It’s June and that means here at Books that Matter we’re celebrating all things Pride! Reading is a great way to gain empathy, understanding and insight into the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community and we’ve pulled together a list of reading recommendations – one backlist title and one new release – for every letter of the Pride family! We hope you’ll find something here that will inspire you to head to your local library or to your favourite online or in-person bookshop to pick up something for your summer reading list and beyond.
Backlist (first published 2001):
Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg
In a steam-filled diner in a college town, Flannery Jansen catches sight of something more beautiful than she’s ever seen: a graduate student, reading. When Flannery finds herself enrolled in a class with the remote, brilliant older woman, she is intimidated at first, but gradually becomes Anne Arden’s student. Flannery proves an eager pupil, until one day she learns more about Anne than she ever wanted to know.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
When cynical twenty-three-year-old August sees the dazzling, mysterious Jane on the train, her subway crush becomes the best part of her day but, pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. One Last Stop is a big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.
Backlist (first published in 2017):
The Order of Nature by Josh Scheinert
Andrew, a shy volunteer working in Gambia after college, meets Thomas, a charming hotel bartender. At first, they believe it’s possible to develop a relationship in even the most trying circumstances. But as their relationship strengthens, the politics of prejudice catches up. Exposed and arrested, they are forced to confront what it means when your existence is considered a crime, your love against the order of nature.
The Prophets by Robert Jones Junior
Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and as a danger to the plantation’s harmony. The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance but also the heroic power of love.
Backlist (first published in 1928):
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
This queer, gender-bending feminist classic is all about gender and sexual fluidity. The bisexual main character, Orlando, begins the story in the Renaissance, lives for hundreds of years, and wakes up one morning in the middle of the novel miraculously turned into a woman. Readers may also be interested to know that Woolf intended the book as an extended love letter to her (bisexual) friend and lover Vita Sackville-West.
Love is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar
This memoir explores all Jarrar’s identities at once: queer, Arab American, fat, and Muslim. The book chronicles a cross-country American road trip Jarrar took, inspired by an Egyptian belly dancer’s similar journey back in 1940. As she travels, Jarrar searches for and finds joy, even while she knows it might seem unlikely in a country openly hostile to everything she is.
Backlist (first published in 2014):
A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett
Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love. These stories, shiny with whiskey and prairie sunsets, rattling subways and neglected cats, show growing up as a trans girl can be charming, funny, frustrating, or sad, but never will it be predictable.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Detransition Baby, the first novel by a trans woman to be published by a major publishing house, focuses on three women – transgender and cisgender – who contemplate what it might mean to form an unconventional family unit and raise a baby together. The resulting story explores some of the most dangerous taboos that endure around gender, sex and relationships.
Backlist (first published in 2017):
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor
It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco—a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. Nghi Vo’s debut novel reinvents The Great Gatsby, a classic of the American canon, as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.
Backlist (first published in 2018):
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows with the smallest dash of adulting- working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating but then she meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him. When Alice’s blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi comes to her rescue, she has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood
Kink Stories ed by R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell
Kink is an anthology of literary fiction that opens an imaginative door into the world of desire. The stories within this collection portray love, desire, BDSM, and sexual kinks in all their glory. The collection includes works by renowned fiction writers such as Callum Angus, Alexander Chee, Vanessa Clark, Melissa Febos, Kim Fu, Roxane Gay, Cara Hoffman, Zeyn Joukhadar, Chris Kraus, Carmen Maria Machado, Peter Mountford, Larissa Pham, and Brandon Taylor, with Garth Greenwell and R.O. Kwon as editors. While there are whips and chains, the true power of these stories lies in their beautiful, moving dispatches from across the sexual spectrum of interest and desires, as portrayed by some of today’s most exciting writers.