LGBTQIA+ book recommendations
As LGBTQIA+ history month draws to a close, Isabel Langguth recommends some Queer books that’ll keep the conversation going.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
We will start with a light-hearted book. If you are looking for a fluffy romance that will make you forget about your surroundings, I would recommend Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. It follows the lives of the Prince of England and the First Son of the United States. This is an enemies-to-lovers story that is adorable and will warm your heart, filled with humour and lovable characters. This novel kept me entertained despite the unlikely scenario: it is a real page-turner.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
This is definitely not an easy read, but its raw descriptions of abuse and mental health will always resonate with me. In the Dream House is a memoir about an abusive lesbian relationship: it follows the process of getting into the relationship, feeling stuck, and eventually getting out. This is the first book I have read that discusses abuse within same-sex relationships. This is a truly moving book that will make you feel a wide range of emotions, and once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down.
Boy Erased by Garrard Conley
Discussing identity, faith, and family, Conley writes about his experience of growing up in heavily-religious Arkansas. In 2004, when he was just a teenager, Conley spent two weeks in a Church-endorsed conversion therapy programme. It thrived off of emotional manipulation, which made him and the other attendees feel trapped. This book is a necessary reminder that conversion therapy is not merely a thing of the past as it still, tragically, exists today. He recounts the difficulties of coming to terms with his sexuality and how he forced himself into a heterosexual relationship during his teenage years. Conley discusses how he tried to suppress his interest in men, grappled with religion, and struggled to find his place among his family and society as a whole. This book reminds us that there is still work to be done to make our world a more inclusive place. I would also highly recommend the audiobook: it really brings Conley’s narrative to life.
The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye
The Transgender Issue details the challenges that transgender individuals and communities face. Extensively researched, Faye shines a light on everyday discrimination and prejudice that keeps being brushed under the carpet. This book is an essential read for everyone: it will open your eyes and provide invaluable insight into the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
For those who enjoy exceptionally beautiful writing and want to tear up a little, I would recommend Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. This is some of the best writing I have ever read, and I must say that I am quite an avid bookworm. It is simply astounding. The narrator, who is in his late twenties, writes a letter to his illiterate mother, exploring the anxieties of first-generation immigrants and homosexuality in 80s America. This is a heartfelt, political, and intimate read that will not disappoint.
The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you enjoy reading but need a strong plot and enigmatic characters to reel you in, I have just the book for you. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of my favourite books of all time and my favourite book of 2020. We follow Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo as she recounts her life story to a journalist called Monique who is writing her biography. This book details the hardships of being a woman in Hollywood during the 20th century, and highlights the struggles of being gay while in the public eye. The story ultimately shows us that Hollywood forces people to hide who they really are, as the price for self-expression is far too high. If you have not read this book, all I can say is, read it. And if you have read it – pick it up again!