Books for Pride
Happy Pride everyone!
A lot of people are putting out their reading lists for Pride. Each year a lot of the same books get recommended. This isn’t a bad thing, but for those who want something different to read it can be frustrating. I also have a problem – and this is a total ‘me problem’ – that a lot of books that are recommended are non-fiction books addressing how it is okay to be queer. I mean, the world needs these kind of books because there are certain kinds of people out there. I just feel that representation in literature should just be there as a normal thing, without a big deal being made about sexuality and gender identification. If we normalize LGBTQ+ people, then tolerance and acceptance will come. We shouldn’t have to draw attention to them and say “This is normal.” No one does that to straight people.
I probably am not explaining myself well. My hope is I didn’t mangle what I was trying to say too badly. Without further ado, here is my recommended Pride reading list.
“In a fit of manic insomnia, Laura accidentally summons Satan into her bedroom. Hi-jinx ensue.”
Satan, Are you there? It’s me, Laura can be downloaded and read from Aisling Fae’s website. This is seriously one of the funniest things I have ever read. I find myself recommending it to everyone. It does come with a caveat though. You might need need a slightly twisted sense of humor to fully enjoy this story. If you are one of those people who are offended by religious jokes and what amounts to religious heresy, you probably shouldn’t read this.
I’m not going to lie, I might be more than a little biased on this one. Warren Rochelle was one of my literature professors during my undergrad studies. I took Feminist Science Fiction with him before he retired. I am still upset that I didn’t get to take his classes on writing science fiction and fantasy.
The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories is filled with gay retellings of popular fairy tales. Remember that these fairy tales existed long before Disney got a hold of them. Fairy tales were originally written for adults and contained all manners of questionable content. Consider Snow White’s prince. The guy was totally into necrophilia. I’m just saying, don’t turn your nose up at gay retellings under the pretense that fairy tales are for kids. That wasn’t always the case.
Check Please is a two volume book set. If you don’t want to purchase the books, you can always read the original comics on the comic’s website. The books do contain a deal of extras but Ngozi Ukazu has a lot of Check Please merch in her website store.
Ukazu originally started Check Please as a web comic. It gained such a following that the comics were put into books. The story follows Eric Bittle through his college years as he goes from figure skater to hockey player, maintains his food blog, stress bakes, and comes out to his family completely by accident. It is a beautifully told story filled with all kinds of emotion. #AllTheFeels
Trumpet explores what happens when the private life of a public figure becomes public. It is based on the true life story of jazz musician Billy Tipton. It is a story about love and family as well as well as how the predatory the media is. Just because someone is famous does not mean they are obligated to make every aspect of their life public.
This is the story of fictional jazz musician Josh Moody and how the world, his family included, deal with his death. Moody’s death causes a media circus that affects everyone who knew him in life.
It wasn’t a matter of if I was going to include Chuck Palahniuk in my list, it was a matter of what book I was going to include. Despite Fight Club being Palahniuk’s most famous work, it just wasn’t going to cut it. Yes, the author of Fight Club is gay. I am annoyed by how often the book is misinterpreted. I have to blame David Fincher and the movie because there are just some ideas that do not translate well to film no matter how hard everyone involved tries. However, Fincher understood the book and he did his best.
I considered Judgement Day for a number of reasons. It is a loose continuation of the ideas of Fight Club and it would have made the cut if not for Invisible Monsters. This is one of my favourite Palahniuk books. It is also home to my favourite Palahniuk characters, Brandy Alexander. I would go as far as to call Invisible Monsters a road trip story as Shannon McFarland rebuilds her life after suffering a disfiguring accident ending her modeling career. This book is full of twists and turns and Palahniuk’s unique transgressive sense of humor.
During the pandemic lockdown, my university arranged to have Tom Cho do a book reading via zoom. I was probably a little too excited when I heard the news. It was the first book reading I attended.
Every time someone starts bashing fanfiction I tell them to read Look Who’s Morphing by Tom Cho. Cho has a PhD in creative writing and has chosen to fill the pages of this book with fanfiction. Some of it bad fanfiction. Even the worst of it is so bad it’s good. My point, let people write what they want to write and let people read what they want to read. They aren’t hurting anyone.
Look Who’s Morphing is filled with humorous short stories. Some are obvious fanfiction of movies like Dirty Dancing, The Sound of Music, The Dr. Phil Show, I, Robot, and The Bodyguard. Others are stories about his family. Like when his Auntie Wu became possessed by an apron, a la The Exorcist.
If you are one of those people who have only seen the movie adaptation, shame on you. You really need to sit down and read The Color Purple. This book won a Pulitzer Prize and is on the ALA’s list of 100 most challenged books. The movie, on the other hand, is garbage. Yes, I know it stared Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah. I also know that Stephan Spielberg directed it. Having big names attached to it means nothing. In fact, Spielberg was part of the problem. A white man took a book written by a black author about black people and made a movie marketed to white people.
Okay, maybe I am being a little hard on the movie but there is so much of the book that is missing from it. Celie’s trauma is, for the most part, erased in order to make it a happier story for mass market appeal. There are reasons I am adamantly against movie adaptations. What was done to this book is one of them.
I could honestly write about The Left Hand of Darkness for days. The book was published in 1969 and is a product of its time in some ways. Ursula K Le Guinn wrote this book as a thought experiment examining what was left of people when you took away gender. It is an interesting and thought provoking science fiction story centering on how people, with all their flaws, view others who are different than themselves.
The short story, Coming of Age in Karhide, served as the basis for this novel. A PDF of it can be found here. it provides a better explanation of Le Guinn’s Hannish than I ever could. It provides the insight into their society and explains certain things that aren’t explained in The Left Hand of Darkness.
First it must be acknowledged I will never shut up about this book. I am impatiently waiting for November when the sequel is released. Second, I have provided a review for it here on the website. Go read it. I’ll wait.
Full disclosure here. I actually sat down with a list from Goodreads to help me compile this list. I’m glad I did because I did not realize there is gay representation in this book. Not only is it gay representation, but it is gay black representation. The thing is, the way it is written normalizes it to the point that I didn’t have a second thought about it. This is how it should be done. No stereotypes, no extra attention. Just the portrayal of mostly normal people. The City We Became is science fiction/fantasy so there is nothing “normal” about the main characters. They are all remarkable human beings with extra-worldly power, all from different walks of life.
The City We Became is amazing and everyone should read it. Actually, everyone should read every book/story on this list. They are all written by extremely talented writers adept in capturing the nuances of being human.
What am I reading for Pride this year? I have a number of books here to choose from…
- One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
- Malice and the sequel Misrule– Heather Walter
- Detransition Baby – Torrey Peters
- Red, White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
- The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
- Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron
- Ace of Spades – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
- The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern
- The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue – V.E. Schwab
- Girls Made of Snow and Glass – Melissa Bashardoust
- Under the Whispering Door – T.J. Klume
- Lost Boi – Sassafras Lowrey
- Darling – K. Ancrum
- Summer in the City of Roses – Michelle Ruiz Keil
- What if it’s Us – Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli
I probably have more that I am forgetting (I didn’t go through my ebooks). What books do you suggest?