The Ultimate Guide to LGBTQ Culture

Ever since I was young, January has been a synonym for reading for me. I’ve never been really good at making resolutions (or keeping them…), but one thing I did a lot as a child was making a list of books I wanted to read in one year. It had been a few years since I did one of those lists and I thought that 2019 was as good a time as any to start this little tradition again.

While skimming through my personal library to see which books I have read in 2018 (and which ones I bought but left unread on a shelf), I realized that my collection of LGBTQ books really expanded in the last 2 years. LGBTQ books aren’t always easy to come by; some I’ve had to order through very specific websites and wait weeks to receive, others were awfully written, but I do own a fair number of really good LGBTQ books!

So, for you my wonderful readers, I have made a list of the best LGBTQ books I’ve read so far! Whether you are a proud member of the LGBTQ community yourself, or a fierce ally, or just looking for some cute love stories to read before Valentine’s Day, this list is all you need!!

**The list is not in order of my preference, it is merely a compilation.

 

1. Annie on My Mind - Nancy Garden

This book was published in 1982, and yet it is still relevant today! It was one of the first fiction novels that didn’t portray homosexuality as something negative. The book is a sweet love story between two 17 year old girls in the United States. As it is set in the past, their everyday lives are slightly different than the lives of 17 year olds in 2019, but their feelings are just as pure and beautiful! A must read if you like sweet love stories!

(Also, this book was burned in Kansas in 1994, yet it is still being read today so in your face you bunch of homophobic pyromaniacs!)

 

2. When Katie Met Cassidy - Camille Perri

When Katie met Cassidy, well let’s just say sparks flew that day! I won’t tell you what happened (I don’t want to ruin the fun) but I’ll tell you why I love this book. First, Cassidy is a fierce lesbian who reminds me of Shane from The L Word: she owns her sexuality, her desires and her outlook on life, and she doesn’t let anything get in her way! Second, the two main characters are not teenagers, but fully grown women, and as much as I love teenage romances, I was over the moon to read a book about adult lesbian women! Third, this book is really funny, kudos to the author for making laugh that much!

(also the front cover is so pretty!)

A quickly-read, funny book that is bound to make you want to go out and party in gay clubs!

*For mature audiences

 

3. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

I read this book a few years ago, before the idea of making a movie even crossed the minds of Hollywood producers, and I got a little scared when I heard they were turning this great book into a motion picture. Although Hollywood did a good job with Love, Simon, the movie IS different from the book, and I have to say I prefer the book. Simon’s outlook on life (and how he sees and experiences his sexual orientation) is very relatable, and is discussed in a nice, positive light. Simon’s connection with Blue is so well-explained and heart-warming that you can’t help but fall in love with Simon! Definitely one of my favorite BxB love story!

 

4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth

Another book that I read before they made a movie out of it, but this one I was very glad that they did make a movie! When I first read The Miseducation of Cameron Post, I didn’t like it. I remember reading this book and feeling uneasy the whole time. It was too depressing, too graphic, too intense for my tiny little gay heart (I was still a little gay-baby back then). I made it through the book, but when I finished it I hid it behind a stack of books on my bookshelf so I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore.

But then, the movie came out! It was great, it was amazing, it was perfect! And after watching it, I reread The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and I loooooved it!! Cameron reminds me of who I was when I first came out (probably the reason why I didn’t like reading the book back then, too close to home…#I’m my own therapist) and it felt sort of therapeutic to read about a coming of age that resembled mine. I truly recommend reading this book, and then watching the film, for they pair each other very well!

 

5. Call Me By Your Name - André Aciman

Call Me By Your Name is one of those books that left me unsatisfied. I have to admit that, this time around, I do prefer the movie to the book. Although it is very well written, and the story was good, I didn’t like how the story dragged in the end. Instead of leaving me wanting more, it left me wanting less. The movie was great though, and reading the book did help me understand Elio’s thoughts and feelings, and how deep his connection with Oliver was. Another pair (movie + book) that go well together, but I would recommend leaving out the last 15 pages of the book.

 

6. Boy Erased - Garrard Conley

Now this one is a book everyone needs to read! Not an easy read, this one certainly took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride, but Conley’s depiction of the distress that can come with coming out to yourself is so genuine and truthful, it creates this window into the process of coming out for people who haven’t lived it. Although I am not a person of faith, this book still hits close to home, for human emotions are shared by everyone regardless of religion. This memoir is perfect for anyone trying to understand the struggle of accepting your sexuality, or for those trying to reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation.

A book that has the power to cure homophobia, in my opinion.

 

7. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me - Julie Anne Peters

A YA fiction that deals with betrayal, grief, and death. In this one, Alix, the main character, has to deal not only with her girlfriend Swanne's sudden death, but also with discovering the secrets she had been keeping all along: her amazing girlfriend had been dating someone else all along. In the hopes of reconciling her feelings for Swanee, Alix goes on this quest to meet the other woman, Liana…

Although the initial plot of the book is sad, this book is very sweet and heart-warming. It’s the story of two people healing together, and growing from a tragic experience.

 

8. None of The Above - I.W. Gregorio

None of The Above is the story of Kristin, a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college, a sweet boyfriend, and a life that is pretty much perfect. But, after a visit to her doctor, her world is forever changed as she learns that she is intersex. Dealing with this new reality, and all the challenges that it brings, leaves Kristin’s future uncertain (her career as an athlete, her relationship with her boyfriend, her image as the perfect homecoming queen).

A story that depicts the reality of intersex folks in a truthful way, and that sheds a light on the intolerance of society for everything that is different.

 

9. The Danish Girl - David Ebershoff

Even though there are not enough book about trans people out there in the world, The Danish Girl is one of the great ones so far. This book tells the story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer trans woman, and her wife. The book not only tells the story of how Lili became who she truly is, but the ups and downs of her marriage along the way, and evolution of the relationship with her wife. The story of a love that is greater than anything, that shows how being your true self is liberating!

 

10. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green, David Levithan

 Two strangers with the same name meet, and from that moment on, their lives will forever be changed. Another great book from John Green (who wrote The Fault in Our Stars) and David Levithan (who wrote Another Day and Boy Meets Boy). With humor, friendship, and the power of theater, both Will Graysons see their lives change for the best.

A book that feels like ice cream on a summer day; sweet and refreshing, and easy read for anyone who needs a bit of warmth during these cold months.

 

11. Everything Leads to You - Nina LaCour

This one is another favorite. When it comes to cute love stories with very little drama but the turmoil of new relationship and adulthood, I'm all for it! This story follows the adventures of Emi, a young movie enthusiast, who has been very lucky in love. When a letter leads Emi to Ava, her world and her career will forever be changed! 

Plus, as this book is set on a Hollywood movie set, my inner-child (who still aspires to be an actor) loved to read about what goes into producing a movie. 

 

12. Keeping You a Secret - Julie Anne Peters

The story of a girl who doesn't really know herself, but finds that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together when she meets Cece. Holland has a perfect life, but the perfect girl is about to change all that! What Holland has with Cece reminds me a lot of my first love, and how strongly I felt for that girl! So many emotions are expressed in that book, from deep love to hate, and Holland's love is so pure! 

One thing I love about this book is that in this story, Holland doesn't struggle to find a label to suit her. She's just a girl, in love with another girl who brings her donuts, and that's it. No need for a big gay coming out, no need for a nervous breakdown—she's simply in love, and that's all that matters. 

 

13. Jonny Appleseed - Joshua Whitehead

This book is both a tale of discovery and a book with a strong political resonance. The story of a two-spirited indigiqueer young adult who experiences life outside the reservation for the first time. With a lot of flashbacks to give us insight into Jonny's relationship with different people, like his grandmother whom he loves dearly, and his best friend who he wishes loved him back, we discover the world of this young person whose identity that society doesn't always recognize or appreciate to its true value. 

*For mature audiences

 

14. More Happy Than Not - Adam Silvera

I almost didn't put this book on the list, because it made me very sad when I read it. But, looking back, I think it taught me many things about accepting yourself and the life you were given.

In this near-future dystopian world, where depression and suicides are common, a memory-alteration procedure offered by Leteo Institute helps people forget about the worst moments of their lives. Aaron Soto is struggling to accept the hand he was given and all the sad moments of his life. With the help of his best friend Thomas, and his girlfriend Genevieve, Aaron tries to deal with the demons of his past, and paying for the Leteo treatment seems more and more appealing each day.

 

15. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

A story of a family seen through the eyes of Cal, an intersex boy who has been brought up all his life as a girl. As Cal describes his childhood and talks about his family's complex history, he also describes how he figured out who he is, and why he feels like he was born twice. 

This beautifully written novel keeps making me wonder why I've waited so long to read something from Jeffrey Eugenides. He is a master storyteller, and this book deserves many awards and a movie!

 

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did. I'm going to go read now! Bonne lecture :)

Clara

 

 

 

All images obtained from indigo.com