LGBT History Month – Our Literature Picks!
We’ve given you some films and tv shows, so now it’s time for the books! Here are literary picks for LGBT+ History Month.
The Colour Purple – Alice Walker (1982)
A book written entirely in the form of letters follows the story of 14-year-old Celie, an African American girl living in rural Georgia in the 1930s. It follows her through the trials and tribulations of her life discovering who she is, and how to love on your own terms. A masterpiece from Walker which earned her the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Audre Lorde (1982)
Lorde’s only novel explores her childhood in New York City, and navigating life as a black lesbian in 1950s America. This book is an unapologetic ode to intersectionality and combines Lorde’s biography with myth and history. A poet and author whose work which will transcend centuries to come.
Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson (1998)
A novel which is told through the medium of poetry and based loosely on the Greek myth of Geryon and Hercules. It retells the traditional story which sees Geryon killed by Hercules into a romantic story of the pair’s journey to the end of the world. A blend of poetry and novel which can win over even those who loathe poetry.
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (2015)
Despite the length of this book many commend the characters for leaving you wanting more. Delving into relationships between men, whether that be within a family, platonically or romantically it doesn’t hold back. It follows the lives of four friends in New York City from their college days to their middle age. Not light reading but sheds light on important often taboo topics.
Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin (1956)
This book focuses on the life events of an American man living in Paris, David. It explores the complexities of masculinity and sexuality, especially for gay and bisexual men. The novel highlights the importance of queer spaces for LGBT+ individuals and is often credited as an accurate representation of how these bars helped navigate private and public spheres in the 1950s.
In at the Deep End – Kate Davies (2019)
A debut novel which is equally as funny as it is risqué. The book follows main character Julia on a journey of rediscovery to recapture what love means. It is considered a fresh take on a lesbian coming-of-age story which explores Julia’s sexual awakening against the backdrop of London.
Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality’ – Sarah McBride (2018)
This memoir by McBride has reached the bookshelf of both Vice President Harris and President Biden. As the first transgender state senator in United States history McBride’s tells her empowering story in this memoir. The memoir tells both her story and lays out the cultural and historical milestones in American history in the fight for equality and freedom.
Call Me by Your Name – André Aciman (2007)
This book set in the picturesque Italian town Bordighera and follows the budding relationship between Oliver and Elio. It tackles issues of bisexuality, coming out and the challenges of relationships. A novel which portrays the unapologetic desire for the love of another defies traditional gay literature stereotypes which is perhaps what proved to be the basis for its popularity.
Paul Takes The Form of a Mortal Girl – Andrea Lawlor (2017)
This book is a story not just of finding love, learning how to love yourself but also finding love and acceptance in the LGBT+ community. The book follows Paul/Polly on a journey from college in Iowa City to San Francisco in the 1990s. An evocative comedy explores what it means to be non-binary without hesitating to highlight the struggles by including incidents of homophobia and racism.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012)
A coming-of-age novel which shows the slow progression of a friendship into a budding romance between main characters Aristotle and Dante. This book, set in Texas, follows these characters on a journey of self-discovery through struggles with racial and ethnic identity, LGBT sexuality, and family relationships.
The Line of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
This novel spans the early and late 1980s and covers the emergence of HIV/AIDS and the relationship between politics and homosexuality. It does this by exploring the ambivalent acceptance within the 1980s Conservative Party and mainstream society. The main character Nick lives with the Fedden family who shape his experience of coming out as a gay man and his political choices.
Orlando – Virginia Woolf (1928)
Often noted as a pioneering text for the LGBT+ community this book is heavily inspired by the life and family history of aristocrat Vita Sackville-West and is dubbed as a love letter to her from Woolf. The book follows poet, Orlando, who changes sex from man to woman and lives for centuries, meeting key literary figures during the transition Orlando experiences.
Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta (2015)
This book is set in the 1960s and follows Ijeoma, a girl growing up during the Nigerian civil war coming to terms with her own sexuality and the conflict this presents in society. This coming-of-age story explores the journey Ijeoma has to accept herself and her sexual orientation in a society still hostile to the LGBT+ community.
The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister – edited by Helena Whitbread
This book is the edited diary of Anne Lister and is part of a series created by Whitbread who decoded her diaries. Lister defied the expectations of women of the period as an independent, bold landowner and a lesbian. She kept extensive diaries of her life and loves, two of her most significant relationships are the main source of the plot to this novel.
America is not the Heart – Elaine Castillo (2018)
This book follows Hero, a Filipino-American woman who develops a romantic relationship with Rosalyn. There are sections which cover her life in the Philippines and in America and how the barrier of class, language and trauma impact her everyday life. It tells the story of not only Hero and own self-discovery but of the two countries too.
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