Based on the response from my list of 23 feminist books I can’t wait to read, y’all like your books! So I thought I’d make a list of books about LGBTQIA+ issues and characters, too. Again, these are all on my personal reading list so unless I mention that I’ve read it, I haven’t — but I want to. I’ve researched them and based everything off several different sources. If you’ve read any of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’m also including a few young adult novels on this list, because I still like those and they’re great resources if you have any kids or any other teens in your life that you’d like to help educate.
1. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
With a bisexual female of colour as the protagonist, this story is set in high school, which is something all of us can relate to even if we didn’t graduate. I can’t help but relate with the character’s feeling that she doesn’t fit in, even with the lesbians. I really want to read this one!
2. Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters
This is the first book I ever read that had a lesbian relationship in it. I deliberately didn’t discuss it with anyone at the time for fear of judgment, but I loved this book and I still have it, many years later. (Though I admit, still have most of my books from childhood!)
This book validated the way I felt about girls when I was a teenager, and the author has written lots of other books about queer relationships as well. I highly recommend this one for young adults/teenagers or even adults!
3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I saw the movie with my mom when I was young, but I don’t remember it very well beyond that it was amazing. The book won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction, and is an epistolary novel — written in the form of letters written over the span of forty years. According to Bustle, it is about a number of women of color and deals with sexism, violence, racism, and discrimination in general.
4. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Described as “featuring a bad ass feminist POC [person of colour].” Pretty much enough for me to want to read it right there, right? What’s more is that this is a character who came out and didn’t get a welcoming response, so she leaves to find herself elsewhere. Sounds inspiring to me.
5. The City of Devi by Manil Suri
I saw the title and immediately was curious… with the word devi I knew there had to be something Indian going on with this book — devi is the Sanskrit word for goddess. So of course I got excited, because I haven’t seen much about queer Indian people anywhere in media.
After reading more about this book, I found out the main character’s name is Sarita — the traditional way of spelling my name! (My dad spelled my name differently so that I could have a “unique” name — Sarita is super popular in India.) I have never seen my name anywhere, and growing up I always hated that my name was never on those pencils they used to sell in the 90s. I haven’t even met anyone with the same name as me, despite its popularity in India.
So I’m quite inclined to read this book, but not just for silly reasons like sharing a name. Sarita meets a gay Muslim man who is looking for his lost love, and according to Bustle’s article, it’s a fun book.
6. Guapa by Salem Haddad
Guapa is about a young Arab man who is gay and is searching for his best friend in the midst of one busy day of his life. I’m interested to see how this book works out — the idea of everything happening in one day is intriguing.
7. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Okay, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE Murakami. I’ve only read one of his books before — Norwegian Wood — but it blew my mind and I want to read everything he’s ever written. Which would probably take forever — he’s written a lot.
He writes beautifully and actually writes a lot of queer characters, too. In this story, the main character is not queer, but there is a a gay transgender man who plays an important role, according to reviews, and I’m really curious as to how.
8. Angels In America by Tony Kushner
This play is amazing. I read it in university and I know lots of people who didn’t find it as amazing as I did, but it’s important no matter how you look at it. It’s set during the AIDS crisis in the 80s and has a lot of interesting characters that live separately but are all connected. I read it when I wasn’t sure about my sexuality, and though it’s a little heavy this story really opened my eyes to reality for many queer people in a difficult time.
9. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
This book is about a young boy who wants nothing more than to be a girl. It’s a coming-of-age story set in India in the 70s about accepting one’s own sexuality. It explores transgender issues as well.
10. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
Reviews of this book say it is beautifully written, with amazing vivid detail. It’s about a 14-year-old boy coming to terms with his sexuality in Sri Lanka. When I think of beautiful writing, I think of Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner) and I love that style of writing so I had to had to add it to my list. According to reviews, this book is great for teens and adults alike!
11. Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki
This one’s Canadian, so yay! This story is about Montgomery, a teen who has two lesbian moms and a best friend named Thomas, who is also gay. They are members of their school’s Mystery club, which of course, solves mysteries. According to this review, The novel touches on religion, family, and sexuality, with funny characters and interesting relationships. Great for teens, but it sounds interesting to me too!
12. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
I love the idea of this book. It’s about a young boy who wants to wear a tangerine dress. I think that’s perfect because it teaches kids to be themselves and to accept themselves. Why shouldn’t a boy wear a dress, after all? It’s a great way to teach kids about gender expectations and that they don’t need to fit them.
What’s your favourite novel? Share your recommendations in the comments below!
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