Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Nine queer books to pick up during LGBT+ History Month



You may or may not know that February is LGBT+ History Month! I first became aware of the campaign when I was at uni because it was widely celebrated on my campus and, since I was on the LGBT+ society committee, it was a pretty big deal for us.

University can be a bubble and since graduating I’ve missed all the things I used to get involved with during February, so this year I’m trying to make the effort to change that.

I’m heading to an LGBT+ event in Leeds this weekend and I’ve also decided to embrace it on my blog this month by making the four posts I upload during February unapologetically queer.

I’m starting with one of my favourite topics, books, so here are my nine recommendations for queer reads you should pick up this month.


Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

You have probably heard of the Bechdel test, and this is the woman behind it. Fun Home is a graphic memoir, described as a tragicomic and centres about Bechdel’s childhood, her sexuality and her unique relationship with her father. I studied this as part of a queer literature module at uni and I’m so glad I did, because I probably would never have picked it up otherwise. It’s funny, poignant and relatable and so worth getting a copy.


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I’m not going to lie to you; I started reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ novels because I wanted to be the sort of person who read Jeffrey Eugenides novels. Confessions aside, Middlesex is an inter-generational novel with several interweaving storylines, told from the perspective of Cal, who is intersex – something I had never ever heard of when I first picked up the novel when I was about 16. It’s quite long, but I was hooked on the story from start to finish and I think it’s the only novel I’ve ever read with an intersex main character. So, if you know of any others, please let me know!  


Logical Family by Armistead Maupin

This one is a memoir, written by Tales of the City author, Armistead Maupin. I picked this up in Waterstones last year, having no idea who Maupin was, because the cover was rainbow and I hoped that meant it was queer – I was right. I loved reading about Maupin’s life because it was so different to my own. He grew up gay in the 50s and 60s, was in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War and later moved to San Francisco, where he was friends with Christopher Isherwood, Harvey Milk and Rock Hudson. Trust me, pick it up.


Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Leading on from my last recommendation, Maupin became celebrated for his serial, Tales of the City, which was published daily in a San Francisco paper. It is super queer, super dramatic and super ridiculous. There really isn’t much that Maupin doesn’t cover in the series, ranging from kidnapping to HIV and AIDS to cults and even cannibalism.


Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

Disobedience is another one I enjoyed because it’s so far from my own experience, exploring same gender attraction in an orthodox Jewish space. The tight-knit community in London is paralleled against the new life main character Ronit has made for herself in New York after leaving her religious upbringing, and she is forced to confront this when she returns home for her father’s funeral and sees familiar faces from her past.


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

Unpopular opinion: I didn’t like the film. That being said, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of the best queer novels I’ve ever read. I picked it up at Gay’s The Word and read it on a series of train journeys when I was visiting friends last summer and I think this makes me feel extra sentimental towards it. I just think it’s the purest account of same gender attraction. Growing up believing her parents’ death is caused by her sexuality and eventually ending up at a gay conversion camp, Cameron is flawed, likeable, unlucky, and Danforth depicts her exploring her sexuality perfectly alongside a Blockbusters membership card.  


Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Picked it up because it was raunchy, kept reading because it was actually really good. I think I might have actually still been in the closet when I first read this and TOTALLY bought it because it was on a list of recommended reading by my high school literature teacher and NOT AT ALL because it was about lesbians. Sarah Waters delivers the queer Victorian fiction you never knew you needed and if you’re even at all curious as to what that entails, give it a try.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This one puts the history in LGBT+ History Month. Many Greco-Roman authors depicted Patroclus and Achilles as lovers and Miller retells the story in gorgeous and absolutely heartbreaking prose. I’ve reread it many times, cried so many tears and I’d recommend it a hundred times over.


Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Under the Udala Trees is a novel about being LGBT+ in Nigeria, where LGBT+ rights aren’t recognised and homosexuality is punishable by prison sentences or death. Following main character Ijeoma, the novel explores her trying to make sense of her identity while also attempting to find some stability during the Biafran conflict and the great changes this brings about for her family and her status. Ijeoma is strong, resilient and hopeful and the novel is a sobering reminder of the challenges that many in the LGBT+ community face around the world.


Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these or if you have any recommendations for me to add to my list, I’d love to hear them!


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10 comments

  1. Patrick Gale is a wonderful writer - I particularly recommend "A Place Called Winter" and "Rough Music".

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  2. I'm always in search for a new book! Thanks for this list :)

    ☼ eena / cabin twenty-four

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  3. Gutted I didn't read this post sooner I would have loved to be able to buy some of these for this month! I might be able to still pick one up though! I love the sound of Under the Udala Trees, I think it would be really interesting to read about being lgbt in a place where it is very taboo! I bet it is a sad read but interesting! Tipping sounds good too. Who doesn't love a raunchy book!
    Great suggestions and I love your blog xx
    https://lifeofshar.co.uk/

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  4. Some great picks here and I haven't read many of these but I love Greek mythology / history so I'd love to read The Song of Achilles. It's been on my list for absolute ages. I like that you had a good range of novels here and put in a little summary or how you came across them which made it interesting too. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. First of all I did not know Feb was LGBT+ history month.

    Since I am planning to read more this year I will try and add these in through the year.
    Thanks for the list ! ♥️

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  6. Ooh, all of these sound really engaging and interesting reads. Great post - although I'm not certain my TBR pile is thankful, aha!

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  7. such a fantastic book list. ive jus5 started expanding my intersectional feminism book collection and I think these will be fantastic additions

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  8. I LOVE The Song of Achilles! It's one of my favorite books of all time. I really want to read her new book, Circe, but I'm not sure if it's an LGBTQ+ book like TSOA. I just love her style of writing, and I love that her books are rooted in mythology. I'm such a sucker for that!

    Sydney @ throughtheleaves.com

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  9. The Song of Achilles is on my TBR! Will check out the others 😊

    https://jendbibliophile.wordpress.com

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  10. Under the Udala Trees sounds a bit heartbreaking, I can't even imagine living a life where it's illegal to be who you are :( It shocks me so much that it's still a thing in a lot of places around the world, too. Imagine being THAT angry about what other people do in the bedroom. I'm loving that you're embracing this month and using it as a chance to showcase it on your blog, I'm looking forward to seeing what else you upload :) and I'll definitely be referring back to this post to buy some when I FINALLY get through my TBR pile, oops.
    Alice Xx

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