This post was originally supposed to be a compilation of my favorite LGBTQ+ reads over the years. However I don’t feel I’ve read enough truly unique books within that spectrum to create a list for it (yet). So instead what you have in front of you are the LGBTQ+ books on my TBR that make me most excited. Hopefully between writing this and my List of Diverse Books for Diversity Bingo post I’ll be well on my way to remedying this problem by 2018. So without further ado…let’s cut to the books!
Beast by Brie Spangler
With the live action Beauty & the Beast remake still fresh in my mind, it’s made me really excited to check out another reimagining- Beast by Brie Spangler. Though I think the actual story bears little real connection to the fairy tale, I’m pumped nonetheless. In Spangler’s version (set in our contemporary world), the titular Beast is fifteen year old Dylan. Covered in hair and huge, Dylan doesn’t exactly fit the high school mold. And after a bad day ends with the miscunderstanding he tried to kill himself, Dylan finds himself in group therapy. Enter Jamie, his romantic interest. She’s funny and sweet (as well as being transgender), a fact she shared in their first interaction that Dylan was too caught up in himself to notice. Will the two be able to find a happily ever after? Maybe. But irregardless Spangler addresses many tough issues in the process. Many reviewers have championed her unwillingness to shy away from portraying transphobia, an area If I Was Your Girl failed in for me. Fingers crossed for a fun and sweet read, that also sheds light on people like Jamie’s story.
As I Descended by Robin Talley
I could probably make this whole list out of Robin Talley’s many LGBTQ+ centric books, however the one I’m most excited by is her Macbeth retelling; As I Descended. Though I’m very interested in seeing how Talley adapts gender roles to fit her vision of the story, what’s most exciting to me is just the concept of Macbeth set in our present world. I guess it really does speak to the burgeoning diversity in YA that a book with gay characters can have a plot not solely about them coming out, defining relationships, etc. But anyways, As I Descended follows lovers Maria and Lily as they attempt to harness their boarding school’s magic to secure themselves full scholarships to Stanford- in the process upsetting school sweetheart Delilah. I’ve never read Shakespeare’s original Macbeth, but I am very familiar with the concept. This means I expect very rich, complicated characters- something that is always a major plus for me. If anyone’s read one of Talley’s books let me know what you thought, and whether this is a good one for me start off with.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
I love historical fiction, and Mackenzie Lee has come up with one of the most innovative books in the genre. Her story follows 18th century party boy Monty, whose set off on one final adventure across Europe before settling into the family business. Making matters complicated is his burgeoning feelings for companion Percy, whom he inadvertently puts in danger when one of his reckless decisions leads them in a manhunt across the continent. For one, try and tell me that doesn’t sound amazing. Second of all, let me just reiterate why I need to read this book right now! The reviews are glowing (a 4.43 average from the lucky reviewers who received ARC’s), and all of them mention just how witty and clever Lee is keeping the story entertaining. It’s being compared a lot to My Lady Jane which I also, admittedly, have yet to read, but have heard nothing but stellar things about. I also anticipate the romance to be excellent with a capital ‘E’, and everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a gay historical romance. Check this one out when it hits shelves June 27th!
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
If You Could Be Mine is one of those books I get so excited to read every time it pops up on Goodreads, but never remember to actually check out. I especially wish there were more books in its vein- contemporaries dealing with LBTQ+ issues in foreign countries. Sara Farizan’s debut is set in Iran, where homosexual relationships are punishable by death. Protagonist Sahar is in a relationship with her best friend Nasrin, who is now engaged to the town doctor. Determined to be able to love Nasrin openly, Sahar is considering sex reassignment surgery- accepted in Iran as a means of fixing nature’s mistake. But is sacrificing her sense of self worth it for love? A very valid question, and one that I’ve never actually thought of in this context. I had no idea Iran (or any country where gay marriage is illegal) viewed gender this way, and am very interested in reading about its history in relation to the culture. It’s a very short book (just a little over 200 pages), but I’m hoping Farizan can tell a compelling and moving story in the space.
What are your favorite LGBTQIA+ reads? Let me know in the comments!