In honor of Pride month, I asked Third Place booksellers to recommend some of their recent favorite LGBTQIA+ reads.
Last month I read Yerba Buena, young adult author Nina LaCour's debut into adult fiction. This was both full of glass-swallowingly traumatic trauma and the sweet fantasy of uncomplicated sapphic love, and it was just the right bridge for me to I Kissed Shara Wheeler, romance novelist Casey McQuiston's debut into young adult fiction. In Shara Wheeler, the oppressive backdrop of the bible belt could not crush the absolute sparkling joy of queer love and friendship, and I really needed that after the horrors we've seen already this year.
If you like stories about relationships and you need a little salt with your hope, Yerba Buena might be for you. If you need the reminder that we cannot be contained, but you want that defiance with a side of Cherry Limeade from Sonic, check out Shara Wheeler.
The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela - We need more fiction that centers the intertwining of community and quality of life, and more books with slightly irritating but loveable queer characters like Andres. We contain multitudes, babe!
A Marvelous Light by Freya Marskc
I love this book!!!! This is the high stakes, magical adventure romance of your dreams. Intricate, fully imagined and beautifully written. It’s like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Red, White and Royal Blue ll smashed up together into your new favorite book. This one is truly a joy. Get ready to lose a little piece of your heart to Edwin and Robin.
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (7/12)
A beautiful love/horror story between two women without the plot being solely, or even really at all, about their queerness. It's about loving someone and what you're willing to do when you love someone. This one comes out on July 12th, but keep it on your radar!
Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much by Jen Winston
I read "A Queer Love Story," an essay in Greedy, on Lithub when they titled it The Myth of True Love Hurts Us All -- Especially Women and immediately had to get my hands on the book to read the rest of Winston's wise words. A great meeting place between learning and storytelling.
Your Nostalgia Is Killing Me by John Weir
A deeply moving series of linked short stories that portray the complicated layers of grief, platonic love and connection, the effects of AIDS that will make you laugh, cry, grimace, and yearn. A beautifully written book that is an absolute must read for any queer male-identified person.
A Hundred Lovers: Poems by Richie Hofmann
An intimate series of poems that deal with the intricacies of queer love in all its complicated glory, A Hundred Lovers is fun to read and perfect for anyone who loves poetry or have never read verse in their life. In my opinion, the best book of poems about love from a queer writer of the past few years.
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen
An exciting and important book about the asexual experience explored through interviews, critical analysis, and vulnerable honesty. A truly groundbreaking work.
The Freezer Door by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Brilliant memoir about queer experience in Seattle with touching insight into loneliness and longing for connection that many of us feel, articulated beautifully and powerfully.
School Days by Johnathan Galassi
Captivating novel on idealizing and fantasizing the past and what happens when reality and memory are at odds. A complicated coming-of-age story set at an elite East Coast boarding school that explores the nuances of privilege, desire, and power.
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Totally not your average love triangle romance novel. The main character learned first to love and then has to cope with that love dying. Emezi reminds us that we weren’t born to love only one person, and no person is born a perfect lover. Imperfections is where Emezi’s story begins. As humans, we crave love, it’s strangeness and it’s pain, push it away when it becomes too much, and still we lament about all the happiness it can give us. This novel is a bit melancholy, but still hilarious and deeply moving
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
It has kinky, sexless sex demons that smell like vanilla so... I feel seen!
The Membranes by Ta-Wei Chi, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich.
Arguably the first work of modern fiction in Chinese to feature a transgender protagonist, The Membranes presents a searing future in which the planet's surface is so hot as to be uninhabitable, forcing humanity to 'migrate' to (ie. colonize) the bottom of the ocean. We’re still a warmongering, profit-starved, app-addled, climate-havocked military state in Chi's vision of the future, but it's not all so bleak. The Membranes is somehow still an illuminating novel about the importance of touch and familial bonds, with a Matrix-worthy plot twist of astonishing intimacy.
Invisible Orientation by Julie Decker
A wonderful, straightforward book on an identity that is little discussed in the queer community. Decker covers what asexuality is and isn't, and everything you could imagine pertaining to it like relationships, discrimination, coming out, and many other topics.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Ryka Aoki draws from her lived experience as a queer woman of color to tell the story of a transgender musician runaway from home whose life is changed by an intimidating violin teacher with a faustian bargain and an intergalactic refugee-turned-donut-maker. While the trauma described here is jarringly real, it is also packed full of so much queer joy!
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
The fate of an empire rests on the tangled destinies of the captive princess Malini and her maid Priya who possesses dormant dark magic in the deathless waters-- the power source of the now-ruined temple where Malini is kept prisoner. I don't say no to sapphic SFF and neither should you!
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
A spooky, queer southern gothic. Andrew suffers from hauntings and a gay headache that he refuses to acknowledge as he investigates his best friend's apparent suicide in Nashville. Between the drug use, drag racing and homoerotic tension, this book is a very gritty, immersive experience on masculine violence and desire.
Nonbinary by Micah Rajunov, A. Scott Duane
This collection of first-person stories shines a light on the wide spectrum of how we define our gender (or not), express ourselves (or not), and the trauma that each suffers in the narrative that is exploring gender. This is a great book for people of ALL genders to read, to bask in this beautiful array of nonbinary identities and appreciate the commonalities and differences that can make gender so euphoric.
Nevada by Imogen Binnie
The cult hit that cracked the egg of trans literature has finally arrived from a major press! Nevada was the first major book that was unafraid to present trans stories that aren’t just picture-perfect representation, but messy and weird and real. Casey Plett writes, “I see Nevada’s re-print not just as an opportunity to revisit a past literary monument, but as a means of imagining what’s still out there. My hope for Nevada’s legacy is forward-looking: What other random weirdos are out there making art we don’t yet know should exist, trans or otherwise? What are the coming absences I’ll only understand once they’re filled? What do I still not understand about what art can do?”
Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton
Gala is a trans woman living in rural New Mexico who hates just about everything–except The Get Happies, a 60s pop group who changed her world. Now she spends her days writing letters to the group’s elusive lead singer B—-, imagining the ways their lives might be the same. A gem of a novel about the power and perils of finding ourselves through the stories of others.
Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White
Benji was raised to be a perfect angel. Literally–the fundamentalist cult he escaped from brought him up to be their messiah, a weapon in their holy war against the world. Now he’s crashing with a queer youth group turned band of survivors, hiding his secret while figuring out how to get revenge on those who wronged him and raised him. Angry, queer, Autistic, and full of heart, Hell Followed With Us is a catharsis-filled book for anyone who’s wondered whether a monster was really the worst thing you could be.
Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
An epic fantasy romance full of adventure and dragons, this is a long one that is completely worth the read!
Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
A YA fantasy romance with enemies to lovers, witches, curses, and all kinds of magic, this one is very fun and sweet!
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
Named a Best Book of 2018 by New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Publisher's Weekly, NPR, and Time, among many others, this essay collection from the author of The Queen of the Night explores how we form identities in life and in art.
Box Hill by Adam Mars-Jones
Box Hill's sleek and measured tone has a confession's magnetic intensity.