April 19th: Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads
Talk about your favorite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors.
I feel a bit conflicted about this week’s topic. On the one hand, I absolutely love that we get to recommend diverse books. But on the other hand, I’m afraid I’ll see the same books over and over again: The Raven Cycle, Six of Crows, A Darker Shade of Magic… and problematic and harmful books. I understand, because I was like that only a couple of months ago, but I’ve learnt so much and I really hope people will discuss books that aren’t already very popular and do research so they don’t recommend any harmful books.
Lately, I’ve become much more open about my sexual orientation. I’m still closeted in real life (only two people know I’m bisexual) but reading about characters that you can identify with is so important. It’s also nice to see that more fluffy books featuring LGBTQIAP+ characters are being published. We deserve happy endings as well. We don’t constantly want to read about characters who are being bullied because they aren’t allo cis straight (or white, for that matter).
Anyway, there are many more books I would recommend! I’m going to pick five books from the books I’ve read in 2017 so far. As you know, these are in no particular order.
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (review)
I read Queens of Geek at the beginning of April and I loved it! One of the main characters is a bisexual Chinese Australian woman and the love interest is a queer black woman. It was probably the most relatable portrayal of bisexuality I’ve read so far. I completely related to Charlie’s experience and it’s no surprise this is an #OwnVoices book (for the autism representation as well)!
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (review)
Even though I read an ARC of The Upside of Unrequited last month, I already want to re-read it! I plan on buying a hardcover copy soon. This is my all-time favourite YA contemporary novel. I love this book so much. The queer representation isn’t #OwnVoices, but I loved it nonetheless. I love how some characters were queer without their story revolving around that. Someone wrote a review saying that such representation is superficial, but I disagree. Just because I’m bisexual, doesn’t mean my life revolves around my sexual orientation.
Anyway, I absolutely adore Becky Albertalli. She also wrote Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which features gay and bisexual characters. I’m so surprised when people haven’t read or don’t even own this book yet. Everyone has different tastes, I know, but sometimes, I cannot help but think that some readers intentionally avoid books featuring LGBTQIAP+ characters. And that’s not okay.
Anyway, I do have to warn you that Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda could be harmful for queer women. Simon, who is gay, says things are easier for lesbians and bi girls because men think it’s hot. Fetishisation doesn’t mean you are accepted. Having said that, I’m glad that instead of ignoring queer girls, Albertalli decided to include multiple queer female characters in The Upside of Unrequited and used sensitivity readers to get the representation right.
The Paths We Choose by M. Hollis (review)
The Paths We Choose is the sequel to The Melody of You and Me and I enjoyed it even more than than the first instalment. M. Hollis (who is queer!) writes such cute and diverse F/F novellas and I cannot wait to get my hands on the final version of The Paths We Choose.
I did an interview with the author at the beginning of this month – which you can read here – and she is so incredibly nice.
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (review)
At the beginning of this post I said queer people deserve to read books featuring LGBTQIAP+ characters that have happy endings and don’t feature tons of bullying and harmful language. We Are the Ants is not such a book. It’s very heavy, because it deals with topics such as suicide, depression, bullying, sexual assault, etc. Still, I loved this book, but be aware that it could be triggering. However, I am amazed that Shaun David Hutchinson still managed to make me laugh out loud multiple times.
Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (review)
Coffee Boy is a M/M romance featuring a trans protagonist and a bisexual love interested. This book is #OwnVoices for the transgender representation. I really enjoyed reading about a trans character who doesn’t always pass. Of course, I didn’t not enjoy the micro-aggressions and transphobia Kieran had to deal with, but I do think it’s very important to also represent trans characters who don’t always pass, who can’t afford or don’t want to have any surgeries.
There was one sentence in this book I found biphobic, but other than that, I highly enjoyed this novella. I know a lot of people are probably going to recommend If I Was Your Girl today, but I sadly cannot do the same. I never talk about this because I don’t want to criticise a book about a trans character written by a trans author, but I read this book back in November and it still hurts me whenever I think of this book. In my opinion, it’s biphobic, but I don’t know whether my feelings are valid because no one else has mentioned that in their reviews. As great as the trans representation was, I’m very wary of recommending it because I don’t want this book to hurt anyone else.
I got a bit carried away there at the end . What are some of your favourite LGBTQIAP+ reads?