Whether it’s Pride Month or just any other day, we are here to make sure you get the most reading out of it. The presence of LGBTQ+ stories, histories and narratives can be transformational, which is why we’ve put together a small go-to guide of 10 recommended reads by GAY TIMES.
As venues and locations begin to open up, we urge you to check out your local LGBTQ+ libraries, archives and to support independent queer businesses and authors. Queer literature, much like any vessel of art, has been instrumental in forming, supporting, and uplifting various strands of LGBTQ+ culture. As we continue to celebrate all things queer, it would be amiss to overlook the ever-growing variety of new and upcoming stories hitting the shelves.
Wranglestone by Darren Charlton
A gay zombie thriller, what’s not to love? Published earlier this month, Wranglestone has been a hit with fans. The young adult story is set in a post-apocalyptic America and is a fun, adventurous blend of The Road meets The Walking Dead. While zombies ravage the rest of the states, a small community is able to survive in a national park surrounded by water. But, winter is coming. Once the surrounding water freezes over, the community faces dangers unlike ever before. As an unsuspecting romance blooms between Peter and Cooper, the pair find themselves confronted with mysteries and secrets they could never have expected.
Malice by Heather Walter
A do-over on Beauty and the Beast, Malice takes a look at what things would be like if an evil sorceress fell for a princess. In this dark, comedic retelling, Walter reverses the roles in this gothic fantasy re-write. With time against her, Alyce strings up a plan to outsmart her destiny and get the girl she loves while doing so. In this magical two-part retelling, we watch good versus bad as we learn more about the underdog hero.
We Can Do Better Than This: 35 voices on the future of LGBTQ+ rights edited by Amelia Abraham
A captivating anthology edited by author and journalist Amelia Abraham, this collection of stories unites a collection of leading LGBTQ+ voices to share their stories and stances on the future of queer liberation.
We Can Do Better Than This imagines the next step for our community. Pabllo Vittar pleads for the end of hate murders, Olly Alexander champions inclusive sex education in schools, and Beth Ditto calls for a revolution in representation. Amelia Abraham’s second book digs deep to present a candid commentary on the LGBTQ+ community’s ongoing issues (from the treatment of the trans and non-binary community to personal endeavours to deal with shame and safety when it comes to LGBTQ+ sexuality) and delivers hopeful, thoughtful solutions to our community. Simply put, it’s a must-read.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
First-time author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a bold new voice in Young Adult literature. In Àbíké-Íyímídé’s debut novel, Ace of Spades is a dark, gritty thriller that delves deep into the world of Black queer sexuality, class, and institutionalised racism. Set in Niveus Private Academy, Ace of Spades is best described as Gossip Girl meets Gets out – it’s witty, slick, and undeniably mysterious. It’s a new novel you won’t want to miss out on.
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai
A stunning watercolour graphic novel, Lee Lai captures the vulnerability of an evolving relationship; one that can stray from joyous shared moments to isolated distance. Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy looking after Ray’s six-year-old niece, but between the euphoric moments adventuring fictional worlds together, the pair become distant. Soon enough they learn they must face their own barriers to find themselves. Awash with grey and blue hues, this book may seem like a dreary, disheartening read, and while it’s not an easy-going narrative, it shares an unyielding sentiment of pain, reconciliation, and understanding. Lee Lai pulls off an incredibly illustrated story that doesn’t quite offer closure but leaves the reader with a realistic look into a world where some relationships aren’t picture perfect.
Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin
In a time of lockdowns, social distancing and general pandemic isolation, Gay Bar: Why We Went Out is a refreshing glimpse into the sweaty glory of the humble queer haven we’ve missed in the last year. From hotspots in San Francisco’s Castro neighbourhood to iconic public houses in London, Jeremy Atherton Lin explores gay bars across both sides of the Atlantic as he details his past experiences with these queer venues.
Lin’s anecdotes span several decades, from the sexually liberated parties of the 1980s to the sad closure of too many queer venues in the last 10 years. In parts a historic look at the early struggle of queer clubbing at a time of police raids and rampant homophobia, Lin also weaves his first-hand account of the chaotic, brilliant – and sometimes seedy – nights he spent sinking back drinks and dancing the night away. Lin does well to pull the reader through the doors of gay bars across time periods and cities, so much so that Gay Bar at times reads like a piece of fiction. If you’re looking for an honest and visceral reading experience, Gay Bar really is the book for you, as Lin thrusts us back into the world of sweaty dancefloors and crowded bars we have so dearly missed.
Daughter of Sparta by Claire Andrews
For fans of The Song of Achilles and Madeline Miller, Daughter of Sparta is right up your street. Packed with action, adventure and queer romance, it’s a new release you won’t want to miss. The novel follows Daphne, an ambitious seventeen-year-old, who has spent her entire life training to be seen as a worthy warrior. Suddenly the teen is offered a fierce opportunity of a lifetime to bring Spartan honour to her name. Loosely based around the myths of Daphne and Apollo, Daughter of Sparta is a quirky reimagining that will satisfy all fans of mythology, young adult fantasy and fiction.
What It Feels Like for a Girl by Paris Lees
As a Nottingham native, it’s always a joy to read the work of Paris Lees and What It Feels Like for a Girl does not disappoint. A brilliant memoir, this a book that snaps you back to Lees’ early days in the East Midlands, searching for an escape. After dedicating 8 years to this book, it’s fair to say it’s worth the wait. Dealing with everything from trans identity, class, sexuality, and bullying, this is a book that equally shocks as it does surprise; it’s a read that will stick with you – especially the Hucknall vernacular. A powerful story, What It Feels Like for a Girl is a must-needed addition to your reading list.
Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities edited by Jos Twist, Meg-John Barker, Kat Gupta, Benjamin Vincent
We love anthologies and Non-Binary Lives spotlights voices and stories we often don’t get to hear. At the core of this book, this anthology questions what it means to be non-binary in this day and age. A diverse range of stories, this vital collection captures the non-binary community across various intersectionalities and experiences. Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities is a great starting point for those that want to learn more about non-binary identity or expand their knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
This nuanced debut book has taken the literary world by storm and for good reason. Achieving critical acclaim among all audiences, Detransition, Baby has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for its portrayal of the trans community. A character study of three women – two trans and one cis – whose lives unexpectedly collide. Peters delivers a stunning first novel centred around three unique women (Reese, Ames, Katrina) as they learn to navigate queerness, gender, and parenthood. Detransition, Baby brings these characters to life in a three dimensional way that is almost difficult to shake by the end, and, for that alone, it’s worth reading.