One more Pride book list for the road, shall we?
(she says, as if we don’t regularly post LGBTQ+ book lists/reviews/etc. even when it’s not Pride…)
Anyway, here are some staff favorite queer reads that you don’t want to miss!
A Little Life follows four college classmates-broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition-as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
First serialized on the popular app and website WebToon, Always Human ran from 2015-2017 and amassed over 76,000 unique subscribers during its run. Now reformatted for a print edition in sponsorship with GLAAD, Always Human is a beautifully drawn graphic novel about a developing relationship between two young women in a near-future, soft sci-fi setting. Always Human is drawn in a manga-influenced style and with an incredible color palette that leaps off the page!
In the near-future, people use technology to give the illusion of all kinds of body modifications-but some people have “Egan’s Syndrome,” a highly sensitive immune system that rejects these “mods” and are unable to use them. Those who are affected maintain a “natural” appearance, reliant on cosmetics and hair dye at most to help them play with their looks.
Sunati is attracted to Austen the first time she sees her and is drawn to what she assumes is Austen’s bravery and confidence to live life unmodded. When Sunati learns the truth, she’s still attracted to Austen and asks her on a date. Gradually, their relationship unfolds as they deal with friends, family, and the emotional conflicts that come with every romance. Together, they will learn and grow in a story that reminds us no matter how technology evolves, we will remain . . . always human.
Rendered in beautiful detail and an extraordinary color palette, Always Human is a sweet love story told in a gentle sci-fi setting by a queer woman cartoonist, Ari North (and edited by Fort Collins local Rachel Gluckstern!).
On the dyson sphere Shenzhen, artificial intelligences rule and humans live in luxury, vying to be chosen as host bodies–called haruspices–for the next generation of AI, and thus be worshiped as gods. Doctor Orfea Leung has come here to escape her past of mercenary violence. Krissana Khongtip has come here to reinvent herself from haunted spy to holy cyborg. But the utopian peace of Shenzhen is shattered when the haruspices begin committing suicide, and the pair are called upon to solve the mystery–and survive the silent war between machines . . .
Megan recommends: Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge
Rising star author-illustrator Ethan M. Aldridge delivers a fantasy adventure with all the makings of a classic. Illustrated with over two-hundred pages of watercolor paintings, this epic graphic novel is perfect for fans of Amulet.
Edmund and the Childe were swapped at birth. Now Edmund lives in secret as a changeling in the World Above, his fae powers hidden from his unsuspecting parents and his older sister, Alexis. The Childe lives among the fae in the World Below, where being a human makes him a curiosity at the royal palace. But when the cruel sorceress Hawthorne seizes the throne, the Childe and Edmund must unite on a dangerous quest to save both worlds-even if they’re not sure which world they belong to.
Megan and Allison recommend: Finna by Nino Cipri
Nino Cipri’s Finna is a rambunctious, touching story that blends all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with the everyday awfulness of low-wage work. It explores queer relationships and queer feelings, capitalism and accountability, labor and love, all with a bouncing sense of humor and a commitment to the strange.
When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store – but not that one – slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.
To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.
Teresa recommends: Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown
When Karamo Brown first auditioned for the casting directors of Queer Eye, he knew he wouldn’t win the role of culture expert by discussing art and theater. Instead he decided to redefine what “culture” could-and should-mean for the show. He took a risk and declared, “I am culture.”
After all, Karamo believes culture is how people feel about themselves and others, how they relate to the world around them, and how their shared labels, burdens, and experiences affect their daily lives in ways both subtle and profound. Seen through this lens, Karamo is culture: his family is Jamaican and Cuban; he was raised in the South in predominantly white neighborhoods and attended an HBCU (Historically Black College/University); he was trained as a social worker and psychotherapist; he overcame personal issues of colorism, physical and emotional abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, and public infamy; he is a proud and dedicated gay single father of two boys, one biological and one adopted.
In “this soul-soothing memoir” (O, The Oprah Magazine), Karamo reflects on his lifelong education. It comprises every adversity he has overcome, as well as the lessons he has learned along the way. It is only by exploring our difficulties and having the hard conversations-with ourselves and one another-that we are able to adjust our mind-sets, heal emotionally, and move forward to live our best lives.
Megan recommends: Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek
Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful T o Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition–until his t o introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie Le n. As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but as Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends–and channeling his inner drag superstar.
Allison recommends: The True Queen by Zen Cho
In the follow-up to the “delightful” Regency fantasy novel (NPR.org) Sorcerer to the Crown, a young woman with no memories of her past finds herself embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae.
When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.
If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.
From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.
Felix Love has never been in love-and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many-Black, queer, and transgender-to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages-after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned-Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle….But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
Pass with Care is a testament to trans resilience, queer joy, and the power of finding freedom and adventure within a community of your own creation. Transgender writer, artist, and activist Cooper Lee Bombardier shifts effortlessly between lyrical essays, poetry, and narrative nonfiction as his own landscape changes over the course of two decades. From working-class New England to the queer punk scene of early ’90s-San Francisco to New Mexico’s deserts, Bombardier documents his experiences with compassion and reverence, offering us an expansive view of gender and sexuality, masculinity and tenderness, and the difference between surviving and thriving.
You can purchase any or all of these fabulous books online by clicking their titles above!
Happy Pride and happy reading!