Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ+ Authors Share Pride Month Book Recommendations

Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ+ Authors Share Pride Month Book Recommendations

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Pride Month LGBTQ Book Recommendations

June is Pride Month, and Bookish couldn’t be more excited about it. To celebrate, we’ve asked authors who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community to recommend the one book they think readers should pick up during Pride. These books span a variety of genres while exploring gender, sexuality, and romantic identity. We’re confident there’s an LGBTQ+ book recommendation on this list for every reader.

Psst: Like the flag in our cover image? You can get a closer look at it here!

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

“Kelly Loy Gilbert’s latest YA contemporary, Picture Us in the Light, is one of the most poignant books on my shelf. It’s one when, as soon as I finished it, I immediately knew of people in my life who needed this book, who would feel seen reading this book. It beautifully captures the romantic longing that simmers between two best friends, set within an incredibly moving story about family. This is a story about love, about queerness, about race, about class, and, above all, about the people you care about.” —Anna-Marie McLemore, author of Wild Beauty and Blanca & Roja

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

“A few authors make me dead jealous when I read their prose. Not only do they sweep me away on an engrossing ride from sentence one, but they choose these incredible phrases and metaphors that I would never think of myself but that make me see something perfectly. Charlie Jane Anders is one of these writers. I’ve been a fan of her short fiction (and her nonfiction) for a long time. Read “The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model” or the Hugo Award-winning “Six Months, Three Days” and I think you’ll agree! But I also just started reading her novel All the Birds in the Sky, and I can’t get over how gripping, creative, and downright compelling it is. Here are the first few chapters—go read them and then see if you can stop!” —SL Huang, author of Zero Sum Game

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

“Don’t be discouraged by the fact that this book is middle grade. Hurricane Child is a haunting, poetic novel about what’s missing in our lives: mothers. Love. Companionship. Caroline Murphy, born during a hurricane, is tormented by bad luck and bad people, but her burgeoning affection for a new girl at her school puts her on a new path. At times heartbreaking, at times thrilling, this is the first book I’ve ever read set on Water Island, and the setting is absolutely crucial to Hurricane Child. Kheryn Callender has crafted a stunning and groundbreaking book, one that centers a queer discovery amidst Caroline’s attempt to find out why her mother left her life many years ago.” —Mark Oshiro, author of Anger Is a Gift

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

“The first time I read Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, it was a revelation. Set in San Francisco and written before the start of the AIDS epidemic, it is a joyous and unabashed chronicle of gloriously queer people rejecting norms, embracing their true selves, and thriving. By turns charming and scandalous, wise and laugh-out-loud funny, it treats its diverse and memorable cast of characters with respect and empathy as they come together and fall apart. I cannot think of a more appropriate title to pick up during Pride Month.” —Caleb Roehrig, author of White Rabbit

“I first read Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City around 30 years ago. In Britain we were used to gay men being characterized unsympathetically as weak, mincing queens who hid in the shadows, but Maupin’s world was different. I fell in love with the loud, proud, and often angry Michael Tolliver and his friends, and it feels like we’ve grown up together. Tales of the City is a book that every LGBTQ+ person, their friends, and their family should devour: a passport in to a world full of laughter, tears, and larger-than-life characters who will stay with you for a lifetime. Every book in the series is essential.” —Darryl W. Bullock, author of David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

“Code red: Let’s Talk About Love is an absolutely incredible gem of a book that deserves so much love and attention. I read this one just a few days ago in one sitting—I just couldn’t put it down. Alice is an asexual college student who loves love—the talk-into-all-hours-of-the-night sort of intimate connection. Let’s Talk About Love explores an identity not seen often enough, and, um, the love interest is all sorts of adorable. Alice’s relatable and hilarious (and really, really cute) personality and voice make this book a star, and—in my humble opinion—it should be required reading for any Pride Month.” —Kheryn Callender, author of Hurricane Child and This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee

“My husband must be so sick of hearing about Alexander Chee by now. While I was devouring Chee’s book of essays, I couldn’t help but read whole passages aloud to Dan. At the dinner table, I would enthuse over his wise words on writing, while out for a walk, I would recollect his profound observations about… rose gardens. (Really!) There is so much in this collection, spanning decades that encompass adolescent infatuation, AIDS activism, dreary day jobs, and most of all, the rigors, rewards, and risks of writing.” —Chad Sell, illustrator and co-creator of The Cardboard Kingdom

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell

“Not only is All Out a diverse collection of short fiction by some amazing authors across the spectrum of queer experience, it is also a diverse collection of short historical fiction, which serves as a great reminder that there have always been queer young people living full, joyous, complicated lives. Yes, we’ve battled and will again battle bigotry, and epidemic, and ignorance, and hate, but in all eras and all cultures we’ve been so much more than victims and sidekicks. We’ve been heroes and lovers and saints and clowns. This is one of many recent books that reminds us, our stories are as infinite as we are.” —Alex London, author of Proxy and Black Wings Beating

Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles

“I’d recommend Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles, which is an amazing exploration of their queer identity from all the phases of their life. It’s raunchy, raw, and doesn’t pull punches in its depiction of being both an artist and a lesbian. The book is also a beautiful love letter to New York City and to the artists, poets, and creatives that make it such a unique and vibrant place. If you’re a woman who loves women or someone who never felt quite right in the gender binary, this book is singing your song. I highlighted so many parts to re-read when I wanted to feel affirmed in my identity. Myles is us and sees us and they’re not doing it for straight people’s approval. It’s magical.” —Gaby Dunn, author of Bad with Money

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

“I read this book a few years back, after it had just won England’s prestigious Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction). This is one the most beautiful renderings I have ever seen of love between men. Miller captures all the innocence, passion, and tragedy of the relationship between the demigod Achilles and his mortal boyhood friend Patroclus—their headstrong journey from youthful eroticism to adult consummation, even though they’re aware of the doom that awaits. Rarely have mythological characters come so alive, making you care so intensely about what happens to them.” —Manil Suri, author of The City of Devi

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, art by Jenn St. Onge

Bingo Love is the story of Hazel and Mari, two tender-hearted teenage girls who fall gorgeously in love between church sermons and Bingo games in New Jersey during the 1960s. Their first kiss in front of the church forces their families to pull them apart forever. This graphic novel made me believe in love again. Hazel and Mari are the Black lesbian grandmothers dreams are made of: giggly, totally in love, and ready to fight. Bingo Love also elevates the importance of therapy, self-care, and direct honesty. Thank you, Tee Franklin, for this tremendous love story.” —Gabby Rivera, author of Juliet Takes a Breath and America Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Redefining Realness is one of the most genuine, raw, heartening books I have ever read. This childhood memoir of a trans girl growing up in Honolulu and finding her people and her way to New York City is a perfect match for how I feel at Pride: at once hopeful and skeptical, embodied and enthralled but with an ever-present chilling shadow of what could go wrong. Mock proclaims her right to thrive in a way that makes me feel more solid in mine.” —Alex Gino, author of George and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!

A Boy Named Phyllis by Frank DeCaro

“About 20 years ago, when I was starting to commute into Manhattan from Brooklyn, and just starting to crack open my own closet door, I decided to read, in public, the first gay memoir I’d ever bought: Frank DeCaro’s A Boy Named Phyllis. I sat there holding the book’s jacket, an orange and animal print with a childhood photo of Frank as a cowboy, knowing whoever saw me reading would not only know what the book was about, but what I was about, too. It was, I thought, brave of me, but what was even braver (and literally laugh-out-loud hilarious and tear-up heartfelt), was everything DeCaro put between those garish covers about his time as an odd, overweight, gay kid in suburban New Jersey. His writing is infused with so much relatable, yet unique angst and love, it feels like you’re sharing memories of your own family. I treasure my copy, and though it’s now sadly out of print, it’s well worth searching out (and reprinting if any publishers are reading this)!” —Robb Pearlman, author of Pink is for Boys

Ship It by Britta Lundin

“When I first heard about Ship It by Britta Lundin I thought: Did she write this book especially for me? It’s about two fans—one fanfic writer and one fanfic reader—who meet incredibly cutely at a convention and have a funnysexysweet queer romance while confronting Hollywood’s supremely backward reluctance to bring queer subtext to text. If you got all that, this book is definitely for you! Even if you’re not into fandom, this book is such a joy. If you’re looking for a smart rom-com about queer girls with a happy ending, you’ll love Ship It.” —Malinda Lo, author of A Line in the Dark

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic is one of my favorite books this past year! I adored snarky, sarcastic Bridger and this fast-paced story is clever and full of humor and heart. Bridger’s ever-so-relatable quest to make some extra cash leads him to an assistant position working for the eccentric Pavel, a mediator between the human and mythological worlds. This novel deftly brings together the expected and the unexpected: crushes and high school classes with cryptids, mythology and magic. With a sweet romance and a bisexual coming of age story, Rules is irreverently funny and clever, and will definitely appeal to whose who like their magic modern.” —CB Lee, author of Not Your Villain

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

“She’s an emotional wreck, she drinks too much, she’s a damn fine private eye… and she’s bisexual. She’s Roxane Weary, the messy, funny, whip-smart detective at the center of Kristen Lepionka’s The Last Place You Look. It’s so much fun to read a book that just unapologetically queers the mystery genre. From the swoony on-again-off-again artist girlfriend to a flirty party bartender to a teenage girl dealing with her first crush, lesbian and bisexual characters are woven into the noir-ish fabric of the story in a way that feels both refreshing and true to life.” —Britta Lundin, author of Ship It and writer for CW’s Riverdale

Compass Rose by Anna Burke

“I was lucky to get a review copy of Anna Burke’s debut novel, Compass Rose, and the only word to describe me while reading it is breathless! In Compass Rose, oceans have consumed Earth, and humankind lives on submarines. Young navigator Rose takes a position on a mercenary ship and eventually falls in love with her captain, Miranda. And, yes, to all you speculative-sci-fi-dystopian readers… the world is exquisitely drawn, and the story is a smart, subtle commentary. But I’m a romance writer, so I’m in it for the feels. And, damn, Anna Burke captures the allure of the alpha like no one else! So powerful. So tormented. I’m still swooning.” —Karelia Stetz-Waters, author of Worth the Wait

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

“One of my favorite explorations of gender came from Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. Breq comes from a culture that has moved beyond assuming gender in any way, using only female pronouns. She constantly fails to correctly gender people in cultures that still use those constructs, and has difficulty with gendered language—which she views as inferior. Leckie demonstrates that morality is rarely black and white by depicting the authoritarian origins of Breq’s culture, and showing how they force themselves on others and destroy “inferior’ cultures.” —Alex White, author of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe

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