It’s officially Pride Month! If you’re like me, and summer just makes you want to curl up in the heat with a good book, why not celebrate pride by digging into some diverse reads?
There’s a whole library of LGBT+ inclusive books, from a multitude of time periods, so here’s a rundown of my personal favourites that I would recommend to any casual reader.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Starting off strong, Heartstopper is an ongoing graphic novel series by British author Alice Oseman, which has recently gained some traction because of the awesome Netflix series of the same name. Heartstopper follows sweet, nerdy Charlie Spring as he enters into a relationship with ‘rugby lad’ Nick Nelson. Exploring self identity, friendship, love, and mental health, Heartstopper is an amazing read.
Utterly heartwarming and accompanied by adorable illustration, Oseman paints a realistic picture of high school relationships and attaches the reader to our main characters as they fight through the bittersweet perils of their first love.
Heartstopper furthermore comments on the experience of being LGBT+ in a British secondary school and represents all of the letters in the acronym, with gay, bisexual, trans, lesbian, and asexual characters; all of whom are developed, substantial and important to the storyline in their own way. What a masterpiece of representation!
Loveless by Alice Oseman
To jump from one Oseman novel to the next, Loveless takes a different approach to the LGBT experience, focusing on eighteen year old Georgia, who despite her best efforts seems to have no genuine interest in relationships or boys.
Supported by her best friends Pip and Jason and her roommate Rooney, we follow Georgia as she figures out her asexuality and how it will affect her future relationships. Set at the beautiful Durham University, Oseman once again whips up relatable, loveable characters with an undeniably realistic representation of uni life, all wrapped up in a heartwarming tale of self-discovery.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
A book I originally found from WHSmith’s Zoella book club back in the day, If I Was Your Girl follows Amanda Hardy through bullying, relocation and love, as when moving to a new school she meets a gorgeous guy named Grant. The reader watches as Amanda struggles through life in a new town, but also struggles with the decision of telling her new beau her secret: that she’s trans. A definitely more young-adult book, If I Was Your Girl is an incredibly important narrative, and tells the harsh, truthful dangers of living as a trans woman.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Oranges Are not The Only Fruit is a 1985 novel by Jeanette Winterson. It’s described as a coming-of-age story about a young lesbian girl who grew up in a Pentecostal Community. Included on both GCSE and A-Level reading lists in England, this novel is what can only be described as awesome. Winterson has admitted that it is semi-autobiographical and is actually based on her own upbringing in Lancashire, with the main character sharing her name Jeanette. A heart wrenching commentary on the treatment of LGBT people in 1980’s England, Oranges is full of Biblical references, callbacks to literary works, and tons of sarcasm.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The most subtle entry on this list, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an 1890 philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde. The novel is a tale of a young man who purchases eternal youth at the expense of his soul, commenting on romantic aestheticism. The queer-coded subtext is undeniable to the modern reader, and accompanied by the evidence of Oscar Wilde’s secret identity, the novel is a fantastic read, both for the classic literature enjoyer and for the LGBT novel seeker.
Sugar and Snails- Anne Goodwin
A novel from Cumbrian author Anne Goodwin, Sugar and Snails explores gender identity, coming out and the psychology behind it. The novel surrounds 40-something-year-old psychologist Diana and the secrets that she has so carefully kept. (No spoilers!) Sugar and Snails is heartbreaking, but beautifully written, developed and concluded.
You Will Get Through this Night by Daniel Howell
To finish the list with a non-fiction book, You Will Get Through This Night is an incredible “mental health guide” written by Youtube’s very own Daniel Howell, famous for his channel where he has accumulated over 6 million subscribers. I was a Dan Howell mega-fan growing up, so I actually bought this book on pre-order and was completely blown away when I got around to reading it.
Dan plasters his life, mental health and sexuality onto the pages of this book, describing his greatest triumphs and his rock bottoms. Full of humour, sarcasm and genuine emotion, this book is incredibly written and explores mental health and sexuality from the perspective of someone who has been through it all. An awesome read, and incredibly helpful for those trying to take back their mental health.