June is Pride Month, a celebration of queerness and our LGBTQIA+ fellows. We have loads of posts on social media celebrating the same, as it should be. But many-a-times, we tend to forget that we shouldn’t be sharing these stories and reading these books only in that month. We need to do it around the year, not just because celebrating them is important, but also because they are part of the natural reality of life. I mentioned this in a previous blog post: Queer people have always existed. The fact that cis-hets have always discriminated against them is a proof of how intolerant cis-hets are and not that queer people are ‘against nature’.
So in this spirit, I’m here with 10 book recommendations today, all of which have been written by queer authors. I cannot stop recommending them, really, because whichever recommendation video you see, you’ll find at least a couple of these on there. I love these to no end and if you haven’t already read these books, this post is to recommend to you that you read them pronto! Please!
Loveless & Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Alice Oseman is a fabulous writer and illustrator. They know how to bring out the hidden realities of life while giving hope to the characters and to the reader. As they mentioned in one of their author’s notes, the Heartstopper series is meant to be a safe space that focuses on support, healing, and recovery.
Loveless is about Georgia, a girl who has never kissed anyone but is beginning to worry about it. She chalks out a plan that ends up ruffling some feathers –that’s putting it mildly – and in this whole chaos, she learns about the terms ‘aromantic’ and ‘asexual’. This book is a powerful reminder of how romantic love isn’t the only thing that can complement you. It’s a fabulous study in self-acceptance and made me feel a ton of things I wasn’t prepared for. In some ways, it was a mirror and an embrace, and in others, a lesson. And in both ways, Alice Oseman is compassionate as she writes about Georgia.
Heartstopper, on the other hand, is about Nick and Charlie, two boys who end up sitting beside each other in form. How they become friends and how they form a bond with each other that’s simply the most adorable I’ve ever seen, is the whole story. I did a whole video and blog post recently about rereading this series and watching the show on Netflix. If you haven’t read these books or watched the show, read my blog post or watch my video so that I can convince you to go ahead and read and watch them. Hurry!
The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill
Nikita Gill’s books and I have been inseparable ever since I read Fierce Fairytales back in 2018. Her writing is kind, compassionate, and powerful, a combination that I treasure. I find myself in her books and every time I read them, I feel this motivation, this determination surge through me, telling me that I can win the world over if I wanted to!
And the same thing happened with The Girl and the Goddess. I gushed about this book on my blog when I read it in 2020. Here’s a little excerpt from that blog post:
“One of the things that I found so relatable in this book is the way girls are taught not to express emotions. If we show any sign of emotion, we’re labeled ‘sensitive’ and made fun of. It hit way close to home as I’m a supremely sensitive person.
Nikita Gill’s books, especially The Girl and the Goddess, teach me that it’s okay to be fierce, to be angry, to be emotional, to stand up against anything wrong being done to you. She teaches me to FEEL, and I think that’s the most beautiful thing to ever happen to me.”
Here’s the full review if you’d like to go check it out: The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This book starts off with a heart-rending scene, that of Vivek Oji’s mother opening the door to find her son’s body at her doorstep. From here, in a nonlinear narrative, we follow Vivek Oji’s life right up until the scene the book starts off with. Right from Vivek’s health to his relationships with the people around him, we read, in empathetic, excruciating pain, the turn that his life takes with every turn of the page. It hurt my heart to read but I also knew at the time that I’d remember Vivek Oji in his entirety – with his pain, yes, but also with the joy he felt and with the joy he sought out and made his own. It’s a testament to Akwaeke Emezi’s talent that one becomes so affected by their stories and storytelling.
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This is a hugely difficult book to review because by the time you realize what’s going on, you’re far too into the journey to not get your heart broken. In order to not lose my sh*t over this book again, I’m going to leave you with an excerpt from my review that I posted on Instagram & Goodreads:
“This book starts off in 1617 when a storm hits the little village of Vardø. 40 men on a fishing trip drown in the storm, killed instantly. Now there are only women. When in 1621, around the Salem witch trials, a commissioner, Absalom Cornet is appointed to the village, he and his wife Ursa, arrive to see a bunch of independent women. What follows is a story of unexpected love, gut wrenching horror, and one of unexpected but cherished sisterhood.
My heart, by the end of this book, was broken and bruised, and I was choking with tears. I just couldn’t stop thinking of the injustice of it all. Losing sleep over a book suddenly became more precious when I saw the bigger picture in even more horrifying clarity.”
Here’s the link to the Instagram review if you’d like to go check it out: Reviewing The Mercies on Instagram.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Oh, this book gave me so many feels, honest to God, I tell you! It took care of my heart while crushing it and putting it back together, and rendered me speechless in the process. It’s wholesome, beautiful, and sweet, and the moment I turned the last page – long before that, really – I understood why people had been gushing about it. Yes, I read it because of peer pressure, but I’m so glad I did!
This is the story of Linus Baker, a worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, who gets sent to an orphanage on an island where he has to determine whether the six magical children there are about to wreak havoc in the world or not. But when he reaches there, he encounters not just these children, but also Arthur Parnassus, their caretaker who will do anything to keep them safe. What Linus learns and realizes as he spends more time there forms this 400-page brick of sugar.
All I’ll say is: be prepared for a battering ram of emotions to hit you. Maybe not from the get go, but halfway, definitely so.
The Brown Sisters Trilogy by Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert writes diverse romances with generous dollops of steaminess in them. This trilogy, consisting of Get a Life, Chloe Brown, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, and Act Your Age, Eve Brown follows the love lives of the three Brown sisters. Chloe is a solitary firecracker with fibromyalgia who meets Red, the superintendent of the building she lives in. Dani meets Zafir, a grumpy, brooding security guard and is thrown into a fake-dating scenario to help Zafir’s sports charity. Eve leaves home intending to do something with her life and on her way to an interview, hits her future boss, Jacob Wayne with her car.
All these books are super entertaining. Chloe, Dani, and Eve are snappy and don’t take crap from anyone. The men are kind, gentle, and handsome. The whole experience of reading these books, in addition to getting some good romance, shows you kindness, compassion, and the delicateness of human emotions. While my personal favorite is Get a Life, Chloe Brown because of the chronic pain thingy (I have rheumatoid arthritis), it’s a great trilogy to get into on the whole.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Ah, what a lovely writer Casey McQuiston is! I fell in love with this book because of how breezy it is while tackling heavy subjects. It’s fun, it’s intense, it’s loving, it’s beautiful – it has many things I want to see in a romance book. But it also does things a little differently and leaves you wondering about what it is that pulls you back to this book over and over again.
Red, White & Royal Blue is the story of Alex, son of the first female President of the United States, and Prince Henry, a British royal. While Alex is attending a royal wedding, something happens that throws him together with Prince Henry and they have to pretend to be friends. While they start off like two cats scratching at each other (the ribbing doesn’t end, really), they gradually become friends and soon, fall in love with each other. They have to do all this without putting their positions in danger. How Alex and Henry get through this forms this story, a charming, fun one that will put a big grin on your face.
This is being made into a movie starring Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex and Nicholas Galitzine as Henry. Other cast members include Uma Thurman, Sarah Shahi, Stephen Fry, and Akshay Khanna. That last name made me do a double take but I’m also so happy!
Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
One of my most recent reads, this is a collection of short stories that packs a punch in ways that will leave you asking for more. The stories focus on women and their experiences and combine a variety of genres including psychological realism, fantasy, science fiction, and horror to give you an experience that will leave the goosebumps tingling on your skin. It is unapologetic in everything it does and says, as it should be. I found it a little exhausting to read, especially because of how close to home it hits sometimes with its obscure metaphors and analogies. Maybe that’s one of the biggest reasons why we need to focus the spotlight on stories like this – that the world sees and understands the weight we carry as women and queer people.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
One of the first books I read in my BookTube era, this became an instant favorite for me. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about Simon Spier, who, as the reader, we know is gay. But he isn’t ready to come out yet even though he knows that the people in his life would be by his side no matter what. However, when a classmate finds an email in which his sexuality is clear, he begins to blackmail Simon, saying that he would out him if Simon didn’t introduce him to his friend, Abby.
Here’s a little excerpt from my review of the book:
“Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a lesson in itself, the way Simon thinks of life and people around him. / You start rooting for him and defend him against the actions of those around him. / While straight people can go about their lives like it is no big deal, why isn’t it the same for gay people? / (This book) normalizes all sexualities, like they should have been in the first place.
I love how Becky Albertalli tells us that people like Simon shouldn’t have to fight for their rights. Everyone has the same rights. Who are we to say that this person gets them and this person doesn’t? It is so unfair and I cannot even begin to explain how important I think it is to demolish this negative brand of thinking.”
If you’d like to read the full review, here’s the link: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.
Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski
A book set in the Poland of early 1980s, Swimming in the Dark is sad but matter-of-fact narration of the country’s political turmoil seen from the perspective of two young men, Ludwik and Janusz. They meet at an agricultural camp and are attracted to each other before they embark on an affair, roaming the countryside, reveling in their love before they have to go back to the society that brands their love a sin. When they do return, their perspectives and priorities are exposed, as are their social and economic disparity. As they are torn apart, the question that remains is: will their love eventually triumph? Or will the world succeed in keeping them apart?
Here’s a little excerpt from my review of the book:
“The author, Tomasz Jedrowski, has done such a fabulous job about bringing together love, politics, and human rights in a heady mix of emotions that will leave you reeling by the end. / The characters are complex, because things are not black or white. There’s grayness everywhere because of their situations and they are pushed into making difficult decisions keeping in mind their futures.”
If you’d like to read the full review, here’s the link: Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski.
Camp by LC Rosen: A beautiful queer story of acceptance and being yourself.
Queeristan by Parmesh Shahani: A nonfiction about how Indian workplaces can be made into safe spaces for queer people.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: A collection of personal essays where the author talks about his childhood while exploring a bunch of topics that we need to talk more about.
You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson: A story of life plans gone wrong, which only prom can seem to fix. But is it going to be a competition or a story of finding love?
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta: A fabulous story about a mixed race gay teen finding himself and embracing his uniqueness.
So those were all the book recommendations I had for you today. All of these books are by queer authors and all of these are amazing. Which of these have you read and loved? Which are your favorite books by queer authors? What would you recommend to me? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! 😊
I’ll see you in tomorrow’s Blogtober post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 😀