WILL when I’m ready to read it because it’s the perfect ebook book, sale or no sale. I’m just going to hop on the train of great banter, political intrigue, and bisexual rep. Plus, I’ve been following Casey online for a bit and love their sense of humor, and this seems like a quick read to break up some of the heavier or longer ones.
- How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake: This was the first book I started hearing about Blake with and so I’ve got to read it!! It’s a bi girl struggling with a difficult family relationship who also has a romance with another girl.
- We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Printz winner? Check. Short? Check. (I love short books, not sorry.) Heartbreaking? Check. Queer girl main character? Check. Amazing reviews? Check. About time I finally read this.
- Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: As far as I know this isn’t #ownvoices, but I wanted to have more racial diversity in here, and most other books that fall into this category I already read or don’t own (yet). I know this is beloved by reviewers I trust and also was a Stonewall winner.
I LOVE my home library but and I already borrowed some books in May (including Girl Made of Stars and Less), but..I really do want to focus reading on what I have so I don’t get into bad book-buying habits. That said, I do have an exception with an ebook I’ve borrowed (thanks, Overdrive/Libby!) to read on and off for fun: Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett, one of the Discworld books, specifically the third City Watch book (and I’ve read the first two the past two years). This probably seems strange, and it isn’t #ownvoices, but…one of my very good friends has been shouting at me about Discworld so much that I’ve wanted to revisit it (the Good Omens TV show isn’t helping), and this is one of their favorites that they recently reread for the first time since coming out as trans. Apparently there’s a trans storyline, or what can basically be called that since this is fantasy, so I’m interested to read that. I’ve started it and I already love the satire of the War on Drugs and the funny characters.