Updated: Apr 30, 2020
All right, I know that it's no longer Pride Month but I'm a firm believer that Pride Month spirit (like Christmas spirit!) can be sustained YEAR ROUND. So it's for that reason that I will be posting my top 5 favourite books that have authors or characters who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Of course there is so much more than just the ones I've chosen, but these checked off all the boxes for me in terms of quality and representation.
1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I, like many of us, began my love of reading with the hugely popular Percy Jackson series when I was younger. It taught me a lot about Greek Mythology, and I pretty much considered myself an expert through elementary and middle school. For better or for worse, Madeline Miller clearly proved to me that I'm not even close to grasping the complexity and nuances of Ancient Greece or it's mythological figures. It's as if she took the classic tale of Achilles and pulled it all apart and reconstructed it with the same pieces but in a completely different way. Her writing is fantastic and it's no wonder she won the Orange Prize for Fiction for this book because it is not only extremely well researched and thought out but also entertaining, touching, and at times terrifying. It's important for everyone to recognize that LGBTQIA+ relationships have been present throughout history, and though they have been erased at times, being gay is nothing new. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is intense, adorable, and heartbreaking. I also highly recommend reading Miller's other bestseller Circe if you like this one!
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book has already been extremely hyped up within the reading community so I don't need to tell you how good it is... but yeah, it's really good. To be completely honest it wasn't my favourite book (I much preferred Reid's other book Daisy Jones and the Six) but this was fast-paced and entertaining. Evelyn's character was whip smart and her perspective was written really really well. I didn't love Monique's point of view and found her to be boring and a little underdeveloped but it didn't take away from the reading experience and I tore through this book in a weekend. It was at times exciting, and at times really really sad. The relationships were well constructed and it was difficult to read about Evelyn's struggles with her relationship with Celia because of limitations of her time. I felt like this book truly represented the experience of a bisexual woman and might help others understand the power of labels and discrimination. This was again another book that pointed out the obvious fact that LBTQIA+ people have been present forever whether it means they were classic movie stars or ancient historical figures.
3.The Beartown Series by Frederik Backman
This is one of my favourite books ever. Maybe it's because I to live in a tiny, isolated northern city ruled by sports. Or maybe it's just because Frederik Backman is an amazingly talented writer who builds expansive casts of lovable characters that will RIP YOUR HEART OUT. This book builds up like a dramatic classical music piece, slow at first and then loud and all at once in a way that makes your heart start pounding.
There are a ton of characters in this series, and the majority of them are not gay. However, one of the main characters is (I promise I won't spoil it) and his perspective is poignant and I think it's meaningful enough to get this book included on my list. A book about the often toxic 'locker room' culture needed to be written, especially now that we are fighting back against governments and institutions that seemed to be ruled by boys clubs. That culture can be foster not only sexual harassment, racism, bullying, and other discriminatory behaviour but also homophobia, and the affects of that are thoroughly explored throughout the series.
4. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Ok we've all heard of this one. And if you haven't read the book or watched the movie you may have heard a little something about the infamous peach scene which to be honest traumatized me a little bit when I read it. Trauma aside, this book is truly excellent. It's so atmospheric, it just makes me want to move to Italy and play piano in my villa then swim in the ocean wearing a cute swimsuit from the 80s.
I recently watched the movie, and it's just as good if not better than the book. I've never read an author who writes like Aciman, and it's the type of book I'll need to reread to truly catch the full scope of the story and meaning. But yeah, Timothee said gay rights and I said yes please.
5. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Alrighty, I have a lot of firm opinions about this one so buckle up. Ramona blue is a Young Adult novel with frankly mediocre writing that explores the experience of a teen girl who identifies as gay and then realizes she has feelings for a boy. The plot of this book is highly controversial and caused a lot of uproar among people who didn't actually read it. Well I did read it, and I'm here to tell you that it's actually a meaningful and necessary story about a girl who is exploring her sexuality and not ready to completely label herself or be labelled. She does not 'magically turn straight' she just likes a girl, and then she likes a boy. She is probably bisexual, or something else that isn't simply gay or straight. To accept this book is to accept that sexuality is an often confusing and nuanced spectrum, and I think that is important.
Thanks for reading my mini reviews and opinions! I think all of these books are interesting and I would recommend them to anyone, whether they are reading during Pride Month or during any other month of the year.